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Heavy rains compound IDP woes

Aug 17 (IRIN) Heavy rains exacerbated poor conditions for hundreds of thousands of IDPs in northern Sri Lanka over the weekend. “We’re not prepared for this. I’m afraid things are going to get much worse,” one international medical officer told IRIN in Vavuniya on 17 August, citing concerns over diarrhoea, dysentery and other waterborne diseases. “From an epidemiological point of view, this is a public health disaster waiting to happen.” more..

Huge Maldivian boat industry awaits Sri Lankan manufacturers

Aug 17 (ANN) A huge industry awaits Sri Lankan boat manufacturers who will participate in the Maldives International Boat Show (MIBS) to held in Male in October this year, the Maldivian High Commissioner in Colombo, Ali Hussein Didi said. Addressing the launch of MIBS 2009, he said Sri Lanka had shared its resources with the Maldives in various fields and its boat builders could now assist his country to manufacture the boats it requires. more..

New Zealand face test of character

Aug 17 (CI) It's a telling statistic that Daniel Vettori (5), Daryl Tuffey and Jacob Oram (2 each) are the only players in the New Zealand squad to have featured in Tests in Sri Lanka. Such are the odds stacked against the visitors as they head into another two-Test series in Sri Lanka, this time with an inexperienced squad not accustomed to victory. While New Zealand possess a decent record on the island - three wins, three losses and five draws more..

Rs. 130 m spent on leasing vehicles for ministers

Aug 17 (CT) The government had spent Rs. 130 million of public money on renting and leasing vehicles for 23 ministers in 2008, ‘Sunday Lankadeepa’ says quoting the internal administration ministry. During the year, a total of 207 vehicles had been obtained on lease for 23 ministers and their staffs, it said. 42 of these vehicles had been used by the ministers with a bill of Rs. 100 m, and 165 vehicles by their staffs at a cost of Rs. 30 m. more..

Floods in Tamil IDP camps now under control: Lanka

Aug 17 (PTI) Heavy rains at Wanni in Sri Lanka, inundated the relief camps housing 300,000 Tamil IDPs causing severe hardship and affecting the open-air kitchens, even as the situation has now been brought under control. The downpours washed away makeshift shelters, toilets and sewage pipes, and left hundreds of people unable to cook meals in open-air kitchens in the northern district of Vavuniya. more..

'We need to start all over again'

Aug 17 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara has played down Sri Lanka's tag of overwhelming favourites for the two-Test series against New Zealand, saying instead that the past mattered little when it came to game day. "It doesn't matter what we done against Pakistan we've got to get into this Test series as a new game and play tough, fair and really competitive cricket and do what we know really well. more..

How the Virgin Mary survived civil war

Aug 17 (Time) For Catholics around the world, Aug. 15 is among the holiest of feast days. It marks the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when the mother of Jesus is believed to have been taken, physically, into Heaven after death so that her body would not suffer earthly decay. For the Catholics of Sri Lanka, Aug. 15 this year marked a similar miracle: the survival of a 500-year-old statue of the Virgin, through the fiery tumult of a quarter-century of civil war, to be re-ensconced in her jungle church that was once again safe to travel to. more..

Rupee strengthens for first time in 3 months

Aug 17 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's rupee strengthened on Monday for the first time since the end of a 25-year civil war in mid-May, after the central bank let some appreciation occur as the result of high foreign buying of government securities. But the central bank warned it would continue to invervene but did not specify a level where it would step in again, after buying dollars at 114.90 rupees over the last three months to prevent appreciation and boost foreign exchange reserves. more..

Lankans top list of people most satisfied with their lives

Aug 17 (AO) Sri Lanka has topped an Asian list of people most satisfied with their lives. In advertising firm Grey Group Asia Pacific's study on consumer attitudes Sri Lanka topped the list with 93 per cent, while Taiwan took the last spot with only 28 per cent among 16 countries surveyed. In its fourth year, the study polled more than 8,000 people aged 18 to 65 from Asia-Pacific countries, via e-mail or faceto- face interviews between last December and January. more..

Mysterious death of two teenage girls

Aug 17 (DM) The parents of the two young girls whose bodies were found at the Bauddhaloka Mawatha canal on Saturday morning, said that they were suspicious of the sudden death of their daughters which claimed to be a suicide by police. A sister of one of the victims also said that the alleged suicide note left by one of the victim's did not match the handwriting of either of the victims. She was in constant contact with her deceased sister also said that her sister did not have the least motive to commit suicide and more..

'Squalid war camps hurt Sri Lanka's image'

Aug 17 (AFP) Sri Lanka risks further damage to its image by failing to improve conditions for tens of thousands of war-displaced people held in squalor, the island's main opposition leader said on Monday. Opposition leader and former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe warned that the spread of diseases in the camps during the current rains could worsen conditions for nearly 300,000 civilians held in camps. more..

Death of Shyamlal Rajapaksa: Police suspect drug overdose

Aug 17 (TD) Mystery continues to surround the death of a nephew of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Arusha last week, with police now suspecting that it may have been caused by a drug overdose rather than homicide. The 43-year-old Shyamlal Rajapaksa, a Sri-Lankan trial attorney at the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was found dead in his home last Wednesday. more..

Sri Lanka cement firm hit by construction slump

Aug 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Tokyo Cement Company group said it made a loss of 56 million rupees in the June 2009 quarter compared with a 212 million rupee profit a year ago. Sales fell 18 percent to 3.2 billion rupees in the quarter from a year ago owing to a slump in construction caused by economic slowdown, the company said in a stock exchange filing. "The drop in sales is due to continuing sluggishness in the construction industry," more..

New prison in Vavuniya

Aug 18 (GDI) In the restoration of important institutions of the state,the Commissioner General of Prisons,Makor General VRD De Silva said a newly build prison will be set up in Vavuniya. The construction of buildings in the prison premises and providing infrastructure facilities are near completed. Measures have also been taken to recruit Prison Guards. Accordingly, 167 trained prison guards will join the service in the coming days. more..

First phase of Hambantota project nearing completion

Aug 18 (GDI) The first phase construction work of the Hambantota harbor is nearing completion with over 75% work successfully completed at present, Sri Lanka Ports Authority sources said. The port project is scheduled to be completed by 2010, one year ahead of the scheduled time period. The project is expected to be completed in four phases and would take 15 years for the completion of the entire project. more..

Karunanidhi writes to PM on Internally Displaced people in Sri Lanka

Aug 18 (Hindu) Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to "step in to end the sufferings of the displaced families in Sri Lanka." "I feel it is high time that the Government of India exerted diplomatic and political pressure at appropriate levels on the Government of Sri Lanka at least on humanitarian grounds. I hope I can expect early action in this regard," he said in the letter, more..

11 suspects in IT student abduction and assault remanded

Aug 18 (CT) Eleven suspects in the abduction and assault of IT student Nipuna Ramanayake have been remanded till the end of this month. The suspects, all policemen, were produced before Kaduwela magistrate Manilal de Silva today (Aug. 17). They are due to be produced for an identification parade on August 31. The court was told that the main suspect, Ravindu Gunawardena who is the son of former director of Colombo Crime Division SSP Vaas Gunawardena, has been admitted to hospital. more..

'Abolish executive presidency to strengthen democracy'

Aug 18 (LT) “What we have to talk now is not regarding the next presidential election but abolishing the executive presidency . The executive presidency should be abolished to strengthen democracy in the country,” said Leader of the JVP Somawansa Amarasinghe. He said, “On 8th January, 2005 the JVP signed an agreement with Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse who was the Prime Minister then. more..

Lanka navy 'stripped' Indian fishermen

Aug 18 (BBC) The fishermen federation in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu has accused the Sri Lankan navy of intimidating, stripping and harrasing them. “Our fishermen were stripped naked and beaten by the officials of the Sri Lankan navy over the week end," alleges Bose, the state general secretary of the Tamilnadu mechanised boat fishermen welfare association (TMBFWA). more..

Church 'dissent' over Madhu feast

Aug 18 (BBC) A group of Catholic clergy has protested over celebrating Madhu festival while hundreds of thousands of people are locked in the camps, a senior clergyman said. The assumption of Virgin Mary was celebrated on 15 August at Madhu shrine in Vavuniya. However, Fr. Victor Soosai, Vicar General of diocese of Mannar said that up to 10 priests stayed away from the celebration to express solidarity with displaced Tamil people, and priests, in camps. more..

Milinda to attend Asian-African Legal Consultative session

Aug 18 (AT) Minister of Justice and Law Reforms Milinda Moragoda will lead Sri Lanka’s delegation to the 57th session of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, which will convene in Putrajaya, Malaysia this week. The delegation will include the Solicitor General Mr. W.P.G. Depp, PC. The AALCO was founded in 1955 following the birth of the Non-aligned Movement, on the proposal of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. more..

Indian Tamil traders arrested in Batticaloa to be deported

Aug 18 (TN) Seven South Indian Tamil traders were fined each two thousand rupees Monday by the Batticaloa Magistrate V.Ramakamalan and were discharged with a warning that they should not engage in illegal business with tourist visa. They were taken into custody by the Batticaloa Police from a lodge in Batticaloa on receipt of information that they had been operating illegal business in Batticaloa while staying with tourist visa. more..

Monsoon miseries of IDPs

Aug 18 (LG) The Menik Farm complex and its temporary shelters, showcased last month as model for camps for people displaced due to the war, has become camps of misery for the residents as monsoon rains are lashing the area. Sri Lanka media of all shades of opinion have highlighted the terrible conditions created by incessant monsoon rains particularly in camp 2 and camp 4. Tents and temporary shelters are down or collapsed making them unliveable. Some camps do not have access to even water supply. more..

Murali closes in on another record

Aug 18 (CI) New Zealand start the two-Test series in Sri Lanka as clear underdogs, not only because of the hosts' awesome record at home, but also as a result of their own recent struggles in Test cricket. In their last 20 Tests against opposition other than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh - a period spanning more than three years - New Zealand have won only two matches, against Sri Lanka in Christchurch in 2006, and England in Hamilton last year. more..

The Long Last Mile (Part 2 of 2)

The Long Last Mile (Part 1 of 2)

Indian consignment handed over to U.N.

Aug 18 (Hindu) High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Alok Prasad on Tuesday handed over to the U.N. Resident Representative, Neil Buhne, the fourth consignment of relief goods from India meant for the war-displaced population in northern Sri Lanka. The 600-tonne consignment, valued at over $3-million, arrived in Colombo on August 8. It consists of more than 6,00,000 packages of grocery items, utensils, plastic mats, more..

Ban on ethnic parties calls for reformed non ethnic state

Aug 18 (NPC) The government has proposed to bring a new law that would ban political parties that have ethnic or religious labels in their names. The new law also targets new, small and regional parties. After the end of the 30 year separatist war there is a mood of optimism in government circles who feel themselves empowered by having done what previous governments failed to do. more..

Floods Threaten Camp Detainees

Aug 18 (HRW) Floods caused by heavy rains unnecessarily threaten more than 260,000 displaced Tamil civilians whom the Sri Lankan government has unlawfully detained in camps in northern Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch said today. Permitting displaced families to move in with friends and host families would quickly address the deteriorating conditions in the camps with the onset of the rainy season, Human Rights Watch said. more..

Olympian quit pool to help Sri Lanka kids

Aug 18 (DY) Naoko Imoto, a former Olympic swimmer who competed for Japan in the 1996 Atlanta Games, now puts all of her effort into ensuring an education for children in Sri Lanka. "To restore [a country ravaged by civil war] it's essential that human resources be fostered. For that goal, it's important to educate kids," said Imoto, 33, who keeps herself busy building temporary classrooms at camps packed with a total of about 280,000 refugees. more..

Tamil Nadu government erases the word 'Eezham'

Aug 18 (TN) Tamil Nadu Police was seen pasting white papers on the word 'Eezham' and the picture of LTTE leader V. Pirapaharan, figured in the banners and posters of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Kadchi (VCK) organised uprising in Chennai attended by more than 100,000 people Monday. The VCK's annual uprising day, conducted on the birthday of its leader Thol Thirumavalavan, has chosen the theme 'Ezhum Thamizh Eezham' for this year. The phrase can either mean the 'rising Tamil Eelam' or 'Tamil Eelam will rise'. more..

Security Personnel for Jaffna Peninsula Doubled

Aug 18 (AT) Training on Sri Lanka’s new Army recruits has not been slashed, Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka says. Former Army Commander and present Chief of Defence Staff General Fonseka said that all necessary logistic knowledge, ground practice, training on sophisticated weapons handlings and many other subjects still continued as usual for Army soldiers. more..

Rash of Attacks on Christians Reported in Sri Lanka

Aug 18 (CNT) Attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka have surged noticeably in recent weeks, following the government’s defeat of Tamil separatists in May. Attacks were reported in Puttlam, Gampaha and Kurunegala districts in western Sri Lanka, central Polonnaruwa district, Mannar district in the north and Matara district in the south, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL). more..

Unpacking the Truth in Sri Lanka

Aug 18 (GV) In recent weeks there has been some talk about a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) as something that will allow Sri Lanka to come to terms with its troubled past and move forward into the promise of its ‘post-war’ future. I have been informally invited into a few of these conversations because I have worked with the International Center for Transitional Justice in connection with TRC initiatives and proposals for such initiatives in a range of countries, more..

US urges Sri Lanka reconciliation

Aug 18 (BBC) A senior US diplomat has warned that the Sri Lankan government's failure to share power with the minority Tamils could lead to renewed violence. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake told the BBC a delay in devolving powers might create new opportunities for the rebel Tamil Tigers to regroup. Sri Lanka's government declared victory over the Tamil Tigers three months ago. Mr Blake also urged Colombo to resettle swiftly the hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians displaced by the war. more..

Tamil-Canadian student leader got the 'VIP tour' from Tigers

Aug 18 (NP) Photos of a former Toronto student leader handling and firing guns at a rebel camp have been unsealed by United States prosecutors in advance of his sentencing on terrorism charges. Sathajhan Sarachandran was once national president of the Canadian Tamil Students Association but the photos show him holding a machine gun and aiming a rifle while uniformed Tamil Tigers rebels look on. more..

Central bank holds policy rates steady

Aug 18 (LBO) Central bank held policy rates steady at 11.00 percent saying market interest rates were falling, but said inflation is bottoming out, though expected to remain at single digits in 2009. "As in other parts of the world, in Sri Lanka too, inflation is expected to rise moderately during the second half of the year 2009 along with the base effects stemming from the sharp price increases last year dissipating gradually," more..

Over 15,000 IDP families to be resettled in Jaffna

Aug 18 (GDI) The Government yesterday assured that over 15,000 IDP families from the Jaffna district will be resettled in their original homes shortly. The authorities have already identified over 15,000 displaced families who state themselves to be the residents of Jaffna. Details of these persons have been forwarded to the authorities. These families are now living in welfare centres in the Vavuniya and Mannar districts. more..

Artificial limbs for IDPs Civilians who lost their limbs

Aug 18 (GDI) The Social Services Ministry has arranged artificial limbs to those IDPs in relief centres in the Vavuniya district. The first set of artificial limbs were distributed to 60 Internally Displaced Persons among them children last Sunday. Friend In Need (FIN), a Non Governmental Organization is providing financial assistance to procure and distribute these artificial limbs to the displaced persons in Vavuniya relief centres. more..

Dengue on the rise again

Aug 18 (GDI) There have been 235 deaths recorded and 23,176 people infected from dengue this year as at yesterday, Epidemiology Unit told today (18). The highest number of dengue cases have been reported from the districts of Kandy, Gampaha and Colombo. The ministry continues to advise the public to keep their domestic premises clean to prevent the breeding of the deadly mosquito. more..

Japanese Ambassador calls on Army Commander

Aug 18 (GDI) Japanese Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Kunio Takahashi made a courtesy call on Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya at his office in Army Headquarters, Colombo yesterday morning. The Ambassador conveyed his wishes to the Commander on his accession to the highest chair of Sri Lanka Army and then discussed with the Army Commander matters of bilateral interest. more..

Japan - Sri Lanka Friendship Association Donates Ambulance & Fire Engines

Aug 18 (MoD) A worthy donation worth over Rs. 72 million was handed over to Sri Lanka Army by Japan - Sri Lanka Friendship Association in a special function held at Army Headquarters Monday. The donation which included one vehicle designed to transport disabled personnel, one ambulance and two fire engines was made by Japan - Sri Lanka Friendship Association with coordination of Ven. Hanwelle Dhammaloka Thero, more..

Giant Green Turtles hatching

Offspring of ministers & MPs of ‘patriotic’ Govt. foster tiger terrorism

Aug 18 (LT) Gampaha Superintendent of Police Lakshman Cooray, who is in custody of terrorist investigation unit for having had connections with the tiger terrorist organization for a long period of time is a son of Saraneris Dayawansa, SLFP Member for the North-Central Provincial Council. Mr. Saraneris Dayawansa was elected to North-Central PC in 1997 and after the election in 2004 he was appointed as the vice president of the council. more..

Annual Book Fair at BMICH

Aug 18 (GDI) The annual Colombo International Book Fair will begin at the BMICH tomorrow (19). The Book fair will continue for nine days and will be opened to the public for twelve hours each day. Local booksellers and publishers have taken 360 stalls and 40 stalls have been allocated to foreign publishers. The annual book fair attracts people from all ages and mostly students rock the fair in thousands.

Rice-fed rascality?

Aug 18 (LG) My friend and former colleague Kishali Pinto Jayawardene has invoked Martin Luther King Jr., and written last week about the “appalling silence of the good’’ (ooh, I can almost touch and feel that sanctimony...) in an article in the Sunday Times. I couldn’t agree with her more on the current climate of impunity that is lapsing into a somewhat dangerous phase (...see editorial page 4) but, it’s also important to note that more..

Two young female bodies in the filthy canal

Aug 18 (LG) The canal where the bodies were found has a colonial connection though its present status does not do any good to the colonial name except that both share the common characteristics of being "filthy.’ The slimy green water carrying masses of house-hold garbage thrown into by residents of a housing complex on its bank and receiving their toilet affluence make both the sight and smell unbearable. more..

Uva CM to take oaths on August 20

Aug 18 (GDI) The New Chief Minister of Uva Province Shashendra Rajapaksa will take oath on August 20th before President Mahinda Rajapaksa. UPFA chief ministerial candidate for the Uva province Council Shasheendra Rajapakse has polled 136,697 votes during the Uva provincial council polls held on August 11th. Rajapaksa polled 85 per cent of the total votes,a record in provicial election history. more..

What’s in a Name? - II

Aug 18 (LG) The argument is not without reason. Despite the facts and circumstances of the elections, the TNA has neither swept the polls in Vavuniya, nor has it been able to win in Jaffna, the ‘cultural capital’ of the Sri Lankan Tamils – and the tentative capital of the LTTE until ousted by the armed forces in the mid-Nineties. This, despite the IDPs remaining as much an election issue in the North as it was a political issue elsewhere. more..

When law becomes comic – Part Eleven

Aug 18 (LG) The late H. V. Perera is considered a symbol of great achievements of the legal intelligence in Sri Lanka. However, today all the past achievements have been erased. Law is seen as a basically futile exercise now that the possibilities of legal redress have been restricted in every possible way. When the law itself becomes irrelevant, it is quite natural for lawyers to become equally irrelevant. more..