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Hoping for Jaleel’s safe return: Envoy

Feb 17 (DM) The Sri Lankan Ambassador in the Philippines said yesterday his staff was in constant touch with the relevant authorities in an effort to secure the safe release of the Sri Lankan taken captive by suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels in the troubled Basilan Province. Ambassador Aloy N. Ratnayaka told Daily Mirror a full-scale investigation into the kidnapping of 34-year-old Umar Jaleel was launched by the Philippines police and more..

Rupee up from all-time low on intervention

Feb 17 (Reuters) Rupee edged up on Tuesday from its all-time low on intervention by two state banks, while shares edged down to near a one-month low on select shares. The rupee closed at 114.15/114.35, up from Monday's life closing low of 114.30/35, on state bank intervention. One state bank, through which the central bank intervenes in the market, sold dollars at 113.85 while another state bank bought dollars from 114.10 to 114.25 level, to keep the rupee steady. more..

Crushed JVP warns of major crises

Feb 17 (DM) The JVP, whose vote bank was slashed at Saturday’s Provincial Council elections, said yesterday the polls results were of no significance as they would not help resolve the social, political and economic crises facing the country. JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe said that the government had turned the Central and North Western Provincial Council elections into a virtual referendum with the people asked to express their views on the military victories. more..

Methodists in war-torn Sri Lanka appeal for help

Feb 17 (CT) As fighting in Sri Lanka reached a climax this month, the Methodist Church in Britain has urged people to pray this Thursday for hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians. Reports from the President of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka have revealed the extent of the devastation. Rev Ebenezer Joseph said that 95 per cent of the seven congregations in the Wanni region had been trapped in an area now under control of the LTTE. more..

Pro-LTTE lawyers hurl rotten eggs at Subramaniam Swamy

Feb 17 (IANS) Lawyers sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers Tuesday hurled rotten eggs at Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy in the Madras High Court in the presence of the judges and shouted anti-India slogans. The judges P.K. Mishra and K. Chandru have ordered action against the lawyers. Swamy, who was in the court for a hearing, was whisked away by police. 'The judges took a serious view of the incident,' Swamy told IANS later. more..

India pledges 67 rail buses to East

Feb 17 (IANS) India has pledged to provide 67 sets of rail buses to link Batticaloa and Trincomalee towns with capital Colombo to promote development in Sri Lanka's east, a media report said. "India will give us (67 sets of) rail buses to be operated between Batticaloa and Trincomalee via Habarana," the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted Eastern Province Health Minister M.L.A.M. Hizbullah as saying. According to him, each set would comprise two buses and more could be added. more..

Tamil Tiger UN charges rejected

Feb 17 (BBC) Aid workers linked to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have criticised the UN over reports that the rebels are preventing civilians from leaving the war zone. The UN has said that a growing number of civilians trying to flee have been shot at and some have been killed. The Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation, widely seen as a rebel front, says the UN has failed to protect civilians. Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to be trapped after weeks of heavy fighting in the north. more..

Tamil MPs say Sri Lanka ignoring civilian safety

Feb 17 (AP) Tamil politicians accused the Sri Lankan government Tuesday of ignoring the safety of tens of thousands of civilians in its campaign to wipe out the Tamil Tiger rebels, saying more than 2,000 noncombatants have been killed in the recent fighting. The accusation came as UNICEF accused the rebels of stepping up their forcible recruitment of child soldiers to aid in the fight against the military onslaught. more..

UN says Tigers killing civilians in Sri Lanka war zone

Feb 17 (AFP) Tamil Tiger guerrillas have prevented tens of thousands of civilians from leaving Sri Lanka's war zone and those trying to escape have been "shot and sometimes killed," the United Nations said Monday. The rebels are holding non-combatants in the small patch of coastal jungle in the northeast of the island where they have been cornered by government forces, it added. "A growing number of people trying to leave have been shot and sometimes killed," more..

'Tiger leader still in Sri Lanka'

Feb 17 (Reuters) The separatist Tamil Tigers' leader is hiding in Sri Lanka and holding thousands of civilians as a shield to buy time to either flee or make his last stand, Sri Lanka's defence secretary said on Monday. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the top civil servant in charge of the military, said the uncertain future of LTTE chief Velluppillai Prabhakaran was responsible for the plight of civilians in the remaining rebel-held area. more..

Rebels hit back after UN claims

Feb 17 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels lashed out at the United Nations on Tuesday after it accused them of shooting civilians who try to escape the island's bloody ethnic conflict. The UN said the Tigers have detained tens of thousands of non-combatants inside rebel-held territory and have "shot and sometimes killed" those crossing the battle lines to seek safety. A front organisation for the rebels, who have been cornered in the jungle by government troops, countered the allegations by saying more..

LTTE ready for ceasefire, says pro-rebel Tamil party

Feb 17 (PTI) Rebel Tamil Tigers are ready for ceasefire if the Sri Lankan government is willing to halt its military offensive against them, a pro-LTTE political party said on Tuesday. "We have been told by the LTTE that they are willing to accept a ceasefire if the government ends the offensive against them and will hold talks on the Tamil issue", a senior member of the pro-LTTE TNA Nallathamby Srikantha told reporters here. more..

Sri Lanka rebels sign up child soldiers for final battle: UNICEF

Feb 17 (AFP) Tamil Tigers have stepped up conscription of child soldiers, the United Nations agency for children said on Tuesday, as the rebels prepare to face a final onslaught by the military. Government troops are on the verge of crushing the LTTE and ending their 37-year campaign for an independent Tamil homeland after a series of victories across the northeast of the island. "We have clear indications that the LTTE has intensified forcible recruitment of civilians and more..

Sun TV crew held in Vavuniya

Feb 18 (EB) Four Sri Lankan nationals allegedly employed by the Chennai-based SUN TV, were taken into custody together with their equipment in Vavuniya in North Sri Lanka, for suspected links with the LTTE ,the police said on Tuesday. Police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera told Daily Mirror that the arrests had been made by the army on Monday, and the detainees were handed over to the Vavuniya police for further investigations. more..

Lanka appeals to US to pressure LTTE to release civilians

Feb 18 (PTI) Sri Lanka on Tuesday appealed to the world community, the US in particular, to put pressure on the LTTE to release civilians being held captive in the war zone, a day after the UN said rebels continued to "actively prevent" Tamils from leaving the embattled north. The appeal was issued by Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya on Monday. "As the LTTE terrorists continue to put innocent civilians, who seek safety from the conflict zone, in harm's way, more..

M.I.A. gives birth to boy

Feb 18 (Reuters) British pop singer M.I.A., who performed at the Grammy Awards last Sunday despite experiencing labor contractions, has given birth to a baby boy, she said on her MySpace page. The unnamed baby was born on Wednesday, and is "healthy, fine, beautiful and the most amazing thing ever on this planet," according to her Web posting on Saturday. The baby's father is musician Benjamin Brewer, son of Canadian liquor scion Edgar Bronfman, chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group. more..

‘Presidential system has led to dictatorial rule’

Feb 18 (ML) Chairman Central Environment Authority (CEA) and Legal Adviser, JHU, Udaya Gammanpila says the JHU strongly believes in the executive presidency and that the JHU argued at the APRC for the executive presidential system. In an interview with The Morning Leader Gammanpila said "we have to choose our leader considering the entire country as one electorate." more..

Sri Lanka's Health Tourism Lures Westerns

Feb 18 (VoA) In Sri Lanka, the health tourism sector is growing in popularity, especially with Western tourists, who look to treatments, such as the ancient Ayurveda methods of herbal medicines and massage, as a way to recover from their fast paced life back home. Over 3,000 years of medical tradition in South Asia has drawn on natural ingredients going into potions and mixtures as medication for the ills of the day. more..

Guiness record breaker aims to promote peace

Feb 18 (NDN) Hours after returning from Sweden where he broke his own Guinness world record for non-stop television watching, Suresh Joachim has no time for sleep. The perpetual world record seeker is making arrangements for his next feat - the fastest feature length movie ever made. "It will go from script to screen in 12 days," explains Joachim. "We'll have our premiere in India and then it will be translated into four different languages." more..

UNP takes stock of thrashing

Feb 18 (ML) The UNP Working Committee met at the party headquarters Sirikotha yesterday and discussed at length the party’s performance at the recently concluded provincial council election, the composition of the votes and the party’s stance on the war, UNP Spokesperson Gayantha Karunathilake told The Morning Leader. He further said that the party position on these major issues was discussed at length and that the discussions continued late into the night with more..

TMVP offices in the east to be converted to SLFP offices

Feb 18 (ML) TMVP offices that were under MP Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman in the east are to be converted into SLFP offices in the coming days. Spokesperson for Muralitharan, D. Kamalanathan told The Morning Leader that former TMVP offices that were under Muralitharan in the east would be converted to SLFP offices shortly. "All offices in Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa that were under Muralith-aran will be converted to SLFP offices. more..

An election boost for war effort

Feb 18 (ML) Sunday’s results of the North Western and Central Provincial Council elections held no surprises, right down to the antics of an uncouth Puttalam District Minister Abdul Baiz and his goons compelling the Election Commissioner to call for a re-poll at a single election booth in Kerawalapitiya on February 21. The regular conduct of elections in Sri Lanka remain the only visible sign of a functional democracy tainted as the polls are with malpractice and further sullied by election violence. more..

Silenced in Sri Lanka

Feb 18 (GP) As Sri Lanka's decades-long war approaches what is expected to be a gruesome conclusion, the world largely looks elsewhere. This can be blamed on the lack of what we call ground truth coming out of the country. The government has suppressed journalists, some of whom have been killed and others have disappeared. In the country's capital, Colombo, there is silence about the fighting and the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the northeast part of the island. more..

Wealthy Sri Lanka spent Rs.774 billion for defence since 2000

Feb 18 (BL) A total of Rs.774 billion has been spent in defence expenditure from year 2000 to present, claimed Minister of Internal Administration and Deputy Minister of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order, Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake in Parliament yesterday. He presented these statistics to Parliament responding to a query by United National Party (UNP) MP Ravi Karunanayake. more..

Polls show the country divided

Feb 18 (BL) The verdict the people gave on Saturday was clear: The Sinhalese have endorsed the war and the minority communities –Tamils and the Muslims – have registered their unhappiness. The massive 70% of votes the government’s UPFA polled in the predominantly Sinhala districts of Kurunegala and Matale and the record 181,783 preferential votes UNP’s Chief Ministerial Candidate S.B. Dissanayake scored in the Kandy District are indicators. more..

'Appointment of Election Commission unnecessary'

Feb 18 (BL) Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday said that the appointment of an Election Commission was unnecessary since tasks that would be undertaken by it were already being done by the Elections Commissioner. Minister noted that even without an Elections Commission the Elections Commissioner was endowed with the necessary powers to safeguard democracy and therefore focus should be centred on developing democracy. more..

Toll for Southern highway

Feb 18 (LT) A toll will be levied for those who use the southern highway says Non Cabinet Minister of Highways T.B. Ekanayake. This was revealed in the Parliament when the minister answered a question posed by the JVP Member for Galle District Ajith Kumara. Every time the highway is used the toll will be charged and the charge will be according to the distance travelled said the minister. The toll charges for the use of the highway is as follows. more..

Change National Day – Dr. Mervin Silva

Feb 18 (LT) He was proposing to the goverenment to change the National Day that is celebrated on the 4th of February every year says Labour Minister Dr. Mervin Silva. The minister says he has brought up the proposal as the day was not selected to commemorate independence by Sri Lanka from British imperialists but as it was the birthday of Ivor Jennings’ wife. Military parades, gun salutes and various other displays need not be held on a day more..

Web site for UNP campaign

Feb 18 (LT) Former Member of Western PC and chief organizer of the UNP for Ratmalana Mohanlal Grero says he would deviate from poster and offensive politics to carry out his political campaign. Instead of posters, banners and cutout that are indiscriminately used by other politicians he would use only a web site for his campaign says Mr. Grero, owner of a chain of international schools. more..

NC & Sabaragamuwa PC elections cost Rs.280 million

Feb 18 (LT) The North-Central and Sabaragamuwa elections held in August last year cost the public Rs.28,56,02,383.00 said Minister of State Revenue and Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya in Parliament yesterday (17th). Minister Siyambalapitiya said the money was spent for salaries, allowances, travelling allowances of officials, transport, entertainment and other expenditure. more..

NGOs bribe journalists to keep mum

Feb 18 (LT) Nine non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have asked a group of journalists to refrain from publishing information on aid obtained by them from various countries and later contributed to the tiger terrorist organization to establish an ‘Ealam state’ in the North. They have made this request at a ‘media meeting’ held in a top class hotel at Thimbirigasyaya in Colombo recently. After cocktails the journalists have been presented with a packet of Rs.10000 each. more..

TNA asks for ceasefire on behalf of tiger terrorists

Feb 18 (LT) The TNA has asked the government to declare a ceasefire considering the plight of innocent Tamils who are being distressed by the ongoing war. As the tiger organization has expressed its willingness to enter into a ceasefire the government should agree for a ceasefire said Leader of TNA and its Member of Parliament for Trincomalee District R. Sampanthan speaking at a media meeting held yesterday (17th). more..

TNA denies split within party; snubs President

Feb 18 (BL) The TNA cannot be divided and conquered despite the continuous efforts by the President in the last few months, said TNA Parliamentarian R. Sampanthan at a press conference in Parliament yesterday. He made this statement responding to media reports that there is a rift within the party. “The President was able to create a split within the UNP the JVP and the SLMC and he tried his best to create a split within our party. more..

New plea for Sri Lanka civilians

Feb 18 (BBC) The UN and the Red Cross have renewed appeals to both sides in Sri Lanka's conflict to spare civilian lives. They want troops and Tamil Tiger rebels to let civilians flee the war zone. Scores of children are among those hurt or killed in the fighting and the rebels are stepping up recruitment of child soldiers, the UN says. Tens of thousands of people are trapped after weeks of heavy fighting in the north. Another group of wounded civilians was evacuated on Tuesday. more..

Two production villages commissioned

Feb 18 (GDI) Two production villages based on the clay industry in the Kurunegala district have been commissioned by Rural Industries and Self Employment Promotion Minister S.B. Navinna said recently. Thiththawella in the Hiriyala electorate and Passallewa in the Wariyapola electorate have been upgraded with common amenities and equipment required for production. Thirty four families are in the Thiththawella village and more..

Massive water supply scheme for Jaffna

Feb 18 (GDI) The Government will soon implement a massive water supply scheme in the Jaffna peninsula utilising the water of Iranamadu tank. Drinking water facilities are expected to provide to the people in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts too after they are resettled in their original dwellings. The National Water Supply and Drainage Board has deployed adequate water and gully bowsers to the welfare centres in Vavuniya and Omanthai for civilians fleeing from uncleared areas. more..

SLTB starts off operations in the North

Feb 18 (GDI) Transport Ministry plans to start off transport services with immediate effect in liberated North. And, the ministry, eager to be one of the first state institutions functioning, waiting for the armed forces give them the green light, a ministry spokesperson revealed. “Transport services will continue by March as Minister Dulles Alahapperuma allocated enough funds to refurbish destructed service facilities within Jaffna peninsula. more..

NISD draws up plans for commencing a Ph.D programme in social work

Feb 18 (GDI) As per instructions by Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare, Douglas Devananda, the National Institute of Social Development functioning under the purview of his Ministry which hitherto awarded Diploma, and degree programmes in social work at Bachelor’s and Master’s level is now drawing up plans for commencing a Ph.D programme in Social work. For drawing up of preliminary plans in this regard, a discussion was held with more..

National policy on water and sanitation

Feb 18 (GDI) The Government is contemplating the privatization of water resources and Government has not taken a decision to impose any kind of tax on water on domestic or common toilet usage, Minister of Water Supply Mahinda Amaraweera said. The National Policy on Water and Sanitation being formulated by the Ministry of Water Supply will ensure right of each and every citizen to have better drinking water and sanitary facilities. more..

'UPFA will bring in new constitution soon'

Feb 18 (LT) The present Constitution was the root cause of many ills of politics and governance in the country and the UPFA government would replace the 1978 constitution with a new one soon says General Secretary of the SLFP and Minister Maithripala Sirisena. He said everybody wanted to do away with the 1978 constitution which hinders the development the government has planned for the country. more..

Richard A perfect human being

Feb 18 (AT) Richard de Soyza was more than a journalist. He knew the ethics of Journalism, unlike those self proclaimed Editors / Journalists, he never used his pen to make hatred among the ethnic groups, glorify the Tamil militancy though he was born to a minority Tamil Mother Dr. Saravanamuttu, a prominent physician and daughter of a former Sri Lankan Diplomat. He never betrayed the country’s sovereignty to the terrorists nor does he belong to the so-called pressure groups that depend on NGO dollars. more..

Full extent of LTTE Puthukudirippu attack

Feb 18 (DW) The full extent of an LTTE plan and series of coordinated attacks at Puthukudirippu has come to light. The attack, which started as an infiltration on January 31st, went on till the Independence Day on 4th February. The objective of the LTTE was to push the Army back to Oddusudan. We have now fully pieced together the exact extent of the various attacks that took place during this period, particularly from the 2nd to the 4th of February. more..

LTTE propaganda stunt exposed: images manipulated to satisfy diasporas

Feb 18 (MoD) To smother its humiliating string of defeats at the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces LTTE propaganda clouts have taken to what they have known best over the years 'manipulation and distortion' of true ground situations, what is viewed as rough efforts to satisfy the war mongering diaspora communities world wide. Following images were posted by a main LTTE propaganda web portal on 6th February, which according to our technical investigations reveal as pictures taken on October, 2008. more..

'Govt's priority is the safety of the civilians'

Feb 18 (MoD) Mr. R. Sampanthan, TNA MP's statement at a recent media briefing is a deliberate attempt to distort the realities. The government is taking every effort for the safety of the civilians by declaring a safe zone. Hence Mr. R. Sampanthan's allegation that the government has shirked its responsibility and shifted the blame on the LTTE is a distortion of facts which mislead the international community. The statement is irresponsible and unfounded and so is detrimental to a sovereign nation, more..

Mop up operations continue in west of Puthukkudiyiruppu

Feb 18 (MoD) Army 58 division soldiers after wresting control over the Puthukkudiyiruppu West built up are now engaged in mop operations in the area, defence sources reveal. Battlefield reports indicate that troops have so far collected 28 bodies of LTTE cadres since Monday (Feb 16). Yesterday alone troops found 14 bodies of LTTE cadres along with three T-56 riffles, one 81mm mortar gun, two radio communication sets and one sniper riffle. more..

We are deeply sad, puzzled: LTTE Political Head

Feb 18 (TN) "We are deeply sad and puzzled at the attitude of the apex institution of humanity, the United Nations, in not taking effective measures to protect the life, security and interests of innocent Tamil civilians," said LTTE's Political Head B. Nadesan on Tuesday. "Instead, the UN is engaged in fruitless exercises of accusing the wrong side, without coming and seeing what is happening by themselves," he said. more..

Sangaree expresses serious concern over the escalation of civilian deaths

Feb 18 (AT) V. Anandasangaree has expressed serious concern over the sudden escalation of the civilian death rates since of late. He has urged that the Forces be asked to restrain from any further aerial bombing and also to stop firing shells and artillery attacks. “ The capture of the remaining areas could wait till all the trapped persons are brought out safely, while the war goes on, says the leader of the TULF. more..

US Sri Lankan's protest rally at White House, Washington on 20th

Feb 18 (LeN) Sri Lankan expatriates, live in the United States are expected to organize a massive protest rally at South of the White House, Washington D.C, on Friday, February 20, 2009. Organizers said that this peaceful rally to urge the US authorities to pressurize the LTTE to release the innocent Tamil civilian hostages, and to stand up against the scourge of terrorism that has plagued Sri Lanka for decades. more..

Sri Lankans in Canada march for peace

Feb 18 (LeN) A large group of Canadians of Sri Lankan origin gathered in front of Canada's Federal Parliament on Tuesday in a silent demonstration of support for an end to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict and the beginning of a permanent peace. Statement from Sri Lanka High Commission stated Canada. The gathering, which comprised of Buddhist monks, Christian priests and young and old Sri Lankan expatriates from the National Capital Region, more..

LTTE should release all civilians without any further delay

Feb 18 (AT) The Prayathna People’s Movement (PPM) has strongly appealed to the LTTE to release immediately all civilians trapped within the war zone areas. The PPM points out that keeping civilians as human shields is a violation of international humanitarian laws as well as international law on war. The media release of the PPM states as follows: According to all reports reaching Colombo, the fate of innocent civilians in Mullaitivu area is worsening continuously. more..