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Sri Lanka state bus, rail firms make heavy losses

Apr 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka's over-staffed and inefficient state-owned bus and railway services made heavy losses in 2008 despite higher revenues after fare increases, the central bank said. "The financial position of the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) continued to remain weak in 2008," the bank said in its annual report. SLTB's total revenue increased by 16.8 percent to 17,150 million rupees in 2008 from a year ago mainly owing to bus fare hikes. more..

Southern expressway Chinese contractor gets more cash

Apr 15 (LBO) A Chinese contractor building a part of an expressway to Sri Lanka's south has more than doubled the original contract value following cost escalations and a decision to widen the road. The cost of building the section of road from Kottawa in the suburbs of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo to Dodangoda, has increased from 9,585 million rupees to 20,000 million rupees. more..

'Prayers to the risen Christ for peace and unity in the country'

Apr 15 (AN) Easter recalls the victory of Jesus Christ, the living God, over the forces of darkness and destruction. Looking at Christ, humanity can rise again to a new life by overcoming the logic of death, war, and division. This is the message issued on the occasion of the Easter celebrations by Oswald Gomis, the archbishop of Colombo, Anglican bishop Duleep de Chickera, and Fr. Sebastian Maria Anthony, superior general of the Jesuits of Sri Lanka, more..

Unicef’s report and Sri Lanka

Apr 15 (BMJ) Unicef recently released The State of the World’s Children 2009, a report which presents the current situation regarding maternal and neonatal health in the world and explores avenues to strengthen primary health care and related health systems. The report singles out Sri Lanka among other countries in Asia and Africa as a model of success in improving maternal and neonatal health in a developing country setting. more..

Fast-spreading foreign insect destroying Lanka’s food basket

Apr 15 (FP) Sri Lanka's food basket is under attack by an army of tiny foreign bugs that have invaded plants, shrubs and even large trees, leaving behind a trail of devastation. The culprit, the mealybug, better-known as the piti makuna, started by preying on the beautiful Araliya and humble papaya trees, but has now moved on to almost any tree or shrub that catches its fancy. more..

Canada won't budge on banning Tamil Tigers

Apr 15 (G&M) Canada has done its best to end the long-running conflict in Sri Lanka, but will not bow to pressure to remove the Tamil Tigers from the list of banned terrorist groups, a federal cabinet minister said yesterday. For more than a week, Tamil supporters have been gathering around Parliament Hill to protest the war in the South Asian country and ask Ottawa to intervene. more..

Six prisoners shot dead in Sri Lanka

Apr 15 (IANS) Six prisoners mainly linked to the underworld were shot dead by guards when they attempted to escape from a jail in Sri Lanka early Wednesday, an official here said. Eleven prisoners at the Kalutara prison, about 45 km south of here, tried to escape from their cells around at 3 a.m. after cutting the iron bars. 'The prison officers fired at the escaping inmates, killing six and wounding four. One prisoner returned to his cell,' more..

Sri Lanka says no permanent truce until laying down of arms

Apr 15 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's government here Tuesday rejected a call by the LTTE rebels for a permanent ceasefire. "Taking the history of the conflict into consideration we can't agree to a ceasefire until the LTTE lay down arms", Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told reporters. "The LTTE want breathing space either to re-arm and regroup or time to have their leaders flee the area they are trapped in", more..

Short Sri Lanka truce over, doors open to final fight

Apr 15 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's two-day holiday fighting pause ended on Wednesday with the Tigers saying soldiers had begun an offensive, which the military denied but said it was now free to begin a final assault to crush the 25-year war. The Sri Lankan military says only 1,000 LTTE rebels remain, and accuse the fighters of holding around 100,000 civilians as human shields. In less than three years, the military has retaken 15,000 square km from the separatists and more..

Sampath Bank bids for stake in Seylan Bank

Apr 16 (LBO) Sampath Bank said it has submitted an Expression of Interest to the Central Bank to buy a stake in Seylan Bank, part of the troubled Ceylinco group. The Sampath Bank announcement was in a stock exchange filing that gave no other details. The bank was responding to an invitation by the central bank advertised last month calling for proposals from investors to invest 5.7 billion rupees to take a 33 percent stake in Seylan Bank. more..

“Ceasefire” sets stage for bloody assault

Apr 16 (wsws) A two-day unilateral “ceasefire” declared by the Sri Lankan government in the narrow, 17-square kilometre, strip of land still controlled by the separatist LTTE in the island’s north has set the stage for a final push by some 50,000 soldiers to attempt to wipe out the LTTE militarily. Due to expire today, the 48-hour halt was a cynical manoeuvre to appease international pressure for a truce and to blame the LTTE for the mounting civilian casualties that will only escalate once the military offensive resumes. more..

Time to Rewrite the Sri Lanka Agenda - Part II

Apr 16 (TC) Sri Lanka's long-term agenda has seen enough words; it urgently needs action. Last week, the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Sarath N. Silva speaking at Anuradhapura spelled out the fundamentals of a new long term agenda for Sri Lanka: peace must be maintained in the North by enforcing the rule of law. ?We must look into the causes of law breakdowns and the terrorism and find ways and means to rectify the situation,? more..

Traumatised Tamils live in fear of new crackdown in Sri Lanka

Apr 16 (TC) Last year, in a village in the east of Sri Lanka, Selvi Ratnarajah opened her door to find three masked men pointing guns at her face. They pushed inside and screamed at her to turn off the lights. When she refused, they shouted for her husband, Ravanana, dragged him into the street and forced him at gunpoint on to the back of a motorbike. "I went out of the house and ran and ran through the bush," she said, more..

53 Div uncovers dumped SAM missiles in Puthukkudiyirippu

Apr 16 (MoD) 53 Division troops led by Major General Kamal Gunarathne have uncovered 4 surface to air missiles (SAMs) dumped by LTTE terrorists in general area East of Puthukkudiyirippu yesterday (April 14) evening. The missiles were found during a search and clearing operation conducted by the 5th Gemunu Watch (5GW) infantrymen, area security sources said. more..

Tamils in Sri Lanka: Between the devil and the deep sea

Apr 16 (TC) In recent US senate foreign relations committee hearings, testimony from Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the previous US ambassador to Colombo among others was heard. It was a damning indictment on the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers for their rights abuses against the Tamil people. According to HRW, the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a large humanitarian disaster is in the making as more..

Historical opportunity for unity in Sri Lanka

Apr 16 (LG) LTTE ‘peace’ activists used to say, ‘Europe which has a total population of 800 million is made up of 45 language based nation states. South Asia which has a total population of one billion and 45 languages is comprised of only six states.’ This essentially sums up what the LTTE, Tamil Eelamists and other separatists in South Asia are up against. That’s not all, the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh were marked in extreme bloodshed. more..

"Sri Lankan Diaspora" celebrate New Year in both East & West

Apr 16 (LG) The dawn of the South Asian New Year (identified as Aluth Avurudda in Sri Lanka) was an event that neither the West nor the East could ignore. Migration and globalization has transformed the meaning of the East and the West from geographical entities to conceptual identities. For contrary to Rudyard Kipling’s “never the twain shall meet” poppycock, Asian “colonies” have popped up in Toronto (with 684,000 South Asians), more..

A good gesture but bad reception

Apr 16 (LG) The GOSL declared a unilateral ceasefire for two days amidst the peak of festivities in the New Year season. That is good. The world needs to see that even if ceasefires are declared, LTTE is not a humane enough to let the civilians go free. The squinted sections of the international community thinks that GOSL need to give the terrorist LTTE another chance to rise from the ashes, so they want the GOSL to declare ceasefires amidst impending defeat of the terrorists. more..

IOC profits immensely as the CPC in trouble due to Rs. 51,600 million debt

Apr 16 (LeN) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) employees point out that the CPC is in trouble due to massive loans that are to be settled due to oil hedging and for importing petroleum. Therefore, more responsibility of importing fuel into the country can be vested in with the Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC), they warn. The CPC is bound by hedging agreements approved by the cabinet to import fuel at the pre-specified prices despite the de-escalations until June 2009. more..

37 Tamils killed in Lanka on Day 1 of ceasefire: Vaiko

Apr 16 (EB) The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko on Tuesday alleged that 37 Lankan Tamils were killed on the first day of ceasefire announced by the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Addressing the MDMK cadres meeting at Thirumangalam, Vaiko charged that the Sri Lankan army had stepped up the arms in the war zone as a preparatory step to launch an intensive attack on Tamils. more..

Sri Lanka's divided demonstrators

Apr 16 (Guardian) The mass protests of diaspora Tamils across the globe have drawn attention to the current state of the 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka. The routing of the LTTE by government (GoSL) forces has led to thousands of Tamil civilians being trapped in a "no-fire zone" along with the LTTE. The vocal protests of the diaspora contrast sharply with the deafening silence of peace activists within Sri Lanka. more..

Media Monitoring and Analytics

TN CM refutes Opposition charges on Lankan issue

Apr 16 (PTI) Refuting allegations by Opposition parties that his government had not pressured the Centre to act on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said the Lankan government, instead of announcing "piece-meal ceasefires", should stop the war in the island's north. Writing in the DMK's official organ 'Murasoli', Karunanidhi hoped "that that the Centre will work towards that", and would "press the Centre to do that". more..

Lankan students 'lured' to Singapore

Apr 16 (BBC) The Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore says that it has received a large number of complaints on luring Sri Lankan students to Singapore. Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Singapore, Jayathri Samarakone, told BBC Sandeshaya that students are lured by agents using newspaper advertisements. She added that the agents advertise that, especially in the IT and hospitality industries, the students will be offered job training and employment following their courses. more..

Norway says Sri Lanka mediation ended long ago

Apr 16 (AFP) Norway has not been able to have a mediation role in Sri Lanka's civil war since the peace process broke down three years ago, a top Norwegian diplomat said. "We cannot be facilitators in a peace process which has in effect been suspended since 2006, "Norway's special envoy to Sri Lanka Jon Hanssen-Bauer said. Hanssen-Bauer spoke after the Sri Lankan government&aposs announcement today that Oslo had been stripped of its role in brokering a ceasefire.

Humanitarian pause ends

Apr 16 (Hindu) Sri Lanka has turned down a U.K. request for a “longer humanitarian pause” in the war-torn northern province on the ground that the LTTE has failed to demonstrate any genuine goodwill to allow free movement of civilians trapped in the No-Fire Zone (NFZ). Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama conveyed the viewpoint in the course of a telephone conversation with his British counterpart David Miliband. more..

Will Sri Lanka issue shape voter preference in Tamil Nadu?

Apr 16 (BL) Tamil Nadu has had nine general elections from 1984 to 2006. Barring 1991, in the aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur during the election campaign, the Sri Lankan Tamils issue has not been a factor in the outcome. But it may be this time, with elements sympathetic to the cause of an independent Tamil Eelam and the outlawed LTTE bent on projecting the Lankan ethnic issue as the main issue for the May 13 Lok Sabha elections. more..

Economic crisis ramping up, as war winds down

Apr 16 (IPS) Government troops are closing in on the last remnants of Tamil Tiger resistance in northern Sri Lanka as an upsurge of more that two years of fighting winds down. But, the country’s economic woes aren’t over. More and more pressure it being put on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cash-strapped administration. Even a planned 1.9 billion dollar bailout package from the IMF may not ease economic stresses. more..

UN: Sri Lanka rebels trapping 100,000 civilians

Apr 16 (AP) The U.N. humanitarian chief accused Tamil Tiger fighters of keeping 100,000 civilians trapped in a Sri Lankan war zone during a 48-hour cease-fire, which he criticized Wednesday as too short a time to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid. John Holmes urged a longer pause in hostilities to get the civilians out and avoid "a bloodbath on the beaches." more..

Sangakkara sees IPL fostering better bonds

Apr 16 (Gulf) The camaraderie and friendship that developed between players of different countries during the Indian Premier League may one day make the role of match referees redundant, feels Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain and one of the star performers for King's XI Punjab. "Hopefully, it will bring a day when the match referee is not needed to have a look at the games," Sangakkara said on the eve of IPL 2, more..

‘Peace facilitator’ loses credibility

Apr 16 (AT) Norwegian officials appear to have thrown overboard international obligations which they have undertaken to uphold in their haste to meddle in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. Though the most recent incident of turning a Nelsonian eye to the attack by suspected Tiger terrorist sympathisers on the Sri Lankan Embassy in Oslo and a deaf ear to its earlier repeated requests for security resulted in `pie in the face for Norway’ in the form of more..

Prabhakaran may not go on trial

Apr 16 (AT) Whether Prabakaran lives to go on trial or not will be decided by the government troops now closing in on him. The killing of innocent villagers a few days ago in the remote areas of Uwa in retaliation for the liquidation of a terror group in the jungle that has been systematically killing innocent civilians in these remote areas for many years may prompt the government troops to kill Prabakaran even if it became possible to catch him alive. more..

UN refuses to reveal location of staffers & families caught in crossfire

Apr 16 (AT) The United Nations says that for security reasons it will not reveal the names of UN staffers-- both local and international-- or their families caught in the crossfire between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military forces in the ongoing battle in the north. Fielding a series of questions on Sri Lanka, UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq formally clarified the UN position. more..

ENDLF urged for an immediate permanent Ceasefire and cessation of hostilities

Apr 16 (AT) ENDLF has urged for permanent ceasefire and cessation of hostilities between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE, followed by the rehabilitation of the over 250,000 Tamil civilians internally displaced in Vanni itself or in other areas of Northern Sri Lanka under the supervision of India or the UNHCR and other international agencies, and peace talks headed by India with the participation of a unified Eelam Tamil leadership. more..

US Ambassador attempts escape mechanism for LTTE through UN, Norway

Apr 16 (AT) Top international diplomatic source revealed that the LTTE has established contact with the United States of America through Norwegian facilitation to get safe passage for the LTTE Leaders by way of a surrender, through the United Nations. The surrender of the LTTE through the United Nations has been a move which has been suggested by the current LTTE leadership and has been endorsed by Robert Blake, more..

FMs say Tamil Tigers using 'human shields'

Apr 16 (AFP) The British and French foreign ministers said Wednesday that Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka are using civilians as human shields, which was preventing them from leaving the conflict zone. In a joint statement issued in London, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner urged the Sri Lankan government to declare a new ceasefire to allow aid in and civilians out. more..

Sri Lankan asylum seekers in breakout from Christmas Island

Apr 16 (TA) Three Sri Lankan fishermen are the first asylum seekers on Christmas Island to be charged with escaping custody after they bolted from the old detention centre last December at the height of the debate over the Rudd Government's reluctance to use the island's long-vacant new $400 million high-security centre. The new detention facility, built by the Howard government with security akin to a supermax prison, more..

Deal may allow Tiger leader exile escape

Apr 16 (Independent) The Sri Lankan government is attempting to broker a deal with the Tamil Tiger rebels that could see their veteran leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, allowed to lay down his arms and escape into exile in the hope of ending the island's bitter conflict. In what might represent at attempt to seize on possible divisions within the LTTE, The Independent has learnt that the government has put out "feelers" to the LTTE to see whether such a deal would be possible. more..

Residents & Police clash at Seeduwa

Apr 16 (LT) Three people injured in a clash between residents in Liyanagemulla area at Seeduwa and police officers at Seeduwa Police Station were admitted to Negombo Hospital. The incident has occurred when police officers who were after liquor had tortured a 12 year old boy. A group of people going home after religious activities have been involved in the incident at the 18th mile post at Liyanagemulla. more..

'People are sick and dying. There is no food, no water'

Apr 16 (Independent) From Paranthan, the road to Vallipuram is rich and green. Great expanses of paddy stretch out before you, clumps of palmyrah dot the land and little streams of water trickle by. As we near the fighting, paddy fields give way to broken buildings and blasted vehicles. Twisted trees and uprooted trunks line the way. Here, in an area formerly controlled by the Tamil Tigers but now in the hands of the Sri Lankan army as they besiege the LTTE more..

Getty images

Apr 16 (DL) A Sri Lankan Buddhist monk anoints a temple elephant in the Bellanvila suburb of Colombo on April 15, 2009, as part of the traditional new year rituals. Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, who marked their common New Year on April 14, use anointing as key ritual. more..

More civilians flee to gov't-controlled area

Apr 16 (Xinhua) The military said 135 civilians fled the No Fire Zone (NFZ) controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels in the north to the area controlled by the security forces on Wednesday, the first day after the ending of a two-day truce declared by the government. The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that 42 men, 38 women and 55 children escaped from Puttumatalan and Valayarmadam areas controlled by the LTTE and sought protection with 58th Division troops operating in the general area of Ampalavanpokkanai. more..

Kurunakar fish market reopened in Jaffna

Apr 16 (TN) Kurunakar fish market in Jaffna town which had remained closed by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) for nearly 20 years due to security reasons and occupied by the SLA for the last 15 years was officially reopened by SLA Wednesday for public use, sources in Jaffna said. Fisheries and Marine Resources Ministry, Jaffna Deputy Director, N. Tharmalingam, SLA officials, Fisheries Society representatives and political party persons took part in the event where fishermen sold their catch to public, more..

The use and misuse of international intervention

Apr 16 (GV) In this article, I propose to ponder on the issue of pacific international (i.e. mediatory) intervention in intrastate conflicts. I will especially focus on Sri Lanka, and the experiences of Indian and Norwegian intervention. The term ‘intervention’ normally implies military and economic intervention, or United Nations peacekeeping operations. This article focuses on international mediation, and the term ‘intervention’ refers more..

Central bank makes record forex loss

Apr 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank, which has a monopoly on money issue in the island, has made a 5.04 bullion rupee loss in 2009, badly hit by a 22.8 billion rupee forex loss, despite running a dollar peg which has to be backed by US assets. In 2008, the central bank made a profit of 29.8 billion rupees. A central bank, which has a state monopoly on money issue, has a captive opportunity to sit back and rake in profits or seigniorage as more..

Velupillai Prabhakaran Hung by his own petard

Apr 16 (LG) Doomed beyond redemption and awaiting annihilation, Velupillai Prabhakaran provided the most persuasive testimony to the irrevocable destruction a misguided megalomaniac can bring on himself and his followers. His contemptuous disrespect for humanity cried to heavens for vengeance. Well-respected leaders like Lakshman Kadirgamar and Neil Thiruchelvam were mere firing squad targets for Prabhakaran. more..

War, Peace and the Tamil Diaspora

Apr 16 (LG) Defence is the best form of offence. Or, at least that seems to be the thinking of pro-LTTE Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora groups campaigning and protesting for an immediate end to the ethnic war in the country. They all want the Sri Lankan Government to rein in the armed forces, and want the international community to rein in the Sri Lankan Government, to this end. None can deny the loss and sufferings of the Tamil civilian population caught in the cross-fire. more..

Prabhakaran must be held answerable in Sri Lanka

Apr 16 (LG) If there is a conspiracy being hatched in some quarters to give safe passage to freedom for Prabhakaran, this must be nipped in the bud. No country should be allowed to interfere in respect of a person who has committed hideous and ghastly crimes in Sri Lanka, has a long prison sentence to be served and also wanted by India for the murder of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. more..

Implementing tri-lingualism quickly is essential for national reconciliation in Sri Lanka

Apr 16 (TC) "Language policy my main concern" said Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, A.K.A. Karuna Amman MP when he assumed office as Minister of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration. He also maintained that the Tamils should learn Sinhala and the Sinhalese learn Tamil for communal amity and national integrity to build up. At last someone was talking with a lot of commonsense on a issue which needed attention and which would make a difference to the country. more..

Interview with Vasudeva: Part 2