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Sri Lanka discusses steps taken to address human rights concerns with France

Jan 8 (GDI) Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe discussed the recent developments in Sri Lanka and the steps taken by the Government to address concerns expressed by the international community on human rights and humanitarian issues with the French Minister in charge of Human Rights Rama Yade. The discussion was held on Friday 4th January, during Minister Samarasinghe’s brief visit to Paris. more..

Three more Sinhala Tigers trapped in Sri Lanka

Jan 8 (LNP) Anuradhapura police arrested three more Sinhala youth yesterday (7) on information given by the two Sinhalese men, who were arrested earlier at Basawakkulama in Anuradhapura with two automatic rifles and ammunition. The three youth were arrested at Devanampiyatissa Pura and Basawkkulama. They had undergone firearms and military training at Mulathivu and Kilinochchi, police said. more..

SLTB workers worried about delayed bonus

Jan 8 (SAMN) Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) employees are perturbed over the delay in paying their annual bonus of Rs 1000 and the extra Rs 500 for school expenses of their children. It is usually paid in December each year. All Ceylon Transport Workers Union (ACTWU) President Sepala Liyanage said they had written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa about the non payment of this money. He also said this would make employees lose trust in Minister Dallas Alahapperuma. more..

Govt. downplays impact of US sanctions

Jan 8 (SAMN) The government Monday played down the impact of the sanctions recently imposed by the United States on Sri Lanka as military hardware purchased from the country has been minimal. Government defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said it appeared that the Bush administration was forced to take these decisions based on political developments and the upcoming presidential elections in the US. more..

Journalists stripped at EPDP conference

Jan 8 (SAMN) Journalists covering a news conference mainly for the Tamil media and hosted by EPDP leader and Minister Douglas Devananda Monday were stripped and checked for explosives by his security personnel before being allowed to enter the venue. During the body checks even shoes and pockets were checked some even asked to remove their pants while at least one photojournalist attached to a Tamil newspaper was asked to strip naked. more..

Human Rights: Public Relations and Private Agendas

Jan 8 (PISL) In recent months there has been much criticism of the national Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. This criticism has been a focal point of the determination of interested parties to establish a field office in Sri Lanka of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, answerable as she unequivocally put it, ‘to me’. Accompanying such claims are the myths that the deficiencies of the current HRC are entirely the fault of the current government, and that the government is unwilling to admit that there are problems. more..

UNP Hypocrisy Regarding Abrogation of the CFA

Jan 8 (PISL) The Peace Secretariat views with bemusement the statement of the UNP regarding the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe signed with the LTTE in 2002. It is replete with inaccuracies and illogicalities, which are of a piece perhaps with the whole approach of the UNP to the CFA. But its barefaced attempt through this statement to isolate the Sri Lankan government from the international community indicates that it still believes continuing betrayal of the nation is its only route back to power. more..

Outsider as next Secretary-General?

Jan 8 (SAMN) There is a move by a powerful Coordinating Secretary to the President, to bring a former district judge, an outsider as the next Secretary General of Parliament. Well informed sources say that the Coordinating Secretary has suggested that the current Deputy Secretary General Dammika Dassanayake should be overlooked when Secretary- General Priyanee Wijesekara retires on March 31 this year. more..

Rally round Govt to liberate Northern masses - President

Jan 8 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa fervently appealed to the nation to rally round him and his Government and provide the optimum support and co-operation in the process of liberating the severely oppressed and downtrodden Northern masses who are gripped by the clutches of LTTE terrorism. The President made this appeal when he addressed a ceremony following the inauguration of the Agro-Technology Park themed Agriculture Technology for a Fruitful Future, at Bata Atha, Hungama yesterday, more..

No talks prospects with Prabhakaran alive -Devananda

Jan 8 (DN) Social Service and Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda yesterday asserted that as long as Velupillai Prabakaran was alive, the LTTE would never agree to peaceful settlement of the current conflict adding that the LTTE always used peace talks to re-group and strengthen its lost power. Devananda said even if the LTTE participates in future peace talks, it is bound to put forward many unreasonable demands so that they could withdraw from the process citing the Government's unwillingness to accede to these demands. more..

UNP out for Dayasiri’s head over call for reforms

Jan 8 (Island) Kurunegala District UNP Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera yesterday came under fire over his recent call for far reaching reforms in the party, political sources said. UNP MPs Lakshman Seneviratne and Sagala Ratnayake called for stern disciplinary action against Jayasekera for what they called public criticism of the party’s leadership, at yesterday’s group meeting. more..

We have all killed the peace deal!

Jan 8 (KT) THE ceasefire had been a dead-letter since December 2005 when violence escalated in the absence of any confidence-building measures by the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration and the LTTE. While the two sides continued the war instead, the question remained as to who would bury this dead-letter. Finally, the government decided to perform the last rites at the expense of drawing the international community’s ire. It was exactly what the LTTE wanted. more..

Only compromise can resolve Sri Lanka's deadly nightmare

Jan 8 (Age) SINCE 1976, more than 70,000 people have been killed in what has been one of the world's most intractable conflicts, that of the separatist rebellion by Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers. In 2002, a ceasefire agreement was reached in the hope of moving towards a peace deal, but last week the Government of Sri Lanka unilaterally withdrew from the ceasefire, marking a likely return to full-scale war. more..

State media causes panic among A/L hopefuls

Jan 8 (Island) Hundreds of students, who are due to sit the G.C.E. Advanced Level examination in August, rushed to the provincial education directors offices yesterday following an incorrect news item broadcast by state managed electronic media organisations. The wrong message said that the closing date for submitting the applications for the exam would be January 10 and advised all candidates to register at the Provincial Education offices before the closing date. more..

Mihin Lanka makes emergency landing

Jan 8 (DM) An aircraft of the government-owned budget airline Mihin Lanka plying the Colombo -- Dubai route was forced to make an emergency landing at the Mumbai airport around midnight on Sunday due to a technical fault, a company official said. “Pilots decided to make an emergency landing due to engine failure probably caused by an oil leak,” Mihin Lanka CEO Sajin de Vass Gunawardane told the Daily Mirror yesterday. more..

Details of pensioners to be posted on internet

Jan 8 (DM) All details of over 400,000 pensioners in the country would be posted on the internet including their livelihood and pension details. Accordingly, details of pensioners all over the country except in the North and East will be posted on the internet, the Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement. Minister Karu Jayasuriya inaugurating the web site, said that during the next three months details of pensioners in the North and East would also be made available on the internet. more..

Sri Lanka Cricket sides with BCCI on racism row

Jan 8 (PTI) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) got behind the BCCI on the racism row, saying the hearing into the charges against Harbhajan Singh was not conducted in a "proper manner". The SLC secretary K Mathivanan said the ICC should initiate a proper enquiry into the matter. "I think the enquiry was not very fair. It should be done in a proper manner. There should be more evidence," he told PTI. more..

Teaching English in Sri Lanka

Jan 8 (Times) I heard about a four-week project teaching English at a remote primary school in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka from a friend who was going to take a gap month last summer. Less than a year later I was running the Sheffield half marathon to raise £1,000 for my trip to Asia. The first obstacle for Sri Lanka as a potential gap destination is that the country is trapped in civil war. more..

Sri Lanka shares at 20-week low on war worries, rupee flat

Jan 8 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares fell for a forth day on Tuesday to a 4-5 month low, led by losses in blue chips amid fears civil war will escalate after the government formally scrapped a truce with the Tamil Tigers.The rupee closed flat as a state bank bought dollars to offset dollar inflows as foreigners bought rupee-denominated bonds. The Colombo All Share index fell 2.26 percent or 56.34 points to 2,432.21 points, its lowest level since Aug. 20, more..

Emirates silent on SriLankan as speculation grows

Jan 8 (AB) Emirates airline on Tuesday refused to comment on the fate of SriLankan Airlines following Dubai's decision to not to renew its agreement to manage the South Asian island's national carrier. State-owned Emirates announced on Sunday it was ending its 10-year relationship with SriLankan after the island's government sought greater control over the carrier's day-to-day business. more..

A grim future foretold for Sri Lanka

Jan 8 (BBC) It had been widely predicted that "2008 would be the year of war for Sri Lanka". The current escalation of violence since 1 January supports those fears. Scores of Tamil rebels and soldiers have been reported killed in heavy fighting in four fronts of northern Sri Lanka in recent days. The rebels are offering fierce resistance to the army and there are intermittent battles at sea as well. more..

Tamil Tiger roadside bomb kills Sri Lanka minister

Jan 8 (AFP) A Sri Lankan government minister was killed Tuesday in a powerful roadside bomb attack by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels near the island's capital and international airport, officials said. D. M. Dassanayake, the 51-year-old minister for nation building, suffered severe head injuries and died while undergoing surgery, said doctor Lalini Gunasekera at the Ragama hospital, just outside Colombo. more..

War erupts in Sri Lanka as bomb kills minister

Jan 9 (TMG) Tamil Tiger rebels assassinated a Sri Lankan government minister in a landmine attack yesterday as the country returned to full-scale civil war, with more than 85 killed in fighting over the last four days. The blast just 12 miles outside the capital Colombo ripped through the side of a vehicle carrying D M Dassanayake, Sri Lanka's minister for nation building, as he was on his way to attend a session of parliament. more..

Sri Lanka expects tourism boost from devout visitors

Jan 9 (LBO) The arrival of a spiritual leader and his followers for a religious ceremony in Sri Lanka will boost foreign visitors in January, the war ravaged island's tourism promotion officials said Tuesday. Some 30,000 members of the Bohra community are expected for the 10-day Ashara Mubaraka ceremony starting January 9. His holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb, the spiritual leader of the international Dawoodi Bohra community, will initiate the ceremony which more..

Sri Lankan Airlines to be run by government again: official

Jan 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka's government will take the reigns of SriLankan Airlines after a management agreement with Emirates Airlines ends in March 2008, the head of the island's investment promotion office said. "The president has decided that the government will run SriLankan Airlines from April," Board of Investment chief Dhammika Perera told LBO. "This is according to the government policy of not privatizing state enterprises." more..

Sri Lanka called on to offer greater devolution to Tamils

Jan 9 (LBO) The European Union (EU) has stepped up pressure on Sri Lanka after the government withdrew from the truce with the Tamil Tigers, with its external relations chief calling for a peace deal that goes beyond previous "failed" offers. The EU's Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement that she was "deeply disappointed" by the government's decision to abrogate the 2002 ceasefire agreement. more..

Don’t sacrifice MPs, denounce brutal politics – Johnston asks govt.

Jan 9 (LD) UNP MP Johnston Fernando has called for adequate protection for all parliamentarians, without categorizing them as ‘threatened’ and ‘not threatened.’ “Do not sacrifice MPs. I ask the government - please denounce this brutal and violent politics,” Fernando said. He cast doubt about the murder of party parliamentarian T. Maheswaran, who had been pressurized to vote with the government at the budget vote. more..

SLFP withdraws charge-sheets to Mangala & Sripathi

Jan 9 (LD) The Disciplinary Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has withdrawn the charge-sheets issued to MPs Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi after they crossed over to the opposition. Attorney Champani Padmasekara has notified Attorney Nilanthi Peiris of the decision. I have been told that both MPs had been informed in writing about the withdrawal of the charge-sheets, Peiris told ‘Lanka Dissent.’ more..

Education Minister shuns teacher unions on salary anomalies

Jan 9 (LD) Teacher trade unions returned empty-handed from a meeting called by Education Minister Susil Premajayantha to discuss the non-issuance of a circular for the elimination of teachers’ salary anomalies, as he was absent at the promised discussion today (Jan. 08th). Premajayantha had avoided representatives of the JVP-affiliate Ceylon Teachers Union, the Association of Educational Professionals and the All Ceylon United Teachers Union. more..

France strongly condemns latest bombing in Sri Lanka

Jan 9 (KUNA) France on Tuesday issued a strong condemnation of the latest bombing in Sri Lanka that took the life of a government minister. "France condemns in the firmest manner the attack which cost Sri Lankan construction minister DM Dassanayake his life," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani said in a statement. The minister was ambushed while driving as his car was peppered with shrapnel in the explosion. He did not survive emergency medical aid. more..

'LTTE threats cause Indian PM cancelling visit to Sri Lanka'

Jan 9 (LG) Dr. Subramanian Swamy claims cancellation of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Sri Lanka to attend the Sri Lanka’s 60th independence ceremony in Colombo was due to security concerns for his safety. Dr. Subramanian Swamy in his exclusive interview to Nilatha Ilangamuwa of the Sri Lanka Guardian, gave his insight into the current political and military developments in Sri Lanka. more..

Assassination of Minister Dassanayaka is a further call for unity against terror - President

Jan 9 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa, responding to this morning's assassination of Minister of National Heritage, D.M. Dassanayaka, said that this act of terrorism deserves the most vehement and unequivocal condemnation by all those who respect democracy, desire peace and value human life. The President said in a media release issued this afternoon that 'his assassination in a claymore mine attack by the LTTE is yet another example of more..

LTTE is supported by weapons from communist China?

Jan 9 (LR) As expected the US will slash military aid to the Mahinda regime and in the wake of this action of the US Congress and Senate, the Sri Lankan government will look elsewhere for support. No doubt, with the well wishers of the reactionary sections of the US administration. In Lakbimanews, Ranga Jayasuriya says “It is not only the Russians, who are making a foray into the Sri Lankan arms market. Pakistan has increased its annual assistance loan by US $ 31 million dollars. more..

Sri Lanka pledges to beef up protection for opposition legislators

Jan 9 (Xinhua) Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanyake has pledged to look into the safety concerns of opposition parliamentarians following protest in the assembly by the legislators belonging to the main opposition UNP, parliamentary officials said. The UNP members held placards and banners in the assembly when parliament met here Tuesday for the first time in the new year. They accused the government as responsible for the gunning down of the UNP's sole Tamil minority MP Thiagarajah Maheswaran. more..

Leave the past where it belongs – in the past!

Jan 9 (ML) Let us face life – realistically. The only way there will ever be peace in Sri Lanka is if all political factions accept the reality of living in the present. Here in the present, where life really takes place, we all have the opportunity of creating a better future based on our ability to let go of the past. Yes, in the past wrongs have been committed—the wrongs committed by the LTTE and the wrongs committed by some of the Sinhalese. more..

Blast in Sri Lanka capital, no one hurt-Official

Jan 9 (Reuters) A bomb exploded in a phone booth in a block of flats in the business area of the Sri Lankan capital on Tuesday evening, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties, the government said. The blast came hours after suspected Tamil Tiger rebels killed a government minister with a roadside bomb between Colombo and the island's international airport. "It was an explosive. They have put a bomb inside a telephone booth in a block in Regent's flats," more..

Putting Lankan Race Relations through Woman Director's Lenses

Jan 9 (TW) Lankan film made basically in Sinhala with added dialogues in Thamil and English is a welcome cinematic production. The film is by the ace woman filmmaker - Sumitra Peries. I saw this film a few weeks back at the Regal. I missed a few scenes at the beginning because I could not reach the venue on time due to unusual traffic congestion, probably because of the security provided to VVIPs. more..

Govt. paves the way for mayhem

Jan 9 (ML) The killing of Nation Building Minister D.M. Dassanayake yesterday was a harbinger of the violence to come following the government’s decision to abrogate the Ceasefire Agreement last week. Even as the international community including France, USA, Britain, India, EU, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon warned the government there would be an escalation in violence and called for a halt to military action and a negotiated settlement, the LTTE was to attack indiscriminately. more..

Obama: Sri Lanka afflicted with "problem of the other"

Jan 9 (ML) Characterising the conflict in Sri Lanka as a "vicious civil war," Senator Barack Obama, a leading Democratic contender in America’s forthcoming 2009 Presidential Elections, said during an interview that, "the problem of the 21st century is the problem of the other." He described this phenomenon as the inability of people to accommodate others "who are not like us," and mentioned Sri Lanka as an example, pointing out that war rages even when "everybody there looks exactly the same." more..

Who Rules The Country: Rajapakse Or The JVP?

Jan 9 (ML) The re-attached tail of the JVP is wagging the Rajapakse administration furiously and is threatening to topple it. During the presidential and parliamentary elections this tail-dog attachment appeared to work but during the first year President Rajapakse refused to be swayed and instead attempted to forge an alliance with the UNP which he scuttled after surreptitiously ‘buying’ over 17 UNPers and ensuring a parliamentary majority. more..

Protecting the environment during conflict

Jan 9 (ML) As a new year dawns with intensified warfare, a more pronounced military thrust, and the assassination of a Tamil legislator, there is no denying that the conflict has a terrible bearing on both the environment and the ecology. Given the vulnerability of a country engaged in war that causes environmental degradation and resource depletion besides many other ill effects, the world is being reminded once again by the concerned parties that environmental concerns should be looked into even when locked in armed conflict. more..

War fears grip Colombo

Jan 9 (BL) Defence authorities concerned over three explosions in a week, but resolve to wipe out terrorism spurred by record 35,000 recruitment to the Army. With three claymore explosions within a week, the Eelam War has firmly entered the Colombo city, sending shock waves to the people. The defence authorities however, are determined to tackle it, spurred by the record valour expressed by the youth, in joining the fight against terrorism. more..

Sri Lanka: Final call

Jan 9 (BL) At the risk of sounding repetitive, the words of this poem by Josiah Gilbert Holland have never rung quite so true. The first eight days of 2008 have, if anything, underscored how bankrupt Sri Lanka is of exactly this kind of leadership and guidance. In the few short days of the New Year, there have been unprecedented amounts of blood spilled. Maheswaran’s slaughter on the first of the year was quickly followed by the blast in Slave Island that killed five, including two young schoolboys. more..

Govt to pilot SriLankan; Staff, Travel trade wary

Jan 9 (BL) Staff at the crisis ridden SriLankan Airlines continue to be in limbo with regard to their future at the national carrier, when strategic partner Emirates exits the shareholder agreement on March 31, 2008. Board of Investment Chief Dhammika Perera yesterday put speculation about foreign management to rest after he said that the government would take over the management of SriLankan, once the shareholder agreement expires at the end of March. more..

Tamils disturbed by CFA withdrawal

Jan 9 (BL) The government’s decision to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) has disturbed the Tamil people. A sense of insecurity has crept into their lives. Thousands of Tamils crowded police stations during the weekend to register themselves as residents of the areas they live. Police arrested 198 Tamils and took eight vehicles into custody in a massive sweep in Colombo city on Sunday, more..

Sri Lankan Maid Heads Home After 10 Miserable Years

Jan 9 (AN) On the eve of her departure to Sri Lanka, Anista Marie, the housemaid who was treated like a slave in a Saudi household for eight years, thanked Arab News for bringing her case into the public domain and helping to secure her freedom to return home. “If it were not for the efforts of Arab News with which I first lodged my complaints, I would not have seen the light of day,” Marie, who is to leave the Kingdom today, told Arab News. more..

Time for People and legislature to unite with forces to fight against terrorism

Jan 9 (LR) Sri Lankan legislature lost two of its law makers within one week. Firstly, it was UNP Colombo district parliamentarian T. Maheshwaran who was brutally killed in a Hindu temple. It was followed by road way side claymore explosion killing D.M. Dassanayaka who was the minister of nation building. This clearly shows that now Sri Lankan legislature is severely under threat of terrorism. more..

Now that the CFA is out of the way…

Jan 9 (GV) It was a bloody New Year. The high profile assassination of an Opposition MP and a bomb explosion in the heart of Colombo are tragic markers of what 2008 holds for Sri Lanka. To add to the drama, the Government of Sri Lanka on the 3rd of January unilaterally withdrew from the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) signed with the LTTE in February 2002. As we write, the SLMM has folded its operations, Norway’s continued role and relevance as a peace broker is highly suspect, human rights abuses grow apace within a culture of total impunity and the country is set for total war. more..

War is a Good Meal Now, If Dessert is Profit

Jan 9 (LR) The other start to this New Year was in Colombo and within a very high security zone. Tamil politician Thiagarajah Maheswaran elected to parliament in 2004 April by the Tamil citizenry resident in Colombo after he narrowly escaped death at the hands of unidentified killers, was this time killed when he was in a kovil in Kotahena to participate in a New Year pooja. The suspected assailant was shot at by Maheswaran’s bodyguard who himself was injured in the melee. more..

Catholic Civil-Society Movements Expose 'Reality' In Blacked-Out Jaffna

Jan 9 (UCAN) Sri Lankan Catholic civil-society groups have highlighted the plight of their countrymen in the embattled Jaffna peninsula through an exhibition of photos and video clips taken by priests and rights activists. "People in the southern part of Sri Lanka do not know what is happening with the 600,000 people in Jaffna," said Ruki Fernando of Law and Society Trust during the Dec. 21 exhibition at the Center for Society and Religion in Colombo. more..