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Tissa Abeysekara passed away

Apr 19 (BBC) Award-winning filmmaker, actor, and scriptwriter, Tissa Abeysekara passed away at the Colombo National Hospital following a brief illness. He was also a political activist, a critic and an academic. Tissa Abeysekera entered into the artistic world as a Sinhala short story writer, still as a teenager and later developed his artistic skills broadly in to film making. more..

Britain sends envoy to UN over Sri Lanka

Apr 19 (Reuters) Britain said on Saturday it was gravely concerned about fighting between government forces and Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka and had sent an envoy to the United Nations for urgent talks. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the conflict in northern Sri Lanka threatened many thousands of civilian lives and repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire to allow civilians to leave the conflict area. more..

Sri Lanka health official says 28 civilians killed

Apr 19 (AP) At least 28 civilians have been killed in two days of fighting as Sri Lankan troops try to push into a small "no-fire zone" where Tamil Tiger rebels have bunkered down for their final stand, a health official said Saturday. The rebels lost to government forces the de facto state they controlled for years in parts of the country's north and east and have retreated into a tiny slice of land that the government earlier declared a haven for civilians fleeing the fighting in this island's nation's 25-year civil war. more..

Rohitha and RAW - The connection

Apr 19 (SL) Interesting information has been revealed in the Indian media about the “connection” between Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and India’s espionage and intelligence agency the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). According to an article written by Saikat Datta in the prestigious Indian news magazine Outlook India the Minister’s daughter was admitted to an Indian higher educational institution to pursue medical studies through the efforts of RAW. more..

The larger polity “packages”

Apr 19 (SL) The two-day ceasefire extended by the government was expected to be used by the warring factions to hammer out a solution to evacuate the civilians trapped in the no fire zone. The dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year was considered the best time to forge a consensus on this thorny issue. It was even suggested that Velupillai Pirapaharan together with other top Tiger leaders would be afforded an opportunity to get out of the country enabling more..

Norwegian Ambassador denies brokering top Tigers' escape

Apr 19 (SL) Norway's Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Tore Hattrem Friday refuted charges that Norway has been or is involved in ongoing secret negotiations on safe passage/security for the LTTE leadership. "This is with all respect, pure and simple rubbish," he told The Sunday Leader. "Neither Norway nor any other actors have to my knowledge been involved in such talks. Norwegian efforts in the last several months have solely been focused on the humanitarian situation for the IDPs," Hattrem said. more..

Apathy over parliamentary committee reports

Apr 19 (SL) The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption has submitted a progress report to parliament in January after conducting investigations into 16 public institutions, based on the findings of two reports by the Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE). The progress report seeks to inform the House the overall status of the investigations into the 16 public institutions but legislators are skeptical about concrete action being more..

'Main task against LTTE has been achieved'

Apr 19 (Hindu) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that he had addressed the main concern of the people — for which they elected him as President — that of safeguarding the country’s security. “They wanted their motherland to be free from terrorism, and fragmentation as per the agreements inked between the terrorists and the past governments,” he told the workers of the SLFP on Friday. more..

Karuna faction in Jamaldeen killing

Apr 19 (LB) The special police team investigating the recent killing of Superintendent of Police Eastern Province M.H. Jamaldeen recently determined that TMVP’s Karuna faction was involved in the killing. The police team learnt that certain members of the TMVP’s Karuna faction were engaged in contract killings, armed robberies and many other serious crimes. SP Jamaldeen was shot and killed on the evening of April 5, while on his way home with his daughter on his motorbike. more..

Do we need IMF loan if we were good at gainful employment ?

Apr 19 (LB) You have GOT to love this country. Whenever the sun moves from the House of Pisces to the House of Aries, everyone goes on holiday for a week. Every year, Sri Lankans usher in the National New Year by dedicating seven complete days to stuffing themselves silly with oily food and bolting down vast gallons of alcohol. You would think there was no better way to celebrate the movement of the sun than to do bally nothing the entire time. more..

Tourist bungalows and dining rooms end up being DIG offices

Apr 19 (LB) In a radical change in the structure of police administration, senior DIGs who were in charge of various provinces were ordered to move out from police headquarters from where they were directing administrative duties, and ordered to set up offices in the relevant provinces which were under them. These officers allege that they have not even been provided with facilities given to an OIC of a police station. more..

India’s intervention could solve our problems

Apr 19 (LB) TNA MP, K. Thurairatnasingham, spoke to LAKBIMAnEWS last week, on the current poltical impasse and other issues. Edited excerpts: Q: Four TNA parliamentarians including the parliamentary group leader R. Sambanthan are at present in India holding discussions with political high-ups representing the Indian government. However, earlier there was said to be a difference of opinion amongst the TNA MPs as to whether or not the alliance should accept the invitation extended by India. more..

Troops manoeuvring to open main road access to NFZ

Apr 19 (MoD) Soldiers of 53 and 58 Divisions were just 700m to 800m short of the bridge on the A-35 road (Paranthan - Mullaittivu) at Vellaimullaivaikkal last night. Troops after a daylong march along the A-35 axis readjusted their forward boundary that extend across A-35 to the northern bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon. The manoeuvre is aimed at opening up a main road access to the No Fire Zone [NFZ], where nearly 70,000 civilians have been held hostage by LTTE terrorists, said the sources. more..

Mahinda in `Stalingrad`

Apr 19 (LNP) When the army engaged the LTTE in the outskirts of Kilinochchi a few moons ago, Prabhakaran threatened to turn that well-fortified township into a mass grave for the troops. A pompous Tiger chief audaciously roared that if President Mahinda Rajapaksa ever toyed with the idea of wresting control of that bastion, he was only daydreaming. Prabhakaran`s much-publicised threat gave a fresh impetus to the Opposition s campaign to derail the country`s war effort. more..

“Victims of War” in Geneva

Apr 19 (GDI) “Victims of War” a photographic exhibition to enhance worldwide awareness of the brutalities, political assassinations, cruelties imposed on civilians and disregard for human rights by the LTTE through the past three decades, as well as the successes so far of the humanitarian operations to free the country from terrorism, will open in Geneva this week. Photographs of from a large number of Sri Lankan and foreign journalists, from international news agencies and publications, will be on display at more..

'Put pressure on LTTE to free civilians'

Apr 19 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa called on all those pressuring his government, both locally and internationally for an extended “humanitarian pause” or a ceasefire, to instead appeal to the LTTE to give freedom of movement “just for one hour” to innocent civilians stranded in the No-Fire Zone (NFZ), in the North. “If the LTTE gives such freedom was given to the Tamil civilians held back by it for nearly 30 years, no one could prevent them coming of their own free will to the government controlled areas”, he said. more..

Amendment to disaster management act soon

Apr 19 (PSM) The Disaster Management Act is to be amended to give additional powers to the current Disaster Management Centre while empowering the Ministry, the Director of Mitigation at the Disaster Management Centre said. According to the Director the centre will gain autonomy in carrying out management, disaster response and mitigation programmes. The amendment to the act will further ensure the right of declaring emergency at local levels, he added. more..

Pottu Amman's brother-in-law surrenders to the Army

Apr 19 (LeN) Investigations have revealed that a youth named Nadaraza Aravinthan who has surrendered to the Army is the only brother-in-law of Pottu Amman. His only sister Kumari Wathsala who was born in 1966 is Pottu Amman's wife. The brother-in-law has divulged to Army that Pottu Amman has three sons of the ages of 22, 16 and 12. The elder son studied computer science together with Prabakaran's son and he was engaged in work in that sector. more..

'Starvation poised for worse killings than shelling'

Apr 19 (TN) While around 60 civilians killed Friday and Saturday by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) shelling, civilians have already started dying and many more thousands are at the verge of death due to starvation that is silently taking its toll within the so-called safety zone, TamilNet correspondent reported Saturday. The imminent victims are elderly, children and women. "Gruel has become the staple food to keep soul and body together for a vast majority of the civilians for weeks now. more..

Police help at hand for suspects of Balage murder

Apr 19 (LT) In the trial held on the 16th regarding the killing of JVP member Nandana Balage on the 6th of this month in Veyangoda area witnesses stated in court that the murder was committed by NFF Parliamentarian Piyasiri Wijenayake. The Attanagalla Magistrate ordered that NFF Parliamentarian Piyasiri Wijenayake, the UPFA candidates for Gampaha District at the Western PC election Neluk Mallawa and Kingsley Kasthiriarachchi and two members of the ministerial security service be arrested immediately and brought before the court. more..

Body of one child disappeared from Akmeemana found

Apr 19 (LT) The body of one of the children disappeared a few days ago from Gonamulla area in Akmeemana was found last afternoon from a garbage pit between the two houses where the children lived. The body found is that of the 10 year old girl. The two children disappeared on the 15th with the bicycle they were playing with. The police carried out a special investigation to trace the children. The police dogs too were used. more..

War or peace is good for business

Apr 19 (LG) The Chinthanaya boys and girls say the war is all but over. Peace lobbyists say Velu has shifted Eelam IV to the West and won its media support, pointing to reports and commentaries coming over. War or Peace was the issue in our minds. We mulled over a saying: If you don't know where you are going, how can you expect to get there? As we walked into the Water Hole to think about the New Year. more..

Huge civilian influx

Apr 19 (SO) The agitation brewing among the hostages against the LTTE terrorists in the No Fire Zone (NFZ) have eventually broken the iron gates of the LTTE’s human prison as nearly 2,857 civilians have escaped the LTTE, yesterday. They have arrived to the 58 Division which is in close vicinity of the NFZ. The LTTE, hoping for a last minute sympathetic response from the international community to call for a ceasefire to strengthen their fighting power, more..

Where have NGO funds gone?

Apr 19 (SO) Despite the presence of several foreign-funded non-governmental organizations, no development had taken place in Kilinochchi for the past few years”, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. “None of these organizations have built community centres, roads, houses or have provided electricity, water or other facilities to the people in the area. He said that what the NGOs have done in the past few years was just to build a culvert. more..

Homeguard runs amok

Apr 19 (SO) Kebethigollewa Police are investigating the macabre shooting incident where an enraged home guard shot dead his mother-in-law and his brother-in-law following a heated altercation last week. The dead persons have been identified as R. Indrani (54) and L. Danushka (15), a student residing at D5 at Wahalkade. Police said they are probing how the suspect homeguard Ajith Kumara had married an underaged girl (17) a few years back. more..

Avurudu visits battle front: Home away from home

Apr 19 (SO) Clad in saree with floral prints seven `models’ were lined up to start the catwalk. The rather masculine bodies started parading rhythmically amidst cheers from their colleagues. After careful observations by a bench of four judges, K. A. Nilantha Sadaruwan was crowned the `most beautiful woman’ while Karunaratne was selected the `Avurudu kumara’. The Avurudu kumara and kumariya brought happiness to the soldiers for once-away-from-the battle front, more..

Has TNA’s Indian visit caused split with LTTE?

Apr 19 (NS) Serious questions have been raised as to whether the recent visit of the TNA to India, has brought about a possible split between the party and the LTTE. Did the TNA delegation visit India with the LTTE’s consent, is a question that needs to be answered to clear this muddle. Right now, all indications are that ,a crack has already appeared between these two parties following the visit of TNA delegation to meet Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan last week. more..

Mental Health to the Black Dogs

Apr 19 (NS) A National Mental Health programme organised by the Health Ministry, in collaboration with local and foreign NGOs, has stirred a hornet’s nest. The Programme was launched at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on March 24, with more than 100 local clinicians, doctors and mental health workers participating. Though the Programme has been spearheaded by the Mental Health Directorate attached to the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition, it appears that, the Health Ministry hierarchy is not aware of this Programme. more..

Bogols to issue govt. stand on Norway soon

Apr 19 (NS) Amidst increasing demands from the government to stop all diplomatic links with Norway, and rising demands from the international community to pause military operation in the north, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama is expected to reveal the government’s stand on both issues in Parliament tomorrow. Protests against Norway increased following Sri Lankan Mission in Oslo being attacked by a group of LTTE supporters last Sunday more..

Top Govt. team goes to IMF

Apr 19 (NS) Sri Lanka awaiting a massive stand by credit of US$ 1.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund to overcome financial difficulties arising from the global economic crisis, will dispatch a top level delegation to Washington next week. Sources said the government delegation headed by Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs and Deputy Minister of Finance Dr Sarath Amunugama would first attend the IMF Annual General Meeting from April 23 to 25 and on the sidelines pursue the loan matter. more..

Abandoning the Moderate Centre

Apr 19 (Island) The middle ground exists, even when it is unoccupied, ignored or denied. There is a moderate space between the two extremes of a permanent ceasefire and an immediate (ground cum air) assault on the ‘safe zone’. The Rajapakse administration positioned itself on that sane locus, momentarily, when it declared a two day unilateral ceasefire in time for the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year. more..

SL will not accept compensation for damage to mission in Oslo

Apr 19 (Island) The Sri Lanka government will not accept the Norwegian offer of compensating the government for damage caused by an attack on Sri Lankan Embassy in Oslo last Sunday by a group of pro-LTTE demonstrators. "We will not be accepting the offer of compensation made by Norway," a senior foreign ministry official said on condition of anonymity. "We can meet the cost ourselves." Officials in Colombo are also unhappy that the Norwegian Foreign Minister had not directly contacted his counterpart in Colombo to more..

Politics in Sri Lanka a vicious circle – Grero

Apr 19 (Island) United National Party (UNP) Ratmalana organizer and Western Provincial Council candidate Mohan Lal Grero says that Sri Lanka’s political system is a vicious circle. "The public always want us to give them a road, a culvert, a tent and a pair of spectacles. But they don’t often ask us to supply broad-based and long-standing answers to their most pressing problems," he told a UNP meeting at Moratuwa recently. more..

Record crowd of merry-makers throng Nuwara Eliya this season

Apr 19 (Island) A record turn-out of merry-makers descended on salubrious Nuwara Eliya as the April season got into full swing with a series of exciting events lined up in this popular upcountry holiday destination. "The response was overwhelming – it exceeded our expectations", beamed Palaka Perera, General Manager of The Grand Hotel, the most reputed and nationally acclaimed heritage landmark in the hill capital. more..

End of the way for Norway

Apr 19 (ST) A two-day pause in 'offensive operations' and a relative lull during the festive season did not take the world spotlight away from Sri Lanka. Nor did it dull some significant domestic developments. Some western leaders and senior officials were trying to reach their local counterparts in Colombo on the telephone. The purpose was to plead with the government to continue with the Avurudhu pause in 'offensive operations' so the thousands trapped in more..

Rs. 92 billion oil hedging dispute goes for arbitration

Apr 19 (ST) The Government’s talks with commercial banks over the US$ 800 million (Rs. 92 billion) oil-hedging dispute have collapsed and the issue will be decided by international arbitration, Minister Sarath Amunugama said yesterday. According to Mr. Amunugama, the controversial deals which the Attorney General ruled were flawed will now have to be settled in an international arbitration tribunal after commercial banks refused to compromise on payments due to them. more..

“Westward ho!”

Apr 19 (ST) In the course of his research into Sri Lanka’s nautical culture, Lt. Cdr. Somasiri Devendra came across reference to a Jaffna Thoni, a traditional sea going cargo ship which had sailed to America. Here he relates its story. This fascinating account flows, alas! not from my pen, and I claim no authorship. But let me tell you of how I chanced upon the story. I found a copy of an old “Veerakesari” newspaper with a grainy photograph of a Jaffna Thoni in the National Archives but more..

Govt. acts to save face in EPC

Apr 19 (ST) The government took swift action yesterday to save face in the Eastern Provincial Council and avert an almost certain defeat on an important bill. On a presidential directive, Governor Mohan Wijewickrema has put off the partly-held debate on Amendments to the Local Authorities Elections after a majority of council members, including Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, opposed them. more..

British scribe deported for biased, distorted, irresponsible reporting

Apr 19 (ANN) British journalist Jeremy Page was deported from Colombo as he had been blacklisted for biased, distorted and irresponsible reporting on Sri Lanka’s battle against LTTE terror, Immigration and Emigration chief P Bandula Abeykoon said yesterday. "We will not allow foreign journalists who defy the sacred ethic of balanced reporting to come here and file warped reports", he insisted. "That’s why we have blacklisted many of them". more..

Tamil civilians slaughtered as army shells 'no-fire zone'

Apr 19 (Guardian) Hundreds of civilians are being killed or seriously injured in artillery and gun attacks as the Sri Lankan army attempts to finish off the last Tamil Tiger rebels trapped in a shrinking pocket of land. Injured civilians lucky enough to get out have told of carnage in this so-called "no-fire zone" - a 17 sq km strip of coast where the Tigers are penned in with their backs to the sea. Horrific stories of limbs ripped off by shellfire and more..

Indian military doctors save lives in Sri Lanka

Apr 19 (IANS) As Sri Lankan troops battle the Tamil Tigers in their very last bastion, a small group of Indian doctors are quietly treating scores of maimed and wounded Tamil civilians pouring out of the war zone. The medical personnel, drawn from the military, have already treated more than 1,600 men, women and children since setting up a full-fledged field hospital in Trincomalee in the island’s east about a month ago. more..

'Prabhakaran getting bunkers constructed around LTTE areas'

Apr 19 (PTI) As the battle in Sri Lanka' north enters a do-or-die phase for the beleaguered LTTE, the outfit supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran has ordered for bunkers to be constructed expeditiously around the 17 sq km rebel-held territory of Pudukudiyirippu, a top official said on Sunday. The Tiger rebels have been confined to a small stretch of land, packed with civilians, in the country's north east and are fighting for survival. more..

'I don't see Prabhakaran as a terrorist'

Apr 19 (PTI) DMK President M Karunanidhi on Sunday said he did not "see" LTTE chief V Prabhakaran as a terrorist and would be saddened if he is killed in the ongoing fighting in Sri Lanka. "Prabhakaran is my good friend. I am not a terrorist," the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister told NDTV in an interview when asked whether he viewed Prabhakaran as a terrorist. more..

3,000 civilians flee Sri Lanka war zone

Apr 19 (AFP) Nearly 3,000 civilians escaped from Sri Lanka's war zone and sought shelter with security forces, the defence ministry said Sunday as troops stepped up an offensive against cornered Tiger rebels. The non-combatants escaped Saturday evening from the remaining area under the control of the LTTE, the ministry said in a statement. "The civilians started arriving in large groups since (Saturday) afternoon using the safe routes opened for them by troops," the ministry said. more..

Farbrace backs Sri Lanka to deliver at World Twenty20

Apr 20 (CI) Paul Farbrace, Sri Lanka's assistant coach, is his confident his team will be well-prepared for Australia and West Indies, the other teams in their group, when the World Twenty20 gets underway in June. "We talked about how we are going to practice and started to do research on West Indies and Australia in terms of Twenty20 cricket," said Sri Lanka's assistant coach. more..

Sri Lanka's inflationary growth; win-win or lose-lose?

Apr 20 (LBO) During the three decades beginning from 1978, Sri Lanka had recorded on average an annual inflation rate of slightly over 11 percent. During the same period, its annual average economic growth rate amounted to 5 percent. These two macroeconomic numbers have prompted many to argue that inflation does not matter since, despite the two digit inflation, a comfortable economic growth rate has been maintained by the country. more..

The Hijab unveiled - a response to Nazeeya Faarooq

Apr 20 (GV) The Writer of Hijab whereforth dost thou commeth? Nazeeya Faarooq, in her article has seemingly probed into a billboard and attempted to develop an intellectual response to an innocent picture. It is good in one-way to develop pondering minds but not so good when it becomes a cynosure, thus steering people away from much more pressing and important things in life. more..

Govt orders all MPs into secure camps

Apr 20 (GV) Special security camps, called ‘Government Comfort Centres’ are to be established in order to improve security for Government MPs, according to sources in the Defence sector. Due to fears of LTTE attacks in the coming weeks the Government ordered that all its Members of Parliament will be housed in these centres. “The Government Comfort Centres are perfectly suited for defensive purposes with no access for outsiders and minimal movement out of these centres for residents” more..

Something funny happened aboard the Yal Devi

Apr 20 (LG) Just as the Yal Devi was about to pull off from the Madawachiya Station Colombo bound, two white guys evidently in their mid-thirties hurriedly boarded the train. There was a sigh of relief on their faces; a colleague or more of them had rushed them from somewhere in Wanni in what appeared to be an NGO or INGO vehicle. Each carried a tight-packed backpack and a piece of hand luggage and took the two vacant spots opposite to mine. more..

Bring military for polls - UNP

Apr 20 (BBC) The main opposition in Sri Lanka is calling upon the authorities to call military to provide security for Western Provincial Council (WPC) elections. General Secretary of UNP told BBC Sandeshaya that the pre-election violence has increased in the province. "Especially in Central Colombo, the Muslim community is intimidated and threatened not to campaign by armed groups," Tissa Attanayake said. more..