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Civilians deaths increased monthly says US

Sept 19 (BBC) The US embassy in Colombo reported to the State Department that the average civilian death toll in the battle zone in Sri Lanka increased every month as fighting intensified. 63 civilians a day on average were killed in inside and outside the war zone during the last stages of the war against the Tamil Tigers, according to the latest Wikileaks revelations. Quoting unpublished UN figures provided on 07 April 2009, Ambassador Robert Blake has reported on the same day that 4164 civilians were killed from more..

TNA wants visible, concrete steps: Joshi

Sept 19 (Hindu) A Tamil National Alliance delegation which met senior BJP leader and Member of Parliament, Murli Manohar Joshi here told him that “some concrete steps must be visible” soon in arriving at a political solution to the ethnic question. The talks between the Sri Lankan government and the TNA had collapsed early last month, after the TNA insisted on a response to its discussion papers. The talks resumed on September 16, and a joint statement was put out. It said: more..

SL v Aus, 3rd Test: Mathews helps Sri Lanka build lead

Sept 19 (CI) It took until the third-last day of the series, but Sri Lanka finally delivered all the way through their batting order as Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene made half-centuries to grind Australia down at the SSC. Throw in a handy 47 from Prasanna Jayawardene and the 79 that Kumar Sangakkara completed on the third morning, and it made for a long, hot day in the field for Australia. more..

'Oman and Sri Lanka can further boost tourism ties’

Sept 19 (ToM) Relations between Sri Lanka and Oman are going from strength to strength and the new Sri Lankan ambassador, Asoka Girihagama, hopes to do his bit to further boost the already robust ties. Girihagama, who started his stint in the Sultanate early this month, told Times of Oman in an exclusive interview that he hopes to improve the trade, cultural and tourism ties on a priority basis. This is Girihagama’s first assignment as ambassador and prior to this appointment, more..

Tough to win from here - Siddle

Sept 19 (CI) Peter Siddle, the Australia fast bowler, has said it will be difficult for his side to force a win against Sri Lanka on the final two days of the third Test in Colombo. The hosts reached 428 for 6 at the close of the third day, putting them 112 runs ahead with Angelo Mathews still at the crease on 85. While Australia toiled manfully in unrelenting heat and on the most placid of wickets, Sri Lanka's batting has pushed them into a corner where a fight for the draw more..

'We have to upgrade and install a new signal system'

Sept 19 (DM) The Alawwa train collision which resulted in the death of three people and injured more than thirty has caused a loss of about Rs. 80 million to the Railway Department, Minister Kumara Welgama said. He said the observation compartment cost around Rs. 25 million and the damage caused to the Indian built train was around Rs. 50 million. “We have not identified any engine damages so far. If there are any damages to the engine the entire loss more..

Clutching the last straw

Sept 19 (LG) UNHRC was created through the General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251 replacing the Human Rights Commission which proved ineffective and by 2011 had reviewed all 192 member states under Universal Periodic Review. Each state will be reviewed every four years and Sri Lanka’s second session of the review is due in May 2012 since it was first reviewed in 2008. Therefore the UNSG commissioned report presented to the Council to make its own decision should be taken seriously as a step towards more..

Rajiva Wijesinghe says, UN expert panel copied from Weiss’s book, Channel 4 documentary

Sept 19 (LG) Speaking on BBC’s Hard Talk program, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe, the so called advisor to the Sri Lankan President on “reconciliation”, claimed the UN panel of experts’ report on Sri Lanka’s war crimes had “taken stuff, some of it verbatim” from former UN spokesperson Gordon Weiss’s recently published book, and from Channel 4’s recent documentary. When asked why the Sri Lankan govt wasn’t agreeing to demands by the British govt, US govt and the EU for a thorough, more..

Making the Southern Expressway safe for motorists

Sept 19 (SO) The Southern Expressway would be the first expressway to be added to the road network of Sri Lanka. The agencies involved in the project are adopting strict safety measures to guarantee a safer ride for the people, who are eagerly waiting to enjoy this novel experience on Sri Lankan soil once it is open to the public. It is important to make the public aware of the operational aspects of the expressway before it is opened for road users as it would be more..

There is only one way to challenge this reactionary quasi-dictatorship

Sept 19 (TC) The decision of the Lankan govt to lift the Emergency Regulations (ER) fooled many, both here and elsewhere. Global masters including India were in this game of fooling social movements and Tamil organizations. The Indian minister of external affairs, S.M. Krishna welcomed the move as an “effective step leading to genuine national reconciliation in the country”. What else could he say about the deeds of a vassal govt? Naturally such comments generated a suspicion whether more..

From human rights violator to animal rights protector

Sept 19 (LG) The irrepressible Mervyn Silva committed another unprecedented act of breaking the law in Chilaw last week. He is said to have removed a variety of animals brought to the much revered temple of Hindus and Buddhists, the Munneswaram temple, for sacrifices to the gods at the annual event going back into time immemorial, in tractors which he had brought along with a crowd of supporters. This was indeed a high-handed act and violation of laws both in regard to possession of property and more..

Mini poll: Lying to win…

Sept 19 (LG) Like Rip Van Winkle, did President Mahinda Rajapaksa wake up, after years of guileless-slumbering – in time for the CMC election? The President avows his govt had “no intention of evicting tenement dwellers from Colombo city but was focused on providing them with better living conditions” (Daily News). Who then ordered the infamous-eviction of Mews Street residents in May 2010? Many evictees had legal titles; others were decades-long residents, rate-payers and voters. more..

David Miliband – War criminal

Sept 19 (LG) Edward Pearce wrote thus of David Miliband on his London Review of Books blog: "Miliband, as foreign secretary (not the job it was, but the sort of empty chair that still rates gilt legs), responded to the killing in Gaza a year ago, largely by artillery, of 1200 men, women and children, with another silence...In truth, the man is a beautifully modulated void. Moderately young, pleasant spoken, nicely null, he has worked in politics, from outer office to the FO, all his graceful, inconsiderable life." more..

Should the exchange rate be allowed to depreciate?

Sept 19 (ST) Once again the question has arisen as to whether the exchange rate should be allowed to depreciate. In the face of adverse developments in the trade balance and balance of payments, the Central Bank has intervened to stabilise the exchange rate of the rupee. Recent interventions by the Central Bank to support the rupee by selling dollars have raised apprehensions about the advisability of this policy. According to conventional policy prescriptions of the IMF such interventions are more..

Eva Wanasundera, first woman Attorney General: A beacon for women

Sept 19 (SO) Her vision started blurring slightly the moment she launched her walk in to the country's history. The woman who always projects a feminine look, though she is holding one of the hottest seats in Sri Lanka, only knew what those tears meant to her. Others, including the Head of State who handed over her historic letter of appointment, would have thought it was because she was overjoyed. "Yes, I was the happiest person, but I was also the saddest in more..

Editorial: Of that House of Commons debate

Sept 19 (Island) British MPs have, in a special parliamentary debate, bashed India and Sri Lanka over alleged accountability issues. India has been criticised for the Jammu-Kashmir situation and Sri Lanka for the final stages of its war on terror. Earlier, the House of Commons was to have a debate only on Sri Lanka but later the two countries were lumped together. It is being argued in some quarters that Britain, which is in the forefront of a campaign to have Sri Lankan leaders arraigned on charges of more..

Editorial: Sri Lanka will not let terrorism trample her sovereignty

Sept 19 (DM) So long as Navi Pillay and Ban Ki-moon remain in their seats, Geneva will never bring good news. Sri Lanka seems to have no escape from the muddle of alleged human rights violations nor does she seem to find solid grounds to change her stance. Ms. Pillay’s heated words directed at the Sri Lankan delegates would have certainly made the day for the LTTE sympathizers. The Darusman’s report, which was initially said to be only for the personal reference of the Secretary General, more..

Sangakkara calls for Haturusinghe

Sept 19 (ST) Former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara said that he feels it is former shadow coach, Chandika Haturusinghe, who should be in charge of the Lankan squad as National Coach. He made these comments at a pre-match briefing on Thursday where he spoke to the press about winning the ICC’s ODI player and People's Choice Awards, and also addressed the matter of him playing in his one hundredth Test. He said, “My preference has been publicly known to everyone. more..

Children’s homes or hell-holes?

Sept 19 (LB) The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) had received information that there are around 75 unauthorized and/or illegal children’s homes being maintained in various parts of the country. The children in some of these homes have been sexually harassed or molested, sources from the Authority said. The head of a children’s home in the Ja-Ela area was nabbed around two weeks ago for having allegedly sexually molested five girls who were under his care. In the wake of this story, more..

Stop criticizing us, says Polls chief

Sept 19 (NS) Political parties should refrain from criticizing Elections Department officials lest it would render voters losing confidence in elections, Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya told representatives of political parties at a meeting held on Friday. The Commissioner had discussions with the UPFA, UNP, SLMC and the DPF on the forthcoming local government polls scheduled for Oct 8. Susil Premjayanth, Tissa Attanayake, Ravi Karunanayake, Hassan Ali an Nalliah Kumarakuruparan more..

New Chancellor at Eastern University

Sept 19 (DN) Professor Yoga Rasanayagam, Emeritus Professor of the University of Colombo, has been appointed Eastern University of Sri Lanka Chancellor for five years by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Professor Rasanayagam is the first Tamil woman to be bestowed the post of Chancellor of a Sri Lankan university in the country's university system. Professor Rasanayagam was also the first woman Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Colombo. more..

Katunayake FTZ police assault case: Petitions listed for support on Oct.31

Sept 19 (ST) 13 fundamental rights petitions filed by employees of the Katunayaka FTZ, for the alleged brutal assault by the Police, while they were conducting a peaceful demonstration against the Private Sector Pension scheme, which was to be implemented by the Govt of Sri Lanka, was taken up by the Supreme Court last week and listed for support on October 31. The OICs of Katunayaka and Seeduwa Police Stations, DIG Negombo Division, Katunayake BOI Director, Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasooriya and more..

Now, tourists unhappy with military presence in Wilpattu National Park

Sept 19 (Island) Minister S.M. Chandrasena on Saturday said that the need to withdraw Army and Navy detachments deployed in the Wilpattu National Park had been brought to the attention of the Defence Ministry. He said that the presence of military personnel could be reduced due to the conclusion of the conflict in May, 2009. The Anuradhapura District Minister emphasized that re-deployment of troops would entirely depend on national security requirements and shouldn’t in anyway undermine more..

Four including NCP CM’s security chief remanded for illegal timber transport

Sept 19 (Island) Anuradhapura Magistrate, Ms Dharshika Wimalasiri, last Friday rejected a bail application seeking the release of four persons, including a policeman, arrested while transporting, stock of timber in the Anuradhapura police division. The detection was made by the elite STF Illangahawewa, Anuradhapura, at 1.30 am last Wednesday. The police identified the suspects as R. M. Senarath Bandara (Chief Security officer of Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake), more..

IDs may carry photos of Muslim males wearing skullcaps

Sept 19 (DM) The Department for the Registration of Persons has decided to accept pictures of Muslim males with their skullcaps on for their national identity cards, said Jagath P. Wijeweera, the Commissioner General of the department, yesterday. Mr. Wijeweera said that Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to do so. This follows a meeting Mr. Rajapaksa had had on Saturday with the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) led by more..

CMs ask whether Govt. intends to continue PC system

Sept 19 (DM) The chief ministers of all eight provincial councils requested the government to state whether it intended to continue with the provincial council system and to devolve full power to the councils if the system were continued. This request was made at the Chief Ministers Forum held in Anuradhapura over the week end. They stressed that for the proper implementation of the Provincial Council System it was essential that it be coupled with a sound financial status. more..

Sri Lankan Drummer in New York

Jaffna Fort getting Dutch aid to build ’Rajapaksa’ mansion

Sept 19 (TN) Sri Lanka’s president occupying the country of Eezham Tamils has issued orders to build a mansion of military and symbolic importance inside the Jaffna fort for the use of Sri Lanka's president, exploiting the opportunity of the renovation of the colonial fort by the assistance of the govt of The Netherlands. The 100 million Rupees renovation programme of the Dutch fort, in the name of ‘tourism development’, is shared 60:40 between The Netherlands and Sri Lanka. more..

Sinharaja land under Forest Dept

Sept 19 (DN) Arrangements are in place to take over 2,488 hectares of forest land belonging to the Land Reforms Commission adjacent to the Sinharaja world heritage rain forest site to the Forest Conservation Department, said Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. He said that the LRC in a letter has expressed its approval to this move recently. The minister observed that he made the initial proposal to hand over these forest lands to the FCD in a Cabinet paper when he was the plantation industries minister. more..

Audio: World Routes Academy

Sept 19 (BBC) Having visited the North of Sri Lanka earlier this year for the World Routes Academy, Lucy Duran continues her journey around the island to explore its diverse musical cultures. Sinhala is the most widely spoken language in Sri Lanka, and Sinhalese music focuses on drumming and dancing. In the city of Kandy, capital of the ancient Sinhalese empire, Lucy witnesses the weekly ritual of the washing of the Tooth of the Buddha. The tooth is enshrined in more..

'The British responsible for destruction of Sri Lanka’s environment'

Sept 19 (LT) The British are responsible for the destruction of environment in Sri Lanka says the Minister of Environment for Western PC Udaya Gammanpila. He said the central hills in the country are being eroded and the whole area has become prone to earth slips due to clearing of rain forest by the British to plant tea, coffee and rubber. He said this at a ceremony held by a group of environmentalists inn Colombo on the 15th. Minister A.H.M. Fouzy participating in the ceremony said more..

Swindling prospective foreign job seekers duo held

Sept 19 (DN) Wellawatta Police Anti Vice Squad arrested two persons who had been swindling prospective foreign job seekers for over Rs 45 million, in Moratuwa on Friday. The main suspect was with his mistress while the other was nabbed on information from the master racketeer. Police Media Spokesman SSP J C Proctor said that the duo who are from Maharagama and Panadura were taken into custody after a thorough surveillance to trace them through their use of telephones, by anti vice intelligence. more..

'My return has nothing do with war crimes prosecutions'

Sept 19 (LB) Major General Jagath Dias, Sri Lanka’s deputy ambassador in Germany, Switzerland and the Vatican state, says possible war crime charges levelled against him have no relation to him returning to Sri Lanka. “There is no link... These are all speculative rumours,” he said in a telephone interview, speaking from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Berlin. Gen. Dias, the former General Officer Command of 57 Divisions, is accused by several lobby groups, of being more..

Moragoda launches roadmap for betterment of Muslims

Sept 19 (DM) Milinda Moragoda, the UPFA mayoral candidate for CMC who launched a roadmap for the betterment of Muslim community in Colombo City yesterday pledged that he would not allow anyone to violate the rights of any ethnic or religious group living in the city. He also pledged to create an understanding of the Muslim culture within the other communities, and to introduce facilities for the Muslims to obtain vocational training. Mr. Moragoda said he would work with Muslim religious bodies and more..

Maharoof replies in kind

Sept 19 (Island) Reacting to UNP leader’s utterance that he had assigned a peon to debate former party Colombo Central strongman Mohamad Maharoof, the latter declared last night that Ranil Wickremesinghe has accepted the fact that his peon was much better than him. He said that the UNP leader’s answer was typical of him who ducks answering vital questions. He said it was a well known fact that Wickremasinghe always avoids important issues. Whenever something vital arises Wickremesinghe will at least go overseas more..

Sri Lanka’s pilgrim quota increased

Sept 19 (AN) Saudi authorities have raised Sri Lanka's quota for the upcoming Haj to 3,800 pilgrims, which is an increase of 1,000 over the allotted number, the country's new consul general in Jeddah Adam Bawa Uthumalebbe said. Uthumalebbe, who succeeded Sabarullah Khan, assumed duties at the Jeddah consulate last week. Prior to his posting in the Kingdom, Uthumalebbe was the chairman of Water Supply and Drainage Board in Colombo. more..

Sanath keen to do well for the team

Sept 19 (DH) The left-handed Sri Lankan powerhouse is well past his 42nd birthday, but that hasn’t dimmed his passion, desire or competitive instincts. At an age where men with lesser accomplishments have justifiably put their feet up and reflected on their journeys, the Matara Marauder is still going strong, and will be the star attraction for Sri Lankan T20 champions Ruhunu in the qualifying phase of the Champions League. “We are underdogs,” Jayasuriya said in his lilting sing-song on more..

Lanka seeks help from Kyrgyzstan

Sept 19 (DM) Sri Lanka had sought the help of Kyrgyzstan, a central Asian country that holds the deputy chairmanship of the UNHRC, to thwart the attempt by the United States to have an interactive session on the LLRC report at the next session scheduled for March, next year, a government minister said yesterday. Minister Rauff Hakeem visited this country last week and held talks with his counterpart and the Deputy Foreign Minister on a wide range of issues concerning Sri Lanka in the international arena. more..

Police can still detain suspects for 48 hrs

Sept 19 (DM) The Justice Ministry said the police were still vested with powers to detain suspects in custody for 48 hours instead of 24 hours, although the Criminal Code Procedure Amendment Bill was not approved by Parliament last time due to concerns by the opposition. Minister Rauff Hakeem said he would, however, engage the opposition at the next parliamentary consultative committee meeting to decide on the next course of action with regard to enacting this Bill, currently withheld in the House. more..

Online visas for 78 countries

Sept 19 (DM) Foreigners who intend visiting Sri Lanka will be able to process their visa applications online and this will be available from September 28, an Immigration Department official said yesterday. He said the system would be accessible in 78 countries and the decision to ask visitors to apply for visas prior to arrival was based on security considerations. At present visitors from these countries are issued visas on arrival but will be discontinued from January 1 next year. more..