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Human Rights Watch and TMVP led by Karuna clash head-on on child recruitment

Feb 15 (AT) Ms. Joe Becker, Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division,of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Ms. S. Padhmini. Secretary, Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), headed by V. Muralitharan (Karuna Amman) have locked horns on the issue of child recruitment. Padhmini says that Becker is wrong in accusing TMVP of forcibly recruiting children. And Becker says that Padhmini is wrong in denying it. more..

Concept of Unitary State and its Roots in the Sinhala Consciousness

Feb 15 (AT) At a time when the political opinion in Sri Lanka is divided between the concepts of federalism vs. unitary state as a solution to any form of devolving power to resolve the conflict with the LTTE, it is important to take a step back and examine the origin of these concepts and the contexts which gave meaning to them. more..

Sri Lanka Telecom makes robust revenue and profit growth

Feb 15 (AT) Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd (SLTL) has announced a record breaking increase in its net profit of Rs 5.4 billion, for the fiscal year ending in 31 st December 2006 and the percentage increase thus is 76 percent. The company announced that a gargantuan growth in its revenue, EBITDA and net profit for the 2006 financial year. more..

Southern tourists hotel owners ask promotional campaign to boost tourism

Feb 15 (AT) Owners of the local tourist guesthouses and hotels who are located in the Southern province say the government must launch a promotional program in selected countries to attract tourists. Speaking to media, one hotel owner of the Kosgoda area P.G.Mendis said a number of guest house and hotel owners now diverted their places to cater local masses, especially for weddings and other public functions. more..

Australia supports victims of crime in Sri Lanka

Feb 15 (AT) The Australian High Commissioner, Dr Greg French, presented six million rupees to The Asia Foundation as part of the Australian Government’s Human Rights Small Grants Scheme to support the development of a "Psychosocial Resource Network for Victims of Crime". A further four million rupees was given to four small non-government organizations as part of the High Commission’s Direct Aid Program. more..

Minister accepts HR violations

Feb 15 (BBC) The Sri Lankan government says it cannot deny responsibility for alleged human rights violations in the island nation. Minister in charge of Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said the government should accept the responsibility on abductions and killings in the government-held territory. "If these happens while curfew in place, we cannot deny our responsibility," more..

Maha Sivarathiri

Feb 15 (MJ) This year the Maha Sivarathiri festival falls on the 15th of February. The Hindu belief is that when the creation was completed, Lord Siva and Parvathi Devi went to live on summit of Mount Kailas. Parvathi Devi asked, “Oh venerable Lord! Which of the many rituals observed in thy honor pleases you most?” The Lord replied, “The 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of Masi, is my favorite day. more..

Jaffna journalists fearful amid threats, killings

Feb 15 (TN) The campaign of intimidation backed up by deadly violence has compelled Sri Lankan journalists of all ethnicities to flee Sri Lanka. But unlike their southern colleagues, journalists in the Jaffna have no easy escape and media institutions in the northern peninsula are appealing for international support in the face of threats by Army-backed paramilitaries. more..

SLN imposes ban on night fishing in Delft

Feb 15 (TN) Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) in Delft, an islet of Jaffna, issued a directive Thursday banning fishing and using boats on the Delft sea from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., fisheries society representatives in Delft said. Ninety percent of the total 7000 population of Delft depend on fishing for their livelihood, and are seriously affected by this ban on fishing. more..

GoSL’s Rights team visits to assess Jaffna situation

Feb 15 (TN) "Normalcy is yet to return to Jaffna. The residents are deprived of the freedom of movement, and continue to experience restrictions and difficulties in getting the essential commodities since the closure of the A9 six months ago," said Rt. Rev. Thomas Soundaranayagm, the Bishop of Jaffna, participating in a meeting Wednesday, convened by a team from Government, more..

Sri Lanka gets hi-tech help to clamp down on cheque returns

Feb 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka financial authorities are clamping down on cheque returns with the help of a newly commissioned digital clearing system, officials said. "We have already cut down the proportion of cheques to less than half of what it was," says Anura de Silva who heads, LankaClear, Sri Lanka's central cheque clearing house. more..

Sri Lanka to unveil new renewable power tariffs; windfall for existing producers

Feb 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka is to shortly unveil a new tiered tariff framework for renewable energy suppliers giving existing mini-hydros windfall sweeteners to change-over, officials said. Sri Lanka would be offering cost-based technology-specific and three-tiered tariffs for mini-hydro, biomass and wind energy. more..

Defeated Tigers dump large stocks of weaponry: Search ops continue

Feb 15 (GDI) Following their recent victories over the terrorists, the security forces continuously recover large stocks of weapons and explosives belonging to the LTTE terrorists – both in the Eastern parts and in the Northern peninsula. On Wednesday (14) in two different incidents, Army lead search operations recovered a large stock of weapons, communication sets and military gear in Ichchalanpaththu area - towards the north of Verugal in the recently liberated Eastern parts of the island. more..

“We are governing with majority in our hands”- Cabinet Spokesman

Feb 15 (GDI) “We are governing with the Parliamentary majority in our hands and that has given stability to the Government,” stated the Cabinet Spokesman, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa today. Minister stated this while responding to a question raised on the allegations made by former ministers Mangala Samareweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi over the instability of the Government created through the recent Cabinet reshuffle and the UNP crossovers. more..

Ritsumeikan University in partnership with NSF

Feb 15 (GDI) The Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) entered into an agreement with the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka (NSF) to promote bilateral co-operation in the scientific research field last Tuesday at the Hotel Galadari. The APU, under this agreement will perform joint research and internships in the health, environment and life sciences field and give impetus to the scientific research sector in Sri Lanka. more..

Rs.77 billion for nation building projects

Feb 15 (GDI) The Government has allocated Rs.77 billion for nation building activities and 32 subjects including major social and economic development, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. These are to be implemented in 25 districts and have been allotted to the five ministers to achieve the development goals speedily, Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardana said yesterday. more..

Mahinda Rajapakse and clique are treading a despotic, fascist path – Mangala

Feb 15 (LT) Raising a voice in the cabinet was the reason for removing him and Mr. Sripathy Suriarachchi from ministerial portfolios said former Minister of Ports and Aviation Mangala Samaraweera. Mr. Samaraweera said what is being implemented now were not decisions taken by the cabinet but were decisions taken by President’s brothers. He and Mr. Suriyarachchi raised a voice against this in the cabinet and the removal was due to this said Mr. Samaraweera. more..

Bomb threat to American Embassy in Sri Lanka

Feb 15 (LT) Mt. Lavinia Police have apprehended a person who has made an anonymous Fax message to American Embassy in Sri Lanka threatening that a bomb attack would be launched against it. SSP Willie Abeynayake of Mt. Lavinia Police said the fax message had been sent from a private communication centre at Dehiwela at 2.00 p.m. yesterday. American Embassy officials had lodged a complaint to Mt. Lavinia Police. more..

Establish commission to resolve plantation issues! – Ramalingam Chandrasekar

Feb 15 (LT) Mr. Ramalingam Chandrasekar, Chairman of Committees and President of Ceylon Estate Workers’ Union (CEWU) has asked the President to immediately establish the commission that had been promised to solve issues of plantation workers. Mr. Chandrasekar reminds that the President had promised to establish such a commission after the plantation workers’ recent strike. more..

Poosari’s killing: Tamilnet’s refusal to publish Catholic Church’s statement confirms killers were LTTE

Feb 15 (PISL) Pro-LTTE Tamilnet’s refusal to publish the Catholic Church’s statement condemning the killing of the Chief Poosari of the Santhiveli Pulleyar Kovil confirmed that the killers were the LTTE. The Sri Lankan military websites, including gave prominence to the Catholic Church statement condemning the brutal murder of the Chief Poosari Selliah Parameswara Kurukkal. more..

Tamil Tiger Rebel Group Defends Recruitment of Minors

Feb 15 (LNP) Sri Lanka`s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam group defended the recruitment of minors into its ranks and said it will continue to draft youths aged under 18. The rebel group, which has been fighting for a separate homeland for two decades, rejected United Nations demands that it raise its minimum recruitment age from 17 to 18. more..

Mangala to speak out today

Feb 15 (LNP) As ex-Minister Mangala Samaraweera is to hold the much hyped news conference today, arrangements have been made for a meeting today between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and ex- Ports Development Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, sources close to President told Daily Mirror last evening. more..

Ranil loyalist says MR would be forced to dissolve House

Feb 15 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapakse would be compelled to dissolve Parliament and to go for a snap poll. The UNP is taking all necessary measures to face such scenario, Kurunegala District UNP MP Johnston Fernando said. `We are sure that the UNP will definitely win the next election. Our campaign would be supported by a large number of disgruntled strongmen of the Alliance government and civil forces,` more..

US commando uniforms brought by Sri Lankan

Feb 15 (LNP) A man arrested by the Mt Lavinia police on Monday for having in his possession four camouflage uniforms worn by US security forces personnel has said that they were brought as gifts to some of his friends in the Army on their request. When the police questioned them they have denied that they requested the suspect to bring the camouflage uniforms. more..

Sritharan calls to cooperate with govt

Feb 15 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a very interesting speech, which highlighted the importance of the issues relating to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and should be considered carefully by all the sections in the country. We, the EPRLF- Pathmanabha, appreciate his speech and feel satisfied and hopeful, party General Secretary, T. Sritharan, said yesterday. more..

Galle Face Green project on hold

Feb 15 (SAMN) The Court of Appeal yesterday restrained the Sri Lanka Ports Authority from permitting Victoria Turf and Landscape Management Private Limited and two connected parties, from carrying out any work in relation to soil improvement, irrigation system development, and grass establishment, in Galle Face Green, Colombo 3. more..

SVV students awaiting ‘promised land'

Feb 15 (SAMN) Students of the Sagara Vishwa Vidyalaya (SVV) – The National Institute of Fisheries and Nautical Engineering – are still waiting for the promised affiliation of their institution to the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. The delay was caused by the Fisheries Ministry, Secretary of the SVV Students’ Union Dinuka Hewage, told The Island. more..

Rs.2 bn more needed for reconstruction

Feb 15 (SAMN) North and East areas need another Rs.2 billion more to mobilise the reconstruction work. This was revealed last week at the launching of World Bank’s Poverty Assessment report discussing issues prevailing in the war ravaged North and East and the estate sector.During 2001-2005 Rs.1 billion had been mobilised with one fifth of the refugees in the war ravaged areas not yet resettled, more..

Much needs to be done for ratepayers - Vasudeva

Feb 15 (DN) Opposition leader of the Colombo Municipal Council Vasudeva Nanayakkara said yesterday that although the ruling party and the Opposition of the CMC have decided to join forces to work together for the benefit of ratepayers there is much that needs to be done to realise this goal. “The old system of administration that led to corruption and malpractices of the Council should be wiped out by introducing changes to the Provisional Councils and Local Government Act,” more..

Universities must respond to development needs - UN economist

Feb 15 (DN) The true Universities are knowledge factories. The processes they use were teaching, research and publication. In a sense of all universities do give knowledge for development, Economist and Member, UN Committee for Development Policy Dr.G.Uswatte-aratchi said at a seminar organised by The Pathfinder Foundation. more..

Rock cleared, complainants blamed

Feb 15 (DM) Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said yesterday he was now inclined to withdraw his remarks about the findings of UN Special Advisor Allan Rock, as he believed Mr. Rock had been provided with misleading information on abductions in the East. “It has come to light that in many instances, family members of certain abductees have provided misleading information even to the police and other Government authorities,” more..

Consignment of rice unfit for human consumption

Feb 15 (DM) A court order to sell in public auction a consignment of rice imported to the country was revoked on submissions made by the health authorities yesterday. The Medical Officer of Health, Galle Port Dr. F.D.Kolambage and PHI, N.D.Jayatissa who examined the consignment of 4017 tons of basmati rice imported to the country in last December condemned it as unfit for human consumption. more..

Sri Lanka housing bank to raise 400 million rupees and branch out to lifestyle loans

Feb 15 (LBO) HDFC Bank is to raise 400 million rupees through a 4-year debenture shortly and branch out into related lending schemes officials said. The 4-year debenture would be privately placed by the First Capital group CEO, C A Sarathchandra said. The bank, which gives housing mortgages up to 15-years also give lifestyle finance to house owners to buy consumer durables from later this year more..

Indian and Sri Lankan teams arrive in Visakhapatnam

Feb 15 (ZN) Both the Indian and Sri Lankan cricket teams arrived here today for the series-deciding match to be held on Saturday. Top officials of the Visakhapatnam Cricket Association were present at the airport to receive the teams which landed here in the morning amidst tight security arrangements. The two teams drove straight to their hotels immediately after arrival. more..

Elephant goes wild at polo tournament, takes on minibus

Feb 15 (Reuters) Eighteen-year-old Abey is unpredictable, has a temper and let his side down badly on Thursday when he lost focus on his polo game in southern Sri Lanka and hospitalized two of his team-mates. The four-tonne elephant threw off his mahout and American rider as the island's sixth annual elephant polo tournament got under way, rampaging off the pitch and crushing the Spanish team's minibus with his head. more..

Letter On Sri Lankan Access To Maldivian Waters

Feb 15 (MN) I am very sceptical about opening our territorial waters for Sri Lankan fishermen to enter international waters. Which international waters are we talking about? Even now we do know our territorial waters are not secure given that large stashes of drugs have been deposited in our own lagoons. Surely we are risking more suspicious activity if we are going to consider security issues alongside ones pertinent to fisheries. more..

Sri Lanka gifts baby elephant to China

Feb 15 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan government has gifted a baby elephant to China to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. A Sri Lankan senior government official told Xinhua that the baby elephant named 'Migara' left the Colombo International Airport in a specially chartered flight Thursday morning. more..

The 19 page letter sent to President by Mangala

Feb 15 (LeN) Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that a 19 page letter will be sent to the President today. He said that the letter doesn't comprise his own ideas but the views of a majority of the SLFP MP's. He said the President might not read the entire letter as it is quite long but said that someone else would read it for him. The letter sent to president by Samaraweera could be viewed below. more..

Fishermen keep off sea in protest

Feb 15 (NIP) Fishermen of Nagai district went on a strike on Wednesday, condemning the continued attack on them by the Lankan Navy. During the past 10 days alone, the Lankan Navy opened fire at the boats of Nagai fishermen twice on February 2 and 12. In the attack on Monday night, one fisherman, who jumped into the sea to escape firing, has not yet returned. It may be recalled that a vessel of the Sri Lankan Navy reportedly opened fire at the boats on Monday night. more..

Howells interview in Sri Lanka

Feb 15 (FCO) INTERVIEWER: Let's take you to Sri Lanka. The Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells is there to see for himself how money form the UK has helped reconstruction after the Tsunami. He's in the country's capital to discuss the conflict in the island which continues after more than twenty years and despite a five year cease fire. Sri Lanka's Government has faced criticism too over its alleged involvement in the recruitment of child soldiers. more..

British official meets President after visiting areas with underage fighters

Feb 15 (AP) A British diplomat met with Sri Lanka's president on Thursday, a day after traveling to the country's volatile east to investigate how to halt the forced conscription of children by Tamil rebels, officials said. Junior Foreign Minister Kim Howells finished his four-day visit to the former British colony by meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse and other officials, more..

Sri Lanka says will deal with "terrorists" firmly

Feb 15 (Reuters) Sri Lanka will deal with Tamil Tiger "terrorism" firmly, a government minister said on Thursday, arguing the island nation was faced with more suicide bombers than the entire Middle East. Palitha Kohona, head of the government's peace secretariat, rejected foreign criticism of the government's recent offensive against the LTTE, saying it was dealing with terrorism like any other country would. more..

Sri Lankan foreign secretary says Norway peace effort not dead

Feb 15 (AP) Norway's effort to end Sri Lanka's civil war was not dead despite increased violence and a lack of any progress in bringing the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to the negotiating table, the island's foreign secretary said Thursday. Direct talks between the two sides in Geneva last year failed, and a string of attacks, bombings and clashes have taken place, stretching a 2002 Norwegian-brokered cease-fire to the breaking point. more..

Lanka getting isolated: Mangala

Feb 15 (HT) Sri Lanka is getting isolated internationally as a result of the human rights violations, killings and abductions going on under President Mahinda Rajapaksa's rule, says Mangala Samaraweera, former Foreign and Ports Minister, who now heads a rebel group in the ruling SLFP. The Rajapaksa government would not realise that the battle against the terrorist LTTE had to be fought not only in the jungles of the Wanni, but also in the international arena, more..

'Tigers involved in narcotics' - India

Feb 15 (BBC) In a speech to the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy, Indian National Security Advicer M. K. Narayanan siad different organisations indulging in terrorism raise their funding through legal and illegal means. He say that extortion remains to be one of the main methods of fund raising for organisations such as the Tamil Tigers. "Extortion and use of coercive methods: Many terrorist outfits today imitate criminal enterprises. Intimidation of small businesses, individuals and even some State enterprises to extort funds has become common". more..

Ousted foreign minister says his calls to curb rights abuses led to dismissal

Feb 15 (AP) Sri Lanka's ousted foreign minister said on Thursday he was dismissed by the government mainly because he had stressed the need to curb human rights abuses including abductions and killings in the country. "As the foreign minister, I pointed out those human rights violations very often and that's a reason for them to oppose me," said Mangala Samaraweera, referring to President Mahinda Rajapakse's decision to oust him from the Cabinet last Friday. more..

'Those who raise their hands before the president, raise their hands before me as well'

Feb 16 (LeN) SLFP Parliamentarian Managala Samaraweera charges that the decisions about the country is not taken by the people, but the Rajapakse brothers company that is in the government. He said this was a public secret and even the Hinsutan Times had stated that the government is being handled by Gotabaya and Basil Rajapakse. He was speaking at a media briefing held at the parliamentary complex this morning. more..

Rice that was in the Jordanian vessel to be sold

Feb 16 (LeN) Residents of Kilinochchi and Mulaithivu say that the rice, which was in the Fara 3 vessel that faced an accident in the Mulaithivu seas on the 23rd of December last year, could be bought from the shops in the relevant area. The residents say that 14,000 kilograms of special Samba rice was in the Vessel and that they were also puzzled as to who issued the rice to the market. more..

FMM disturbed over President's speech

Feb 16 (LeN) The Free Media Movement (FMM) registers its serious disquiet over aspects of the speech related to media, made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on 10th February 2007. The full speech was telecast on state controlled Television station Rupavahini. more..

Britain offers to talk with Sri Lanka Tamil Tigers

Feb 16 (Reuters) Britain on Thursday offered to play a bigger role in Sri Lanka's moribund peace process, including talking directly to Tamil Tiger rebels it has outlawed as terrorists, as part of efforts to end a two-decade civil war. Wrapping up a three-day visit to assess the impact of renewed war on thousands of displaced families in the island's restive east, a senior British envoy said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse had given the green light to the idea of talks. more..