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Beliatte battles stump Thilanga

Feb 8 (SL) The Rajapakses have for some time now been facing the issue of deciding on the next person to take charge of the family bastion of Beliatte in Hambantota. The Rajapakse family has held on to the organiser post of the Beliatte electorate since the advent of the SLFP itself and now the President's brother, Basil Rajapakse, has made several requests that he be appointed as the next organiser for Beliatte. more..

Tiger leaders flying out

Feb 8 (LB) A separate unit of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) has been set up at the Bandaranaike International Airport to apprehend LTTE cadres and their leaders who were trying to flee the country in the face of military operations against the LTTE, sources said. The unit, under the command of an ASP, keeps a 24 -hour watch at the airport on all passengers traveling out of the country. more..

Nuwara Eliya voters disenfranchised en masse

Feb 8 (LB) At least 50,000 persons in the Nuwara Eliya District risk losing the right to vote in the upcoming provincial council elections due to lack of proper identification says the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE). The provincial polls are slotted for February 14. The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) said that 71,250 persons in the Nuwara Eliya district do not possess national identity cards. more..

INTRIGUE: Who is helping whom?

Feb 8 (LB) Now, most everybody knows why Provincial Council elections are being held at this time; it’s a simple case of the government taking advantage of the war victories in the Wanni. But this has caused ripples of discontent in places that the war was most favoured. The JVP: is not biting at all, and A JVP insider was quoted last week as saying that when the war is being won, all this government is doing is tearing the country apart with petty politics. more..

Civilians commiseration, interrogation?

Feb 8 (LB) This writer pointed out in this space last week that the end of war would not necessarily bring about an end to the miseries of the besieged people in the north and the east. On the contrary, these people may be left to suffer in perpetuity. Tamil National Alliance MP Suresh Premachandran last week told parliament that 733 civilians were killed and 2, 615 seriously injured in the Wanni between January 26 and February 2 due to the military attacks. more..

5,100 civilians rescued: Colombo

Feb 8 (Hindu) The Air Force on Saturday said its fighter jets destroyed a hideout of Sea Tiger chief Soosai located one km northeast of Puthukudduyiruppu junction and maintained that he could either have been killed or wounded in the attack. Air Force spokesperson Janaka Nanayakkara said 11 LTTE cadre including a very senior LTTE leader were killed in the attack. He said the initial strike was to destroy an underground bunker and a “luxury house” of Soosai. more..

Congress, DMK join hands on Sri Lankan Tamils issue

Feb 8 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan Tamils Welfare and Liberty Peravai, an umbrella organisation formed by the DMK, on Saturday launched a campaign with the active participation of the Congress, demanding a political solution to the crisis in Sri Lanka. Members of the Peravai took out a rally, which started from Royapuram and culminated in a public meeting near the Mint Clocktower. more..

War’s gone, the conflict continues

Feb 8 (ST) As the Sri Lankan flags flutter all over the captured territories in the north-eastern province of the country, the dream of a separate Tamil Eelam (Tamil land) for Tamils lies shattered and the specter of the LTTE looms large over this “breathing space”. The Sri Lankan army seized control last month of the northern town of Kilinochchi, an LTTE stronghold. President Mahinda Rajapakse hailed it as a victory and a psychological boost for the government forces. more..

Sri Lanka warns Tigers to surrender or risk rout

Feb 8 (AFP) President Mahinda Rajapakse warned cornered Tamil Tiger rebels to surrender or face a complete rout as government forces claimed more military successes against the militants. "I want to tell the Tigers: "lay down arms and surrender to security forces," the president told a public rally in the northwestern district of Kurunegala. more..

Russia shoots down move against Lanka

Feb 8 (LNP) Russia has shot down a proposal by Mexico which called for a briefing to the United Nations Security Council about the situation in Sri Lanka, diplomatic sources said. They said Mexico, which became a member of the Security Council this year, made the request at a closed-door meeting on Thursday, but the move was formally opposed by Russia, which argued that the Sri Lankan issue was not on the agenda of the Council. more..

Talking to Tamils in Sri Lanka

Feb 8 (LNP) The American Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mr. Robert Blake, and British High Commissioner Peter Hayes are now firmly on record asserting that neither of their countries advocates that the Government of Sri Lanka negotiate with the LTTE. They have said that what they desire is that GOSL engages in discussions with non-LTTE Tamils, both inside and outside of Sri Lanka, on the elements of political settlement to ensure lasting peace and reconciliation. more..

Food convoys to Wanni stopped

Feb 8 (SAMN) As intense fighting continued Saturday, tens of thousands of civilians were facing a food crisis with government and UN officials running into a deadlock over a safe area for the delivery of essential items. The government Saturday decided to put on hold future aid convoys to the conflict zone in the Wanni after the UN failed to name a safe area which could be used as a delivery point. more..

BMICH bursting at seams, ‘Deyata Kirula’ extended

Feb 8 (SO) The ‘Deyata Kirula’ exhibition has been extended for another day because of the intervening Poya holiday. The organisers said the stalls of the Armed Forces drew a very large crowd this time, including ethnic minorities in large numbers have been an astounding success. The Sunday Observer spoke to some of the visitors who had travelled from far-flung parts of the country to see the exhibition. more..

Tigers attack fleeing civilians

Feb 8 (SO) As the LTTE domination in the North is shrinking into a mere 96 square km, over 5,593 civilians, who were kept as hostages by the LTTE terrorists have crossed over to liberated areas from the Suthandrapuram and Puthukudiyirippu in Mullaitivu amidst heavy beating and shooting by the LTTE, during the last 48 hours. This is the highest number of displaced people crossed in a single day over to the liberated areas during the current military operation to liberate Vanni. more..

Gang attack North Central DHS

Feb 8 (SO) Doctors attached to government hospitals in the North Central province (NCP) will stage a token strike on Tuesday in protest against the assault on the NCP's Director of Health Services, Dr. Attapattu on Friday, hospital sources told the Sunday Observer. Sources said that Dr. Attapattu was assaulted by two men who had followed his car on a motorcycle while he was on his way home after work on Friday evening. more..

'TN demonstrations counter-productive'

Feb 8 (MoD) Leader of the TULF, V. Anandasangaree, the veteran Tamil political leader who had represented the Kilinochchi electorate for 15 long years in Parliament told the Sunday Observer that the ongoing agitations, demonstrations, hartals and self-immolations in Tamil Nadu clamouring a ceasefire in the LTTE's last bastian in Mullaitivu were "counter-productive". more..

The empty forests

Feb 8 (SO) There are not many cultures in the world or religions that can boast of giving consideration to the environment or nature as part of their core inherent values or beliefs. This is where the traditional Sinhalese culture imbedded in the concepts of Buddhism stands out amongst a multitude of global cultures that for the most part has practised or still practising an agenda of exploitation and plundering of nature. more..

Chancellor suggests solution to avoid clashes

Feb 8 (SO) Chancellor of the Sri Jayawardanapura University, Prof. Bellanwila Wimalaratana Thera yesterday expressed his displeasure over the Thursday's clash between fellow students at Kelaniya University and said that conducting more student-participation programs in the universities could help eliminate sporadic clashes among student unions and individuals. Through experience gained from the university by being a Chancellor for several years, Ven. Thera said he understood that more..

IDP resettlement in Jaffna on top gear

Feb 8 (MoD) Resettling the internally displaced civilians in the High Security Zone (HSZ) in the Jaffna Peninsula has been expedited with around thousand civilians awaiting to return to their original places of dwelling with the mine clearing in the HSZ which is to be completed shortly, the Chairman of the High Security Zone Committee and Jaffna High Court Judge, R.T. Vicknaraja said. He said that the Supreme Court ordered the HSZ committee to work on the modalities of more..

UPFA to spring surprise in WP

Feb 8 (NS) The UPFA is now expected to spring a surprise with its choice of chief ministerial candidate, quashing all speculation about either Basil Rajapaksa or Thilanga Sumathipala being entrusted the task. Well placed government sources said none of the above would be fielded as the Chief Ministerial Candidate of the Alliance and it would be a new face from within the SLFP, who could even be a veteran party man. more..

'Present economy pleases a few, oppresses the majority'

Feb 8 (NS) It is no secret that, the ugly tentacles of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) have already begun to creep into the economy of Sri Lanka as well. The Export industry is receiving the biggest blow, with the Garment and Gem industries trying to keep their heads above the rising tide. The Hospitality industry too, is experiencing the bitter taste of low Tourist turnout. more..

Soosai reported missing after air strike

Feb 8 (NS) In the aftermath of an air strike on a building suspected to be a LTTE operations centre, the Tiger radio transmissions have reported the Sea Tiger Leader Soosai as being missing, but it has still not been confirmed. Sri Lanka Air Force Kfir and F-7 fighter jets on Friday destroyed an operations centre of senior LTTE leaders Soosai and Ramesh located one kilometre northeast of Pudukuduyirippu junction. more..

Scrap Presidency: APRC draft

Feb 8 (NS) The draft of the final proposals of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) to solve the ethnic question has recommended among other things that the Executive Presidential system be abolished, the setting up of an upper house comprising representatives at provincial level and the powers listed under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to be vested in the Provincial Councils. more..

Nine member Sri Lankan kung fu team sent back after objections

Feb 8 (PTI) A nine-member Sri Lankan kung-fu national team, which arrived here to take part in an international tournament, was sent back home last night, following objections raised by activists of the pro- LTTE Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (PDK). The PDK men also burnt the Sri Lankan national flag during the opening ceremony of the tournament. 30 PDK activists, including district secretary Balu and a law student Karthivel, have been arrested under more..

Pope's envoy visits Jaffna to assess humanitarian crisis

Feb 8 (PTI) Amid global concerns over the humanitarian impact of Sri Lanka's war against LTTE, an envoy of the Vatican visited the conflict-ravaged northern Jaffna city to get a first-hand account of the condition of refugees from Wanni region housed in camps there. Bishop Rt Rev Mario Senario, who also interacted with the refugees, expressed hope that the plight of the thousands of Tamil civilians will be ameliorated, according to sources. more..

Lanka crisis: Jayalalithaa cancels b'day bash

Feb 8 (HT) As the political smog over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue intensified in Tamil Nadu, the opposition AIADMK leader, Jayalalithaa today cancelled her birthday celebrations, amid DMK-Congress rallies demanding immediate ceasefire in north Sri Lanka giving a sharper edge to the ‘politics of solidarity’ for the Tamils cause. Though the AIADMK’s various wings had planned elaborate festivities on ‘Amma’s forthcoming 61st birthday on Feb 24, more..

Winning to Lose?

Feb 8 (Island) The Co-Chairs have asked the LTTE to consider laying down arms – a sensible notion, particularly from the point of the view of the 200,000 plus Tamil civilians caught in the Tiger-Lankan Forces meat grinder in Vanni. But this request cannot but fall on deaf ears. Vellupillai Pirapaharan is committed to fight to the last Tamil man, woman and child and, in the Rajapakse administration he has found an opponent more than willing to oblige him. more..

'Scheme to attract expat dollars working'

Feb 8 (Island) The Central Bank has identified 19 cities in 11 countries for an aggressive campaign to persuade expatriate Lankans living there to bring their foreign exchange savings back to Sri Lanka. Speaking to the Sunday Island from Kuala Lumpur where he was attending a regional meeting of Central Bank Governors, Mr. Ajit Nivard Cabraal said that responses up to now have been "excellent." more..

CID searches Golden Key CEO’s office room and remove documents

Feb 8 (Island) Criminal Investigation Department (CID) sleuths probing the Golden Key Credit Card scam brought former Deputy Chairman/CEO Khavan Michael Perera to the company’s Duplication Road office last week, when files and documents were removed from his second floor office. "Wearing a black trouser and blue shirt, Perera was brought in handcuffs by a CID team", company sources said. "He smiled at employees while he was being led upstairs". more..

Young local film-makers look to give Bollywood a run for its money

Feb 8 (Island) Heading out into the dark waters of the Indian Ocean with looming bad weather above, a group of young documentary makers left the safety of dry land and drifted off into the night. Accompanying local Galle fisherman out to sea, these budding film-makers hoped to capture on film the dangerous yet unseen work Sri Lankan fisherman do every day. Filming, editing and creating stories are all components of the Chandr-asevana Film Course, more..

TNA crisis deepens

Feb 8 (ST) The TNA Foreign Relations Committee made up of Members of Parliament who have been spending most of their time in foreign countries in the recent months has come out to defend the LTTE without consulting the hierarchy of the party, The Sunday Times learns. The Committee comprising five members issued a statement critical of Sri Lankas Donor Co-Chairs without consulting the party leadership. The statement was unsigned but was released to the media on a Sri Lankan Parliament letterhead. more..

Mihin Lanka gets tender blow with mammoty

Feb 8 (ST) With the re-launched Mihin Lanka running into a new storm over the resignation of its chairman, the controversial budget carrier has been hit by further bombshell revelations that sent it crashlanding last year. No tender procedures were followed for the leasing of Mihin Lanka’s three aircraft even though they were contracted for a total of more than Rs. 2.2 billion (US $ 20 million), Parliament was told last week. more..

'Lanka should make distinction between LTTE, civilians'

Feb 8 (FN) Maintaining that India has no sympathy for the terrorist organisation LTTE, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the Sri Lankan forces should make a distinction between LTTE and Tamil civilians and not fire at ’safe zones’. At a Congress conclave here, Mukherjee said India has been demanding extradition of LTTE chief V Prabhakaran every year. more..

It’s back to Batticaloa, but not to school

Feb 8 (ST) Although a large number of the war displaced have returned to Batticaloa district , thousands of children are not getting back to school and face setbacks to their education even when they do. Many resettled children are unable to return because local schools remain badly damaged from the fighting and still lack equipment, supplies, clean water, and sanitation facilities. Others have no option but to work to supplement their family’s income because of a lack of jobs in and around resettlement villages. more..

Sri Lanka hunts Tiger chief with victory in sight

Feb 8 (AFP) Sri Lankan troops have smashed the Tamil Tigers' mini-state and cornered the remaining rebels, but officials say they must catch their elusive leader to declare final victory. The air force carried out a series of raids on locations where Velupillai Prabhakaran, 54, was suspected to have sheltered over the weekend, but there had been no word about his whereabouts, the military said. more..

Sri Lanka claim consolation victory

Feb 8 (CI) Finally Sri Lanka showed up, prevented their first 5-0 series whitewash, and stopped India at nine ODI wins in a row. A turnaround began at the first toss they won in the series, continued with near-centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, and culminated in an energetic and smart show in the field. For 62 balls Yuvraj Singh played a dream knock, keeping India in the game despite wickets falling around him. more..

Massive rally in support of Sri Lankan Tamils

Feb 8 (PTI) The DMK-headed Sri Lankan Tamils Rights Welfare Committee on Sunday took out a massive rally in support of the Sri Lankan Tamils here, calling for an immediate ceasefire in the embattled northern and eastern parts of the island nation. DMK's newly appointed Treasurer and Local Administration Minister M K Stalin led the rally, which covered about two km from Munroe Statue to Chepauk Guest House. more..

Food for thought

Feb 8 (IN) Moving around the dinner guests in that relaxed and somewhat dreamy setting, I sensed an underlying current of anxiety and disquiet. Again and again, our conversations drifted towards the fighting in the north. We talked about civilian casualties and displaced persons and how non-combatants are trapped in a military campaign. Ah, but this was Colombo, earlier this week. We were there as participants in the Asia Pacific Editors' Roundtable on Inequality and Hunger, more..

Congress worker dies over Sri Lankan Tamils

Feb 8 (IANS) A Congress party worker in Tamil Nadu Saturday succumbed to burn injuries a day after he set himself on fire. The death trigerred a protest by opposition parties in the state, who said the immolation was over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. The Congress refuted that contention. K. Ravichandran set himself ablaze Friday near Myladuthurai, 270 km from here, which is Congress leader and central minister Mani Shankar Aiyar's constituency. more..

Rajapaksa rides high, victory is nigh

Feb 8 (ST) Six decades and a year after nationhood, it was an epochal week for Sri Lanka in many respects. The piece de resistance was Wednesday's Independence Day celebrations. Ending British colonial rule in then Ceylon, the late Prime Minister, Don Stephen Senanayake, stood on the soil of Galle Face Green on February 4, 1948 to unfurl the national flag. A young independent nation was born. more..

Military intensifies offensive against Tamil Tigers

Feb 8 (DN) The Sri Lankan government offensive against the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels is continuing amidst growing concern for the fate of over 250,000 civilians trapped in the fighting. The Sri Lankan president declared Monday that the army was on the verge of crushing the rebels after a twenty-five-year war. The army’s attack has reduced the territory under rebel control from 7,000 square miles a year ago to just over 100 square miles today. more..

10,000 civilians flee war zone

Feb 8 (AP) More than 10,000 civilians have fled Sri Lanka's northern war zone over the last two days, an official said Sunday as government forces appeared poised to crush the separatist Tamil Tigers. Meanwhile, army troops foiled a rebel attempt to break through the front line of government forces in the north, killing at least 15 insurgents, the military said. The military's relentless offensive in recent months has almost routed the rebels, more..

Nearly 14,000 flee war zone

Feb 8 (Reuters) More than 1,400 civilians poured out of Sri Lanka's war zone on Sunday, bringing the total in the last four days to nearly 14,000 as soldiers try to deal a death blow to the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, the military said. The rate of civilians trapped in fighting between the military and the cornered LTTE has picked up sharply this week, signaling the onset of faster military operations to wipe out the guerrillas. more..

CIMA Sri Lanka divisional consultative group

Feb 9 (AT) To advise on Sri Lankan Divisional Affairs, during the of suspention of the Divisional Council of Sri Lanka, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has appointed a local Consultative Group. The Group will suggest appropriate arrangements for restoring an elected Divisional representative body, and provide a focal point for advice CIMA on its members and student support in the region andl also advise on the delivery of CIMA’s programme in Sri Lanka. more..

LTTE defeat & the reality checks

Feb 9 (AT) Both international and Sri Lanka's leaders of the past must accept accountability for Sri Lanka's predicament. Who dared to question why "freedom fighters" would kill innocent civilians, use children as suicide bombers and even kill their own – what sort of freedom were they seeking? Who dared to question how Sri Lanka's "problem" could be "ethnic" when evidence proved India's role in training Sri Lankan militants? more..

Home, home where the buffaloes roam...

Feb 9 (LG) On the 61st year of our Independence, all of which we have lived through in this merry isle, we were being assailed by radio, TV and newspapers that we were indeed a fortunate and a free people. Terrorism was eliminated and now we were free to do what we liked. We were ruminating on this problem on Independence Day morning watching the polkichcha and woodpecker in our small garden patch when we realised that Independence meant much more than political independence. more..

Sri Lankan watches TV 72 hours to set world record

Feb 9 (AP) Suresh Joachim has broken his own Guinness world record for nonstop broadcast-television watching, clocking 72 hours in the Swedish capital. "I feel fine, I drank between 25 and 30 cups of coffee," Joachim said Sunday. His previous record was 69 hours, 48 minutes, set in 2005. Joachim, a Sri Lanka native who lives in Toronto, more..

Critical land usage problem facing Sri Lanka

Feb 9 (LG) Land is not only a factor of production but also a basic human need to survive in the world as everyone need a free space to live without external disturbances. Therefore, land is becoming scarcer and also the most important burning issue in Sri Lanka. There are several land related conflicts among different groups. Deterioration of quality of agricultural lands, encroaching forests for agriculture and residential requirements, land titles, more..

Sri Lanka under fire in the British House of Commons

Feb 9 (LG) Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: On 29 January, President Rajapakse offered safe passage to civilians, but the LTTE failed to respond positively and hostilities did not cease even temporarily. The LTTE continues to refuse to allow civilians to leave the conflict areas. Worse still, it is deliberately using them as a human shield. There are credible reports that the LTTE fires artillery on Sri Lankan Government troops from locations next to civilian centres, more..

New Paradigm needed for Sri Lankan Crisis

Feb 9 (LG) The Canadian Democratic Tamil Cultural Association (CDTCA) has issued a press statement in Ottawa February 6 expressing its deep-felt concerns about the situation in the Wanni. According to its spokesperson, the misguided actions of the LTTE during the past 30 years have brought immense suffering to the Tamil community. It has been groping in the dark due to the grave mistakes made in the name of its liberation. more..