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Norway says fighting likely to escalate after Govt ends truce with Tamil rebels

Jan 3 (AP) Peace-broker Norway warned violence raging in Sri Lanka will likely worsen after the government pledged to withdraw from a 2002 cease-fire with Tamil insurgents. Norway's Erik Solheim - a key mediator in Sri Lanka's decades-old civil war - called the government's move a "serious step," after it announced it will formally end the Norway-brokered accord. "This comes on top of the increasingly frequent and brutal acts of violence perpetrated by both parties, and I am deeply concerned that the violence and hostilities will now escalate even further," said Solheim. more..

Sri Lanka demands rebels disarm

Jan 3 (AP) The Sri Lankan government said Thursday that the Tamil Tiger rebels must disarm before any future peace talks, a day after the authorities decided to withdraw from an internationally brokered cease-fire with the insurgents. The 2002 truce had largely collapsed — a resurgence in fighting between the two sides came two years ago — when the Cabinet unanimously approved the prime minister's proposal to pull out from it on Wednesday. more..

Truce pact was lopsided, say negotiators

Jan 4 (IANS) The truce pact with the Tamil Tigers the Sri Lankan government decided to annul Wednesday had in it the seeds of its own destruction, government peace negotiators have said. The Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) was crafted in early 2002 by the Norwegian facilitators in 'undue haste' to beat a February-end deadline, said Bernard Goonetilleke in an earlier speech in Washington. And for its part, the then UNF government led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe did not consult President Chandrika Kumaratunga as well as the armed forces commanders prior to finalising it, fearing that they might put spokes in the wheel. more..

Ranatunga plans more India-Lanka Tests

Jan 4 (Hindu) Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) newly-appointed chairman Arjuna Ranatunga, on Wednesday, said he is keen on increasing the frequency of Tests against India and will take up the matter with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). “I have just taken over. I am going to hold a meeting with the CEO of SLC Duleep Mendis and other officials and work out the possibility of having regular exchange programmes regarding cricket matches with India,” Ranatunga said. more..

Swamy scoffs at pro-LTTE MPs’ plea

Jan 4 (Hindu) Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday termed as “ridiculous” the appeal of pro-LTTE Members of Parliament of Sri Lanka to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, not to visit the island-nation. In a statement, Dr. Swamy said the MPs represented only the LTTE leader V. Prabakaran, “who is hiding from the law.” They were elected in a rigged election and did not represent the Tamils. more..

Sri Lanka’s Daughter wins People’s Choice Award

Jan 4 (SI) The only non-Arab film to win an award at the recently concluded Dubai International Film Festival was Sri Lankan filmmaker Salinda Perera’s debut work, Dheevari (Fisherman’s Daughter). This is because Dubai’s Muhr Awards are open only to Arab filmmakers. This year, Dubai instituted the People’s Choice Award for which the public votes for their favourite film. Salinda Perera was told on the last day to attend the evening event, which gave him his first inkling that he would be on stage as an award winner. more..

Sri Lanka peace group urges negotiations

Jan 4 (TW) “We can only pray and hope that this period of war and terror will soon come to an end”, said National Peace Council (NPC) in a press release today. Expressing regrets, dismay and fears for the future over the announcement of the abrogation of the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement, NPC added that the government is following the path repeatedly advocated by Nationalist parties such as the JVP. The Colombo based group is urging the “conflicting parties back to the negotiating table”. more..

Sri Lanka is beholden to her bold media

Jan 4 (TW) My friends telephone me and inquire after my health. This is the season of goodwill and all of us renew our hopes. I have the long experience of four score years and four, a life full of ups and downs, a victim of subtle discrimination on account of race, of looting and arson, and of arrest and detention. Today the order of the day is about acrobat politicians, bribery, corruption, deceit, human rights violations, rulers who are jokers, mentally unbalanced war mongers, power hungry politicians, student strikers, suicide bombers, unemployed graduates, violence with a vengeance, wailing refugees, and the never ending queues of suffering people. more..

2008 will bring clarity to Sri Lanka conflict- Balakumaran

Jan 4 (TN) "The International Community has been vacillating in taking decisive actions on Sri Lanka because they are unable to relate their own interests to the chaotically unfolding political and military situation in Sri Lanka. Only the demonstration of military prowess by the Tigers can bring clarity to the situation, for the international community to correctly relate their interests, and assertively engage," said Balakumaran, a Senior Member of LTTE, more..

My life and my choices in a country at war: A personal reflection

Jan 4 (GV) Where to start, what to write….2007 gone, 2008 started. When I ask myself what I wish in year 2008 I sincerely, hardly find any answer for myself. However, lot of life stories were replayed in my mind. Competing for attention, I’m torn between these choices. How am I to choose? I’m thinking of my dear friend who was shot dead two months back and left his speech impaired wife and two children behind. How can I support this family? more..

Post-CFA politics, war and peace in Sri Lanka: A few thoughts

Jan 4 (GV) I wrote some a few thoughts this morning in response to the Government’s decision, taken last night, to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE signed in February 2002. This significant decision gives us a hint of the Government’s thinking on war and peace and what we can accordingly expect it to say and do this year. 1. Waging war will be the government only priority this year. It will through any means necessary and violently if need be, erase all real and perceived obstacles in its war efforts. more..

“54 per cent of Tamils live outside the North and East”

Jan 4 (GV) My earlier article (The persuasive power of numbers and the mystery “8.5%” figure) highlighted the dangers of using incomplete census data and how it has been manipulated to bolster political agendas. Another persuasive number that is routinely cited is the figure of “54%”, used in connection with the proportion of ‘Tamils’ living outside of the North and East. Here is a recent example: more..

The origins of the Media Accreditation Card

Jan 4 (GV) I was rather surprised at the public statement by the Minister of Mass Media & Information that only those who have been granted Media Accreditation Cards by the Government Information Department are considered by the Government of Sri Lanka to be journalists. I believe the Minister has been misled on the origin of this card. As one who was present at the time the decision was taken to begin issuing this card, I thought I would enlighten him on the reason for its existence. more..

Sri Lanka investors to weather truce collapse

Jan 4 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's unilateral withdrawal from an already moribund ceasefire with Tamil Tiger rebels will likely deepen its international isolation, but it may do little to dent investor sentiment towards the island. The Norwegian-brokered 2002 ceasefire halted two decades of conflict, but effectively collapsed in late 2005 and early 2006 into outright war across swathes of the minority Tamil dominated north and east, with occasional bombings in the southern Sinhalese heartland and capital. more..

Sri Lanka govt blamed by at opposition lawmaker's funeral

Jan 4 (AFP) A prominent Sri Lankan Tamil opposition MP who was murdered earlier this week was cremated here Thursday amid tight security and allegations that the island's government was behind the killing. The funeral of Thiagarajah Maheswaran, a member of the UNP and an outspoken defender of the rights of Tamils on the ethnic Sinhalese-majority island, was held under the watch of heavily armed troops and police. more..

Mano Ganesan sends his security personnel back to MSD

Jan 4 (LeN) Western Peoples Front Leader and Civil Monitoring Commission Convener Mano Ganesan MP whose security along with slain T. Maheswaran was slashed by the government two weeks before has sent his security personnel back to MSD. Ganesan addressed a letter to the DIG (MSD) Wickramasinghe which was carried by the officer in-charge of his security unit. Ganesan said in his letter that MSD waited until for an assassination to occur and even now police is risking the lives of the Members of Parliament and more..

Ban Ki-moon urges political solution as Sri Lanka truce breaks down

Jan 4 (UN) Secretary-General has underscored the urgent need for a political solution to end the bloodshed in Sri Lanka following the Government’s decision to terminate the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement that halted a decades-long conflict with the separatist LTTE. Mr. Ban is “deeply worried” that the withdrawal from the accord comes amidst intensifying fighting in the North and increasing violence across the country, including the capital, Colombo, his spokesperson said in a statement today. more..

Police ordered to base Maheswaran murder probe on his remarks to 'Minnel'

Jan 4 (LD) The Colombo Chief Magistrate's Court today ordered the Police today (Jan. 03rd) to base their investigation into the murder of T. Maheswaran on the remarks made by the UNP MP in his final television interview. Colombo Additional Magistrate Ravindra Premaratne gave the order after considering a request by lawyers who represent the relatives of the slain parliamentarian. In the interview with 'Minnel' Talk Show of Shakthi TV, Maheswaran revealed details of what he called an attempt by a certain group to kill him. more..

Maheswaran laid to rest amidst tens of thousands of mourners

Jan 4 (LD) Slain UNP parliamentarian Thiagaraja Maheswaran was laid to eternal rest at Borella Cemetery this evening (Jan. 03rd) amidst tens of thousands of people who mourned and expressed outrage at his murder. After Hindu religious observances at Maheswaran's residence at Wellawatte, the remains were taken by relatives, friends and political colleagues to the cemetery. Representatives of political parties, civil society organizations, trade unions and media organizations carried placards against the killing and silently expressed their anger at those responsible. more..

Canada and the World Cannot Ignore Sri Lankan Conflict

Jan 4 (LP) The recent decision by the government of Sri Lanka to formally end the ceasefire agreement with the Tamil Tigers should not be ignored by the world community, Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae said today. “This is a formal indication that the country has once again descended into war, which can only result in a humanitarian disaster,” Mr. Rae said. “It is precisely when the parties seem most determined to find a military solution to this conflict that the world community – the United Nations, the Commonwealth, donor countries – should be doing more to find political solutions instead.” more..

Canada blasts Sri Lanka for ending truce

Jan 4 (AFP) Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier on Thursday blasted Sri Lanka for withdrawing from a 2002 ceasefire agreement with Tamil Tiger rebels. "Canada deeply regrets the decision of the government of Sri Lanka to withdraw from the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement," Bernier said in a statement. "Withdrawal from this important agreement will make the search for a durable political solution more difficult, and only increases the likelihood that the incidents of violence being carried out by both sides will increase," he said. more..

Sri Lanka pulls out of cease-fire deal

Jan 4 (AP) Sri Lanka's government officially notified peace-broker Norway on Thursday that it is pulling out of a 2002 cease-fire agreement with Tamil Tiger rebels that has failed to quell the violence. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama handed a letter to Norwegian Ambassador Tore Hattrem, saying the government has decided to terminate the Norway-brokered agreement, a Foreign Ministry statement said. The government has said growing violence in the last two years has rendered the agreement irrelevant. more..

US says it is troubled by Sri Lankan decision to end peace deal

Jan 4 (AP) The United States said Thursday it was troubled by Sri Lanka's decision to end a 2002 cease-fire agreement with Tamil Tiger rebels. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it would now be more difficult to settle a conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people, many of them civilians, since the Tigers began fighting for an independent state for the ethnic Tamil minority in 1983, claiming discrimination by the Sinhalese majority. more..

Medical volunteers help Sri Lanka restore health care

Jan 4 (VoA) On December 26, 2004, a tsunami devastated Sri Lanka, claiming nearly 40,000 lives and displacing one million people. In the southern province of the country, the costal children hospital was destroyed and many nurses died in the tragedy. Three years later, much rebuilding remains to be done. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, efforts are underway not just to rebuild this hospital, but also to bring in modern technology, train medical staff and renovate Sri Lanka's health care system. more..

Full-Scale war threatens civilian lives

Jan 4 (IPS) The Sri Lanka government, which has announced the abrogation of a 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire agreement with the LTTE, is planning a do-or-die military battle against the separatists in the politically-troubled northern and eastern provinces. Reacting to the announcement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he regrets the decision of the government to terminate the agreement but urges the warring parties to ensure the protection of civilians caught in the crossfire. more..

Cooking gas up; don't give advance price warnings says minister

Jan 4 (LBO) Sri Lanka's second cooking gas retailer raised prices by 17 percent Thursday on a formula approved by the consumer authority while the minister in charge said advance notice of price increases should not be given. Laugfs Gas raised the price of a 12.5 kilogram domestic Liquid Petroleum Gas cylinder by 212.00 rupees to 1,460 rupees. Shell Gas Lanka, the countries largest distributor raised prices by 175 rupees earlier in the week. more..

The govt. decision to abrogate the Ceasefire agreement and its implications

Jan 4 (TC) The Information released last night of a reported cabinet decision to annul /withdraw from the Ceasefire agreement was one which causes profound sadness. It is well known that the ceasefire did bring dividends. The dividends when written in August 2003 included: Physical security improved greatly since hostilities have ceased, and thousands of deaths, injuries and casualties were averted; more..

Truce End Shows Need for UN Monitors

Jan 4 (FI) The imminent departure of Norwegian-led monitors from Sri Lanka highlights the need for a UN human rights monitoring mission, Human Rights Watch said today. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission is leaving because of the Sri Lankan government’s decision to end the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE. “The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission was deeply flawed, but its monitors helped to minimize abuses against civilians,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. more..

Man sentenced in rebel arms deal

Jan 4 (BS) Before consummating the arms deal, buyers for a South Asian rebel group needed an expert. So they turned to Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, a citizen of Sri Lanka and a member of the Tamil Tigers, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Prosecutors say he knew how to inspect the fully automatic weapons and surface-to-air missiles to determine whether they had flaws. more..

Clouds gather over Sri Lanka's economy

Jan 4 (FT) In the pile of garlic on his vegetable cart Richard Amith sees exactly what is ailing Sri Lanka's economy. The price of garlic - an important ingredient in many local dishes - has nearly doubled in six months, says the Colombo street hawker, and the same is true for the other vegetables on his trolley. "Day by day, prices are going up, not going down. That is Sri Lanka at the moment," he says. His concern points to one of the key issues faced by Sri Lanka. more..

Abrogation, though late in implementing, is a victory for the people! – JVP

Jan 4 (LT) The people of Sri Lanka and the JVP are satisfied that the treacherous pseudo ceasefire agreement, compiled by Norway and signed on 22.02.2002 by then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and leader of tiger organization Velupillai Prabakaran was abrogated after it was allowed to be in force for more than five years states a press release issued by the Political Bureau of the JVP. The press release further states: more..

The story of Sinhala Tigers of Southern Province

Jan 4 (LeN) The attack by the LTTE on the Thalgasmankada Army detachmentshocked the Southern polity of Sri Lanka. The war so far limited to north and east has been expanded to the remote villages of the Southern Province creating border villages there too. When the Army captured Ampara in the Eastern Province, a LTTE guerilla group retreated to the Yala wildlife park crossing River Kumbukkan Oya. more..

Sri Lankan tea may be lifted by Kenyan unrest

Jan 4 (LBO) Sri Lankan tea prices could be pushed higher if violence in Kenya, the world's biggest tea exporter, disrupts supplies to the world market, trade officials said. The violence in Pakistan, a big tea consumer nation, could on the other hand dampen demand, they said. There has been no impact yet on the Colombo auctions of the violence in Kenya where last week's Mombasa auction had to be postponed for next week. more..

All moderate Sri Lankans stand up against extremism - Mangala Samaraweera

Jan 4 (LD) Leader of the SLFP Mahajana Wing Mangala Samaraweera has described the slain Thiagaraja Maheswaran as a forthright personality who had the courage of his convictions to stand up for what is right and for the rights of the people whose vote elected him to parliament. Speaking at the funeral of Maheswaran at the Borella Cemetery yesterday, Samaraweera urged the government to conduct an independent investigation into the murder by a credible and transparent body as early as possible. more..

Govt. will be toppled if it introduces devolution proposals - Wimal Weerawansa

Jan 4 (LD) Secretary of the Patriotic National Movement Wimal Weerawansa has warned to topple the present regime if it attempts to introduce a set of devolution proposals at the behest of Indian Premier Manmohan Singh or any other element. Earlier, Cabinet Spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa that the government still hopes for a negotiated settlement and its proposals in this regard could be expected by February. more..

PNM calls for immediate ban of LTTE

Jan 4 (LD) The Patriotic National Movement has called for the immediate proscription of the LTTE. The government should ban the LTTE in the same manner it had abrogated the ceasefire agreement, Secretary of the PNM Wimal Weerawansa told the media in Colombo this morning (Jan. 04th). A proscription of the Tigers will isolate it further and the government will be in a position of strength to exert pressure on it, he said. more..

Court defers bail request by Mervyn Silva accomplice “Kudu Nuwan”

Jan 4 (LD) The Colombo Chief Magistrate Court today deferred a decision on a bail application filed by Nuwan Udaya Gunatilake alias “Kudu Nuwan”, who was a key actor in the Mervyn Silva episode. Gunatilake is in remand custody upon his arrest for accompanying the non-cabinet Labour Minister to the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and assaulting its News Director. Colombo Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi said the suspect’s request would be considered on January 11th. more..

Withdrawal from CFA – FM outlines reasons

Jan 4 (GDI) Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama held a special press briefing today in Colombo to inform the media on the course of action taken by the Government as regards the Ceasefire Agreement entered in to between the then Government and the LTTE in 2002. Here is the full text of the statement issued by the Minister, The Government of Sri Lanka yesterday (3rd January) formally notified the Royal Norwegian Government of its decision to terminate the Agreement on more..

Steps to keep the prices of essential food items under control

Jan 4 (GDI) Minister of Commerce Hon. Bandula Gunawardhana has promised to keep the prices of essential food items under control before Sinhala New Year, at a media brief held in his ministry’s auditorium on January 03. He has disclosed that owing to the agreement made between the Consumers Affairs Authority and Whole –sale dealers in March for 10 months expired on December 25, 2007, the prices of essential food items have increased with the implementation of previous Act. more..

D.M. Jayaratne honoured

Jan 4 (GDI) Minister of Plantations,D.M. Jayaratne is to be bestowed with the title of “Deshabandu Shasana-Keerthi Sri Janaranjana” by the Sri Lanka Committee of the Sri Lanka Ramannya Maha-Nikaya. Minister Jayaratne is the senior Vice President of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the General Secretary of the People’s Alliance. This honour is to be bestowed on him for his services to religious and social welfare. more..

Compensation for victims of Slave Island bomb blast

Jan 4 (GDI) Government has granted compensation for the victimized civilians of the 02nd January claymore bomb attack in Slave Island. The compensation was given to them yesterday at the Colombo National Hospital under the directions of the Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services, Risath Bathiyutheen. The Ministry has decided to grant maximum compensation of Rs. 100,000/= on behalf of those who had died and a maximum sum of Rs.50, 000/= for an injured person. more..

More students to Universities this year

Jan 4 (GDI) Nearly 20,000 students will have the opportunity of being admitted to obtain higher education at the Universities this year. Accordingly 19,650 students will be admitted to universities based on the G.C.E. Advanced Level Examination results which were released recently. UGC Chairman Gamini Samaranayake said that the selected students would be admitted to all universities including those in the northern and eastern provinces. more..

EPDP refutes rumours on involvement in Maheswaran killing

Jan 4 (GDI) While refuting rumours spread on an alleged involvement of the EPDP in the slaying of former MP T. Maheshwaran, Minister Douglas Devananda says “People who are behind this vicious campaign must have had a hand, directly or indirectly, in this murder. That is why these elements are spreading rumours to impress the general public before the assailant reveals the truth,” Issuing a statement the Minister added that the EPDP has not only been at the receiving end of violence but also been blamed for the murders of others. more..

Turbines to Kerawalapitya received

Jan 4 (GDI) The Ministry of Power and Energy has imported turbines at a cost of US$ 120 million (Rs.12, 000 million) for the installation at Kerawalapitiya Multi-Fuel Combined Cycle Power Plant. The Turbines were received at the Colombo Harbour yesterday (03). After completion, the power plant will add 300 megawatts electricity to the national grid. The combined cycle plant runs on diesel with the option of switching on to natural gas in the second phase and will be built by a local company. more..

Directly from the international market and distributing them through the network of co-operatives ac

Jan 4 (GDI) Minister of Trade, Marketing Development, Co-operative Service and Consumer Affairs, Bandula Gunawardana, the new Chairman and the Board of Directors of this state body will be appointed in this week. Measures are already under way to streamline the distribution of essential items with the help of cooperatives and the private sector in order to prevent undue delay. The minister said that the Government will directly provide funds to promote the co-operatives sector and for its modernisation. more..

New set of regulations for pharmacists

Jan 4 (GDI) A new set of regulations will be introduced by the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition to hold all private pharmacy owners and pharmacists accountable for the smooth implementation of the new policy of issuing all drugs under their generic names. A large number of patients have already contacted the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry to thank the Health Ministry decision which has helped cut down the price of drugs by around 90 per cent while enabling them to obtain high quality drugs from either state or private sector drug outlets. more..

Mervyn denies assault, claims he was the victim

Jan 4 (LNP) Labour Minister Mervyn Silva has told the CID that he did not go to the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation to assault anybody but was himself assaulted. The CID recently recorded the statement of the Minister. CID sources told The Island yesterday that they would record the statements of all those who accompanied Mervin Silva to the SLRC and also of some staff. The CID yesterday assured that a very fair investigation would be conducted and appropriate action taken against the culprits, irrespective of their standing in society. more..

Two Sinhala Tigers arrested in Sri Lanka

Jan 4 (LNP) Two persons, said to be Sinhala Tigers, were arrested with two T56 assault rifles and 119 bullets near the Abhaya Wewa reservoir by the Anuradhapura police on Wednesday (2). A senior officer of the Anuradhapura police said the two were arrested at their homes on a tip off received by SSP McCarthy Perera. After questioning the suspects police Found the two weapons and ammunition which had been hidden in a pit dug in the house of one of the suspects. more..

Over 100 Sri Lankans chose to live under voluntary remand in Jaffna

Jan 4 (LNP) Lack of adequate security caused 119 people to choose voluntary remand imprisonment in the Jaffna peninsula in the year 2007. These people produced themselves in court through the human rights commission and pleaded voluntary remand imprisonment. According to legal sources in Jaffna, these people came to their decisions after life threats and escalation in extortions and abductions in the area. Nine families are among them, sources added. more..

Sri Lankan Parties unmoved by Govt`s decision

Jan 4 (LNP) Most political parties voiced agreement yesterday with the government`s decision to abrogate the Ceasefire Agreement. They endorsed the view that it had been virtually non existent except on paper. The UNP said the government`s decision was indicative of its desire for a military solution. Speaking to the press, UNPspokesman Tissa Attanayake said if the government had been intent on pursuing a political solution, it wouldn`t have dumped the CFA. more..