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Are we back on square one?

Jan 31 (GV) The proximate cause that led me to write this article was a question asked by a friend of mine who earn his daily income by selling sundry items in Kandy pavement. He is known to me for almost 40 years as we were members of the same political party in the 1970s and 1980s. He has been always a careful observer of events that have been taking place in national and international political arena. more..

The second luxury underground bunker of Prabakaran captured in Visvamadu South

Jan 31 (AT) The second luxury underground bunker belonged to LTTE leader V. Prabakaran was captured yesterday at Visvamadu South. Sri Lanka Army’s 57 Division commanded by Major General Jagath Dias and his two brigades, 572 commanded by Colonel Senarath Bandara and 574 commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Senaka Wijesooriya advanced yesterday towards Visvamadu South amidst with heavy resistance initially forthcoming from the LTTE. more..

'West unaware Sri Lanka’s true story'

Jan 31 (AT) “The fact remains that as a reporter, unless I knew a Sri Lankan diplomat personally, I found the (Sri Lankan) High Commissions and Embassies very unhelpful and ill-prepared to put a professional effort into media activity abroad” says Barbara Crossette a well known, highly experienced, influential and well connected journalist who has specialized in South Asian affairs told the Asian Tribune when more..

Political leaders hail Muthukumar's 'sacrifice'

Jan 31 (TOI) Students, political activists, film personalities and members of the public turned up at the residence of Muthukumar, the youth who set himself ablaze on Thursday, condemning India's alleged "collusion" with Colombo in the ongoing war in Sri Lanka. The funeral will take place tomorrow. Emotions ran high at the venue where his body was kept, with social and political activists and students setting fire to the effigies of Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa and more..

Fears over Sri Lanka war children

Jan 31 (BBC) A growing number of children have been killed or injured in Sri Lankan fighting over the last 10 days, the UN children's agency (Unicef) says. It has called on the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to give "absolute priority" to the safety of children and the wider civilian population. The Tamil Tigers say 250,000 civilians in the conflict zone want to stay in rebel-held areas for protection. more..

Thousands of Tamils protest in Toronto

Jan 31 (AP) Thousands of Canadian Tamils formed a human chain through Toronto's downtown on Friday to protest a Sri Lankan government offensive aimed at crushing the separatist Tamil Tigers. The greater Toronto area is home to 200,000 Tamils, one of the largest Tamil population outside Sri Lanka and the Indian subcontinent. A number of protests have been staged in recent weeks. On Friday, protesters formed a human chain spanning several miles more..

Behind the bylines of Sri Lanka’s civil war

Jan 31 (National) “I’ve lost nine men so far,” N Vidyadharan said, choking back the emotion. “Seven dead, two missing. But we’ll continue to fight.” In the steaming jungles of Sri Lanka where Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces are fighting pitched battles in what appears to be the final act of a 30-year ethnic conflict, Vidyadharan’s comments would be unremarkable if he was a military commander. more..

Rights groups slam LTTE

Jan 31 (Hindu) The LTTE was on Friday accused by human rights groups of using civilians as human shields. In a joint statement, 10 organisations campaigning for a peaceful solution said the LTTE was “responsible for forcing the civilian population to retreat with them into parts of Mullaitivu under its control”. “The LTTE’s use of civilians as human shields and deadly efforts to prevent civilians fleeing the war zone are unacceptable and clearly violate the laws of war. more..

Opinion: Sri Lanka issue

Jan 31 (Hindu) The suicide of K. Muthukumar, the 26-year-old youth who immolated himself in Chennai to protest the killing of Sri Lankan Tamils, was unfortunate. Perhaps the people around him could have prevented the death had they been more alert. The attack on Bank of Ceylon in Chennai by a group of lawyers following the suicide is condemnable. Instead of dealing with the Sri Lankan issue emotionally, our political leaders should approach it democratically. more..

Respond to Rajapaksa’s offer, State government tells Tigers

Jan 31 (Hindu) The DMK government on Friday urged the LTTE to respond to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s announcement of a 48-hour “ceasefire” to release civilians in the war zone. Participating in a discussion on the Sri Lankan situation in the Assembly, Leader of the House K. Anbazhagan said: “In the matter of protecting [Sri Lankan] Tamils, even after the intervention of the Indian government and the statement of the Sri Lankan President, there has not been a single response from the LTTE members.” more..

Onus now on LTTE: India

Jan 31 (Hindu) With Sri Lanka announcing a 48-hour pause in hostilities, India on Friday said the onus was now on the LTTE to allow the trapped civilians to move to the designated safe zones. “Our concern is to prevent the humanitarian situation from getting worse. We are very happy there is a pause to allow civilians out. Whether the LTTE allows that, we don’t know but it puts the onus on them,” said authoritative sources here. The civilians held hostage were enduring an “animal level survival” and more..

'No change in our stand on LTTE'

Jan 31 (Hindu) TNCC president K.V. Thangkabalu on Friday asked the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE to make use of the 48-hour deadline given by the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and provide a safe passage to innocent Tamils caught in the war. Talking to reporters at Sathyamurthy Bhavan, he said Mr. Rajapaksa had agreed for the ceasefire because of the tough stand of the Indian government. more..

We’ll rescue citizens, asserts Colombo

Jan 31 (Hindu) A day before the expiry of the 48 hour ultimatum to the LTTE to facilitate movement of the innocent civilians from the battle zone to safer areas, the Sri Lankan government declared that it is determined to “liberate” the remaining areas under the control of the Tigers and rescue citizens from LTTE clutches. Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told a news conference here on Friday that there was no response from the LTTE to the government deadline of 48 hours. more..

'Monitor activities of pro-LTTE Sri Lankan MPs'

Jan 31 (Hindu) Congress Deputy Leader in the Assembly D. Yasodha on Friday asked the Centre and the State government to monitor the activities of pro-LTTE Sri Lankan MPs in the State. Participating in the debate on the Governor’s address, Ms. Yasodha said that these MPs were camping in Tamil Nadu and trying to create confusion. They were trying to make the Centre appear guilty on the issue, levelling unnecessary charges against the State government and isolating the Congress. more..

Concerns of 'Piece' Mongers

Jan 31 (IL) The war is coming to an end and the LTTE's surrogates and indirect proxies, foreign funded NGOs have been shown by our advancing troops to have substantially helped the LTTE. Although the public is not fully aware of the contents of the "Interim Report of the Select Committee of Parliament for Investigation of the Operations of Non Governmental Organisations (NGO)" and their Impact, we have read a press release issued by one such NGO more..

UN urges safe passage for civilians caught in Sri Lanka fighting

Jan 31 (AFP) UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday appealed to the Sri Lankan government and its Tamil foes to ensure safe passage for an estimated 250,000 civilians caught in the fighting in the northeast of the island country. "The Secretary General calls upon the (rebel) LTTE, in particular, to allow civilians in the conflict zone to move to where they feel most secure, including (government-controlled) areas," his press office said in a statement. more..

Banks capital erosion hurts lending capacity

Jan 31 (LBO) Though Sri Lanka's policymakers and borrowers are expecting banks to give loans, cut interest rates and extend repayment periods, the sector's ability to bailout the broader economy is limited, officials said. Sri Lanka's businesses were feeling the impact of local and external downturn from last year. "Even though in 2008 the banks did begin to feel the pain of that, my view is that the banks have still not got the brunt of it," more..

Sri Lankan churches may think twice before helping poor

Jan 31 (CP) Churches and Christian organizations are worried they will have to be more careful when they help the poor if an anti-conversion law is passed next month by the Parliament of Sri Lanka. A standing committee approved of the draft “Bill for the Prohibition of Forcible Conversions” in early January with a few minor amendments, paving the way for Parliament to take a final vote in February, more..

SEP takes election campaign to Puttalam

Jan 31 (wsws) The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) held a public meeting at the Town Hall, Puttalam on January 26 as part of its campaign for the February 14 Provincial Council elections. The SEP is fielding 19 candidates in the Puttalam district of Northwestern province and another 19 in the Nuwara Eliya district of Central province. People from all the country's major ethnic backgrounds—Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim—are among the population of more than 700,000 living in Puttalam, more..

Dr. Amunugama promises relief for craftsmen

Jan 31 (GDI) The Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs Dr. Sarath Amunugama assured all wood craftsmen that he would have their outstanding problems including the transport of timber discussed with the authorities and provide relief. Dr. Amunugama said he would also discuss with the Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs about the feasibility of providing a part of the temple income to the families of temple attendants to reduce their hardship. more..

Sathosa records Rs. 35 m profit

Jan 31 (GDI) Lanka Sathosa Limited has recorded a net profit of Rs.35 million for the first time last year as a result of restructuring to provide essential items at reasonable prices, Lanka Sathosa Chairman Nalin Fernando said. Lanka Sathosa which is the state arm providing essential items at lower prices to consumers will expand its sales outlets network up to 200 this year. more..

Let the Anchovies go!

Jan 31 (LG) It is law in the Northern seas of Britain to release young lobsters of less than 6 inches body length back into the sea. Following the rule it has become customary for fishermen to release any smaller fish caught in their nets for environmental reasons. Besides those who hunt sharks have no use of catching anchovies. Tiger is the most dangerous shark in the sea. While the hunt for the tigers is on, it is a waste of time, energy and resources to keep anchovies netted. Thissainayagam is just an anchovy. more..

Objectivity versus Balance in pursuing Human Rights

Jan 31 (LG) The Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights appreciates the concern expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the plight of civilians trapped in the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka. It is also grateful that she has noted in her recent statement ‘reports of forced recruitment, including of children, as well as the use of civilians as human shields by the LTTE’. more..

LTTE's Bitter Attack

Jan 31 (OI) In the wake of the visit of our foreign minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, to Colombo for talks with the Sri Lankan President, Mr.Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Tamilnet, the web site associated with the LTTE, has disseminated on January 30, an article attributed to "a political analyst in Vanni", which has accused "the present Indian Establishment run by Sonia Congress of waging its own proxy war in the island of Sri Lanka, concurrent to Colombo's war against Tamil Nationalism." more..

Higher Appointments Council

Jan 31 (SAMN) A Higher Appointments Council, comprising the Prime Minister, Speaker, Leader of the Opposition and six others appointed by the President, has been proposed in place of the present Constitutional Council by the All Party Representative Committee (APRC). The six members are to be appointed by the President after they are nominated by a committee of Parliament composed of all parties in proportion to their representation in the House. more..

Progress towards Ind. Commissions

Jan 31 (SAMN) The Parliamentary Committee tasked with proposing amendments to the 17th Amendment expect to finalise and present their report in Parliament by mid February, said Constitutional Affairs Chairman D.E.W.Gunasekara. He said that the committee expected to it passed with a two-thirds majority before the end of March. “My job would be much easier if all the stakeholders -- the President, Prime Minister, Speaker and Opposition Leader -- submit the list of 10 nominees to more..

Release human shields: UNP tells LTTE

Jan 31 (SAMN) The main opposition UNP Friday asked the LTTE to stop using civilians as human shields and to respect the rights of civilians in conflict zones. UNP parliamentarian Jayalath Jayawardene told a news conference the LTTE too should be held responsible for the human rights crisis in the Wanni. “Both the government and the LTTE must respect human rights,” he said adding that in the Wanni there was a serious shortage of essential relief items and that it was the government’s responsibility to provide them without delay. more..

Directors barred from leaving country

Jan 31 (SAMN) Colombo Chief Magistrate overruled the request of Counsel appearing on behalf of the Directors of Okanda Finance to set aside the earlier Order made by the Magistrate, restraining the four Directors of Okanda Finance from leaving the country. The Magistrate whilst overruling the request of the Counsel extended the restraining order on the four directors, namely, Okanda Silva, Dhanapala Silva, Theja Dilhani Silva and Chamila Jeevani Silva from leaving the country and more..

Lasantha assassination: Suspect arrested

Jan 31 (DN) A suspect was arrested in connection with the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickramatunge in Kawudana, Dehiwela yesteday evening. Police spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekera said the suspect was arrested around 5.00pm. “Police also seized a mobile phone from the suspect which belonged to Wickramatunga. He also had in his possession a telephone book containing numbers of Wickramatunga and several others,” he added. more..

Ceylinco Director Board ordered to submit report on assets

Jan 31 (DN) Mount Lavinia Chief Magistrate Harsha Setunge yesterday ordered the Board of Directors of Ceylinco Group to submit a detailed report about the Group's clear assets to the Attorney Generals' Department on Monday. He also ordered them to discuss and submit a methodology for repaying the money due to the depositors of the Golden Key Credit Company and submit it to Court on February 13. more..

400,000 civilians trapped in Mullaithivu – UNP

Jan 31 (Island) The UNP says it has reason to believe that around 400,000 civilians are trapped in Mullaitivu and the numbers include 2,000 pregnant women. Gampaha District UNP MP Jayalath Jayawardena, at a news conference in Colombo yesterday, said that with the army’s advance, civilians in Kilinochchi had moved to Mullaitivu and the numbers had swelled to around 400,000, inclusive of 2000 pregnant women. more..

High drama at Court as angry depositors take on the suspects

Jan 31 (Island) Angry placard carrying depositors barred the Court premises in an attempt to block the suspects of the Golden Key Credit Card scam from leaving Mt. Lavinia Court yesterday. They chased after suspects (including tie wearing gentry) along Galle Road who managed to cling on to moving buses and make their escape. The unruly scene was enacted after the Court non-summary proceedings of the Golden Key Credit Card scam, which was taken up before Mt. Lavinia Chief Magistrate more..

Shocking disclosure in Golden Key case

Jan 31 (DM) In a shocking revelation based on a CID investigation into the Golden Key credit card scam, the Attorney General yesterday informed Court that Rs. 14 billion had been misappropriated while Rs. 5 billion had gone missing. Mount Lavinia Chief Magistrate Harsha Sethunga was informed that of the Rs.26 billion reported to be deposited with the Golden Key Credit Card Company Rs. six billion had been invested in related companies while Rs. one billion appeared to have been used for illegal payments. more..

Situation report (Jan 31th) by SLA

Jan 31 (SLA) MULLAITTIVU: DURING continuous search operations conducted in CHUNDIKULAM, VISUAMADU, UDAYARKATTUKULAM and PUTHUKUDIYIRIPPU areas Friday (30), troops recovered three T-56 weapons, one magazine with thirty rounds of ammunition, three claymore mines of 12.5 kg, one claymore mine of 20 kg, one I-com radio set, one LTTE dead body, ten rifle grenades, fifty-five hand grenades, one LTTE identity card, seven fishing boats, one water jet, ten 210 litre barrels of kerosene, more..

32 election related incidents in CP, NWP: PAFFREL

Jan 31 (DM) PAFFREL yesterday said there had been a total of 32 election related incidents in both Central and North Western Provinces. There had been 11 assaults, three threats of intimidation, 10 incidents where party offices have been damaged. There had also been one complaint regarding using of state power in the Central Province. Five cases of assaults had been reported from North Western Province and six from the Central Province. more..

Karunanidhi flays attempts to politicise youth's suicide

Jan 31 (PTI) Criticising attempts to "politicise" the death of K Muthukumaran, a local youth who committed suicide here to express solidarity with Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Saturday said it could turn the Tamils issue into an instrument of "cheap publicity". Drawing the attention towards the incident where mourners at Kolathur, where Muthukumaran's body had been kept for public homage, had pelted stones at DMK MLA VS Babu, more..

LTTE names representative to contact world leaders

Jan 31 (PTI) In a surprise move, Tamil Tigers facing rout in battle with Lankan troops and its entire top leadership, including supremo V Prabhakaran, in hiding on Saturday named a high-profile representative, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, as its new contact with the international community. The rebel outfit said Pathmanathan would head its newly established Department of International Relations and represent the Tigers in any future peace initiatives, more..

Sri Lanka military destroys Tiger suicide boat

Jan 31 (AP) The Sri Lankan military claimed Saturday it had destroyed a Tamil Tiger suicide boat, as the government ruled out a cease-fire in the northern war zone where hundreds of thousands of civilians are reportedly trapped. The explosives-laden boat was intercepted by a naval ship and destroyed with heavy gunfire early Friday. It said the boat was apparently launched from Mullaittivu and was headed for a naval blockade along the northeastern coast. more..

Fear and defiance in Sri Lanka

Jan 31 (BBC) As Sri Lanka's military takes control of key territory held by the Tamil Tiger rebels, Chris Morris in Colombo reports on a deepening mood of determination and defiance on both sides of the conflict. Getting through to the Tamil Tigers isn't easy these days. Their world is getting smaller. Surreptitious messages. Crackling phone lines. "Can I talk to him now?" "It's difficult." "Why?" "There's heavy shelling. Please call again later." more..