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Presidential Commission chief slams police over negligence

Jun 17 (Island) Retired Justice Mahanama Tilakaratne, Chairperson of the Presidential Commission investigating abductions, killings and disappearances, blamed the police for negligence on their part and shortcomings in investigating procedures. Commenting on the high profile assassination of TULF MP Joseph Pararajasingham, in Batticaloa a few years ago, he said that nothing could be as ridiculous as an attempt to frame two soldiers over the attack on an innocent man. more..

Decision on re-opening of Kelaniya University

Jun 17 (Island) The Kelaniya University administration is awaiting the outcome of police investigations into last Thursday’s clash between the undergraduates and villagers before deciding on a date to reopen the University, Vice Chancellor Prof. Sarath Amunugama said. Last Wednesday, residents of Dalugama attacked undergraduates of the Kelaniya University with stones and clubs on Thursday following an assault by a student on a youth from the area more..

Flats for Slave Island slum dwellers

Jun 17 (DN) Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardane toured the construction site at Dematagoda where new residential flats being constructed for Slave Island residents who lost their houses last year under Beira Lake Development project. Several beneficiary families also accompanied the Minister in the tour yesterday. This housing complex consists of 1,000 housing units and more..

CPC member lashes out at Provincial Teachers’ Transfer Board

Jun 17 (Island) The Central Provincial Council member from Nuwara Eliya District (UPFA) S. B. Ratnayake lashed out at the Provincial Teachers’ Transfer Board for arbitrarily transferring teachers out from the Nuwara Eliya district to urban areas of the Kandy district. He said that teachers appointed to rural schools in the Nuwara Eliya district for a period of 5 years had left the district even before the completion of 3 years. more..

Peace was almost at hand in Sri Lanka says Solheim

Jun 17 (DM) Norwegian Minister and former peace envoy Erik Solheim said yesterday the Norwegian government was very close to achieving peace in Sri Lanka at the time when hostilities resumed once again. In a BBC interview he said the failure by both LTTE and the Sri Lankan government to accept federalism was the key to the breakdown of peace negotiations though federalism was a formula being implemented by several countries including India. more..

Judge orders to pay Rs. 57 mln

Jun 17 (DM) Colombo Additional District Judge delivering his judgement ordered the UNP MP Mohamed Mahroof to pay Rs. 57 million with interest to Merchant Securities and Financial Services (Pvt) Ltd. Additional District Judge Aruna Aluthge entered judgment last week against Mohamed Mahroof on a plaint filed by Merchant Securities and Financial Services Ltd. claiming a sum of Rs. 57 million with interest based on a Promissory. more..

LTTE detainees told to accept President’s peace offer

Jun 17 (ANN) A senior police officer in charge of the Northern Province has told LTTE cadres, held in detention, in the Vavuniya region, that they wouldn’t get another opportunity to work out a political package with the Sri Lankan State. Addressing over 2,000 detainees, both men and women, at the Neriyakulam Technical College, Senior DIG Nimal Lewke, said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be their only hope. more..

Treating political solutions with care

Jun 17 (DM) As the country slowly raises its head from the ashes of war, the threat forced on it, to meet the political whims and fancies of other countries, on the guise of political solutions is large. Complacency and misdirection could pose a serious threat to the sovereignty and unitary nature of the country in this context. It is in this scenario that the country needs to observe the compulsions entertained by certain elements for more..

Kandy goes dry, meatless during Esala festival

Jun 17 (Island) Nearly 57 liquor shops and bars within three miles from the limits of the city of Kandy will be closed during the historic Esala Perahera this year. All meat stalls within the Kandy municipality too will be closed. An announcement to this effect was made at a conference held to discuss the arrangements for the Kandy Annual Esala Perahera, chaired by the Kandy District Secretary Gotabhaya Jayaratne at the Secretariat on Tuesday 10. more..

Sri Lanka drifts closer to the East

Jun 17 (AT) Sri Lanka, which is under tremendous pressure from the West to put its human-rights record on track over the humanitarian crisis that emerged during the defeat of the LTTE, is turning to the East, in particular the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a grouping that represents half the global population. With uncertainty hanging over a US$2 billion standby facility that Sri Lanka is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund, more..

Sri Lanka to get $ 2.5 B IMF loan

Jun 17 (DM) Sri Lanka is expected to receive a US $ 2.5 billion loan from the International Monitory Fund (IMF) this month, a top Central Bank official told Daily Mirror on condition of anonymity. The loan is more than the US $ 1.9 B that Sri Lanka had sought from the IMF, the official added, although there was no official confirmation from the IMF yet. A Reuters report, meanwhile, said Sri Lankan shares rose on Monday to a new nine-month high, more..

Pope names Malcolm Ranjith to Sri Lanka archdiocese

Jun 17 (AT) Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don — one of his most trusted collaborators in the Vatican and a forceful advocate for justice and peace — to head the archdiocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka strong leader, he returns as head of the Sri Lankan Church in what many observers see as a particularly difficult moment. more..

Sri Lanka growth slows to 1.5% in first quarter

Jun 17 ((AFP) Economic expansion in war-battered Sri Lanka fell to 1.5 percent during the first quarter of this year, as the global recession hurt exports, official data showed Wednesday. The slowdown contrasted with 6.2 percent growth in the first quarter of 2008, though hopes of long-term development have risen since the government's defeat of Tamil rebels last month after decades of conflict. "The global turmoil has directly or indirectly affected the local economy," more..

Bad faith and apparent independence

Jun 18 (PISL) Having just written an article on the pronouncements of the so-called independent media, I was not entirely surprised to discover that the Associated Press had deliberately misrepresented my answer with regard to the winding up of the Commission of Inquiry into several cases of violence over the last few years. The article described the cases as those of human rights abuses, whereas they dealt with a number of high profile killings, more..

The Bob Rae saga

Jun 18 (PISL) Secretary General Prof Rajiva Wijesinha has written to The Toronto Star in response to its coverage of the decision to prevent Canadian politician Bob Rae from entering Sri Lanka last week. His letter is carried below. Dear Sir, A recent article in your columns suggested that a letter from Irangani de Silva, the former head of SLUNA, may have contributed to the decision to bar the Canadian politician Bob Rae from entering Sri Lanka. more..

LTTE child soldiers allowed to exchange letters with parents

Jun 18 (PTI) Hundreds of surrendered LTTE child soldiers, who are being kept in various welfare camps in Vavuniya, have been allowed to exchange letters and telephone calls with their parents, a top commander said. "We have started allowing them to exchange letters with their parents, though they are yet not permitted to interact with them directly," Competent Authority for the IDPs Major General GA Chandrasiri said. more..

Sri Lanka pins economic recovery on post-war revival

Jun 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka's growth which plummeted to 1.5 percent in the first quarter may pick up later in 2009 with an agriculture and construction led recovery in former war-torn areas coupled with a global green shoots, officials said. The government defeated Tamil Tiger separatists last month in their last redoubt in the northeast of the island, after driving them out of the east of the island, much earlier. more..

Sri Lanka journalists 'forced into exile'

Jun 18 (BBC) An international media watchdog says that Sri Lankan journalists are driven into exile for critical coverage of government military operations. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says at least eleven Sri Lankan journalists fled the country past year - accounting for a quarter of all such cases worldwide last year. The group says Sri Lankan reporters and editors faced severe retribution, including violence, more..

No Petrol Diesel price hike in IOC

Jun 18 (GDI) There will be no price hike in petrol and diesel marketed by Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) though the company yesterday requested the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to grant approval for a price increase, Secretary to the Ministry, W.B. Ganegala said. The LIOC made that appeal stating that the prices of fuel have now increased in the world market. more..

'60 have died in IDP camps due to hunger & scarcity of medicine'

Jun 18 (LT) There is information that about 60 people have died in IPD camps in the North within the last few days due to hunger and scarcity of medicine said UNP Parliamentarian Gayanthe Karunatileke in Colombo today (17th). Speaking at a media meeting Mr. Gayanthe Karunatileke expressed disappointment for not giving the opposition and the media an opportunity to see for themselves the conditions in the IDP camps. more..

'Govt. not prepared to cast aside 13th amendment'

Jun 18 (LT) 13th amendment cannot be ignored just because certain individuals are against it says Minister of Media Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene. He said the amendment has been adopted in the Parliament with a 2/3rd majority and it has been approved by the Judiciary. Hence, the government will take measures to devolve maximum powers through this amendment said Minister of Media. more..

First suspect in Sri Lanka cricket attack arrested

Jun 18 (AP) Pakistani police have made their first arrest in the attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team, and allege the assailants planned to take the athletes hostage to demand the release of jailed comrades. Pervez Rathore, police chief in the city of Lahore where the March 3 attack occurred, said the arrested suspect, Mohammad Zubair, was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, an offshoot of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group that is accused of having al-Qaida ties. more..

Sri Lanka scoffs at new Tamil exiled government

Jun 18 (Reuters) The remnants of the Tamil Tigers have vowed to form a government in exile to push their separatist cause, which Sri Lanka on Wednesday called an "hallucination" and another illegal attempt to violate its unitary status. The decision came less than a month after the Sri Lankan military finally crushed the LTTE in a 25-year civil war, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared Sri Lanka reunified. more..

Sri Lanka releases 9 Indian fishermen

Jun 18 (PTI) Nine fishermen from here arrested on June 8 by Sri Lankan Navy have been released and were handed over to Indian Coast Guard personnel at the International Maritime Boundary line in the Palk Strait on Wednesday. The fishermen, who were lodged at the Anuradhapuram Jail in Sri Lanka, were released on the orders of a local court and handed over to the ICG along with two boats. more..

Sri Lanka rebels try to rise again after defeat

Jun 18 (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels are trying to rise from the ashes of their devastating battlefield defeat, swearing off violence and pledging to transform their internationally shunned terror group into a democratic movement for Tamil statehood. Their rebranding effort faces long odds. The Tamil Tigers' self-proclaimed new leader is a wanted arms smuggler, the group has no presence inside Sri Lanka and the government has brushed off the remaining rebels as irrelevant. more..

Pro Surfers off to Sri Lanka

Jun 18 (AC) The UK Pro Surf Tour has announced it will be returning to Sri Lanka in July this year for the “Sri Lanka Champion of Champions Surf Contest” at Arugam Bay. Renowned as one of the best ‘point breaks’ in the world, Arugam Bay on the East coast of Sri Lanka is now a surfing hotspot and is accessible as a result of the recent end to the civil unrest in the country. The 2009 Championships, which take place on July 1-6, more..

SCO dialogue partner status for Sri Lanka

Jun 18 (Hindu) Sri Lanka announced it had been granted the status of dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). A statement by the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat here said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced the decision on Sri Lanka’s status at the conclusion of the SCO Summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia. “The granting of the status of dialogue partner of this important international grouping concerned with security concerns, more..

Security matters and humanitarian needs

Subramanian Swamy for ‘autonomous Tamil state’ in Sri Lanka

Jun 18 (Hindu) The U.S., China and Israel that helped Sri Lanka have the moral responsibility to prevail upon President Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure constitutional guarantee of equality to Tamils, said Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party leader. Dr. Swamy said India also could not shirk its responsibility as it had extended help to Sri Lanka. “Now that the LTTE is no longer in the picture we can go ahead and help the Tamils. There is a need to create an autonomous Tamil state.” more..

Sri Lanka to open embassy in Libiya in July

Jun 18 (AT) Sri Lanka is planning to open up its Embassy in Tripoli before the end of July 2009. Already the Embassy building has been located, inspected and approved. Last time when President Mahinda Rajapaksa was on a two-day official visit to Tripoli, it is learnt that he has visited the proposed Embassy building along with Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama and it has been found suitable and approved. more..

'Govt. must now win economic war and hearts of all as one Nation'

Jun 18 (LG) UNP M.P. Gayantha Karunatileke said, it is very clear that swindles ,Bribery and corruption allegedly in the Ministries and Government sector have reached an unprecedented high in the country. This was clearly underlined, when Vasudeva Nanayakkara, himself a Senior Presidential advisor, recently had occasion to urge the President to appoint a Committee to inquire into these problems which have hit monumental levels and rapidly spreading. more..

Foreign Minister hails admission of Sri Lanka as dialogue partner of SCO

Jun 18 (AT) “The admission of Sri Lanka as a Dialogue Partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a significant victory for the pro-active and dynamic foreign policy pursued by the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government. The decision taken by the leaders of the SCO at the end of their two-day Summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, is an acknowledgment by this important inter-governmental organization of the strategic and important role that Sri Lanka can play in international affairs”. more..

Sri Lanka industry lose 96,000 jobs: official survey

Jun 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka's industrial sector has lost 96,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2009 with the apparel workers losing 60,000 jobs and construction workers losing 36,000 jobs, according to a government survey. Agriculture had created 203,000 fresh jobs and the services generated 129,000 jobs, Sri Lanka's statistics office said. "People who lost jobs in industry may have found employment in the agriculture sector," more..

Sri Lanka: International Investigation Needed

Jun 18 (HRW) The Sri Lankan government's announcement that it was ending its special inquiry into conflict-related abuses underscores the need for an international commission to investigate violations of international law by government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Human Rights Watch said today. "Sri Lanka's presidential commission of inquiry started with a bang and ended with a whimper," more..

Interview with Mohamed Hisham

Sri Lankan Journalists Face Severe Persecution

Jun 18 (IPS) At least 11 Sri Lankan journalists were driven into exile in the past 12 months amid an intensive government crackdown on critical reporters and editors, said a new survey from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released Wednesday. "Sri Lanka is losing its best journalists to unchecked violence and the resulting conditions of fear and intimidation that are driving writers and editors from their homes," more..

Sri Lanka may become ‘Hong Kong of India’ after war, HSBC says

Jun 18 (BN) Sri Lanka’s economy can bounce back from its weakest growth in six years and become the “Hong Kong of India” as the end of almost three decades of civil war boosts business opportunities, HSBC Private Bank said. Decades of fighting on the Indian Ocean island shackled its $32 billion economy, which according to figures released yesterday expanded 1.5 percent last quarter from a year earlier as the global recession intensified the slowdown. more..

Prices of imported fruits up

Jun 18 (LT) The prices of imported fruits have drastically gone up in price. A Chinese apple in the Pettah market is between Rs. 20 and Rs. 25 while Australian or American apples are sold for Rs.40,50 and 60. The price of an orange is between Rs.35 and 40 while a kilo of grapes is between Rs.600 and 700. In supermarkets the prices are higher. Importers of fruits say the prices are higher as adequate stocks are not received from countries and a high tax is levied for imported fruits. more..

Nineteen ’til I Die

Jun 18 (SLW) Last night it rained. And I stood under my parents’ porch and smoked. The deluge of water on the tin sheeting drowned out everything — traffic, the neighbours, the sound of the TV. Just me and the rain and the dark, like it had been on that first night in December 1990. I stepped out from the porch, and the rain put out my cigarette in an instant. I spat away the shreds of tobacco and let the rain soak me. more..

H.E. Msgr. Malcolm Ranjith new Archbishop of Colombo

Jun 18 (LG) His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has appointed His Excellency Monsignor Malcolm Ranjith who presently serves as the Secretary of the Holy Father’s powerful Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments as the Archbishop of Colombo to guide the flock in his Motherland. Thus, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith whose Vatican based Congregation is located in the precincts of the famed St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome will more..

Chinese Minister inspects Hambantota Port Project

Jun 18 (LG) Chinese Deputy Minister of Transport, Gao Hongfeng arrived in the country by special invitation of the Minister of Ports, Aviation, Irrigation and Water Management, Chamal Rajapaksa. Mr. Gao Hongfeng made a special inspection tour on Monday of the Hambantota Port Development Project of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA). Chairman of SLPA, Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama, receiving the Chinese Deputy Minister of Transport at the Hambantota Port Development Project, more..

Wildlife sanctuaries to be re-opened in North shortly

Jun 18 (GDI) The Government has decided to reopen the wildlife sanctuaries in several districts of North which had been closed due to war under the “Uthuru Wasanthaya” Program in the near future, Director Operations for the Department of Wildlife H.D.Rathnayake said. He stated that after the security forces clear the lands of land mines,the Wildlife sanctuaries will re-open to the public visit. more..

Submission of nominations for Jaffna and Vavuniya polls begins today

Jun 18 (GDI) Nominations for the Jaffna Municipal Council Election and Vavuniya Urban Council polls will be accepted from today (18) and will conclude June 25. The date of the election will be announced after the nominations are accepted, according to Elections Secretariat source. The date of the election for the Uva Provincial Council will also be announced after the nominations are accepted. more..

'Opposition trying to tarnish image of government'

Jun 18 (GDI) “The war is over now and the resettlement process has begun, but the opposition seems determined to sabotage the process and tarnish the government’s image,” Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena stated. He pointed out that the Government would facilitate anyone interested in assisting the displaced persons currently located in the welfare centers, but won’t let anyone capitalize on their grievances. more..

Four Tamil refugees rescued by Indian Navy

Jun 18 (Hindu) Four Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, including an LTTE cadre, and an Indian national, spent 24 hours on an unmanned islet near Dhanushkodi before reaching Rameswaram on Wednesday. They were rescued by an Indian naval boat from 3rd islet, where a Sri Lankan boat crew had dropped them after ferrying them from Talaimannar. They claimed that they reached the islet at the early hours on Tuesday and spent the whole day without food and water. more..

JVP names its chief ministerial candidate for Uva

Jun 18 (LT) Former Member of Uva Provincial Council and Leader of the JVP group of Members in the Uva PC Sudath Balagalle has been named as the chief ministerial candidate of the JVP for the forthcoming Uva PC election states media unit of the JVP. He will contest representing Badulla District. Mr. Balagalle is an Economic Special graduate from Peradeniya University and has had his early education at Mahiyangana National College. more..

'Unemployed in 1st quarter is 4.5 million'

Jun 18 (LT) The number of unemployed in Sri Lanka in the first quarter of this year is 4,50,000 and compared to the same period last year it is an increase of 40,000 states Department of Census and Statistics. Accordingly, the number of employed in Sri Lanka is 77,10,000. 26,13,000 of them are in agriculture sector, 18,94,000 are in the industrial sector and there are 32,02,000 in the services sector states Department of Census and Statistics. more..

Next challenge: wiping out notion of ‘remote villages’

Jun 18 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa reiterated that citizens of this country irrespective of religion, race or ethnicity should now come together to build up the nation and recover the momentum lost due to the terrorist menace in the quarter century war. The President was speaking at a felicitation ceremony organized at the scared Jayasiri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. more..

Further signs of Sri Lanka’s shift into China’s orbit

Jun 18 (wsws) This week president Mahinda Rajapakse made his first trip abroad since the army’s military victory over the separatist LTTE. Significantly, it was to Burma (Myanmar) for talks with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as the country’s repressive military junta is known. Accompanying Rajapakse on his three-day visit were foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama, two other ministers and Wimal Weerawansa, leader of National Freedom Front (NFF). more..

Students Union asks Vice-Chancellor to mediate

Jun 18 (LT) The Students’ Union of Kelaniya University has asked acting Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sarath Amunugama to mediate in the crisis that exists in the university, bring about a settlement and reopen the university immediately. In a letter sent to the acting Vice-Chancellor the Students’ Union states: The university has been temporarily closed down due to an unstable situation that occurred as a result of several unexpected incidents. more..