U.K. Tamils hold midnight vigil outside Downing Street

July 25 (Hindu) Hundreds of British Tamils, carrying candles and banners, held a vigil” outside Downing Street on Friday to demand an independent inquiry by the United Nations into alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka. The vigil marked the start of a “walk for justice” which would culminate into a rally at the UN Office in Geneva on August 6. A spokesman for the British Tamil Forum said the walk was aimed at highlighting the “plight” of displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka. more..

Interview III - Dr. A. C. Visvalingam

'Electoral reforms must come first'

July 25 (RW) Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, a distinguished academic and political analyst told the Sunday Observer, that a mixture of the proportional representation system based on constituencies plus a ‘national list’ will be ideal to select members to Parliament. He said the electoral reforms, a second chamber and proposed parliamentary advisory committees should precede a new constitution. Prof. Wijesinha had earlier served as the Director General of more..

A mound like structure made of empty cartridges attracts tourists in Bodhgaya

July 25 (ANI) A unique mound-like structure called 'Stupa' made of empty cartridges from the Sri Lankan civil war has turned a major draw for tourists in Bodhgaya. The Stupa was established in Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya this February to spread message of peace among the people in the world. "A military group from Sri Lanka donated a Stupa made of empty cartridges. Like there was a war situation in Sri Lanka for the past 30 years and more..

UNP Reforms: Getting Somewhere or Nowhere?

July 25 (Island) Lakshman Seneviratne, UNP parliamentarian from the Badulla district can be described as a veteran of the struggle for democracy within the UNP. He first started his struggle against president Premadasa in the early 1990s and the battle has continued to date with no end really in sight. In this interview, Seneviratne speaks to C.A.Chandraprema about the present state of the party reform process. more..

Living in hell: Defence Secretary assures relief

July 25 (SO) "My two children still have fever. They were at the Intensive Care Unit for five days", Priyangani Padmalatha says. The two, Ayodya (16) and Kalana (7), are still pose a lethargic appearance, peep in with scary eyes. They are reluctant to come out as they have a phobia for mosquitos. "My daughter has dengue fever. My brother's family of five, is ill with dengue", complains Neil Silva. "That is Rasika's house. more..

Cleanliness, basic norm for city hotels, restaurants

July 25 (SO) Thousands of food outlets, star class hotels and restaurants are scattered in the Colombo city to cater to the people who reside to visit the city on a daily basis. But, people are unaware whether they are actually consuming hygienic food either from the star class hotels or the wayside eateries. They have no access to many of the kitchens of these star class hotels and restaurants to check the cleanliness of the food they consume in the neatly laid tables of these hotels. more..

No visa request yet

July 25 (DM) The panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon to advice him on matters relating to Sri Lanka has so far not made any request for visas to visit the country, a top Sri Lankan diplomat in the US said. The diplomat noted that the three member UN panel, led by a former Indonesian Attorney General and including members from the US and South Africa, has not even had formal discussions in New York since being named by the UN Chief. more..

Sri Lanka derivative arbitration to be test case for investment protection: report

July 25 (LBO) An arbitration of a disputed derivative contract between an oil distributor in Sri Lanka and a German bank would be a test case on whether such deals would come under bi-lateral investment protection treaties, a media report said. The first hearing of an arbitration action started by Deutshe Bank over the non-payment of complex derivative by Sri Lanka's state-run oil distributor Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, is due to be heard on July 26, more..

Canada, U.S. silent on migrant ship sighting

July 25 (CBC) Federal officials are refusing to answer questions about the sighting of a Thai ship approaching the coast of British Columbia with more than 200 Sri Lankan migrants aboard. Sri Lankan officials say some of the people aboard the MV Sun Sea may belong to the Tamil Tigers, an insurgent group the Canadian government considers a terrorist organization. After outlining Canada's approach to dealing with migrant vessels, more..

'Establishment of new Army camps expedites return of civil buildings'

July 25 (MoD) The newly-built Headquarters complex of the 68 Division at Sugandirapuram, Puthukudiyiruppu was ceremonially handed over to the use of gallant soldiers in the Army by Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya Thursday (22) morning when he visited there as Chief Guest. The establishment of the new HQ complex is in conformity with the government's strategy of reinforcing the security infrastructure across the country to meet with any future challenges. more..

'SLA's 200,000 men could face any threat'

July 25 (MoD) The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) with over 200,000 men is adequate to defend all threats including any new terrorism threats, Army Commander Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya said. The Army Chief told the Sunday Observer that there were no fresh moves to increase SLA's manpower as it already has over 203,000 well-trained soldiers. The SLA's manpower was increased manifold during the military operations against the LTTE and more..

Commander speaks high of Ranaviru Apparel War Heroes

July 25 (MoD) The role of disable War Heroes at Yakkala Ranaviru Apparels was recognized and well-evaluated Friday (23rd) evening when the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya awarded gifts to them in appreciation of their contribution to Army uniform manufacturing. Twenty Five War Heroes who showed exceptional skills in the sphere of special tailoring, knitting, sewing, etc were thus appreciated during this award ceremony, more..

Intelligentsia demands Govt. to arrest Judge involved in molestation of young girl

July 25 (LeN) Representatives of Political, legal, human rights, women’s rights have demanded the Govt. to arrange for the immediate arrest of the appeal Court Judge by the police and to take measures to institute legal action against him on the charges of molestation of a servant girl employed in his house. They have pointed out that the UN is appointing Committees to inquire into the SL’s internal affairs because the Govt. is not protecting the human rights of its own subjects. more..

Left parties ballistic on COL, pay hike

July 25 (LB) Left parties in government are planning to agitate to force the government to grant a pay hike to workers and bring down the cost of living. As per plan, left parties in the government will hold a demonstration and distribute leaflets on August 12th, demanding that the government addresses various grievances of the people including the cost of living, the poll pledge to increase salaries by Rs. 2500 and more..

Editorial: Dengue: Cast the safety net now

July 25 (ST) Distracted by impending constitutional reforms, UN panels, skyrocketing cost-of-living issues, 'death fasts' and test matches, a silent killer in the form of the dengue fever lurks in every province in the country. The death toll stands at 164 for this year alone with a sudden surge in recent weeks following the rains. Some 22,000 (and counting) people are known to have been hospitalised throughout the country and a countless number are receiving ayurvedic or other medical attention. more..

Editorial: Thanks Murali

July 25 (LB) This last week most people were not sure whether they should be grateful to Muralitharan for being the great spin magician unparalleled in the history of cricket, or for being a great master of theatre in the order of a Kurosowa or perhaps even a Shakespeare. This man said he is going to retire at the end of the first Test against India, irrespective of whether he reaches 800 wickets or not — irrespective of whatever happens. more..

Arab anger boils over Donald debacle

July 25 (LB) Arab countries are now livid with the Sri Lankan government’s official position on Palestine, as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador for Israel and Former Chief of Staff Donald Perera was quoted saying Sri Lanka is a staunch supporter of Israel’s fight against Palestinian terror. Many Arab ambassadors have called up Foreign Minister Prof.G.L.Peiris after the interview published last Wednesday more..

Seven school Principals suspended from service

July 25 (NF) Seven school principals in the Western Province, who had violated the circular issued with regard to Grade One admissions for 2010, have been suspended from service. Chief Minister of the Western province, Prasanna Ranatunga said that among them were those belonging to mainstream schools in the province. Investigations have revealed that the principals in question had enrolled students who were not on the waiting list. more..

Eppawela murder suspect beggars belief

July 25 (LB) The killing of a family at Eppawala shocked the country last week and Police were unable to nab the murder suspect as he had fled the area. But due to the vigilance of a soldier the police were able to arrest the man while he loitered among beggars in the Pettah last Sunday. An Army corporal on his way to the Fort railway station was walking on the fly over to catch the train to Trincomalee which was to depart at 9.00 pm. more..

Mahinda, Ranil need each other more than ever

July 25 (LB) Technically, the UNP working committee decided last week that all top posts for the party leadership would be decided by consensus. However, there is a rider that if consensus is not available with regard to any particular post, such a post will be subject an internal party vote. Though this is so, nothing else seems to be decided. Who will be the electors? more..

Return of the survivor

July 25 (NS) Sri Lanka, it seems, is never short of political theatre. Just when Minister Wimal Weerawansa ended his drama of a death fast opposite the United Nation (UN) headquarters in Colombo, there was a different kind of drama being staged at a different headquarters- that of the UNP. Last Monday saw a crucial Working Committee meeting of the party. It was decisive, because the proposals of the Committee appointed by the party to suggest Reforms to the UNP constitution, more..

Editorial: Help those brave soldiers

July 25 (SO) It was exactly 14 months ago when Sri Lanka's valiant Security Forces eradicated terrorism and liberated thousands of innocent civilians from the jaws of LTTE terror. These acts of bravery by the true sons of our soil liberated the country after three decades of terror. The freedom and peaceful environment we enjoy today had been made possible due to the laudable efforts of the Security Forces. more..

26 businessmen held for gambling

July 25 (SO) More than 35 officers of the Central Anti Vice Striking Force (CAVSF) swooped on a luxury gambling den in a coconut estate at Bandirippuwa, Lunuwila last week and arrested 26 wealthy businessmen engaged in unlawful gambling for high stakes, police sources told the Sunday Observer. According to the police, three wealthy businessmen in the area had been instrumental in organising the illicit gambling in a 15-acre coconut estate. more..

Varsity student’s death - suspect identified

July 25 (SO) Police have identified the suspect who allegedly assaulted student Rajapaksa Susantha Anura Bandara of the Ruhunu University who succumbed to his injuries at the Badulla General Hospital, IGP Mahinda Balasooriya told a media briefing at the Police Headquarters yesterday. He said the police were not involved in the alleged assault as claimed by the Inter University Students’ Federation. more..

WB to improve 1,000 schools countrywide

July 25 (SO) In a bid to create more schools equipped with both physical and human resources the Government will improve 1,000 schools countrywide with assistance from the World Bank, as a solution for the big demand for popular schools among students, Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena told the Sunday Observer. The Minister said President Mahinda Rajapaksa is due to make this proposal in the next Budget. more..

Washington hearings to begin in Aug. after EU’s GSP+ ends

July 25 (Island) Trade unions are sharply divided over the forthcoming public hearing in Sri Lanka on the United States’ GSP program with the government alleging an attempt to use a petition first filed during Eelam war IV to deny the facility to Sri Lanka in a post-LTTE era. Ministerial sources said the US move is nothing but an attempt to hinder post-LTTE economic growth in Sri Lanka, a charge denied by the US embassy. more..

'Ensure a dignified exit to our leader'

July 25 (SO) UNP Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera says his party must ensure a dignified exit for Ranil Wickremesinghe now that the stage has been set for a new leader to take the reins, in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer. He says the UNP's internal strife has now been resolved and the amendments to the party constitution that will scrap all dictatorial powers of the Leadership will precede a fresh constitution. more..

RW’s grip on UNP weakens

July 25 (Island) Last Monday when the UNP working committee met to discuss the party reforms, there were no refreshments available. Usually, whenever there was a working committee meeting, a long table would be laid out with soft drinks and eats for the participants to help themselves. But this time that was missing. When working committee members asked the Sirikotha staff whether refreshments were not being served, they had been told that there was no money in the kitty. more..

Editorial: A rose by another name?

July 25 (Island) It is not only the UNP but also politically neutral opinion in the country that believes that changing the present executive presidency into an executive prime ministry, as now being discussed, may very well result in a rose being given another name, perhaps with a few thorns thrown in to lull the people into the belief that the wings of the all powerful presidency have been clipped. more..

Beggars play hide and seek with potential killers

July 25 (SO) The beggar murders seem to have stopped as suddenly as they started. Beggars are returning to their normal livelihood on the streets and have begun to breathe easy again. Almost all those we spoke to claimed to have no idea who were behind the murders or why it had happened. "We are not afraid, we stay here together until 8.00 in the night and then go home" said a group of three old beggars squatting on a pavement in Bambalapitiya. more..

Rajapakse’s ambitions are irrelevant in constitution making

July 25 (Island) In an ideal world the will of the people determines the constitution (remember the opening words of one the most stable in the world: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union . . do ordain and establish this Constitution . . etc"). But to be realistic, we in Lanka seem to have only three options; the ideal fourth is not quite on the agenda. Mahinda Rajapaksa is hankering after what I call Option 1 or Option 2, but more..

Illegal structures in influential residential areas ignored?

July 25 (Island) Ten major flood prone sites at Mattakkuliya and Kirulapone have been identified and all unauthorized structures obstructing the free flow of storm water had been removed, a CMC engineer in charge of the storm water drainage network said. He said a flower nursery at Independence Square which had intruded on the space on both sides of the drain had been demolished as it was an obstruction to the use of sediment clearing equipment to clean the drain. more..

Clegg’s allegations strengthen SL’s hand against Ban

July 25 (Island) Accusing a section of the international community of targeting Sri Lanka over alleged war crimes, Sri Lanka says the UN, which recently appointed a panel to advise Secretary General Ban-ki Moon on accountability issues should now act on Deputy British PM Nick Clegg’s recent assertion that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Clegg, while standing in for Prime Minister David Cameron, more..

Bus strike on Tuesday

July 25 (NS) The Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) and the Lanka Omni Bus Owners Association (LOBOA) will go on a countrywide strike from midnight tomorrow. The strike will continue indefinitely till their demands are met. Though initially it was announced that only busses operating in the Western Province will halt their services, it was later decided to incorporate private busses operating islandwide for the strike. more..

Editorial: SB sticks his neck out

July 25 (NS) Minister S.B. Dissanayake, now handling the portfolio of Higher Education, is never a man to mince his words. In fact, his political career took a nosedive, and was stripped of his civic rights and incarcerated, precisely for that reason. Now he has hit the headlines once again, with a proposal to increase the salaries of university academics by leaps and bounds, planning to raise the wages of a junior lecturer to nearly Rs 75,000 a month, and more..

A code of Conduct for ministers soon

July 25 (NS) Government will soon set out a code of conduct for ministers as to how they should behave while travelling on roads or appearing in public. This decision follows numerous complaints received by the high echelons of the Government that the ministers are behaving in an erratic manner while travelling on public roads blocking others and ignoring the rules of the Highway Code. It has also been revealed that some ministers are using a large number of official vehicles as their security deal too. more..

New Tamil angst: army camps changing demographics?

July 25 (LB) Bitterness over High Security Zones continues to poison post war reconciliation. Especially, since Keheliya Rambukwella, the Defence Affairs Spokesman rhetorically responded to a media question that High Security Zones were going to stay, faint hope among the displaced Tamils for the magnanimity of the victor evaporated into thin air. When the Cabinet met in Kilinochchi, early this month, 2000 odd families petitioned the President requesting that more..

Twists and turns in consensus talks

July 25 (ST) "President Mahinda Rajapaksa does not trust him enough. He is not spying on us but on G.L. Peiris," remarked Rauff Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress somewhat jocularly. "It seems so. Otherwise why a security guy should stand behind and watch us deliberating is puzzling," replied his colleague and SLFP-M leader, Mangala Samaraweera. The two were among the UNP delegation that met Peiris at the External Affairs Ministry on Thursday morning to discuss matters relating to the 17th more..

Accountants endangered in the east

July 25 (NS) A relief accountant sent to the Eastern Provincial Council left his job in fear and disgust after being assaulted by an officer working for a big-shot there for refusing to release funds for fraudulent claims. According to sources in Trincomalee the accountant a native of Batticaloa had been summoned by the big shot to his office to inquire as to why he refused to make payments on some claims. more..

UNP pc, local authority members slam leadership

July 25 (NS) The vast majority of the UNP members of Provincial Councils and local authorities, while making their representations had slammed the party leadership for taking decisions in an arbitrary and ad hoc manner, says Joseph Michael Perera Reforms Committee in its report released early this week. According to this report, people’s representatives of the party had criticized the party leadership for lack of proper understanding of more..

Rajapaksa settles Palestine row

July 25 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured Palestine of Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to the Palestinian cause, following controversial remarks made by Sri Lanka’s new ambassador to Israel. The assurance came in the wake of remarks attributed to Ambassador Donald Perera – former Air Force Commander and Chief of Defence Staff -- in an interview with Yediot Ahronoth, a leading Israeli newspaper. more..

Chief Minister’s bad mayor wins top award from Govt

July 25 (ST) The Matara Municipal Council was adjudged the best Municipal council of the country by the Local Government Ministry this week. Matara Mayor Upul Nishantha, whom the Chief Minister for the southern province Shan Wijayalal de Silva wants removed on allegations of mismanagement of the council, collected the award from Local government Minister A.L.M Athaullah. more..

'430 children missing, most sold for prostitution'

July 25 (LT) 430 children have been missing during the first four months of this year states a report by Women and Child Bureau. Among the under aged children missing are 270 girls and 150 boys. So far only 225 of the missing children have been traced. According to the report most of the children have run away from their homes while kidnapping too has been a major cause for the disappearances. more..

President moves to stop student strike

July 25 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday moved in to avert a countrywide strike by university students and called for reports from various authorities on the death of Ruhunu University student. Police claim that the student died of natural causes but students alleged that he succumbed to injuries from police assault. As students threatened to boycott lectures in all universities, more..

Govt. withdraws bonus given to senior citizens

July 25 (ST) Hundreds of Sri Lanka’s senior citizens are in a quandary after they were encouraged by the Central Bank to place their monies in commercial banks with the promise of a 20 percent bonus on interest. Six months later, the Central Bank has now told the commercial banks that the bonus scheme is being suspended in view of the large sums of money involved. more..

Sri Lanka widows 'under stress'

July 26 (BBC) A Roman Catholic priest in northern Sri Lanka has been speaking of the extreme stress suffered by the tens of thousands of war widows in the region. At the same time a government minister says he believes women in the former war zone, including the widows of former rebel Tamil Tiger fighters, need to be helped in getting employment and compensation. Father ESC Mariathas, a priest, gave a bleak picture of the situation faced by the widows he works with. more..

IGP should resign - JVP

July 26 (BBC) The IGP, who "works on political agendas" should resign from his post, a opposition political party in Sri Lanka has demanded. The JVP made the demand on Sunday accusing the IGP of "double standards" over his statements with regard to the death of university student in Matara. IGP Mahinda Balasuriya who initially told media that the death of Susantha Anura Bandara has occurred on natural causes has later said that the police have begun murder investigations. more..

Vietnam to open Sri Lanka embassy early 2011

July 26 (LBO) Vietnam will open an embassy in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo in early 2011, a joint statement following a meeting of deputy foreign ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of a meeting of regional grouping. Sri Lanka's deputy foreign minister Gitanjana Gunawardena led a delegation to the Association of South East Asian Nations Regional Form, more..

We need to keep Harbhajan under control

July 26 (CI) It was a special way to end a special match for me when I took Pragyan Ojha's catch in Galle. I was hoping, pleading, for that catch to come my way. I knew it would be a great moment and I am glad I caught hold of it, otherwise I would have been the most hated Sri Lankan. I have enjoyed being in the slips for Muttiah Muralitharan. Those were not easy catches, because batsmen often reacted late, and you had to react accordingly. more..