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UN human rights commissioner in the firing line

Jan 24 (IRIN) Protests in front of the UN compound in Colombo usually call for more assertive action by the world body, but this week was different: The People’s Liberation Front (PLF), the second largest opposition party, held a demonstration calling on UN Human Rights High Commissioner Louise Arbour to mind her own business, and her language. The PLF’s criticism of Arbour stems from comments she made in recent speeches that human rights violators in Sri Lanka, even those in senior government posts, could be charged in international criminal courts. more..

Aussie tri-series could be springboard: Sri Lanka capt

Jan 24 (AFP) Mahela Jayawardene's Sri Lanka left for Australia Thursday hoping winning the upcoming one-day tri-series will be a springboard for his young team. "We have a very good young side that has put in a lot of hard work at practice," Jayawardene told reporters before the team's departure for the series, which also features India. "We want to win the series and use it as a platform to build a strong team for the future." more..

Sri Lanka to exhibit Iranian goods

Jan 24 (IRNA) Iran's Trade Development Organization has announced that an exclusive exhibition of Iranian products will soon be held in Sri Lanka. The fair, which will feature products of over 60 Iranian engineering companies, is set to open on Saturday, IRNA reported. "Iran's technical and engineering services in constructing dams, developing hydroelectric power plants, pressurized irrigation systems, building roads, bridges, and housing have reached international standards," more..

Man dies in 'Hanuman' act in Lanka

Jan 24 (PTI) It was a tragic end for a 27-year-old man who died of burn injuries after his attempt to enact the 'Burning of the Lanka' by Lord Hanuman went awry during celebrations of a Tamil festival in Kandy region. Kanapathi Rajah, dressed as the monkey-god during performance of the episodes of 'Ramayana', set a tail attached to his attire ablaze, but the flames swept fast and spread all over his body. more..

Ban parties openly supporting LTTE: Congress

Jan 24 (PTI) Expressing concern over reported rise in LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu,the Congress on Thursday asked the State Government to ban political parties and organisations which were openly supporting the proscribed outfit. Participating in a discussion on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his address to the assembly, C Gnanasekaran (Cong) cited reports that 102 LTTE cadre had infiltrated into the state during the last two years and cases had been filed against 40 of them under the National Security Act. more..

Sri Lanka invites Cochin airport builders for new airport

Jan 24 (IANS) Sri Lanka wants builders of Cochin International Airport to construct an airport in that country. Talks on the proposal will begin in Colombo Jan 28. The Cochin airport is India's first airport built under public-private partnership. Kerala government and several NRIs hold stakes in the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), which built the airport and still operates it. more..

Fighting in Sri Lanka kills 22 as panel submits power-sharing proposals

Jan 24 (AP) Government troops fought separate gunbattles with Tamil Tiger rebels in the north and east of Sri Lanka, leaving 21 guerrillas and one soldier dead, the military said Thursday. The fighting on Wednesday came as the All Party Representative Committee, comprising government and opposition politicians, submitted an interim proposal for power sharing with minority Tamils to bring an end to the decades-long civil war with the Tamil rebels. more..

All parties moot interim political council in north Sri Lanka

Jan 24 (IANS) An all-party panel tasked to work out a devolution package for Sri Lanka has recommended the setting up of an 'interim political council' in the war-affected and Tamil-speaking northern province, a Tamil cabinet minister said Thursday. The interim report of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), which was submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa Wednesday, also recommended the holding of elections to a provincial council to be set up in the eastern province, Minister Douglas Devananda told IANS. more..

Sri Lanka panel urges power-sharing to end bloodshed

Jan 24 (AFP) A peace panel including ruling party politicians told Sri Lanka's president to devolve more power to minority Tamils as a first step to resolving the island's long-running ethnic war, officials said Thursday. The panel, made up of President Mahinda Rajapakse's Sri Lanka Freedom Party lawmakers and their allies, has been mulling peace options for two years. The recommendation, however, falls far short of demands by Tamil Tiger rebels for full independence and is nothing new more..

Sri Lanka's latest peace proposals pushes for the Indo-Lanka pact

Jan 24 (AT) Sri Lanka's latest peace proposals handed over to President Rajapakse on Wednesday January 24 pushes the 13nth amendment to the constitution forefront while calling for polls in the East. It also calls for devolving police powers and 'official languages provisions' to the constitution. The proposals are formulated by the All Party Representative Committee – the collective of southern political party representatives to formulate the 'southern consensus' to the protracted ethnic conflict. more..

Ex-Sri Lanka Tiger awaits UK ID fraud sentence

Jan 24 (Reuters) Renegade ex-Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel Karuna Amman has pleaded guilty to identity document fraud in Britain, court officials said on Thursday, as rights groups push for him to be charged with war crimes. Karuna was the eastern commander for the LTTE until he split from the mainstream rebels in 2004. Since then analysts say his fighters have been backing the government and attacking their ex-comrades. more..

Sri Lanka unveils peace plan; analysts lukewarm

Jan 24 (Reuters) A home grown peace plan aimed at giving more autonomy to Sri Lanka's war-torn north and east was officially unveiled on Thursday, but its proposals have already been rejected by Tamil Tiger rebels and left analysts lukewarm. The All Party Representative Committee's (APRC) so-called "devolution proposals", which have been in the making for nearly two years, call for more regional autonomy to territories where rebels have been fighting an independence war for 25 years. more..

Sri Lanka offers to host Asia Cup if Pakistan opt out

Jan 25 (AFP) Sri Lanka has approached Pakistan with an offer to host the upcoming Asia Cup cricket tournament as violence continues to wrack the country, the island's cricket chief said on Thursday. The six-nation limited-overs tournament is scheduled to be played in Pakistan in June, but instability following last month's murder of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has put sporting fixtures under threat. more..

Catholic priest enables the poor of every faith to get a university education

Jan 25 (AN) Christians and Buddhists, Sinhalese and Tamils, young men and young women from poor and marginalised families can hope for a better future thanks to a endeavours of a Catholic priest, Fr Nicholas Batepola, who set up the Saravasi Seth Sevana Centre for Higher Education in Jaela, in the Archdiocese of Colombo. Conscious of the obstacles that the poor must overcome to go to university, which is a fundamental tool for social advancement and development, more..

Sri Lanka police say mass grave found

Jan 25 (AFP) The bodies of at least 16 people have been found in a mass grave in a government-controlled area of north-central Sri Lanka, police said Thursday. The decomposed bodies were found by local residents in the district of Anuradhapura, 206 kilometres (130 miles) north of Colombo, police said. "Investigations have now begun to establish the identity of the victims and the circumstances in which they were buried," police said. more..

Peace, aid groups deplore being portrayed as rebel agents

Jan 25 (EC) Peace and aid advocacy groups in Sri Lanka, including those linked to churches, have deplored the portrayal of United Nations agencies and international relief groups as agents of Tamil rebels. "This is a clear attempt to undermine any international scrutiny of the ongoing war in the north and is a gross human rights violation," said Rohan Edrisinha, an Anglican and director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, in an interview with Ecumenical News International. more..

India welcomes Sri Lanka report on devolution

Jan 25 (IANS) India Thursday hailed as a "welcome first step" a report submitted to the Sri Lankan government suggesting devolution for that country's provinces. The external affairs ministry said to the extent the proposals of the All Parties Representative Committee (APRC) contributed to a settlement acceptable "to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka", they "are a welcome first step". more..

Actions For Peace Will Continue Without Cease-fire Agreement

Jan 25 (UCAN) Bishop Harold Anthony Perera of Galle, chairman of the Catholic National Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development, is deeply involved in the search for a solution to Sri Lanka's civil war. During a Jan. 7-10 trip to the embattled Jaffna peninsula at the island's northern tip, Bishop Perera saw firsthand the tight security measures and deprivation affecting the local Tamil community. more..

India to back Lanka devolution package

Jan 25 (AA) India has for now decided to throw its weight behind the All-Party Representative Conference’s (APRC’s) interim recommendations for devolution of powers in Sri Lanka. In a calibrated response, India on Thursday said that the APRC recommendations are a welcome first step, provided they pave the way for a final settlement of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. "To the extent that the APRC proposals contribute to such a settlement, they are a welcome first step," ministry of external affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna said more..

Remembering the legacy of Ms. Nahammal Kasipillai

Jan 25 (HA) The 3rd Annual Nahammal Kasipillai Memorial Oration was delivered on January 16th 2008 at Sivananda Nilayam, Saiva Mangaiyar Kazhagam, Wellawatte. Deshabandu Nahammal Kasipillai, as Principal dedicated over thirty years in building up one of the finest institutions of learning in Sri Lanka today. She passed away on 8th of December 2005. The educator is remembered for many of her contributions to learning that span over generations of students, parents and teachers and more..

Between Eelam and War: Where’s the solution?

Jan 25 (GV) This conflict has no end. The path of injustice taken by this nation heralds war, destruction and suffering. The “blood-shattered landscape” will scream and her children shall become slaves to fear and hatred. Why? The present government hopes to destroy the LTTE by militarily; with superior numbers, weapons and strategy. Even though it may be militarily feasible to destroy the feared Tigers of Lanka in this fashion, it will not heal this broken nation. more..

Confusion about the meaning of independence

Jan 25 (SLW) On February 4, Sri Lanka will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its independence from the British colonial empire. There is hardly any mood to celebrate in the country, however. Beset by enormous economic hardships and price hikes, by ever unprecedented levels of blatant corruption and abuse of power, rejection of adherence to the Constitution itself and violent conflict within which all parties to the conflict seek a more direct military confrontation, the people of the country are confused about the meaning of it all. more..

What is the roadmap for the post – APRC period?

Jan 25 (LG) The path to political progress is a minefield and treading it has to be done with the maximum caution. Government seems conscious of this and that is why every step is measured. The setting up of the Northern Province Interim Council is therefore a step in the right direction. "Politics after all is the art of the possible". The Interim Council will not satisfy the TNA. The UNP is programmed to be critical. The JVP will probably have nothing to do with it and naturally the LTTE will reject it. more..

Group based attacks continue on northern FDL

Jan 25 (LG) Sri Lanka Army (SLA) kept up its attacks on LTTE forward defense lines in Muhamalai, Kilali and Nagarkovil through several limited offensives utilizing small attack teams. Soldiers of the 55th division launched two successful strikes targeting LTTE infrastructure along the National Front, destroying two bunkers in the FDL. At least 3 LTTE cadres were killed in the firefights. In a separate incident, army snipers shot dead two LTTE cadres in Ponnar in Kilali region. more..

Death, Sickness & Religion

Jan 25 (LG) There is no birth no death. There are only manifestations in this world of inter-being. There is only impermanence and in this impermanence the manifestations come about. Nothing has its own intrinsic existence in this universe of inter-existence. No permanent self exists. There is only a combination of mental and physical energies. They do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. more..

Heavy LTTE casualties in air strike

Jan 25 (LG) It was only yesterday (24th) when Sri Lanka Air Force used 6 of its fighter jets to raid a major LTTE military facility deep inside the jungles east of Iranamadu. More details are now surfacing regarding the aftermath of one of the most devastating air strikes in the Eelam War 4. According to military intelligence reports, hospitals in Kilinochchi are being filled with wounded LTTE cadres. more..

We are not party to Tissa Vitharana report says WPF General Secretary

Jan 25 (LeN) Minister Tissa Vitarana has used name our party among other parties for his interim report he submitted to the president. By listing name our party, Western Peoples Front he is giving an impression that we too are in agreement with his submission. This is a regrettable sinister move of the veteran samasamajist minister says Dr. Nalliah Kumaraguruparan General Secretary of Western Peoples Front in a statement issued to media. more..

JVP not contesting in eastern local elections

Jan 25 (AT) Janatha Vimukthi Perumuna while welcoming the planned elections for 9 local government bodies in the East has decided not to contest. Somawansa Amerasinghe talking to Asian Tribune said that holding elections is a good democratic move. He said, “We welcome Government holding the elections.” However, he said that the time given to prepare for the nine local body elections was not enough. more..

Sri Lankan software firms set to crack down on piracy

Jan 25 (LBO) Software companies are planning to launch a series of law suits against unlawful copying of their work in Sri Lanka this year, a legal expert told a conference on information technology and the law. Jayantha Fernando, director and legal advisor at the Information Communications Technology Agency (ICTA), said many individuals and firms were unaware that private legal remedies are available to combat piracy. more..

Bank of Ceylon tightens internet banking security

Jan 25 (LBO) Bank of Ceylon (BOC) has deployed international authentication services provider VeriSign's hacking and identity theft countering security features in its online banking transactions in Sri Lanka. VeriSign's Identity Protection Services (VIP) for BOC's online banking customers will provide an extra layer of security through VeriSign's multiple authentication scheme. more..

Sri Lankan bus fares to rise

Jan 25 (LBO) The national transportation commission of Sri Lanka has authorised a hike in bus fares due to recent fuel price increase, but private bus owners say it is insufficient. The fare increases approved by the commission will be effective from February 1 and are meant to minimise the effects of recent fuel price hikes on private bus owners, government officials said. Bus fares will be increased by four percent overall, effectively increasing the minimum charge of five rupees to six, the commission said. more..

Sri Lanka's tea output dips in 2007, prices up

Jan 25 (LBO) Sri Lanka's tea production for 2007 fell by six million kilograms to 304 million kilograms as bad weather and the lagged effects of a strike hit production in the early part of the year, brokers said. Tea prices at the Colombo auctions have remained high in recent weeks and there was strong demand at this week's sale as well, with some types of tea similar to Kenyan varieties rising. more..

Cricket: The future is provincial

Jan 25 (CI) This week I'd like to look at Sri Lankan domestic cricket. We've had a few changes in the structure of the first-class game in Sri Lanka recently. At the moment we have 20 clubs playing in two tiers of ten each, with two teams being demoted and two promoted every year. The clubs are quite powerful. They have two votes each to elect the president of the board, and are hence called controlling clubs, which means they have a hand in electing people who formulate policy for Sri Lankan cricket as a whole. more..

APRC solution never discussed at meetings – Lakshman Kiriella

Jan 25 (LD) The government has deceived the Sri Lankan people as well as the international community by proposing the 13th Amendment as the solution for the national question, in total disregard to 11,000 pages of minutes taken at 63 rounds of talks by the All Party Representative Committee, says UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella. The amendment in question never came up for discussion at the APRC, he told the media in response to the devolution package presented to the president yesterday (Jan.24th). more..

Devolution brought for peaceful, Tamil nationalism - Wimal

Jan 25 (LD) The proposed devolution package by the All Party Representative Committee is a push for separatist Tamil nationalism that is disguised in a peaceful, democratic form, says JVP Propaganda Secretary, Wimal Weerawansa. Addressing the Annual Convention of the Graduate Employees Union at the Maharagama Youth Centre yesterday, he said that “while the security forces are sacrificing their lives to eradicate terrorism from the motherland, the government is bringing proposals to form an interim council for those areas.” more..

Nominations close for B’caloa polls

Jan 25 (LD) Nominations closed at 12.00 noon today (Jan. 25th) for nine local government bodies in eastern Batticaloa district. Forty-eight nominations were handed in this morning, the district’s returning officer said. According to District Secretary Sundaram Arumainayagam, registered political parties and independent groups filed 61 nominations in all. Of them, 38 were from political parties and the rest by independent groups, he said. more..

'Proposals pathway towards maximum power devolution within Unitary State'

Jan 25 (GDI) "The APRC Proposals provide ingress towards the maximum devolution of power within the Unitary State," said the Chairman of the APRC, Prof. Tissa Vitharana. Prof. Vitharana addressing the media in Colombo today on the proposals handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the APRC last Tuesday, stated that they will cater not only facilitate maximum and effective devolution of power to the provinces in the short term, but also project a module for political consensus among political parties in the country. more..

Interim Advisory Committee for the North soon – Maithripala Sirisena

Jan 25 (GDI) Maithripala Sirisena, General Secretary SLFP, addressing a press conference yesterday (24) said that on the recommendation of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) now before President Mahinda Rajapaksa, an Interim Advisory Committee for the northern province will be appointed by the President until provincial councils elections are held following the cession of hostilities and end of the conflict. more..

Public sector is now revamped- Minister Karu Jayasuriya

Jan 25 (GDI) Public service system in Sri Lanka which was widely criticized for its inactivity has now been completely revamped and will soon become an active, friendly service, under the present Government, said the Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Karu Jayasuriya. Minister Jayasuriya stated this at the opening ceremony of the three storied building for the Divisional Secretary's office at Kegalle, built at a cost of Rs. 20 million. more..

'Ramayana' to attract Indian tourists to SL

Jan 25 (GDI) The 'Ramayana' launched in New Delhi with the objective of attracting Indian tourists proved successful, winning over the audience not only by its formal presentations but also by the presence of two of Sri Lanka's finest cricketers, Arjuna Ranatunge and Aravinda De Silva. The duo are immensely popular among Indians who still remember the memorable performances of the Sri Lankan Cricket heroes of the 90s, particularly the World Cup of 1996. more..

'APRC Proposals make for maximum power devolution within current constitution'

Jan 25 (GDI) Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, in a media release, stated that the proposals submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Tissa Vitarna, Chairman of the APRC, have addressed the reasons for the present conflict, which include, the full implementation of the relevant provisions of the present Constitution. The APRC will continue to explore additional. proposals, he observed. The Foreign Minster also stated the following: more..

Former LTTE cadre and family seek Navy help

Jan 25 (LNP) A former LTTE cadre and his family have sought the help of the Navy to get away from the clutches of the terrorist group and settle down in their new home in Pallimunai. The family from Vellankulam, 16 km off Vidathaltivu, north of Mannar, who were heading for Pallimunai, on Wednesday sought the Navy`s help to reach their destination after a perilous journey in a dinghy fitted with a 9.8hp engine. more..

Masses are not asses!

Jan 25 (LNP) The government has declared rice an essential commodity. Wow! What a brilliant government we have! What else did the government worthies think rice had been all these years? Were they under the impression that it was a luxury? It is only wishful thinking that simply because of the government declaration, rice prices will plummet overnight and everything will be hunky dory for the hapless consumer from tomorrow. more..

Beggar woman`s quintuplets and the multitude as kings

Jan 25 (LNP) Sri Lanka`s political party system like politicians who do nothing but go forth and multiply keeps mushrooming. Parties have come to resemble a herd of goats grazing on a parched paddock and struggling for survival at one another`s expense. It is a classic example of the survival of the fittest. Most of them are skin and bones and only a few look healthy. Yesterday, five more political parties were registered. With those quintuplets of the beggar woman that is the party system, the tally has risen to 53. more..

LTTE silent after X-ray Base attack

Jan 25 (SAMN) Army Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said Thursday the LTTE areas in the North were in deep silence and no incidents had been reported after the Air Force attack on the clandestine X-ray Base on Wednesday. He said the LTTE radio communication had also remained silent Thursday and shops in Kilinochchi were closed Wednesday as two more air attacks were launched after the major attack on 11.15 AM. more..

Foreign Ministry antics irk journalists

Jan 25 (SAMN) Several journalists and photographers, representing leading English and Sinhala print and electronic media, who had been invited to cover the press briefing of Mayanmar Deputy Foreign Minister and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, had to leave the Foreign Ministry in disgust as a high official at the last minute decided not to hold the press briefing as scheduled. more..

SL asks UNHRC to act against Israel

Jan 25 (SAMN) Sri Lanka has called on the UN Human Rights Council to challenge Israel's policy of impunity with regard to the Human Rights violations by Israel's military in the occupied Palestinian territory. Speaking at the Human Rights Council's special session on Israel held on January 23 and 24, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dayan Jayatilleka, who is also a Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, said that the council should challenge the impunity enjoyed by Israel. more..

DPL community hails APRC consensus

Jan 25 (SAMN) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama asserted Thursday that foreign diplomats had endorsed APRC proposals as a positive beginning for seeking sustainable peace. Addressing the media, Bogollagama said he had taken steps to brief the diplomatic community including the Co-Chairs and the Indian HC, immediately after President Mahinda Rajapaksa received the set of proposals officially, from APRC Chairman Prof. Tissa Vitarana. more..

Pakistan will not withdraw as Asia Cup hosts - Ashraf

Jan 25 (CI) Nasim Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has said that Pakistan would not back down as hosts of the Asia Cup, scheduled in June. Ashraf has reacted to an offer by his Sri Lankan counterpart Arjuna Ranatunga to host the tournament due to the security situation in Pakistan following former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination. "There is no way we would withdraw as Asia Cup hosts, then I don't know why they [Sri Lanka] had to make such an offer," Ashraf told the News in Karachi. more..

Govt will not stop mission to eradicate terrorism - President

Jan 25 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa reiterated that his Government would not retreat nor could it be made to retreat by anyone from the victorious path they are now treading to eradicate terrorism totally from the Motherland. President Rajapaksa made this assertion when he addressed the colourful Gallantry Awards Investiture ceremony to confer Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya, Rana Wickrema Padakkama and the Rana Sura Padakkama to the personnel of the Armed Forces, more..