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Help solve Lankan problem, Govt urged

Feb 14 (TS) THE Malaysian government has been urged to intervene in the ongoing war in Sri Lanka on humanitarian grounds, Makkal Osai reported. A team comprising Human Resources Minis—ter and MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S Subramaniam, World Tamil Relief Fund chairperson S. Pasupathi, MIC Youth adviser S. Vel Paari and MIC Youth co-ordinator T. Mohan made the request via a memorandum to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim at his office in Putrajaya on Tuesday. more..

Ruling party expected to win polls in Sri Lanka

Feb 14 (DPA) Sri Lanka's ruling party was poised to win elections being held Saturday in two of the nine provinces in what is widely seen as a prelude to snap parliamentary polls this year. The voting to select members of provincial councils was being held in the Central and North-Western provinces where more than 3.4 million voters are registered to vote. The ruling UPFA led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa campaigned on the government's military achievements after troops captured almost all more..

Sri Lankan delegation to visit Surajkund fair

Feb 14 (IANS) Keen on having a fair in Sri Lanka on the lines of the Surajkund Craft Mela, a 11-member delegation from that country will Sunday visit Faridababd in Haryana to witness how the 23rd edition of the event is being held. A spokesperson for the Surajkund Crafts Mela, which is annually organised by the Haryana government, said the Sri Lankan delegation will explore the possibility of organising such a fair in their country in April. more..

Sri Lanka shelling kills four more civilians

Feb 14 (AFP) Four civilians died when artillery shells fell on a home for the elderly inside a demarcated safe area within Sri Lanka's war zone, a doctor said Saturday. Many elderly people were also injured in the shelling on Friday in the northeast Puttumattalan area, said T. Satyamurthy, a doctor working out of the makeshift community centre hospital. He estimated more than 100 wounded civilians were coming to the hospital daily and most had shrapnel wounds. more..

Military says rebels attack refugee bus

Feb 14 (AP) A suspected Tamil Tiger rebel hurled a hand grenade at a bus full of war-displaced refugees Saturday, killing a woman and wounding 13 others, the military said. The bus was attacked in Puliyankulam village in the north while transporting people who fled the embattled region into government territory. Rebel officials could not be contacted for comment. The military's claim could not be independently verified because independent journalists are barred from the war zone. more..

Minority fears can only be allayed through devolution and power sharing

Feb 15 (TC) "Laws-of-war violations by one side never justify violations by the other. The government and the LTTE appear to be holding a perverse contest to determine who can show the least concern for civilian protection." In last week’s column we quoted these words of Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch. Since then, the plight of the civilians trapped in the Vanni has only worsened. more..

It is not to late to rectify glaring errors that have decided our society

Feb 15 (FI) Ponnambalam Arunachalam was the youngest son of Gate Mudaliyar A. Ponnambalam. He was born on 14 September 1853, to a highly respected and very well-educated, professional family from Manipay. His eldest brother, Ponnambalam Coomaraswamy had a distinguished career as a Proctor and was the Nominated Tamil Member of the Ceylon Legislative Council from 1893. more..

Mahela eyes victorious farewell

Feb 15 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, is looking forward to a winning farewell as leader of the team. Having announced his decision to step down as captain following the two Tests in Pakistan, Jayawardene is hoping his team-mates will be motivated to help him end his tenure on a high note. "The team accepted the decision I have made and hopefully it will be a motivation for them to make sure they win the series for me, my last as captain," more..

Forum for peace in Lanka

Feb 15 (Hindu) A forum of clergy has been revived here to campaign for peace in Sri Lanka. The Ecumenical Christian Forum for Human Rights, which comprises representatives of churches of different denominations, is to hold a series of silent rallies and peace prayers to end the war in the island nation. The forum has appealed to the Union Government to continue its humanitarian assistance to the affected people with medicines, food, shelter and other supplies. more..

Swamy criticises Advani’s stand on Sri Lanka

Feb 15 (Hindu) The Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy, on Saturday criticised Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani for his call for a negotiated settlement with the LTTE to solve the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. Referring to Mr. Advani’s address at the fast organised by the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in support of the Sri Lankan Tamils’ cause in New Delhi, Dr. Swamy told presspersons that it was dangerous to talk about a negotiated settlement with the LTTE. more..

As war rages, Sri Lanka braces for flood of refugees

Feb 15 (VOA) Tens of thousands of people fleeing the Sri Lanka's civil war are taking refuge in government-run relief camps in the north. Many more are expected in the weeks ahead as the country's 25-year war appears to be grinding to an end. That is creating a difficult humanitarian situation. Sri Lanka's government has sealed off the relief camps in the country's north to most visitors, including foreign journalists. more..

Sri Lanka: The war the world forgot

Feb 15 (Independent) All but hidden from view of the outside world, a bitter and savage war being waged in the north of Sri Lanka is creating a humanitarian crisis in which hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk. In what may be the final chapters of one of the world's longest-running civil wars, Sri Lankan troops say they are close to crushing the remnants of the once-potent LTTE. Yet the military operation comes at a high price for civilians. more..

Western concerns for Tamils in the North

Feb 15 (AT) As the battle against terrorism in the North of Sri Lanka is reaching it’s climax point these days, we see and hear a lot of "humanitarian concerns" from western countries who are itching to get on the band wagon to provide breathing space for Prabhakaran and the LTTE terrorists or else, to put a spoke in the wheel of military operations being conducted successfully. Most of what we see in the western press is truly quite intriguing given more..

President to call Tamil political parties on road map for political process in Vanni

Feb 15 (AT) In a surprise move President Mahinda Rajapakse disarming his critics in India, has decided to call a meeting of TNA, TULF , EPDP, CWC and other Tamil political parties of Sri Lanka on 'democracy' road map for the 'liberated areas'. The meeting will take place in about a week and may coincide with the army virtually liquidating the Tigers in their very Vanni stronghold. more..

Quo Vadis Sri Lanka?

Feb 15 (AT) "The Eastern Question is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian Grenadier" declared Count Bismarck in his quest to unify Germany in 1878.In Sri Lanka it may provide the clue to an impending political disaster! It's time for speculation. A lot of speculation: Sampur, Kebithigollewa, Arantalawa, Rajiv Gandhi, R. Premadasa, Kadiragamar etc. are quickly fading away as persons and places associated with the past. more..

What little LTTE has done to take care of the Tamil people in "their" territory!

Feb 15 (AT) So far over 25,000 Tamil civilians have braved LTTE fire and entered Government controlled areas where food, water and a new sense of relief has greeted them. Their attire, their belongings and their faces depict what words need not tell. It immediately implores us to wonder what type of life these people actually led with a group that internationally projects itself to be the "voice" of the Tamil people and their "sole representative". more..

LTTE threatens racial harmony in Sri Lanka

Feb 15 (AT) This letter challenges claims made by Dr. Ratnajeevan Hoole in his article, "Tamil People Crushed between Rebels, Military" published in the Hartford Courant newspaper on 2/6/2009. In a report published in December by the Human Rights Watch says, "Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers are subjecting ethnic Tamils in their northern stronghold, the Vanni, to forced recruitment, abusive forced labor, and restrictions on movement that place their lives at risk." more..

Sri Lanka debates fate of war refugees in government camps

Feb 15 (WP) Sangari Sarojini, a recently widowed mother of three, arrived exhausted at a government camp for those fleeing the crossfire of this country's still unfolding war. She was anxious to register and let her three young children rest after they spent more than 24 hours running from the fighting. "We don't know when this war will be over," said Sarojini, 32, tearfully cradling her 3-month-old in a frayed blanket and more..

A response to Michael Robert’s dilemma at wars end

Feb 15 (GV) This is a response to Michael Robert’s article published on Groundviews recently titled Dilemma at Wars End: Thoughts on Hard Realities. I am disappointed that a historian of Dr Michael Roberts’ stature and humanitarian sensibility is seduced by the triumphalist rhetoric of the current Sri Lankan government. There are countless examples currently and in the historical records that show that questions of competing identities and nationalities are only resolved when more..

Information War

Feb 15 (LG) For a long while every one knew, including the world powers, the plight of the Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka are at stake. Even now, no one seem to be sure as to how many civilians are being killed every day in the Tamil territories. There is no independent organisation allowed into the war zone to verify. Hence, many are given to 'educated' guesstimates. As the plight of the civilians deteriorates the information war seem to escalate by the hour. more..

Stand up and fight to drive the vultures away

Feb 15 (LG) There was an interesting event in Kundasale on February 4 organised on behalf of Platform for Freedom. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Rauf Hakeem, I and several others were the speakers. In my opinion this event did not get its due publicity. In my speech I made the following important points. “As a present day leader of the Sama Samajist movement which made a special contribution to the independence struggle, I have neither shame nor fear to step onto this stage to speak for freedom. more..

Leaders can't say: 'Sorry, I screwedup'

Feb 15 (LG) In just 14 days in office Barack Obama demonstrated his outstanding and rare political values by simply admitting to the world that he had made a mistake. It can be projected as a mere triviality but we cannot recall any politician, anywhere, openly admitting a major political blunder in contemporary times. 'I screwed up,' the new American President admitted in very unpresidential language when admitting his fault in nominating some of his key officials who more..

Rehabilitation road for child soldiers

Protest against British involvement

Feb 15 (BBC) A protest held on Sunday urged the British government not to interfere in Sri Lanka Government’s last minute attempts to crush LTTE. The demonstrators carrying placards and banners demanded that LTTE should let the innocent civilians out from their grip. The protest was organised by ‘The Sri Lankans against Terrorism’. Thousands of people attended the protest held opposite Prime Minister's office at Downing Street. more..

Elections and citizenship

Feb 15 (SL) Long before their respective terms of office would have expired, the North Western and Central Provincial Councils were dissolved by proclamation of the respective governors. Elections in both provinces were held yesterday. There was however little love exchanged between the contesting parties leading up to and on election day. As reported by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), violence and election malpractices in both provinces has been on the rise. more..

The bungling that caused a crash landing for hot-air ballooning

Feb 15 (SL) This story is not only familiar but juxtaposes the tragi-comedy that is Sri Lanka. Captain Anil Jayasinghe, a former SriLankan Airlines Captain on the Airbus 340 is the force behind hot-air ballooning in Sri Lanka, and the colourful Sri Lanka Balloon Festival is his brainchild. Although the sport is nearly 250 years old Jayasinghe introduced hot air ballooning to Sri Lanka only in 2002 and is considered to be Sri Lanka's only hot air balloonist. more..

NGOs claim criticism unfair

Feb 15 (SL) Foreign non-governmental organisations and humanitarian agencies operating in Sri Lanka have been subject to severe criticism from several quarters in the country in recent times. The accusations levelled mainly against these agencies are that they are being sympathetic towards the LTTE and that their activities in the country directly or indirectly encouraged the Tigers in their activities. more..

Cuastom designing an election agenda

Feb 15 (SL) The government approached 2009 with elections in mind and President Mahinda Rajapakse wasted no time in calling on all members of the governing party to get ready. Soon after the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council elections concluded last year, the government laid the groundwork for the rest of the provincial elections to be held in 2009. The agenda as usual was prepared after consulting the astrologers. more..

Centre urged to move United Nations on Sri Lanka issue

Feb 15 (Hindu) The sub-committee of the Sri Lankan Tamils Welfare and Rights Forum on Saturday urged the Centre to move the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council to ensure immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka, restore peace and stop the genocide of Tamils. Welcoming President Pratibha Patil’s call for a negotiated political settlement to the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis, the second meeting of the committee adopted a resolution calling upon the Centre to take speedy steps to implement the proposal. more..

UPFA winning; 50,000 disenfranchised

Feb 15 (LB) Over 50,000 voters were prevented from casting their vote at yesterday’s Central and North Western provincial council PC polls as they did not possess national identity cards. The convenor of the CAFFE Keerthi Tennakoon told LAKBIMAnEWS that altogether 137,000 voters did not have national identity cards. However, it is reported that Elections Commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake had tried his utmost to obtain identity cards for these voters more..

A damn nuisance!

Feb 15 (LB) You can’t turn a corner in Colombo these days without colliding into a pair of inflated forearms, brawny shoulders and a puffed out chest. Honestly, there are posters of Duminda Silva everywhere—on perimeter walls, on buildings, on lampposts, on gates and railings, on this, on that, on everything else. Hugging old ladies; cooing at children; lending a hand to the disabled; leading aged people across the road; worshipping at temples and showering benevolence on all of mankind. more..

UPFA internal warfare in Wayamba

Feb 15 (LB) The coordinating unit of the elections secretariat received 64 complaints of election related violence during yesterday’s Wayamba and Central provincial council elections. Additional Elections Commissioner W.P. Sumanasiri said that all the complaints have been submitted to police. There were 34 incidents reported from the Kandy district, 11 from the Matale district and 2 from the Nuwara Eliya district, more..

IDP resettlement: state and NGO viewpoints differ

Feb 15 (LB) The government has sought widespread assistance to set up five sprawling ‘welfare villages’ in Vavuniya and Mannar for an estimated 200,000 displaced persons from the Wanni. These settlements would be home to the IDPs until their villages are de-mined and other security concerns dealt with. The proposal is set out in a document titled ‘Urgent Relief Programme for the People of Vanni’. more..

The middle way between recognition of reality and striving for balance

Feb 15 (TC) How do we describe our country, Sri Lanka, and how is our country described by others? As an island in the Indian Ocean, just south of or off the Southern shores of India. All descriptions of Sri Lanka are a variant of this because no other is possible. We are defined by our placing, and that placing is in relation to and proximate to India. more..

Tamil nationalist movement must put politics in command

Feb 15 (TC) The LTTE has lost game and set; whether it has lost the match as well, or can reincarnate as a successful guerrilla movement a second time, remains to be seen. However, the thought I wish to pursue today is not that the LTTE in its current avatar as formal army has been routed, rather, the corollary consequence that, at least for now, the quest of the Tamils for a new constitutional dispensation has come to nought. more..

Sinhala and Tamil Ancestors were on this Island for 14,000 Years

Feb 15 (TC) The volume of information on the internet is genu-inely astounding. Of course not all, or even a small fraction of it, is true but a great deal of it is certainly interesting. The entry in Wikipedia under 'Sinhala people' - makes particularly interesting reading. It says, in reasonably technical jargon, that DNA studies conducted by Stanford University in 2003 indicate that the Sinhala people are not descended from north Indian settlers but more..

Election Victory Revisited

Feb 15 (LG) President Mahinda Rajapakse has won the confidence of the Tamils as well. The landslide victory of the Provincial Councils elections has sent positive signals to the country and the world over that President Rajapakse’s party has won the elections steered by the people who have implicit trust and confidence in President Mahinda Rajapakse. This is the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, that every citizen has a reason to be proud of more..

New plan to stop LTTE’s resurgence

Feb 15 (SAMN) A special security plan is to be implemented in the near future to stop a resurgence of the LTTE activities, military sources said. The special plan will include an increase in the number of military intelligence operatives, Special Forces and Commandos as well as establishing new Army, Navy and Air Force bases in the North and East. “The military Intelligence operatives, Special Forces and Commandos will play a major role in this plan. more..

Nuwara Eliya’s hunting orgy

Feb 15 (SAMN) The Nuwara Eliya eco-system is under threat due to the continued hunting of wild animals. Animals such as leopard, sambhur, wild fowl, and wild boar have been widely hunted in recent years. Conservationists charge wild life authorities of turning a blind eye to the slaughter. It is alleged that some politicians of the area were involved in hunting these animals --- and wild life officials were alleged to be turning a blind eye to the goings on in the vicinity because of the considerable political backing of the hunters. more..

Funeral of Stanley Kirinde Monday

Feb 15 (SAMN) The cremation of well-known artist Stanley Kirinde will take place Monday afternoon at the Borella Cemetery. The late Kirinde, who passed away on Friday, was one of Sri Lanka’s best-known post-Independence artists. He was educated at Trinity College, Kandy, and received his higher education at the University of Ceylon. Upon graduation he joined the public service, and retired as the State Secretary of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping in 1990. more..

'Prabha planning mass suicide'

Feb 15 (SAMN) Basil Rajapaksa claimed Saturday that LTTE leader Prabhakaran was planning a mass suicide involving himself and hundreds of hardcore cadres on the beaches of Mullaitivu as the security forces continued to close in from several directions. Rajapaksa said there was substantive information regarding the mass suicide planned by the LTTE leader who had claimed that more civilians had also pledged to join in the mass suicide. more..

Situation report (Feb 15) by SLA

Feb 15 (SLA) Another Flotilla of Sea Tiger Boats Founded: MULLAITTIVU: FIGHTER jets of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) bombed three LTTE suicide boats anchored near ‘Fara 3’ ship in the seas north of MULLAITTIVU, Sunday (15) around 1.00 p.m. This ‘Fara 3’ had been hi-jacked by the LTTE terrorists some times back. According to pilots, two of the boats were sunk and the remaining boat caught fire in the aerial bombing. more..

Four-stage resettlement on way

Feb 15 (SO) The process of resettlement and rehabilitation of civilians fleeing the LTTE areas will focus towards making their emotional, social and economic positions more secure with a four-stage plan to ensure that they were resettled in their original villages and towns at least by April this year, Senior Presidential Advisor and parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa said when he briefed the Secretaries of Ministries, on Thursday (12). more..

Life is precious than death

Feb 15 (SO) Have you ever heard of a human being `tagged’ to die, brimming with hopes of living? Have you ever heard of a youth, who was to blow himself into pieces, smiling and talking very freely? `Suraj’, a human bomb, until a few days ago, has all the qualities of a disciplined youth. The fair skinned youth of 22-years, now loves his life more than anything else on this earth. He simply wants to live to see his `appa, amma and akka’. more..

Prices come down

Feb 15 (SO) The prices of most of the essential food items have decreased during the last few months. The latest prices of food commodities published by the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI) show that rice, onion, potato, pulses, vegetables and coconut prices have declined due to sufficient supply of local agriculture produce to the market as a result of the progress of the national food production drive while dried fish price has marginally fluctuated, more..

Mass resettlement of Muslims in Jaffna

Feb 15 (SO) The Jaffna district Parliamentarian and Minister of Social Services, Douglas Devananda has embarked on a mass rehabilitation and reconstruction program to resettle Muslims back in the peninsula. The Muslim residents forcibly evicted by the LTTE fifteen years ago, had to leave behind their immovable assets in the region. The Minister has taken the initiative to resettle them in their original places after reconstructing their houses, business establishments, schools and mosques, more..

President to harness Libya with state visit

Feb 15 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is now expected to make an official visit to Libya later this month, as part of his strategy to build strong relations with key Arab/Muslim States, that can be counted on for jobs, trade and even assistance, especially, in times of need such as now. At a time when there is worldwide economic slowdown, Libya recently opened a major share of its labour market to Sri Lankan migrant workers, especially, for skilled Lankans. more..

Diaspora should invest their earnings in Sri Lanka to develop economy

Feb 15 (Island) Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena urged the Sri Lankan diaspora to invest their foreign currency earnings in Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds and help to develop their motherland. Speaking at a workshop at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London last week, he said that under the guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the valiant soldiers have now almost eradicated LTTE terrorism and there is a structure in place to develop the North and East of the country. more..

'IDPs can go home by year end'

Feb 15 (NS) Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe is the man responsible for putting in place arrangements to house thousands of civilians who have fled to government controlled areas from the battle scarred war zones in the north. While asserting that these welfare centers are only temporary measures, and that steps were being taken to expedite their return home, he assures that no one will be forced to return, unless it is on an informed choice of their own decision. more..

Scattered dreams of Tamil politics

Feb 15 (NS) The military thrust against the LTTE and thereby weakening them, has certainly offered fresh options to the moderate Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka. The Tamil parties have two options. Either join hands together or work separately but with a view to aiming at a common goal – to achieve a substantial political solution to the Tamil minority. With the apparent defeat of the LTTE, it is no secret that even the Vaddukodai resolution of 1976 is laid to eternal rest. more..