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US, Norway deny helping Fonseka

Feb 12 (IANS) The US and Norway Thursday denied Sri Lankan Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa's allegation that they helped former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka during the polls. 'There is no truth to the defense secretary's claims that the US provided financial support to the opposition candidate in Sri Lanka's presidential election,' the US embassy in Colombo said in a statement. more..

Fonseka’s arrest puts religious leaders on alert

Feb 12 (UCAN) Buddhists and Christians have expressed concern about the arrest of the defeated Sri Lankan presidential candidate and the ensuing protests that have erupted in the capital. Protesters near the Supreme Court Complex clamoring for justice for former army commander General Sarath Fonseka were attacked with stones by rival groups believed to be government supporters, forcing the police to resort to tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. more..

Sri Lankan church leaders condemn presidential poll

Feb 12 (Caritas) Catholic and Anglican bishops in Sri Lanka have criticized recent presidential elections as beyond the boundaries of democratic rule and failing to address the concerns of the Tamil minority. Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa secured a landslide victory over former army chief Sarath Fonseka in acrimonious elections in January. Since the elections Fonseka has been arrested, more..

'Sri Lanka will never harm Indian strategic interests'

Feb 12 (IANS) Sri Lanka will seek “step-by-step reconciliation” with the Tamil minority and will never hurt India’s strategic interests, Colombo’s envoy said amid concerns about China’s growing influence in the island nation. Stressing that the end of the Tamil Tiger insurgency had presented a “historic opportunity” to build permanent peace, Prasad Kariyawasam unveiled an ambitious bilateral agenda of engagement with India that more..

Sri Lanka's ripples go far beyond the island

Feb 12 (SMH) Beautiful country, blighted land: hardly the type of slogan to welcome tourists, but sentiment that sadly sums up life in Sri Lanka. Decades of civil war have sabotaged the economy of what should be a jewel of the Indian Ocean. For the more than 21 million people - Sinhalese and Tamil mostly - squeezed into an area not even a third the size of Victoria, the suffering has been needless and long. more..

Ban 'concern' at Fonseka arrest

Feb 12 (AT) The arrest on Monday of Sri Lanka's former army commander and defeated presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka by military police on vague charges of "committing military offences" removes a challenger to the government before parliamentary elections this April at which Fonseka was planning to emerge as a rallying figure for the opposition. more..

Debrief News 11. 02. 2010

Lock up the losers

Feb 12 (Economist) Not content with trouncing his main opponent, Sarath Fonseka, in Sri Lanka’s presidential election last month, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has had him arrested. Mr Fonseka was nabbed—brutishly, by over 100 soldiers, according to his supporters—on February 8th. Officials say he will be charged in a court martial with conspiring to topple the government. Shortly after he lost the acrimonious election, he was accused of plotting to assassinate Mr Rajapaksa and seize power. more..

Update from Sri Lanka’s Galle literary festival

Feb 12 (PM) Trying to get to Kaveri Lalchand’s “Pulp Fiction” talk when Wendy Cope calls. She wants to meet me at her hotel tomorrow morning. Be still, my beating heat. Lalchand is a garment manufacturer who went into business with an editor of maths textbooks, in order to publish Indian pulp fiction for the English-language market. She chats from the stage like a stand-up comic, showing video clips, reading “naughty” stories, and dishing out copies for the audience to look at. more..

Fonseka guilty of treason, says Gotabaya

Feb 12 (Hindu) Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has alleged that the defeated common opposition presidential candidate and retired Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka, is guilty of charges of treason, military coup and of being involved in the disappearance of a few journalists. Meanwhile, the commander-turned-politician through his wife appealed to all sections to maintain calm after clashes were more..

Sri Lanka must focus on minorities now

Feb 12 (WSN) The January presidential election campaign as well as the post-election developments in Sri Lanka indicate quite clearly that the dominant political class of the country is deeply and antagonistically divided. The tragedy of electoral democracy in Sri Lanka is that elections do not seem to help the political class to negotiate and settle their contradictions and resolve problems in the polity. more..

Caritas helps resettle war victims

Feb 12 (UCAN) Caritas, the Church’s social service agency, is helping war victims in the east build new lives for themselves by providing them with houses and loans. About 450 families from Ayithiyamalai and Unnichchai villages, near Batticaloa, have been resettled after the 26-year civil war ended for the eastern front in 2008. Most of them are Hindu and Catholic farmers, carpenters, fire wood collectors and road workers. more..

SLNS Samudura returns to Sri Lanka the Asia Pacific Regional gathering

Feb 12 (SLN) The bi-annual friendly gathering of Asian Pacific regional Navies named Milan 2010 organized by the Indian Navy was held from 03rd to 08th February 2010 at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. SLNS Samudura of the Sri Lanka Navy participated in it and the ship returned to the Trincomalee Harbour yesterday (10th February 2010). more..

Arrest Most Foul

Feb 12 (TC) The Rajapakse brothers are turning Sri Lankan politics into a blood sport. The arrest of Sarath Fonseka is an abuse of state power for the purpose of personal vengeance. The decision to subject him to Court Martial is to try him behind closed doors and find him guilty as charged. The charges are fabricated and the judgment may already have been written. Whether Sarath Fonseka deserves this is not the question. more..

Sri Lankans detained in the British Virgin Islands granted refuge status by UNHCR

Feb 12 (BVI) The six Sri Lankans currently detained at the Immigration Detention Centre have been granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In a recent letter addressed to the Chief Immigration Officer Mr. Dennis Jennings, the UNHCR stated that after careful and thorough review, the Sri Lankans have been found to qualify for refugee status. more..

Help For Sri Lanka's Forests

Feb 12 (VoA) Forests in northern Sri Lanka will be better protected thanks to enhanced cooperation between the Sri Lankan government and the government of the United States. This month, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis officially presented mapping equipment and specialized software to assist the Sri Lankan government's Forest Department with conservation efforts in the north. more..

Two journalists missing in Sri Lanka

Feb 12 (CPJ) The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the disappearance of two journalists in Sri Lanka. Chandana Sirimalwatte, chief editor of the Sri Lankan weekly newspaper Lanka, was detained by police around noon on January 30, according to his wife, Hemali Abeyratne, and staffers at the paper. Lanka e News journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda has been missing since January 24. more..

Sri Lanka tourist industry draws Russian interest

Feb 12 (LBO) Russian investors are keen to invest in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, which is recovering after the end of a 30-year war, a senior official said. Export Development and International Trade Minister Gamini Peiris said Sri Lanka gets a large number of Russian tourists and that Russian companies were keen to develop the industry in the island. The Russian investment figured in talks between Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s and more..

Endangering Democracy

Feb 12 (OI) After having won an impressive victory over Gen Sarath Fonseka, his former Army chief, in the prematurely called Presidential elections on January 26, 2010, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has got the Parliament dissolved before it had completed its term so that fresh elections to a new House could be held. The new elections are scheduled to be held on April 8, 2010. more..

Ranil preparing to meet Mahinda to get General released

Feb 12 (LT) According to internal sources of the UNP its leader Ranil Wickremasinghe is preparing to have talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse regarding the release of Gen. Sarath Fonseka who is being detained by the government. It is reported that Mr. Wickremasinghe has taken the decision to meet the President without the knowledge of Gen. Fonseka. We have received reports that Mr. Wickremsinghe had asked Gen. Fonseka to meet Defense Secretary and more..

Editor of the “ Lanka” newspaper is being held by the Government in illegal detention!

Feb 12 (LG) My husband Chandana Sirimalwatte works as the Chief Editor of a well known Sri Lankan weekly newspaper Lanka. His newspaper has been often targeted by the State for its independent and investigative stance. During the last three months, my husband has been asked to come to the CID over six times in connection with various articles and stories carried in the newspaper. more..

Police join Govt. goons to attack demonstration at Maharagama

Feb 12 (LT) The demonstration held at Maharagama to protest against the arrest of Gen. Fonseka has been attacked jointly by a group of government goons and the police says our reporter at Maharagama. When the demonstration was about to commence at about 5.00 p.m. today a group of government goons had arrived at the scene and attacked the demonstrators. more..

Editorial: General drift

Feb 12 (IE) Political developments in Sri Lanka are not following the script that Sri Lankans and their nation’s well-wishers would have liked them to. But was there such a script to follow in the first place? The prelude to the presidential election last month had been violent, constantly intimating of violence, and filled with very vocal, visible animus notwithstanding the promises and half-promises made towards reconciliation and resolution. more..

Sri Lanka seeks lower Russian import duty on tea

Feb 12 (LBO) Sri Lanka has asked Russia, the biggest importer of Ceylon tea, to reduce import duty on value-added tea exports, a senior official said. Export Development and International Trade Minister Gamini Peiris said the issue was discussed when Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa held talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev during a recent visit to Moscow. Russia was an important market Sri Lankan tea, more..

Prof. H. Sriyananda on YaTV

Andra investors ready to start here

Feb 12 (GDI) An environment conducive for foreign investment has been created and several plans are currently underway to strengthen the economy while local and foreign investments are being increased, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake said while addressing a group of investors from Andra Pradesh in India. He pointed out that many investment opportunities have been created in the country after the regaining of the North and the East. more..

Mother Unit Salutes Major General Samarasinghe

Feb 12 (GDI) THE newly promoted Major General Prasad Samarasinghe, Chief Signal Officer (CSO) cum new Military Spokesman was accorded a guard turnout plus a Guard of Honour at the Sri Lanka Signal Corps Headquarters premises at Panagoda on Thursday (11). The military honour offered by his mother unit was to greet Major General Samarasinghe who was promoted from the rank of Brigadier a few days ago. more..

Minister Samarasinghe returns from Geneva on a positive note

Feb 12 (GDI) Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe said that he is expecting a positive response following the briefing given to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The Minister made this comment on his return after the briefing. The Minister said he seized the opportunity of meeting with the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navanetham Pillai. more..

Since the end of war, 73 national bank branches allowed to open in the North

Feb 12 (GDI) "The north has been an untapped market for years due to the war and we are seeing a lot of interest from financial companies to expand into that area," says the Governor of the Central Bank. Since the bloody conflict between Government troops and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels ended last May, the central bank has allowed 73 national bank branches to open in the north. The rebels ran their own banking system with 11 branches before their defeat. more..

Namal Rajapaksa enters politics

Feb 12 (GDI) Anyone has the right to do politics and politics is not the use of thuggish acts or acts of revenge. However, President Rajapaksa emphasized that no one had the authority to betray the country for terrorism. The President said further that under the “Mahinda Chintana – Extended Version” the Government planned to accelerate development in the future, generating more jobs. more..

Handing of Postal voting applications for General Election from 16th Feb

Feb 12 (LP) Handing of applications for the postal voting for the upcoming General Elections commences on the 16th of February. Applications can be handed over till the 22nd. The applications will be then handed over to the Returning officers. Those in the 2008 voters list are eligible to vote for the upcoming general election in April while the list of names can be checked with the District Secretariats. more..

Army Major arrested for extorting money from Tamil businessman

Feb 12 (TN) The CID arrested an army officer in the rank of a Major in the Sinha Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army and another civilian in connection with an alleged extortion of money in the amount of seven million rupees from a leading businessman in Wellawatte, media in Colombo reported. The suspect army officer has been serving in the Ambepussa Sinha Regimental Headquarters and the other person had been an employee of the said Tamil businessman. more..

Resettled IDPs in Jaffna must apply to vote in Parliamentary election

Feb 12 (TN) Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) resettled in Jaffna district should submit their applications before 17 February if they wish to vote in the forthcoming Parliamentary election, Jaffna Government Agent said in a report to local media Thursday night. The application forms duly filled in should be submitted to Jaffna Secretariat before the prescribed date, the report further said. more..

Independence day celebrated in Korea

Feb 12 (MoD) The Independence Day celebrations commenced at the Residence of Sri Lanka in Seoul South Korea on February 4, with the flag hoisting ceremony attended by Korean and Sri Lankan personalities, representatives of Sri Lankan migrant workers and Sri Lankan students. A multi religious rituals with the participation of the clergy of Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic were observed and the National Day Messages of more..

JICA support to upgrade Jaffna hospital facilities

Feb 12 (MoD) The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the purview of the Japanese Government has taken steps to improve facilities at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital at a cost of US $ 25 million. Moves are under way to improve central functions of Jaffna Teaching Hospital through construction of facilities, procurement and installation of equipment and other ancillary activities, more..

Another 1,000 IDPs resettled

Feb 12 (MoD) The resettlement of around 1,000 Internally Displaced Persons in Ganeshapuram, Kattayamalei, Muththuwinayagapuram, Mankulam east, Pannikulam and Indupuram villages commenced yesterday. Northern Province Governor Major General G.A. Chandrasiri said the Government has restarted the resettlement process in a big way under the strategic plan after the Presidential Election. more..

'Kids' got wings from air force commander

Feb 12 (MoD) Defence Services College, exclusively dedicated to the children of the Armed Services and the Police, inaugurated by HE the President on 17th Jan 2007, enlisted it's 4th batch of students to Grade 1 class, on 10th Feb 2010. To mark the occasion a ceremony was held with the participation of the Commander of the Air Force Air Chief Marshal W D R M J Goonetileke RWP VSV USP ndc psc, as the Chief Guest. more..

Going beyond Sarath Fonseka in achieving democracy for people

Feb 12 (GV) A visibly shaken wife in tears, Anoma Fonseka told the media “this is the gift my husband got for finishing a 30 year war”. Gen Sarath Fonseka was arrested, or detained, or taken into custody or may have been even abducted by a military group late in the evening on Monday from his office, in Colombo. What ever label one gives for such exercises, they eventually end up as legal arrests in Sri Lanka, as was earlier proved in the case of more..

Meets with Nominations Board while in active service: Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera violates security regulations

Feb 12 (LNW) Legal experts say that the handing over of nominations to the SLFP Nominations Board by Director General of the Civil Defence Force, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera while being in service is a violation of police regulations. The Civil Defence Force comes under the purview of the Defence Ministry and is governed by the police regulations. more..

Attacks on peaceful protest

Feb 12 (LG) The right to peaceful protest is only one of many current concerns of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM). Human rights issues requiring attention arise from many events that took place in 2009 and the first few weeks of the present year. These include the armed conflict and its aftermath, the plight of the IDPs, killings, attacks on, abductions and arrests of journalists including Vidyadaran of Sudar Oli (February 2009), more..