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Anti-corruption plans gather dust

Feb 2 (SAMN) While two costly anti-corruption plans are gathering dust, the government and the United Nations Development Porgramme (UNDP) is set to launch another project to tackle waste, corruption and irregularities in the public sector. A three-year project called Support Efforts and Action against Corruption in Sri Lanka (SEAC) is expected to cost USD 858,500, with the UNDP’s contribution being USD 300,000. The UNDP intends to raise USD 558,000 from other donors. more..

Contradicting views on poll violence

Feb 2 (SAMN) With two weeks to go for the February 14 Central and Wayamba Provincial Council elections the government and the opposition held contradicting views about the ground situation in the two provinces. Police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara said Sunday no decision has been taken as to the number of police and security forces personnel to be deployed in the two provinces. “It is not a priority as I am yet to hear of major incidents of more..

'President’s house like polls office'

Feb 2 (SAMN) The main opposition UNP charged Sunday the Elections Chief and the Police Chief had not even acknowledged the more than 100 written complaints of violence and misuse of state property at the election campaign in the Central and Wayamba provinces. General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told a news conference the President’s House in Kandy had virtually turned out to be a UPFA election office. more..

Situation report (Feb 2) by SLA

Feb 2 (SLA) SEVERAL rounds of heavy fighting erupted in UDAYARKATTUKULAM and UDAYARKATTU areas Sunday (01) between Task Force-II and Task Force-III troops and terrorists during Sunday (01) where troops were able to find out a foreign-made huge transmission/ communication tower, kept folded perhaps for future use. Task Force-111 troops after intense clashes in UDAYARKATTU area first spotted the LTTE camp and saw this huge communication tower, more..

Negligent driver gets two years’ RI, Rs. 10,000 fine

Feb 2 (DN) Panadura Provincial High Court Judge Malanie Gunaratne observing that human life cannot be valued in monetary terms sentenced a private coach driver accused in a fatal motor accident to two years’ imprisonment suspended for 10 years and fined him Rs. 10,000. She also directed the accused to pay Rs. 200,000 as compensation to the victim’s child and suspended his driving licence for five years. more..

Forces advance further

Feb 2 (DN) The Security Forces engaged in the final phase of the Vanni liberation operation continued its military thrust against the LTTE recovering large hauls of weapons as the 48 hour ultimatum given to the LTTE to allow civilians to reach safer areas ended on Saturday night with around 300 civilians arriving in Security Forces controlled areas. ”Around 300 civilians arrived in the Government controlled areas in Visuamadu and Pulmudai and to Omanthai within the 48 hour period,” more..

Midshipman Yoshitha joins Dvora crew

Feb 2 (Island) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second son, midshipman Yoshitha is serving on board Fast Attack Craft (FAC) deployed in the eastern theatre of naval operations. Yoshitha, who is expected to pass out early this year as an Acting Sub Lieutenant, recently returned from the UK after his initial training. State-run ITN Saturday night quoted the young man in combat fatigues as saying that he had obtained his father’s approval after the government urged the youth to join armed forces. more..

'LTTE thrived by sowing seeds of hatred, division and terror'

Feb 2 (Island) US Ambassador Robert O’ Blake’s speech at the Sangha Sessions of the Amarapura Maha Nikaya. I appreciate that you took the unusual initiative to invite a diplomat to this gathering. To you, the Mahaa Sangha, let me first convey my great respect for you and your crucial role. Through you and your colleagues at temples across Sri Lanka, I have gained a further respect and a deeper knowledge of the teachings of Lord Buddha. more..

Tongue slashing

Feb 2 (DM) A youth lost part of his tongue when an underage girl whom the youth is alleged to have raped bit his tongue, the Negombo police said yesterday. Police investigations revealed that the youth had allegedly taken the girl to a room and raped her despite the girl’s protest. In her pain and anger, the girl had bitten off a part of the youth’s tongue. The screaming youth fled the scene leaving behind the part of his tongue, more..

Smoke screen blown

Feb 2 (DM) A stock of illegal cigarettes worth Rs.2.5 million and believed to be smuggled from Pakistan were recovered by the Fort police yesterday. Police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera said the stock was found in an apartment at Serpentine Watte in Maligawatte after the police received a tip-off. Police said the occupants were unable to explain how the stock came to be in the premises, who brought it and where it was to be taken. more..

Foreign secretary statement on the Conflict in Sri Lanka

Feb 2 (EGM) Commenting on the Sri Lankan government's recent announcement the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said: "The announcement that the Sri Lankan government will allow safe passage for civilians in northern Sri Lanka is very welcome. The LTTE now need to ensure that civilians wishing to leave the conflict area are able to do so. "I repeated my call for a humanitarian ceasefire when I spoke to President Rajapakse yesterday. more..

Aid groups: Sri Lanka situation 'nightmarish'

Feb 2 (CNN) International humanitarian aid agencies called Monday for increased access to the "nightmarish situation" in northern Sri Lanka, where government forces and Tamil rebels are locked in battle. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are thought to be trapped by the fighting. The plea came as artillery shells slammed into a hospital in the northern district of Mullaittivu, where civilians -- including a growing number of children -- are being treated. more..

Lankan army deploys bicycle patrols to police Jaffna

Feb 2 (PTI) Sri Lankan troops are employing innovative methods to police this city, which is the face of the Tamil culture on the island nation, with soldiers armed with highly-sophisticated weapons going on cycle patrols. Cycles give the troops quick mobility to reach any troubled spot in the crowded streets within minutes where as the armoured cars or other combat vehicles would take time. more..

Tamil Nadu govt should be ashamed of itself

Feb 2 (MD) The LTTE has been branded a terrorist organisation by nations all over the world, including India. The current operation by the Sri Lankan government is the culmination of a long drawn action against terrorism. The final push should see the elimination of LTTE and its misguided leadership. No nation has the right to interfere in the internal affairs and conflicts of another nation. more..

Vaiko flayss closure of Tamil Nadu educational institutions

Feb 2 (PTI) MDMK leader Vaiko on Monday criticised the closure of educational institutions in Tamil Nadu ahead of the general strike called by the Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement (STPM) on Wednesday, saying the government was afraid that the student community would erupt against the "atrocities" on Tamils in Sri Lanka. The peaceful and well-attended funeral procession in Chennai of Muthukumar, more..

Analysis: Sri Lanka's media faces growing pressure

Feb 2 (CNN) Journalists in Sri Lanka have come under a growing number of attacks and intimidation, with some fleeing the country or losing their lives, media analysts and rights groups say. Chief editor of the privately-owned Rivira newspaper after he was attacked on Friday. On January 8, a prominent journalist who had been critical of the government was shot and killed by unknown assailants on the outskirts of Colombo. more..

Jaffna Tamils appeal for rebuilding assistance from India

Feb 2 (PTI) With this strategic peninsula coming fully under Sri Lakan government control after over 13 years, a Tamil community group today appealed to India for immediate assistance to rebuild the war-ravaged region. "We are urging Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for assistance," a senior member of the team, told a group of visiting journalists. more..

Army foils Tigers' master counter stroke

Feb 2 (PTI) Two Divisions of Sri Lankan army and hundreds of trapped Tamil civilians in the northern war zone had a close shave when security forces captured two Sea Tiger rebels as they were about to blow up a reservoir near Kilinochchi. Though the Tiger rebels earlier blew up one or two smaller water bodies in an attempt to slow down the Sri Lankan forces' rapid advance on their strongholds, the Sea Tigers attempt to blast the Iranamadu Tank would have been catastrophic for the army, more..

2 days of shelling on Sri Lankan hospital kills 11

Feb 2 (AP) Artillery shells slammed into an overcrowded hospital for the second day in Sri Lanka's northern war zone, bringing the death toll to at least 11 people, officials said Monday as the army claimed it found an abandoned luxury hide-out of the elusive rebel leader. The attacks on the hospital intensified concern for the fate of some 250,000 civilians trapped in the shrinking war zone where the Tamil Tigers have been boxed in. more..

Sri Lanka targets $500 mln from diaspora for development

Feb 2 (Reuters) Sri Lanka hopes to raise $500 million from its citizens living abroad to invest in government securities for a raft of development projects, the central bank said on Monday, after it failed to get foreign commercial funds. "We have a target of approximately around $500 million in the year from over 1.5 million Sri Lanka diaspora," Ajith Nivaard Cabraal, central bank governor told a news conference. more..

'Prabhakaran's mansion captured'

Feb 2 (IANS) Sri Lankan troops operating in Mullaitivu district have captured a palatial mansion believed to have been used by the Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, the army said here Monday. "A two-acre plot of land that houses a luxurious two-storeyed residential quarter, believed to have been used by none other than Prabhakaran himself was completely brought under the control of 58 Division troops as of late Sunday evening," Sri Lankan Army said. more..

Protest asks Canadians to help end Sri Lankan civil war

Feb 3 (Record) Thabo Kunasekaran lies awake at night, worrying about her husband's family in Sri Lanka, where civilian casualties are mounting in a civil war that began 25 years ago. "We can't even sleep," said the Waterloo woman Saturday, holding a placard in front of Kitchener City Hall. "Every single day, every single moment, I think of them. They are our blood." Her family is safe now, but "who knows for how long?" more..

It’s about Tamils, not the Tigers

Feb 3 (EB) The latest bout of breast-beating and fistshaking that is going on over the fate of Sri Lanka’s Tamils, now that the LTTE are penned into a tiny enclave in the north of the island, is a case of too little, too late. It may seem unfeeling not to join the state of shocked mourning that seems to have broken out suddenly all over Tamil Nadu, but the Sri Lankan army’s steady, inexorable progress in the war against the LTTE was never a secret. more..

Silva draws media's ire for poor decision

Feb 3 (CN) Sri Lankan umpire in the ICC Elite Panel Gamini Silva has come under criticism from the media here for his ruling Yuvraj Singh out leg before after a long appeal from pacer Nuwan Kulasekera in the second ODI. A leading newspaper Daily Mirror suggests Silva should be removed from umpiring in international matches. In the second ODI here on January 31, Silva adjudged Yuvraj leg before off Nuwan Kulasekera after a long delay. more..

India recall Balaji for Sri Lanka series

Feb 3 (AFP) Seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji was on Monday drafted into the Indian team for the rest of the Sri Lanka tour, marking the bowler's return to international cricket after nearly four years. Balaji, 27, will replace seamer Munaf Patel, who is suffering from a groin injury, for the remaining three one-day matches and a Twenty20 international, the Indian cricket board said in a statement. more..

Sri Lanka co-opts rebels in peace bid

Feb 3 (WSJ) One of this island nation's best hopes for ending its long civil war is a former Tamil Tiger child soldier, barely 5 feet tall, with the nom de guerre of Pillayan, an endearment meaning "baby." Pillayan is now 33 years old and no longer a rebel. Instead of fighting for a separate state for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority, as the Tamil Tigers have done for a quarter-century, Pillayan is now the chief minister of the country's Eastern Province, more..

Sri Lanka expected to host Champions Trophy

Feb 3 (Yahoo) Sri Lanka is the ICC's preferred venue for the Champions Trophy after it removed the tournament, which is scheduled for September and October, from Pakistan during its meeting in Perth. The safety and security situation in Pakistan was considered too risky and Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, expected a decision on the new host would be confirmed "shortly". "There are a couple of issues to work through in regard to the weather in Sri Lanka at that time of year," more..

Interview: Sri Lanka's Pillayan

Feb 3 (WSJ) The Wall Street Journal's Peter Wonacott interviewed Sivanesathurai Santhirakanthan, a former Tamil Tiger child soldier who goes by Pillayan, on Jan. 18, 2009. Pillayan is no longer a rebel -- now he's the government-backed, democratically-elected chief minister of the eastern province of Sri Lanka. Below is an edited transcript, translated from Tamil by Thava Sajitharan. The Wall Street Journal: Can you tell us why and when you joined the Tamil Tigers? more..

Sri Lankan army killing civilians, claims EU MP

Feb 3 (IANS) A Labour member of the European Parliament has claimed the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka has the makings of a Gaza, and blamed government forces for civilian deaths. 'The Sri Lankan government may be celebrating great military victories in the north of the island but hundreds of thousands of its own civilians are suffering and dying, due to government attacks,' Robert Evans said in a statement. more..

Jaffnaites tire of Tigers’ tactics

Feb 3 (EB) About 20,000 people participated in a rally in Jaffna on Sunday, appealing to the Indian Prime Minister, the Sri Lankan President and the UN Secretary General, to pressure the LTTE to release the lakhs of Tamil civilians they were holding captive in the war-zone in the Wanni to be used as human shields against the advancing Sri Lankan army. The citizens of Jaffna said that they could no longer tolerate the LTTE putting the lives of so many people in jeopardy. more..

Bid to whip up sympathy for Sri Lankan Tamils, LTTE

Feb 3 (PTI) As Sri Lankan army continued to make heavy inroads into LTTE held areas, some political parties in Tamil Nadu are trying to generate a sympathy wave in the state for the civilian Tamils, caught in the war zone, and also for the proscribed militant outfit. While, all political parties are unanimous in their view that the Centre should take efforts to save the Tamils, caught in the cross fire in the war between the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE, they differed on the support to the LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka warns civilians in combat zone

Feb 3 (AFP) Sri Lanka issued a stark warning to civilians trapped in fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels Monday, a day after shells hit a crowded hospital in the northeast combat zone, killing at least nine people. A government statement said the fight against the cornered Tigers was at "the decisive stage" and that it could not guarantee the security of tens of thousands of non-combatants living outside a designated "safety zone" in rebel-held territory. more..

President says rebels nearly crushed

Feb 3 (AP) President declared Monday the army is on the verge of crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels after a 25-year war, as images from the conflict zone showing scores of dead and wounded civilians surfaced. The photographs and video footage, which were handed to The Associated Press, highlight the plight of some 250,000 civilians trapped in the shrinking war zone in the Mullaittivu district where the Tamil Tigers have been boxed in by advancing troops. more..

Sri Lankan Tamil refugees stage hunger strike in Coimbatore

Feb 3 (ANI) Hundreds of Sri Lankan Tamils, who have taken refuge in India, went on a hunger strike on Monday here, demanding an intervention from the Central Government on the issue of the military offensive being carried out on the hideouts of the rebels in Sri Lanka. The agitating people also threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike if the Government does not respond to their demands. more..

Sri Lankan Tamils issue: CPI (M) urges Centre, UN to intervene

Feb 3 (PTI) Expressing concern over the plight of Sri Lankan Tamil civilians, caught in the conflict between Sri Lankan army and LTTE, the CPI(M) on Monday urged the Centre and the United Nations to intervene immediately and put an end to the ongoing war. "Government of India and United Nations should make all efforts to see that the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE come to an understanding and civilians were not made victims of their hostilities," more..

Video of Prabhakaran's main hideout

Feb 3 (MN) Troops operating in the area of Puthukudyiruppu area have discovered a concrete built underground bunker with four rooms and a basement early this morning (Feb 2). It is believed to be a hiding place of Tiger chief V. Prabhakaran. They also believe that Prabhakaran had possibly vacated the place a while ago as troops found a pile of burnt photographs and documents. A stock of insulin and a photograph of Prabhakaran taken in the same bunker too were found inside the bunker, more..

Central bank to swap rupees for dollars

Feb 3 (LBO) Central Bank is negotiating with friendly central banks to swap rupees for dollars, to boost the country's flagging foreign reserves and meet unforeseen outflows, officials said. Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said the first such swap deal is likely to be concluded 'soon' but declined to give a date or a value. Deputy Governor W A Wijewardene told reporters that the foreign central banks would swap US dollars for Sri Lanka rupees. more..

Minor worries for in-form India

Feb 3 (CI) The momentum in the series is clearly with India, who own a 2-0 lead, and their coach Gary Kirsten reckoned that his team could win matches even by playing at "60% of our ability". However, there is a weakness that Sri Lanka could exploit, if they are able to get into a position from which they can strike. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has relied on a slew of part-time slow bowlers - Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Virender Sehwag - to get through the middle overs more..

High-flying India wary of complacency

Feb 3 (CI) India took 23 years to secure their first bilateral one-day series win in Sri Lanka, finally accomplishing the feat last August. Less than six months on, the Indian juggernaut stands on the brink of a reprise. Besides clinching the series, a victory at the Premadasa on Tuesday will also equal India's longest winning sequence in one-dayers - eight. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already warned against complacency, and more..

Mahela hopes team learns from mistakes

Feb 3 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, believes his team will need to cut out the mistakes they made in the first two games if they are to challenge a 'confident and consistent' Indian side in the remaining three matches of the ODI series. Down 2-0, Sri Lanka are one loss away from conceding the series, and Jayawardene said the team realises the importance of Tuesday's game at the Premadasa Stadium. more..

'Elections should be used to defeat government’s dictatorial mania'

Feb 3 (LT) The government using the military victories achieved by war heroes in the North is treading towards an arbitrary, dictatorial rule by a family and the wave of elections is a step towards a dictatorship says General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva. He said, “The government has made the state media its trumpet, the alternative and private media that criticized the government for a certain extent too has been threatened and tamed by killing journalists, more..

Cabraal admits crisis in Sri Lanka’s economy

Feb 3 (LT) Governor of Central Bank Navad Cabraal has announced that all financial institutes in Sri Lanka would be given a ‘comfort package.’ This is a process similar to the one followed by the USA when its economy was in crisis. By granting a ‘comfort package’ to all financial institutes the Governor of the Central Bank has admitted that Sri Lanka’s economy is in crisis and there is a threat of financial institutes breaking down. more..

India donates medicines to Sri Lanka

Feb 3 (AIR) The Government of India in keeping with its commitments to assist the people affected by the conflict in northern SRI Lanka began the task of handing over the full consignment of medicines portion of the consignment was handed over at the Ministry of Health on Monday morning by the Deputy Commissioner of India, Mr. Vikram Misri, to the Minister of Health Care and Nutrition, Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva. more..

Murali not worried about form or record

Feb 3 (CI) Muttiah Muralitharan is keeping everybody waiting. He began the series against India needing three wickets to overtake Wasim Akram and become the highest wicket-taker in ODIs. Two matches later, he's still two wickets away, having taken only 1 for 84 in 20 overs in the first two ODIs. Murali, however, is not thinking about breaking the record. "Honestly I am not thinking of taking those two wickets much," he told the Island. more..

'Allow the innocent Tamil civilians to go for their safety'

Feb 3 (AT) A cross section of Swedish nationals when contacted expressed shock and awe over the prevailing critical situation in Sri Lanka’s Northern region of Vanni, where more than 200,000 innocent Tamil civilians are being held as hostages and as human shield by the LTTE. India, as well as numerous international organizations have urged the Government of Sri Lanka as well as the LTTE to allow the Tamil civilians trapped in the war zone to leave for their safety. more..

Tell the foreigners where to get off

Feb 3 (AT) To the majority of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, the main aspect of the national crisis has been almost effectively dealt with. They see that the government having given the LTTE a taste of its own medicine is now in the process of restoring democracy is in the East and soon in the North too. All this will provide opportunities for new political faces to be seen in the two provinces. Even the old guard has accepted this reality. more..

Will pro-LTTE parties in India dare to ask for refugee status for Prabakaran in India?

Feb 3 (AT) Where will V.Prabakaran, the leader of the LTTE would run? Does he have any place to run? Where he can go for asylum? Will the pro-LTTE parties in India would dare to ask asylum for Prabakaran in India? Can even these so called leaders of Tamil Nadu dare to give him refuge in their homes? These are some of the pertinent questions for which answers are found in the resolution adopted by more..

Ethical crisis grips media men

Feb 3 (LG) Media is one of the principal conduits supplying information to the people. It is also the main source that exposes misdeeds happening in the country. All important and powerful persons in the country are criticised more or less in the media. Media is also the watchdog that scrutinises the three arms of the government - the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. People’s desire for information and the right of information is quite large. more..

UN provided US $ 125m for Sri Lanka’s Development in 2008

Feb 3 (LG) The United Nations in Sri Lanka has provided US$125 million in development aid to Sri Lankans in 2008. Speaking after the first joint Annual Review of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator, Neil Buhne, said that the funds represented the collective efforts of the UN to support the Sri Lankan government over 5 years in its efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals and the National Development Plan. more..

What to Do About the Chaos in Sri Lanka

Feb 3 (KT) Theoretically speaking, there are a number of conceivable ways to look at the unfolding horror in Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon. None of them offer a pretty picture; all of them have obvious historical antecedents. And that may be the problem. In some important sense, this relatively small island nation off of southern India may be unique. One parallel that comes to mind is that of Darfur, of course. more..