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Eelam Tamils: Civilian Human Shield

Feb 19 (LG) The killing of Tamil civilians has not subsided in spite of world-wide protest from the Diaspora. President Rajapaksha has announced yesterday, that he has invited the UN Secretary-General to Sri Lanka in order for him to view the situation. The UN seem to have not taken that offer. He has also said that the Tamil civilians who have left the conflict zone are being looked after humanely. more..

Good work of LTTE

Feb 19 (LG) Premadasa ordered his death squads to murder thousands of opponents with the hope of living for at least three thousand years. Ronnie Gunasingha dragged Richard de Soyza out of his house in front of his mother, to be murdered later, with the hope of becoming at least the IGP. Both of them ate soil in less than three years of Richard’s death, let alone three thousand years. more..

UN Chief Undecided on Visit to Sri Lanka

Feb 19 (AT) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has received an invitation to visit Sri Lanka but he has still not decided whether he will visit the country, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters. At a press conference Tuesday, she also said the United Nations has expressed heightened concern for the welfare of the civilian population caught up in the fighting, based on reports received in the last few days. more..

Kadapatha book launched in Anuradhapura

Feb 19 (AT) Kadapatha (Through the Looking Glass - Sixty Years of Independence), a collection of articles from the Sunday Lankadeepa weekly column of the same name written by Milinda Moragoda and edited by veteran newspaper Editor Edmond Ranasinghe was launched on the occasion of the Sangha Advisory committee meeting of the Ministry of Tourism, held in Anuradhapura on Wednesday at the historical Jaya Siri Mahabodhi Uda Maluwa. more..

Who says the Sri Lankan govt doesn’t look after the welfare of the Tamil Civilians fleeing LTTE control

Feb 19 (AT) There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough. Thus, terrorists came to be regarded as freedom fighters; a terrorist problem was treated as an "ethnic problem", solutions drafted to problems not known and presently a Government being blamed for civilians that are being held by the LTTE. Humanitarian agencies projected between 250,000 to 400,000 displaced civilians. more..

Will Canada Intervene? - Sri Lankan Envoy Asks Sarcastically

Feb 19 (AT) Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Canada Daya Perera has asked a Canadian parliamentarian whether his country would intervene, as it has done in Afghanistan, to help the Sri Lankan government disarm the LTTE in case a cease-fire fails. Striking a sarcastic note in a letter to member of parliament Derek Lee, he asks: "Assuming that we have a cease-fire now, what is the guarantee that the LTTE will adhere by its promises?." more..

'Give tax relief to local industrialists'

Feb 19 (LT) Local industrialists too should be considered when providing tax relief says JVP MP Jayanthe Wijesekera. He said, “The profits the country gets form foreign investments is only 30%. Why doesn’t government give tax relief to local industrialists and encourage them? 15000 acres from Kanthale is to be give to foreign investors to plant plantains. Can’t farmers in our country plant plantains? Hence, we have suspicion as to why foreign investors are brought here to do what our people are capable of doing.” more..

Water & telephone charges increase

Feb 19 (LT) National Water Supply and Drainage Board and Sri Lanka Telecom have taken measures to increase water and telephone charges effective from the 15th of January. With the activation of the 10% increase in rental the tax for telephones would increase between 22 – 24%. The water bill too would increase. The new billing system has been formulated so that bills that exceed 25 units will have a 100% increase. more..

30 million for Moragahakanda launching ceremony

Feb 19 (LT) The ceremony to launch construction project of Moragahakande reservoir has cost Rs.310,00,000.00 of public money indicates an answer tabled by the Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardene in Parliament. The cost for the propaganda for the ceremony had been Rs.1,17,95,126.80 states Minister Gunawardene’s answer. These details were tabled in an answer to a question raised by JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake. more..

'Sambanthan’s statement could leads to proscribing TNA'

Feb 19 (LT) Mr. R. Samabanthan as the Leader of the TNA making an undemocratic statement in the Parliament representing the moribund LTTE, which is a banned organization, would cause his party to be banned says spokesman for national security Minister Keheliya Rambukwella. Minister Rambukwella ridiculed Mr. Sambanthan’s statement that Prabakaran would agree if the government announces a ceasefire. more..

CID takes away files from Lanka e-News

Feb 19 (LT) The CID that broke into office of Lanka e-News this morning has taken away a large number of files and documents say reports. Chief Editor of e-news Sandaruwan Senadheera and several other media persons have been taken to CID for questioning. They are still being questioned say reports reaching ‘Lankatruth.’ A media person attached to Lanka e-News told ‘Lankatruth’ that the reason for the CID involvement is an article published in the website on Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse.

Summary of the Cabinet decisions

Feb 19 (GDI) Geographical Indication Protection for "Ceylon Tea" & Other Tea Growing Regions in Sri Lanka: Cabinet approved a Memorandum submitted by the Minister of Plantation Industries D.M. Jayaratne is sought for Sri Lanka Tea Board to register the "Ceylon Tea" and other seven tea growing area named under geographical indication certification mark in Sri Lanka and other foreign countries on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka. more..

Solar power for rural areas

Feb 19 (GDI) The Ministry of Power and Energy has decided to make available solar power to rural areas where it is costly for the board to erect transmission lines.An official of the Power and Energy Ministry said the project, scheduled to be launched next month, will meet approximately 8% of the electricity demand. He pointed out that 82% of the project has already been completed. Around 300 families from the Moneragala district will benefit in the first step of the project. more..

Will there be a political solution after military success?

Feb 19 (TC) With the impending total defeat of the LTTE, this secessionist group will cease to be a political force in Sri Lanka. But will there be a political solution to the ethnic conflict in the aftermath of the government’s military success? Events in the coming weeks and months will show the extent to which President Rajapakse can open up a new political process to lay the foundation for a new polity in which the majority as well as the minority communities can live in dignity, equality and coexistence. more..

Next steps for the IDPs in Vavuniya

Feb 19 (PISL) More than 30,000 people have escaped from the Vanni in recent days, despite the best efforts of the LTTE to keep them back as a human shield. Last weekend, the Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Rishad Bathiudeen led a delegation of Government and United Nations officials and representatives from the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies to visit the welfare centres in Vavuniya to both assess the current situation and discuss plans to look after these IDPs until they can go home. more..

Anti-Conversion Bill delayed in Parliament

Feb 19 (PSM) A move by JHU leader Ven. Athureliya Rathana Thera to present the Anti Conversion Bill in Parliament was delayed by a decision taken at the last party leaders' meeting. National Unity Alliance (NUA) Leader and Minister Ms. Ferial Ashraff has suggested the bill to be referred to the Parliament Consultative Committee. Accordingly, when this is taken up in future at the Parliament Consultative Committee, the minister in charge of the subject has to be present. more..

'UNP will support govt. to get 2/3rd majority to amend constitution'

Feb 19 (LT) The UNP will support the government to get 2/3rd majority in the Parliament if a constitution that could create communal harmony and develop the country is presented says UNP Parliamentarian Luxman Kiriella. Mr. Kiriella said the government has asked the people to give it 2/3rd majority to amend the constitution. The 1972 constitution was adopted with a 2/3rd majority but it didn’t contain the views of the minority communities. more..

Confusion in IDP statistics

Feb 19 (GDI) Civilians fleeing into liberated areas are counted twice, and, at odd occasions, they may subject to be counted for the third-time even, Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasingha said. The statistics, nearly one-third of figures, provided by the Government Agents have been found incorrect in many instances with as many as 20,000 families being double-counted in the Kilinochchi district alone, the Minister revealed. more..

Situation Report (Feb 19) by SLA

Feb 19 (SLA) THURSDAY (19) morning’s pitched fighting between 53 Division troops and remaining Tiger terrorists at a location on ODDUSUDAN – PUTHUKUDIYIRIPPU road has reportedly killed two well-known Tiger terrorists, identified as ANBU and SURESH, Army troops in VANNI confirmed. Scores of Tiger terrorists, according to reports have also perished in the fighting. A few soldiers injured in the fighting were referred for medical treatment. Further operations are in progress. more..

Commander evaluates security in Jaffna

Feb 19 (MoD) Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, with a view to assessing security-related developments in the Jaffna peninsula met Major General Mendaka Samarasinghe, Commander, Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna and senior ground commanders in 51, 52 and 55 Divisions Thursday morning during a visit to Jaffna. Major General Samarasinghe at the outset of the discussion at Jaffna Headquarters auditorium briefed the visiting Army chief on the overall general security situation and concerns in the peninsula. more..

Govt to probe NGO spending in North and East

Feb 19 (MoD) With reasonable doubts emerging about monies from NGOs and other international organizations meant for public welfare in the North and East being used to fund terrorist activities of the LTTE, the Government yesterday appointed a special committee to make a deep and comprehensive study of these expenditures. This committee will be headed by Prof. Rajiv Wijesinghe, Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat and the Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. more..

And then they came for UN staff

Feb 19 (MoD) "Now, how does the UN propose to liberate the men, women and children in the clutches of the LTTE including its staff and their dependents? Prabhakaran will never let go of the hapless people in response to feeble appeals. Is the UN planning to go on grovelling before him without resorting to any other action to make him fall in line? A dying terrorist group has brought the UN to its knees! Where are the superpowers?" questions the Island Editorial on Thursday (Feb 19), more..

Two massive protests scheduled for Friday outside White House

Feb 19 (AT) Two massive protest demonstrations are scheduled to take place outside the White House on Friday- one by pro-LTTE supporters and the other by pro-government supporters. The LTTE supporters are coming mostly from Canada. A flyer announcing the demonstration describes the protest as a "mega rally". The Sri Lankan expatriate community is organizing a counter-protest on the same day at the same venue with the help of all Sri Lankans in Washington DC and other States. more..

Tamil forum seeks Sonia’s intervention

Feb 19 (Hindu) Members of ‘The Sri Lankan Tamils Welfare and Rights Forum,’ on the second day of their campaign here for the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils, met Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee jointly at the Parliament House and sought their intervention to stop the war in the island nation and work out a political settlement. more..

Sri Lanka: political process soon

Feb 19 (Hindu) Amid claims by the Sri Lankan military that the LTTE was now confined to an area of about 100 sq. km. in the Mullathivu district, the government announced on Wednesday that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would soon call a meeting of representatives of Tamil political parties to discuss an “inclusive process” in the pursuit of a political solution to the ethnic strife. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama informed a gathering of the diplomatic community more..

'Try and move all war-affected Tamil civilians to safe zone'

Feb 19 (Hindu) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that India had asked Sri Lanka to immediately stop the ongoing war and resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations. “We have also urged the Sri Lankan government to try and move all war-affected Tamil civilians to a safe zone, if ceasefire call is not effective.” Mr. Mukherjee said Colombo had been told that it should bring innocent Tamil civilians to a ‘safe zone’ if its efforts for a ceasefire were proving ineffective. more..

BOI targets $1 bn foreign investment

Feb 19 (DN) Information and Media Minister and Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told Parliament yesterday that the Board of Investment (BOI) is anticipating to attract foreign investment worth over US$ one billion to Sri Lanka during this year. The Minister introducing four regulations under the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka law, said the proposed new regulations are aimed at expanding investment opportunities and develop available investment opportunities in the country. more..

Electricity generation: For whom? And by whom?

Feb 19 (DN) Electricity is not just yet another form of energy. Electricity can be conveniently used to get various jobs done. You can use electricity for lighting, ventilation, refrigeration and air conditioning, ironing and cooking, traction, audio and video entertainment, driving of various mechanical machines, computers, communication systems, control systems,. Which other single form of energy can be used to do all these things? more..

JVP, UNP have missed the bus – Prelate

Feb 19 (Island) The UNP and the JVP have missed the bus. They have failed to read the minds of the people, the Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Mahanayake Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter told the recently elected UPFA member of the Central Provincial Council Lohan Ratwatte. Lohan, of former Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte came third with 70,372 preferential votes on his political debut. He called on the prelate on Tuesday (17) afternoon for blessings. more..

Southern Expressway beyond commoners’ reach?

Feb 19 (Island) Minister of Highways and Road Development T. B. Ekanayake yesterday informed the House that every vehicle using the proposed Southern Expressway would have to pay a toll of between Rs. 3 and Rs. 9 per kilometre. Each small vehicle would be charged three rupees per km, medium vehicles six rupees and large nine rupees per km, the Minister said. he was answering a question raised by JVP MP Ajith Kumara for oral answers. more..

'Sri Lanka finance sector bailout to be decided next week'

Feb 19 (LBO) Government will make a final decision on a bailout package to deal with toxic assets of banks and finance companies next week, government minister said. The cabinet of ministers had considered a set of proposals jointly devised by the Central Bank and Treasury to deal with seized assets of banks and finance companies at a meeting this Wednesday, international trade minister G L Pieris said. more..

Sri Lanka official reserves US$1.7 billion in December

Feb 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka's foreign reserves fell to 1,753 million US dollars in December from 2,030 million US dollars in November which was enough to finance 1.5 months of imports, the Central Bank said. Gross official reserves with Asian Clearing Union (ACU) funds was 2,561 million US dollars which was enough to finance 2.2 months of imports. But Sri Lanka is in the midst of a trade contraction with December imports falling 9.7 percent and exports falling 19.1 percent more..

Troops discover LTTE aircraft research site

Feb 19 (PTI) After uncovering attempts of Tamil Tigers to build crude submarines, Sri Lankan forces on Thursday said they had unearthed a possible rebel aircraft research wing that apparently studied ways to either repair planes or construct new ones. Sri Lankan security forces engaged in search operations in Waddaikachchi area of Mullaittivu, found several parts of an LTTE aircraft left burnt by the rebels while fleeing from the area yesterday, the Defence Ministry said. more..

Tamil refugees in TN return to home land

Feb 19 (PTI) Nine families of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, lodged in a camp here since 2006, are returning to their home land as the conditions are cited to be improved in some areas of the island nation, despite the ongoing war there. Their return marked the reverse flow of refugees with the island military consolidating its position in the Tamil dominated areas, pressing ahead with its offensive against the LTTE. more..

'Military troops have slowed down operations'

Feb 19 (PTI) Amid international appeals for caution, the Sri Lankan government has said its troops have slowed down operations in the remaining Tiger pockets to safeguard civilians trapped in those areas. In order to safeguard the lives of the civilians, the military is taking utmost precautions, Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said responding to a question on whether the advancement by the military has slowed down. more..

Ex-warlord sees prolonged conflict in Sri Lanka

Feb 19 (AFP) Sri Lankan troops face another 18 months of fighting even after they have all Tamil Tiger territory under their control, a former rebel has warned. The man known as "Colonel Karuna," who led an unprecedented split in the movement in 2004, says the Tigers will revert to guerrilla warfare after they lose control of the small enclave they still occupy. "I think it will take at least another one to one-and-a-half years for the army to entirely clear the north of terrorists," more..

Ferry service proves a lifeline

Feb 19 (IRIN) Sri Lankan authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are employing a ferry service from the coastal village of Putumattalan, at the edge of a combat zone, to transport injured civilians to the eastern port of Trincomalee in the eponymous district. Putumattalan lies within a 12km no-fire zone declared by the government. The ICRC has already evacuated 1,080 sick and wounded people and their dependents from the combat zone in three ferries with the navy since 10 February. more..

Rupee hits new life low on dollar demand

Feb 19 (Reuters) Rupee hit a new all-time low on Thursday on dollar demand from two state banks to settle import bills, while shares edged down to a one-month low led by telecom shares amid earnings woes. The rupee closed at a new life low of 114.30/114.50, its third straight fall to a record low, currency dealers said. One state bank, through which the central bank intervenes in the market, sold dollars at 113.85 while another state bank bought dollars up to 114.32 level to settle import bills. more..

Supreme Court asks why Tamil Nadu lawyers go frequently on strike

Feb 19 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday asked Tamil Nadu lawyers why they were striking work at the drop of a hat on issues ranging from changes in criminal laws to the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan issued notices to the Madras High Court and various advocates’ bodies in the state, including the Madras Bar Association and the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu. more..

Gammanpila challenges Ravi

Feb 19 (DM) JHU legal adviser and Central Environment Authority Chairman Udaya Gammanpila threw a challenge at UNP strongman Ravi Karunanayake yesterday asking him to contest Colombo at the Western PC polls and defeat the Government. “Mr. Karunanayake spearheaded the recent UNP campaigns which saw the party seniors travel1ing in bullock carts and breaking pots. None of these managed to defeat the Government. So I invite Mr. Karunanayake to contest the WPC polls and see whether his party can defeat the Government,” more..

LTTE hits out at local English media

Feb 19 (DM) The LTTE has hit out at the local English media saying it has largely ignored the killing of innocent Tamil civilians in Government declared "safe zones" in the Wanni. A statement from the LTTE Peace Secretariat, said that the level of daily civilian massacres had reached a crescendo and is continuing. The LTTE statement charged that while these daily massacres have been reported in the Tamil owned media and the Tamil broadcast of the BBC, the mainstream English media has largely ignored it. more..

Withdraw statement on Sri Lanka: PMK to Pranab

Feb 19 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee should withdraw his suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha about the Sri Lankan crisis, the PMK, a constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), demanded Thursday. "(He should) either withdraw the statement or give an explanation," PMK parliamentary party leader M. Ramadoss told the Lok Sabha. "It is an irresponsible statement. We want to know whether the statement is his personal view or the government's view," he said. more..

UN envoy in Sri Lanka expresses fears for civilians

Feb 19 (AFP) The United Nations humanitarian chief John Holmes held talks with leaders in Sri Lanka on Thursday and said he was gravely concerned for thousands of civilians trapped in the island's war zone. Holmes met Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama after the Tamil Tiger rebels suffered a series of defeats that have left their decades-long campaign for an independent Tamil homeland in tatters. more..

Donations to IDPs in the North

Feb 20 (GDI) There are many reports of concerned citizens from many parts of the country collecting food, clothing and other material to be sent to the Internally Displaced Persons in the North, who are now coming out of the LTTE held areas in large numbers. While the Government appreciates this gesture of goodwill by the people towards one’s fellow citizens that need help, the attention of the Government is also drawn to the possibility of unscrupulous persons or organizations using this situation for personal gain. more..

Eco-friendly Buddhism

Feb 20 (LG) Buddhist teachings warn followers to avoid alcohol as it intoxicates the mind - but the monks who built this beer bottle temple clearly have all their faculties. They use the discarded bottles - about 1.5million of them - to make every structure at the complex in Thailand, from the crematorium to the toilets. And the monks are planning to build even more, urging local authorities to bring their unwanted glass for some serious recycling. more..

Tamil expatriates have moral responsibility to make peace possible

Feb 20 (TC) Recently, there is a perceptible change in New Delhi as far as Sri Lanka is concerned. It is trying to clearly articulate what it can do and what it cannot. And asking Sri Lanka to enforce a ceasefire is one of the things it cannot do as stated in Parliament by Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee on February 18. But that is not enough. With thousands of civilian population trapped in the war zone increasingly falling victims of a shooting war, more..

Achieving Tamil Eelam

Feb 20 (LG) The success of the Singhalese armed forces in occupying most of the Tamil homeland of Eelam in the last two years, has taught Tamils some lessons. Eelam Tamils have lost the conventional war and their ancestral homeland. Eelam Tamils by themselves cannot prevent the hostile Singhalese armed forces from invading and occupying Tamil Eelam. The LTTE and Tamils have been waging a war to liberate for the last 25 years without success. more..

Sri Lanka to protect Ceylon Tea intellectual property

Feb 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka is seeking protection for the Ceylon Tea brand and seven growing areas under international intellectual property laws that cover products under 'geographical indicators', a government minister said. Sri Lanka Tea Board, a state regulatory body, has been authorized to seek protection under the provisions of the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), more..

Is Sri Lanka heading in the right direction?

Feb 20 (LG) It is learnt that the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and US secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, called for an immediate “humanitarian” ceasefire and the need of a ‘political solution’ two weeks ago and last week, the British High Commission announced the appointment of British parliamentarian and former defence secretary Des Browne as Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s special envoy to Sri Lanka. more..

American expert on not sanguine about ceasefire

Feb 20 (LG) “The situation in the Vanni makes me very sad because of all those civilians, 250,000 at least, caught in the middle. I hope that some sort of cease-fire can save them, but I am not very sanguine,” said American academic Mark P. Whitaker, who became known for his anthropological study of early this decade, in an e- mail interview. Whitaker said that at the time of his study, was quite successful in more..