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It is a hostage crisis, stupid!

May 1 (GV) The Sri Lankan military is dealing with probably the largest hostage crisis in world history. Sri Lanka and its present leadership will be forever remembered for how it handles this unprecedented predicament. As a long and protracted battle draws to a miserable end, it is right to be intensely concerned about the civilian population trapped between the advancing Sri Lankan military and the cornered LTTE. more..

Tigers confined to three sq. kms

May 1 (DN) Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said yesterday there were no discussions held with any party about a ceasefire and that Security Forces are on the verge of rescuing the remaining civilians in the No Fire Zone. “The 190,000 who are now in the cleared areas (by April 28) have not been injured in any way and are enjoying food, drinking water, shelter, medical facilities, education, telephone facilities and also entertainment (television). more..

UNP losing credibility - Minister Yapa

May 1 (DN) The Western Provincial Council will be established shortly. The UPFA salutes the people for granting a landslide victory, Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said. The vote base of the UPFA has increased significantly when comparing with the 2005 Presidential Election while the UNP has recorded a significant decline in its vote base, he said addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing more..

Outsiders and organisations not allowed to enter Vavuniya IDP camp

May 1 (DN) The Defence, Public Security, Law and Order Ministry requested individuals and organisations to refrain from entering nor request permission to enter the Manikfarm Village so that defence officials working for the betterment of the civilians are able to work without hindrance. Many organisations and individuals had requested permission from the Ministry for authorisation to enter the Vavuniya, Manikfarm IDP welfare village. more..

JVP May Day rally in Campbell Park

May 1 (CT) The JVP rally to mark May Day will be held at Campbell Park, Borella, starting at 2.00 pm today. The JVP will not hold a May Day parade this year. The UNP and the SLFP will not hold May Day parades or rallies this year. Instead, the UNP will hold a series of religious activities that will be led by the party leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe. The main event will be held at Vajira Sri Children's Home in Kotte. more..

Child sponsorship update from Piliyandala

May 1 (SOS) Dear Friends, It is this time of the year that we share our achievements and setback with our partners, our dear sponsors. It would be difficult for us to achieve what we have, without the support and commitment of you, our sponsors and donors. I believe that you share our joy and our concern as we share the life at the SOS Children’s Village Piliyandala during the first half of the year 2008. more..

In peace, Sri Lankans still disappear

May 1 (GP) When the Venkatesans recall how many of their family members have disappeared, the husband and wife look down at their hands and begin counting fingers. Four of their relations are missing, each abducted in the night by unmarked white vans. Three were taken in the last four months. For any other family around the world, this number would be shocking. But for an ethnic Tamil family in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, it is unremarkable. more..

UNP Leader's May Day message

May 1 (Island) Leader of the UNP and Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his May Day message, said that this year’s May Day emerges amidst the closure of hundreds of factories depriving workers of their employment. "In other countries the government renders assistance to prevent the closure of factories and already those who were deprived of employment were being assisted. more..

JVP to play the ‘good samaritan’

May 1 (Island) The JVP will seek the approval of the Security Council and the Ministry of Health to send a team of medical officers and nurses to attend to the needs of the internally displaced persons in the rehabilitation camps in Vavuniya and Mannar, a senior JVPer said. JVP Kurunegala District Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake said nearly 150,000 civilians were displaced and more..

Criticism as a fig leaf

May 1 (Island) Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has faulted the government for having allowed Sri Lanka's conflict to be internationalised without taking steps to resolve it. He has also urged the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) to present its report immediately. What really led to the internationalisation of the conflict in its present form as an armed insurgency and why does a solution continue to elude us? more..

'Speedy resettlement for all IDPs'

May 1 (MoD) The Government has explained to the two visiting foreign dignitaries from UK and France that it expects to resettle all displaced people from the North at the earliest possible, Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona said. Dr. Kohona told the media yesterday that the matter of resettlement and several other issues were discussed at length by visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and UK Foreign Affairs Secretary of State David Miliband, more..

Practise what you preach

May 1 (DM) Sri Lanka has strongly objected to the failure by Britain and France to crackdown on demonstrations staged in those countries by pro-LTTE supporters who even raised the LTTE flag, and asked if they would do the same if such protests were staged by pro Al Qaeda groups. Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona told journalists yesterday that the government had made these observations when more..

Sweden snubs Lanka

May 1 (DM) Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has declined a fresh invitation by the Sri Lankan government after Sweden publicly announced earlier this week that a visa for the Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka with his French and British counterparts was rejected. Swedish Minister Bildt’s press secretary Irena Busic confirmed that the Minister was extended a fresh invitation but he would not accept the invitation from the Sri Lankan government. more..

‘Mafia like situation’ in prisons – Prison’s Chief

May 1 (DM) Outgoing Prison’s Chief General Vajira Wijegunawardena alleged that certain prison officials are corrupt and are responsible for some of the illegal activities that are taking place in the prison system which is resulting in the creation of a “mafia like situation”. General Wijegunawardena said that while the Prison’s organization was not the ‘most corrupt’ in the country, more..

Sri Lanka IMF bailout; UK to look at 'situation on the ground'

May 1 (LBO) Britain will consider the ground situation of Sri Lanka's conflict before backing an International Monetary Fund bailout, its foreign minister has told parliament, while the US is also leaning on the loan. Sri Lanka has asked for a 1.9 billion US dollar bailout which the island's central bank says has reached an "advanced level of finalization," amid reports that the US State Department is blocking the loan. more..

Kushal stands out in tame draw

May 1 (CI) Kushal Janith Perera made merry on the third day at the Khulna Divisional Stadium as the second Youth Test between Bangladesh Under-19 and Sri Lanka Under-19 ended in a stalemate. Sri Lanka U-19 looked edgy at 95 for 5 in their second innings after securing a slender 23-run lead, but Perera's fluent century propped them up. Imesh Udayanga provided solid support with a composed fifty as the two put on 165 for the sixth wicket. more..

Kulasekara called up by Kings XI Punjab

May 1 (CI) Kings XI Punjab have called up Sri Lankan fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara as an emergency replacement for the injured Australian batsman Shaun Marsh for the remainder of the IPL. "We are trying to get him here at the earliest as a replacement for Marsh," Col Aravinder Singh, the franchise's spokesperson, told Cricinfo. Marsh was the overall leading run-scorer in last year's IPL and was instrumental in taking the team to the semi-finals. more..

Buddhists, Catholics aid war refugees

May 1 (UCAN) Buddhists and Catholics in Colombo, shocked by the plight of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians caught up in Sri Lanka’s civil war, have organized relief collection for those displaced. With about 185,000 refugees confined in government-controlled camps across the Jaffna peninsula, about 300 Buddhist monks took to the Colombo-Galle Highway on April 29 for a Pindapatha Charikawa (walk collecting alms), to collect relief items. more..

Sri Lanka admits bombed 'no-fire' zone

Sri Lanka should be magnanimous in victory despite the Tigers' brutality

May 1 (G&M) Commanders who smell victory are not much interested in moderation. After more than 25 years of conflict with a brutal separatist enemy, the government of Sri Lanka has the LTTE cornered in a tiny coastal strip in the island country's north. The army has captured or killed several top Tiger commanders and reduced the rebel army to a remnant of perhaps 500 to 2,000 fighters. more..

Over-tolerant police

May 1 (G&M) It is admirable that the Toronto police are so sensitive to the emotions understandably afflicting the Tamil community over the violence in Sri Lanka. The constabulary should, however, not have allowed a major artery to be taken over for days by an unlawful protest. There must be limits to police understanding. They are not sworn grievance facilitators. They are officers of the law, and they cannot simply look the other way whenever a group of protesters more..

Sri Lanka in Photos - A Land of Surprise

May 1 (IBT) One of my best friends for the past 20-plus years is Sri Lankan. I was essentially “adopted” by their family during my formative years. But in all of these years, I never sincerely thought about their distant island-nation — until this year. I decided to take a short sabbatical to the country. A short, surprising sabbatical. Sri Lanka would reveal its varied landscapes, its varied cultures, its history, its troubles, and more. more..

East offers glimpse of post-war Sri Lanka

May 1 (GP) As the Sri Lankan government enters its final battle with the LTTE in the country's north, little attention is being paid to the Eastern Province. The government won control of this territory nearly two years ago, after a long military battle, and has since touted the region as a political and humanitarian success story. The East has in fact become the government’s blueprint for future plans in the North. more..

Gimme more

May 1 (HT) We love the silly season. You can actually get up in the morning and read that we will have a Bangladesh war on our hands. Before, you leap out of bed wondering whether your coffee is a little stronger than normal and that you are imagining things, let us tell you that anything is possible in this season of elections. So we have J. Jayalalithaa telling us that she will stop at nothing to carve out an Eelam state in Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lankans tire of foreign meddling

May 1 (NP) With the Tamil Tiger rebels besieged and apparently near collapse after a quarter-century of civil war, the Sri Lankan press have not been kind to nations appealing for a ceasefire. "Get your humanitarian paws off my country," read a headline this week, while a columnist complained about interference by "salmon-eating" countries and an editorial decried "hoity-toity foreign do-gooders." more..

23 Sea Tigers killed as Sri Lankan Navy foils break out attempt

May 1 (PTI): Sri Lankan forces on Friday foiled another desperate attempt by Tamil Tigers to break out, sinking their three boats in a pre-dawn strike killing 23 Sea Tigers and in a further embarrassment for the rebels 58 child soldiers, including a senior female LTTE leader, surrendered. The Sri Lankan warships who have blockaded the small coastline off Mullaittivu, still held by the Tigers noticed an attempt by three LTTE boats to take to sea and sank them after challenging them, more..

'Prabhakaran still in Sri Lanka'

May 1 (IANS) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has said that LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran is still in the small strip of coastal land the rebels hold in the island's north. In an interview broadcast on an Indian television channel Friday, Bogollagama said government forces were "almost near capturing" Prabhakaran. "We believe that he is still there," he said, adding that the whereabouts of Prabhakaran's family or close associates was not known. more..

David Miliband on Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka troops tighten siege of Tamil rebels

May 1 (AFP) Sri Lankan government troops have tightened their siege of the last strip of land on the island still controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels and are poised for a final assault, the military said Friday. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told AFP that two columns of troops had consolidated positions along a strip of coastline in the northeast captured from the ethnic rebels earlier this week. more..

Sri Lanka urges civilians to flee war zone

May 1 (AP) Sri Lanka's government dropped leaflets across the northern war zone Friday urging civilians to flee the fighting amid accusations the military pounded the area with artillery shells that killed at least 10 civilians. Government forces have cornered the Tamil Tiger rebels in a 3-mile (5 kilometer) -long strip along the northeast coast and appear poised to end the quarter-century civil war. more..

Tamil protest tiny price for freedom

May 2 (TS) An officer pinches the bridge of his nose, rubs his temples. Gets to hurtin' the head, these raucous street-level demonstrations, bullhorns blaring in the ears, and there's been five days of it, already. It was the noise that local law enforcement addressed first, Wednesday night into yesterday morning, disabling the generator and sound system that had so resoundingly amplified a protest by Toronto-area Tamils along a stretch of elegant University Ave. more..

Tamil protesters moved off street

May 2 (TS) It only took police a few minutes to clear the street. Dozens of officers moved in, and the Tamil protesters, outnumbered for the first time in several days, gave up their position on University Ave. "So many Tamil people are dying," said Lexie Thambinayagam, 19, yesterday after police moved a group of fewer than a hundred people to the sidewalk. "They are dying. They don't know when they will die. They have no protection," more..

Tamils' cause just, but not their tactics

May 2 (TS) Toronto has many excellent venues for political demonstrations -- Queen's Park and Nathan Phillips Square among them. Tamil protesters wanting to call attention to the plight of their families and friends in Sri Lanka, innocent victims of that nation's 26-year civil war between its Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority, should make use of them. more..

Defeat of Tamil Tigers

May 2 (CC) As the LTTE suffers one military setback after another, a small and ever-shrinking strip of land is all that remains of the territory held by the rebels, who at a time held whole swathes of northern Sri Lanka, running their own police force, schools and courts. With the Sri Lankan Army putting the Tamil Tigers on the run, President Rajapaksa's only line of reception to the LTTE is to surrender or perish. more..

What will end game of Sri Lankas war mean for civilians?

Swiss grant emergency aid for Sri Lanka

May 2 (SI) Switzerland is to provide SFr1.4 million ($1.23 million) in emergency aid for the victims of the civil war in the north of Sri Lanka. The foreign ministry has also renewed its appeal to the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Tamil Tiger rebel group to respect international humanitarian law. An extra SFr1 million will be added to the SFr6.5 million already budgeted this year for civilian aid. more..

UN images show Sri Lanka damage

May 2 (BBC) UN satellite pictures obtained by the BBC appear to show shelling damage in a government-designated safe zone for civilians in north-eastern Sri Lanka. The images show many crater marks in an area where tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped owing to fighting between the army and rebels. The rebels have long accused the army of shelling the zone. The government said there was no indication of army responsibility or when the shells had fallen. more..

Japan provides relief package worth USD 4mn

May 2 (GDI) Japanese special envoy, Mr. Yasushi Akashi has appreciated the Government’s efforts in resettling the civilians who are temporarily housed in the welfare camps in the North, Government Information Department sources from Vavunia said. Mr. Akashi making a visit to the relief villages setup in Chettikulam Kadirgamar and Ramanathan today (01) said that the Government of Japan will continue to stand with the Government of Sri Lanka in providing aid and more..

Govt. promises to hold elections in North

May 2 (PTI) The Sri Lankan Government has promised to hold elections in the embattled Northern Province once LTTE "terrorism" is completely "eradicated". "We will hold an election for the Northern Province after LTTE terrorism is completely eradicated," Senior Presidential Adviser Basil Rajapaksa said yesterday. He said "the government will not give in to conditions from the international organizations assisting Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lankan forces poised for final assault on LTTE

May 2 (PTI) A pre-dawn breakout bid through the high seas by beleaguered Tamil Tigers was today foiled by Sri Lankan navy, who sank their three boats killing 23 sea Tigers as the army appeared poised for a final assault. The Lankan warships which have blockaded the small coastline off Mullaittivu, still held by the Tigers noticed an attempt by three LTTE boats to take to sea and sank them after challenging them, a naval spokesman said. more..

'Tamil or Lankan bullets don't matter'

May 2 (Rediff) While we speak to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees at the Gumidipoondi camp outside Chennai, we are accosted by an inspector of the Tamil Nadu police's 'Q' branch. He asks us to leave the camp immediately and shouts at the refugees for speaking to us. We can see the refugees are intimidated by him, they refuse to let their names be included in this report. There are 117 refugee camps for Sri Lankan Tamils in Tamil Nadu. more..

Hashan Fernando's Street Magic

UN sends emergency team as residents return to former battle zone

May 2 (UN) While thousands continue to flee the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka, others have started to return to their homes in former battle areas, and the United Nations refugee agency said today it is sending teams to aid their transition. Some 400 people returned yesterday to a village in the Mannar district, which was for a long time the front line between the Government and the LTTE, according to the UNHCR. more..

Coca-Cola enters Sri Lanka juice drink market with “Minute Maid Mango”

may 2 (FP) Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka announced the national launch of Minute Maid Mango - its latest innovation under the Minute Maid umbrella - the world’s leading juice and juice drink brand. Minute Maid Mango is a naturally refreshing Mango flavored juice drink which offers an unmatched taste experience to consumers due to the presence of real “Mango Pulp” offering a tangy taste and natural goodness. more..

Wesak Festival: Blessings for transforming consciousness

May 2 (VM) As the history of mankind progresses, humanity now faces its greatest struggle: to regain a balance of life in order to secure a future for the planet. The Buddha’s First Noble Truth, “all is suffering,” is becoming a greater and greater reality. A collective awareness is generating, centered on the knowledge that societal change can only come about through inner transformation. more..

Singapore contributes US$30,000 in aid of Sri Lanka

May 2 (ISRIA) Singapore is deeply concerned over the serious humanitarian situation in northern Sri Lanka. The United Nations (UN), its related agencies and the international media have reported on mounting civilian casualties and the humanitarian emergency conditions in the conflict zone as well as in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. more..

10 Lanka refugees die of starvation

Editorials: What needs to be done

May 2 (Hindu) There is a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka’s North, involving tens of thousands of Tamil civilians uprooted from their homes or held hostage in an embattled sliver of coastal land that barely comprises seven square km. There is an existential crisis for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which once upon a time was one of the world’s most resourceful and deadly separatist politico-military organisations. more..

Kids recruited by LTTE surrender, reveal horror stories

May 2 (IBN) Even as the Sri Lankan army claims that the LTTE is counting its days, thousands of children in the island who were recruited by the terror outfit have surrendered. Forcefully recruited by the rebels, the children and survivors recount horrific tales of the LTTE's brutalities. One of the child soldiers who surrendered, Sasi Kanakariga Pillai says, "We used to go to school, but were always in hiding. more..

Ruthless, dedicated Tamil leader faces final assault

May 2 (G&M) He called it, with no trace of irony, thatkodai, the Tamil word for "the gift of life." Velupillai Prabhakaran has asked it of so many of his followers in the last 30 years, the hundreds of Tamils who carried out suicide missions on his orders. Will he give thatkodai himself, today, tomorrow, this week, as the horrifically violent showdown in Sri Lanka drags on? Today Mr. Prabhakaran is pinned into a five-kilometre sandy patch, more..