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Lanka rubbishes reports of starvation deaths of Tamils

Mar 7 (ZN) Sri Lanka on Saturday rubbished reports of starvation deaths of Tamil civilians in the embattled north, saying these were aimed to discredit the government that is ready to inflict a "decisive blow" to the cornered LTTE guerrillas. “It is clearly aimed at distorting the truth about the situation in Sri Lanka, in a manner that would discredit the Government and its efforts to free and assist the IDPs in the north of the country,” more..

Tamil family proud of son's 'sacrifice'

Mar 7 (BBC) The UK-based family of a young Tamil man who set himself on fire in protest at the treatment of his countrymen in Sri Lanka have said they are proud of his actions. Thousands of Tamils living in the UK and beyond are expected to attend the funeral on Saturday in Northolt, west London, of Murugathasan Varnakulasingham, 26, who travelled to Switzerland last month to kill himself in front of the United Nations building in Geneva. more..

Minister defends decision to tour Pak

Mar 7 (PTI) Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge on Saturday defended the cricket team's tour of Pakistan, saying that the Lankans agreed to fill in for India, which had backed out not because of security fears but the "dispute" over Mumbai terror attacks. "When it was taken up by our foreign ministry, we had realised that the Indian team scrapped Pakistan tour not because of lack of security but because of Mumbai attacks," he said. more..

Media rights group presses Sri Lanka

Mar 7 (AFP) A rights group has urged Sri Lanka to thoroughly investigate recent attacks against the media, saying it was disappointed with the government's stance. Board members of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) met in Washington on Thursday with the Sri Lankan ambassador, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, to lodge their concerns. more..

Canada eye seizure of Tamil property under anti-terror act

Mar 7 (NP) The government took the first steps Tuesday toward taking over property in Ontario and Quebec that it says is controlled by a terrorist group involved in South Asia's longest-running civil war. Federal prosecutors in Toronto and Montreal filed applications in the Federal Court of Canada saying they were seeking the forfeiture of the property of the World Tamil Movement, an outlawed terrorist organization. more..

Breakway rebels- TMVP hand over arms

Mar 8 (BBC) A breakaway group of the Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka has formally handed over its weapons to the government at a ceremony in the eastern town of Batticaloa. The group, known as the TMVP, broke away from the mainstream Tiger rebels five years ago. It was led by Vinayagamurthi Muralidharan popularly known as Colonel Karuna, who is now a parliamentarian. The group later formed a political party and won regional elections, but more..

Vanni: An avoidable tragedy

Mar 8 (AT) The War against the Tigers is necessary, because the nature and the deeds of the LTTE have made it unavoidable. But the humanitarian tragedy in the Vanni that, according to the UN, is assuming catastrophic proportions is neither unavoidable nor inevitable. True, if the Tigers permitted civilian Tamils to escape, this tragedy would not have happened. But the LTTE would not be the LTTE, if it acted responsibly, with moderation, more..

The great white authorities of Human Rights Watch

Mar 8 (PISL) During the Interactive Debate on the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva yesterday, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat and Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, commented on remarks made by Non-Governmental Organisations. His statement is carried below. Mr President, let me begin by thanking those Non-Governmental Associations that more..

Sri Lankan youth in Canada to counter LTTE propaganda

Mar 8 (AT) A group of Sri Lankans in Canada have formed a new association to counter the LTTE propaganda. In a letter to the expatriate community, the newly-formed "Sri Lankan Youth from Toronto" says: "Our mission is to counteract the recent negative propaganda, by educating the Canadain media, politician and public in general about the true situation in Sri Lanka and the historical events leading up to the current state of affairs." more..

Sri Lankan Ambassador Outraged by Attacks on Journalists

Mar 8 (IL) In response to a meeting yesterday at the Embassy of Sri Lanka with a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, reaffirmed the Government of Sri Lanka's outrage for attacks on journalists and commitment to supporting media freedom. more..

How united Ceylon became divided Sri Lanka? What next?

Mar 8 (FI) Recently, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama told a news conference at the University of Madras, Chennai in reply to the question whether he approved the military action by the Buddhist rulers of Sri Lanka: "I pray and hope some peaceful resolution is arrived at in Sri Lanka. I think the Sri Lankan government should accept reality." He also reiterated his averseness to the use of force. (Times of India 22 January 2009). more..

The Lahore attack: South Asia’s tangled web gets knottier

Mar 8 (FI) First, spare a thought for our cricketers just as it becomes clear that even cricket is not spared from violent attacks in South Asia. Sri Lankan cricketers playing on the international circuit are an awesome bunch. From the captain and vice-captain down to every player in the squad, they let the bat and ball do the talking; when they fail, they smilingly acknowledge the other side’s performance and regroup themselves to do better the next time. more..

"Aiyoh...they are killing us who is going to save us?"

Mar 8 (IL) "Aiyoh...They are killing us!! Who is going to save us?" is the sound of the regular screaming in the Vanni region by the displaced Tamils as the Sri Lankan armed forces intensify their military aggression in the guise of destroying the LTTE. They are killing thousands of Tamils with no consideration to humanity as the Tamils try to seek international help to secure their freedom. more..

LTTE turning desperate: Colombo

Mar 8 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan military on Saturday claimed to have killed 101 LTTE cadre in the last 48 hours and said the outfit is making “desperate efforts to prolong its imminent defeat”. Three days ago, the military had estimated that the strength of the fighting cadre of the LTTE as less than 500 and that the Tigers were confined to 45 sq km. However, little is known about the fate of an estimated 70,000 civilians trapped in the war zone. more..

Sri Lanka against moves to isolate Pakistan

Mar 8 (HT) Sri Lanka has told the United States that it would oppose any move to isolate Pakistan over the attack carried out on Lankan cricketers in Lahore on March 3. Several Lankan cricketers were injured on their way to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore when armed gun men fired and lobbed grenades at the bus the cricketers were traveling. "The Minister categorically expressed Sri Lanka’s firm opposition to isolate Pakistan in the sporting arena or in any manner internationally over this incident," more..

Travellers to Sri Lanka Surge

Mar 8 (KT) Middle East travellers visiting Sri Lanka surged by 24 per cent in 2008, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) Middle East Office. “The year 2008 has been one of promising growth, driven by heightened consumer awareness in the Middle East, and the growing desire for culture and adventure among regional travellers,” said Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB. more..

'Lahore — a city of happy memories, until last Tuesday'

Mar 8 (Hindu) Lahore is a city I had happy memories of, until last Tuesday. The Gaddafi Stadium was the venue of our most famous sporting triumph, the World Cup win in 1996. But all that changed within a few terrifying minutes on Tuesday. We had left the hotel at about 8.30 in the morning. It was to be the third day of a keenly contested game and the chatter aboard the team bus was about our prospects of dismissing Pakistan cheaply. more..

Sri Lankans in Austria hold demonstration demanding release of LTTE held civilians

Mar 8 (IL) A number of highly successful anti-LTTE demonstrations have been held in several European cities over the past few months and continuing this patriotic tradition Sri Lankans in Vienna for the second time protested on Friday 6th March at the Ballhausplatz, Vienna. It attracted over 100 persons in spite of the rainy weather. Friday's protest rally in Vienna was organized by Austria-based Sri Lankans Against Terrorism, more..

'People know who I am and what I am capable of'

Mar 8 (SL) UNP National Organiser S.B. Dissanayake and UNP Hambantota District Leader Sajith Premadasa are likely to be the two top beneficiaries in the event of a party overhaul. Their names have been proposed by the UNP ginger group clamouring for changes within, as deputy leaders of the party after an interim period. In interviews with The Sunday Leader, both acknowledged their ambition to become the president of the country but skirted the issue of inner party turmoil that now threatens to spill over. more..

'Privatisation' written all over new Electricity Act

Mar 8 (SL) The new Electricity Bill perceived to be the first step towards privatisation of the electricity sector by a government that officially shuns it as policy, was passed in parliament last week. The passing of the bill is expected to secure the government several million dollars in funding from lending agencies to uplift the country's power sector. Millions of dollars in the form of soft loans, a grant from the ADB and JBIC to the country's power sector have been in the balance for the past few years due to the delay in restructuring the sector. more..

When cricket was ruled out LBW (Lahore Before Wicket) in Pakistan

Mar 8 (SL) The military victories in the Wanni and the divisions that plague the United National Party (UNP), the twin topics that keep the nation entertained complete with many political googlies, were overshadowed when a Mumbai style attack was carried out in the city of Lahore in Pakistan last Tuesday, leaving six Sri Lankan cricketers injured and eight Pakistan security personnel dead. more..

It's just not cricket

Mar 8 (SL) Every time a highly placed individual from the Rajapakse administration says something offensive - which sadly occurs quite frequently - I recall a photo of the President hugging, with great affection, his brother Gotabaya, who had just escaped an attempt on his life by the LTTE in Colombo. It's an awkward photo in a sense - neither of them are posing, the President has this grin of relief plastered on his face and Gotabaya looks, well, human. more..

State caves in to IMF conditions

Mar 8 (LB) The Government has agreed to comply with the tough conditions of the IMF in a desperate measure to obtain the US $ 2 billion loan facility, a senior official of the Finance Ministry told the LAKBIMAnEWS. As a result, many macro economic fundamentals which were forcibly kept at unrealistic levels to show a rosy economic picture, will be adjusted. The Central Bank is currently negotiating with the IMF officials to soften the conditions but the IMF is sticking to its conditions, our source noted. more..

Opposition tries to googly government over Lahore

Mar 8 (LB) An opposition which seemed to lose some steam after the heavy losses inflicted in the recent PC polls gained some traction last week when opposition heavyweights were able to go on the offensive soon after the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Lahore. Vociferous UNP politicos harangued the government for making the players “sitting ducks" and the sports minister Gamini Lokuge was hard put to answer — saying that the team was offered VIP security by the Pakistani government. more..

Leave the car behind and take a bus says Transport Ministry

Mar 8 (LB) A new traffic arrangement is to be implemented to help reduce the number of vehicles entering Colombo city. Starting next week the Ministry of Transport has decided to operate a “Park and ride system” starting from Kattubedda. Professor Amal Kumarage, Chairman of the National Transport Commission stated that the service will be provided from 16 March which is specifically designed to reduce the traffic congestion around the city of Colombo. more..

Lalith Kotelawala --why his empire was waiting to crash

Mar 8 (LB) Lalith Kotelawala built an empire on good public relations and sycophancy but unregulated internal money transfers among his businesses may give him returns that he did not bargain for. Kotelawala is now in remand custody while a warrant has been issued for the arrest of his wife, Sicille, who is in Singapore. The CID has already revealed that the Kotelawala pair paid themselves enormous sums of money as remuneration and allowances. more..

Next 72 hours crucial for the LTTE, says military

Mar 8 (LNP) As ground battles raged on the eastern flank with troops making slow but steady progress, the military yesterday asserted that the final outcome of the Eelam war IV would be decided within this week. A senior officer directing operations said that the next 72 hours would be crucial as the LTTE, struggling to stall the army, would mount counter attacks whatever the losses that would entail in terms of both men and material. more..

Oil, gas prospects in South Sri Lanka sea belt

Mar 8 (LNP) There were positive signs of potential oil and gas reserves in the southern sea belt of Sri Lanka from Galle to Hambantota as revealed by a recent seismic survey conducted by the Petroleum Development Secretariat of the Ministry of Petroleum and Petroleum Resource Development, highly placed official sources said. The preliminary data collected using the seismic vessel Geonatuna showed presence of sedimentary rocks in the southern sea belt in the country. more..

The domino effect

Mar 8 (LNP) The domino effect upon the Ceylinco Group following the Golden Key crash is becoming more and more apparent by the day. Various arrangements are now falling into place with the Central Bank, which is the chief regulatory authority for the financial services sector, taking steps which, hopefully, will prevent a further slide. Wisdom after the event is as easy as popping cashew nuts into one's mouth as the Sinhala saying has it, and there is a surfeit of nodding heads and `I told you so punditry on display today. more..

Red Cross at Crossroads! Where are the wounded Tigers?

Mar 8 (LG) What exactly is the role of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Wanni? Under normal circumstances and for the reputation the Red Cross (ICRC) enjoys globally, such a question need not be raised. But in respect of its operations in Sri Lanka certain pertinent questions need to be asked. The primary obligations of the Red Cross are governed by international humanitarian laws that impacted the Geneva Conventions as well as more..

President commissions his son in the Navy

Mar 8 (AT) Creating chapter in Sri Lankan naval history, the island’s President and Commander-in-Chief of its armed forces Mahinda Rajapaksa commissioned his own son Yoshitha Rajapaksa today, March 7, during a glittering and grand passing out parade at the Trincomalee Maritime Academy. Upon the President and First lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa’s arrival at the base, they were welcomed by Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and more..

Luxury coach entry to relieve Colombo city congestion

Mar 8 (AT) In a flagship project aimed at alleviating traffic congestion in the Colombo city, visitors to Colombo will have the option of parking their cars in a suburb and be brought to the city via luxury coach and be able to return in the same mode. The service which has been themed: "Park and Ride" which will be launched at Angulana Junction at Katubedda on March 12 by Transport Minister Dallas Alahhapperuma. more..

Swindlers list

Mar 8 (LeN) Priding themselves as philanthropists, espousing the word of God, the very name Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala and Lady Dr. Sicille Kotelawala evoked respect, trust and above all a sense of security. Which is why 9054 people in this country, trusted the duo with millions,in some cases tens of millions of rupees in life savings. Perhaps part of those millions belonging to some depositors was black money. Perhaps some of them invested their monies to evade paying tax to the government. more..

Rains come down during Tooth Relic exposition

Mar 8 (SO) Heavy showers fell in Kandy city as large crowds thronged to see the exposition of Sacred Tooth Relic at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy on Friday afternoon. This was the first day of the exposition of the Relic and the people clad in white lined up along the queues from the previous day. By Friday morning the queues along D. S. Senanayake Road had extended up to the end of the road which was little less than a kilometre. more..

US. Embassy launches Facebook Page

Mar 8 (SO) Ambassador Robert Blake launched the U.S. Embassy Facebook page at the American Center with the participation of U.S.-Sri Lanka Fulbright scholars, US-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission Student Advisor, Nelum Senadira, and Director of Press and Cultural Affairs, Jeff Anderson. Ambassador Blake said that the Facebook page is a forum for Sri Lankan youth to share their views and perspectives. more..

Sigh of relief on sweat and blood

Mar 8 (SO) Captain Indika Gamage is one of the happiest among the lot. It was special as he was about to return home on leave on the same road that he had fought the terrorists barely two months ago. He recalled how the troops of the 55 Division advanced from Muhamale to capture the Elephant Pass (EPS) while the troops of the 58 Division pushed the LTTE from the EPS. It was not just another day for the soldiers as well as all of us. It was the historical opening of the `gateway to Jaffna’- the Alfa 9 (A9). more..

Solar powered lights to control city traffic

Mar 8 (SO) The Traffic Police are testing solar powered traffic lights to control traffic in the city. It is also planning to introduce an energy conservation mechanism. DIG Traffic Police, Jayantha Gamage said, "We have set up solar powered traffic lights at the Bambalapitiya junction and are hopeful that it will be successful". The solar traffic lights have been invented by a team experts at the University of Moratuwa which shows that local expertise is reaching high standard. more..

President's speech at the Commissioning Parade

Mar 8 (GDI) Our Navy was at one time referred to as the Royal Ceylon Navy. Three years after our Motherland won her independence, in 1951, a group of Naval Officers graduated from Diyatalawa. Since then scores of officers have graduated and there have been many parades of this kind. The difference today is that this batch of Naval Officers will be part of a Navy that has scored unprecedented victories. more..

Jaffna MC polls soon

Mar 8 (NS) With the successful dismantling of the LTTE in the North, the government’s attention is now focused on holding Municipal Council elections in Jaffna. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to consult the Elections Commissioner probably next week on the possibility of calling nominations for the Jaffna Municipal Council election, highly placed government sources said. This is believed to be the first step towards re-introducing democracy to the north of Sri Lanka after a lapse of nearly 11 years. more..

Donor evacuation plan fails to get off the ground

Mar 8 (NS) A donor Co-Chair plan to involve US in a mass evacuation of trapped civilians from the safe zone on the Mullaitivu coast is now unlikely to come through as the Sri Lankan Government is reluctant to rush into support any such act without considering the views of our immediate neighbour, India. The US even rushed a team of experts from its Pacific Command to Colombo in a C-130 plane last month in this connection. more..

Mahanayakes overrule live coverage of exposition

Mar 8 (NS) The Mahanayakes of Asgiri and Malwatta Chapters had objected to a live coverage by the Sri Lanka Rupavhani Corporation of the proceedings on the first day of the public relic exposition of the Sacred Tooth last Friday. Cameras had already been set up and tested for live transmission with link ups for other Channels with the permission of the Diyawadana Nilame, Pradeep Nilnaga Dela Bandara, the programme producer of SLRC said. more..

Prasanna Ranatunga throws his hat into the ring

Mar 8 (Island) With elections to the WPC set for April 25, former WPC Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has launched a poster campaign seeking the chief ministerial post. Although newcomer Thilanga Sumathipala and former WPC Chief Minister Reginald Cooray have both indicated their desire for the top post, Ranatunga had asserted his right to take over the province. Cooray recently vowed that he wouldn’t give up his claim for the post amidst heavy speculation that more..

Rebels plan to ambush Ranil at convention

Mar 8 (NS) Fresh moves are underway to oust the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at the next annual convention, a leading member of the rebel faction said yesterday. He said that many party MPs are very unhappy after the leader turned down their appeal for him to step down from the leadership, after the latest drubbing the party received at the recently concluded Provincial council elections more..

Patients sent to other hospitals as scanners pack up

Mar 8 (Island) The National Hospital has been compelled to send patients to Lady Ridgeway Hospital and the Sri Jayewardenepura Teaching Hospital as its two CT scanning machines are out of order. The National Hospital performs over 50,000 scans annually. A spokesman for the GMOA, Dr. Upul Gunasekara said that the hospital is compelled to send critical patients in need of urgent scanning to either of the two hospitals. more..

'Golden Key has grabbed hard-earned money of poor depositors'

Mar 8 (Island) Golden Key employees joined distraught depositors of the collapsed Ceylinco subsidiary in a demonstration demanding justice, in Colombo last week. JHU parliamentarian, Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka thera said that all depositors should stand united in demanding back their hard-earned savings, which have been grabbed from these suffering people by Golden Key. "Everybody should come forward and join hands to agitate as this is a humanitarian campaign for justice and fairplay", the prelate stressed. more..

The Crossroads of Redevelopment

Mar 8 (Island) At the entrance to the public market at Anuradapura Junction, a woman was handing out flyers for a meeting to pray for peace in the region. "There are meetings, but still not peace," remarked one young woman entering the market on Saturday morning. Just over half of the stalls in the 10-month old market structure, a project of the USAID were open. As at any market in the world, the loudest vendors appeared to be getting the most business. more..

From cricket to nuclear politics

Mar 8 (ST) Having arrived in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad over a month earlier, for Sri Lanka High Commissioner-designate to Pakistan, Air Chief Marshal (retd.) Jayalath Weerakkody, Tuesday March 3, was to be an important day in his new career. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari was to accept his credentials as the new Sri Lankan envoy. So were the new heads of mission from Portugal, Syria, Belgium, Norway, and Tajikistan. more..

Karuna faction says won’t disarm

Mar 8 (ST) Parliamentarian and former LTTE eastern leader Vinyagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman yesterday vowed to hold on to his weapons, even as the TMVP began disbanding its military wing and handed over weapons to the authorities in Batticaloa. Karuna spokesman Tatchanamurthi Kamalanathan said the former rebel leader would remain armed along with some 3,000 cadres until they were fully absorbed into the SLFP as full members. more..

Far from the battlefront

Mar 8 (ST) Powerful notes of a song waft through the still clear air, competing only with bird calls and accompanied by the orchestra of the cicadas and the rhythmic beating on tables. Tranquillity and peace, enhanced by the surroundings…………a river gently flowing by, a landscape of green, mostly coconut country on one side and mountains on the other, a far cry from the dust and the grime, the blood and the horror of the battlefront. more..

Major crisis ahead, economists warn

Mar 8 (ST) The government, through the Central Bank, is negotiating a $1.9 billion bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – an agency that was not wanted earlier – because the country’s foreign reserves have hit rock-bottom, economists say. While Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal and CB statements claim that the request has been made pursuant to ‘an offer by the IMF’, the crisis is so acute that Sri Lanka had few choices. more..