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Young convert tells of journey in 2-hour tape

Oct 24 (CD) Until yesterday, the public could hear Fathima Rifqa Bary speak only in emotional YouTube videos detailing her conversion to Christianity and fear for her life. Now, Florida authorities have released a transcript and audiotape of a more than two-hour interview of the 17-year-old by investigators. In the interview, a giggly and sometimes tearful Rifqa talked about her family, her faith, her fear of Islam and who helped her run away to Orlando, Fla., in July. more..

Mixed reactions to EU threat to cut trade concessions

Oct 24 (IPS) When the European Union announced last year that it was seeking an investigation into alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka as a precondition for extending concessionary tariff rates for exports from the island state, the government promptly cried foul. Thus began the posturing as the two sides sparred off. The state’s pronouncement conveying its refusal to cooperate in the investigation exacerbated an already tense situation. more..

Buddha’s relics to be displayed in Bengal

Oct 24 (Hindu) Relics of Gautama Buddha and two of his disciples, which are housed in the Jaya Shri Mahabodhi Vihara at Bodh Gaya will be on display at Darjeeling and Siliguri in north Bengal in November. The exhibition was to have been held in July, but had to be cancelled because of the turbulent political situation during the month-long bandh called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), more..

Sri Lanka urged to cut tax breaks

Oct 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka should cut down on tax incentives to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and concentrate on improving the business climate to maximize the benefits of peace, a senior economist said. "Policy makers must bear in mind that investment decisions by local and foreign players do not exclusively depend on fiscal incentives but also on a range on non-tax aspects," more..

Sri Lanka not claiming full duty free access to US

Oct 24 (LBO) Sri Lankan exporters are not making enough use of duty free access to the United States under its GSP programme, officials said. "It is necessary to educate our exporters about the duty free access to the US," said Gomi Senadheera, Sri Lanka's Director-General of Commerce. "There is much potential." He said if exports eligible for duty free access makes use of the access the "opportunities for market expansion are very high." more..

Trinco Uppural Muslims plea to return

Oct 24 (PSM) The resettlement of Muslims who were expelled from the village of Uppural in Trincomalee between 1989 – 1990 as a result of military operations between the government forces and LTTE needs to be expedited, the Uppural villagers have urged the government in an appeal made recently. The Uppural Muslims have been languishing as refugees in the village of Thoppur in Trincomalee for about 20 years. more..

Sri Lanka may need Gaza - Style Rights Inquiry: U.N.

Oct 24 (Reuters) An inquiry similar to one that looked into fighting in Gaza may be needed to determine if war crimes were committed in Sri Lanka in the final throes of its 26-year war this spring, a U.N. office said on Friday. "There hasn't been a full inquiry into what did or did not happen in the last months of the war," Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, said. more..

Sri Lanka's Tamil refugees released

'No decision to close down Sri Lankan Airlines'

Oct 24 (GDI) Chairman,Sri Lankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickremesinghe today categorically refuted a statement in Parliament made by Opposition Leader,Ranil Wickremesinghe that attempts or decisions were being made to close down the national carrier, Sri Lankan. Addressing a media conference in Colombo, Wickremesinghe pointed out that the Opposition Leader's reference to the Auditor General/s report was far from the truth. more..

Tamil conference in South East

Oct 24 (PSM) An international symposium on language, culture and social issues of Tamil speaking Muslims is held at the South Eastern University for 3 days from today (October 24 to 26). Ninety four research papers from local and international scholars are expected to be presented at this symposium. Meanwhile, section of Muslim intellectuals have protested for the terminolgy "Tamil speaking Muslims". more..

Debrief News - 23.10.2009

Resettlement deep in tiger terrain too

Oct 24 (RW) The former strongholds of the LTTE -- Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi Districts -- are among the areas in which the internally displaced Tamils of Northern Sri Lanka will be resettled under the government's current IDP resettlement programme. The resettlement of a total 41,685 persons from 12,095 families will take place in the current phase of resettlement which began yesterday, Oct. 22. more..

The man who gambles with human cargo

Oct 24 (Age) Cantain Bram isn't worried. He knows people-smuggling is not an offence in Indonesia. "Don't worry, I'll be free in a few months and will be able to help you again," Bram told Sri Lankan asylum seekers after taking their life's savings and duping them on an ill-fated voyage in a creaking, 30-metre wooden cargo boat to Australia's Christmas Island. Smooth-talking Bram is the face of the usually hidden men who are making a fortune gambling with the lives of thousands of more..

Tamil asylum-seekers face death if sent home

Oct 24 (TA) AN Australian citizen who escaped the largest internment camp in Sri Lanka earlier this year has warned that the Tamil asylum-seekers currently held in West Java could be killed should they be forced to return to their embattled homeland. Muthu Kumaran, an ethnic Tamil and civil engineer from Sydney's west, was swept up in the renewed hostilities in Sri Lanka, having travelled there in February 2007 ahead of what he anticipated would be more..

Tamils herded into disease-ridden camps seek any escape

Oct 24 (TA) When Muthu Kumaran returned to Sri Lanka in February 2007, he had hoped, even expected, that his Tamil people were about to win independence. An Australian citizen and civil engineer, he wanted to be there when a Tamil state was established, freed from majority Sinhalese rule, and he wanted to lend his expertise in water management, too. Instead, the father of two from Sydney's west would endure the brutal reality of the Sri Lankan government's final push to wipe out the LTTE, more..

Stuart Law named Sri Lanka's assistant coach

Oct 24 (CI) Stuart Law has been appointed Sri Lanka's assistant coach and will assist Trevor Bayliss, the head coach, during the team's tour of India in November. Somachanda de Silva, the president of Sri Lanka Cricket's interim committee, told Cricinfo that the decision to appoint Law, the former Australia batsman, in place of Paul Farbrace - who has joined Kent as head coach - was taken at a meeting today. more..

Major Gen Jagath Dias butchered Pirabakaran

Oct 24 (LG) According to information gathered from a Senior Defense Ministry source in Colombo, it is established that the LTTE leader Velupillai Pirabakaran had surrendered to the army in the final stage of the war without swallowing the cyanide capsule tied to his neck. The credible evidence obtained from the source linked to the Sri Lanka’s Military Intelligence led by Major-General Kapila Hendawithrana, Director-General reveal that more..

On the blindness of those who will not see

Oct 24 (LG) ‘Talk is cheap’ is an ancient expression with multiple versions in multiple literatures. ‘Put your money where your mouth is,’ is an oft-seen line in the USA. The descriptive katen bathala hitavanawa (planting sweet-potato with your mouth) is a Sinhala ‘frequent’. There are other variants on this theme of course. We see it happening all the time in multiple locations including those that are close to us and ones we are resident in. ‘Self’ for example. more..

Special confab look into the needs of resettled persons –Devananda

Oct 24 (LG) A special conference was held on the head of the Social Services and Social Welfare Minister and EPDP Secretary General Douglas Devananda at the Jaffna Secretariat Conference hall to discuss regarding the resettlement of IDPs of Jaffna natives and to look into their needs with the participation of the Ministers, who had arrived from Colombo to expedite development works in the Jaffna peninsula on the instruction made by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

'Migration worldwide human smuggling and Sri Lankan boat people in refugee industry'

Oct 24 (LG) Human trafficking and smuggling is as lucrative or more as the Drug and Gold smuggling. The amount of money earned in the Refugee Industry is colossal and with minimum investment. Stage is already set by the post LTTE network which is still haunting for the benefit of the Industry of Human Smuggling and Refugee Industry. It is connected to the network of terrorism, as for drug and arms movement trafficking is a requirement to raise funds easily and quickly. more..

Shadow of Tamils for Clinton in US State Dept

Oct 24 (LG) The US State Department is not going through its best phase on matters of credibility and accountability just now. Apart from the fact that it is headed by a Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who is fast establishing a world record for “misspoke” which was the preferred word by her campaign managers at the Democratic Primary Campaign last year for falsifying, fibbing, speaking untruths etc, more..

Post-conflict transition and aid effectiveness

Oct 24 (GV) The Rajapakse government is increasingly dovetailing its policies to make Lanka a destination of Indian and Chinese investment. As a first step in attracting investments in the former north-east conflict zones, the government recently announced a 15-year tax holiday for companies setting up operations in these regions. Among those queuing up are NTPC, Cairn, L&T, Purvankara and various information-technology (IT) companies. more..

MPs brief PM, Sonia on Sri Lanka visit

Oct 24 (Hindu) The delegation comprising of MPs from the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) and Congress from Tamil Nadu, who recently went to Sri Lanka on a five-day visit to interact with the IDPs, briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi about the trip here on Friday. In a written report, they suggested that India could help by building about one lakh houses, making arrangements for water supply, more..

Dozens of Tamils demonstrate in front of UNICEF in Toronto

Oct 24 (DJ) On a cold autumn day, dozens of mortified Tamils protested in front of the UNICEF office in Toronto at Yonge & Eglinton to show their frustration of UNICEF's lack of action of the crises in Sri Lanka. On Friday, three simultaneous demonstrations occurred in the Greater Toronto Area by the Coalition To Stop The War In Sri Lanka. Dozens of Tamil activists rallied at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton, more..

Sri Lanka political stability seen key to foreign investment

Oct 24 (LBO) Post-war Sri Lanka's ability to attract foreign investments would depend on how the island resolves minority Tamil grievances, eliminates residual security threats and improves its finances, a World Bank report said. "The end of armed conflict provides Sri Lanka with a historic opportunity to achieve a dual transition from a low income country in conflict to a middle income country in peace," more..

Sri Lankan tourist dies in India

Oct 24 (Hindu) Aruna Mary (76) of Sri Lanka who came to visit the Maha Bodhi Society here died of sudden illness on Thursday night. According to police sources, the septuagenarian was part of a group that came from Sri Lanka recently. Around midnight, the victim complained of uneasiness and was taken to a nearby private hospital where she died soon after admission. The body was shifted to the Government General Hospital for post-mortem. more..

JAAF to lobby with govt as far as national integrity not at stake

Oct 24 (Island) The Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF) is likely to continue lobbying for the government to do all it can to secure an extension of EU trade concessions—as long as national integrity in not compromised—as local manufacturers are susceptible to losing out orders to other cheaper apparel exporting countries. "We will study the latest EU report and then ask the government to do all it can to help secure GSP Plus more..

Requiem for Prabhakaran

Oct 24 (LG) LTTE has been militarily defeated. Prabhakaran, its one and only leader, is dead - killed in battle. LTTE, the organization created by him in his own image was hailed as the most effective guerrilla force in the 20th century.1 Profiles of Prabhakaran sketched by a cross section of political and military leaders both in Sri Lanka and India drew attention to his exceptional political and military skills. more..

Fake credit cards seized from Sri Lankan national

Oct 24 (Hindu) The Central Crime Branch police on Friday arrested a Sri Lankan national for allegedly using fake credit cards to cheat shopkeepers across Tamil Nadu to the tune of Rs. 50 lakh. The suspect, Umesh alias Jaatti (25), a Marine Engineer settled in Canada, was apprehended by a special team at Porur when he was going to T. Nagar on a motorcycle. At least 24 fake credit cards, an embosser machine, a laptop and other gadgets more..

Day of Judgment

Oct 24 (LG) Recently Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed in a party women’s conference at Moneragala, that he is prepared to face any court anywhere in the world on behalf of the Sri Lankan military officers who carried out his order to wipe out terrorism in the country, nefarious elements are now concocting evidence against the patriotic leaders of the armed forces, threatening to bring them before courts for anti-terrorist actions in Sri Lanka. more..

Burn victim finds love with her US family

Oct 24 (BG) When the little girl from Sri Lanka found her American family in the baggage claim area at Logan Airport late Sunday night, she curled up into the arms of the man she calls “my daddy.’’ Evan Katz of Groton crouched on the floor and quietly hugged Hasi for several minutes, while passersby looked on and smiled. Buried in Katz’s arms, Hasi looked like a typical 5-year-old, with her long black hair splayed across her small pink backpack. more..

Minister appeals CPC unionists to resume work

Oct 24 (LP) A work-to-rule campaign was launched by the employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), following the failure of the CPC to grant salary increments due this year. CPC trade union action had affected the fuel supply to some extent but panic buying had aggravated the situation, according to refilling station workers. Minister A. H. M. Fowzie, yesterday admitted that there was a fuel shortage in petrol sheds due to more..

For a new term

Oct 24 (FL) Predictability, it is mega election(s) time in Sri Lanka. The three-decade-long military conflict is behind it. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s popularity ratings are at an all-time high. The Southern Provincial Council, which went to the polls on October 10, is completely in the bag of the ruling party. In a clear sign that a presidential poll, followed by general elections, is in the offing, more..

Mixed reactions on Tamil language symposium in South East University

Oct 24 (PSM) An international symposium on language, culture and social issues of Tamil speaking Muslims is to held at the South Eastern University for 3 days from today (October 24 to 26). Ninety four research papers from local and international scholars are expected to be presented at this symposium. Meanwhile, section of Muslim intellectuals have protested for the terminolgy "Tamil speaking Muslims". more..

Halting progress

Oct 24 (FL) In the second week of October, it will be one year and five months since the first Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) in Sri Lanka came into being. The Eastern Province, one of the nine provinces in the island nation, is unique in every conceivable sense, in pre- and post-independence Sri Lanka as well as in the context of the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May this year. more..

Deputy central governor passes away

Oct 24 (LBO) Uthum Herat, the deputy governor of Sri Lanka's central bank, a deeply respected and much-loved official who has served the country for 27 years had passed away, the Central Bank said. Herat, 51 had passed away on October 23, at a private hospital in Colombo. The full Central Bank statement is reproduced below. The Central Bank, with deep sorrow, wishes to announce the demise of Dr. Uthum Herat, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, today 23rd, more..

Bringing hope

Oct 24 (FL) The visit to Sri Lanka of a group of 10 Members of Parliament of the ruling combine in Tamil Nadu from October 10 to 14 was the first of its kind since the struggle by the Tamil parties in the island nation for their political, economic, cultural and linguistic rights acquired a militant character three decades ago. Unfortunately, despite the enormous potential it had to provide a much-needed healing touch to the minorities and the symbolic significance attached to it, more..

Govt. operation to seize 'common candidate,' Parliament seat as gift rejected

Oct 24 (LT) There are reports that a secret conspiracy is being hatched with the participation of several stalwarts of the government to prevent former Commander of SL Army, Chief of Defense Staff Gen.Fonseka entering politics states 'Lanka Irida.' Internal sources of the government state the statement made by a senior man in the government recently regarding resigning from the Parliament was a part of this conspiracy. more..

More on ‘Denial of Rights of SL Pensioners Abroad’

Oct 24 (TC) The article ‘Denial of Rights of SL Pensioners Abroad – New Payment Procedures’ posted by transCurrents on October 16 has drawn the attention of fellow pensioners both in and outside Sri Lanka. Their concern too is not only in regard to the violation of the fundamental rights of SL government pensioners but the collective punishment given to all pensioners for the misappropriation by few unscrupulous persons and more..

'If Gen. Fonseka had need to capture country by an army coup, he would have done it on the day Prabhakaran died'

Oct 24 (LeN) National Trade Union President and JVP M.P. Lalkantha said, if Gen. Fonseka wanted to capture the country by an Army coup, he would have done it on the day Prabhakaran was killed. For the Army which marched victoriously from Colombo to North, capturing the President's Palace, Temple Trees and Presidential secretariat are no great deals. more..

Commander of the Navy pays a courtesy call on Archbishop of Colombo

Oct 24 (MoD) Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe paid a courtesy call on the Archbishop of Colombo, the Most Rev.Dr. Malcolm Ranjith on the 23rd of October 2009 at the Archbishop House in Colombo. His Grace conveyed the prayerful greetings of the Catholic Church to the Commander of the Navy on his appointment and assured all possible assistance in developing spiritual awareness in the Sri Lanka Navy. more..

Bank of Ceylon assists development in Jaffna

Oct 24 (MoD) The Bank of Ceylon has initiated mega programs for the economic and social development in Jaffna where the development programs were badly affected due to terrorist activities for nearly 30 years. Bank of Ceylon chairman Dr. Gamini Wickramasinghe said Rs. Ten thousand million has been allocated for the development activities which are being implemented simultaneous to the 'Uthuru Wasanthaya' programe of the government. more..

'Jaffna farmers efficient'

Oct 24 (MoD) The Government may decide to stop importation of all food items which can be cultivated in Sri Lanka. To back this up everyone should lend their support to increase cultivation. Minister Maithripala Sirisena said opening the 555th Agrarian Services Center in Karawedi, Jaffna at the cost of Rs. 11 million. The Minister said "When we compare with the other districts Jaffna farmers have to face lots of difficulties in their cultivation. more..

Mixed reactions towards the General

Oct 24 (LNW) UNP National Organizer S.B. Dissanayake had told several weekly newspaper editors on Friday morning that he opposed any move to put forward General Sarath Fonseka as the common candidate at the next Presidential election with the support of the UNP. SB had said the UNP in such an eventuality would lose the support of minority parties and communities. UNP sources say that the recent statement made by DPF Leader Mano Ganesshan that more..

Ranil complains media censored Opp. speeches

Oct 24 (LNP) Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday complained to Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara that the media had deleted certain portions and names in speeches made by Opposition MPs in the House and that amounted to violation of their Parliamentary privileges. 'The media should report everything except things expunged by the chair if the media fails to report fully what we talk today as they are, we ll see to it on Monday,' more..

Their privileges Vs our rights

Oct 24 (LNP) Media personnel covering parliamentary proceedings have come under fire for not reporting some speeches in full. It is reported that they are now under pressure to carry statements that politicians make, without anything being edited out. We grant that the media must not distort what parliamentarians say inside the House, or elsewhere for that matter, and if mistakes occur in their reports, they must be promptly corrected. more..

Three new national records set up on day two

Oct 24 (LNP) In an eventful day of competitive swimming three new national records and five age group records were set up at the National and Junior National Aquatic Championship on day two at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium Pool yesterday. The Championship is organized by the Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union. Among the new national record breakers were. Gihara Sachini Amarasinghe (14 years) in the women s 50m butterfly stroke with a timing of 31.33. more..

First ever software exhibition opens in Kandy

Oct 24 (CT) IT enthusiasts in their numbers converged at ‘Java Sri Lanka Kandy 2009’ - the first ever software exhibition in the hill country capital that opened today (Oct. 23). The three-day event is taking place at IJTS, No. 321, Peradeniya Road from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm each day. Central province chief minister Sarath Ekanayake was the chief guest at the opening of this software and educational event. more..

Vietnam-Sri Lanka trade to reach US$100m by 2012

Oct 24 (DN) Vietnam and Sri Lanka have agreed to promote cooperation in economy, trade and investment to raise a two-way trade path which is at US$ 65 million to US$100 million by 2012. President Mahinda Rajapaksa congratulated the Vietnamese leadership and its people for the impressive economic development achieved during the past two decades. Being present in Vietnam with a delegation of several ministers and a business group from Sri Lanka, more..

Clean up or face prosecution, Health Ministry warns eating houses

Oct 24 (DN) The Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry is to come down hard on eating houses and institutions or places producing food in unsanitary and unclean conditions violating laws. The Ministry had already started a countrywide program to inspect such places and already Public Health Inspectors of the Ministry inspected nearly 60 percent of the eating houses and places preparing food in Colombo last week, more..