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Sri Lanka rescinds move to bar foreign media for elections

May 9 (AP) The Sri Lankan government said Thursday it was barring foreign journalists from covering weekend elections in the Eastern Province, but backed off hours later following a wave of protests by journalists and rights groups. The election pits a coalition of the ruling party and former rebels against opposition parties in a region the government said it had freed from the control of Tamil Tiger rebels last year. more..

IPL will improve skills: Mahela

May 9 (Hindu) A boyish face that masks nerves of steel. A small frame that packs a punch with the bat. Mahela Jayawardene is a man of many parts strung together by a thread of genuine warmth. The Sri Lankan skipper, a key player in the Yuvraj Singh-led Kings XI Punjab, believes that the DLF-Indian Premier League will enhance cricketers’ skill-sets. “We haven’t played a big deal in the Twenty20 format and this tournament will improve our skills, not just in Twenty20 but in all versions of the game,” more..

Fate of the Displaced - Mannar

May 9 (GV) As soon as the security forces arrived at Arrippu, in September 2007, we were escorted out of our villages, some with personal belongings many with only what they were wearing. We sheltered at Nanattan School for 15 days. We made a request to the area commander through our GA Mn & DS Nananattan to resettle us in our native place. First they said that they would allow us to go to our village with in a month. Then they said after 06 months. more..

Sri Lanka seeks to attract more Mideast visitors

May 9 (Gulf) Sri Lanka has identified the Middle East as one of the two new key markets in its efforts to develop its tourism industry, which has been weakened by the years of civil conflict. At present, Britain and India are its major source tourist markets and accounted for about 200,000 visitors in 2007. "We are looking for more tourists from the Middle East and Russia," Sri Lanka Tourism managing director Dileep Mudadeniya told Gulf News. more..

WFP seeks $36mn to feed Sri Lanka’s displaced people

May 9 (AFP) A UN agency yesterday appealed for 36mn dollars to feed thousands of Sri Lankans displaced by fighting between troops and rebels amidst galloping global commodity prices. The World Food Programme (WFP) now feeds more than 1mn Sri Lankans, of whom 400,000 have been internally displaced. “The World Food Programme has appealed for urgent funds to sustain its operations in Sri Lanka in the wake of the rapid surge in commodity prices,” more..

Report of the Inter Religious solidarity visit to Mannar

May 9 (TC) At the invitation of the Reconciliation and Peace Desk, Colombo Diocese of the Anglican Church, a team of religious leaders visited Mannar from 15th-18th April 2008. The team included a senior Buddhist Monk, several Anglican priests, a Methodist priest, a Catholic Priest, a Catholic nun and two lay Christians. The visit was intended as a solidarity visit to the people and religious leaders in Mannar and to better understand the present situation in Mannar. more..

Tiger Test

May 9 (WSJ) The world's most violent armed group is facing a decisive challenge. For over 30 years, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -- better known as the Tamil Tigers -- have justified their secessionist demands on the basis that they represent all Tamil-speaking people in their "Tamil homelands" of the North and East. This Saturday, that claim will be tested at the ballot box at an election where they will be only onlookers. more..

Election charade in eastern province

May 9 (wsws) The provincial council election scheduled for Saturday in war-ravaged eastern Sri Lanka is an attempt by the Colombo government to dress up its military occupation with a democratic façade. The real character of the poll is revealed by the government’s alliance with the paramilitary Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) and the presence of large numbers of troops and police to intimidate voters. more..

Mrs. Hakeem on the screen for the first time!

May 9 (MG) With less than 24 hours to go before voting began for the eastern province elections, which is scheduled to be held on Saturday, 10th May 2008, Mrs. Rauff Hakeem appeared in the Sri Lanka politico screen in support of her husband and the Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Mr. Rauff Hakeem. Mrs. Hakeem was seen busy on “House to House Canvass”, distributing propaganda leaflets of the UNP/SLMC Alliance in the Trincomalee districts. more..

Eastern Provincial elections may be seen as a milestone

May 9 (MG) For the three communities involved in the history of the ethnic problem in SL this election may be seen as a milestone in determining their next move. The government may use these elections to justify its war efforts by demonstrating that the Tigers are obstructing the Tamil people who otherwise wish to join the democratic mainstream. While facing these elections, the Tamil people find themselves having to cope with the damaging effects of more..

Dr Jayalath Jayawardene meets Dirty Sethu

May 9 (LG) The LTTE’s sewage media head Nadarajah Sethurupan alias Dirty (Oothai) Sethu had a private meeting with Dr Jayalath Jayawardene when he visited Oslo last month for a secretly arranged conference. The purpose of the meeting with Dirty Sethu was not known, but sources in Oslo said it was part of Dr Jayalath Jayawardene’s effort to keep in touch with hardcore LTTE activists. more..

The Sharia Law & the SLMC

May 9 (LG) The SLMC claimed from their formation that the Quran and the Hadith were their party constitution but no party member had any idea whether the party had submitted any constitution when the party was registered as a political party with the Commissioner of Elections on 11th of February 1988. However the SLMC’s party Constitution was officially approved the constitution on the 5th July 1992. more..

Voter is no longer king

May 9 (LG) We became an independent nation in 1948 breaking away from British rule. We then had educated MPs who were elected by the people to serve the people. We had a very efficient police force which maintained law and order. We had the IGP who maintained the law and we had the most efficient judiciary to implement the law. There was no corruption as the elected politicians used their own money for the benefit of the people. Corruption was therefore unheard of. more..

Negotiating with the Tigers

May 9 (LG) When the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE signed a cease-fire agreement (CFA) in 2002, it was welcomed by war-weary Sri Lankans across the ethnic divide. There was deep scepticism, of course. Yet, the truce, the silencing of the guns – albeit temporarily - and the pace at which the negotiations proceeded did generate considerable excitement in Sri Lanka. But that was not to last. Before long, the LTTE was accusing the government of not delivering on its pledges, more..

Whither the Elections in the East?

May 9 (LG) Not for the last twenty years have the people of the Eastern Province witnessed such a large presence of politicians in each Divisional Secretariat. The region is just inundated with politicians going in Pajero jeeps with large contingents of security personnel roaming around the streets and lanes of the East. For the citizens, it has become a circus; for some, it is a joke played on them to be bestowed with so much attention. more..

'Don’t give Provincial Council, a sinister institute to a vile lot'

May 9 (LT) Provincial Councils are sinister institutions that don’t bring any benefits to the people but ravage public money and by electing a group of vile individuals to such institutions the people will be made further miserable says JVP Parliamentarian Ramalingam Chandrasekar. The JVP contests provincial council elections to bring a halt to the destructive moves of the provincial councils and to rescue masses from the disaster brought about by such institutions more..

Manoj Gunawardene appointed CEO of SriLankan

May 9 (LD) SriLankan Airlines has appointed Manoj Gunawardene, the airline's former head of worldwide sales as its chief executive officer, the company said in a statement. Gunawardene has been with the airline for 25 years and 17-years in sales and commercial divisions. He had been regional manager UK, Europe and Americas, from 2005 until taking over worldwide sales in May 2006. more..

JVP calls for govt.'s response on UNHRC seat

May 9 (LD) The government is yet to respond to a report by two international human rights bodies capable of influencing the United Nations, which calls for the suspension of the country's membership, along with that of three other countries, from the UN Human Rights Council, the JVP newspaper 'Irida Lanka' alleges. In a study report released at the UN Headquarters on May 06th, Freedom House and UN Watch said Gabon, Bahrain, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia were found as not qualified. more..

Ratnapura Hospital strike ends

May 9 (LD) The strike by the nursing staff of the Ratnapura hospital ended yesterday evening after agreement was reached between nurses trade unions and the Sabaragamuwa Province governor and the Health Secretary to amicably resolve the issue. Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said the Attorney General would be asked to initiate criminal charges against the errant employees if the deaths of three patients at the hospital were due to neglect by the striking staff. more..

'GSP+ & human rights go together'

May 9 (LD) Convener of the Civil Monitoring Committee Mano Ganeshan has welcomed opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s stated concern over the GSP plus issue. In a press release, Ganeshan, however, emphasized that improving human rights in the country will remain as their greatest concern. The opposition leader said yesterday that he is planning to meet with representatives of the European Union and secure a renewal of the GSP+ facility for the country that expires in June. more..

CMEV monitors EP election and Launches a blog

May 9 (AT) The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) will monitor the Eastern Provincial Council Election on 10 May 2008. CMEV is currently constituted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) the Free Media Movement (FMM) and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre. Set up in 1997, CMEV has monitored every election since then. It observed the elections to local government authorities in the Batticaloa District in April 2008. more..

Sri Lanka morning show wins Australia’s prestigious Antenna award 2008

May 9 (AT) Melbourne based “Sri Lanka Morning Show” Television program was awarded “ the prestigious Antenna 2008 award at the award presentation ceremony which was held recently at the spectacular BMW Edge , Federation Square Melbourne. The Antennas are Australia’s annual National Community Television Award, recognizing the contribution of volunteer community television makers from all parts across Australia. more..

'EU wants Sri Lanka to receive again GSP+'

May 9 (AT) European Union wants Sri Lanka to receive GSP+ again for coming three years. Sri Lanka will get GSP + again if it meets the eligibility criteria .The government can meet criteria if it wants to and the EU is working closely with Sri Lankan government to that end, said Julian Wilson, EU Charge de Affairs in Colombo. Speaking at the EU's 51 birthday held on Thursday in Colombo he said that he is not going to bore with Sri Lanka further detail on GSP+. more..

Minster calls for an inquiry into the deaths at Ratnapura hospital

May 9 (GDI) Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition, Nimal Siripala de Silva has requested an immediate inquiry into the deaths of three persons including a child at the Ratnapura hospital. Three patients died at the Ratnapura Hospital after its nursing staff, numbering around 500, went on strike Wednesday afternoon over the transfer of a male nurse to the Kegalle General Hospital following an incident involving a lady doctor. more..

Admitting the link between Opposition Politicians and Human Rights ‘Activists’

May 9 (PISL) The Peace Secretariat has often noted that perhaps the most insidious threat to the efforts of the Sri Lankan government to promote peace through pluralism and democracy comes from political opponents who will say or do anything to promote their own agendas. It is accordingly grateful to a few determined opponents of the government who masquerade as disinterested proponents of human rights and democracy for proving its point. more..

LTTE cadre commits suicide

May 9 (LNP) The man who died after swallowing a cyanide capsule when he was arrested in Kotmale was an LTTE cadre who had fled Kandy to evade arrest, Police said. The deceased, Gajendran Kumar was arrested along with another LTTE cadre said to be from Mannar. They had been in Kandy but fled when the police launched a search for Gajendran Kumar to question him about the purpose of his visiting Kandy. more..

Trade unionists as killers

May 9 (LNP) Hippocrates and Florence Nightingale would spin in their graves if they knew what doctors and nurses were doing in this country. Some of those who have taken the Hippocratic Oath have turned out to be a bunch of inveterate hypocrites not caring two hoots about professional conduct and some of the followers of the Lady with the lamp have come to be ladies (and gentlemen) with bludgeons which they wave freely at anyone. more..

Sri Lanka military seeks funds from Sinhala Diaspora

May 9 (LNP) The Sri Lankan government has launched a fundraising drive amongst Sinhala expatriates in support of its military. The initiative was formally launched Tuesday at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London and is to be continued in other capitals with Sinhala Diaspora. Several businessmen came forward to contribute towards the UK target of GBP 100,000, press reports said. more..

Japan rushes food aid to Lanka

May 9 (SAMN) Japan is rushing urgent food aid to Sri Lanka with the World Food Programme (WFP) appealing for urgent funds to sustain its operations in the country in the wake of the rapid surge in commodity prices. WFP is awaiting 5,500 tons of rice and 110 tons of canned fish, valued at some US$ 4.6 million, contributed by the Government of Japan. The shipment is scheduled to arrive in June. more..

Racket in sending underaged housemaids

May 9 (SAMN) The case of another girl, Farook Riyana [14] of Kinniya, whose passport and employment contract were obtained under false pretences has come to light. She went to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Jordan recently with her employer who did not wish to employ an underaged housemaid. Riyana had been given a passport with a false date of birth stating she was 19 years old and was introduced to a foreign employment agent by a kinsman. more..

TMVP in polls overshadow all issues

May 9 (SAMN) The entry of the breakaway LTTE faction to mainstream politics and its decision to contest the first ever election to the Eastern Provincial Council on the government ticket is the hottest issue in the May 10 election. The unprecedented relationship between President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government and the Eastern Tigers, styling themselves as the TMVP, overshadows other issues as the UNP-SLMC combine and more..

TNA tells Eastern people to defeat Govt.

May 9 (SAMN) The TNA Thursday requested the people in the East to defeat the government and its allies at the Provincial Council election to be held Saturday. TNA General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah said the merger of the northern and eastern provinces was the corner stone for peace, yet the government breached this very foundation by de-merging the two provinces after 18 years. more..

WHO team seeks public help to find cause for kidney disease rise

May 9 (DN) The special World Health Organisation (WHO) team in Sri Lanka to find out the cause for the rapidly increasing kidney disease in specific areas in the North Central, North Western, Uva and Sabaragamuwa Provinces seeks public cooperation and assistance to carry out scientific studies. Dr. Shanthi Mendis, Senior Advisor, WHO Headquarters, Geneva said without public cooperation the research and scientific studies will not be successful. more..

Hambantota hotels face closure

May 9 (DN) Although tourist hotels in the Hambantota district have been refurbished and are fully operational after the tsunami, hoteliers lament that tourism authorities have not taken action to market the region. Many hoteliers in the area are facing difficulties as they do not have sufficient tourist arrivals and many hotels in the district are facing closure due to the lack of business. more..

Police to grill Guna in India

May 9 (Island) Police Headquarters yesterday said it would send a team of investigators to Tamil Nadu to question the notorious gangster Kimbula Ele Guna, who was arrested by the police there on charges of drug peddling. Police Headquarters had requested the Tamil Nadu police to send it all details of the gangster’s arrest via e-mail. Tamil Nadu police also had launched an operation to arrest some of Guna’s accomplices who were said to be involved in ‘contract killings’. more..

Army boots seized from bus

May 9 (Island) The Anuradhapura Police and Military Police personnel in a joint raid seized 113 pairs of Army boots while being transported in a private bus to Anuradhapura from Colombo yesterday. The driver and conductor of the bus were arrested. Acting on a tip off they set up a road block at Pandulagama and stopped the bus carrying the boots packed in fertilizer bags. The crew had told the police that the stock of boots were handed over to them at more..

Prophet of doom arrested

May 9 (DM) A man publicly preaching about the world coming to an end next week was arrested for causing a commotion and being a public nuisance, police said. Hatton police said the 42-year-old man had frightened the large crowd gathered around him by warning them that death was at hand. “I have received several signs from God during the past few months. We have all sinned which is why the world is going to end in a week,” the man kept screaming. more..

Confusion over fate of Karuna

May 9 (DM) There was confusion over the fate of Karuna Amman with speculation he was to be released from police custody in Britain and deported back to Sri Lanka while the Metropolitan police last night said he still remained under detention. Authoritative sources said that the former TMVP leader was, two weeks ago, transferred from the detention centre he was originally held following his arrest in London in November 2007 for possessing a forged passport and firearm. more..

Indian entrepreneurs ‘greening’ Lanka’s textiles manufacture

May 9 (NIP) Sri Lanka is emerging as a global leader in eco-friendly garment manufacturing, thanks to the farsightedness and drive of three top industrial houses of Indian origin, namely, Brandix, MAS Holdings and the Hirdaramani Group. These companies, whose owners trace their origin to Gujarat and Sindh, are leading the way in making “Garments without Guilt” and dispel the impression that South Asian garment factories are sweat shops. more..

Suspected terrorists held, ammunition seized in Tamil Nadu

May 9 (IANS) Increased surveillance of Tamil Nadu's southeastern coast have resulted in the arrest of two suspected terrorists and the seizure early Friday of a boat laden with contraband ammunition bound for northern Sri Lanka, police said. The consignment recovered off the coast of Rameshwaram, about 600 km from state capital Chennai, consisted of explosives, batteries and camouflage attire. more..

Sri Lanka to hunt for oil onshore after gas find

May 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka is to start searching for oil onshore after the accidental discovery of gas seeping from the ground, government officials said. Petroleum minister A H M Fowzie said Friday the government has received technical support from Egypt to start the initial exploration work. The accidental discovery of signs of gas were near the Munneswaram Kovil, a famous Hindu temple, in the northwestern Chilaw area, adjacent to the waters of the Mannar Basin, more..

Sri Lankan election in former rebel area marred by accusations of violence

May 9 (AP) Arumugam Jagan, an opposition candidate in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province elections, can barely campaign. His posters are torn down or covered in tar. He says he has been threatened by former rebels allied with the ruling party, and his supporters have been attacked as they handed out fliers and threatened with retaliation after Saturday's vote. more..

UK transfers renegade Tamil Tiger

May 9 (BBC) A former leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels who was jailed in the UK in January has been transferred to an immigration detention centre. Col Karuna was sent to jail in January for identity fraud after being arrested in London late last year. He was carrying an apparently genuine Sri Lankan diplomatic passport issued under a false name. It is not clear if he will be deported. Human rights groups want him charged with war crimes. more..

Sri Lanka military captures town

May 9 (Reuters) Sri Lankan troops backed by warplanes captured a town in the northwest of the island on Friday after killing 31 Tamil Tiger rebels in a battle, the military said, as it pressed on with an offensive in the region. Three soldiers were killed and another five were missing from the fighting in Mannar district, the military said. A pro-rebel website,, said Tamil Tiger fighters inflicted heavy casualties on the Sri Lankan military, more..

Sri Lankans face crucial vote test in war-torn east

May 9 (Reuters) Residents in Sri Lanka's war-ravaged east vote in local elections for the first time in two decades on Saturday, and the government hopes the result will endorse its war to defeat Tamil Tiger rebels. Security will be tight for the polls in the eastern districts of Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa, where the ruling alliance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has teamed up with former rebels, whom rights groups accuse of abuses such as child soldier recruitment. more..

Sri Lanka rubber market seen staying strong

May 10 (LBO) The strong market for natural rubber appears promising given skyrocketing crude oil prices and the inability to raise rubber production immediately, a stock broker said. With crude oil prices hitting 120 dollars a barrel, the attractiveness of synthetic rubber is expected to continue to deteriorate, owing to heightened cost of production, said Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers. "The buoyant upward trend in natural rubber is expected to last in the medium term, more..

Emirates offers 250,000 frequent flyer miles for Sri Lanka residents

May 10 (LBO) Travellers out of Colombo who book on-line will have a chance to win 250,000 frequent flyer miles and also earn double the air miles during May and June, Emirates Airlines said. "This is an absolute double bonanza for our passengers," Devika Ellepola, Emirates Sales Manager Sri Lanka said in a statement. "It will make their travel even more interesting and give them something to look forward to at the end of their journeys." more..

Inside Story of the Bell Crisis

May 10 (LG) As the JVP’s Wimal Weerawansa faction is planning to launch their political party after Eastern Provincial Council polls on May 10th, sources have revealed that there are more cadres of the political party including provincial councilors and members of local bodies would rally round with the breakaways. According to sources two parliamentarians from the south may join the new party as they have already ceased communications with the party and more..

Cafe bomb kills 11 ahead of elections

May 10 (Reuters) A bomb went off inside a cafe in eastern Sri Lanka killing at least 11 people on Friday, the military said, a day before the first local elections in the region in two decades. The military blamed the LTTE for the blast which comes amid intensified fighting between the rebels and soldiers along the northern frontlines. At least 29 people were wounded in the blast. "There has been an explosion in Ampara town a little while ago," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara. more..

Bus Terrorism and Justice

May 10 (GV) It was a busy afternoon on the Galle Road in Moratuwa and I stopped my vehicle at a pedestrian crossing to allow a few women and children cross the road. The vehicle on the left lane also stopped and the people were now more than halfway across when a Matara bound Leyland bus squeezed through the left and overtook both vehicles along the curb, barely missing the people crossing the road. more..