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India leading 'Right to Protect' in South Asia, says JVP

Feb 28 (IANS) A Sri Lankan ultra nationalist party has said that India is at the forefront of a big power campaign to intervene in small and weaker states in South Asia under the guise of protecting human rights and persecuted groups. 'India is leading the R2P (Right to Protect) pack in South Asia in relation to Sri Lanka,' said Somawansa Amarasinghe, the top leader of the JVP, at a meeting with foreign correspondents here late Wednesday. more..

Srilankan to exit from Emirates’ Skywards plan

Feb 29 (B24) SriLankan Airlines will be making an exit from Skywards, the loyalty programme for frequent fliers of Emirates and SriLankan Airlines, according to a senior executive. “With the management contract between the two airlines being terminated on March 31 this year, we will not be Skywards partners with Emirates,” Chandana Desilva, SriLankan Airline’s head of corporate communication, told Emirates Business. more..

Sri Lanka banks join information call centre to ensure easy credit

Feb 29 (LBO) Ten Sri Lankan state banks has joined a government public information service with the aim of giving the public better access to finance, officials said. Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal said Thursday the service is meant to improve the efficiency of government service and make it easier for people to borrow in order to ensure more balanced economic growth. "We need to connect those who need finance with those who have the finance to give," more..

UNICEF admits tsunami delays

Feb 29 (BBC) Thousands of students protested lack of tsunami reconstruction work UNICEF in Sri Lanka has admitted that there has been delays in their tsunami reconstruction work. UNICEF spokesman, Gordon Weiss, told BBC Sandeshaya that there were many reasons for the dealy in reconstruction work. Some of the work was handed over to the UNICEF by the government only recently, he said, and the fluctuations in the materials market also contributed to the delay. more..

UN refugee agency seeks nearly $19 million to aid Sri Lanka's displaced

Feb 29 (UN) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is appealing for $18.6 million to assist an estimated 500,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka who have been uprooted by decades of armed conflict. The funds – part of the Sri Lanka Common Humanitarian Action Plan – will go towards protection of the displaced, returnees and other populations affected by the fighting between Government forces and the separatist LTTE. more..

JVP regrets India coming down to representing imperialist interests

Feb 29 (LD) JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe says that it was regrettable that India, which had acted under the ‘Panchaseela’ (Five Precepts) policy, has come down to the level of representing imperialist interests. Amarasinghe was speaking at a meeting organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association in Colombo yesterday (Feb. 27th). Creating administrative units on the basis of nationality and religion is an attempt to legitimize separatism, and the JVP would never allow such an attempt, he said. more..

President’s condolence message on the demise of Tyrone Fernando

Feb 29 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a condolence message to the family of the late Tyronne Fernando appreciated the enormous contribution rendered by the former MP and Foreign Minister to Sri Lankan politics, public service and media. President Rajapaksa said that Mr. Fernando held liberal views form his student days in the United Kingdom and added that his keen interest in journalism and the media contributed largely in liberalizing the electronic media in Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka funds LTTE front radio station in London

Feb 29 (LG) Sources close to the controversial satellite Tamil Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) operating from London confirms that the Sri Lankan government is funding its operations on a monthly basis. The said radio station is claimed to have aligned with the LTTE in Sri Lanka, India and in the Tamil Diaspora. Information reaching from TBC confirms it is receiving £5,000 per month from the Sri Lankan government. more..

'Our member abducted & poisoned by armed group'

Feb 29 (LG) “On Thursday 21/02/2008 EROS member Rasamanickam Thiyagarasa (26), the brother of EROS candidate Rasamanickam Yogarasa contesting in the local government elections for the Valaichenai Pradeshiya Sabha on the Eelavar Democratic Front (EDF) ticket was abducted by an armed group, beaten up and was subsequently poisoned and left for dead in a deserted area,” according to press statement resealed by the Party official. more..

Srilankan Tamils: Anatomy of Indian Involvement

Feb 29 (LG) The core problem in Srilanka is one of identity. The Tamils want to preserve their identity. The Sinhalas want to overrun it. No solution has emerged ever since Srilanka became a republic almost sixty years ago. Today, the Srilankan Tamil quest for identity has crystallized around the demand for Ealam. Ironically, this milestone has been reached only because the Sinhalas, in various negotiations conducted through the period, refused to be generous to let the Tamils live as equal citizens and not a suppressed minority. more..

JR, APRC proposals and media

Feb 29 (LR) Wit the disclosing of APRC proposals, there has been a buzz in the media about late president J.R Jayawardana. The APRC proposals have been based on 13 th amendments to the constitution which was resulted with the indo-lanka peace accord. The media in the south is trying hard to white wash the tarnished image of the late fox by trying to highlight that 13 th amendment as a genuine work of JR. more..

It’s a dream come true to play with Sachin: Jayasuriya

Feb 29 (DNA) Sanath Jayasuriya is eagerly looking forward to playing in the Indian Premiere League. Speaking to DNA, the veteran Sri Lankan batsman said he felt honoured to have been sold for over a million dollars and has promised to work for the Mumbai team the way he has tried to help Sri Lanka. “I know my cost is big news. But I know the price has come owing to my contribution to the national team over the years. more..

Body Politic

Feb 29 (Time) Sri Lankan Kali Arulpragasam has vague memories of the country she and her family fled when she was 10 years old. She recalls temples, turtles running between her feet and the jungle behind her grandfather's house with its wild peacocks. But when the 33-year-old jewelry designer speaks of Sri Lanka in London, where she now lives and has a studio, "People think of the war: of the rebels, of rubble, of sufferers and victims." more..

Vijaya came much later

Feb 29 (LG) After a seminar organised by the Organisation of Professional Associations on Federalism and Peace, some wanted to know more about the histories of Tamils and the Sinhalas in this country. It is widely believed that both the Sinhalas and the Tamils came to Sri Lanka from India and have been living ever since as Sinhalas and Tamils. As such the general impression among most of the people is that the Veddas are the indigenous people of the country and the Sinhalas and the Tamils are migrants. more..

Sri Lanka state workers hope to get new benefits without striking

Feb 29 (LBO) Sri Lanka's state sector should have alternative ways to solve problems without striking and hurting the public who are paying their salaries, a minister said at the launch of a new dispute resolution process. The private sector in Sri Lanka already have dispute resolution mechanisms through social dialogue, arbitration and if needed, a settlement through court. more..

Army captures Mannar water control area from rebels

Feb 29 (BN) Sri Lanka's army captured sluice gates controlling water supplies in the Mannar area in the latest advance against bases held by the LTTE in the north. As many as 30 Tamil Tiger fighters were killed or wounded during a daylong battle in Sinnaodaippu, the Defense Ministry said on its Web site late yesterday. The LTTE hasn't commented on the attack. Air force jets bombed an LTTE artillery command center in Jaffna yesterday and pilots "confirmed that the target was accurately taken," more..

Suicide blast near port in Sri Lanka capital, 2 dead

Feb 29 (Reuters) A suicide bomb blast shook a building near the port in the Sri Lankan capital early on Friday, killing at least two people and wounding seven, bomb squad and military officials said. The explosion occurred during a search and cordon operation by police in the quarter of Modhara, near the harbour that sits north of Colombo's financial district, aimed at flushing out Tamil Tiger rebels seeking to mount attacks in the capital. more..

An Open Appeal to Douglas Devananda

Feb 29 (LG) A delegation assembled by me incorporating wider views of the Tamil Diaspora visited Sri Lanka on the invitation of the President from 17th to 23rd February 2008. The scheduled five days of fact finding mission included visits to Jaffna, Batticaloa, Puttalam and meetings with government ministers, officials and civil society leaders. If not for your interference to undermine the programme, our visit would have given valuable insight into the situation prevailing in Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka concludes an Extradition Treaty with Turkey

Feb 29 (LG) “Sri Lanka successfully concluded a bilateral Extradition Treaty with Turkey recently in Ankara. Sri Lanka delegation comprised Dr. Rohan Perera, P.C., Legal Advisor/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Palitha Fernando, P.C., Additional Solicitor General/Attorney General’s Department,” according to official statement released by the Foreign Ministry in Colombo on today. more..

'Our diplomatic missions focused on representing Sri Lankan policy effectively'

Feb 29 (AT) In an interview with the Asian Tribune, Hussein Bhaila, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who overseas consular affairs in the Ministry, stated that the Sri Lankan embassies round the world were enforcing a policy of countering the propaganda of the LTTE and that government’s position that the Tamil people were viewed differently from the ruthless terrorists known as LTTE. more..

Karuna: The Tragedy of a Rebel (Last Part)

Feb 29 (LG) Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan belonged to the generation which came of age with the Black July. His is not just the story of one man; it is symbolic of the tragedy of an entire generation compelled by circumstances beyond their control to make choices which enmeshed them (their community and the country) in a cycle of vicious and deadly errors. It was a generation which came of age witnessing the spectacle of innocent Tamil men, women and children being more..

Sri Lanka to call for fresh bids for new port: official

Feb 29 (LBO) Sri Lanka will call fresh bids for a planned new container terminal in Colombo and is going ahead with a contract to build its breakwater, a senior port official said. A cabinet appointed negotiating committee that handled the planned new deep-draft port had recommended the cancellation of the original bids, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) chairman Saliya Wickramasuriya said. more..

Police conducts investigations on Modara bomb blast

Feb 29 (AT) Extensive investigations are being conducted into the bomb blast at Ibbagewatte in Modera this morning. Police media spokesman and senior Deputy Inspector General N.K. Illangakoon says the explosion took place when the police was conducting a special search operation on a house in the area around 6 am in the morning. It was revealed that Police conducting surveillance, search and clear operations in the area have been tipped off by a civilian about the presence of this LTTE man inside this house, more..

State radio head removed ! Hudson to make comeback?

Feb 29 (LD) Sunil Sarath Perera has been removed as chairman and member of the director board of the state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). And, his replacement in the acting capacity is the Director of Government Information, Anusha Pelpita. When contacted, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told ‘Lanka Dissent’ that the president has made the change. The relevant letters have been sent to Sunil Sarath Perera and his successor, Abeywardena added. more..

Minimum fare to double in railway fare hike

Feb 29 (LD) Railway fares are to go up by 60 per cent soon, according to plans drawn up by the Department of Railways. However, there will be a doubling of the minimum fare to Rs. 10.00, the proposal before Transport Minister Dulles Alahapperuma says. The plans also suggest a division of the railway network into zones - as the Main Line, Puttalam Line, Coastal Line, and the Kelani Valley Line, and the fares are to be increased according to the zone. more..

Udawalawe Park re-opens on March 1

Feb 29 (GDI) The Uadwalawe National Park which was closed down for security reasons will be reopened for visitors from the 1st of March, Environment and Natural Resources Minister, Champika Ranawake told media. The Park will be kept open only during the day time from 6.30 am to 5 pm, according to a decision taken by the ministry. The Ministry also has introduced a new set of guidelines for both local and foreign visitors entering the park. more..

Govt will act promptly to appoint CC

Feb 29 (GDI) Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Media and Information and Cabinet Spokesman said yesterday (28) that that prompt and necessary action would be taken to establish the Constitutional Council (CC), when the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee are presented. The Minister was responding to queries from journalists at the weekly Cabinet press briefing at the Government Information Department Auditorium. more..

Workers issues could best be sorted out through discussion –Minister Jayasuriya

Feb 29 (GDI) Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Karu Jayasuriya, announcing a new strategy on public sector dispute settlement, noted that Sri Lanka had the world's largest public administration staff according to population ratio and that this is an asset that can be used to increase productivity of the institutions if properly administered. more..

Anti-smoking activists criticise Govt.

Feb 29 (SAMN) The government despite harping on anti smoking measures has reportedly failed to ratify the first global health treaty which deals with smoking and use of tobacco products. Anti smoking lobbyists found fault with the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry on its failure to ratify the ‘First Global Health Treaty’ which deals with the control of smoking and also requires the introduction of larger health warnings on cigarettes packets. more..

Minister’s remark sparks arguments in HC

Feb 29 (SAMN) Healthcare and Nutrition Minister, Nimal Siripala De Silva who is currently in England has faulted the Tamil lobbyist in the British Parliament, Keeth Vaas, MP for celebrating the birthday of LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran in Parliament using the parliamentary privileges, a Ministry spokesman said. The remark by De Silva sparked heated arguments at a function held in the House of Commons (HC), and more..

Nearly 6,500 Tigers killed since 2006

Feb 29 (SAMN) The government has the upper hand in a new phase of the war against the Tigers, but it would be foolish to write them off, experts say. Since the start of 2006, a total of 6,486 Tigers, 1,196 military personnel and 982 civilians have been killed, the military says, estimating there are now only around 5,000 Tiger fighters still alive. The government says the figures show they are winning. more..

We quit to protect Muslims’ rights: SLMC

Feb 29 (SAMN) Speaking at the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) local government election meeting in Valaichcheni, party leader Ruaff Hakeem said he was even ready to sacrifice his life on Valaichchenai soil wearing the party cap and shawl. A politician of Valaichchenai who betrayed the Muslim community and was now enjoying a ministry portfolio had threatened that he would be slain if he came to Valaichchenai for election campaigns but he was ready to face that threat, he said. more..

NGOs provoking fishermen, says Minister

Feb 29 (DN) Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Felix Perera yesterday said certain NGOs with sinister agendas were unduly provoking local fishermen to protest against the Government. He said there was no real reason for the fishermen to go as far as to shout and demonstrate slogans before the Fisheries Ministry in Colombo demanding their rights and protection of livelihood since the Ministry had taken many steps to ensure sustainability of their trade under the Action Plan of the Mahinda Chinthana. more..

'Asokamala' essentially a captive animal - Wildlife Director

Feb 29 (DN) "Asokamala" was born and bred in captivity and therefore could not be released to the wilderness, Wildlife Director General Ananda Weerasuriya stated in his objections to a Fundamental Rights Application before the Supreme Court. The Director General added that the elephant was born in the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala and rared in captivity. The rights application was filed by petitioner Vijitha Fernando of Mt. Lavinia, more..

500 tonnes of duty free Pakistani Basmati rice up for grabs

Feb 29 (Island) Sri Lankan businessman can import 500 tonnes of long grain Pakistani Basmati rice duty free following approval by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), government sources said. "No quotas will be granted and letters of recommendation will be issued by the Trade Ministry on a first come first served basis." The TDAP, will issue the "certificate of origin" to its exporters of duty free long grain basmati rice on post shipment and open market basis. more..

Early breakthrough averts communal tension

Feb 29 (Island) Akkaraipattu police recently acted swiftly to thwart a wave of communal tension after the recovery of the mutilated body of a Sinhalese worker at the Norochcholai housing scheme. The 49-year-old worker, the only Sinhalese employed at the project mooted by Minister Mrs. Ferial Ashraff was found killed last weekend. Investigators have quickly established that he had shared a bottle of arrack with three other workers the previous day. more..

Singapore probes purported video of Lankan sex workers

Feb 29 (DM) Singapore has begun a probe over a purported video made public showing Sri Lankan sex workers and notorious pimps operating in Geylang, the red light district of the country after a report over it was published in the Daily Mirror on Wednesday. The Sri Lankan embassy in Singapore said it had raised the issue with the Singapore Foreign Ministry who in turn has said they would check on the matter with their agencies. more..

Has LTTE resumed arms smuggling?

Feb 29 (DM) The advancing Sri Lanka Army troops in the Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya areas have again come under intensive attacks from the LTTE. It appears that from a few days ago the Tigers had suddenly intensified their attacks against the military using 122 mm and 60 mm mortar shells. The attacks had been directed towards the troops of the 58 Division in the North West of Vavuniya, and the 58 Division north of Murunkan and Janakapura north in Welioya area where the 59 Division was in operation. more..

Escalating war fuels rising prices

Feb 29 (wsws) Since December, the Sri Lankan population has faced another sharp jump in the price of daily essentials, including rice, wheat flour, bread, milk powder and fuel. Many working families are now struggling to have three meals a day. According to the Sri Lankan Central Bank, the annualised inflation rate for last year was 21.6 percent—the highest in South and Southeast Asia. Last month, Colombo’s Consumer Price Index (CCPI) jumped from 5,955 to 6,302— an increase of 347 points, more..

Fishermen held for border violation

Feb 29 (PTI) Sri Lankan Navy arrested 25 Indian fishermen and the Indian Coast Guard took into custody of 21 Sri Lankan fishermen for crossing the international maritime boundary line (IMBL), police said. Two boats from each side were also seized. The Indian fishermen, from Kanyakumari, were arrested when they were fishing near the Gulf of Mannar while their Sri Lankan counterparts were arrested for fishing off Karaikal in the Union Territory of Puducherry, police said. more..

Prepared to sacrifice our lives to defeat foreign intervention – Somawansa

Feb 29 (LT) Any attempt by Indian or any other forces to intervene in this country would not be allowed to be successful and such an attempt would be defeated even with the sacrifice of their lives says Leader of the JVP Somawansa Amarasinghe. The JVP Leader said this addressing a protest rally held in Galle yesterday. He said a Ranil-Mahinda-Indian unholy alliance is taking shape and this alliance casting away ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ is attemping to plod on a sinister way. more..

Christians join call for press freedom, protection for journalists

Feb 29 (UCAN) Christians joined a protest against media suppression and the murder of journalists in Sri Lanka, calling for the right of people to know the truth. The Movement Against Media Suppression (MAMS), backed by a number of trade union and Christian leaders, organized a public demonstration through Colombo's streets and an accompanying conference at the J.R. Jayawardane Center in Colombo on Feb. 14. more..

Size of Sri Lanka syndicated loan not set

Feb 29 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's central bank has not yet decided on the size of a planned syndicated loan originally estimated at $300 million, the bank's Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said on Friday. Cabraal said the details of the loan, aimed at meeting part of the government's 2008 budgeted borrowing, including the size and which bank or banks would extend the loan, would be announced after a board meeting on Tuesday. more..

Sri Lanka's crisis of governance

Feb 29 (UPI) President Mahinda Rajapakse last week ordered the removal of the Director General of the Bribery Commission, Piyasena Ranasinghe -- the only person legally authorized to sign indictments related to bribery charges. Thus, by removing the authorized signatory, the possibility of any indictments has been neatly prevented. This occurred as the commission was investigating possible corruption in the purchase of outdated MiG fighter planes. more..

Gilchrist fires but Sri Lanka get consolation win

Feb 29 (CI) Adam Gilchrist provided the fireworks but Sri Lanka's seamers had the extinguisher at the MCG, where Australia's blistering start of 0 for 107 in the 15th somehow turned into their first loss in nearly three weeks. Chasing 222 Australia were cruising as Gilchrist belted 83 from 50 balls, but a collapse of 6 for 16 in ten overs ensured Sri Lanka regained some pride with a 13-run win. more..

Sri Lanka inflation unexpectedly accelerates to 21.6%

Feb 29 (BN) Sri Lanka's consumer prices rose the most in at least four years in February, indicating that interest rates at a 5 1/2-year high aren't cooling inflation. Consumer prices in the capital Colombo rose 21.6 percent from a year earlier, after increasing 20.8 percent in January, the statistics department said today. The median estimate of nine analysts in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 19.5 percent gain. more..

Supreme Court petitioned to disarm political parties

Feb 29 (IANS) An independent Sri Lankan election monitoring body has gone to court seeking an order to disarm all political parties ahead of the March 10 local body elections in the eastern Tamil-speaking district of Batticaloa. Following incidents of abduction, intimidation and murder, allegedly involving a pro-government armed group cum political party, the Peoples' Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court Thursday, more..