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Sri Lanka's opposition defector appointed as minister

Nov 21 (Xinhua) An opposition defector to the Sri Lankan government was sworn in here Wednesday as a minister, President Mahinda Rajapakse's office announced. Mahinda Rathnathilaka was sworn in as the minister of Textile Development, making the total government ministers in the 225-member parliament to 108. The Rajapakse government has faced criticism for its extra large number of ministers. more..

Tamil leader asks Tamil Nadu parties not to back LTTE

Nov 21 (PTI) A senior Tamil leader has warned that Tamil Nadu's political leaders support to the LTTE to solve the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka will become counter- productive in finding a solution to the protracted problem. "All political parties and individuals in Tamil Nadu should not only forget about a separate state of Tamil Eelam but also stop giving encouragement to separation," TULF leader V Anandasangaree said. more..

Opposition press set on fire in Sri Lanka

Nov 21 (AFP) Unidentified gunmen stormed a pro-opposition newspaper office in Sri Lanka on Wednesday and set fire to the printing presses, police said. More than a dozen armed men started the blaze after breaking into the Sunday Leader newspaper building -- which is within a high-security air force complex on the edge of the capital Colombo -- and forced the staff out, police said. The paper's chief editor, Lasantha Wickrematunga, accused the government of carrying out the attack. more..

The hope of the forgotten people in Jaffna

Nov 22 (UPI) Two years ago, when I last made the journey to Jaffna in Sri Lanka's Northern Province by air, the passengers on board the aircraft were cheerful and prosperous-looking expatriate Tamils, returning to Jaffna to renew family ties. Most of the passengers this time looked anything but prosperous. They were making the journey by air because they had no other realistic alternative, as the A9 land route that connects Jaffna to the rest of Sri Lanka now lies closed for over a year and a half. more..

Sri Lanka tourism earnings hit by war worries - official

Nov 22 (Reuters) Sri Lanka will see a 20 percent fall in tourist arrivals and revenue for 2007 due to the renewed civil war between the state and the Tamil Tiger rebels, a tourism official said on Wednesday. Tourist arrivals were down 19.7 percent in the first ten months of the year after a resurgence of conflict in a two-decade war between the state and Tamil Tigers guerrillas discouraged visitors earlier in the year. more..

India seeks fast implementation of devolution package in Lanka

Nov 22 (PTI) India today asked Sri Lanka to expedite implementation of the package for devolution of powers for Tamils in the island nation to help solve the ethnic conflict there. This was conveyed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee during his 40-minute meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama here this morning. The quick operationalisation of the package was necessary so that non-extremist Tamils in Sri Lanka are not alienated and more..

The Art of Forgetting by Lisa Kois - Director’s Introduction and Previews

Nov 22 (GV) About the Film: Filmed in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2005, the art of forgetting attempts to shatter the silence and statistical anonymity that characterizes dominant discourses of war by highlighting the personal stories of the people whose lives have been altered by war and political violence. The film is structured around a journey from the northern-most tip of Sri Lanka to the southern-most and more..

Brazilian embassy reopens in SL

Nov 22 (GDI) The Government of Brazil establishes diplomatic relations once again with the Government of Sri Lanka after a lapse of nearly 40 years. The Government of Brazil had originally set up an embassy in Sri Lanka in the early sixties, but it was closed in 1969. In recognition of the growing importance of Sri Lanka- Brazil relations, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on the advice of the Minister of foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, took the decision to reestablish its mission here. more..

Central Bank expects 6.7% economic growth end of this year

Nov 22 (GDI) The Central Bank announces that the annual economic growth for this year is expected to be 6.7% which has grown by 6.2% during the first half of the year. This growth would be supported by the strong performance in the Telecommunications and the Port Services sub-sectors and recovery in the Agriculture sector. Exports in September have recorded a growth of 19.2%, benefiting particularly from the impressive performance in the agriculture sector, led by exports of tea. more..

Minister condemns attack on Media institutions

Nov 22 (GDI) Addressing a media briefing in Colombo Minister of Media, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that as the Media Minister he has to make it clear that the Government had no hand in the recent attacks on Media Institutions. He referred to the attack on ‘Ugaya Publishers’ last week who had very recently started publishing a paper called Siyalaka which is the substitute for ‘Siyarata’ of the UNP. more..

Media watchdog adds Sri Lanka to global press freedom watch list

Nov 22 (AP) Sri Lanka has been added to a global media watchdog's list of countries where media freedom is under fire, the organization said Wednesday. The International Press Institute said the Asian island country - which has been on the watch list before - was included again because journalists were being targeted as the country's ongoing civil war has heated up in recent years. more..

Sri Lanka 'lacks credible HR voice'

Nov 22 (BBC) The United Nations say that Sri Lanka lacks credible voice to examine human rights violations. United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, told the BBC that the appointement of the national Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) was not made in accordance with the constitutional requirements. "The SLHRC was appointed directly by the President. I think the vitality (in the mechanism) in Sri Lanka has considerably diminished in recent years," she told BBC journalist Alix Kroeger. more..

Soldiers kill 9 Tamil rebels in clashes across northern Sri Lanka, military says

Nov 22 (AP) Soldiers killed nine Tamil Tiger rebels in several clashes in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the military said. Troops and rebel fighters clashed twice across the de facto border that separates government- and rebel-held territories in Muhamalai on the Jaffna peninsula, leaving five guerrillas dead, an official at the Defense Ministry information center said on condition of anonymity, citing government policy. more..

Humanitarian access improving in resettlement areas in east

Nov 22 (IRIN) Basil Sylvester, coordinator in Batticaloa District in eastern Sri Lanka for the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), is more relaxed now than three months ago. He no longer hears myriad complaints from frustrated aid workers about being denied access by the government to areas where nearly 100,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have been resettled since June 2007. more..

Urgent need to protect marine habitat and inland waters -President at FAO

Nov 22 (LeN) The threat to the right of every individual in every country to adequate food due to the increased dangers to marine fish stocks by over-fishing and environmental degradation of the oceans; the dangers to fish stocks in rivers, lagoons, tanks and other inland waters by industry and construction; the urgent need for action to conserve mangroves wherever the are threatened, are among the issues with sufficient importance to be seriously considered by FAO and more..

JVP queries motive behind Vocational Technology Uni.

Nov 22 (LD) JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake has questioned the government’s motive behind the tabling of the University of Vocational Technology Draft Bill in Parliament today (Nov. 21st). Ratnayake wanted to know as to whether there were moves to start paying courses at universities. Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle moved the draft bill on behalf of the Minister of Vocational and Technical Training. more..

Protest planned against Norochcholai coal plant

Nov 22 (LD) Protest planned against Norochcholai coal plant A multi-religious group against the proposed coal power plant in Norochcholai is organizing a massive protest on November 24th in front of the historic Thalawila Church. Organizers say that the coal plant will result in farmers and fishermen being evicted from their traditional areas. The Power and Energy Minister said recently that the area surrounding the proposed power plant would be declared a high security zone. more..

Desmond Fernando writes to ICJ on threats to MPs

Nov 22 (LD) President’s Counsel Desmond Fernando has brought the attention of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) to recent deaths received by opposition parliamentarians in Sri Lanka. Fernando, who is a past Vice President of the ICJ, has written to the Secretary General of the international body Nicholas Howen, about the “very serious situation” faced especially by Tamil MPs. more..

UNP blames president & Defence Sec. for Leader Publications fire

Nov 22 (LD) “The printing press of Leader Publications had been set on fire in the early hours of today. It is located within the Ratmalana High Security Zone. So, who is responsible?” asked UNP MP Lakshman Seneviratne. He raised the matter when Parliament resumed the committee stage budget debate on the President’s Vote this morning (Nov. 21st). “If the government respects media freedom, it should ensure safety of these institutions. more..

SLA 'threatens' Trinco resettlers

Nov 22 (BBC) Over 100 resettled civilians in Eachilampathai, Trincomalee district are once again leaving their villages. The refugees who arrived in Batticaloa say security forces have arrested around 30 villagers recently and they do not feel safe in their villages. "Security forces one day surrounded us and arrested the young people. We told them that we just resettled after being refugees for a long time but they did not listen," a villager told the BBC. more..

Sri Lanka Army, Rebels clash along front line dividing North

Nov 22 (BN) Sri Lanka's army and the LTTE clashed along the front line dividing the northern region where the Tamil Tigers maintain their last bases after losing control of the east in July. At least 20 rebels were killed in the past 24 hours as "intense clashes" occurred along northern fronts, the Defense Ministry said on its Web site late yesterday. Fighting took place in the Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mannar regions, it said. more..

Explaining Violence: LTTE and ETA

Nov 22 (ISL) Sri Lanka's army and the LTTE clashed along the front line dividing The Conflict in the Basque Region of Spain has been categorized as an ethnic conflict. The conflict in Sri Lanka is certainly more violent that that of the Basques but it too has been termed an ethnic conflict. The difference in violence is attributed by many to the existence of democratic institutions in Spain and the Spanish Government's willingness to explore a 'democratic solution' to the problem. more..

Another media worker missing in Jaffna

Nov 22 (ISL) Free Media Movement is disheartened to report that another media worker has gone missing in Jaffna. News paper delivery person of Jaffna based Tamil daily Yal Thinakkural Mr. Anthonypillai Sherin Sithranjan is missing since 5th November 2007. Mr. Anthonypillai is 36 years old, married and father of one child. He lived at Uyarappulm, Annaikkottai, Jaffna. He has been reported missing after taking papers for distribution from Yarl Thinakkural office in K.K.S Road at 6:00 a.m. on 5th November. more..

Wake Up Call

Nov 22 (AT) Need for a wake up call is imminent before the alarm bell sounds. While the military machine marches forward regaining lost Sri Lanka, heart and mind operation must commence to satisfy the Tamil speaking people by attending to their prime grievances. It's a shame this has been neglected for so long when such aspirations can be assuaged; instead of permitting it to remain unattended due more..

Mahahalmillawewa farmers receive water to continue their farming

Nov 22 (AT) The government of Sri Lanka has assisted farmers of the Mahahalmilawewa of Medirigiriya to continue their farming activities without facing a long prolonged water crisis in their area. The Ministry of Irrigation together with the JBIC have jointly granted rupees 61 million to reconstruct the abandoned Mahahalmillawewa tank. At present the tank has 900 acre storage water capacity to serve 350 acre paddy lands and also provide indirect employment for fishing families of the area. more..

Sri Lanka lifts trophy in salary sweepstakes

Nov 22 (TT) India has lost its pre-eminent position in the salary hike league tables for Asia Pacific. Sri Lanka has nudged India into second place in 2007 with an average salary increase of 15.3 per cent against 14.8 per cent in India, which held the pole position for the past four years. In 2008, Sri Lanka is projected to retain the top slot with an average salary hike of 15.2 per cent against 14.4 per cent in India. more..

Watchdog: Sri Lankan security forces aided attack on newspaper presses

Nov 22 (AP) A group of men who burned the printing presses of a pro-opposition newspaper company had accomplices within Sri Lanka's security forces, a media watchdog group said. A separate watchdog group, meanwhile, said it has added Sri Lanka to a list of countries where media freedom is under fire. About 15 masked men broke into Leader Publications' printing plant in suburban Colombo on Wednesday and ordered the workers to kneel down outside before setting the machines on fire, more..

Photo Journal: Sri Lanka Public Service Journalism Awards 2007

Nov 22 (HA) The Public Service Journalism Awards 2007 was much-awaited event among the provincial journalists in Sri Lanka. The glamorous event was held on November 16 th 2007 at the Galle Face Hotel. Last year 521 applications were received for the awards. There were 748 applications received for this year’s awards. Applications were received from all nine provinces - North, East, West, South, Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa, North Western, and North Central. more..

Arson attack on “The Sunday Leader” printing press pn Ratmalana

Nov 22 (TC) The Ratmalana printing press of the Leader Publications was attacked by arsonists early last morning, the second such attack in two years on the publishers of The Sunday Leader, Morning Leader and Irudina newspapers. Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickramatunga termed the latest attack as a ‘commando style’ operation which took place within a high security zone in close proximity to the Ratmalana military and domestic airport. more..

Sri Lanka record money printing revealed

Nov 22 (LBO) Sri Lanka has engaged in an unprecedented money printing and reserve appropriation drive running into 45 billion rupees to bridge a widening budget deficit that sent inflation skyrocketing in 2007, newly released data has revealed. By September 2007 total central bank credit to government (printed money) had risen to a massive 135.7 billion rupees up from just 90.5 billion in April, indicating that the government had taken 45.2 billion rupees from the central bank in just five months. more..

Sri Lanka bans Tamil Tiger 'front'

Nov 22 (AFP) Sri Lanka's government is to outlaw a charity believed to be a front organisation for separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, media minister Anura Yapa said Thursday. Ministers met Wednesday and decided to proscribe the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) whose bank accounts were frozen by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka last year, he said. "The cabinet decided yesterday to ban the TRO and also ask other governments to do the same," Yapa said. more..

Sri Lanka seeks to develop bond market to access foreign capital

Nov 22 (LBO) Sri Lanka Central Bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said Thursday the government wants to develop the bond market to be able to access new sources of capital and reduce reliance on concessionary lending. The government's main funding sources were still mainly taxes and bilateral and multilateral loans but it wanted to diversify its funding options and develop new instruments to do so, more..

Sripathi wants president to probe Kadirgamar killing

Nov 22 (LD) Chief Coordinator of the SLFP Mahajana Wing Sripathi Sooriyarachchi sent a letter today regarding the murder of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar more than two years ago. The letter says, “A majority of the SLFP was of the opinion that Lakshman Kadirgamar should be appointed prime minister after the general elections in April 2004.” “Accordingly, the JVP, as a key affiliate of the government, wrote to President Chandrika Kumaratunga, asking her to appoint Kadirgamar to the position.” more..

53 disappearances reported for the month of October In SL

Nov 22 (LeN) Asian Human Right Commission recent update on the list of extrajudicial killings, another list of disappearances of 53 persons for the month of October 2007 has been reported in Sri Lanka. Despite reported cases of killings and disappearances, the government has failed to take genuine action to stop them. Due to a lack of investigation, the phenomenon of killings and disappearances has now extended to ordinary individuals. more..

President off to Uganda for common wealth leaders Summit

Nov 22 (GDI) State leaders of 53 member states will participate at the common wealth leaders’ summit scheduled to be held between 23rd to 25th November at Kampala in Uganda. All arrangements have been made for the summit and the leaders will meet in the Imperial Hotel at Kampala. The theme of this year’s summit is “Directing the people of the member states towards a healthy transformation in political, economic, and human resource development.” more..

53 Commonwealth Leaders meet in Uganda from 23 to 25

Nov 22 (GDI) The Foreign Ministers of Commonwealth States met in preliminary sessions yesterday (21) in Uganda. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama participated in this get together. Thereafter he had bilateral discussions with Foreign Ministers of Singapore and India. Minister Bogollagama mentioned that he would make use of this occasion to h0ld discussions separately with the member states on the terrorist activities prevailing in Sri Lanka and its control. more..

Summary of the Cabinet decisions

Nov 22 (GDI) The Cabinet has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by Sports and Public Recreation Minister Hon. Gamini Kulawansa Lokuge on the project for the development of the Piliyandala Madhya Maha Vidyalaya playground. It has been decided to develop the Piliyandala MMV playground under the allocations made for the development of playgrounds this year as a pilot project in the programme to establish sports schools proposed more..

Sri Lankans in Iraq released

Nov 22 (GDI) Twenty-one Sri Lankans who were arrested by Iraqi troops on 20th in Baghdad after a shooting incident involving a private security convoy have been released today (22). Said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussain Bahila today (22) media briefing held in Colombo. A foreign media said that a woman was wounded in Monday's shooting in Baghdad's central Karrada neighbourhood. more..

Rs.45000 from Netherlands to initiate Disaster Management Network

Nov 22 (GDI) A grant worth of 45,000 million packed with financial and technical assistance was provided by the Government of the Netherlands towards improving the Emergency Disaster Management Network in Sri Lanka. This grant is utilized to improve the Emergency Disaster Management project launched by the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils in 11 Urban Councils, five Municipalities and two Pradeshiya Sabhas. more..

Govt. Hospitals out of bounds for Medical Reps during doctors duty hours

Nov 22 (GDI) To avoid doctors getting interrupted in their duties the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition has taken steps to keep the State Hospitals and State Medical institutions out of bounds for Medical Sales Representatives with effect from January 2008. This decision was taken by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva after considering several complaints lodged by the patients that they are kept waiting for long to more..

Peace, Polemics and Prose without Prevarication

Nov 22 (PISL) I was startled last week to read a reference by Prof Uyangoda to what he described as ‘the government’s War Secretariat’. I assume he meant the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process, which I head, since it was in the context of his feeling the comments he was making did not warrant ‘a five page polemical response’. But I should not have been surprised that the metaphorical adjective ‘polemical’ should have translated into a much more categorical epithet for the Secretariat itself. more..

England enjoy valuable work-out

Nov 22 (CI) England's batsmen enjoyed a serene afternoon of batting practice as their opening warm-up match against a Sri Lanka Board President's XI meandered to a predictable draw. Of the eight batsmen who made it to the crease, only Kevin Pietersen missed out on some valuable time in the middle. Nuwan Kulasekara surprised him with some unexpected bounce, and Chamara Kapugedera claimed a simple catch in the gully. more..

Maid abuses household

Nov 22 (BT) The Jeddah police have nabbed an illegal Sri Lankan maid for stealing jewellery worth SR120,000 from her old employer on the 28th Ramadhan, according to The Saudi Gazette. Following a complaint from the man of the house, the police and local intelligence groups started investigation, based on the maid’s passport held by the old man. In the case of employment of foreign workers, Saudis routinely hold domestic workers’ passports for security purposes. more..

Sri Lankan Business Council formed

Nov 22 (TP) Sri Lankan Coordinating Committee (SLCC), an umbrella organization of all Sri Lankan associations in Qatar, formally launched the activities of the newly formed Sri Lankan Business Council (SLBC). The launch function, held at the embassy premises, was attended by community members and Sri Lankan businessmen in Qatar. The patron of the forum and Ambassador S B Atugoda chaired the ceremony. more..

Seven Thai women remanded over prostitution

Nov 22 (LNP) The Colombo Fort Magistrate and Additional District Judge Namal Balalle ordered the remanding, them till November 25, Seven Thai women and two local employees, of a small time plush hotel in Kollupitiya, who were charged with prostitution by the Foreshore Police. Police informed Court that the arrests were made after sending in a decoy. Police also informed Court that Rs 6,000 was charged from each client to procure the services of these women. more..

Hooded eunuchs running amuck

Nov 22 (LNP) It is with shock and dismay that we note the dastardly attack on the Leader Publications printing press at Ratmalana yesterday. An unidentified group stormed the place, held the production staff incommunicado at gun point and set the machinery on fire. That cowardly act of terrorism must be condemned unreservedly by one and all. On a number of occasions in the past, Editor-in-chief of the Leader Publications Lasantha Wickremetunge came under attack. more..

'Conspiracy to tarnish our image'

Nov 22 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa says there is a conspiracy, hatched by a section of the international community and their local agents, to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka, in general, and that of the government, in particular. Addressing a group who had gathered to express their gratitude to the President, at Temple Trees on Tuesday President Rajapaksa noted that when bombs explode in London, Paris or New York it is termed terrorism, but more..

TNA MP turns aggressive

Nov 22 (SAMN) TNA MP M.K. Sivajilingam took the centre-stage in Parliament yesterday when he stormed into the Well of the House and ran towards Deputy Speaker Geethanjana Gunawardena in an aggressive manner. The MP appeared to be upset when Mr. Gunawardena who was in the Chair requested him to wind up his speech citing the time allotted to him had expired. Mr.Sivagilingam insisted that he had two more minutes to wind up his speech. more..

Rajapaksa launched numerous projects

Nov 22 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched numerous development projects, provided jobs to thousands of jobless youth and school leavers, waged the war in the North-East and has achieved a great victory. While the Leader of the Opposition during his tenure of office of two years did not give a single job to school leavers and never launched a single development programme, Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said. more..

Bus-stand traders ejected by MC

Nov 22 (SAMN) Hundred and fifty six mobile traders who were doing business in the Kurunegala bus-stand were ejected by the Kurunegala Municipal Council on November 16. They said they have operated for over 48 years with no hindrance to any passenger, or the Municipality. The “Eksath Sancharaka Sulu Welanda Sangamaya” Secretary Kumari Weerasinghe told the media over the years they have rendered excellent community service by catching nearly 40 pickpockets, twilight women and drugs peddlers. more..