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Govt. MP wants Ranil protected from UNP rebels

Mar 18 (Island) Nation Building Minister Jagath Pushpakumara yesterday requested the Speaker to provide security to Leader of Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe who he claimed had been held forcibly by a group of MPs of his own party inside a committee room in the Parliament complex. Minister Pushpakumara, raising a privilege issue soon after the commencement of Public Business, said that the UNP Parliamentary Group meeting had turned into a mini battle and there were reports that the opposition leader had been physically assaulted. more..

GK depositors forcibly take over Ceylinco Group Apartments

Mar 18 (Island) Twenty four luxury three-roomed apartments on Sixth Avenue in Thimbirigasyaya built by the Ceylinco Group, which had remained unoccupied, were forcibly taken over yesterday by families who had deposited monies in the failed Golden Key Credit Card Company. A woman investor, who took occupation of one of the apartments, said she had earlier been living in a rented house but could not pay the house rent for the last five months since more..

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka Part 05

New mega housing complex for MPs sought

Mar 18 (Island) The government is looking for property for a state of the art housing complex for members of parliament addition to the housing units at Madiwela. The House Committee chaired by Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara is in the process of locating a suitable property to implement the mega project. Well informed sources said that although the Committee had received an assurance from the Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Ministry to make available a four-acre block of land at Weera Mawatha, Kalalgoda, more..

TMVP denies involvement in Varsha’s murder

Mar 18 (DM) The TMVP yesterday said it was not involved in the killing of six year old Varsha Jude Regi in Trincomalee and added it would not take responsibility for the murder, despite reports that some of the suspects belonged to the party. TMVP General Secretary A. Kailesvararajah said while the party was ‘shocked’ by the murder and offered its condolences to the victim’s family and friends, the party denied any TMVP involvement or any of its cadres being arrested by the police. more..

Cannot compensate depositors with taxpayers’ money – Govt.

Mar 18 (DM) The government asked in Parliament yesterday if it was reasonable for the state to compensate the Golden Key depositors using taxpayers’ money. The Golden Key issue was debated in Parliament as an adjournment motion by the JVP, who demanded that the innocent depositors be compensated immediately. Responding to the motion, Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said that some people had deposited hundreds of millions of rupees each, in this credit card company. more..

Govt. blasts UNP and UN HR Chief

Mar 18 (DM) The government yesterday appealed to the combined opposition to tell the world about LTTE barbarism at a time when people like United Nations Human Rights Chief Navaneetham Pillay were hell bent on tarnishing Sri Lanka’s image with false propaganda. Transport Minister Dulles Alahapperuma told journalists that no one in the opposition, neither an individual nor a party had made an attempt to expose the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the LTTE but more..

Sri Lanka must link leading region to rest of country: World Bank

Mar 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka needs to urgently integrate the western province, which accounts for half of gross domestic product, with the rest of the country to accelerate economic growth, a senior World Bank official said. Naoko Ishii, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka, said one of key objectives of the government’s development strategy was how to integrate lagging regions into the growth path led by the leading region without discouraging its own growth momentum. more..

Sri Lanka economy slows in 2008

Mar 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka's economic growth slowed to 6.0 percent in 2008 from 6.8 percent a year ago, with growth in the fourth quarter slowing to 4.3 percent. "The impact of global turmoil coming from the external trade sector was the key reason for the slowdown," director general of statistics Suranjana Vidyaratne said. For the full year 2008 industry grew by 5.9 percent, services 5.6 percent and agriculture by 7.5 percent. more..

Sri Lanka cuts policy rate, lifts import curbs

Mar 18 (LBO) Sri Lanka has cut its de facto main signal policy rate that sets the ceiling on Interbank borrowing rates by 175 basis points to 14.75 percent, and also lifted margins on import letters of credit set late last year, the Central Bank said. The monetary authority said the policy rate cut was to signal the market, its "desire for a further reduction in market interest rates." Though the penal interest rate was brought down to 16.50 percent from a high of 19.00 percent, more..

Sri Lanka children 'being killed'

Mar 18 (BBC) The conflict in Sri Lanka has killed hundreds of children and left many more injured, United Nations' children's agency, Unicef, has said. Moreover, thousands of children are at risk because of "a critical lack of food, water and medicines", the agency says. Intense fighting is going on between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in north-eastern Sri Lanka. The Tigers have been driven from most of the territory they held by the army. more..

'I am ready to quit leadership,' Ranil sends messages through three persons

Mar 18 (LeN) UNP General Secretary Thissa Aththanayaka, Chairman Jayawickrama Perera and John Amarathunga announced the UNP MPs as the adjourned parliamentary group meeting was recalled yesterday that the party leader Ranil Wickramasinghe had agreed to quit the party leadership and to share power with others. The three seniors of the UNP proposed the parliamentary group should be held in absence of Mr. Wickramasinghe's providing him with more..

Humanitarian conditions in conflict zone worsen, ICRC warns

Mar 18 (IRIN) Humanitarian conditions in the north-eastern conflict zone are deteriorating, warns the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with thousands of civilians inside a government safe area at risk of shelling and lacking safe drinking water and sanitation. The warning comes as clashes between government forces and the LTTE, who have been fighting for an independent homeland since 1983, intensify. more..

Sri Lankan troops kill 38 rebels

Mar 18 (AFP) Sri Lankan troops have killed another 38 Tamil Tiger rebels and taken more territory in fierce fighting in the island's northeast, a military official here said Wednesday. Security forces killed the 38 guerrillas in several clashes in the coastal district of Mullaittivu Tuesday, the official said, adding that the military had suffered only minor casualties. The official said the military had further shrunk the area under rebel control. more..

Sri Lanka says EU diplomats may visit North

Mar 18 (AFP) Sri Lanka said Wednesday it would open up its war-torn north to international scrutiny, days after the UN said it suspected war crimes were being committed in the fight against Tamil rebels. A foreign ministry official said talks were under way to give a European Union fact-finding mission access to the area, which has been almost totally off- limits to diplomats, aid workers and journalists. "We are in the process of finalizing the dates and the agenda," more..

Groups give false info on civil war

Mar 18 (AP) The Sri Lankan military Wednesday accused international organizations of giving false information on the island's civil war, saying rebel sympathizers have "infiltrated" the groups. The accusation comes amid tense fighting in the war-ravaged northern region, where the military says 38 rebels were killed in the last day. The battles in a shrinking strip of land along Sri Lanka's northeast coast have trapped tens of thousands of civilians in deteriorating conditions. more..

Sri Lanka set for bailout talks with IMF: official

Mar 18 (AFP) Sri Lanka is set to open talks with the IMF for a 1.9-billion-dollar bailout, officials said Wednesday, with the island's economy hit by the cost of a military campaign to crush Tamil rebels and the global financial crisis. "We will start talks with an IMF team next Monday to work out the modalities for a standby arrangement," Nandalal Weerasinghe, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka's chief economist, told AFP. more..

Sri Lanka links IPL clearance to security

Mar 19 (CI) Sri Lanka Cricket has said it will wait for a security report from the IPL before releasing its contracted players for the second season, due to start next month. The league itself is currently in negotiations with the Indian government over dates for the tournament following concerns over security through its six-week duration. The IPL-contracted players requested a security report from the league; once that was in, officials and players would jointly decide the next course of action. more..

Time to tame the Regime - Karu

Mar 19 (LG) The Govt. is fomenting lawlessness in the country, and purposely destroying the Democratic Institutions and freedom of the people because it is increasingly beginning to realize that if the rule of law and Democratic tenets are observed, it cannot give answers to the media, the people and the Opposition parties in respect of its false promises made at elections and its failures in totality in all spheres of its activities since its advent, more..

Little hope of an enduring end to Sinhalese victimisation of Sri Lanka's Tamils

Mar 19 (TC) On May day in 1993, Sri Lankan president Ranasinghe Premadasa was in the back streets of Colombo, greeting supporters as they streamed into the capital for the day's festivities, when he was killed by a suicide bomb. Had the conventions of diplomacy permitted it, I would probably have been at his side. He had been insistent that I should join him on this occasion. In the previous year, Premadasa had allowed me to see some of the handiwork of the LTTE. more..

German Mayor duped by LTTE

Mar 19 (LG) Rolf Lührmann, mayor of the German city of Borken in the federal state of Northrhein Westphalia, was under fire following his participation in a demonstration organised by friends of the LTTE. A freelance journalist from the northern part of Germany broke the story criticising the mayor with an open letter pointing out Lührmann's naivety in joining a disguised LTTE demonstration. more..

Demented Soul: Nadashen forgets to claim Nobel Peace Prize

Mar 19 (LG) The Prophet has spoken again. Please listen to this if you can and have a tough stomach. B. Nadesan, the political head of the LTTE Sunday said the Tigers had "plenty of evidences" to document that the Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa was "intentionally directing attacks against civilians," committing war crimes and crimes against humanity when asked to comment on the recent statement issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). more..

'Ministers’time at untimely election campaigns'

Mar 19 (LG) UNP M.P. Gayantha Karunatileke said this Govt.‘s Ministers who have been elected by the people reposing immense hopes in them to solve the country’s problems are enjoying all the perks and taking substantial salaries out of public funds not to serve the people. As the Govt. is preoccupied only with holding fragmented elections District-wise and Provinces -wise throughout the year and winning elections more by foul rather than fair manner, more..

Tamil Diaspora and the Church: What comes next?

Mar 19 (AT) Some Tamils who live in Western countries are not only good at news breaking but also good at breaking any established social system where peace and democracy prevail. With their unconditional support to the local Tamil Tiger terrorists, they all have caused the enormous damage to the economy of Sri Lanka, where many Tamils (60% of the Tamil population) live in harmony among the Sinhalese. more..

'In Sri Lanka, 2,683 civilian killings this year'

Mar 19 (ICP) After claiming of Sri Lanka that "we don't count bodies," the UN has now involuntarily admitted that the "minimum number of documented civilian casualties since 20 January 2008, as of 7 March in the conflict area of Mullaitivu Region [is] 9,924 casualties including 2,683 deaths and 7,241 injuries," in a leaked document of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs obtained by Inner City Press. more..

Tigers caged by military forces

Remembering L.H. Mettananda

Mar 19 (AT) The watershed in Sri Lanka’s post – independence period i.e. 1956, which led to the socio – cultural emancipation of the vast majority of the people of this country would not have been possible if not for the invaluable contribution of L.H. Mettananda. Though front line politicians grabbed the lions’ share of the power and glory for the nation’s huge turn around in 1956, posterity is likely to concede a much greater share of credit to Mettananda and more..

Navy rescues fleeing civilians

Mar 19 (Xinhua) The Navy has rescued a group of civilians fleeing the Tamil Tigers' last pocket in the northern Mullaittivu district. Some 550 civilians on 31 boats were fleeing Mullaittivu's Puttumatalan area Tuesday evening, heading for the northern Jaffna peninsula when the LTTE sea wing tried to stop them. The Navy chased away the four rebel boats, making possible the civilian boats to make the journey to the Point Pedro area in the Jaffna peninsula, more..

Disappearances of persons in Sri Lanka

Mar 19 (GV) The modus operandi of the widespread abductions and disappearances we witness in Sri Lanka today is similar to what we saw in the late 1980s and early 1990s. President Rajapakse, who was a Member of Parliament then, was in the forefront of the struggle against these incidents. Now his regime has become one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances. Members of the security forces, police and pro-government groups are alleged to be involved in these incidents. more..

'Govt. not allowing MPs beyond Medawachchiya'

Mar 19 (CT) The government stands accused of preventing opposition parliamentarians from visiting the North to inquire into the welfare of civilians displaced there. It is not allowing members of Parliamentary Alliance for Human Rights to go beyond Medavachchiya, a member of the organization Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena said. He said the Alliance comprises 37 MPs from all parties represented in the House from different parts of the island. more..

Nimbus deal goes to Bribery Commission

Mar 19 (CT) Former Test captain Hashan Tillakaratne and ex-joint secretary of Cricketers Association, attorney Shiral Lakatilake lodged a complaint with the Bribery Commission against Sports Minister, Gamini Lokuge, Sports Secretary S. Liyanagama and Duleep Mendis over the awarding of telecast rights of last month's Indo-Sri Lanka ODI series to Nimbus Sports. When calling for tenders for telecasting the series, the Nimbus Sports tender application mentioned a sum of $ 7.5 million. more..

Jan 2009 exports, imports fall sharply

Mar 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka's trade deficit contracted by 66.5 percent in January 2009 from a year ago to 208 million US dollars as exports and imports fell sharply, the central bank said. Private remittances also fell, largely owing to the strength of the dollar, it said, but exports of apparel, a key industry, increased. Total exports fell 11.6 percent to 491 million dollars in January 2009 mainly because of lower agricultural export earnings, more..

Speaker warns against distorted House reporting

Mar 19 (CT) Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara has warned media institutions that report House proceedings in a distorted manner that they stand losing their licenses. Making a special statement to Parliament today (Mar. 18), he referred to a remark by minister Jagath Pushpakumara that opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had been assaulted by UNP MPs at a meeting. more..

Foreign reserves fall to US$1.4bn in Jan 09

Mar 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka's gross official reserves fell to 1,415 million US dollars from 1,753 million dollars in December 2009, which was enough to cover 1.3 months of imports. With Asian Clearing Union balances, reserves were 1,703 million US dollars. But imports were contracting sharply amid a global deflationary environment and lower demand at home. The import spend had fallen 40.5 percent to 699 million US dollars in January 2009, against the same period last year. more..

CARE aid worker killed in Sri Lanka conflict

Mar 19 (AN) CARE is mourning the loss of R. Sabesan, a humanitarian worker who was killed yesterday in the no-fire zone in the conflict-affected area of northern Sri Lanka known as the Vanni. "We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the loss of our friend and colleague Sabesan," said Nick Osborne, Country Director for CARE International in Sri Lanka. "We extend our heartfelt condolences and thoughts to his family and friends at this very difficult time." more..

Shot Sri Lankan batsman vows to play again

Mar 19 (SMH) Damaged but not defeated, shot Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera says his career is far from over and he has not ruled out the possibility of returning to play in Pakistan, where he and his teammates came under fire in a terrorist attack. Samaraweera, who had a bullet removed from his left leg, was discharged from a Colombo hospital yesterday and spent the afternoon with his relieved wife Erandathie and two daughters. more..

Sri Lanka suffering from the global crisis, government in denial

Mar 19 (AN) Sri Lanka is not being spared by the worldwide economic crisis. In an interview with AsiaNews Sri Lankan sociologist Sunil Ranasinghe confirms that the global recession is having a major impact on the country. In order to continue its war against Tamil Tiger rebels the government is downplaying the problem, accusing those who talk about crisis of deceiving the population. In fact “we are in the midst of a social, economic and political crisis.” more..

Aksha: From Lanka to Kollywood

Mar 19 (Galatta) Aksha Sudri is the newest kid on the block, a fresh face who comes from across the shores – from Sri Lanka. The movie that will kickstart her Kollywood career is Sa Boo Thri, where she is one of the three lead ladies. "This is my maiden venture and I am thoroughly thrilled. I play a college student who falls in love with Arshad Khan, who also happens to be the director of Sa Boo Thri," she tells of her role. more..

5 Sri Lankan fishermen caught off Andhra coast jailed

Mar 19 (IANS) Five Sri Lankan fishermen caught by the Indian Coast Guard off the Andhra Pradesh coast were remanded to two weeks in judicial custody here Wednesday, the police said. The Sri Lankans travelling by a fishing craft Jeya Sikuru01 were intercepted by a coast guard vessel in the early hours of Tuesday near Machlipatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Sri Lankan diplomatic sources said the detained Sinhalese, more..

Asian postmaster takes immigration stand by banning customers who can't speak English

Mar 19 (DM) There's a huge Union Flag flying proudly outside Deva Kumarasiri's house and it's been there so long the edges are tattered and torn. Nearby, another one flutters from the back of his favourite Land Rover as he drives to work as the local cornershop postmaster. In case it's not immediately clear, the Sri Lankan born father of two - who fulfilled a dream to come this country 17 years ago and took citizenship to make his life here - is proud to be British. more..

UN debunks LTTE canard of leaked documents

Mar 19 (AT) The LTTE websites are propagating a story of a leaked UN document giving a casualty figure of 2863. The UN Secretary General’s Spokesperson today clarified that the so-called leaked document was an estimation done locally and that it was not a verified and published document. Responding to a reporter’s question Secretary General’s Spokesperson suggested that it is not possible to verify these estimates given locally and more..

Ranil stays: UNP Constitution to be amended to devolve power and create Senior Leader

Mar 19 (AT) UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe remained as UNP Leader at the end of the Party’s Working Committee meeting which went late into tonight but the Party decided to amend the Constitution top accommodate two positions as Senior Leader and Leader while also devolving powers. The UNP Working Committee meeting also agreed to appoint a eight member Committee which is expected to nominate the names of the Senior Leader and more..

Dispute over how to help civilians in war zone

Mar 19 (CSM) As fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels intensifies in northeast Sri Lanka, calls to spare as many as 180,000 trapped civilians are growing. But in the debate over how far to push a warring government, caution is guiding the international response. Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced "deep concern" to Sri Lanka over rising civilian casualties in a government-designated no-fire zone. more..

Karuna should also surrender the Arms

Mar 19 (LG) It is admiring on the part of the terrorists turned democrat S. Chandrakanthan aka Pillayan of TMVP who became the Chief Minister of Eastern Province who made a brave decision of handing over the weapons their party was carrying for self defence. This move is also an indication that they have confidence with the law enforcement authorities for their future security. more..

Projecting young talent

Mar 19 (LG) I met him in 2005 when we started Maubima, the controversial weekly newspaper.Nuwan Jayatilleka, a talented youngster, was very interested in journalism. We became close friends after starting our weekly (Mawbima) newspaper. “I want to do some change in this society because the social system in our nation is wrong,” he told me when one day we visited war zone areas for media coverage. more..

The sovereignty fracas at BIA

Mar 19 (LG) If Indian bashing was a hallmark of the Premadasa Presidency, the “white man” bashing is a hallmark of the Rajapakse presidency. INGO?s, Human rights bodies, diplomats or anything else that moves which happens to be even remotely connected to the “white man” is fair game. The “white man” is viewed as being “colonial”, standing in the way of “Sinhalese” sovereignty (note the emphasis), unity and territorial integrity of “Sinhalese” Sri Lanka and more..

Minister Devananda visits “Menik farm welfare Camp”

Mar 19 (LG) Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare, visited the “Kathirgamar” Welfare Camp (Menik Farm) on the last 15th and inquired into the health of the internally displaced people temporarily housed in the camp. Minister speaking to the camp inmates said “You all, displaced from your homesteads in Wanni now temporarily housed in this camp are our own people, more..

Diaspora Diaries: “O Canada”

Mar 19 (LG) They gathered. Hundreds of people, if not thousands, came to wave a flag, chant slogans, carry banners, and demonstrate their beliefs; it’s called ‘freedom of expression’. Let me note that this was not a rally for the environment; it was not a protest against big businesses and their role in the global economic crisis; it wasn’t even a march for peace. Rather, it was quite the opposite; it was another rally of support for the LTTE. more..

Tax officer charged with Rs.4 million bribe from Golden Key absconding

Mar 19 (LT) The Mt. Lavinia Magistrate was informed yesterday that a special police team has been deployed to arrest W. Dharmasiri, an officer of the Department of Inland Revenue who has taken a bribe of Rs.4.0 million from Golden Key Credit Card Company to free it from income tax payments. The CID informed the Magistrate the person absconding has not reported for duty since 13th January and the house he had been living too has been vacated. more..

Is IMF loan of US$1.9 a ‘bailout’ package for LTTE?

Mar 19 (LT) The govt will have talks with IMF next Monday for a US$1.9 billion to resurrect Sri Lanka’s reeling economy. According to sources the IMF would insist that the government agrees on cuts in government spending, higher interest rates and a gradual depreciation of the rupee to make available bailout package the government has requested. Sri Lanka is going back to the IMF after a previous loan deal was aborted midway through 2004 when more..