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Development Diaries - June 11, 2011

U.N. assembly approves second term for U.N. chief Ban

June 22 (Reuters) The 192-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously approved a second five-year term for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, who analysts and diplomats see as a solid ally of Washington. The former South Korean foreign minister, who took over as U.N. secretary-general from his predecessor Kofi Annan in 2007, was re-elected to the world body's top job by acclamation, effective next January 1. Ban, 67, was unopposed, making his re-election a virtual certainty after more..

Fishermen issue: parties seek immediate action

June 22 (Hindu) Political leaders in Tamil Nadu have demanded immediate action on the part of the Central and State governments to protect fishermen, especially from Sri Lankan forces, following the arrest of 23 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy on Monday. Pattali Makkal Katchi leader S.Ramadoss has urged the State govt to provide armed police escort to fishermen while going out to sea. He wanted the Central govt to warn Sri Lanka that any such pain inflicted on more..

Sri Lanka regime rejects press freedom bill

June 22 (AFP) Sri Lanka's ruling party used its parliamentary majority Tuesday to defeat an opposition-initiated bill to grant greater media freedom. President Mahinda Rajapakse's UPFA, which enjoys a two-thirds majority in the 225-member assembly, shot down the Freedom of Information Bill presented by an opposition lawmaker, an official said. "The combined opposition voted for the bill, but the govt overwhelmingly voted against it," more..

'De-mining will take another nine years'

June 22 (Island) The ongoing de-mining operations in the Northern and Eastern Provinces would take nine years to complete. Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardena said that since 2002 the government had cleared an area of 5,594.89 square kilometers in the two provinces. Sri Lanka had received the assistance of Switzerland, Denmark, Great Britain and India to carry out de-mining. Several other countries, including the US, Japan and Australia had provided support for the ongoing project. more..

Police save PHI from assault

June 22 (Island) The police had to intervene when a person in Maharagama allegedly attempted assault a public health inspector who was participating in the island wide mosquito control campaign. The Spokesman for the Health Ministry said on Tuesday that there had been several incidents reported from various areas in the Colombo District on the day the Ministry launched its National Mosquito Control Week. The said person had a large number of mosquito breeding places in his home and its surrounding area. more..

India-Sri Lanka tug-of-war

June 22 (SG) IT was almost a year ago when the Sri Lankan government was forced to fall back on plans to endorse the Indo-Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) after local businessmen took to the streets in protest against the scheme. It came after President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s own assurance that he would not enter into any pact that would harm the island’s economic interests that the demonstrators backed off and temporarily ended the campaign then. more..

'Faith can build bridges across the vast divide'

June 22 (ACN) The leader of Catholics in Sri Lanka has said the Church has a crucial role to play in helping to bring healing after the country's bloody civil war. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo said that, although Catholics were only a minority on the island, they were in a unique position to help promote reconciliation between Sri Lanka's two ethnic groups. more..

Private buses to go on strike

June 22 (DM) The Lanka Private Bus Owners Association today confirmed that arrangements have been made to go on an all-island strike on June 27 (Monday) owning to the transport authorities unwillingness to increase bus fares by 15% and the minimum bus fare by Rs.6 to 8. The associations President Gemunu Wijeyratne speaking said that leaflets have been distributed to bus passengers around the country and that more..

TNA threatens to pull out of talks

June 22 (DM) The TNA yesterday threatened to pull out of the ongoing talks with the government if it went ahead with appointing a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to find a solution to the North-East conflict. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that the proposed PSC would not bring any tangible result and would be only a time consuming and useless exercise. “There are more than enough guides in the form of final reports and recommendations of various committees and more..

Academics in protest march

June 22 (DM) Bringing the university academics’ ongoing struggle to the streets, a protest march was staged in Colombo for the first time yesterday with the participation of academics from all universities. Hundreds of university academics from Colombo, Jayewardenepura, Sabaragamuwa, Moratuwa, Ruhuna and several other universities participated in the protest march which was organized by the FUTA before more..

‘Hambantota’s bid is largely virtual’

June 22 (DM) Chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Mike Hooper says the Sri Lankan's Hambantota's bid for the next Commonwealth Games is largely virtual. “We will be in Colombo for the briefings and the sort of sessions that we are doing right now,” he said. "Certainly in relation to an onsite visit, we have a full day travelling across to Hambantota.” "We will be flying across I think helicopter across 40 minutes and more..

Prabha’s wife and children safe and sound – Azwer

June 22 (NN) Government Nationalist list MP A.H.M. Azwer told Parliament today that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had looked after the wife and children of Vellupillai Prabakaran after the LTTE leader’s death. The statement made by the MP is bound to raise eyebrows however as it was widely reported in 2009 that the bodies of Prabakaran’s wife and children were found at the site of the final battle. more..

Online news portals temporarily blocked

June 22 (Scoop) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by reports that access to independent news portals Groundviews and Vikalpa was temporarily blocked on Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) ADSL on June 20. The two news portals are among the few openly critical media outlets in the country. The award-winning citizen journalism portal Groundviews, published in English, and the Sinhala-language partner site Vikalpa are hosted by NGO more..

'Ban’s visit to SL not correctly portrayed in the Channel 4 documentary'

June 22 (DM) The United Nations said that UN Chief Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Sri Lanka’s northern part during the last stage of the War was not correctly portrayed in the ‘Sri Lanka’s killing filed’ film, that was produced and aired by British Channel 4 news service. “…the Secretary-General did much more than a whistle-stop tour to one refugee camp, and that he most certainly did speak to refugees in camps in Sri Lanka. more..

Another round of SL bashing in UK Parliament today

June 22 (Island) A section of British politicians, heavily dependent on the pro-LTTE elements for re-election, is throwing its full weight behind war crime charges targeting Sri Lanka, with yet another panel discussion now scheduled to take place today at the Inter-Parliamentary Union room in the House of Commons. Govt sources told The Island that the UK-based LTTE rump had urged Tamil voters to pressure their MPs to participate in Sri Lanka bashing. more..

Sri Lanka replace injured Fernando with Prasad

June 23 (AFP) Sri Lanka Cricket on Wednesday called up bowler Dhammika Prasad to replace the injured Dilhara Fernando for the upcoming limited-overs series with England. Prasad, 28, last played a one-day match for Sri Lanka in 2009 when Pakistan toured Colombo. Since making his ODI debut in 2006, he has taken five wickets in five outings giving away 217 runs. "Dilhara Fernando will be returning to Sri Lanka after an injury suffered during the third Test match at Rose Bowl," more..

Sri Lanka's best struggle in England

June 23 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara finally did it. After 17 innings with a high-score unworthy of a batsman, who averages more than Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, and Rahul Dravid, Sangakkara eventually scored a Test century in England. It wasn't at Lord's, or at any of England's other traditional venues, but Sangakkara's 119 in Southampton - he now shares the record for the highest score at the Rose Bowl - saved Sri Lanka the Test and improved his record in his bogey country. more..

Malaysian Parliament rejects debate on Sri Lanka

June 23 (FMT) Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar baffled some MPs today when he rejected an emergency motion to debate alleged civil war atrocities in Sri Lanka on the ground that it “involved the internal affairs of another country”. M Kulasegaran (DAP- Ipoh Barat) noted that Parliament had even passed resolutions against other countries, such as Israel, and Johari Abdul (PKR-Sungai Petani) pointed out that the Dewan Rakyat had often more..

Sri Lanka to restrict coconut land sales

June 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka aims to bring in new laws restricting sale of coconut land to extents below five acres under efforts to prevent further reduction of acreage and to increase crops, an official said. Minister of coconut development Jagath Pushpakumara said the new laws would be introduced in parliament in about four months. The restrictions were needed to prevent further fragmenting of coconut land which was one of the reasons for lower cops in recent years, he told a news conference. more..

Catholic wants Saudi maid investigation

June 23 (UCAN) A Catholic activist today joined human rights groups calling on the govt to conduct a full probe in the case involving Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, who is on death row in a Saudi jail. “Rights groups in Sri Lanka have joined hands with Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to call on the govt of Sri Lanka to conduct a full probe,” said Catholic priest Priest Father Nandana Manatunga, head of the House of Torture Victims in the diocese of Kandy. more..

How to create jobs in former conflict zone?

June 23 (IRIN) Private investment is key to stability in Sri Lanka’s conflict-affected north. “It’s very important. There are so many unemployed,” Piencia Charles, the most senior govt official in Vavuniya District said. The former war zone, popularly known as the Vanni, has seen a host of development projects since late 2009, but jobs are still scarce. Although current figures are unavailable, estimates suggest unemployment could be as high as 20 percent, more..

Govt. MP Azwar says he is sorry

June 23 (NN) Govt national list MP A.H.M Azwar apologized to parliament today saying he made a mistake in his statement regarding LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabakaran’s family yesterday. The MP said that his intention was to mention the name of slain LTTE political head S.P Thamilchelvam and how his family was taken care of by the government. Azwar said he had mistakenly mention Prabakaran’s name instead of Thamilchelvam and appolagised to parliament for the mistake. more..

43-member delegation went with MR

June 23 (DM) The President’s Office said today a 43-member delegation accompanied President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his visit to St Petersburg in Russia last week. Presidential spokesman Bandula Jayasekara rejected claims made by UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka that an 81-member delegation accompanied the President. “Mr. Attanayaka should not utter lies and tarnish the President’s image. As a former minister he is aware who should be included more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 22.06.2011

Academics’ crisis to end soon?

June 23 (DM) Indicating signs of a positive ending for the struggle of university academics, Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) today said that discussions with the Higher Education Minister last evening ended on a successful note. “The Minister agreed to the basic framework of the alternative proposal submitted by us last week and the discussions last evening were focused on methods to implement the proposal while overcoming certain practical issues. more..

'Release Thilakawardena Report on corruption in arms purchases'

June 23 (Island) The report of the Presidential Commission, headed by Justice Shirani Thilakawardena, which had inquired into alleged corruption running into millions of dollars in the purchase of arms for the military, was yet to be released even though four years had lapsed, the UNP charged. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the Commission had commented about the conduct of several armed forces commanders, but when more..

'Corruption intensifies in SLC'

June 23 (AD) UNP MP Harin Fernando alleged that corruption and deceit has taken over the cricketing scene in Sri Lanka today. He alleged that the Sri Lanka Premier League which is scheduled to be held from the July 19 is sponsored by a virtually unknown Singapore Based Company, Somerset Entertainment Ventures. He further added that Somerset Entertainment was registered as a company only after receiving sponsorship rights of the SLPL more..

England captain Andrew Strauss praises Kumar Sangakkara

June 23 (BBC) Captain Andrew Strauss paid tribute to Kumar Sangakkara after his century denied England victory in the third Test at the Rose Bowl. Sangakkara's 119 helped the tourists bat until tea on the final day, after which rain forced an early close. "We got ourselves in a position to go on and win the game," said Strauss. "But fair play to Sangakkara especially, the Sri Lankans blunted our attack and we didn't make the inroads we needed to make." more..

TNA wants solution

June 23 (NN) The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will support the government if an acceptable political solution is put forward, TNA leader R. Sambanthan told Parliament today. He also expressed regret over the incident which took place in Jaffna on June 16 where a rally attended by a group of TNA MPs came under attack. Sambanthan said the incident was a violation of human rights and called for a full investigation into the incident. The TNA leader blamed the army for incident. more..

Alleged rapist freed

June 23 (NN) A Sri Lankan man who was arrested in Jordan over the weekend over allegations of rape and abuse of women at a garment factory, has been set free, the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights said. Charles Kernaghan, director of the institute told News that Anil Shantha was freed yesterday and he is now back at the same garment factory in Jordan. “Anil Santha was imprisoned for rape on Saturday, June 18. more..

Twelve army soldiers in the Channel 4 video identified

June 23 (LG) Twelve army soldiers who are in the two Channel 4 videos have been identified, a senior officer of the Sri Lanka Army said. He said that the identified army soldiers are from the Army’s Commando unit, Special Task Force and the 681st Brigade. Among those identified are several officers and soldiers. Even after being identified, the Defence Secretary has asked the Army Commander to keep a close watch on them without ordering any action against them. more..

Channel 4 documentary: Sri Lanka’s “Killing Fields” and what was the UN doing?

June 23 (LG) The film, billed as “one of the most shocking films ever screened by Channel 4” did, true to its word make “a powerful case for bringing those guilty of war crimes in Sri Lanka to justice.” It had an explicit message to the UN and the international community: Unquestionably the next step to Channel 4’s (C4’s) documentary on ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ is to start the wheels of justice moving. Establishing an independent international inquiry should be more..

Thousands of civilians given free meals at Army Poson Dansala of 52 Division

June 23 (Cimic) To mark the Poson festival this year, soldiers of the 52 Division, with guidance of General Officer Commanding 52 Division Brigadier Anura Sudhdasinghe, organized some Dansala and provided free meals to thousands of people passing Point Pedro town, Kodikamam and Chavakachcheri areas on 15th and 16th June. Troops of 521 Brigade of Point Pedro served lunch for more than 4000 civilians. At the same time, Kodikamam-based 522 Brigade provided more..

Responsible response to Channel 4 video required

June 23 (LG) The video footage of the last phase of Sri Lanka’s war by the British television broadcaster Channel 4 has been taken on by other international media channels such as Al Jazeera, giving it a global dimension. It has also been shown at the margins of international forums such as the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, at the British Parliament and now also at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This is being denounced by members of the govt more..

The need to shun extravagance

June 23 (LG) A foreign news item says Swaziland King Mswati III has cancelled plans for a lavish “Silver Jubilee” in the face of a “serious financial crisis” the country experiences today. The news item further adds that Mswati had been expected to host posh celebrations in September to mark the 25th anniversary of his rule, with 1.2 million Euros set aside for the party. The media also say, “Mswati drew international scrutiny and public discontent in 2008 when more..

Good times for Kantale curd industry

June 23 (SO) The Government has implemented major development projects in the North and the East to improve living standards of the people and to uplift the regional economy under the Uthuru Wasanthaya and Negenahira Navodhaya development projects. Once the development projects are completed, the North and the East will remain as the centre of the development process. New business enterprises and industries have come up in the region. more..

‘Killing Fields’: If Politicians are unable to see the dangers staring at them?

June 23 (TC) ‘Killing fields’ can be a phrase used to describe a most mundane fact known to humanity, or it could be a most provocative phrase to an ethnic majority or minority group. When viewed from the standpoint of a human being, one need not try hard to realize that the moment one factors in the number of killings that may have taken place, the amount of brutal wars that have been fought by man against man in the past, the kind of death and destruction that resulted in more..

Spirtuality, Religion and Human Conflict

June 23 (GV) The desire for the triumph of good over evil is an inherent human spiritual need and consequently it is the underlying theme of all religious teachings. It is a universally accepted truth that the propagation of good leads to happiness while the propagation of evil leads to suffering. The concept of Good can be defined as human thoughts, words and deeds which benefit and sustain the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing of humanity more..

Arsenic upheaval: The truth and fiction

June 23 (SL) The alleged presence of Arsenic (As) in rice and pesticides in an article published in the ‘Vidusara’ newspaper on April 27, 2011 has created a media sensation. The gist of the story based on an interview with Dr. Channa Jayasumana (MD) of Rajarata University was that the cause for Chronic Kidney Disease of Unidentified Etiology (CKDu) in the North Central and Uva provinces is deposits of high levels of As compound in the kidneys. more..