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LTTE fails to stop Tamil musical show in Paris

Feb 21 (AT) The LTTE failed miserably in its attempt to stop a musical show organized by a group of Tamil entertainers in Paris with active participation of top singer Mohanraj Muthuswamy. Many Tamils and Sinhalese and a handful of French attended the musical show held on Sunday at Salle LSC on the outskirts of Paris. Independent observers said that this is the first time in recent years that moderate Tamils in Paris could defy the open threats from the LTTE. more..

Just Behaviour and Justice in Religious Conflicts-Some Concerns

Feb 21 (TC) The killing of a Pastor and theserious injury to his wife in Ampara by unidentified gunmen must becondemned by all true adherents of all religions. This violent actcallsfor a prompt and impartial investigation by the Police who must dealwiththe perpetrators under the law. I extend the condolences of our Clergy and Congregations to thePastor’sfamily and pray for a speedy recovery for his wife. more..

An agreement to fight some more

Feb 21 (FI) Sri Lanka’s descent into a sorry state of war has not been a source of great concern within the country. Indeed, many outsiders are more worried than Sri Lankans themselves about the inevitably destructive consequences of the intensifying war. Outside observers have been warning that there is no military solution to the ethnic conflict, that the war will produce only losers, and that an escalation will only further intensify the deepening humanitarian crisis. more..

Libya-Sri Lanka Cooperation Came to a Grinding Halt

Feb 21 (AT) The high-powered talks between Sri Lanka and Libya that took place at Tripoli, in August 2007 had not produced any worthwhile results so far. Libya has moved its embassy in Sri Lanka to India and hopes to appoint a cousul here soon. Talks about economic cooperation, hiring of 100,000 Sri Lankans to work in Libya, the prospects for oil drilling and other crucial economic and trade aspects of the Sri Lnalkan-Libyan co-operation seemed to be on hold. more..

Sri Lanka developers hope for price bottom as replacement costs rise

Feb 21 (LBO) The market for high rise apartments in Sri Lanka has bottomed out and prices are unlikely to fall further, a group of property developers and construction contractors said. Construction costs and prices of apartments can only increase in future because of increasing costs of raw materials, skilled labour, land and utilities, they said. The market for high rise apartments in the island has slumped in recent months when demand collapsed with more..

Guerilla Marketing: Mirror of Sri Lankan politics

Feb 21 (LR) There was a time that number of film directors was busy producing films to fulfill the demand of NGO funding and foreign awards rather than target towards the common people of the country. Most of the film festivals in the west were eager to see misery of people, tear drops, and reflection of the eastern society as a primitive one. The people like Asoka Handagama, Prasanna Withana and Satyangani were busy grabbing NGO funds and producing films to full fill the aspirations of their masters and more..

Lessons to be learned from Pakistan's secular forces

Feb 21 (AHRC) The authoritarianism of general Musharraf, who later became President Musharraf, backed by the world’s most powerful superpower the United States, has found itself being severely bashed by the Pakistani judiciary lead by the chief justice Choudhry and many senior judges and also by an electorate that despite of all draconian limitations imposed on them have decisively determined the outcome of yesterday’s (February 18) general election. more..

Army to raise 61st division

Feb 21 (SLW) The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) will soon raise the 61st division, raising the number of active divisions in the army to 13. The new division will mostly consist of soldiers recruited during the period of 2007-2008. The 61st division, like the 57th, 58th and 59th divisions, will be raised as an offensive formation, a concept of Major General Sarath Fonseka. The army has been running lengthy recruitment campaigns for the past two years backed by heavy advertising through electronic and printed media. more..

Govt exploiting people to the core says UNP

Feb 21 (SLW) Johnston Fernando, UNP M.P. addressing the media at the UNP media unit questioned whether there is a Govt. at all in the country in the backdrop of widespread tyranny, lawlessness, murder, mayhem, abductions, extortions and intimidations, for all of which the Govt. and its henchmen are allegedly, directly or indirectly involved. If a Govt. misdeed is exposed, the Media is harassed and journalists abducted or murdered. more..

I will never join this corrupt govt - Mangala

Feb 21 (SLW) In an interview with ‘Sunday Lankadeepa’ Mangala Samaraweera, former Minister of he Rajapakse regime, and now of the National congress and Leader of the SLFP (M) told that even if he begs on the streets he will not join the Rajapakse regime which is fast heading for a natural death after driving the country to unprecedented despair and disaster. ‘Only if this Govt. will change its policies and if the people wish me to, then and only then I will consider such a move‘, he said. more..

Central bank says policy tight, credit to govt. at record low

Feb 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka's money supply growth is slowing and credit to government was at a record low of 17 billion rupees in January, the Central Bank said in its monetary policy statement in January, promising tight policy ahead. The statement made no mention of policy rates, with the monetary authority no longer targeting a short-term rate after it shifted to money supply control from rate targeting last year. more..

UN - Sanction LTTE, Karuna group for child soldiers

Feb 21 (HRW) The UN Security Council should impose sanctions on armed groups in Sri Lanka for using children in their forces, Human Rights Watch said today. The UN Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict meets today for the second time since February 2007 to consider violations against children committed by the LTTE, Sri Lankan government forces, and the Karuna group, an armed group that split from the LTTE in 2004 and now cooperates with Sri Lankan forces. more..

Engaging with the Enemy for the Common Good

Feb 21 (SLW) Two years and three months into the six year term of the Rajapaksa government the denunciation of those who continue to urge a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict is at a peak. The belief that a military solution alone might suffice to end the three decades long Tamil rebellion has regained the centre stage as it has at various times in the past. more..

'International intelligence service avoids providing information to Sri Lanka'

Feb 21 (LeN) 'Lanka-e-News' learns that the joint intelligence operation of five states has stopped providing information to Sri Lanka since December 31 due to the latter's poor corporation and the inaction based on the provided information. DIGOS project was launched with Euro 300 million investment not for the benefit of Sri Lanka but for safeguarding their own countries from LTTE activities. more..

Sri Lanka gets $22mn UNDP grant to develop coconut industry

Feb 21 (LBO) The United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) is to grant Sri Lanka 22 million dollars to develop the coconut industry, officials from the ministry of coconut development said. The funds will be used to improve small and medium coconut businesses, especially small holder cultivators. They will also be used to start small business enterprises and self employment schemes. more..

Sri Lanka oil minister defends bid timing

Feb 21 (LBO) Petroleum minister A H M Fowzie said Sri Lanka would have lost the confidence of global oil firms if it had postponed the bids for offshore exploration and was keen to ensure transparency in the bidding. Sri Lanka had to compete with other countries, some already producing oil, which also offered exploration blocks around the same time, he told parliament Thursday. more..

If Mayadunne can, why not Mervyn – F’pulle asks

Feb 21 (LD) Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera has claimed a breach of his parliamentary privileges due to the non-appointment of a chairman to the Constitutional Council. The government is deliberately postponing the appointment of former Auditor General S.C. Mayadunne to the position despite a recommendation by all parties in the opposition, Perera told Parliament today (Feb. 21st). more..

JVP tells Govt. to take blame of street protests at time of war

Feb 21 (LD) The JVP has threatened to take to the streets with consumers if the present regime goes ahead with its plan to increase electricity tariffs. The government should take responsibility in the event of it happening at a time when soldiers are waging a war, party MP K.D. Lalkantha told the media today. He described as an attempt to hoodwink the public the government’s citing the rising world fuel prices and the subsidy being granted to the Ceylon Electricity Board as reasons for raising the electricity charges. more..

We don’t agree with govt. policies - TMVP spokesman

Feb 21 (LD) After a lapse of 15 years, the eastern Batticaloa district goes to polls on March 10th to elect people’s representatives to nine local government bodies. Following is an interview with Asath Moulana, Media Spokesman of TMVP, the LTTE breakaway group, which is among the parties that are fielding candidates at the election. Q: Why did your party signed a MoU with the ruling UPFA to contest the east polls? more..

FMM demands proof of charge against journalist

Feb 21 (LD) The Free Media Movement demanded that the CID and Police prove the allegations that journalist Sampath Lakmal, who was killed in 2006, was a paid military informant and open to the media the investigation into Sampath Lakmal’s killing. In a statement the FMM said it was deeply concerned that State agencies were accusing journalists of being agents of the military/LTTE to cover up extra-judicial killings, assaults and arrests. more..

Reggie Ranatunga sworn in as MP

Feb 21 (LBO) Reggie Ranatunga, a provincial council governor in Sri Lanka, was Thursday appointed a member of parliament for the ruling coalition to represent the Gampaha district, north of Colombo. Ranatunga, the father of Sri Lanka's cricket star-turned-politician Arjuna Ranatunga, was sworn in as a member by the speaker of parliament W J M Lokubandara. more..

A buddhist encyclopedia soon

Feb 21 (GDI) An international English medium encyclopedia on Buddhism, covering a vast range of subjects including doctrine, philosophy, culture and diverse Buddhist activities, will be completed shortly. This project was originally launched by the Government of Ceylon in 1955 to commemorate the 2500th Buddha Jayanthi, and was undertaken by its pioneering Editor-in-Chief, Professor Emeritus G. P. Malalasekera. more..

Angela Kane to Visit Sri Lanka to examine the world body's work in SL

Feb 21 (GDI) Ms. Angela Kane, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the United Nations is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on a request from the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to examine the world body's work in the island. She is scheduled to stay in Sri Lanka for a week. "The purpose of Ms. Kane's visit is to focus on the relationship between the United Nations country team working in Sri Lanka, and the Government of Sri Lanka, so that more..

Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to be automated

Feb 21 (GDI) The Central Bank intends to modernize the transactions of the ETF and provide a better service to the employees of both the Public and the Private sectors covered by the EPF. Names of employees contributing to the EPF are maintained by the Labour Department through as per information forwarded by the employer by completing the standard "c" Form when they join an organization. more..

Deegavapi to be made a sacred site

Feb 21 (GDI) Digavapi, the historical site in Digamadulla revered by all Buddhists is to be developed and transformed into a sacred site, on the directives of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Presidential Media sources said. The National Physical Planning Department, coming under the Urban Development and Sacred Sites Development Ministry, will accordinly take steps in this regard, as part of its mandate to protect all national, religious and historical heritage sites, before more..

Migrant workers in Middle Eastern Safe Houses to be brought home

Feb 21 (GDI) Government will be taking steps to immediately bring home the all the Sri Lankan migrant workers who have sought refuge in safe houses in the Middle East, in accordance with a decision taken by the Ministry of Foreign Employment and Welfare following the efforts of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella during the recently concluded "Colombo Process" summit, held in the United Arab of Emirates. more..

Drums beat for Lanka at UN today

Feb 21 (SAMN) The UN Security Council will Thursday discuss the issue of child soldiers in armed conflict during which it will also study a report from Sri Lanka based on a recent visit by a government delegation to the East where both the LTTE and the TMVP have carried out abductions and recruitment of children. During the session the Security Council is also expected to pay attention to the increased violence in the country which more..

President not keen to dissolve CMC

Feb 21 (SAMN) A senior official of the Western Provincial Council has said President Mahinda Rajapaksa was not in favour of dissolving the crisis-stricken Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) but wanted instead a change in those who are at the helm of the council’s administration. The senior official concerned told the Daily Mirror that there would be a reshuffle of those who are holding top positions in the Council. more..

Police seek help to trace missing people

Feb 21 (SAMN) Jayasundera Mudiyanselage Ruwantha Jayasundera (17), son of J.M.D. Jayasundera of 215/100 Diyasena Pura, Medirigiriya Police area, had been missing since January 21, 2008. He is about 5’-5” in hight and fair in complextion and a student of the Hingurakgoda Rajarata Vidyalaya Grade 12. He had been wearing a black trouser and a brown colour short sleeve shirt at the time he was last seen. more..

New act to introduce for Grade one class

Feb 21 (SAMN) The Education Ministry is planning to introduce the proposed national policy on the admission of children to Grade one class, through a parliamentary act in May. Ministry Secretary Nimal Bandara told the Daily Mirror yesterday that the proposals put forward by the expert panel headed by Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe had now been referred to the National Education Commission (NEC). more..

Rampant power piracy in North Central Province

Feb 21 (DN) With the increase in electricity consumption in the North Central Province, the number of incidents of illegal tapping of electricity has also gone up. North Central Province Ceylon Electricity Board, Deputy General Manager, Gratiean Muthukudaarachchi said rich businessmen as well as those from the lowest income group are also involved in illicit power tapping. more..

Schols for medical students under Tharunyata Hetak programme

Feb 21 (DN) Eleven Medical Faculty students of the Kelaniya University was granted scholarships under the Tharunyata Hetak programme at a ceremony held in Colombo on Tuesday. The scholarship was granted to the Medical Faculty students of the Kelaniya University as another move to promote the education standards of the university students under the Tharunyata Hetak programme". more..

Health Ministry transactions under probe – Bribery Commission

Feb 21 (Island) The All Ceylon Health Services Union yesterday accused the Health Ministry of failing to act on the Auditor General's findings on a number of corrupt transactions involving drug purchases, serious misappropriations of funds, over-spending and wastage of government property in the Health Ministry. The AG had submitted a complete report on these matters to the Public Accounts Committee. more..

Sacked Chairman insists govt. approved fertiliser mixing process

Feb 21 (Island) The probe on what Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Minister Maithripala Sirisena called a massive racket at Hunupitiya packaging plant of Lanka Fertiliser Company, has taken an unexpected turn with former Chairman Lalith Kantha Jayasekera claiming that the company had the government approval to produce mixed fertiliser. In an interview with The Island, Jayasekera rejected allegations that he had engaged in any corrupt practice. more..

Hambantota Area Commander transferred

Feb 21 (DM) Hours after the killing of three soldiers in Buttala, Hambantota Area Commander, Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe, was transferred yesterday, with immediate effect, military sources said. It is learned that, on the instructions of Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, Brigadier Ranasinghe was transferred to Army Headquarters. However no reason has been given for the transfer. more..

Civil society demands fair poll in Batticaloa

Feb 21 (DM) Civil society organizations yesterday appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure a free and fair election in the Batticaloa district by giving necessary directions. A group of civil society representatives said yesterday in a statement, that the election would be watched and assessed by both domestic and international observers. The statement said: more..

German mob attack puts Sri Lankan man in hospital

Feb 21 (DPA) A man from Sri Lanka was recovering in hospital Thursday after being attacked by a mob of Germans on a street, police said. The 43-year-old suffered severe concussion and bruising during Wednesday night's assault in the town of Goslar, 210 kilometres south-west of Berlin. A total of 12 men were involved in the attack, punching and kicking their victim and hitting him with a walking stick. more..

New bishop in Trinco-Batticaloa: "hope" beyond the war

Feb 21 (AN) The new auxiliary bishop of Trincomalee-Batticaloa in northern Sri Lanka welcomes his appointment with "great surprise", and says he intends to be a "source of hope" for a population that is increasingly desperate on account of the war. On February 19, Benedict XVI appointed Joseph Ponniah as auxiliary of the diocese, where he was already vicar general. The new bishop tells AsiaNews about the spirit in which he approaches his new post. more..

Sri Lanka fight to stay in series

Feb 21 (CI) Sri Lanka's match against Australia at the MCG on Friday is not technically a must-win game for the visitors but Mahela Jayawardene knows another defeat could be as good as fatal to their CB Series. Australia are all but into the deciders - a victory on Friday will confirm it - and they are taking the opportunity to again rest their spearhead Brett Lee. However, Jayawardene said with several Australia batsmen out of form the hosts would be keen to regain their touch ahead of the finals. more..

Tamil separatists hail Kosovo's independence declaration

Feb 21 (IANS) Separatist Sri Lankan Tamils have hailed the emergence of an independent Kosovo with Western support, saying it augurs well for the liberation of 'oppressed' minorities like the Tamils of northeast Sri Lanka. Most Sri Lankans do not relish the prospect of their small island country breaking up on the prodding of powerful Western nations. But while radicals like the JVP would like the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to take a strong anti-West stance, the more..

Bunker battles kill 48 in Sri Lanka

Feb 21 (AFP) At least 46 Tamil Tiger rebels and two government soldiers have died in intense battles for a bunker line in northern Sri Lanka, the defence ministry said Thursday. Government forces destroyed five bunkers held by the LTTE during fighting on Wednesday afternoon, a ministry statement said. Thirteen guerrillas fell in one battle and 30 in a second confrontation in the Mannar region. Three more rebels were killed by army snipers in the same area, the ministry said. more..

Plantation Tamils in Sri Lanka

Feb 22 (WSN) In Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, there are three major communities – the majority Sinhalese, the minority Tamils and Muslims. In 1948, the population was about 8 million, of which Sinhalese were 66%, Tamils 26% and Muslims 7%. Tamils were from two regions - the Eelam Tamils of the coastal Northeast Province, and Upcountry Tamils from the central highlands of Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. more..

HC judges seek pay hike

Feb 22 (LD) A fundamental rights petition came before the Supreme Court today (Feb. 21st), filed by judges of the High Court and judicial service officers, seeking a hike in their pays. This is the very first time that judges have sought an increase in their salaries, according to judicial sources. The National Salaries and Cadres Commission and 19 others have been cited as respondents. more..

Sri Lanka Navy Petty Officer Bandara in New York

Feb 22 (IL) The world famous cultural troupe of the Sri Lanka defense forces will perform in New York on February 24th. They have already performed in UK, France, Australia and California to full houses and rave reviews, and the New York "Ranaviru Sandyawa" promises to be an evening of vibrant music and dance as well. more..

Ravana’s land and Tamil Nadu politicians: a brief history

Feb 22 (SLW) Mr. Sathseesan Kumaaran’s (SK) short essay in the Island (Feb 13, 2008) covering the topic of “opportunist Indian (Tamil Nadu) politicians,” had a strange final remark on the “high hopes among the Tamil Nadu people” (an Eelam?). Because Tamil Nadu politics is a life and death matter for the Sri Lankans, I felt that a public response to his essay is needed. more..

Rushdie, Ondaatje among Best of Booker favourites

Feb 22 (IANS) Bookies Thursday named Indian-born author Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' as their odds-on favourite after the foundation running the Booker awards invited people around the world to select the 'Best of Booker' novel. People will select their favourites from among a shortlist of six novels to be selected by a panel and announced in May, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction announced Thursday. more..

International Crisis Group asks LTTE to give up separatism

Feb 22 (IANS) An international peace advocacy group has asked the Tamil Tiger rebels to eschew terrorism, formally abandon separatism, and announce an intention to negotiate a political settlement within a united Sri Lanka. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) in its latest report on Sri Lanka, called upon the LTTE to 'cease all attacks on civilians, suicide bombings, forced recruitment, and more..

A fatal blow to Sri Lanka's Bribery Commission

Feb 22 (AHRC) While the 17th Amendment to the Constitution is being ridiculed by the government the reasons for the fear of the appointment of the Constitutional Council and the independent commissions has been confirmed in the most recent incident of the transfer of the Director General of the Bribery Commission with the obvious intent to stop the filing of indictments by the commission and to subvert the work of the commission altogether. more..

Bid to smuggle surgical materials to Sri Lanka foiled

Feb 22 (Hindu) The police on Wednesday arrested four persons and seized surgical materials and 8000 empty sacks meant for smuggling to Sri Lanka. Acting on a tip-off, the police intercepted a van and a bike on the Devipattinam-Panaikulam Road and found five pairs of surgical gloves, five mask cloths used during surgery, five doctors coats and facial creams. Abdullah (36), Mohamed Ibunu (41), Nawaz Khan (48) and Shajahan (35) of Om Sakthi Nagar in Ramanathapuram were arrested. more..

Batticaloa: Despair of the displaced and disappeared

Feb 22 (GV) The government had claimed it had “liberated” the East, completed a 180 days development program and had decided to hold elections as if to prove all is well there. Reports from the ground seemed otherwise. The Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), comprising UN and NGOs active in humanitarian work, reported on their 11th February update that “armed groups continue to operate in the area”. more..