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University of Jaffna's potential as a centre of debate

Feb 2 (Himal) Today, as never before, the longstanding potential for the University of Jaffna to function as a centre of discussion, debate and nonaligned camaraderie must be recognised and nurtured for the sake of pluralism and human rights. Few celebrated the birth of the University of Jaffna in 1974, when it came into existence as a campus affiliated to the University of Sri Lanka. more..

Ignoring two decades

Feb 2 (Himal) The civil war in Sri Lanka ended on 17 May 2009 with a grave human tragedy, and the plight of war-affected Tamil civilians remains distressing. More than eight months later, many displaced are still living under trees and in roadside tents, their kith and kin still missing. The dead, meanwhile, remain unnumbered; even many among the missing are locked up in detention centres or prisons. The government’s military victory over the LTTE has indeed brought relief to many, more..

Sri Lanka in biggest military purge after coup fears

Feb 2 (AFP) Sri Lanka's president on Monday sacked a dozen senior military officers whom the defence ministry said were a "direct threat to national security" after last week's presidential elections. A military official said it was the army's biggest-ever purge and went beyond a 1962 shake up following a coup attempt by volunteer officers against late prime minister Sirima Bandaranaike. more..

Sri Lanka opposition complains of gov't pressure

Feb 2 (AP) Sri Lanka's opposition accused the government Monday of hounding and detaining its activists following the country's acrimonious presidential election. The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said it forced into early retirement "a handful" of army officers whose alleged political activism during and after last week's poll threatened "national security." more..

The 'ideal Sinhalese'

Feb 2 (Himal) On reading Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, this writer could not help wondering why Sri Lankan novelists writing in Sinhala have consistently failed to maintain a critical distance from their own culture and the status quo. The White Tiger may not be the greatest work of fiction to come out of India in the last decade, but it did reveal the dark side of India’s so-called economic boom, and questioned the ideals of the consumerist middle class that is the most vocal supporter of neo-liberal economic policies. more..

Sri Lanka: the challenge of national reconcilation

Feb 2 (FE) The worst is behind Sri Lanka since May last year when the 26-year civil war in the island nation ended with the total defeat of the Tamil Tigers. But the ethnic and religious divisiveness and bitterness continue to plague the country. This was evident in the way voters behaved in the January 26 presidential election. Among the 21-million population, about 14 million were voters of whom about 70 per cent turned out to vote. more..

Debrief News - 01.02.2010

The Jaffna diaries

Feb 2 (Himal) Ben Bavinck, a Dutchman born in Indonesia, lived in Jaffna from 1954 until 1972, as a missionary and a staff member of Jaffna College. In 1988, two years before fighting resumed between the LTTE and government forced, he returned to Sri Lanka at the behest of the National Christian Council (NCC) of Sri Lanka, for which he oversaw relief and rehabilitation. Six years later, in 1994, he again returned to Jaffna, then under the control of the LTTE; more..

Sri Lanka digs out

Feb 2 (TS) In the past 12 months, Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa scored both a decisive military victory and an electoral triumph. But he has yet to truly win the peace. His re-election victory last week, watched closely by many Tamil Canadians here, was tainted by widespread campaign abuses – notably the lopsided coverage by state media and brazen intimidation of his main rival, former army chief Sarath Fonseka. more..

Bargaining in a labour regime

Feb 2 (Himal) In September 2009, three estate trade unions and the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon signed a collective wage agreement with representative of tea- and rubber-plantation workers that raised their daily wage from 290 to 405 rupees (USD 3.5). Despite this increase, however, the new wage is still unable to meet cost-of-living demands, thus continuing the chronic poverty and socioeconomic stagnation that the Up-country Tamil estate workers have long experienced. more..

Sri Lankan government widens witch-hunt against opposition

Feb 2 (wsws) Having won a second term in last week’s election, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is widening a witch-hunt against political opponents, journalists and critics. The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the arrest of opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka was “imminent” on the basis of allegations of a plot to assassinate the president and seize power in a military coup. more..

Tamils and Sri Lanka: A wake-up call

Feb 2 (TC) The results of the recent presidential elections are being analyzed and interpreted in clinical detail by many commentators from their respective vantage points, experiences and predilections. While in Sri Lanka in December 2009, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Jaffna. Based on the interactions I had with the Sinhala people belonging to different strata of society, I formed the impression that Mahinda Rajapakse would win this election. more..

Mixed response from London Sri Lankans on Rajapaksa result

Feb 2 (BBC) There has been a mixed response from London's Sri Lankan diaspora to President Mahinda Rajapaksa's re-election at the presidential elections. Mr Rajapaksa secured a sweeping victory over his main rival Gen Sarath Fonseka, who has rejected the result. While Mr Rajapaksa's jubilant supporters celebrated the news, the response from the opposition and minority Tamil community has been somewhat lukewarm. more..

Computer manipulation 'impossible'

Feb 2 (BBC) The computer expert who was involved in presenting the final results in the recently concluded presidential polls has categorically rejected the accusations that the count was rigged using the latest technology. Dr. Ruwan Weerasinghe, Director of the School of Computing, University of Colombo, told BBC Sandeshaya that the results were entered to the computer system after several verifications and cross checking. more..

Sri Lankan trawlers brought to Kochi

Feb 2 (Hindu) Sri Lankan fishing vessels Danilla and Yamuna, which were apprehended by the Cost Guard on Friday for venturing into Indian territorial waters off Lakshadweep, were brought here on Monday. The trawlers with their Sri Lankan crew — 11 of them — were handed over to the Harbour Police here for prosecution. Indian Coast Guard Ship Veera was on patrol as part of Lakshadweep’s first ever costal security exercise, ‘Neptune,’ when more..

Bernard Goonatillake resigns from the chairmanships of the Tourism Boards

Feb 2 (AT) One of Sri Lanka’s senior diplomat Bernard Goonatillake, who was the Chairperson of both the Tourism Development Authority and the Tourism Promotion Bureau resigned yesterday from his posts. Mr. Goonatillake had a meeting with the Minister of Tourism Achala Jagoda and subsequently he tendered his resignation from the chairmanship of both the corporation in the Ministry of Tourism. more..

Sri Lanka: End post election clampdown on dissent

Feb 2 (AI) Amnesty International today called on the government of Sri Lanka to immediately end its crackdown on journalists, political activists and human rights defenders after last week’s presidential election. Opposition supporters and journalists have been arrested, several prominent newspaper editors have received death threats and trade unionists and opposition supporters have been harassed following the election. more..

Sri Lanka's chance to start again

Feb 2 (JT) Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka, has been re-elected. Mr. Rajapaksa's victory was expected following the government's victory last year over the Tamil Tigers, ending a 26-year insurgency. Peace on the island opens the door to long-delayed economic development, a key to enduring stability. But peace also requires reconciliation and the creation of a government that represents all of Sri Lanka's citizens. more..

Nishantha Sri Varnasinghe on YaTV

Rebuilding futures in Adampan

Feb 2 (MAG) After almost three years living in camps, 123 families have been able to return to their homes in Sri Lanka’s Rice Bowl region and given a real opportunity to begin rebuilding their lives after years of war, thanks to MAG. In a matter of weeks MAG released 700,000 square metres of safe land, roughly 100 times the size of the football pitch at Wembley Stadium, allowing the families safe access to their land and homes once more. more..

Loosely structured stories of conspiracy

Feb 2 (LP) The opinion builders linked to Sri Lanka government is lacking common sense as seen in many of the stories propagated by them. This was seen in the story of arms deals of the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and in the bribery drama of government coalition MP Muzammil. However, the story of Fonseka exposing Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on war crime charges was better written by Fredrica Janz, an experienced journalist. more..

Returning home

Feb 2 (MAG) MAG has cleared homes belonging to 30 families from the village of Adampan, meaning they could return immediately, knowing they were safe. One of the returnees is 70-year-old Pilippu Sinthathurai. Before the war, working as a farmer and carpenter, Mr Sinthathurai made a good living through his trade, with the village one of the richest and most developed areas in the Mannar region. more..

'Colombo not answerable to UN for 80,000 IDPs remaining in Vavuniyaa camps'

Feb 2 (TN) About eighty thousand Internally displaced persons from Vanni region still remain in camps located in Vavuniyaa despite Sri Lanka government's assurances to the United Nations that all IDPs will be resettled by January 31. Richard Badiudeen, Minister of Resettlement and disaster relief services, told Colombo media Monday that no such assurance has been given to any organization including UN. more..

Updates capturing aftermath of presidential elections

Feb 2 (GV) From the first update after the close of polls at around 10pm on the 25th and then from around 3am on the morning of the 26th, Groundviews gave regular updates on the high drama in Colombo just after the presidential elections via its Twitter account. Because it is very difficult to locate these updates on Twitter over time, we’ve collated key tweets issued during the course of the 26th and 27th related to the elections. more..

The General was much more at home with the JVP than the UNP

Feb 2 (TC) Perhaps the saddest aspect of the campaign for General Fonseka was the complete absence of principle evinced by the vast majority of thinking persons who ended up supporting him. I was for instance astonished to find quondam intellectuals such as Dr Saravanamuttu and Jehan Perera pontificating in a manner that suggested they thought General Fonseka a potentially productive President. more..

Post Election Challenge for Country

Feb 2 (TC) President Mahinda Rajapaksa won a second term at the Presidential Election of Janumary 26 with an unexpectedly big majority although this election result has been called into question by the main opposition candidate, General Sarath Fonseka. The election results telecast by the state media as they stand demonstrate a schism in the thinking and expectations of the ethnic minorities and ethnic majority populations. more..

Magnanimity in both winning and losing is the better

Feb 2 (NPC) The result of the Presidential election that was held last week has a potential of further dividing the country on both political and ethnic lines unless the spirit of magnanimity prevails. One of the important challenges for President Rajapaksa will be to address the sense of alienation of the ethnic minorities and provide a political solution for their problems and grievances by way of devolution of power. more..

‘Tamils must not be left behind after election’

Feb 2 (UCAN) The northeast Tamil heartland must not be left out of post-election development, one of Sri Lanka’s top Buddhist monks says. “Special interest should be taken for the reconstruction of tanks and the reservoirs in the war-torn areas of the north and east. The people in all parts of the country should be equally treated,” the Venerable Buddharakkitha Thera, told the media. more..

Community concern: SLES shows the way

Feb 2 (AN) Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia has praised a free medical clinic operated by the Sri Lankan Expatriates Society (SLES) in Riyadh, citing it as an example to be emulated by other organizations due to its benefit for the Sri Lankan community in the capital.Ahmed Aflel Jawad called the clinic a success as he opened the brand new facility at the Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh. more..

‘Reinvestigate Rajiv Gandhi assassination case’

Feb 2 (Hindu) Communist Party of India’s State Secretary D. Pandian has sought reinvestigation into Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Addressing journalists in Erode on Monday, he said the case needed a reinvestigation but refused to elaborate why. All that he said was, “Read the book authored by Ragothaman, chief investigating officer of the Special Investigation Team, which probed Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, and you will know why.” more..

News/Views from Sri Lankans in Boston

Luxury trains for special journeys

Feb 2 (GDI) People will be able to reserve seats in trains for special journeys, under a special programme launched by the Railway Department, Commercial Superintendent of Railways, Wijaya Samarasinghe said. He said luxury trains for 60-100 passengers can be reserved according to this programme which came into effect yesterday. These trains have separate dining cars, a small kitchen and other facilities. more..

President visits Kataragama

Feb 2 (GDI) After emerging victorious at the recently held election, President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the sacred Kataragama area where many special religious programmes had been organised to bless him. After engaging in religious observances at the Kataragama Kiri Vehera, the Chief Incumbent of the temple, the Venerable Aluthwewa Soratha Thero chanted pirith to invoke the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem on President Rajapaksa. more..

Special security arrangements for “Deyata Kirula” and National Day celebrations

Feb 2 (LP) Special security will be provided to Kandy during the 62nd National Day celebrations which fall on the 4th of February 2010 and the “Deyata Kirula” exhibition. 62nd Independence Day celebration will be held at the Maha Maluwa of the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy on February 4 under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

O/L Marking: second phase under way

Feb 2 (GDI) The second stage of evaluating answer scripts of the G.C.E ordinary level examination commenced on January 30 and will continue until the 8th of this month, Acting Commissioner of Examination to Evaluation Branch B. Sanath Pujitha told today. He pointed out that the first phase of evaluating O/L answer scripts got underway recently and over 7 million answer scripts were marked during this process. more..

'Sri Lanka, fastest growing IT market in the region'

Feb 2 (GDI) Sri Lanka's Information Technology Market will be among the best potential growth prospects in South Asia, states the Business Monitor International (BMI) of UK. Total IT spending is seen as nearly doubling to US$494mn by 2013, with considerable upside. This projected CAGR of 15% would make Sri Lanka one of the fastest-growing markets in the region, states BMI in its IT market report. more..

WFP increases IDP aid

Feb 2 (MoD) The World Food Program (WFP) has increased its assistance to continue the resettlement of the IDPs under the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation by 3.288 billion rupees (US dollars 28.59 million), its Executive Director Joselle Sheeran informed the Nation Building Ministry, Nation Building Ministry WFP Project Director Anuradha Kumarasiri said yesterday. more..

26 ads banned for containing inaccuracies

Feb 2 (GDI) The Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition has decided to ban 26 advertisements depicting food items that contain incorrect facts. This ban was imposed based on the recommendations made by a committee appointed to look into advertisements and publicity campaigns dealing with food items, Media Secretary to the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition W.M.D. Wanninayake told more..

Health Ministry re-introduces combined Pentavalent vaccine

Feb 2 (LP) Ministry of Health re-introduced the combine Pentavalent (DTP-Hep B-Hib) vaccine to combact five diseases in infants and children. Speaking at a media briefing this morning in Colombo Deputy Director General of Ministry of Heath announced that with the support of the GAVI Alliance combined Pentavalent will be re-introduced into the national EPI programme in 2010 in all districts of the country. more..

Sri Lanka experts silent, Wijesinha oblivious to forensic evidence

Feb 2 (TN) Sri Lanka's video experts appear unable or unwilling to rebut the body of evidence presented at the Dublin tribunal, UN Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions Philip Alston's report, and findings from other independent forensic analysts that all ruled as flawed the analyses by these experts of the video broadcast on Channel 4 showing Sri Lanka Army soldiers summarily executing Tamil prisoners, more..