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Rights groups appeal to spare migrant

Mar 6 (UCAN) Religious and civil rights groups are mounting urgent appeals and campaigns as fears grow over the fate of a young Sri Lankan migrant worker condemned to death in Saudi Arabia. It is hoped they and the Sri Lankan government will persuade King Abdullah to grant clemency and a pardon Rizana Nafeek, a young girl who was found guilty in October for allegedly killing the four-month-old son of her Saudi employer in 2005. Nafeek, who is from Mutur on more..

Sri Lanka December exports, imports hit new high

Mar 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka's exports and imports hit new monthly highs in December 2010 with shipments of apparel, the main industrial export, rising sharply despite the loss of duty free access to Europe. Earnings from exports increased by 34 percent to 968 million US dollars in December 2010 from a year ago and expenditure on imports rose by 30.8 percent to 1,429 million US dollars, the central bank said in a statement. The December trade gap widened 25 percent to more..

Rain ruins match after Sangakkara fifty

Mar 6 (CI) Torrential downpour forced the game to be abandoned after Kumar Sangakkara pushed Sri Lanka to 146 for 3 in 32.5 overs. It was a typical tough scramble of a contest that is expected on a turning track in Sri Lanka. Sangakkara led from the front with a responsible, and skillful, knock to push Sri Lanka towards a competitive total when rain intervened to kill the contest. The way the ball turned and bounced suggested that anything over 250 would be defendable, more..

Find the best way for combating PTSD in the Sri Lankan Military

Mar 6 (LG) In their well-written in-depth article "Combat Related PTSD among the Sri Lankan Army Servicemen" published in the Sri Lanka Guardian, Dr. Neil J. Fernando and Dr. Ruwan M. Jayatunge assert that the "30 year armed conflict in Sri Lanka has produced a new generation of veterans at risk for the chronic mental health problems that resulted following prolonged exposure to the war." Their contention is backed by an interview of 824 active duty Sri Lankan more..

BBC sobs for elephants as NGOs for children pack their bags

Mar 6 (LG) Two recent reports show the contradictions that beset our island nation. Charles Havilland of the BBC bemoans that elephants and wild boars are being killed inhumanely. Amnesty International is calling the international community to bring the government to account for war crimes. The Colombo Correspondent of the BBC should be well aware of fox hunting where hapless foxes are hounded out and killed by a pack of dogs for the mere of the aristocracy in the UK. more..

Tamils finally granted refugee status in Indonesia

Mar 6 (SMH) A large of group of Tamil asylum seekers intercepted in 2009 by Indonesian authorities following a call from Kevin Rudd have been released after gaining refugee status. At least 10 of the group who were aboard a boat carrying 254 asylum seekers on their way to Australia were released from detention on Friday with more to be let go in the coming weeks. The large group of asylum seekers have been in the Tanjung Pinang Detention Centre on more..

Tea, rubber and Sri Lanka’s economy

Mar 6 (LG) The volatile situation in West Asia (Middle East) precipitated by the collapse of Hosni Mubarak, the ageing ruler of Eqypt, is causing ripples in Colombo given the region’s importance to Sri Lanka’s economy. While the labour markets have not been adversely affected except for a repatriation of a group of Sri Lankan workers from Libya and Eqypt, the tea markets have been shaken by the crisis in West Asia which began in Eqypt, spread to Bahrain and Tunisia and Libya. more..

Living on that famous victory ...

Mar 6 (LG) The poem ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening’ is one of Frost’s most quoted poems. It is said that the poem was one of Jawaharlal Nehru’s favourites which he had displayed in his office to remind him of the responsibilities that he carried. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. The woods lie on the edge of the city, on the edge of civilization. Though they may be beautiful, inviting and seductive, life’s journey does not permit us the luxury of staying more..

Of lost opportunities for Sri Lanka

Mar 6 (Hindu) Chinaman a story about a forgotten genius spinner, was a way of exploring his country's wasted potential says Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka. Excerpts from a conversation… Shehan Karunatilaka's Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew is the story of an elderly journalist's obsession with a nearly forgotten large bowler, who he believes was Sri Lanka's greatest cricketer. This engaging, expansive novel uses cricket as a more..

Editorial: Govt won't harp on its victory

Mar 6 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has made it explicitly clear that the Government would never attempt to harp on the victory of its humanitarian operation which was conducted by the valiant Security Forces with the support of the peace-loving people in the country. This message was brought into sharp focus at the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) at the Ratmalana Air Force Camp premises on Wednesday. more..

Editorial: Blake chooses to be blind

Mar 6 (NS) Uncle Sam is at it again. The United States, the world’s only superpower and self-proclaimed defender of human rights in the universe, has taken upon itself to tell little Sri Lanka what should be done about what it calls ‘accountability’ for the final stages of the Eelam War. This is the latest salvo that has come Colombo’s way in the diplomatic war of words that it has been going on ever since the Sri Lankan military successfully crushed the LTTE in May 2009. more..

Govt. TNA discussions a sham charges Suresh Premachandran

Mar 6 (TC) Though the government has had discussions with Tamil political parties on arriving at a political solution to the ethnic issue, this is solely to pacify the international community as nothing concrete has been achieved even after months of discussions said Jaffna district TNA MP Suresh Premachandran, adding that pronouncements that discussions are being held with the TNA to reach a political solution are misleading. more..

Local polls: Major upsets unlikely

Mar 6 (NS) While there is little political activity apart from the local government elections dominating the headlines, even these polls are being upstaged by the Cricket World Cup that is being presently co-hosted in the country. The local elections, however, will be held on March 17 amidst a plethora of legal wrangles which has thrown the campaigns of the two major parties, the UPFA and the UNP into disarray and led to the cancellation of polls in about six dozen local councils. more..

Govt fights to defend HR record

Mar 6 (NS) As a popular revolt swept through the Middle East, a group of professionals discussed as to how democracy could be strengthened in Sri Lanka by urging the government to recognise the people’s Right to Information. The Right to Information Act means a lot to Sri Lanka as it is an important ingredient in a participatory democracy. It is important that the rural peasants and the urban folk are educated on the subject since it could help all of them to resolve their day-to-day problems more..

Australia escape spin challenge on rolled mud

Mar 6 (CI) Australia escaped their most serious spin challenge in the tournament so far, thanks to the wash-out in Colombo, where they shared the points with Sri Lanka on a pitch Ricky Ponting described as "basically rolled mud". The ability of Australia's batsmen to handle top spinners in helpful conditions is one of the questions that has surrounded Ponting's side, which now has two wins and a no-result and sits third on the Group A table. more..

'We were targeting more than 250'

Mar 6 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, has said a score in the range of 250 would have tested Australia on the Premadasa track, given the hosts were playing three specialist spinners. Heavy rain, however, ensured the match was abandoned after 32.5 overs and the teams had to split a point each. "The game was well poised," Sangakkara said. He was unbeaten on 73 and together with Thilan Samaraweera had laid a strong platform for a challenging score. more..

The Pattani Razeek disappearance: Govt must act

Mar 6 (SL) In the wake of the one year anniversary of the disappearance of human rights worker Pattani Razeek, there have been fresh calls by human rights agencies to bring his abductors to justice. Police moves to arrest the chief suspect, Shahabdeen Naushard have so far met with no success. Naushard is avoiding arrest and has put forward an anticipatory bail proposal. The court log for the case on June 22, 2010 lists the reasons for requesting anticipatory bail as follows: more..

Mahinda emulates Marie Antoinete in responding to query about rising cost of living

Mar 6 (TC) Last month Mahinda Rajapaksa had his very own Marie Antoinette moment. Questioned about galloping inflation, at his February meeting with media heads, the President stated that “there was no cost-of-living issue”. As substantiation, he told the tale of a man who bought a car for a monthly installment of Rs.24,000 on a monthly income of Rs.28,000. The real problem is “the inability of the people to prioritise their spending patterns,” more..

Editorial: MR says no SLFP in Mullaitivu

Mar 6 (SL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week met with candidates from the Mullaitivu District contesting under the Citizen’s Front and said that there was no SLFP present in the District. The President had asked the candidates to work closely with the government, as the SLFP is not represented in the Mullaitivu District. It was the first meeting Rajapaksa had with candidates contesting the local government elections after it was declared. more..

Editorial: On whose side are we?

Mar 6 (LB) Robert O’ Blake, United States junior assistant secretary of state South and Central Asian affairs, and basically Obama’s man on Sri Lanka, wants a Sri Lankan investigation into the last phase of the war against the LTTE. Later last week, we also saw the US Senate confirming this call with a joint resolution to that effect. If the Sri Lankan government does not want such investigations, and has consistently stated so, it’s a good question why state actors more..

New appointments in diplomatic service

Mar 6 (ST) Several high profile diplomatic appointments are on the cards in the coming weeks – with the appointees including those from outside the Foreign Service. At least five of the appointments from outside the Foreign Service have been finalized. These include former Minister Ferial Ashraff as smbassador to Singapore, former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda as ambassador to Japan, Buddhi Athauda, the son of Minister Athauda Seneviratna, to more..

Editorial: Reconciliation cannot wait for LLRC report

Mar 6 (Island) Two events that occurred last week are pertinent to the lessons learnt and reconciliation process which the powers-that-be loudly proclaim is in progress. The first of these relate to the Attorney General’s undertaking to the Supreme Court that the allegedly forced registration of Jaffna and Kilinochchi residents undertaken by the security forces will be suspended. This was a result of the TNA filing a human rights petition. more..

Editorial: Read the signals, act wisely

Mar 6 (ST) The wheels of Government moved stealthily. So secretively in fact, that the left hand of the administration did not want the right hand to know what was happening. The citizens were the last to be told. This has been symptomatic of the manner in which Govts in recent times conduct their affairs, especially when it comes to foreign relations. So much so that when the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs was asked about a hush-hush visit by two leading Govt more..

ICC dismisses Hair criticism of Murali

Mar 6 (AFP) International cricket chiefs insisted on Saturday they had “full confidence” in their umpires after a former official reiterated his doubts about Muttiah Muralitharan's unorthodox bowling. Former Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Sri Lanka's Muralitharan, the leading wicket-taker in Tests and One-Day Internationals, for throwing in 1995. “A couple of current umpires have said to me, ‘something is wrong', but they prefer to let it go,” more..

Selling Divi Neguma

Mar 6 (Island) The govt has even after some delay, set about rectifying one major chink in their armour – the lack of some micro-level economic/welfare program to bring the govt right into the living rooms of the people. The great revolution that Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to effect in the SLFP was that he converted the SLFP from the party that ruined economies to one that made economies boom. During the time that SWRD, Sirima and even Chandrika Bandaranaike ran more..

LTTE threat to disrupt Havard discussion on Lanka turns into damp squib

Mar 6 (NS) An LTTE threat to disrupt a panel discussion on Sri Lanka at the Kennedy School, Harvard on Tuesday if it was attended by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr Palitha Kohana ended up being a bluff due to effective counter action taken by the organizers and the Lankan envoy accepting the challenge and attending the event. Sources said the planned disruption was led by a former Sri Lankan Tamil journalist who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail for more..

KP’s100 acres for NGO ‘work’

Mar 6 (LB) The Government has apportioned 100 acres in the Vanni district to Kumaran Pathmanadan alias KP for furthering his NGO causes. TNA MP Suresh said that the NGO run by KP has been granted 100 acres in the Vanni and that he (KP) has been visiting Jaffna and the Vanni frequently in the last few months. He added that there is a story going round that KP is attempting to create a party with the support of LTTE cadres more..

Youth attempts rape, murders old woman

Mar 6 (LB) A 28-year-old youth attempted to rape an 86-year-old woman -- and having failed in carrying out this horrendous act, killed the victim, and subsequently committed suicide. When the police in Alawwa found the suspect, he was found dead, hanging from a tree. This incident is alleged to have taken place at the Kandahena area in Buthgamuwa, Alawwa, on February 12. The old woman who was murdered by this youth could not speak without any assistance. more..

Refused permission to go abroad: Girl sets herself ablaze

Mar 6 (Island) In a tragic end to a young life, a girl admonished by her brother for trying to go abroad as a housemaid committed suicide by setting herself ablaze. This was revealed at the inquest into the death of Malkanthi Herath (19), a resident of Gorokgahawatte in Kelaniya held by City Coroner Edward Ahangama yesterday. Nanda Jayawardana, the weeping mother of the girl said that her husband had died in an accident just over one year ago. more..

Paradise beaches and colonial splendour in Sri Lanka's Galle

Mar 6 (MO) The problem with Galle is that it’s so far away. If this wonderfully atmospheric city were a mere four-hour flight from Britain then it would be the perfect, sizzling hot-spot for hedonistic long weekends. In fact, it’s close to 11 hours by plane from London, plus another four hair-raising hours in a car. Which means you need to build Galle into a wider Sri Lanka adventure or combine it with a few days of flopping on more..

Security fears over Lanka’s Mumbai match

Mar 6 (ST) Sri Lanka Cricket has raised issue over the safety of its players when they take on New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai next week. SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said the matter was raised with both the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The move follows Indian media reports that the Wankhede Stadium could become a possible terror target. One report spoke of the loss of a laptop which had contained data about the stadium and a sea link, more..

Rat fever kills 11

Mar 6 (NS) Leptospirosis, commonly known as ‘rat fever,’ which erupted again after the heavy rains and floods, is now threatening to become an epidemic. It has already claimed 11 lives in the first two months of this year. The highest number of deaths, 3, has been reported in Hambantota. The number of reported cases has also zoomed, in the space of just one month, steadily mounting towards the 1,000 mark. The number of cases has also exceeded those reported in January and February 2010, which was 608. more..

Sri Lanka forex reserves $6.6bn in January

Mar 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka's foreign reserves were 6.6 billion US dollars by end January 2011, the same level as in December, as trade and economic activity expanded. The reserves were equal to 5.9 months of imports of the past 12 months of 1,108 million US dollars, slightly lower than the 6.0 month figure for December 2010. Sri Lanka's external trade has expanded in 2010 with a resurgence of economic activity following a slump in 2009, more..

Cricket over-enthusiasm leads to suicide

Mar 6 (NS) An elaborate plan made by a 36-year-old cricket enthusiast in Ragama to have a day of fun watching the recent Pakistan vs. Sri Lanka encounter trailed off to a tragic end when his wife scolded him for being a nuisance to the others in the household. In a further development of this incident, the dead man’s son is now facing a charge of having assaulted a nurse at the Ragama General Hospital. On the day in question, the cricket fan had gone to the upper floor of more..

SriLankan Airlines to start services to Kochi and increase capacity to four cities

Mar 6 (Island) SriLankan Airlines continues to expand its global route network, with increases in capacity starting in March to Karachi, Bahrain, Doha and Muscat, and the launch of a daily service to Kochi. Just last November, SriLankan increased capacity across its network in support of Sri Lanka’s rapidly expanding tourism industry which is enjoying good times following the permanent end to a 30-year war. Tourist arrivals grew by 46% in 2010. more..

Govt. secretly meets Ban’s panel

Mar 6 (ST) A Sri Lanka delegation, which held talks in New York with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also, met with his three-member panel probing accountability issues over alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. The Sunday Times learns that the meeting took place on Wednesday (Feb 23) soon after the four-member delegation called on UNSG Ban at his temporary office on the third floor of UN headquarters. His 38th floor office is now under renovation. more..

The focus now is to beat both Zimbabwe and New Zealand

Mar 6 (ST) The abandonment last night was a great shame for everyone and really frustrating for us. With Sanga batting sublimely after the early loss of Upul and Dilshan, he was controlling the innings brilliantly with help from Tilan and steering us towards what would have been a competitive total on a turning pitch. However, there is no point in us dwelling too much on it. The fact is that the points were shared and we now need to focus on beating both Zimbabwe and New Zealand to more..

Sauce for the goose not sauce for the gander?

Mar 6 (Island) The government alleges that those who had questioned the integrity of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) on the basis of some of its members being retired public servants conveniently ignored the appointment of Sir John Chilcot, a retired civil servant, to head the ongoing UK inquiry on the their role in the US-led Iraq and the circumstances leading to the March 2003 invasion. A section of the international community and more..

Diplomatic lapses put SL under world pressure

Mar 6 (ST) Almost three years after the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, remains defiant against his critics both in Sri Lanka and abroad. "We will not sell out the Humanitarian Operation. I proudly say we will not allow this victory to be forgotten. I will not allow it to be wiped out of history or erased from the minds of the people," he re-iterated last Wednesday. The occasion was an event to mark the 60th anniversary of more..

As violence intensify, police reduced to helpless onlookers - Karu

Mar 6 (Island) The attack by goons wielding automatic weapons on the Walasmulla election meeting organized by Sajith Premadasa is characteristic of an unpopular govt resorting to silence democratic expression through the bullet, UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya says in a statement. It appears to be the ‘policy’ of the govt to unleash thugs armed with automatic guns and crow bars to target unarmed opposition UNP activists, as clearly evident by the Walasmulla incident, more..