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Sri Lanka plans to resettle refugees in six months

May 21 (Reuters) Sri Lanka plans to resettle most of the 280,000 refugees who fled the war with the defeated Tamil Tigers within six months, the government said on Thursday after meeting visiting Indian officials. Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and National Security Advisor M.K. Narayan met President Mahinda Rajapaksa, after Sri Lanka declared total victory in a 25-year war over the Tamil Tigers in which India's role has always loomed large. more..

What’s next for the Tamil community?

May 22 (IPS) Nearly three decades of war ended in Sri Lanka last week and a victorious President Mahinda Rajapaksa has extended a fresh hand of friendship to the minority Tamils, but most members of this community feel it will take a long time for the wounds to heal after years of mistrust and alienation. Mano Ganeshan, Tamil MP, said that Rajapaksa clearly said in parliament that the war and subsequent victory was against LTTE guerrillas and not the Tamil people. more..

Sri Lanka’s Tamils voice misgivings

May 22 (NYT) Sri Lankans were given the day off Wednesday as the government declared a national holiday to celebrate its victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels. Men leaning out of cars, honking and waving the national flag, could be seen cruising through the capital here. In this city’s ethnic Tamil enclaves, however, the mood was more subdued. Many Tamils, long caught between a government that distrusted them and more..

Don't hurt feelings- President

May 22 (BBC) President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka has issued a statement urging the country's people to be magnanimous in celebrating the government's victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels, a victory which he formally announced on Tuesday. President Rajapaksa has issued this special statement about the manner in which victory should be celebrated - an indication, perhaps, of the sensitivity of the end of this war with its ethnic origins. more..

Sri Lanka promises to give Prabakaran's death certificate to India

May 22 (PTI) Sri Lanka has promised to give the certificate regarding LTTE chief Velupillai Prabaakaran's death to close the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, India's National Security Adviser M K Narayanan said on Thursday. He said India was going by public statements from the Sri Lankan government that Prabakaran, 54, had been killed in combat in the island's northeast earlier in the week and had no reason to doubt Colombo's announcement. more..

'India should ensure Sri Lankan Tamils get equal rights'

May 22 (PTI) India should take steps to ensure equality for Tamils in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the defeat of the LTTE and death of its leader V Prabhakaran, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters here, Mr. Swamy, a staunch critic of LTTE, charged the banned outfit with training Indian insurgent groups such as ULFA and said it had killed a "big leader" in India (Rajiv Gandhi). more..

Sri Lanka ready for devolution to Tamil areas

May 22 (PTI) With LTTE out of its way, Sri Lanka on Thursday assured India that it will implement a law for devolving powers to Tamil-dominated areas as both the countries agreed on the need for a lasting political solution to the ethnic conflict. The assurance was contained in a joint statement issued after National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon met President Mahinda Rajapaksa here, more..

Colombo warning to Australia on Tamil refugees

May 22 (TA) Australia faces a diplomatic rift with Sri Lanka after its high commissioner yesterday warned the Rudd Government not to accept Tamil refugees from its civil war. The forthright comments by Sri Lanka's high commissioner in Canberra, Senaka Walgampaya, came amid growing fears that Australia could be swamped by Tamil asylum seekers following the end of the country's bloody civil war this week. more..

Australian Foreign Minister condemns attack on two Sri Lankans in Australia

May 22 (MoD) Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith has condemned the recent unprovoked attack by a gang of thugs on two Sri Lankan young men in which both had been badly injured. The Minister said that the local police investigation is being overseen by a Special Central Unit. He made these observations when he telephoned his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama and exchanged views on developments following the defeat of LTTE terrorism in the country. more..

Rebels' defeat opens way to rebuild nation

May 22 (NZH) Sri Lanka's President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has adopted a heartening tone of reconciliation in the wake of his forces' defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels. "We all must now live as equals in this free country," he said, while holding out the prospect of a power-sharing agreement with the minority Tamil population. It is to be hoped that Mr Rajapaksa, who had shown a willingness to crush the 26-year-old rebellion at any cost, is as good as his word. more..

IMF: In "Advanced" talks on Sri Lanka economic bailout

May 22 (AFP) The International Monetary Fund said Thursday it was in " advanced" talks with war-battered Sri Lanka on an economic bailout program, despite reservations expressed by Washington. Following Sri Lanka's victory this week over the Tamil Tiger rebels after a long civil war, the IMF said it looked forward to "improvements" in the country, where about 250,000 civilians who poured out of the war zone are still detained in temporary shelters. more..

Sri Lanka needs to win the peace

May 22 (NP) The Norwegian government says that now that the Sri Lankan government forces have declared victory over the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka must win the peace and provide help to the civilian victims. “Our thoughts are with all those who have lost their relatives and loved ones in the war. We must now join forces to help the victims. People in refugee camps must be allowed to return to their homes as soon as possible,” says Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere. more..

Tainted triumph

May 22 (Economist) For Sri Lanka’s government and many of its citizens, reactions in the West to the final phase of its 26-year war with the Tamil Tigers have reeked of sanctimonious hypocrisy. The world knows the Tigers to be vicious terrorists. To stave off defeat, they held tens of thousands of civilians as human shields in their shrinking corner of northern Sri Lanka. more..

The end of one man and the legacy of another: We cannot glorify death

May 22 (GV) Yesterday we were given a body whose death left me strangely numb. While it was a man whose brutality I condemned, it was not a death that I could celebrate. It was not only that the event came to us bearing the stench of fresh blood from the camps and battlefields of the Vanni - but it was also all the talk that Prabaharan got what was ‘due’ and that this was ‘poetic justice’ for someone who lived by the sword to die by the sword. more..

All quiet on the battlefront

May 22 (DW) Today was a day of closure in the LTTE's violent saga. However, some interesting developments can be expected within the next day or two from the Eastern Province as Ram and Umaram and their teams are traced down. The two leaders moved their families to the north soon after their split with Karuna in 2004. Their fate may be revealed in due course as more bodies are recovered from the battlefield. more..

Bangladesh welcomes end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka

May 22 (Xinhua) Bangladesh Thursday welcomed the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka and hoped that Colombo will march forward within an atmosphere of peace and harmony. A spokesman of Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry said that Bangladesh expects that peace, stability and rule of law will prevail around the globe. In this context, the spokesman said Bangladesh is hopeful that friendly people of Sri Lanka will be able to march forward within an environment of peace, more..

War's end: Sri Lankans relieved but Tamils worried

May 22 (AP) The ice cream man went to work with dread every day at Colombo's main rail station, a prime target for suicide bombers who once killed several teenage baseball players on a platform in front of his stand. With the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, the vendor and many other Sri Lankans say they no longer live in terror of the next blast — a welcome change after more than two decades of suicide attacks by the rebels. more..

The corpse of the Tigers

May 22 (Economist) When Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, declared victory over the ruthless LTTE in a speech to parliament on May 19th, he should have addressed a full house. In fact, over 20 opposition chairs in the 225-seat chamber were frostily vacant. Keeping away were members of the Tamil National Alliance, the largest group of parties representing the Tamil minority, elected in the north and east of the island. more..

Now, marginalize the communal political parties

May 22 (LG) Now since terrorism that plagued the country has been put down, new attitudes and new thinking on how to manage this country of ours must emerge. The president has already set the pace by his speech in parliament on 19th May 2009, when he said that from now there are only 2 different communities, those that are patriotic and those that are not. He urged people to forget calling themselves Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and Malays. more..

'No aid workers in the conflict zone'

Sri Lanka in crisis: Indian's options

May 22 (LG) The month-long elections in India came to an end on May 13. Roughly 700 million voters trekked to the polling booths to cast their votes. The results were announced on May 16. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Congress Party has formed the new government with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minster. The Tamil national question in Sri Lanka has reached a climax. The South celebrated on a grand scale its military conquest of the North while more..

The beginning of a new era

May 22 (LG) President Mahinda Rajapakse’s proclamation that the LTTE also know as the Tamil Tigers have been militarily defeated is like the Sinhala proverb ‘pouring bees honey to one’s ears’. Sri Lanka and her people were terrorised and held to ransom for three decades by Prabahkaran, the criminal megalomaniac, and his cadres resulting in adverse consequences on economic and social development notwithstanding the resolve and resilience of Sri Lankans. more..

Back to the beginning in Lanka

May 22 (DS) Finally, the conflict in Sri Lanka -- Asia's longest running civil war -- is over, with the military bringing an end to the minority Tamil insurrection. The development has not come as a surprise since the once-dreaded Tamil militants had been ceding ground to the government troops since last year and their total rout appeared to be only a matter of time. Over the last few weeks, President Mahinda Rajapakse was boasting that more..

Reconciliation time in Sri Lanka

May 22 (NP) If the international community had gotten its way, the war in Sri Lanka would now be in a state of abeyance. A ceasefire would have been declared, the shooting might temporarily have stopped and the beginnings of a humanitarian rescue operation would have been put in place to deal with the thousands of refugees created by the fighting. Instead, the Sri Lankan government ignored pressure to halt its offensive, standing by its decision to end — once and for all more..

In Sri Lanka the war is over but Tamil Tiger remnants suffer brutal revenge

May 22 (Guardian) Reports are emerging from inside Sri Lanka's internment camps of brutal revenge being taken against Tamil Tiger fighters and the abduction of young children by paramilitary groups. Detainees in one of the camps told the Guardian that a number of female Tamil Tigers have been murdered after giving themselves up to the authorities. The bodies of 11 young women were allegedly found with their throats slashed more..

Finland congratulate Sri Lanka for its military success

May 22 (AT) The Finnish President, Mrs. Tarja Halonen, congratulated Sri Lanka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa for its military success in defeating the LTTE separatist terrorism in the country. This was conveyed to Ambassador Ranjith Jayasooriya when he met the Finnish President at a dinner in the Presidential Palace in Finland on 19th of May 2009 on the occasion of celebration marking the 200 years anniversary of Finland’s independence from Sweden in 1809. more..

Rajiv, Prabhakaran: Bound by irony

May 22 (TOI) It was an unusual, but significant gesture, rich in irony, for one of them would order the other’s assassination. At the end of a meeting with the LTTE chief, Rajiv Gandhi asked his son Rahul to fetch his bullet-proof jacket, placed it on Velupillai Prabhakaran’s back, and said with his charming smile: "Take care of yourself." Later, when officials suggested that Prabhakaran could not be trusted, Rajiv brushed aside the suggestion: "Prabhakaran has given his word. I trust him." more..

Tamils in Britain and Canada vow to sustain Sri Lanka struggle

May 22 (CSM) After weeks of watching from a distance as relatives and loved ones were caught up in Sri Lanka's final offensive against Tamil separatists, many in the world's Tamil diaspora are now in mourning. But in Britain and Canada – home to some of the largest concentrations of Sri Lankan Tamils abroad – communities are mobilizing to play a part in what leaders describe as a new phase in their struggle for an independent homeland. more..

Why the West ignored the Tamils' pleas

May 22 (CBC) Western leaders seemed genuinely surprised at the rapid end to Sri Lanka's 25-year-old internal war and the collapse of the Tamil Tiger insurgency. Not so taken back, however, that the Canadian, U.S. and European governments did not know, virtually in unison, what approach to take: do as little as they could semi-decently get away with. It was just such diplomatic minimalism that compelled Tamil demonstrators in Toronto and elsewhere to take to the streets more..

Sri Lankan April tourist arrivals slide

May 22 (LBO) The number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka in April 2009 slid 12.4 percent to 26,054 from a year ago, with sharp falls from key markets in Europe and India, the tourism promotion office said. European visitors dipped almost 10 percent to 10,489 in April with the end of the main winter tourist season and also owing to recession and bad news generated by an internal war that ended earlier this week. more..

Satellite images of Sri Lanka conflict used in war crimes inquiry

May 22 (Times) US military satellites secretly monitored Sri Lanka’s conflict zone through the latter stages of the war against the Tamil Tigers and American officials are examining images for evidence of war crimes, The Times has learnt. The images are of a higher resolution than any that are available commercially and could bolster the case for an international war crimes inquiry when the UN Human Rights Council holds a session on Sri Lanka next week. more..

Lessons on ethnicity from Colombo

May 22 (NST) IT is tragically mystifying to learn of how two perfectly decent New York residents from Sri Lanka -- one a Sinhalese restaurateur and the other a Tamil doctor -- can remain the best of friends only if they studiously avoid talking about the politics of their war-ravaged homeland. Their story, carried in the New York Times, is an accurate caricature of contemporary Sri Lanka and emblematic of the perception gap of its divided people that lies at the root of what is so wrong about the country. more..

Top UN official visits camps for uprooted civilians

May 22 (UN) A senior United Nations official travelled today to camps housing civilians who escaped Government-rebel clashes in northern Sri Lanka, ahead of a visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who departs today for the South Asian island nation. Earlier this week, the Government of Sri Lanka declared that its military operation against the LTTE had ended, and more..

Analysis: Lessons from Sri Lanka

May 22 (DT) The curtain has at long last fallen on the destructive and polarising campaign of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, which claimed more than 70,000 lives over the last 26 years. Led by Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Tamil Tigers pioneered the use of suicide bombers and were responsible for the assassination not only of Sri Lankan leaders but also of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. more..

Was Prabakaran and his entire family Executed by the army?

May 22 (TC) The Sri Lankan States version of the last moments of Prabakaran is reminiscent of the last moments of Rohana Wijeweera, leader of the JVP. Prabakaran, we are told was in an ambulance, fleeing the battlefield when it came under fire from troops, resulting in his death. Rohana Wijeweera of the JVP too died while trying to “flee”. He was captured by the Sri Lankan army and handed over to the Sri Lankan State. more..

U.N. chief invited to Sri Lanka relief camps

May 22 (WT) Sri Lanka has invited U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit the refugee camps where recently displaced Tamil civilians are living in tents and as wards of the state, the nation's ambassador said Wednesday. Independent journalists and international human rights organizations have complained about being barred from the camps. more..

Remarks by Ambassador Robert O. Blake

May 22 (TC) Thank you all so much for coming. I invited you all here because today marks my last day as U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives. I wanted to have one last opportunity, as Ambassador, to take your questions and to share my country’s perspectives on the situation here in Sri Lanka, particularly at such an important moment in Sri Lanka’s history. My wife, my three daughters and I have greatly enjoyed our time here in this beautiful country. more..

Why I was disappointed by the President’s speech

May 22 (GV) At the outset let me say this. I am neither moved to tears of joy that would prompt me to fly a flag and light fire crackers nor tears of absolute sorrow that the war has ended and that the LTTE has been defeated. I am just relieved that “IT’ is over, all too aware of the cost the entire war, including the last three years, has had on thousands of people all over the island who have killed, abducted, lost loved ones, displaced and suffered in so many ways. more..

UN Secretary General to meet President

May 22 (GDI) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa tomorrow in Kandy. Ban, due to arrive in Sri Lanka in the evening, plans to visit IDP welfare centers in the North, UN officials disclosed. “Having won the 26-year-old war earlier this week, the Sri Lankan government needs to win peace to settle the conflict through a solution,“ he said. more..

Summary of the Cabinet decisions

May 22 (GDI) Cabinet granted approval to a memorandum submitted by Minister of Labour, Athauda Seneviratne to enter into a MoU between VV Giri National Labour Institute, India and the National Institute of Labour Studies, Sri Lanka. The objective of the National Institute of Labour studies, inter-alia, are implementing Workers’ Education Programmes with the collaboration of local and foreign Institutes to conduct seminars, workshops, conferences on labour studies, more..

83 principals to be appointed soon

May 22 (GDI) Sri Lanka’s National School principal lineup suffers from skilled school administrators and the Ministry of Education is in the process of calling applications from suitably qualified applicants to fill the vacancies. “Nearly 83 National Schools run without the required number of administrative staff,’” Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said. more..

Can we end this cycle of hatred?

May 22 (GV) I am amazed at the mobilization of young people from the Tamil Diaspora around the world to protest against the Sri Lankan government’s purported human rights violations. When often the younger generation of immigrants forgets the old country to a future in the new one, it is incredibly positive that the Diaspora feels so passionate about this difficult conflict on behalf of their community. more..

Dial Miliband for Murder

May 22 (PISL) One of the few consolations of having to travel to Geneva practically weekly to deal with yet another British thrust against Sri Lanka is the range of old Alfred Hitchcock movies available en route. One I had not heard of before was ‘Dial M for Murder’, starring Grace Kelly as a rich young lady who married a tennis star who soon tires of her as she does of him. more..

Missing TNA MP found at welfare camp

May 22 (CT) TNA MP S. Kanagaratnam, who was reported as missing while in the Wanni during the final stages of the war against the LTTE, has surfaced in a welfare camp. Party parliamentarian K. Thurairatnasingham has told 'Ravaya' that Mr. Kanagaratnam was being questioned by military officials. TNA MPs were absent at president Mahinda Rajapaksa's address to the nation from parliament a few days ago. more..

Peace Secretariat coordinates supplementary assistance to IDPs

May 22 (PISL) Though the Government has been coping satisfactorily, with the assistance of its humanitarian partners, with the recent huge influx of IDPs, the demand for basic necessities has increased dramatically. The Peace Secretariat has therefore been assisting efforts to collect and distribute such necessities through mechanisms that supplement ongoing programmes. more..

Post-Prabakaran : Dismantling the divides between the Tamils first

May 22 (AT) As Sri Lanka celebrated the news of the LTTE defeat and jubilation spread through the streets it was distinctly visible that something was amiss amongst some Tamils. The jubilation was however distinctly different among the Jaffna Tamils, Eastern Tamils, Estate Tamils, the Colombo Tamils and the Tamil Diaspora. It makes any to wonder why those in the warzone are elated at the news and more..

Ranil says Lankan politics at make or break point

May 22 (CT) Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that Sri Lankan politics were at make or break point. Mr. Wickremesinghe made the remark during a visit to the British town Reading yesterday where he met the town’s newly-elected mayor Fred Pugh. The Sri Lankan leader was canvassing for European election votes for his friend, Conservative MEP candidate, Nirj Deva. more..

Body of Prabhakaran remains unclaimed after inquest

May 22 (AT) If in flesh and blood he remained aloof, in death he remains lonely. That is Velupillai Prabhakaran for you. The body of the psychopath is lying in morgue, unclaimed, unmoored. After the body was identified, a judicial inquest was conducted as demanded by the law of the land. To ascertain the cause of the death. For the record, though how and when he was killed is no longer a matter of any conjecture. more..

3 Golden Key directors remanded again

May 22 (CT) Three directors of the defunct Golden Key Credit Card Company of Ceylinco Consolidated, out on Rs. 25 million bail each, have been remanded again till June 04. They are Daniel Jegasothi, Padmini Karunanayake and Bandula Ranaweera. Mt. Lavinia chief magistrate Harsha Sethunga gave the order yesterday. Chairman of the company Lalith Kotelawala and seven other directors were also sent back to remand custody. more..

Some Tamils are in fear of attacks –Mano Ganeshan

May 22 (LeN) As some elements seeking personal mileage have mingled with the people that celebrate the war victory, Tamils in some areas are in fear of attacks against them, said Colombo district Democratic People’s Front MP Mano Ganeshan. He urged the government to initiate legal measures to avoid such incidents. He said that he would not allege anyone for disseminating threats. more..