Sri lankan's Unbiased Online Daily

Sri lankan's Unbiased Online Daily


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Govt. imports 8 super luxury Benz cars

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From Sunday Leader
The government has ordered eight super luxury, high security Benz cars from Germany at a duty free cost of over US dollars four million, The Sunday Leader learns.

Informed sources said each Benz was in the region of US $ 500,000 duty free.

The super luxury vehicles are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka next month.

It is learned that the value of each vehicle with full cumulative duties of 500 per cent would be in the region of US$ 2.5 million or approximately Rs. 267 million.

The luxury vehicles are to come at a time the government citing the global oil crisis is to introduce tough economic measures including the curtailment of the school week to four days by increasing the current daily school duration by 90 minutes.

In terms of the duty structure the value of the eight super luxury vehicles will be approximately Rs. 2.13 billion.

President Mahinda Rajapakse in a memorandum submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers last week called for a one year suspension on the importation of motor vehicles other than vehicles imported for the provision of health, security and similar purposes unless the importers pay the full duty and taxes on the importation of vehicles.

"At present the government has imposed cumulative duties up to 500 per cent on luxury vehicles but very often various types of vehicles are imported under concessionary arrangement, thereby weakening the impact of duties and taxes imposed on such vehicles," the President said in the May 28 memorandum.

Informed sources said the official reason for the importation of the luxury vehicles is for use in the three-day SAARC Summit in August after which the vehicles will be attached to the Presidential fleet.

It is learned several ministers have called for high security vehicles and the President had indicated some vehicles from his existing fleet would be allocated once the SAARC Summit is concluded and the new luxury vehicles are allocated to his fleet.

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Tracking system for buses

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By Shezna Shums

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is hoping to launch a vehicle tracking system for public transport buses.

The NTC has already asked the public for expressions of interest regarding this project and will be calling for local expertise on tracking technology to be used in the buses.

The first phase of this pilot project is to cover around 3000 inter provincial buses and will be expanded to about 25,000 buses.

The NTC initially intends to only track the location of the buses. It is expected to develop this project to provide web based real time information to operators and passengers.

Director General, NTC, M.A. Jeffrey told The Sunday Leader that initially the tracking devices will only be on public buses recording the time the bus leaves and arrives at the bus depots, and the time taken for each journey to determine the speed at which the bus has been travelling.

"This will be a pilot project to see if the buses are conforming to the given time tables," said Jeffrey.

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UNP to seek legal redress against elections

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The United National Party is to seek a Supreme Court order against the conduct of any elections until the establishment of independent commissions.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the party would go to courts next week for an injunction to the Elections Commissioner.

He said that there was no credibility of free and fair elections being held until the independent elections commission becomes existent under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.


Mr. Attanayake also noted that the Elections Commissioner had no power or an administrative mechanism to act against poll malpractices and violence.

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Government appoints Hudson as chairman of the SLBC

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Hudson Samarasinghe has once again been appointed chairman of the state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.

On the directive of the President, Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa has made the appointment with effect from Saturday (May 31st).

Mr. Samarasinghe previously had two stints as chief of the SLBC.

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9 terrorists killed, 6 wounded in yesterday's clashes

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Nine LTTE terrorists were killed while another 6 suffered injuries due to the clashes erupted in Jaffna and Wanni theatres yesterday, May 31, MCNS sources said. In addition 4 soldiers have laid their lives and 6 others reported wounded, MCNS added.
On Jaffna theatre, citing a finalized military report MCNS said that 3 terrorists were suffered injuries due to yesterday's clashes. An army soldier was killed while another suffered injuries clashes ensued in the same front.
On Wanni theatre, in Vavuniya front, 7 terrorists were killed while no casualties were reported for own troops. In Mannar front, 3 soldiers suffered injuries and they were evacuated to the Mannar hospital.
In Welioya front, 2 terrorists were killed while another 3 suffered injuries due to yesterday's clashes. 3 soldiers have laid their lives while 2 more received injuries in the same front, MCNS stated.

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LTTE would have stolen 17,000 detonators from a Tamil Nadu warehouse- TN Police

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(By Walter Jayawardhana)
The Police in Tamil Nadu has confirmed that the 17,000 detonators missing from a Trichy Warehouse would have been stolen by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The LTTE terrorists is facing the brunt of an offensive of the armed forces of Sri Lanka and is allegedly increased its offences against civilians in the South of the country.
Around 17,000 detonators were reported from a godown in Karur near the Tamil Nadu city of Trichy and the Tamil Nadu police ruled out the Indian terrorists, Naxals, as the culprits behind the theft and pointed their finger at the LTTE terrorists.
The incident once again raised fears in the Indian security circles that the terrorist group could be still using neighbouring Tamil Nadu as their weapons supply base despite all sorts of precautions taken by both governments.
The Director General of Police in Tamil Nadu, K.P. Jain told an Indian television station, "Definitely there is a security concern. That is why we have procedures to check storage facilities and other shops, to ensure that they are not given out to wrong people. But still these cases happen. We do not suspect Naxals. But it could be for the LTTE."

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Thilanga, Duminda SLFP organisers

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Former Chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka Thilanga Sumathipala and UNP provincial councillor who switched allegiance to the government recently, Duminda Dissanayake are to be appointed as the SLFP organizers in the Colombo district, political sources said.
During the Presidential Election in 2005, Mr. Sumathipala acted as the UNP organizer for the Anuradhapura district.

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Two Lankan kids stabbed to death in UK

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Two Sri Lankan children aged four and five were stabbed to death in their family home in South London and their six-month-old baby sister is critically ill in hospital with knife wounds. Their Sri Lankan parents have been arrested over the crime.

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President meets EPC governing party

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
President Mahinda Rajapakse met the members of the governing party of the eastern province at Temple trees on Saturday .
At the meeting, Hassen Maulav was chosen as the Leader of the House of the Eastern Provincial Council while Thuraiappa Navarathna Raja was appointed as the chief organizer of the ruling party.
Mr. Faiz was proposed as the Chairman of the Council and N.K.D.S. Gunawardena was named as the Deputy Chairman of the council. Provincial Minister M.A.L.M. Hisbulla proposed to hold a workshop on administration for the members of the Eastern Provincial Council.
Responding to the proposal the President stated a local and an international training would be provided to newly elected councilors on local government issues in the near future. He also instructed authorities to provide necessary security for the members of the council.

Special attention focused on the teaching vacancies in the Eastern. Minister Susil Premajayanth disclosed 400 teachers will be recruited shortly in both Sinhala and Tamil media based on the results of the recently held teacher examination.
He pointed out it would fill 90 percent of the teacher requirement in the province.
Meanwhile, the President added the international community including government of Japan has agreed to provide grants to uplift the infrastructure facilities in the province.

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One killed due to gun shot in Horana

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Selliah selvarajah , owner of a private shop in Horana was killed due to gunshot injuries.
Horana Police is conducting investigations.

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Two killed in wellawatta Bomb blast

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Two were killed and another eight were injured due to the hand grenade attack at Wellawatta a short while ago.
Bomb blast occured near Arpico centre in Wellawatta , the Police said.

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Three injured due to Bomb blast in Wellawatta

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Bomb blast occured near Arpico centre in Wellawatta, a short while ago.At least three people were injured due to the blast. The blast was caused by a hand grenade, the Police said.

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Bomb blast in Wellawatta

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Bomb blast occured near Arpico centre in Wellawatta, a short while ago.Await for details .

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Pillayan to Chief in Chief Minister's forum appoints Pillayan as their head for another four month period

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Ex-militant and present first eastern Province Tamil Chief Minister S. Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan who had a good public response from the eastern province was appointed as the Chiarman of the Chief Minister's Forum which began Saturday at Badulla, Central hills Sri Lanka.
He will hold this chiarmanship for next four months.Mr.Pillayanhas requested the chief minister's forum to organise next CM's forum in Batticalo , in the eastern Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka seeks food crisis loan: World Bank

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The World Bank is considering giving Sri Lanka a crisis loan to tackle galloping food prices, the global financial institution's vice president said on Friday.
The island, which is battling 30 percent inflation and over three decades of separatist war with Tamil Tiger rebels, has sought funds from the World Bank's emergency Food Crises Response Trust Fund.
"The Bank is currently discussing with the government what kind of assistance would be useful and whether the Bank can provide such assistance," vice president Praful Patel said.
"Sri Lanka has made a request" for a loan from the emergency fund, Patel said .
"It is difficult to say how much, but we are not talking about 10 million or 15 million dollars. It will be around 100 million -- in that range," he said.
His statement came after an announcement last week by the government that the World Bank was giving 100 million dollars to Sri Lanka in emergency food aid.
The Food Crises Response Trust Fund was created to fight soaring global commodity prices and aims to assist countries most seriously affected.
"The fund is targeting some 800 million dollars for countries such as Sri Lanka that have been hit by the food crisis," Patel said.
The solution for Sri Lanka, he said, was not to import more food, but to improve agriculture productivity.

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Saudis Offered Islamic Investment in Sri Lanka

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A leading Shariah-compliant financial services provider in Sri Lanka has called on Saudi corporate clients to invest in the Colombo Stock exchange for attractive dividends.
Mohammed Riyas, director of Sales and Business Development of Colombo-based Amana Securities Limited, said that he had come to offer unique services to Saudi clients to identify and trade in companies complying with Islamic Law based on the parameters prescribed by internationally accepted Shariah scholars.
“Our unique portfolio of services will include a white list of stocks that comply with Shariah parameters and provide access to local and foreign funds that require Shariah-complaint investment avenues. “
Riyas said that Amana Securities Limited has displayed a clear vision and leadership by launching the DJIM Amana Sri Lanka Index, a pioneering distinction that brings global exposure and a wider vista of investment opportunities.
“It is one of the 20 companies permitted to trade on the Colombo Stock Exchange,” he said.
The Lankan bourse has 235 listed companies representing 20 business sectors. The market capitalization in March was 835.3 billion Sri Lankan rupees (SR28 billion) and the CSE recorded its highest daily turnover of 33.4 billion Sri Lankan rupees (SR1.151 billion) on April 1. It is one of the top performing markets in Asia, with an average annual index growth rate of 27 percent.
Share trading in Sri Lanka dates back to 1896 when the Colombo Brokers Association commenced the share trading in limited liability companies which were involved in opening plantations in Sri Lanka.
“The trading activity was automated with the installation of the Automated Trading System in 1997,” he said, adding that the technology introduced by the bourse has significantly enhanced its competitiveness and has provided a more efficient and transparent market. The exchange is currently in the process of introducing a debt securities trading system for trading of fixed income securities.
Companies listed on the exchange have seen a large increase in foreign investment following the improvement in the security situation in the country.
“Besides reputed international company like Marks & Spencer, Maxis, the largest telecommunications company of Malaysia, and Bharti Airtel of India have invested a substantial volume in the communication fields,” he noted.
Buoyed by improved investor confidence due to positive political developments and strong corporate results, the exchange has continued to achieve strong growth in 2007, as the ASPI passed the 3,000 mark for the first time in its history on February 13 reaching a record high for the seventh consecutive day.
Speaking about Sri Lanka, Riyas said that the island with a population of 24 million enjoys a 92 percent literacy rate, second to Japan among the ASEAN countries.
“Its per capita income is $1,617, next to Maldives in the region,” he said, adding that his country has the highest number of CIMA qualified accountants in the world after Britain. He added that the island country is strategically located only 25kms from a major international shipping lane — 14,000 ships sail through the channel — and can be a launching pad for investments in the region.

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Sri Lanka’s inflation hits 26.2pc

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COLOMBO, May 30: Annual inflation in Sri Lanka hit 26.2 per cent in May, according to official data on Friday, driven by higher food, fuel and other prices.

The inflation rate was calculated using the new Colombo Consumer Price Index which tracks price movements since 2002, the statistics department said.

The level was a record high according to the index, which was released for the first time on Friday.

The statistics department said it was discontinuing the previous Colombo Consumer Price Index, which has been tracking price movements since 1952. Under the old index, inflation hit a decade-high of 29.9 per cent in April.

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Sri Lanka rebels show no signs of peace: government official

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SINGAPORE (AFP) - The Tamil Tigers have shown no sign they are genuine about wanting peace even though the door remains open for a return to negotiations, a senior Sri Lankan official said Saturday.
"We are looking for a negotiated end to this conflict... so far they have shown no inclination to enter into any constructive dialogue with a view to ending this conflict," Palitha Kohona, a secretary with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters on the sidelines of a regional security summit.
He said "the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is free to come back to the negotiating table but... must do so genuinely with a commitment to negotiating a sustainable peace and for that it must also leave aside its weaponry."
Kohona's comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue -- or Asia Security Summit -- came as the separatist Tamil Tigers rejected government plans to devolve more power to the island's north and east, while a pro-rebel website said they had killed 31 troops in the latest fighting.
There was no immediate comment from Sri Lanka's defence ministry.
Kohona said President Mahinda Rajapakse's government had learned the lessons of the past and will only enter into peace talks with the LTTE if they show they are genuine and willing to put down their weapons.
Fighting has escalated sharply since Colombo pulled out of a six-year Norwegian-brokered truce with the LTTE in January believing it had the military strength to crush them.
The Tamil Tigers launched their armed struggle for a separate Tamil state in the north in 1972, and the ensuing conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead in the Sinhalese majority island.
Kohona said the LTTE re-armed itself to hit back after the truce began in 2002, and vowed the present government "is no longer willing to simply agree to a ceasefire agreement without a commitment on the part of the LTTE to achieve a final solution to this problem."
Rajapakse vowed last Tuesday to press on with a military campaign to crush the rebels, a day after guerrillas set off a bomb inside a train killing nine people and wounding 84.
B. Nadesan, head of the political wing of the LTTE, denied the Tigers had attacked civilians, and accused Rajapakse of "paying lip service" to a political solution while pursuing a "war against the Tamil nation."

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Sri Lanka woos Indian beauty queens, swamis to boost tourism

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P K Balachandran
Faced with a steady fall in tourist arrivals due to the worsening security situation, Sri Lanka’s Tourist Board has roped in Indian beauty queens, holy men and intellectuals to tout the country as a safe and worthwhile destination for Indians, who have in recent years emerged as the largest group of tourists visiting Sri Lanka.

Parvathy Omanakuttan, Miss India World for this year, and Tanvi Vyas, Miss India Earth, are expected to set the ramp on fire at a fashion show in Colombo this weekend. And in August, three Hindu holy men from North India are to arrive with a retinue of 1,000 devotees of Lord Rama to visit 34 important sites on the island associated with the epic Ramayana.

“Those on the Ramayana trail will be Swami Ajayji of Triveni Seva Mission at Delhi; Swami Krishnanandji of the Rashtriya Go Raksha Samithi; and Swami Gyananandji Maharaj, an exponent of Krishna Katha,” said Ashok Kumar Kainth, a Tourist Board researcher on sites relating to the Ramayana in Sri Lanka.

The Indian intelligentsia is being tapped, too.

In July, a 20-member delegation of the New Delhi-based Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Parishad headed by veteran journalist Baleshwar Prasad and former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, will tour Sri Lanka, meet its leaders across the board, and hopefully propagate the virtues of the island on return to India. “The aim is to get favourable publicity in India for Sri Lanka in the midst of all the negative publicity the world over because of the war and the bomb blasts,” said Director General of Tourism, S. Kalaiselvan.

“We want to promote this beautiful and culturally rich island as a destination for the young and trendy, as well as seniors, intellectuals, and those with a religious bent of mind,” he told this website’s newspaper here on Saturday.

The Tourist Board is worried about the fall in arrivals from almost every country, including India. Comparing the data for the period January-April 2007 with those for a similar period in 2008, there had been a 14.3 per cent fall in Indian arrivals. The number had come down from 37,964 to 32,547.

Most of the arrivals have been from South India. The Sri Lankan Tourist Board thinks it’s time it tapped the North Indian market, too. Hence the bid to get all India beauty queens, holy men, intellectuals and publicists from North India

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UNP plans to launch an island wide protest campaign against recent fuel hike.

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Sri Lanka's main opposition the United National Party has decided to launch an island wide protest campaign against government's unreasonable fuel price hike. According to the Secretary General of the UNP Tissa Attanayake the UNP will request all vehicle owners to stop their vehicles and blow the horns and glare the lights for five minutes from 12.00 a.m. on Tuesday 3rd June.
"This campaign is to be covered island wide ", said Mr.Attanayake .
He said the price hike on fuel and Kerosene oil is not because of World Market fluctuations as the Govt. is falsely claiming. It is because of the losses that have to be covered up due to Govt.’s corruption, profligacy, mismanagement and maintenance of its largest Cabinet of Ministers and President’s 168 advisors who are enjoying the best of perks and benefits at the expense of the common man.
“The Govt. is appropriating Rs. 57.00 as tax on every liter of oil. If the Govt. wishes it can cut back on this tax and pass the benefit to the consumers, which it is not doing, he asserted, Mr.Attanayake explained.
He said the UNP, which has always stood steadfastly with the people.

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Reggie no more

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Reggie Ranatunga, MP for Gampaha passed away at a private hospital in Colombo, a short while ago in a private hospital. He was ailing for some time.

A staunch SLFPer and he held important posts in the party and the Government. The former Governor of Sabaragamuwa Province last entered Parliament after fellow parliamentarian from Gampaha, Sripathi Sooriyarachchi died in a car accident a few months ago.

Ranatunga is the father of Sri Lanka's legendary cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga, at present Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, who is also a Member of Parliament representing the Colombo District.
UPFA member Neil Rupasinghe is next in line to succeed MP Reggie Ranatunga who passed away today. Mr. Ranatunga was the fourth parliamentarian from the Gampaha district to die this year. The other three MPs were Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, Anura Bandaranaike and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.

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Civil Defence Force averts possible disaster - Rajanganaya

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Civil Defence Force personnel on duty at Yaya 18 (zone 18) village on the borders of Wilpattuwa jungle confronted with a group of terrorists last night (May 30).

According to the defence sources in the area, the terrorists had forcibly entered into a civilian house around 7.45 pm and started butchering the innocent residents. Alerted by the wailing residents the Civil Defence Force personnel had rushed to the location and confronted with the terrorists who attempted to continue their cowardly attack at the civilians, said the sources. After a brief confrontation the terrorists had fled to the Wilpattuwa jungle, the sources added.

One Civil Defence Force personnel suffered gunshot injuries in the attack. Also, a 50 year old mother of the house that the terrorists had raided was killed and her husband was seriously injured. The two injured people later succumbed to injuries at the Anuradhapura hospital, said the sources.

LTTE is a ruthless terrorist organization that routinely target civilians in pursuit for a mono ethnic separate homeland for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The outfit has killed tens and thousands of innocent civilians in number of ethnic cleansing raids at Sinhalese and Muslim villages in North and East.

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Five suicide jackets found; suspect detained - Chilaw

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Police acting on an information received from intelligence sources found 5 jackets designed for the LTTE suicide bombers from Maina Doopatha (an islet) in the Chilaw area . According to the police sources, only four out of the five jackets were filled with high explosives.

Police said the jackets were unearthed from a location close to an abandoned Hindu Temple around 6.30 pm. A person was also detained for further inquiries, the sources added.

LTTE is the terror outfit that pioneered the suicide terrorism and introduced recruitment, brainwashing, and technical expertise for suicide bombing to the terrorist organizations in the world over. It has carried out over 200 suicide attacks killing hundreds of people during its two and half decades of terrorist war against Sri Lankan citizens.

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Pillayan the new chairman of Chief Ministers’ Forum

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Eastern Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan was appointed as the chairman of the Chief Ministers’ Forum today in Badulla for the next four months. The Forum also decided to conduct the next session in Batticaloa.

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Two killed, 8 injured in army vehicle accident

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A soldier and a sailor were killed and eight others injured when a army unicorn met with an accident at Katagamuwa in Kataragama this morning.

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Quake no threat to Sri Lanka

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The Dissaster management center says there is no threat to Sri Lanka from the 6.3 magnitude earthquake which occurred in the sea, some 4,000 km south of the country at around 10.34 this morning.

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Ten injured in train collision

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At least ten people were injured when two trains collided at Botale in Mirigama on Saturday. Railways sources said train services on the main line were disrupted after the collision between the Medawachchiya train and a service train.

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Mervyn to close down opponents' liquor shops in Kelaniya

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Minister Mervyn Silva has reportedly said that he would close down all liquor shops in his Kelaniya electorate, except those owned by his supporters.

According to 'Divaina' newspaper, the Labour Minister also promised at a function yesterday to shut down all beef stalls in the area, and to free four cattle from slaughter every month.

He was speaking in the presence of Chief Incumbent of the Kelani Raja Maha Vihara Ven. Kollupitiye Sri Mahinda Sangharakkitha Thera at the opening of a new bridge across the Kelani River.


The temple's Basnayake Nilame Dhammika Attygalle, Highways Minister T.B. Ekanayake, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Priyantha Kariyapperuma, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority Nalaka Bamunusinghe and several other politicians also attended, the newspaper reported.

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New fee to be levied by Colombo courts

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The Colombo High Court and the Commercial High Court will be charging Rs. 500 per case that is filed with them from June 01st, according to a government decision.

Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva has approved the new levy that goes to a fund, which will buy technological equipment needed by the two courts, their registrars said.

From May 26th, the relevant notification is on display at the Hulftsdorp Court Complex.

However, a legal expert said that this fee is going to be levied without backing from any piece of legislation, and that the decision was unfair and illegal.

It is the accepted practice to channel the monies collected through such a levy to a consolidated state fund in accordance with financial and administrative regulations.

The legal expert also questioned the transparency of the new fund that is not accountable to Parliament or the Auditor General's Department.


On average, the two courts daily receive around 150 new cases pertaining to divorces, land, finances and other matters.

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UNP to table media freedom proposal before House

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The United National Party is to table a special proposal before Parliament in the coming weeks for the protection of media freedom.

The party's General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told 'Lanka Dissent' that views and suggestions of media organizations and experts in the field would be welcome in this regard.

The UNP will seek their advice within the next few days before drafting the proposal, he added.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

CONTRADICTORY POSITIONS ON MEDIA FREEDOM ENCOURAGE IMPUNITY

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The silencing of journalists by killing and intimidating them has become a major problem in Sri Lanka. The National Peace Council condemns the killing of Paranirupasingam Devakumar who is the ninth journalist to be killed in the past two years. We are appalled at the brutal manner of his death by waylaying him as he was traveling and hacking him to death. This killing comes soon after the brutal assault and torture of senior journalist Keith Noyahr in Colombo.

International experience has shown that a key component of any political solution is its acceptance by the people of the country. It through public awareness creation, in which the media plays a central role, that the people's mandate for a sustainable political solution can be found. The National Peace Council notes that the government continues to stand by the position that it is for a political solution to the ethnic conflict and the ongoing military operations are meant to facilitate that political solution.

In this context, the killing of Paranirupasingam Devakumar, who worked for a national television network in Jaffna will be a further constraint on the free flow of information from the war zones of the north. We reiterate our concern about the continued incarceration of senior journalist J S Tissaianayagam, whose arrest and detention now continues into its third month without charges being made against him in a court of law.

We are perturbed by statements made by senior Defence Ministry officials that the military and its leadership should not be criticized by the media and that journalists working for the state controlled media had no right to criticize the government. While welcoming the Media Minister's statement that this is not government policy, we ask the government to ensure a unified media policy as contradictory statements may be taken by various groups as a further license to behave with impunity towards the media.

The National Peace Council expresses solidarity with those journalists who are courageously committed to revealing realities from the ground and to risking their lives in the service of truth. We express our admiration of the willingness of media personnel to continue their work in the face of such fatal risks. We call on the government to put in place protection mechanisms that would ensure the safety of journalists in Sri Lanka and the right of citizens to access a diverse media that provides free and accurate reporting on national affairs.

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May UNP+SLMC boycott EPC inagural session ?

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General Secretary of the UNP Tissa Attanayake says the selected UNP candidates of the Eastern Provincial Council will take oaths withing next few days .Replying media he said the UNP and the SLMC would decide their presence to the inagural sessions of the EPC.However unconfirmed reports of the SLMC said oppostion may be boycott the inagural meeting of the EPC .
The sources said the Government has failed to stand by its promises made at the recent Eastern provincial Council (EPC) elections to bring peace and prosperity to the people of the East.Due to this the SLMC is considering boycotting the inaugural sittings of the EPC.
The entire Eastern province is in turmoil and serious unrest after the elections with the Government. also unable to bring the situation under control.
Meanhile SLMC's spokesman Nizam Kariapper said there had been several attacks on Muslim civilians.

The inagural sessions of the EPC would be held on 6th June .After 20 years the public representatives will admit the administration of the Eastern province.

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Government's politicos obstruct the motorcade of leaderof the Opposition

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Tissa Attanayake, UNP Gen. Secretary, condemned the action of Government. politicos, led by Deputy Aviation Minister, Gunaratne trying to obstruct the motorcade of Ranil Wickremesinghe when he was returning to Colombo after his overseas tour.
These unruly and underworld elements also staged a Demonstration outside the Bandaranayake International Airport shouting anti Wickremesinghe slogans and carrying banners, alleging that the Leader of Opposition was seeking to undermine the GSP+ benefits, which is on the verge of being withdrawn, actually due to Govt.’s failure to adhere to the stipulations of the 27 Int. treaties to which the Government is also a signatory.

It is indeed a sad misconception by the Government as; it is all Apparel exporters who will be hit by this GSP+ withdrawal, who insisted upon the Opposition Leader to help them out by discussing with the European countries on their behalf in this regard. Ranil made this tour too for this purpose.

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UNP vehicle protest on June 3

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The UNP has requested the public to bring their vehicles to a stop on the roads at 12noon on June 3, as a mark of protest against the government implementing an unprecedented fuel price hike.

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Air Force fighter jets pound LTTE artillery & mortar launching platforms - Poonaryn

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Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets pounded on LTTE artillery and mortar launching platforms located at Kalmunai point, in the Poonaryn general area this afternoon (May 30). According to the Air Force sources, to separate sorties were launched around 12 noon and 1.20 pm.
The targets were accurately hit, but the exact damages to the enemy are yet to be ascertained, the sources added.
According to the defence sources in Jaffna, LTTE terrorists had used the targeted locations to launch artillery attacks at the Tamil villages in the peninsula yesterday. 6 civilians including two children were killed and 20 others including a pregnant mother were injured in these attacks. Dozens of civilian houses and a catholic church were destroyed.

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21 terrorists killed , 11 wounded in yesterday's clashes in North

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Munnagam base - North of Janakapura" pbshowcaption="true"Finalized military reports received form the warfronts in the North for yesterday (May 29) indicate that 21 terrorists were killed and 11 others wounded in counter terrorist operations conducted in the Jaffna and the Wanni theaters of battle. Further, 15 others were reportedly killed or suffered serious injuries, according to the reports.
In the Jaffna theatre of battle, troops confronted with the terrorists in the Elathumadduwal area last morning. A soldier suffered injuries in this confrontation. No details on terror casualties were available. Meanwhile, another soldier suffered injuries due to an anti personal (AP) mine explosion earlier on the same day morning.
In addition, army and navy repulsed a pre-dawn terror attack at the Chiranththivu islet located along the Jaffna - Mandathivu causeway. A soldier was killed, and two others were injured while a soldier and two sailors reported missing in this incident. Ground troops claimed that at least 15 terrorist were killed in the retaliatory fire. Following the attack the terrorist, engaged heavy artillery at civilian dwellings in the populated Kolombuthurai, Gurunagar and Pasiuura areas. 6 civilians including 2 children were killed and 20 others including a pregnant woman suffered injuries.
Elsewhere, suspected LTTE assassins gunned down a civilian at Kallikai in the Nelliady area. Police probes in to the incident.
Troops made significant gains in Wanni theatre of battle as multi front attacks on the terror defences were continued throughout the day.
On the Vavuniya front, troops confronted with the terrorist in the Periyamadhukulam, Muppankulam, and Palaimoddai areas during the daytime and claimed to have killed 4 terrorists and wounded 8 others. Also, 3 soldiers suffered injuries due to small arms fire in the confrontation that took place at Muppankulam. A soldier suffered injuries due to an AP mine explosion that took place in the Periyamadhu area last evening. Meanwhile, troops engaged in clearing operations in the Mundimurippu area removed 18 AP mines during the day.
On the Mannar front, troops raided an LTTE strong point located in Andankulama area last morning. Troops claimed that at least 6 terrorists were either killed or wounded while two soldiers also suffered injuries in this incident.
The major thrust of the on-going counter terror operation continued to remain on the Welioya front, as troops captured LTTE's main logistic base known as " Munnagam Base" located 6 Km North of Janakapura last evening. According to the defence sources, the base that provided the lifeline to the terrorists operating in the forward positions is consisted of 3 permanent buildings, 3 fortified command bunkers, and observation turrets. In addition, the base half-square acre in size has a large kitchen facility, and a storage room and an underground trench system linking each other. The sources further said that the camp was provided with electricity by a generator and facilitated with the water supply with two water towers and a well.
Separately , troops captured another fortified terror location with 7 bunkers and trenches located in the North of Janakapura area on the same day evening. During the subsequent search, troops found one T-81 riffle along with 7 magazines, 500 ammo used for the same weapon, 28 hand grenades, and other military gear.
Separately, in series of clashes occurred in the North of Kiriibbanwewa and North of Janakapura areas with in the course of the day , 2 terrorist reportedly killed and 3 others wounded. In addition, 9 others were either killed or wounded, according to the ground sources. Troops suffered no casualties in the Welioya front for the day.
Meanwhile, troops engaged in clearing operations in area removed 53 AP mines, 4 booby traps, 3 improvised bombs during the day.

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Lanka IOC to withdraw from diesel sales?

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Lanka Indian Oil Corporation is planning to further increase its diesel price with the ultimate objective of withdrawing from diesel sales and focus on the more profitable petrol sales, 'Lanka' newspaper says in its banner headline story.
Lanka IOC has been raising its diesel price without control after the government granted it permission to fix prices.
Since May 21st, it had increased the price by Rs. 20, Rs. 10 and Rs. 20 margins on three separate occasions, and a litre of diesel is presently sold at Rs. 130.
With its sale of petrol at Rs. 157 per litre, Lanka IOC earns an additional profit of Rs. 23, according to 'Lanka.'
The company is hoping that its higher diesel price will make consumers attracted more to filling stations run by the State Petroleum Corporation.
The longer wait and the longer queues created will result in more and more petrol-run vehicles soliciting Lanka OIC filling stations, thus increasing its petrol sales by unprecedented margins.
Having 100 filling stations in the country, it presently accounts for one-third of the local fuel market.
Experts note that neither the government nor the CPC has a way out of this scheme by Lanka IOC, the newspaper added.

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Policeman injured in shooting in Monaragala

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A police team came under attack by an unidentified group at Karakolagaspitiya in Monaragala this afternoon (May 30th), Police Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara said.
Around 20 persons clad in black fired at the police with an automatic weapon, injuring one policeman, he said.
The assailants had fled the area when the police returned fire.

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Another defence reporter warned

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Five local media rights groups report that senior journalist attached to 'Divaina' newspaper Sirimevan Kasturiarachchi had been warned by a group against reporting on defence matters.
They said in a statement that the three intimidators had gone to the Veyangoda home of the former treasurer of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association on May 29th.
According to the statement, Mr. Kasturiarachchi is a former officer of the Air Force and has been a defence reporter for around 20 years.He is the brother of a senior army officer who is reported as missing while on duty many years ago.
The 'Divaina' journalist has told the group about all this, and also that he had never troubled the government or the armed forces through his reporting.
However, they had insisted that he should stop reporting on defence matters immediately.
Mr. Kasturiarachchi also says that since of late, he has been prevented from covering important events of the army at the instigation of its hierarchy.
The statement says that the five media rights groups strongly condemn the continued harassment, intimidation and attacks against journalists as part of intensifying curbs against media freedom.They reiterate to the authorities that they should immediately intervene and ensure the people's right to information.
The statement has been signed by the Free Media Movement, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, the Muslim Media Forum and the Tamil Media Alliance.

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NFF appoints 15 district organizers

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The National Freedom Front, led by JVP breakaways Wimal Weerawansa and Nandana Gunatilake, has appointed organizers for 15 districts.
The most prominent of the appointees are Achala Suranga Jagoda for Colombo, Jayantha Samaraweera for Kalutara, Piyasiri Wijenayake for Gampaha, Samansiri Herath for Puttalam and Senaratne de Silva for Kurunegala.
The NFF is also having Priyantha Bellana as its organizer for Galle, Deepal Gunasekara for Ratnapura, Priyanjith Wijesekara for Kegallae, Weerakumara Dissanayake for Anuradhapura, Saman Cabraal for Polonnaruwa, Nimal Premawansa for Kandy, Shirley Aravinda for Matale, Nimal Piyatissa for Nuwara Eliya, Padma Udaya Shantha for Moneragala and Mohamed Muzammil for Batticaloa.The party said organizers for Matara, Hambantota, Badulla, Trincomalee and Ampara would be appointed shortly.

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SLAF carried out more air raids

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Sri Lanka Air Force has carried out more air raids to identified LTTE targets in north.
Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said the targets of the air raids were mortar and artillery positions located in Kalmunai Bay at Punarine. They were launched at 12 noon and around 1.20 pm. The pilots have confirmed the air raids were successful.

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Dalles -acting Treasurer of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party

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Minister of Transport Dalles Alahapperuma has been appointed as the acting Treasurer of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party .
The appointment was made at a Central Committee meeting of the Party held under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapakse at the Temple Trees yesterday. The Central Committee has unanimously endorsed the proposal to appoint Minister Alahapperuma, presented by General Secretary of the SLFP and Minister Maithreepala Sirisena.
Post of Treasurer of the party has fallen vacant due to the death of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.

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New political parties before EC

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The election secretariat says several new political parties have applied for registration.
A spokesman of the secretariat said the applications for registration will be examined by Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake in the next few days.

Special attention will be focused on the colour and symbols. There are 58 registered political parties in Sri Lanka.

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The Mihin Airline recommence its operations from July.

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
The Mihin air service will re-start their activities from July this year. Chief executive officer of the company Savin Vas Gunwardena says the attention has been focused to buy a French air bus at a concessionary leasing basis. It is expected to re-start six journeys which were implemented earlier.
The main aim is to minimize monthly losses and to become a profitable institute by April next year. The objective is to amalgamate with the Sri Lankan airlines in order to conduct business on a commercial basis.
He added that the Mihin air services has recorded the the profit of 2.73 billion rupees in the past one year. The company has provided service to more than 200 thousand commuters. The company started services with a premium capital of 250 million rupees.
Mr. Gunawardena added that the airline has become a very profitable and popular service for both local and foreign commuters. The chief executive rejecting unjust accusations launched by certain parities against the airline has reiterated that the airline has never used Employees Provident Funds of employees for conducting of the airline.

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Special loan scheme for local footwear industry

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Lanka Puthra Development bank operates a special loan to assist the local footwear industry.
The ministry of industrial development and the Sri Lanka Footwear Manufacturer’s Association contributes in this measure.
A maximum of 500,000 rupees will be granted under this loans scheme. This aim of this loan is to minimise the import of footwear and manufacture the country’s requirement locally.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Buyer -Seller meeting in Sri Lanka

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Powerloom Development and Export Promotion Council of India will hold a buyer-seller meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on June 26 and 27.

A release from PDEXCIL in this regard says the meet Indiatex 2008 is to showcase products of manufacturers and exports who are members of the organisation.

The meet is in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Textile Development Industry, Sri Lanka, Indo-Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce and Joint Apparel Association in Sri Lanka.

The meet will be inaugurated by Sri Lankan Minister Welgama, Minister for Industry Development and Minister Chandrasekar, Minister for Employment.

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UN humanitarian chief condemns targeting of civilians in attacks in Sri Lanka

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United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today condemned the continuing targeting of civilians in Sri Lanka.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 200 civilian lives have been lost in bombings in Sri Lanka. Attacks have targeted mass transport facilities and busy public areas in both the immediate conflict areas and population centres.

‘The targeting of non-combatants is a contravention of International Humanitarian Law, for which those responsible must be held accountable,’ Mr. Holmes said. ‘This despicable behaviour must stop,’ he added.

This week alone, more than 20 civilians were killed and several dozens injured in different violent incidents. The attacks include the firing of artillery shells into a populated area in the Jaffna peninsula early on Wednesday, which left six civilians dead and a dozen or more injured.

On Monday, nine people died and 73 were injured when a bomb exploded on a busy commuter train in Dehiwela, a suburb of Colombo. Last weekend, two other bombs were discovered and defused before they exploded. Three days earlier a roadside bomb killed 17 civilians on a main road used to access displaced populations in the Kilinochchi district.

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Military repels Tiger naval attack, 8 killed

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Sri Lanka’s military sank four Tamil Tiger boats killing at least eight rebels before dawn yesterday, and rebel artillery fire killed six civilians, the military said.
The sea battle took place off the northern tip of Jaffna and came amid daily land, sea and air attacks in a new chapter of 25-year old civil war.
The military said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam launched an attack on an island near Jaffna where naval and army units are located.
“The army-navy combine sank four boats and the LTTE communications confirmed 8 LTTE cadres killed and many injured including the leader and deputy who was in charge of the attack,” said navy spokesman Commander D K P Dassanayake.

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Man who faked death pleads guilty to insurance scam

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Singapore - A man who hid in Sri Lanka for more than 20 years after faking his death pleaded guilty to insurance fraud, leaving his family with 330,000 Singapore dollars (246,000 US dollars), news reports said Friday. Under the elaborate plan, his relatives claimed he had been killed by Tamil Tiger rebels.

Gandaruban Subramaniam, a 60-year-old Singaporean, admitted to conspiring with his younger brother S Moganaruban and former wife Renuga Devi Sinnaduray to cheat two insurance companies in 1989, The Straits Times said.

He was arrested last year after trying to enter Singapore on a fake passport.

Renuga, 51, said that Gandaruban faked his death to escape from creditors after his car-rental business failed in 1987.

Deputy Public Prosecutor James Lee told the court Thursday that after fleeing to Sri Lanka, Gandaruban came up with the scheme to fake his death in order to collect on three life-insurance policies, the report said.

He obtained a fake death certificate. Renuga filed court documents swearing that Ganaruban, then her husband, died without leaving a will.

Renuga deposited two cheques in one account and later transferred some of the insurance money to a joint bank account with Moganaruban.

Moganaruban, once a leading figure in the Tamil community, served 26 months in prison for his role in the scam.

Renuga was charged with conspiracy to cheat and jailed for a year.

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New notebooks from Toshiba

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Toshiba’s Computer Systems Division, a division of Toshiba Singapore (Pvt) Ltd., announced its three new notebooks at a press briefing held at the TransAsia Hotel Colombo . The three new notebooks were introduced as Ultra-portable Protégé M800, Satellite M300 and A300 and Affordable Satellite L310 and L300. The company has chosen bollywood actress Vidya Balan as the brand ambassador for the South Asian Region.

These notebook PCs also come with all the features that consumers will need, such as a high brightness, high resolution Clear Super-View TFT display, DVD Super-Multi Double Layer Drive, five in one (5-in-1) Card Reader, built-in Webcam, USB Sleep and Charge ports, Bluetooth v2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate (EDR), Wireless LAN and 10/100 Ethernet LAN.

In addition, customers can now call in toll-free+ to the newly implemented Toshiba Global Support Centre that offers an innovative one-stop 24 hours, seven days, around the globe services and support capabilities for their mobile computer products queries. The single integrated services platform, with multi-language support services, assists in resolving warranty services and technical support issues.

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CEB to go for islandwide protest campaign

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After much discussion, the United Trade Union Front of the Ceylon Electricity Board, consisting of 25 trade unions, yesterday decided to take participate in an islandwide protest campaign on June 6.

The Front’s Committee Member and Convener of the Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya, Ranjan Jayalal told The Island yesterday that they were compelled to resort to such action as Power and Energy Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne failed to respond or grant an appointment to discuss the Sri Lanka Electricity Act which is due to be taken up in Parliament on June 6.

Jayalal said that if the authorities fail to respond to their request by June 5, they would definitely go ahead with the planned campaign.

"We have solid information that by tabling the Act in Parliament on June 6 and after a day’s debate it would be passed. If it is passed, it would divide the CEB into three sections; generation, transmission and transportation. This would make the CEB less authoritative than the private sector," he said.

A Ministry spokesman yesterday said that they had informed trade unions to settle internal matters with the CEB Chairman or the Board of Directors and if they are unable to solve such issues, the matter could be referred to the minister.

The spokesman said as it was clearly stated in the Mahinda Chintana there won’t be any decision that would lead to privatization.

Meanwhile, Jayalal said that it is no point in taking up the matter with the chairman, because it is the Minister who is going to present the Act in Parliament.

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RSF outraged over death of journalist

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is outraged by the murder of P. Devakumar, a television reporter in Jaffna. RSF adds that the government is exposing both its inability and its lack of political will to protect journalists.

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Explosives recover in Galle area

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GALLE Special investigation department, recovered the following explosives today (29) around 12.30pm.A Monk was also arrested with the explosives.

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Unmitigated violence and ruthless murders continue against the Media says UNP

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Despite raging accusations pointing at the Govt. in regard to continued violence and outrageous intimidation, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Govt. is impotent in this direction to curb these crimes.
Not even two days have passed by since the Editor of ‘Nation ‘ newspaper was brutally attacked by a gang , another Journalist, Devakumaran , attached to the Sirasa was hacked to death by an unidentified gang in Jaffna . He died on the spot.
He was traveling with his friend to a shop when they were attacked. His friend, an employee of the Jaffna kachcheri succumbed to his injuries at the Jaffna Hospital.
What is intriguing is that, in all these cases, no arrests proper have been made.

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SLMC plans to boycott EPC inagural meeting

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As the Government has failed to stand by its promises made at the recent Eastern provincial Council (EPC) elections to bring peace and prosperity to the people of the East, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is considering boycotting the inaugural sittings of the Eastern Provincial Council. According to the party sources the entire Eastern province is in turmoil and serious unrest after the elections with the Government. also unable to bring the situation under control.
Deputy General Secretary of the SLMC, Nizam Kariapper said there had been several attacks on Muslim civilians.

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EU promises Ranil to reconsider GSP+ renewal

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European Union officials have promised Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that they would consider an official request by the Sri Lankan government for the renewal of the GSP+ facility to the country's garments industry.
Mr. Wickremesinghe met with EU's Commissioner for Institutional Relations Margot Walstrom, External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Trade Commissioner Perter Mandelsson in Brussels , according to a UNP statement.
The Opposition Leader had requested them to ensure continued employment for 100,000 direct and 200,000 indirect dependents of Sri Lanka's garments industry by granting the duty concession.
The EU officials have replied that they would favourably consider if an official request is forwarded.

Applications for the GSP+ renewal are accepted until the end of October, and the reviews carried out in mid-December before announcement of the decisions.
UNP MP Sagala Ratnayake also attended the talks.

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Defence Secretary tours east

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A top defence delegation led by Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, today went on an inspection tour in Ampara in order to gain first hand information on new security developments in the east, in the aftermath of the recent PC polls. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Donald Perera and Army Commander Sarath Fonseka also accompanied the Defence Secretary.

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Journalist Tissanayagam refused bail

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Journalist J.S. Tissanayagam and two others were refused bail by Colombo Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi yesterday (May 28th).
The editor of 'outreach.com website, along with E-Kwality Printing Press owner V. Jesiharan and his wife V. Valarmathi were produced before the court for the first time after their arrest in March this year.
They were ordered further detention with the Terrorist Investigation Unit until June 6th after the TID informed court that the inquiry against them had revealed their involvement in LTTE activities.
The Chief Magistrate ordered the TID to produce Jesiharan before the Judicial Medical Officer and to report back following an application that he had been subjected to torture.
The court also ordered that necessary action be taken in regard to the illness of Valarmathi.

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Take to streets to protect media freedom, Ranil tells people

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Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for the protection of media freedom, describing it as an inalienable part of democracy.
Media freedom has been seriously compromised in the country and journalists are in grave danger to their lives, he said at a function in Colombo today (May 29th) to remember his father, senior journalist Esmond Wickremesinghe.
He noted that it was the prime responsibility of a government to safeguard democracy. However, the present regime was sending democracy to the grave, and using media curbs to hide its wrongdoings, Mr. Wickremesinghe alleged.
A few days ago, 'The Nation' Associate Editor Keith Noyahr was abducted, brutally assaulted and warned against speaking about his harrowing experience.
The Jaffna Correspondent for MTV/MBC P. Devakumar was hacked to death in a government-controlled area.
The entire media, along with the general public, should unite and rise against these media curbs, Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
President of the SLWJA Sanath Balasuriya and Secretary Poddala Jayantha were summoned by the Defence Secretary and threatened, he noted, and commended the two for bravely speaking out against the injustice.
He also said that the UNP was committed to safeguarding media freedom, for which it would have regular dialogues with media personnel.
The opposition leader expressed concern that certain media heads had dined with the President at Temple Trees yesterday night, but failed to take up there the brutal harassment meted out to their colleagues.
Speaking further, the Opposition Leader said Sri Lanka was facing a grave human right situation, and that the country lost reelection to the 192-member UNHRC.
Instead of campaigning for the seat, the government had been busy leveling personal allegations against him and the UNP, Mr. Wickremesinghe charged.
Several Asian countries vied for seats at the UNHRC, but many members backed out after intense lobbying by Human Rights Watch and three Nobel laureates lobbied against Sri Lanka's re-election, he said.
As the opposition leader, Mr. Wickremesinghe said, he had in advance informed the government and the president that the human rights situation needs to be improved, or the country would face problems at the UNHRC, but to no avail.

Even former US president Jimmy Carter accused Sri Lanka as the country with the worst cases of disappearances, he said.
The government kept on personally attacking him as a traitor although it was solely to be blamed for the defeat at the UNHRC.
The present regime was taking democracy from bad to worse, and continues brutal harassment of journalists against which the UNP would bring the people together very soon, Mr. Wickremesinghe added.

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Bajaj three wheelers could convert to gas in Sri Lanka

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COLOMBO: India's Bajaj, a market leader in the three-wheeler segment in Sri Lanka, will have to convert to gas fuel if the government of the island country goes ahead with its plan to save oil costs through conversion from petroleum fuel.

The Sri Lankan government is considering saving 40 per cent of money spent on fuel for three-wheelers by converting them to run on gas. This will reduce the burden on both three-wheeler drivers and commuters due to recent fuel price hike.

Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma told the reporters that fuel price hike is a heavy burden on the economy and fuel conversion is being considered with the objective of reducing hardships for commuters, who are now paying more for petrol and diesel.

There are over 3,00,000 three-wheelers in Sri Lanka and its users are facing a difficult situation due to the petrol price hike.

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Troops capture LTTE main supply base "Munnagam Base" - Mullaittivu

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Troops engaged in offensive operation in Wanni front have captured LTTE main supply and administration base known as "Munnagam Base" located in general area north of Janakapura this morning, May 29.
The said LTTE base which comprising well fortified building complex is used as the centralized location to distribute war materials for terror war fronts, sources said.

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6 civilians killed, 20 injured in LTTE artillery attack at Jaffna

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6 civilians were reported killed, another 20 including a pregnant mother injured in LTTE launched indiscriminate artillery attacks towards the densely populated Jaffna mainland this morning (May 29).
The cowardly attack targeting innocent civilians comes within hours after Army and Navy troops successfully repulsed a pre-dawn LTTE infiltration bid at the Chiraththivu islet located along the Jaffna- Mandathivu causeway.
According to military report, 20 rounds of heavy artillery shells have fallen into the densely populated Kolombuthurai, Gurunagar and Pasiuura areas causing sheer tension among the civilians who are majority Tamil.
Many civilian properties including vehicles and residences were also destroyed in this attack. A Catholic priest, children and elderly civilians were also among the victims suffered injuries. The injured were rushed to the Jaffna teaching hospital immediately.
Defence analysts state the attack targeting civilians is indeed a reaction of dismay by the outfit, a 'reprisal' despite constant calls from the LTTE to boycott the "Jaffna-reawakening" carnival, held at Doreiappah grounds, last week organized by the Security Forces HQ - Jaffna, 51 Division and the Jaffna Traders Association.
LTTE is a ruthless terrorist outfit notorious for crimes against innocent civilians. In its pursuit for a mono ethnic separate homeland for Tamils, the outfit has killed and maimed over tens and innocent children, Tamil and Sinhalese political leaders in indiscriminate bomb attacks. FBI in a recent report called LTTE the most dangerous terrorist outfit in the world.

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Ravindrakumar released

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Subasiraveen Ravindrakumar who was abducted from outside his school in Kotahena yesterday has been released and is now in police care.

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Stainless steel T56 recovered from Mutur

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Trincomalee Police had today discovered a stainless steel, state-of-the-art T56 rifle from a resident in Mutur. This rifle never before used by even the Sri Lankan Army is said to have the capability of launching grenades as well.

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Anura Yapa contradicts Hulugalle on state media statement

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Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said today that state media personnel are free to join any association and express their views. This is in contradiction to the statement made by Media Center for National Security Director General Lakshman Hulugalle that state media personnel cannot criticize the government.

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Bandula says SL facing economic crisis

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Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena said today that Sri Lanka is facing a severe economic crisis as is the case the world over and added that President Mahinda Rajapkse will announce next week, precautions the government will take to face the crisis.

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JVP plans to educate international investors.

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JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe will leave tonight overseas and plans to meet a number of investors , leaders of the friendly institutes of the JVP and address Sri Lankans and reorganize JVP International Committees .
He will visit Sweden , Denmark , Germany and Britain .
Issuing a press release the JVP said during his visit he would meet Sri Lankans in these countries and also attend open discussions
Mr.Amarasinghe plans to educate investors on Sri Lankan situation and will invite them to invest in Sri Lanka.
During his visit he plans to meet Sir Naisdy , member of the British parliament .
This is the first overseas visit of Amarasinghe after he received party approval to strength foreign relations section of the JVP.
Last Sunday he was reappointed as the Leader of the JVP and the Central Committee of the party axed Wimal Weerawansa from key posts of the party.

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Court issues a standing interim injunction on UNP-Mangala agreement

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The Colombo District Court has issued a standing interim injunction informing the suspension of the implementation of the agreement signed by MP Mangala Samaraweera with the United National Party.
This order was given at the interim verdict of the petition filed by former UNP parliamentarian Anura Bastian and Western provincial councillor Anil Kumara Wijesinghe.
This order is effective till a verdict is made on a hearing into the case. The petitioners stated that the agreement is contrary to the constitution of the UNP and has not been approved by the working committee of the party.

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CHA expresses freedom of movement of Sri Lankans

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The Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) expresses its concern on the restrictions currently placed on the freedom of movement of Sri Lankans, particularly proceeding from areas such as Vavuniya and Mannar past the Medawachchiya check
point.
While the CHA acknowledges that the government has the right to enforce restrictions on travel due to legitimate security concerns, it is clear that such restrictions cannot be arbitrary or directed towards members of one particular community only. This principle
has been repeatedly reiterated by the Supreme Court, particularly in Thavaneethan v Dissanayake ([2003] 1 SriLR 75, 91-92) where it was stated that the prevention by army personnel, of voters travelling from ‘uncleared’ areas to the ‘cleared’ areas prior to the
2001 Parliamentary General Election on grounds not connected to national security, infringed Article 14(1) (h) of the Constitution which secures the right to freedom of movement.
The current restrictions are to the effect that individuals, (including attorneys-at-law travelling for professional work) proceeding from Mannar/Vavuniya beyond the Medawachchiya checkpoint are prohibited from travelling in their own vehicles through the checkpoint even after undergoing full and comprehensive security checks of the vehicles and bodily searches of the individuals so travelling. In addition, travellers are
compelled to undergo continued checking at successive points resulting in the wastage of time and on occasion, harassment. The cost of items in Vavuniya has also greatly increased as a result of two or three days being spent in clearing food items through the
checkpoint.
Bus travellers face particular difficulties in this regard. For example, bus passengers face the first security check at the Vavuniya bus stand, thereafter the second security threat at Eratperiyakulam and the third security check at Medawachchiya. Passengers are
required to disembark from the bus at these checkpoints and wait until the laborious process of checking is completed. At Medawachchiya, travellers are required to separately pay for the bus during the 1km between Medawachchiya checkpoint and the
bus stand. Other travellers need to hire separate vehicles to proceed from Medawachchiya. Rates for all vehicle movement between these points and beyond have increased exponentially as a result of these security arrangements, causing extreme
financial and mental anguish to ordinary civilians. The amount of time during which passengers may be compelled to undergo checking may exceed two hours at particular times.
The CHA recommends that the government adopt the following measures to address this problem;
• Issue strict instructions to all army personnel manning these checkpoints that ordinary passengers should not be harassed unnecessarily during the checks carried out and have a responsible officer authorised to inquire into any complaints;
• Consider initiating discussions with citizens committees, religious bodies and so on as to the manner in which movement should be permitted beyond the Medawachchiya checkpoint in order to minimise peoples’ frustration while taking into account genuine security concerns.
• Increase personnel, infrastructure and expand the area for vehicle checks and transfer;
• Monitor and regulate the rates and fares of vehicles beyond the Medawachchiya checkpoint in order to en sure that no profiteering takes place • Check and seal goods and the relevant vehicle at the first check-in point so as to minimise further checks en-route.

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Sri Lanka spends Rs. 350 Billion to import oil

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Minister Bandula Gunawardena said a barrel of crude oil has risen to 136 dollars today from the price of 29 dollars in 2003.
In the year 2003 the government spends only 838 million US dollars to import oil. Minister Gunawardena has pointed out however, this expenditure has been increased to 2497 million US dollars by last year.
He further said therefore the government is compelled to spend a further 350 billion rupees this year to import oil.

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Government plans to construct another flyover in Nugegoda

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Minister of Road Development T.B. Ekanayake says the construction of the flyover in Nugegoda will commence on next month.
The 300 meter bridge will be contained with four strips. It is the objective of the Ministry to conclude the construction work within 90 days. The government of Britain is funding the project.

Meanwhile the second phase of the Kelaniya flyover is now in progress. The construction work of the Panadura flyover is also to be completed within this year. Speaking to media the minister disclosed 16 flyovers are to be built through out the Island.
The government said the Kelanisiri Bridge linking between Kolonnawa and Kelaniya will be opened tomorrow morning [30]. The bridge is 130 meters long and 10 meters wide. The total expenditure of the construction is 16.5 million rupees.
The construction activities have been started as a result of a proposal made by former deputy minister of transport and highway Navalage Benet Cooray.
Participating in a news briefing yesterday, he said a vast development in the area will be unleashed after inauguration of the bridge.
Measures have been taken to operate a bus service between Kelaniya and Battaramulla.

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Trade liberalization may not necessarily lead to economic growth says South Asian Policy makers

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A meeting of South Asian policy makers was told that trade liberalisation may not necessarily lead to economic growth and lower poverty, with state intervention in recent financial crises showing the market may not have all the answers.

Muchkund Dubey, co-chairman, South Asia Centre for Policy Studies and a former senior Indian diplomat,told an international conference on the trade-poverty nexus in South Asia organized by the Institute of Policy Studies and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Colombo that recent developments in the world financial system have seen governments "intervening massively" to prevent the collapse of institutions and systems.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sri Lanka sees cushion from India, diversification

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By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's closer trade ties with neighbor India and value-added products like truck tires and flavored tea drinks should help it weather a global slowdown, Colombo's trade minister said on Wednesday.

Minister of Export Development and International Trade G.L. Peiris said a "double-whammy in terms of food prices and oil prices" had hit the Indian Ocean island country, which is looking for ways to make up for shortages.

Amid spiraling rice prices and a ban on exports by Asian suppliers, Sri Lanka received a special dispensation from India to keep imports of the grain coming, he said.

But Peiris said rising wheat flour and milk prices forced the country to look for ways to supplant imports.

"A small country like Sri Lanka, which is a net food importer, will have to really fall back on strategies for import substitution," he said in an interview with Reuters.

"Inflation is high in the country, that's inevitable, but we have achieved an impressive diversification of Sri Lanka's economy and that has enabled us to mitigate the consequences."

Peiris said Sri Lanka had sustained annual economic growth of 7 percent for the three years through 2007 and saw its exports grow by 15 percent last year.

A strong focus on adding value to Sri Lanka's output of commodities like rubber and tea resulted in ventures to make and export truck tires and diversification of the well-known Ceylon tea into flavored and herbal teas, he said.

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KESC to buy Sri Lankan wires

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KARACHI: KESC intends to import electric wires from Sri Lanka to prevent electricity theft, as this system has successfully worked there.

KESC Managing Director (MD) Syed Muhammad Amjad Ali said this on Wednesday in a meeting with the delegation of the Consumers Association of Pakistan, led by Kaukab Iqbal. The delegation urged the ending or, at least, the minimization of the duration of load shedding in Karachi. They also said that consumers must be informed about load shedding in advance through the print or electronic media and that the “fixed charges” levied by the KESC are an open injustice.

The KESC official said that every possible effort will be made to minimize the duration of load shedding. He, however, said that in the summer months, the use of electricity increases manifold, giving a rise to the load shedding duration. “We are fixing the system and our staff, from linesmen to top level officers, is working on a war-footing,” he said.

The KESC MD advised the general consumers— households, industries and commercial institutions, to avoid switching on their electric appliances at once after the restoration of electricity, as this tends to cause feeder failure. He also said that complaint centers in the city are being improved to solve consumers’ problems.

He said that the government of Pakistan transferred 71.5 percent of KESC’s shares and management control of the company to KESC Power Limited in November, 2005. Prior to privatization, the government was providing an average annual subsidy of Rs 8.5 billion to the company. However, since November 2005, no subsidy had been given to meet the operational cash short-fall.

Another problem being faced by KESC was that the last addition to its generation capacity was made back in 1977, whereas the gap between the demand and supply of electricity has continuously widened, with the demand growing by 7 to 8 percent per annum.

The KESC MD added that finances of up to Rs 37 billion were obtained from local and international financial institutions at highly competitive rates. This was not merely possible on the strength of KESC’s balance sheet. An amount of 50 million US Dollars was also arranged to meet the operational cash shortfall.

He said that the contract for setting up a new combined cycle power plant of 220 MW was awarded in January, 2007, and the first 50 MW gas turbine is likely to be commissioned by November, 2008.

At Bin Qasim Power Station, the contract for a new power plant (560 MW) is also likely to be awarded shortly. These power plants will be the first addition to KESC’s generation capacity since 1997. Beside the SCADA system, the establishment of grid station II is also in progress, which will be commissioned in phases from September, 2008.

To provide the best possible service to costumers, KESC’s new management has introduced the modern concept of ‘Business Operations,’ to have a focused approach, improved delivery service and excellent customer service. The recovery of arrears is also supposed to improve under the new project while business operations have been separated from technical operations, placed under an independent management group. ppi.

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5 media groups concerned over threats to 2 SLWFA members

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Five local media rights groups, led by the Free Media Movement, say they are concerned by a thinly veiled repeatedly expressed threat to two leading members of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

In a joint letter to Mr. Rajapaksa, the media rights groups note with concern his statement that if SLWJA President Sanath Balasuriya and Secretary Poddala Jayantha continue criticizing the military, he nor the government are in a position to prevent action taken against them by groups/persons who revere the Army Commander.

The letter has been signed by the FMM, the SLWJA, the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and the Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance.

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Govt. jacks up taxes on petrol to Rs. 56.90

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The government has slapped a new tax on petrol imports as the country struggles to come to terms with the steep rise in fuel prices in the local market.
The new tax has come into operation immediately after the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) increased the prices of petrol and diesel to Rs. 157 and Rs. 110 respectively over the last weekend.
The LIOC entered the Sri Lankan market in a big way in 2003 during the then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure.
The Treasury has imposed, what a well informed official engaged in the trade categorized as a Customs Import Duty (CID) on petrol imports with immediate effect. The official said the duty would add an additional Rs. 24.50 on every litre of petrol imported to the country by the CPC and LIOC.

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Weerawansa ordered to pay legal costs to Maj. Gen.

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Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (JNP) leader Wimal Weerawansa was ordered to pay Rs. 15,000 in a case filed against him for allegedly defaming a retired Army Major General.

Mr. Weerawansa was ordered to pay legal costs as he was not prepared for the trial which was scheduled for yesterday and had informed there was a change of lawyers.

Earlier counsel Maura Gunawansa instructed by attorney Sunil Watagala appeared for Mr. Weerawansa but they had withdrawn from the case.

Attorney-at-law Kapila Gamage informed court that senior counsel Gomin Dayasiri will appear for him in the future.

At this stage counsel A. Kodikara appearing for the plaintiff Major General Wasantha Perera said the defendant was not prepared for the trial but he had not informed about the latest development in due time.

At this stage Colombo District Judge Sisira Ratnayake ordered the defendant Mr. Weerawansa to pay the legal costs Rs. 15,000 to the plaintiff and fixed the trial for September 10.

In this case Major General Galihenage Wasantha Wimalasiri Perera had complained that Wimal Weerawansa as the JVP propaganda secretary participated in a TV talk show titled ‘Visanwada’ on February 9, 2004 and had made a defamatory statement about him.

Major General Perera has demanded Rs. 50 million as damages and claimed that due to the defamatory statement by Wimal Weerawansa he lost his job and he and his family had to undergo severe pain of mind.

He claimed that Mr. Weerawansa had maliciously stated that in 1999 he abandoned the Kanakarayankulam Army camp leaving behind valuable arms and this was done to assist the LTTE. Mr. Weerawansa made this defamatory statement despite the fact that he (Maj. Gen. Perera) was not attached to the said camp. Mr. Weerawansa also had allegedly stated that he was a UNP supporter and for helping the LTTE he was given a high ranking post in a Government institution.

He said following Mr. Weerawansa’s statement there were a series of attacks and some mudslinging at him through the media and by politicians including minister-in-charge of BOI Anura Bandaranaike. He had filed another case against Anura Bandaranaike, he said.

However replying to Mr. Weerawansa’s alleged false statement Major General Perera had stated to court that the JVP worked closely with the LTTE terrorists during the 1988/89 period and got arms in the Hambantota district from the terrorist organisation. He further testified that Mr. Weerawansa made this arbitrary statement because he (Maj. Gen. Perera) as the Coordinator and the Commander of Galle district compiled a report which revealed the JVP’s terrorist activities with the LTTE during the 1988/89 period.

He said the report revealed that the JVP obtained arms from the LTTE and he was able to stop this.

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Claymore blast in Vavuniya, 3 policemen injured

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The Defence Ministry said that three policemen were injured in a claymore mine explosion targeting a police vehicle in the Vavuniya area this morning.

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Trail run for new traffic plan

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City Traffic Police has decided to implement a new traffic plan to reduce the traffic congestion from Colombo Fort to Colpetty. A senior Police official said that a trail run was held today. Details of the new plan are yet to be finalized and approved.

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Black flags against Ranil by underworld figure

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An underworld figure is reportedly putting up black flags along Colombo- Katunayake road to mark protest against the European tour of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who is slated to return today

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6 civilians killed, 12 injured in LTTE artillery attack at Jaffna

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6 civilians were reported killed another 12 injured in LTTE launched indiscriminate artillery attacks towards the densely populated Jaffna mainland this morning (May 29).

The cowardly attack targeting innocent civilians comes within hours after Army and Navy troops successfully repulsed a pre-dawn LTTE infiltration bid at the Chiraththivu islet located along the Jaffna- Mandathivu causeway.

According to military, 20 rounds of heavy artillery shells have fallen into the densely populated Kolombuthurai, Pasinur and Gurunagar areas causing sheer tension among the civilians who are majority Tamil. The injured were rushed to the Jaffna teaching hospital and many children are also said to be among the wounded.

Defence analysts state the attack targeting civilians is indeed a reaction of dismay by the outfit, a 'reprisal' despite constant calls from the LTTE to boycott the "Jaffna-reawakening" carnival, held at Doreiappah grounds, last week organised by the 51 Division and the Jaffna Traders Association.

LTTE is a ruthless terrorist outfit notorious for crimes against innocent civilians. In its pursuit for a mono ethnic separate homeland for Tamils, the outfit has killed and maimed over tens and innocent children, Tamil and Sinhalese political leaders in indiscriminate bomb attacks. FBI in a recent report called LTTE the most dangerous terrorist outfit in the world.

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SLAF launches successive air raids at key LTTE locations

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SLAF fighter jets and Mi-24 helicopter gun-ships made successive air raids at pre-identified key LTTE locations in Mullaittiuvu, Kilinochchi and Mannar districts today (May 29).

According to Air Force Spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara, one of the terrorists' training facilities located 6km South West of Mulliyavalai in the jungles of Mullaittiuvu was targeted in the air raid launched by fighter jets at around 6.15a.m

'Intel' sources said, the base identified as 'Vellamalai base' was located at Kulamurippu between Oddusuddan and Mulliyavalai general areas.

"We have been monitoring this base for some time before the attack, " the spokesperson said and added that separate air sorties were made by Mi-24 helicopter gun-ships in close support of the advancing Army infantry and armour battalions in Pulliyankulama, Mannar at around 5.45a.m., today.

Meanwhile, SLAF fighter craft made another precision air strike at a well fortified LTTE military co-ordination base located at Kokavil general area in Kilinochchi district. The air bombardment was launched at around 6.10a.m, Wing Commander Nanayakkara said, adding that "the base was obliterated in the air raid".

According to military sources, the terror facility was located exactly opposite where an LTTE communication tower was earlier destroyed in a similar air strike in 2006.

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Sri Lanka will be able to contest for a seat in UNHCR next year as well.

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Government Defence Spokesmen minister Keheliya Rambukwella says Sri Lanka will be able to contest to the Asian post of the UN human rights council next year as well.
Sri Lanka has secured over 50 percent of the registered votes at the recent voting of the council.
This has confirmed Sri Lanka’s dedication and keenness on respecting human rights. Therefore, Sri Lanka would be given another opportunity to contest for the Asian seat on next year. At a media briefing held in Colombo, today the minister said that there was a tough competition between the countries in Europe and Asian regions at the UNHCR election.
Sri Lanka gained 101 votes surpassing the 50 percent margin of the votes.
Spain contested for a seat in European region but failed to obtain adequate number of votes as same as Sri Lanka. The minister points out that failing secure a seat does not mean that the respective countries do not protect human rights.

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Journalist hacked to death in Jaffna

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Sirasa Jaffna reporter P. Devakumaran was hacked to death this afternoon in Navthurei by an unidentified gang.
Paranirupasingham Devakumar, 34, and his friend were returning home at Vadukkodai on a motorcycle when they were taken by an unidentified group at Navatturai around 6.00 pm, report said.

Their bodies are presently lying at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.

The friend, Mahendran Varadan was a 28-year-old employee of the District Secretariat

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Dilantha creates history

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Sri Lankan racing driver Dilantha Malagamuwa created history over the weekend by winning the first two legs of the Aston Martin Cup Asia Championships in China. Pictured here is Dilantha celebrating his victory.

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Thousands Defy Tigers;

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Over 100000 Tamil civilians defying tiger orders enjoyed themselves in the carnival held at Doreiappah grounds, Jaffna. The LTTE ordered the people not to attend the fiesta through their media.

The carnival was held not only to provide fun and frolic to civilians but also to meet their requirements.

The objective of the carnival titled of 'Reawakening Jaffna' was held for three days.

People availed themselves of cheap essential commodities at trade stalls.

The entertainment meant for children and javelins included merry - go - round, electronic games etc. and provided opportunities for sports for youth. A popular item of the carnival was the musical show featuring popular artistes from the North and the South. Twenty one school children who passed the G.C.E. Ordinary Level with highest scores were awarded computers.

This event was organized by the 51 Division and the Jaffna Traders Association. Jaffna Commander Major General G.A. Chandrasiri, Major General LBR Mark, Commander 51 Division K. Ganesh Government Agent Jaffna P.S.B. Jaysundara DIG Northern Province also participated.

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JHU holds 5th national convention on May 31

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The Jathika Hela Urumaya is holding its fifth national convention on May 31st at the National Youth Council auditorium in Maharagama.

It will be held under the themes - a Dhamma state, country for the nation, abstinence from alcoholism and a land of greenery.


JHU leader Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera will chair the convention.

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We would travel to Parliament by bullock cart to protest the unprecedented fuel price-UNP

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A group of bullock cart riding United National Party MPs agitated in Colombo against the latest escalation in fuel prices.The bullock carts wound their way from Colombo Fort Railway Station to Pettah, Maradana and to the Lipton Circus, where a protest rally took place.
Speaking to the media here, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said they would travel to Parliament by bullock cart to protest the unprecedented fuel price hike.Provincial councilors, local government representatives and supporters of the party joined the demonstration.

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Weerawansa and his fellow MPs will act as a separate group in the house.

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Dissident MPs of the JVP plan to act in the house as a separate group. A spokesman of the Weerawansa faction said Mr.Wimal Weerawansa would take the leadership of this group .
Commenting yesterday’s hard decisions of the JVP at the fifth convention held in Colombo he said JVP’s decisions are not important and it is not unnatural thing for Weerawansa or his fellow MPs.
However Weerwansa lost two key posts of the JVP as Propaganda Secretary and the Parliament Group Leadership.
At present Weerawansa faction consists eleven MPs including Nandana Gunathilaka .
Weerawansa faction plans to register a new political party called National Freedom Front under the leadership of Nandana Gunathilaka.
During the fifth convention General Secretary of the JVP Tylwin Silva said “If one found guilty we will work against him regardless of his background. If anyone feels this constitution or these regulations are too strict, they can leave the party as some did as we want this party to remain the only party who can discipline this country,”

The JVP yesterday re-appointed Somawansa Amarasinghe as its leader at the party’s fifth convention held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.

The party also named a 24-member Central Committee. Tilvin Silva was re-appointed General Secretary and six others were appointed to the politburo. The politburo comprises Tilvin Silva, new Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath, Parliamentary Group leader and Financial Secretary MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Education Affairs Secretary MP Chandrasena Wijesinghe, Administrative Affairs Secretary MP K.D. Lalkantha, Organizing Secretary G. Kularatne and International Affairs Secretary, Party leader Amarasinghe.

The new central committee comprises 24 members. They include seven members of the politburo. Other CC members are Bimal Rathnayake, Sunil Handunetthi, Dimuthu Atigala, Jinadasa Kitulagoda, S. K. Subasinghe, Nihal Galappaththi, Ramalingam Chandrasegar, Lakshaman Nipunarachchi, Chameera Koswatte, Dimuthu Bandara Abeykoon, Priyanga Kotalawala, Ajith Kumara, Waruna Rajapaksa, Mahinda Jayasinghe, Pubudu Jayagoda, Duminda Nagamuwa and Nalinda Jayatissa.

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AI World Report lists Sri Lanka for serious HR violations

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World Report released by Amnesty International (AI) today has listed Sri Lanka among the countries where there were serious human rights violations and abuses in 2007 including enforced disappearances, unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and torture. AI held both the Government and the LTTE responsible for these allegations.

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Sri Lankan Minister of Science and Technology visits AIT in

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo

On 20 May, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) welcomed

Professor Tissa Witharana, Minister of Science and Technology,

Government of Sri Lanka, who was accompanied by Professor

J.B. Disanayaka, Ambassador Sri Lanka to Thailand and also an

AIT trustee; and Professor Sirimali Fernando, Chairperson,

National Science Foundation Sri Lanka.

The visit of Minister Witharana to AIT was to explore possible

collaboration between AIT and the Ministry of Science and

Technology, Sri Lanka. During the visit, the Minister expressed

interest in partnering with AIT for extensive collaboration in

research and development projects that are of importance to

Sri Lanka, such as, in the areas of Mechatronics, Nano-

technology, Bio-technology and others. The Minister reiterated

that Sri Lanka needed to develop its competency in advance

technologies, where private and public sector can face the

challenges posed by the ever changing environment. He said

his Ministry is keen to build and develop the capacity of human

resources in advance technologies for which AIT would be an

appropriate partner, both in the short-term and in the long

term.

The AIT administration shared with the Sri Lankan delegation

the ongoing AIT activities, its mission and future plan, and

informed the Minister that AIT could partner with Sri Lanka in a

model similar to the AIT-Pakistan partnership i.e. the AIT-

Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan partnership in

particular for the development of required human resources.

Similar to the Local Currency Funds of India, Nepal and

Pakistan, AIT suggested to the Minister the establishment of a

Sri Lankan Local Currency Fund to support AIT students /

faculty / staff carrying out research in Sri Lanka.

AIT will be sending a list of possible collaborative ideas along

with relevant concept papers to the Ministry and the Science

Foundation.

The visit to AIT by the Sri Lankan delegation was made

possible by AIT Sri Lankan faculty colleagues Dr. Ranjith Perera

and Dr. Hemantha Jayasuriya.

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LTTE made 21 brutal attacks targeting civilians

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Army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said at the media briefing the terrorists have attacked 21 brutal attacks for the last five months targeting civilians.
149 civilians have died in these attacks and 500 were injured. The security forces have successfully in liberating 600 square kilometers of land in Vavuniya from terrorists.
The operation was carried out by the 57 battalion. Brigadier Nanayakkara added as a result of the security forces attacks the terrorists were compelled to shift their camps and centers 45 kilometers beyond the battle front. Five major locations of the terrorists were attacked by the air force in the past week.
He further said it is believed that Dora, an expert on explosives of the LTTE Was believed to have been killed in one of these attacks.

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Government mediates to reconstruct the Kaladi church

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The government mediates to reconstruct the Kaladi church which was destroyed by the mortar attack of the LTTE in Mannar.
A representative of Minister Pandu Bandaranaike has presented a cheque valued at 100 thousand rupees to Bishop of Mannar most Rev. Rayappu Joseph. The Bishop has expressed the gratitude of the Catholic people to the government for its intervention to repair the damaged church.

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World Bank grants 7.2 billion rupees to Sri Lanka

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The World Bank grants 7.2 billion rupees for the development of another large scale development project in Sri Lanka.
The International Development of the World Bank has granted this amount for the project of dam safety and water resources management.
The Ministry of Finance said the funds will be utilized to ensure safety of selected high risk dams. Under this programme 32 large scale dams will be rehabilitated.
This project will be implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Planning with the assistance of Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Services and the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management. Measures have been taken to complete this project within four years.
The relevant agreement was signed at the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday . Secretary to the Finance Ministry Dr.P.B. Jayasundera and the country- Director of World Bank to Navoko Ishi has signed the agreement on behalf of the respective parties.

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Navy Chief elaborates SLN role & future strategies at Future Naval Plans 2008- UK

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Commander of Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda delivering a lecture at an international defence education forum recently explained the role of Sri Lanka Navy and its future strategies. Addressing the Future Naval Plans 2008, the leading annual naval forum in Europe, Admiral Karannagoda elaborated the role of Sri Lanka Navy will be increasingly governed by the international requirements in the ever globalizing world.
Admiral Karannagoda was the first Sri Lankan navy officer to deliver a lecture at the forum in which high profile Navy officials across the world came together and discussed the future needs and doctrinal evolution. The forum was organized in London for the 7th time by Defence IQ, an organization setup to deliver critical information to senior decision makers in the domain of defence.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seven LTTE cadres killed, fourteen wounded and 400 Ltr Diesel Recovered

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' JANAKAPURA North in two different incidents occurred in JANAKAPURA North area at 07.45am and 12.25pm respectively yesterday (26), three LTTE cadres were killed and 12 others were injured by the troops. Two soldiers also were injured during these incidents.

ARNANDAKULUM: In an another incident taken place in ANDANKULUM area at 10.45 a.m. yesterday (26), four LTTE cadres were killed and two others were wounded by the Army troops.

BATTICALOA: MYLANTHANAI Two barrels containing 400 liters of Diesel have been recovered in a search operation conducted in the area by the SL Army troops around 10.45 a.m. yesterday(26).

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Six Terrorists killed and seven wounded in Vavuniya

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Four LTTE terrorists were injured in a confrontation around 7.40 a.m. yesterday (26) in VELLANKULAM area, VAVUNIYA.

Another three terrorists were injured in a confrontation in MAMPULIKULAM at 10.45 a.m. on the same day. Two soldiers were also wounded in action.

In VEDAYAMURIPPU area yesterday (26) at 11.00am a soldier was reported wounded in action.

Meanwhile two LTTE cadres were killed in an incident in PAPPAMOONAI yesterday (26) morning around 10.35.

In NEDUNKANDAL one terrorist was killed around 8.25 am. Also another three terrorists were killed in a confrontation in the same area yesterday (26).

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TULF Leader suspects LTTE for both Dehiwala and Kilinochchi bomb blasts

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(By Walter Jayawardhana)

President of Sri Lanka's oldest Tamil political party, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Leader V.Ananda Sangaree while condemning the Kilinochchi claymore mine attack and the Dehiwala train bomb attack that killed sixteen and nine civilians respectively queried how could the army or paid agents of the army strike so close to the LTTE headquarters in Kilinochchi, as claimed by some Tamil newspapers.

Blaming the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also for the Kilinochchi Claymore Mine explosion Sangaree said, "How is it possible for the armed forces to reach areas so close to their Head Quarters. Even if one assumes that it is the work of the paid agents of the armed forces, the LTTE must seriously consider winding up the fighting and come to terms with the Government, since their days are numbered. Secondly even if one accepts that army can reach these areas through their paid agents, it cannot be true all the time."

He said, "My strong suspicion is that the Tamil Media is pressurised by the LTTE to put the blame on the forces soon after some incident takes place, merely to gain sympathy from the International Community after themselves doing it either intentionally or by mistaken identity. I call upon H. E. the President to appoint a presidential Commission to find out who is responsible for such attacks taking place in the LTTE held areas and how within a few hours the Local papers claim that all such attacks are by the deep penetrating unit of the forces."

Following is his full statement: "A claymore mine attack at Murugandy in Kilinochchi on Friday afternoon took the lives of 16 innocent men, women and children and also left 3 seriously injured. A bomb blast in a crowded train on Monday left 9 killed, 73 injured and out of the four women killed one was a pregnant mother. I strongly condemn both incidents and grieve with the kith and kin on their losses. This is not a cricket match for anyone to announce the score and celebrate it with a party. How many widows, widowers, orphans and destitute persons, these two horrible incidents had created? One who left home, happily in the morning returns home in a beautiful coffin, some in pieces and some others beyond identification.

Thousands of innocent non-combatants had died and also thousands in the war front. Now we have in our country several thousands of widows, widowers, orphans and destitute persons, not to count those who had lost their eyesight, limbs etc. The pain of the loss of a life is felt only by the victim's dear ones and not by those who promote the war and who gain by the war. Is there no end to this? - is the question every one of us should ask.

"As I had been repeatedly pointing out, the Human Rights Violations continue unabated both in the Government controlled areas and in the LTTE controlled areas, the only difference being that there is transparency in the former and complete blackout in the latter where people open their mouths only when asked to do so.

"I am misunderstood by some for accusing the LTTE and holding them responsible for the claymore mine attacks taking place in their areas. My reasons for doing so are two fold. One is My strong suspicion is that the Tamil Media is pressurised by the LTTE to put the blame on the forces soon after some incident takes place, merely to gain sympathy from the International Community after themselves doing it either intentionally or by mistaken identity. I call upon H. E. the President to appoint a presidential Commission to find out who is responsible for such attacks taking place in the LTTE held areas and how within a few hours the Local papers claim that all such attacks are by the deep penetrating unit of the forces. His Excellency can refer a few selected cases for a Presidential Commission to inquire into. As one who had represented the Kilinochchi Electorate for over 14 years, I have an interest in knowing whether what the papers say are voluntary or under compulsion.

"At least at this stage, if the Government comes out with a reasonable proposal acceptable to the International Community, not out of fear for the LTTE, but only to give confidence to the International Community to take a bold step forward to help to find a solution. Every one who has sympathy for the poor innocent man on the street who falls a victim to the LTTE's claymore mine, bomb or even their bullets must without any hesitation support my proposal. The TULF condemns all types of violence on the innocent civilians."

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JVP leader says plan to arrest him, Tilvin

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by Saman Indrajith
JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe yesterday accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of planning to put him and the party’s general secretary Tilvin Silva behind bars for the crimes committed during the second JVP uprising in late eighties.

"We have information Mahinda Rajapaksa plans to arrest me and Comrade Tilvin and to take us before courts for what we did in past. This they would never be able to prove. Even if we are put behind bars, we know how to deal with such situation. There are no prison walls high or strong enough to confine us. Our slain leader Rohana Wijeweera had taught us the way to carry out the mission staying inside prisons," Amarasinghe told the party’s fifth national convention held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo.

"I know he (the president) wants the JVP’s old man to leave the country.

I declare today at this historic convention, I will never leave my motherland again. I fear not these threats. We are well tempered enough to face and counter suppressions."


"We know that he, whom we brought to power, has been vested with powers of an executive president and he is the commander in chief. We warn the commander that he can use his power and rifles the way he likes but not to commit the mistake of sitting on a rifle. Putting us in jails would be something similar to a commander sitting on a bayonet," he said.


General Secretary Tilvin Silva said President Mahinda Rajapaksa is becoming another ‘Ferdinand Marcos.’ "Now it is clear that Mahinda Rajapaksa is trying to do a Marcos. He has handed over all vital economically important institutions and corporations to his relatives. Rs 3200 millions were wasted for his experiment with Mihin Air and the end result is another world record of having an airline without flights. Journalists are being abducted and assaulted and political opposition is suppressed with the use of force," he said.


Silva said that soon Mahinda Rajapaksa would enact the complete role of president-dictator silencing those who oppose him. "Marcos ruined the economy of the Philippines and killed thousands of political enemies. He suppressed all who took to the streets against him. But, at the end it was the Philippine people who ousted him. There is a lesson for those who attempt to imitate Marcos. It is people who decide the leaders."

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Man charged over attack on Lankan

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A UK court has charged a man for an alleged knife attack on a Sri Lankan Tamil citizen over the weekend.

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INGO curtails Batti operations

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International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) operating in Batticaloa have curtailed their operations in the district following the escalation of violence and tension in the area.
World Vision (Lanka) said it had issued a travel advisory to its staff and restricted their movements after three of its employees were surrounded and assaulted by a mob in Kathankudy, Batticaloa on Monday.

A top official of the humanitarian agency said that one employee had been injured during the assault (with clubs) and admitted to hospital for treatment.

His motor bike had also been damaged.

“The other two managed to escape,” the official said, stressing that the assault was not done because the victim belonged to the agency but due to the ethnic tensions in the district.

Several other INGOs said they were also considering moves to ensure the safety of their staff and had issued security advice in the light of the tensions in the district following the killing of a top TMVP official and the subsequent shooting and abduction of Muslims in two separate incidents.

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Another price hike of fuel by IOC

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Lanka IOC increased diesel price by Rs.20 .00 per liter from Tuesday midnight. Last week the IOC also increased its fuel prices.

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UNP condemned Dehiwala attack

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UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake condemned the LTTE bomb attack on a packed train in Dehiwala and said the terrorists had once again resorted to killing innocent civilians in the face of heavy setbacks on the battlefield.
Nine persons returning home after a hard day’s work were killed and another 72 were injured when a fully packed bus bound to Panadura was caught in an explosion at 4.58 p.m. at the Dehiwala Station .and he extended his condolences to the members of the bereaved families and wished speedy recovery to the injured.

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Man shot dead in Pettah

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A man was shot dead in Pettah by unidentified gunmen a short while ago. The shhoting took place inside a lodge.

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Wimal axed

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Somawansa Amarasinghe remains as the leader of the JVP while Tylwin silva was appointed as the General Secretary by the Central Committee of the JVP at their fifth convention held in this evening at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium , Colombo.
Wijitha Herath was appointed as the Propaganda Secretary by the central committee and Anura Kumara Dissanayake is now holding Parliamentary group leadership .
In last few weeks the Asia Tribune predicted about Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s post and most of party loyalists say these leaders could save the party and the nation.

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JVP not assist UNP to grab power

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe insists that the party will not allow the UNP, which betrayed the country and the people, to return to power. He stated this addressing the 5th national general assembly of the party held in Colombo this morning. JVP General Secretary Tylvin Silva said it is a responsibility of all party activists to contribute towards the advancement of the party.
Meanwhile Parliamentarin Nandana Gunathilaka said yesterday that JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe has become a puppet in the hands of a powerful segment within the party which is fast becoming a crutch to the main Opposition UNP.

"In the issue of ousting Wimal Weerawansa and others, who dissented against this conspiracy, Comrade Amarasinghe was used to the hilt. He, who once led the campaign of rebuilding the party from ruins, came under the pressure of several conspirators and cracked. He let the conspirators take control and is now politically assassinated," Gunatilake said.
Meanwhile the second session of the JVP 5th Convention is still on the way.

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ENHANCE DEMOCRATIC NORMS IN THE POST ELECTION PERIOD IN THE EAST

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The violent clashes that have taken place in the Muslim-inhabited parts of the east have led to the killing of several persons and to a climate of rapidly escalating tension. These clashes have come shortly after the Eastern Provincial Council elections which the TMVP contested while remaining an armed group whose presence has become more openly obvious following the elections.

The present clashes have pitted members of the TMVP against the Muslim community and reflect the deep suspicions and frustration following promises made and broken in the aftermath of the elections. The use of arms by the TMVP is unacceptable. The National Peace Council believes that if left unchecked they are likely to lead to further clashes and to an increase in tensions between the Tamil and Muslim communities, and this trend should be reversed immediately.

Having elections in the east, although flawed, was an important step towards empowering the people in the province to democratically determine their future. The post election period provides yet another opportunity to the government and the newly established Eastern Provincial Council to demonstrate their commitment to the democratic process and to promoting good governance and ethnic harmony in the region. We are encouraged by the willingness of the leader of the TMVP and Chief Minister Pillayan, to meet with the leader of the Muslim component of the ruling alliance M L A M Hizbullah and opposition leader Rauff Hakeem. We urge them to make a joint appeal for peace and non violence and ensure that their members behave accordingly.

The National Peace Council calls on the government to reconsider its stance of permitting the TMVP to operate as an armed group, while providing this party that has entered the democratic process with maximum protection. In addition, the police and armed forces which are the legitimate security arms of the state need to be made fully independent in enforcing the law instead of being compelled to operate in a partisan manner.

As members of civil society who have been supporting the processes of democratic transformation of the east, we are deeply disturbed by the unravelling of the possibilities of peaceful coexistence in the east following the provincial council elections. We are perturbed at the proliferation of small arms, former militant groups in the democratic process being permitted to carry arms and distribution of arms to civilians to provide security for communities. These measures are likely to lead to extreme militarization that will ultimately lead to a total collapse of the rule of law from which will find it extremely difficult to extricate ourselves.

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Police deploys special investigation teams on Bomb blast

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Police media spokesmen SSP Ranjith Gunasekara says a five prong investigation is being conducted into the bomb explosion on a commuter train near the Dehiwala railway station yesterday evening.
Several investigation teams have been deployed in this regard. Initial investigations revealed that the bomb was made of one and a half kilograms of high power explosives. Security units say the damage was less because the bomb did not consist of metal balls. The bomb had been made in the form of a bag and placed in a hood rack of the compartment. Eight persons have been killed in the blast. Acting director of the Colombo South teaching hospital Dr. Wilfred Kumarasiri told SLBC that 73 injured persons are receiving treatment at the hospital. Director of the accident word of the Colombo national hospital Dr Anil Jasinghe said two persons have been admitted to the hospital.

Meanwhile the hospital resources say nine people including six women have been killed in this blast. The acting director of Colombo south teaching hospital Dr. Wilfred Kumarasiri says six out of injured are receiving treatment in intensive care unit. Further four injured commuters have been transferred to national hospital.

Meanwhile the general manager of the railway department Dr. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan said the railway services of the coastal line return to normal.
SSP of the Mt. Lavinia Police Hemantha Adhikari said a suspected person has been taken into custody regarding the railway bomb blast in Dehiwela yesterday. He further said two special team has been deployed to investigate the incident.
Police requests the public to be vigilant on travelling in common commuter transport service. The police also requested the public to inform about suspected person or parcel to the nearest police station or to the on line 118 or 119 immediately.

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Government paid compensation for victims of the Dehiwala bomb blast

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The Ministry of Disaster Relief Services and Resettlement has paid Compensation for victims of the Dehiwela bomb incident today.
One hundred thousand rupees has been paid for the family of married person and 50 thousand for unmarried who was died at the bomb blast.
The compensation scheme is operated under the directives of President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Under the first phase of the compensation 15 thousand rupees was given for funeral arrangements. Minister Rishard Badurdeen says ten thousand rupees will be paid for an injured in the first phase under the maximum of 50 thousand rupees.

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Serendib opens its operations in Colombo

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A new wheat flour factory commenced operations with breaking the monopoly in the flour industry in Colombo yesterday.
Serendib Private Limited has set up this factory in close proximity in Colombo Port. Addressing a media briefing, Chairman of the company Mahendra Amarasuriya said the company expects to produce wheat flour without any shortage by utilizing modern technology.
He assured that high quality wheat flour production under seven star trade mark. First consignment of flour will be released from next Monday.
The Serendib flour mills company is a member of the Al Ghurair Group of companied in UAE. The investment exceeds 56 million US dollars. The mill expects to produce thousand metric tons daily.

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OIC kills two constables; shoots himself

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The OIC attached to Mahaoya office of the Government Intelligence Unit has allegedly shot and killed two constables this morning. He had also reportedly shot himself later and had been admitted to Mahiyangana Hospital

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Blast in Batti, no casualties

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A small explosion has taken place inside a cemetery in Godwin town in Kaththankudi, Batticaloa. The bomb was constructed using a death cord and 100g of explosives and no casualties were reported.

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A struggle for salary increase in the offing - JVP

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JVP Trade Union Wing leader Lal Kantha said the next two months will be decisive for the working class as they are planning on launching a massive struggle to win a salary increase. He also said the Government has failed to eradicate the high cost of living thus a salary increment is mandatory.

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EU willing to consider request for GSP+ concession

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The European Union has told UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe that they would look into the extending of the GSP+ tax concession to Sri Lanka once the government made an official request to them.

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Somawansa has become a puppet of JVP’s UNP sympathizers - Nandana

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by Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe has become a puppet in the hands of a powerful segment within the party which is fast becoming a crutch to the main Opposition UNP, General Secretary of the newly formed National Freedom Front and one time JVP Presidential candidate, parliamentarian Nandana Gunatilake said yesterday.

"In the issue of ousting Wimal Weerawansa and others, who dissented against this conspiracy, Comrade Amarasinghe was used to the hilt. He, who once led the campaign of rebuilding the party from ruins, came under the pressure of several conspirators and cracked. He let the conspirators take control and is now politically assassinated," Gunatilake told a media conference at the National Library and Documentation Center in Colombo.

The conspirators within the party had been bought over by the UNP to destroy the JVP, he said. "Comrade Amarasinghe, by giving into the conspirators is also partially responsible for the crisis the party faces today," he said.

Gunatilake said there was speculation in the media recently that Somawansa Amarasinghe would be replaced at the fifth JVP convention scheduled to be held today.


"If these reports were true, it indicates that the conspirators had fully used Comrade Amarasinghe and his use has come to an end. For the next step they need a conspirator at the helm and soon Amarasinghe would be sent abroad to spend the rest of his life there. The fifth convention would be made use as a stage to legitimize this conspiracy and that would complete the first phase of the betrayal of the party into the hands of UNP," he said.

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UNP to protest against fuel price hike

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The United National Party yesterday said it would hold a series of propaganda rallies across the country to protest against the increase in fuel prices.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the people were reeling under the unbearable cost of living but some opposition parties, including the JVP, were maintaining silence. The JVP was a partner of the UPFA during the Presidential election campaign and as a result was responsible for the sufferings the people are being put through by the President and his government, he said.

UNP Colombo District parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake said the government was bragging that it had friends in Iran but a litre of petrol was increased by 30 rupees. When the last UNP government increased the price by three or four rupees the opposition made a hue and cry about it. Although some said that the war was one of the reasons for the increase of fuel prices there was no connection between the two, he said.

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26 terrorists killed in yesterday's clashes in Wanni

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Troops engaging terror held positions in the Wanni yesterday (May 27) claimed 26 terrorists were killed and 15 others wounded in counter terrorist operations carried out in the Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya fronts. Also, three soldiers suffered injuries in these operations.

On the Vavuniya front, troops had several confrontations with the terrorists in the Maruthamadu, Vedamakilam, Periyamadhu, and Palamoddai areas with in the course of the day and claimed to have killed 6 terrorists and wounded 5 others. No soldiers suffered injuries in the Vavuniya front for the day. Meanwhile, troops engaged in clearing operations removed 65 anti personal (AP) mines.

On the Mannar front, troops confronted with the terrorist in the Velakulam Mampuilukulam Veddayamurippu Pappamodai and Nedunkandal areas during the day and claimed 6 terrorist were killed. Further, ground troops reported that at least 10 others were either killed or wounded. 3 soldiers suffered injuries during these incidents.

On the Welioya front, troops engaged artillery fire at two terror strongholds in the North of Janakapura area during the day. Monitored radio transmissions confirmed 11 terrorists were killed and 5 others wounded during these attacks. Further , troops confronted with the terrorist at 2 separate incidents occurred in the North of Janakapura and North of Kiriibbanwewa areas in the morning hours. 3 terrorists were killed and 5 others were wounded during these incidents. Meanwhile, troops engaged in clearing operations on the Welioya sector found 333 AP mines 4 trapped mortar bombs .

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An LTTE expert in explosive devices killed in air raid - Mannar

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An expert in explosive devices of the LTTE in Mannar front identified as "Dhora" has been killed in a successful air raid carried out by the SLAF MI-24 helicopters this morning, May 26.

An explosive dump of the LTTE terrorists was also destroyed in this attack, sources further said.

The air raid was launched targeting LTTE stronghold located in general area Andankulam, 1.5 Km north of the security forces defence in Mannar front around 8.30 a.m. today.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

New regulations for Moblie phones

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The government plans to introduce a new set of laws and regulations with regard to the purchase of mobile phones.

Mobile phones had been used to communicate while carrying out terrorist acts and crimes. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake stated the need of new regulations in this connection at a meeting today with intelligence officials and officials from the department of the registration of persons.
The premier said penalties for misdeeds carried out using mobile phones also need to be made more severe. He added that the act for the registration of persons would also be amended.

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Death toll rises

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Police spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara says 9 persons have been killed in the blast that occurred on a train travelling from Fort to Panadura this evening.
Acting director of the Colombo South General Hospital Dr. Wilfred Kumarasiri said 73 injured persons have been admitted to the hospital. He said six bodies also lie at the hospital. The blast occurred at around 5.00 this evening just as the train was leaving the Dehiwala Railway Station. Police say the bomb was in the hood rack of the 5th compartment of the train.
Many of the victims were office workers headed home at the end of the workday and the victims who suffered injuries were rushed to the Kalubowila teaching hospital and National hospital Colombo. Meanwhile the Government Railway said that Train services along the coastal line resumed a few minutes ago but will be limited to two way traffic on a single line resulting in delays.

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Five killed -25 injured in Dehiwala bomb blast

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Five persons were killed and another 25 were injured due to the Dehiwala Bomb blast. Security forces say a search operation is underway around Dehiwala area. The bomb was hidden in a train apartment, said the Police sources. Injured were admitted to the Kalubowila General Hospital. Hospital sources said around 62 injured were admitted to the Kalubowila hospital. Most of them received minor injuries, our sources said.
Meanwhile our correspondent in the location confirmed the train services of the costal line were temporarily suspended due to the bomb attack. This is the second bomb blast which occurred at the Dehiwala Railway station.

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A powerful blast near Dehiwala railway station

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A bomb blast in a Panadura bound train near the Dehiwala railway station a short while ago.Awaits for details.

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CEB unions vow to resist privatization

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Trade unions affiliated to the Ceylon Electricity Board have vowed to resist government attempts to privatize the debt-ridden state-owned commercial enterprise.

Spokesman for the United Trade Union Front of the CEB Ranjan Jayalal yesterday (May 26th) claimed the government was trying to pave the way for privatization through an Act of Parliament which would be tabled in the House on June 6th.

Mr. Jayalal said people weren’t happy with CEB’s performance, acknowledging that "some even support privatization of the CEB."


However, he asserted it wouldn’t be panacea for the growing crisis in the electricity sector.

Mr. Jayalal He expressed confidence that their fight would receive the backing of all public sector trade unions and the private sector.

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Moves to arrest SLMC area leaders - Hakeem

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The violence that has gripped the East is evidence of government’s failure to provide security to civilians after installing Pillayan as the Chief Minister and there is a move by the government to arrest SLMC area leaders to cover up their own inadequacies, SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem alleged at a press conference held today.

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UNP lashes out at the ‘highest ever fuel price hike’

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The UNP lashed out at the government today over the ‘highest ever fuel price hike’ saying that the masses had been burdened in an unfair and unethical manner to cover up rampant corruption within the state sector.

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Hartal in Mutur

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Mutur fishermen declared a hartal today to protest against the fishing ban that is in force since May 11. About 2000 fishermen also held a demonstration today to mark their protest.

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Ground battles kill 22 in Sri Lanka: defence ministry

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COLOMBO (AFP) - Ground battles between Sri Lankan troops and separatist rebels killed 21 guerrillas and one solider in the nation's north, the defence ministry said Monday.

Eight soldiers were also wounded in Sunday's fighting, the ministry said in a statement.

The latest reported deaths brought to 3,873 the number of rebels the government says it has killed since January, when it pulled out of a truce with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The ministry has said 298 soldiers have died over the same period.

The rebels, who have been locked in armed combat with security forces since 1972, did not comment on Sunday's fighting.

The casualty figures cannot be verified since Sri Lanka bars journalists and human rights groups from the embattled areas.

Tens of thousands have died on both sides since the rebels launched their bid to create a homeland for minority Tamils in the island's north and east.

Sri Lanka air force helicopter gunships were active in the north on Monday, providing air support to ground troops moving deeper into the rebel-held region of Mannar, the defence ministry said.

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Government must find solution to reduce fuel prices-JVP

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Chairman of the National Freedom Front and parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa at a media briefing in Colombo today said the government should find medium and long-term solution to confront the exorbitant increases in fuel prices in the world market.

He further said Sri Lanka as a nation should face the world fuel prices.

Mr. Weerawansa also said the country should definitely shift to local power sources. He also pointed out restriction of private vehicles as well as provision of fuel subsidies to passenger transportation services and to those who consume kerosene oil should also be taken into consideration.

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Video surveillance cameras in private buses

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Installation of video surveillance cameras in private buses to detect un-disciplinary activities and financial frauds has commenced. Two such cameras were installed in two private buses plying between Colombo and Badulla. The cameras record all visual and audio information from the start to the end of the journey. President of the
Inter-provincial Bus Owners’ Association and Basnayake Nilame of the Sri Saman Devalaya in Mahiyanganaya, Ranjith Amarasinghe in whose buses the cameras were installed, said the cameras also records the persons who place parcels in the buses and the exact time of such placements. He adds that it would be possible to find out that bus crew who treat the passengers in a harmful manner and buses which are overcrowded. Mr. Amarasinghe said all buses belonging to the Sri Lanka Inter-provincial Private Bus Owners’ Association will be provided such cameras in future.

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Nimal Siripala De Silva appointed Chairman of the EXCO of the WHO

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Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva has been appointed unanimously to the post of Chairman of the Executive Committee of the World Health Organisation. He was elected at the Executive Committee Meeting of the WHO in Geneva Switzerland today.

The Executive Committee, which is comprised of 34 out of the 193 members, deals with the administrative functions of the WHO including taking policy decisions and preparation of annual programmes.

Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva was first appointed to the Executive Committee in 1988 and he has functioned as a Vice President for some time.

The WHO has decided to confer the post of Chairman to Minister De Silva taking into consideration his skills and commitment to the wellbeing of the organization. He is the first and the only Sri Lankan ever to be honoured by a high position of the World Health Organization.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) marks 109th Graduation Ceremony with international flair

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The Asian Institute of Technology’s international approach to education was highly evident recently (22 May) as students from twenty-seven countries received graduate master and doctoral degrees at its 109th Graduation Ceremony.

At the ceremony held at the Institute’s campus in Pathumthani, AIT President Prof. Said Irandoust conferred degrees on 433 new graduates who hailed from 22 countries in Asia, 4 countries in Europe and one country in Africa. A total of 124 Thai students were awarded graduated degrees.

AIT was officially graced for the first time by the new president of its AIT Alumni Association (AITAA), Mr. Somprasong Boonyachai, CEO of Shin Corporation Plc., and Executive Chairman of Advanced Info Service Plc, (AIS), who offered messages of advice to the May 2008 graduating class, in morning and afternoon ceremonies. A Thai citizen, Mr. Somprasong Boonyachai, graduated from AIT in 1981 with a Master of Engineering degree. He assumed his position as President of the AITAA on January 1st of this year.

Addressing the graduates in the morning ceremony was Mr. S. Srinivasan, President and Director (SEA & China), Thai Carbon Black Public Co., Ltd. Mr. S. Srinivasan is a Member of the Board of AIT Extension, which is AIT’s center for professional continuing education and capacity building programs. Mr. S. Srinivasan is an honorary trade advisor to the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Thailand, and was listed by Personnel Management Association of Thailand (PMAT) as being amongst the top twelve private sector Chief Executive Officers of Thailand in 2004.

Dr. Jean D’ Cunha, Regional Programme Director, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), East and South-East Asia, was the special guest speaker for the graduation ceremony held in the afternoon of the same day. A highly influential international figure, Dr. D’Cunha was formerly Regional Advisor/Manager of UNIFEM’s Asia–Pacific and Arab States Regional Programme on Migration.

Located in Thailand, 42 kilometres north of central Bangkok in Thailand, AIT is an independent and autonomous institute that works with public and private sector partners throughout the region and with some of the top universities and international organizations in the world. In addition to its main campus in Thailand, AIT has also established centres in Vietnam (both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) and Indonesia, and plans to open centres in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and possibly China and India in the future.

Since its founding in 1959, AIT has produced close to 16,000 graduates from 80 countries. At any given time, nationals of 40-50 countries comprise its 2,000-strong student body and 130-member faculty. Additionally, through AIT Extension’s non-degree continuing education courses, AIT has trained more than 23,000 professionals from the Asia region.

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Australia plays cricket match at Maharaga boys home

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A team from the Australian High Commission played a friendly cricket match against young cricketers from the Child Protection Society (CPS) Boys Home, Maharagama on Saturday 24 May 2008. The annual match was organised to encourage public support for the CPS boys and girls homes and foster friendship and development through sport.


The Child Protection Society was established in 1928 as the first child protection organisation in Sri Lanka and South Asia and is engaged in protecting and promoting child welfare.


Participating at the event the Australian High Commissioner Ms Kathy Klugman said “It has been a privilege for the Australian High Commission to be able to play with the enthusiastic team from the CPS boys home. I am pleased that so many others from the wider CPS community and the Sri Lankan cricket community were able to join us. The main aim of today was to encourage children from the CPS homes and to raise awareness of their situation. I hope we have gone some way to achieving that outcome.”


The CPS Boys Home team was captained by sixteen year old K.A. Ishara Ruwan Kumara who has lived at the home for the past four years.


The cricket match was attended by over 150 people including members of the Sri Lanka women’s cricket team, the chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board Mr Duleep Mendis, captain and vice captain of the Sri Lanka national women's cricket team, Australian High Commission staff and family members, the president of the boys home, board members and trustees of the Child Protection Society and well wishers.

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‘The government should correct itself instead of blaming the Unitd National Party (UNP). It will bring no good to the country. Sri Lanka lost the UN Human Rights Council seat to Pakistan which was sacked from the Commonwealth due to anti democratic acts. It indicates that the international community has kept less trust on Sri Lanka than Pakistan,' says UNP General Secretary Tissa Aththanayaka issuing a statement.
The statement further points out that the human rights record of Sri Lanka has collapsed to an alarming level and if the government has any real love to the country, it must take steps to take the country back on right path instead of useless blaming to the UNP.

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Tourism drive in Eastern province

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By Jayampathy JAYASINGHE


Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Authority Renton de Alwis told a media briefing last week at Beruwela that tourism in the Eastern province will be developed following its liberation. The Eastern province which has the finest tourist resorts in the country will be developed shortly.

He said investors have already revived a resort hotel at Pasikuddah to be converted into an up market Eco-friendly resort. People in the Eastern province will be encouraged to provide accommodation to tourists as in the past to develop tourism. However, there were no plans to build big hotels in the area at present he said.

Referring to tourism promotion, he said the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority plans to popularise the Ramayana concept among Indian tourists who wish to visit sacred sites of interest connected to the Ramayana epic.

“One such site is in the Hill country at Seetha Eliya and the other is in the Southern province where King Rama is believed to have landed. We will link these tours, to enable Indian tourists to visit the country,” he said.

He said tourism, the fourth largest foreign exchange earner netted US $ 380 million last year. Although a growth was recorded in tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka in 2004, the tsunami affected the industry the following year. It picked up again in 2006, but there were less tourist arrivals thereafter due to other factors. “We vacillate at around half a million tourists at present”.

He said prior to 1983 there wasn’t a tourist season as such but during the South-West monsoonal season tourists preferred the Eastern coast.

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Defence Secretary defends military

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by Norman Palihawadana

Defence Secretary Colonel (retd) Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday condemned what he called an attempt to blame the alleged abduction and assault on Keith Noyahr, Associate Editor of The Nation on the military.

Rajapaksa accused interested parties including a section of the media of targeting the military over the attack which was being investigated by police. The press couldn’t be allowed to undermine the military, he said, asserting the protests launched by the media would have a negative impact on the war effort against the LTTE.

The Defence Secretary said he was prepared to face criticism and wouldn’t mind media attacks on the political leadership but security forces shouldn’t be at the receiving end of what he termed media assaults.

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A TINY SPARK OF FIRE

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by Jehan Perera

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has blamed Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe of seeking to undermine the country's international image and its economy by charging the government with human rights violations at international forums. It has been reported that the Opposition leader has said that Sri Lanka's non compliance with international human rights agreements it has signed could make the country lose its eligibility for import duty concessions by the European Union. Sri Lanka's recent unsuccessful bid to maintain its representation on the UN Human Rights Council following a vote by the General Assembly was another event that has highlighted the deteriorating condition of human rights in the country.

Sri Lanka was one of the initial members elected to the Human Rights Council in 2006 and might have reasonably expected to be re-elected. The country's failure to be elected for a second term, despite an aggressive campaign to seek re-election, is an indication of a grave human rights situation that is not being dealt with in a constructive manner. The government immediately blamed the international and national human rights lobbies for this defeat. While the government cannot be happy with this reversal it can be seen constructively as a wake up call to the government to improve the situation on the ground so that greater costs are not inflicted on the country in the future owing to the inability to maintain internationally acceptable standards of human rights.

There are further threats that lie ahead that could adversely affect the country's international position. Chief amongst these is the possible removal of Sri Lanka from the General System of Preferences (GSP+), that gives the country exemptions from significant tariffs for trade with the European Union, which is Sri Lanka's largest trading partner. Losing these benefits will only worsen an already critical economic situation, which has seen drastic increases in fuel, electricity, and food costs. Every Sri Lankan therefore has many reasons to be concerned about the government failing to live up to its commitment to improve the human rights situation in the country.

On the other hand, the government has put in place a top level team to argue the government's case, including Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and the Permanent Representative in Geneva, Dr Dayan Jayatilleke, who have been performing yeoman service on behalf of the government. The problem for the government, however, is the message emanating from the situation on the ground, which appears to be steadily getting worse, not better. There are reports virtually every day of serious human rights violations relating to the killing of civilians, abductions and worse still the intimidation of an entire society that fears to speak against the powers-that-be.


ONGOING VIOLATIONS

One such case that has been reported is that of the abduction of Weerakutty Chandralingam of Batticaloa who was abducted by men coming in a white van in Colombo, one of whom wore a police uniform. According to a complaint made by Sinnathamby Spiritheyon, Director of the Eastern Self Reliant Community Awakening Organisation he had come along with members of the group from Batticaloa and been their driver. He had been assaulted in their presence and taken away on May 15. He is now missing and all efforts on the part of his colleagues to trace his whereabouts have failed.

Most recently there has been a report of about 20 civilians being killed in a remote-controlled claymore mine explosion in the heart of the LTTE-controlled Wanni region, just five kilometers from the LTTE-administrative capital of Kilinochchi. The LTTE has claimed that the deep penetration unit of the Sri Lankan military was responsible for this attack, which the military has denied arguing that it is very far from the government lines and close to the LTTE's centre. LTTE-controlled areas are not open to people from outside, unlike other parts of the country, and no one can move about freely.

The need for an International Human Rights Monitoring Mechanism which some sectors of national and international society have been calling for stems from this lack of credible authorities to appeal to, and fact finding mechanisms to verify the truth or otherwise of rumours that are spreading throughout society. Due to the lacuna, people tend to rely on rumour and hearsay, and are fearful of the powers-that-be, both in the government and LTTE-controlled parts of the country. This leads to a society that tries above all to keep out of harm's way, and due to fear is made to appear to be callous and unconcerned. There would be no need for any international human rights mechanism if the national mechanisms were permitted to work in the manner that they are meant to.

There has been much publicity given to the abduction and torture of senior journalist Keith Noyahr. Ironically, he was abducted outside his home at dead of night the day after Sri Lanka found itself voted out of the UN's Human Rights Council. Fortunately, in his specific case, it appears that a direct appeal for Presidential intervention was effective, and the journalist was released. While it is a relief that in some cases there is someone to appeal to, there is a general sense of helplessness in the face of human rights abuses. The abduction and disappearance of Weerakutty Chandralingam of Batticaloa is a case in point. This is why it is important that institutions are in place and empowered to fulfill the role of protecting human rights of all people. The visiting US Deputy Secretary for Human Rights and Labour, Erica Barks-Ruggles said as much. She said, "Sri Lanka has the necessary institutional framework in place, but it needs to empower its institutions to carry out their work effectively."

Unfortunately, the President's refusal to implement the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which was passed unanimously by Parliament in 2001, has crippled the independence and integrity of the great institutions of state that have evolved over the centuries to provide the necessary checks and balances in any society. If implemented properly, the 17th Amendment would ensure that the Police, Judiciary, Public Service, Elections Commission and Human Rights Commission were led by persons selected jointly by the government and opposition, and in whom the rest of society could have confidence in. At present the President is appointing persons in whom he has confidence to those institutions of state which is not sufficient to restore society's confidence in them.


KEITH NOYAHR

At this point I would like to pay a tribute to Keith Noyahr, whose bruised and battered face was shown on virtually every news media, except for those of the government. It was to Keith I turned to, when my column for another newspaper was stopped. At that time Keith was an editor at the Daily Mirror newspaper. After a long while I became my only censor, instead of what I wrote being subjected to arbitrary editorial changes by editors who disapproved of my opinion. Yes, I censor myself and have written even this article with much circumspection because of the impunity that has seized control of public life in the country.

I also pay tribute to Keith's journalist colleagues and friends who stayed vigil the long night he was missing, to his editor at the Nation newspaper Lalith Allahakoon who used his position to appeal directly to the President and to others at the highest level of government, and to Sunanda Deshapriya and his colleagues at the Free Media Movement who demonstrated in public and called for accountability in Sri Lanka. The moral of all great religions, of which most Sri Lankans are passionate adherents, is that even an individual can spark off immense changes, and so must continue their work without being discouraged, even in the face of a democratic system of checks and balances that has broken down.

There is a story from the Buddhist scriptures related by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh that demonstrates the unmeasurable potential of the human individual. "One day when he was thirty eight years old, the Buddha met King Prasenjit of Kosala. The king said, 'Reverend, you are young, yet people call you the 'The Highest Enlightened One.' There are holy men in our country, eighty and ninety years old, venerated by many people, yet none of them claim to be the highest enlightened one. How can a young man like you make such a claim?' The Buddha replied, 'Your majesty, enlightenment is not a matter of age. A tiny spark of fire has the power to burn down a whole city. A small poisonous snake can kill you in an instant. A baby prince has the potentiality of a king. And a young monk has the capacity of becoming enlightened and changing the world.'"

Individuals of integrity, like Keith Noyahr, who with their contributions give a positive meaning to Sri Lanka's multi ethnic and multi religious society, have an invaluable contribution to make to the future Sri Lanka of peace, human rights and justice.

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Seven Tamil civilians seek protection with security forces- Mannar

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Seven Tamil civilians including two females sought protection with security forces at the Navy and Police jointly manned fishing marshalling point at Pallaimunai, Mannar yesterday (May 25) around 2.30p.m., after fleeing from the LTTE dominated Vedithalathivu area, security sources said.
The civilians were later handed over to the Mannar police and subsequently taken to an IDP centre in Mannar, the sources said. According to available information, the civilians have fled due to unprecedented hardships and forced recruitment by the terror outfit.

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LTTE bunker line attacked - SLAF

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Air Force says that their MI 24 helicopter gunships attacked the LTTE bunker line ahead of Andankullam FDL in Mannar this morning in support of Army operations.

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Negombo area will be upgraded as a tourism nerve point

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The Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism George Michael says Negombo area will be upgraded as a tourism nerve point under the Tourism Resources Development Project.
Japan International Cooperation Bank assist for this project and it costs more than 400 million rupees. The secretary added that renovation of Hamilton Canal , establishing model beach zone , and many developmental activities will be carried out under this project.
Technical evaluation committee has also been appointed. Sigiriya and Anuradhapura sacred cities will also be upgraded under the tourism resource development project .

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Military spokesman requests the public to continue to be vigilant

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara requests the public to continue to be vigilant and immediately inform the nearest police station or security units on any suspicious factor.
A time bomb weighing one kilogram has been recovered at the Madawala Junction along the Wattegama-Kandy road. The Media Centre for National Security said Wattegama Police found the time bomb this morning after being notified by a civilian regarding a suspicious parcel.
The army has defused the bomb. Two bombs were also found last evening from Moratuwa and Ganemulla areas. Brigadier Nanayakkara said that vigilant public have averted major destruction through these detections.

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Sri Lanka handed over the relief items to China

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama handed over the relief items to the earthquake victims of Sichuan Province of China to the Ambassador China in Sri Lanka Ye Dabo at the Colombo International Airport.
The relief items is to be despatched by a Sri Lankan airlines special flight leaving to China. The relief items which amounted approximately 120 million rupees included of medical equipment and medicines worth in excess of 60 million rupees.
The relief items included over 1250 tents which could accommodate over ten thousand earthquake victims.
The relief consignment further consisted of garments and tea.
The foreign minister stated at the handing over ceremony that more humanitarian assistance to the victims of the earth quake in China is expected form the government and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Bus fares up

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Government decided to increase bus fares by 27.2 percent from Monday mid night. Lowest fair will be Rs.7.00 and these bus fares will be applied for the private omni buses. Bus fares of Ceylon Transport Board also increased by 17 percent. However the omni bus owners said this structure is not sufficient to face their grievances. On Sunday most of omni bus operators stopped their services due to the recent price hike of diesel.

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JVP plans to select a new Parliament Group Leader

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Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake is likely to be appointed as Parliament group leader of the JVP .According to the party sources this decision will be taken soon .
A senior Polite bureau member said during the forthcoming fifth convention of the JVP, the party would decide the post of Group leader and a number of hard decisions would be approved during the AGM. The forthcoming convention will be held on 27th of this month at the Sugathadasa Indoor Auditorium , Colombo. The convention will have two sessions.
The first session will commence at 9 o?clock and it will follow traditional practices of the political party to inaugurate the first session.
A senior politbureau member said it would be opened for media but the second session will be only for the party members.
Meanwhile the JVP decided to ask the Secretary General of the Parliament for new seat arrangements in the house. The JVP will send their request after the convention.

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Addalachchenai PS Chairman assaulted

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Chairman of Addalachchenai Pradeshiya Sabha Mashoor Sinnalebbe has been hospitalized after being attacked allegedly by the supporters of a government minister representing the area. He was also a candidate who contested the eastern provincial council election on the UNP ticket.

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Abducted two Muslims released

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The two Muslims, who were allegedly abducted by the TMVP this afternoon have been released a short while ago, Police said.
A Hartal also staged in this morning in Eravur demanding the release of two Muslims allegedly abducted by the TMVP.
The area sources said an indefinite police curfew is in force in Eravur town since noon today as a general shutdown is being observed there to protest last week’s abduction of two Muslim youth reportedly by the Pillayan Group.The situation in the town became tense following attempts by the security authorities and the Pillayan Group to reopen the closed shops and to resume public transportation.
People have reportedly hurled stones at buses that had been forced to ignore the hartal and operate in the town.
As the situation was getting out of hand, the Defence Ministry had ordered that a police curfew be imposed in the area.

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Eleven LTTE bunkers have been completely destroyed

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Eleven LTTE bunkers have been completely destroyed by a major attack by the army.
The media centre for national security said the bunkers destroyed yesterday were situated ahead of the Muhamale Forward Defence Lines in Jaffna.
Artillery fire has targeted a group of terrorist boats at sea off the coast of Nagarkovil in Jaffna. The media centre said the Army is certain that severe damage was sustained by the LTTE terrorists in the attack which occurred last evening.
Five LTTE terrorists have been killed and fourteen reported injured during confrontations yesterday with Troops in Janakapura in Welioya. One terrorist was killed and four terrorists were injured during a confrontation yesterday in Munrumurippu in Vavuniya.

Meanwhile, 2,100 litres of diesel have been seized by the Navy. The diesel was packed in ten barrels and concealed by the LTTE in the Pallimunai-Erukkulampiddi area in Mannar.
The media centre said the stock was to be transported to un-cleared areas. On information given by a civilian, the Special Task Force has recovered weapons, hand grenades and rounds concealed underground in a jungle area in Sathurukondan in Batticaloa.
The recovery made yesterday includes two T56 Assault rifles, three T56 ammunition pouches, 80 T56 rounds and one Hand grenade.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

A time bomb found in Kandy [Update]

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Police personnel of Wattegama police station have found a time bomb placed near an electric transformer at Madawala Junction this morning (May 25).

According the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), the bomb has been discovered by the police around 9.20 am on information provided by a vigilant civilian. The army bomb disposal team has defused the bomb. The weight of the bomb is about 1kg, said the sources.

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New party by NFF strongman Piyasiri Wijenayake

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Piyasiri Wijenayake, a leading figure in the newly-registered National Freedom Front, has applied for the registration of yet another political party.

The Elections Commissioner has decided to interview the applicant of the ‘Patriotic National Front’ next week for consideration.

A top official of the NFF said that the move was precautionary, as they could organize themselves properly under the new party, if the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna challenges the legality of the NFF.


According to sources at the Elections Secretariat, eight new parties are presently awaiting registration with the EC.

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Senior U.S. human rights official visits Sri Lanka

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The United States Embassy Colombo in a press release said that visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Erica Barks-Ruggles had a meeting with government officials, law enforcement authorities and civil society leaders in the country. According to the US embassy, Ms. Barks-Ruggles emphasized the importance of continuing the dialogue between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, which have enjoyed 60 years of unbroken friendship.

The Press release in full:

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Erica Barks-Ruggles visited Colombo May 22-24 as part of the U.S. Government's regular, ongoing consultations with the Sri Lankan Government. During her visit, Ms. Barks-Ruggles met with several senior Government of Sri Lanka officials, including Attorney General C. R. De Silva, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, Justice Secretary Suhada Gamalath and Secretary of Disaster Management and Human Rights P.D. Amarasinghe. She also met with a broad spectrum of political and civil society leaders.

Ms. Barks-Ruggles emphasized the importance of continuing the dialogue between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, which have enjoyed 60 years of unbroken friendship. She commended recent efforts to address some concerns of the U.S. and others on human rights. In particular, Ms. Barks-Ruggles welcomed recent releases of former child soldiers by the TMVP. She urged the government and others working on this problem to maintain this momentum and ensure that all remaining child soldiers are released in the shortest possible time.

Ms. Barks-Ruggles noted that there are other areas where further progress is needed, such as in combating the problem of abductions and "disappearances." She stressed that the U.S. places a very high value on freedom of speech and the press. She saluted the civic courage demonstrated by the independent voices in Sri Lanka's media, some of whom, she said, "have paid too a high price for speaking out." Ms. Barks-Ruggles commented, "Sri Lanka has the necessary institutional framework in place, but it needs to empower its institutions to carry out their work effectively. Human rights protection needs to be applied in fact, not just in law." She pointed to dialogue as essential between friends who are open and honest with each other. "The U.S. wants the best possible outcome for our friends - in this case, the country and the people of Sri Lanka," she stated.

Ms. Barks-Ruggles is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service with extensive experience in policy planning in the U.S. Department of State and the White House National Security Council. From 2001 to 2004 she served in the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway, where her portfolio included peace negotiations in Sri Lanka and Sudan.

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Losing UNHRC won’t directly impact GSP+, says Dias

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By Poornima Ravishan Wijemanne
Sri Lanka not being able to enter the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) does not have a direct impact on the newly extended special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance of the Generalised System of Tariff Preferences (GSP+), as long as the government abides by the human rights and labour conventions it has signed Brandix Apparels Director and Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Member Ajith Dias said.

“It’s a disappointment that we didn’t enter the UNHRC, but it doesn’t have a direct impact on the GSP+ scheme. We are confident that the government will indict human rights offenders and comply with the ratifications prescribed by the European Union (EU),” said Dias.

The GSP+ scheme allows most of Sri Lanka’s major exports – including apparels – to enter the EU market for less or no duty, provided Sri Lanka complies with the human rights and labour rights conventions it has signed.

Sri Lanka and Mongolia are the only two Asian countries to be granted this special concession that was to expire at the end of this year. After reviewing the situation in Sri Lanka, the EU decided to extend the GSP+ scheme for three more years from January, 2009.

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‘No Japanese blow’ – Vijitha Herath

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By Rathindra Kuruwita
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP and International Affairs Committee Secretary Vijitha Herath has denied claims that JVP supporters and sympathisers in Japan have officially informed them that they would no longer support the party.

He made this claim referring to reports that Saman Priyankara, the Organiser of the JVP Committee in Japan, had sent a letter stating that they would stop their donations to the party.

“We have no special committee or branch in Japan,” Herath said. “Of course, there are JVP sympathisers in Japan but they are not grouped together. So, this letter sent by an individual cannot be called a letter sent by a JVP branch or association.”
The JVP MP said that although they had received a letter from Priyankara, he was not the JVP organiser in Japan.

“Priyankara was a sympathiser of the party and he has withdrawn his support, but that does not mean that all our supporters in Japan have stopped supporting us,” he said. “Priyankara is only one among thousands so his departure is not a big blow to the party,” he added.

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JIHADISTS ON THE WARPATH

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By Ranga Jayasuriya

Armed Islamic jihadist elements are on the rise in the East and were behind the recent communal clashes in the province, military sources claim.
An armed group which was active during the first two years of the peace process is raising its head and is actively engaged in militant activities, according to military officials.
Police and the Special Task Force were deployed in Kattankudy after tit- for- tat killings by the TMVP and Muslim militants on Thursday. A police curfew was clamped down in the town after the killings. The curfew was lifted on Friday.
Muslim gunmen allegedly shot dead two TMVP members, including its Aaraiyampathi area political leader K. Sasitharan alias Shanthan, when they were travelling through the predominantly Muslim town of Kattankudy
Shanthan and his associate Tharshan were stopped and shot dead by T 56 weilding gunmen in the heart of the town.
Later in the day, enraged TMVP members fired at Muslim travelers passing predominantly Tamil village Aaraiyampathi, killing two civilians and injuring four others including two Sinhalese.
Military officials claim a nascent armed Muslim group is active in the predominantly Muslim areas of the East.
There are also reports of a rise of Wahabism, an extreme form of Islamic teaching in the East, promoted by lavish funding from Saudi Arabia. An increasing number of young men have gone to Saudi Arabia and Egypt for religious teaching and some of the returning graduates preach strict Islamic teachings, local sources told LAKBIMAnEWS.
There had been bitter sectarian clashes in Kattankudy last year between two Islamic sects over ideological differences.
It is however not clear whether there is a link between the rise of Wahabism and the emergence of a Muslim militant group.
Meanwhile, Sivaneshathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan visited the Jumma Mosque at Kattankudy and met Mulism leaders after Friday prayers to ease the rising tension between the two communities.

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A bomb found in Kandy

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Another bomb found in Kandy a short while ago.Meanwhile a time bomb found on a bus in Moratuwa was defused at around 8.45 p.m after the authorities were alerted. A similar bomb was defused in Ganemulle earlier in the day.

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Ministers told to reduce use of vehicles

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Government Ministers have been advised during a special cabinet meeting tonight to reduce the use of State vehicles in light of the increase of petrol prices.

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Bharathi appointed Presidential coordinator

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TMVP Ampara political head Bharathi has been appointed as a Presidential coordinator for the district. The appointment was made this evening.

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Mervin in clutches

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Minister Mervin de Silva who received injuries when the vehicle in which he was traveling overturned in the Dehiattakandiya area, at a function on Friday at Ramasingha Vidyalaya at Kiribathgoda to re-name the school D. A. Rajapaksa Vidyalaya.

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Government decided to increase fuel prices from tonight -NTUC opposed the price hike

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According to the new price formula CPC will increase diesal and Petrol prices by Rs.30 and Cerosine by Rs.10.Meanwhile Presidet Mahindha Rajapaksha and the cabinet of ministers held discussions with local academics on global fuel crisis.The new prices are Petrol Octane Rs.157.00, 95 Octane Rs 170.00,Auto diesal Rs 110.00
, Super diesal Rs. 125.30 Cerosine Rs.71.70.
Meanwhile the National Trade Union Centre, comprising 364 trade unions, has vehemently opposed the fuel price that came into effect from midnight Wednesday. It charged that this has placed an unbearable burden on the working class. The Union also said that it was made to understand that prices of other varieties of fuel, too, would be hiked soon.
The NTUC said that on Wednesday the President had summoned all trade union representatives to the Temple Tress to discuss the fuel price hike but the NTUC boycotted the meeting with the President, the Union said.
The Union alleged this discussion was an attempt to portray that the price hike was effected with the approval of the trade unions.

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Senior DIG Jayantha Wickremerathne to be appointed as new IGP

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It has been decided to appoint Senior DIG Jayantha Wickramarathne as the next IGP with effective from June 01st, police sources say.
The decision has been taken in the light of the near approaching retirement of current IGP Victor Perera, after his request for an extension failed.
Victor Perera was appointed to the post of IGP under a special direction despite the presence of Senior DIG Bodhi Liyanage, who exceeded Perera in terms of seniority.It was revealed that Senior DIG Jayantha Wickramarathne too, is senior to the current IGP.

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Government decided to increase fuel prices from tonight [Update]

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Government decided to increase fuel prices from tonight.
According to the new price formula CPC will increase diesal and Petrol prices by Rs.30 and Cerosine by Rs.10.Meanwhile Presidet Mahindha Rajapaksha and the cabinet of ministers held discussions with local academics on global fuel crisis.

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13 LTTE terrorists were killed

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13 LTTE terrorists were killed and 8 others reported wounded during fighting ensued between troops and LTTE ahead of the Wanni and Northern defences on Friday (May 23), security sources said.

Troops have also destroyed 13 LTTE bunker defences during a military offensive launched at LTTE positions south of the A-9 trunk road at Muhamalai, according to MCNS sources. Two soldiers have also received injuries during the confrontations. Separately, at Muhamalai 3 other terrorists were reported killed during a fierce fighting erupted between troops and LTTE at around 5.45p.m.

On the Vavuniya battle front, 4 terrorists were killed in confrontations in general areas at Periyamadu and Navathkulama. 10 hand grenades were also recovered by troops during subsequent search operations conducted, MCNS sources said.

On the Mannar front, an LTTE terrorist was killed in confrontation with troops in general area Nedunkandal, at around 5.45p.m. In addition, a soldier was also killed and another reported wounded due to an IED explosion in the same area at around 6.30a.m.

According to military, 4 terrorists were killed and 8 others wounded during a fierce gunfire exchange between troops and LTTE terrorists at Kurunkandai, Mannar yesterday morning. Meanwhile, another terrorist was also reported killed by troops in general area Vediyanmurippu.

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Bangladeshis rescue missing SL fishermen

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Bangladeshi fishermen have rescued five Sri Lankan fishermen whose boat drifted towards the territorial waters of Bangladesh due to an engine trouble, the Negombo police said today. These fishermen had gone for fishing in deep sea on April 3, and lost communication with the land on April 28.

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A youth killed in Trinco

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A 24-year-old Tamil youth has been shot dead in Trincomalee today by an unidentified gunman, Police said.

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Terror bomb attack at civilians averted- Ganemulla

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Sri Lanka Police Special Task Force (STF) bomb disposal team defused a time bomb weighing 1.25 kg this evening found in a public transport bus at Kossinna in Ganemulla (May 24) . According to the defence sources, the conductor of the bus who initially detected the ownerless parcel has thrown it out of the bus at a remote location. Then he has alerted the STF on the suspected parcel, the sources said.

The bomb was found in the bus that was due to leave Colombo from Parakandeniya. According to the sources, there were no passengers in the bus when the conductor detected the suspected parcel found under one of the passenger seats.

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Govt.increases fuel price

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Government decided to increase fuel prices from tonight.

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Terror bomb attack at civilians averted- Ganemulla

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Sri Lanka Police Special Task Force (STF) bomb disposal team defused a time bomb weighing 1.25 kg this evening found in a public transport bus at Kossinna in Ganemulla (May 24) . According to the defence sources, the conductor of the bus who initially detected the ownerless parcel has thrown it out of the bus at a remote location. Then he has alerted the STF on the suspected parcel, the sources said.

The bomb was found in the bus that was due to leave Colombo from Parakandeniya. According to the sources, there were no passengers in the bus when the conductor detected the suspected parcel found under one of the passenger seats.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

City Union Bank plans JU with Lankan Bank

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CHENNAI: City Union Bank on Friday said that it has proposed a joint venture with Sri Lanka-based Hatton National Bank targeting entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Enterprises in the country.

"It is a 50-50 JV and it would help potential entrepreneurs and SMEs to help access funds for capital expansion which they have not reached so far" City Union Bank Ltd Chairman S Balasubramanian told reporters here.

"It is (the joint venture) in the initial stage as we are waiting for regulatory approvals and expected to take at least six months of time" he said, adding they have some investment expertise and its better to have another partner, citing reasons for the tie-up.

The Bank has also planned to launch its VISA ATM cum DEBIT card shortly.

"Almost all the process have been completed for the debit card and we will be launching it very soon", Executive Director N Kamakoti said.

On the bank's performance for the financial year 2007-08, Balasubramanian said the bank's total business crossed Rs 11,000 Crore in financial year 2008 as compared to Rs 8,029 Crore in the previous year.

The bank reported a profit after tax for the year ended March 2008 was Rs 101.73 crore against Rs 71.81 crore in 2007 up by 41.67 per cent.

The total income rose from 454.13 crore in 2007 to 686.25 crore in 2008 up by 51.11 per cent, he said.

The Chairman also said they have set a target of posting Rs 15,000 Crore this year.

"If we are able to sustain the same growth, we will be reaching Rs 15,000 crore this year" Balasubramanian said and added and they would be soon launch a new life insurance product in the next couple of days.

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SLAF launches air support missions - Mannar Front

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Sri Lanka Air Forces fighters launched air support missions in Mannar front this afternoon, May 23.

MI-24 helicopter gun ships engaged in close air support mission raided an LTTE gathering point located in east of Adampan town, 1.5 Km ahead of the security forces defence line. The raid was launched around 4.40 pm air force spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, SLAF jets raided another LTTE gathering place located in general area Periyamadu in Mannar front around 2.10 pm, spokesperson added.

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SLAF fighters destroy LTTE boat hideout

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Sri Lanka Air Force supersonic fighter jets carried out an air attack targeting an LTTE boat hideout this afternoon, May 23.

According to the air forces sources, SLAF fighters raided a place where terrorists used to conceal their boats located in general area Thundikulam, in Chundukulam beach area around 2.00 pm. The air raid was launched on precise information received from naval patrol. Pilots have observed that few LTTE boats set ablaze due to the bombardment and flames had lasted for more than15 minutes, air forces sources further said.

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Pro-LTTE reports on attacks against civilians refuted

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The Sri Lanka Army flatly refutes and despises attempts of the pro-LTTE media to blame the Army over alleged explosions of claymore mines in un-cleared areas of Kilinochchi, targeting both an ambulance and a van during the course of the day (Friday,23rd, 2008). The areas alleged in those reports lie about 100 km away from the northern most Omanthai Entry/Exit point and defence lines under the government control in Vavuniya.

Those reports shamelessly claimed that an ambulance carrying an Assistant Director of the Fisheries Corporation, Mannar and a civilian was the target of the first claymore mine in Muzhangkaavil, Kilinochchi. Adding another dimension a few hours later, the same pro-LTTE mouthpiece alleged that one more van carrying sixteen civilians, including six children, four girls and two boys was attacked with a claymore mine at about 2.15 p.m. on Friday (23) in the same un-cleared Muzhangkaavil area while they all were allegedly returning from a hospital.

It is crystal clear that those LTTE reports have been attributed to the Army with a sinister move and the sheer intention of tarnishing the image of the Army unreservedly and also provoking the international community in order to win back the world sympathy for their lost cause. Many such reports carried in their media in the past provide ample evidence and examples to this effect. The Army categorically refuses such reports and appeals sensible readers to judge the motive behind such pro-LTTE allegations.

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Army hands over 4 LTTE bodies to ICRC

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Four more bodies of female LTTE cadres who were killed in recent clashes in Welioya handed over to ICRC officials at the Omanthai Entry/Exit point this afternoon, May 23. The ICRC representative, Mr. P.Kabeshan who was in charge of the mission had taken the bodies to LTTE held areas in Wanni to be handed over them to the LTTE, sources said.

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Police probe into alleged assault on journalist

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Sri Lanka police has deployed 3 special teams of police officers to investigate into the case in which a senior journalist has been beaten up by an unknown party last night (May 22). Police media spokesman Deputy Inspector General N.K. Ilangakoon speaking at a media briefing held at MCNS, Colombo, told that the police teams are presently conducting investigations in Colombo and its suburbs.

He said that the wife of Mr. Keith Noyahr had logged a complaint at the police station Dehiwala, around 11.30 pm that her husband had disappeared leaving his car in front his residence. The police had rushed to the location and commenced the investigations there onwards, he further said.

Speaking further he said that Mr. Noyahr, has returned home this morning with injuries to his head and he is undergoing treatments at Colombo National Hospital at present. The victim has not been able to make a statement on the incident due to his medical condition though the police had made an attempt, he added.

Questioned how the event had occurred, the police spokesperson said that the victim had been returning home after a dinner before being beaten up. However, no one is reported to have witnessed the scene, he further said.

Mr. Noyahr is a deputy editor of the Sri Lanka English weekly the Nation. The incident has been already exploited by anti Sri Lankan propagandists to attack defence establishments in the country. The controversial NGO, Free Media Movement was quick to speculate a connection between the incident and a defence establishment by stating that there is no other reason for the attack other than the victim being critical over the war and high ranking military officials. However, defence.lk learns that no evidence has been found so far to prove such a tendentious allegation.

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Price hike of all fuels likely - CPC

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A price hike of all fuels is expected very soon, CPC Chairman Asantha De Mel said at a press briefing today.

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5 media orgs. condemn assault on Keith Noyhar

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The Free Media Movement led five media rights organizations have condemned last night’s (May 22nd) attack on the Deputy Editor and Defence Columnist of ‘The Nation’ newspaper.

“This is not just a violation of the freedom of expression and another significant blow to media freedom. It proves, as if more proof was needed, that Sri Lanka is very far from a country that protects fundamental rights and is governed by the rule of law,” the statement said.

It said, "The Free Media Movement (FMM) expresses shock and outrage that Keith Noyahr, Deputy Editor and Defense Anayst of the English weekly The Nation was abducted late evening yesterday returned home early this morning, after enduring severe physical harm.



Keith left his office around 10.30 pm last night but never reached home. His vehicle was found in front of his house, lights and engine running. It was apparent that he had been abducted when he turned his car towards the gate and got down to open the gate.

There is no other reason for this latest attack against a journalist than his independent writing and analysis of the war in the North, if that is reason at all. His reporting was critical of high-ranking military officers and the Government’s approach to and conduct of the war. According to family sources, the FMM learns that threats directed against him had forced him to take precautionary measures.

This is not just a violation of the freedom of expression and another significant blow to media freedom. It proves, as if more proof was needed, that Sri Lanka is very far from a country that protects fundamental rights and is governed by the rule of law.

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16 civilians dead in claymore blast in Wanni

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Sixteen civilians were killed in a claymore blast in the LTTE-controlled Wanni this afternoon (May 23rd).

A Hiace Van returning from Musankavil Hospital to Kilinochchi was targeted around 2.15 pm on the Murikandi-Akkarayan road, 'Tamil Net' reported.

The bodies of four men, six women and six children were brought to the Kilinochchi Hospital, which is also treating two injured persons, it said.

The website said that a Sri Lanka Army Deep Penetration Unit was responsible.


The DPU has stepped up attacks in the Wanni, which is mourning the death of senior LTTE Commander Balraj, 'Tamil Net' added.

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Massive protest against assault of Keith Noyhar

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A massive demonstration took place at the Kollupitiya Junction in Colombo this afternoon (May 23rd) against the abduction and beating up of 'The Nation' Deputy Editor Keith Noyhar.

Organized by the Movement against Media Suppression, the protest was attended by members of the Free Media Movement-led media rights groups, politicians and civil society and trade union activists.

Condemning the abduction and assault of Mr. Noyhar, the protestors carried his photos and shouted slogans - accusing the government of trying to repress the media for telling the truth to the country on the war situation.


In an hour-long protest, they demanded an immediate end to such harassment of the media and violations of human rights.

Secretary of the Movement of Media Repression Sanath Balasuriya told the protestors that only continuous agitation by media rights bodies ensured that today's protest was held without obstruction.

Other speakers demanded the government to name those responsible for the attack on Mr. Noyhar, failing which, they warned of strong action.

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Government should take an action to protect the lives of public in EP

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At the present moment of the eastern province and the entire country UNP request government to take immediate steps to protect the lives of public in eastern province and to implement a political solution for this ethnic problem that safeguards the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka
UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, also challenged the government to declare a General election if possible instead of holding ‘mini polls’ to evaluate the public opinion.He accused the Pillaiyan group of masterminding a recent bomb blast in Colombo, which killed at least 11 and injured more than 90.

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SL dangerously moving away from Democracy to Autocracy - Ranil warns!

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Opposition leader, Ranil Wickremsinghe who can visualize Govt.’s evil maneuvers ahead of others expressed grave concern over the dangerous trend in the country referring to the current illiberal Democracy gravitating towards an authoritarian State under the Rajapakse Govt., when addressing an Int. conference in Berlin to mark the 50th anniversary of Friedrich Naumann Stiftung Fur Die Freiheit.

The Govt. is using the war to cover up all its evils and weaknesses while slowly but surely extinguishing Democracy. It is systematically eroding the party system, the Parliamentary supremacy and supplanting them with Rajapakse family rule.

Borrowing loans without proper Parliamentary approval, entering into electoral alliances with Tamil paramilitary groups guilty of human rights violations, dabbling with the country’s wealth and expenditure at will and pleasure ignoring Parliamentary procedure, sabotaging the functioning of the Constitutional Councils, trampling the rule of law and the sacrosanct Constitution of the country are the order of the day with this Rajapakse rule, he added.

Speaking on the theme “Master Plan 2005- strategies for a free World ’’said individual liberties are not always explicit in Democracies. In evolving Democracies, sometimes, the democratic process can end up conflicting with individual liberties. A free world is possible, only if the conflict between Democracy and individual freedom can be resolved, he emphasized.

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F & A Trade Show - 2008

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A 100 strong buyer delegation team, specially flown in from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be a major highlight of the fifth edition of the F&A Trade Show 2008, slated to be held at the Export Promotion Industrial Park, Whitefield, Bangalore, India on the weekend of June 6 to 8, 2008. "The purpose of their visit is to identify prospective-supply chain partners in fabrics and garment accessories in a bid to establish long term and enduring business relationships, " said Mr. P. Krishna Murthy, CEO, S S Media & Marketing, organizers of the show.

The two delegations will be headed by their respective associations - the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) of Sri Lanka. "To enable participants to interact with the visitors in an exclusive and business-like atmosphere, we will be organizing a special event called the 'Business Networking Forum, ' on the evening of the first day of the show, " said Mr Murthy.

The theme will focus on 'South Asia and Emerging Global Opportunities in Textiles/Garments.' This will be addressed by an elite panel comprising senior representatives from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, who will give a perspective of their country's current position and the road ahead and how they perceive the emerging opportunities. "We are also expecting a delegation of garment manufacturers and exporters from Vietnam and a confirmation is expected soon, " said Murthy.

Besides this exclusive event, the F&A Show Trade Show 2008 promises to be 40 percent bigger than its previous editions in terms of overall exhibition space as well as number of exhibitors. The all new and biggest edition so far will have over 125 participants, not only from across the country, but also around the world like USA, UK, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, etc representing all areas of the textile value chain. Of these, over 40 percent of the exhibitors will be entirely new, participating for the first time, while the others will use this opportunity to showcase their latest range of apparel fabrics and accessories. This means that buyers will have a wider choice when it comes to fabrics and garment accessories as well as supplier options. Visitors too come in from not only the entire country, but also neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Mauritius besides Indonesia, Philippines, the Middle East, USA, UK and Australia amongst others. The F&A Trade Show is the most comprehensive and authoritative event of its kind with an exhibition area of 5, 373 sq meters spread over 50 acres of land.

The show, whose main focus would be the latest in fabrics, accessories and services, will be attended by some of India's leading garment manufacturing / exporting houses, buying houses / agents and designers. The last show attracted over 3, 142 quality trade visitors consisting of top chairmen, managing directors, chief executive officers, owners, partners and senior executives like merchandisers, sourcing managers and purchase managers. This edition is expected to attract over 4, 000 business decision makers.

This unique fair will offer a mind-blowing collection of fabrics woven by some of India's premier weaving mills and fashion accessories manufactured not only in the country, but also from around the globe. The participants are expected to display their latest in all kinds of apparel fabrics, suiting, shirting, bottom weights, knitted, narrow, fleece, gray, corduroy, denim, velvet, embroidered fabrics and dress materials; narrow fabrics and accessories like labels, elastics, embroidery thread, hangers, zippers, interlinings, buttons, tapes, tags, laces, stones, laser cutting machines, bar coding, printing services, testing services and many more.

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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DEFEAT A WAKE UP CALL

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Sri Lanka's recent unsuccessful bid to maintain its representation on the UN Human Rights Council following a vote by the General Assembly is another event that highlights the deteriorating condition of human rights in the country. Sri Lanka was one of the initial members of elected to the Human Rights Council in 2006 and might have reasonably expected to be re-elected. The country's failure to be elected for a second term, despite an aggressive campaign to seek re-election, is an indication of a grave human rights situation that has not been dealt with in a constructive manner.

The National Peace Council regrets that the government has responded to criticism of its human rights record with denial and deflection. Human rights violations continue to be a grave threat to all Sri Lankans. For example, recently over 60 Tamil prisoners were transferred from the New
Magazine Prison in Colombo to the Boosa Prison in Galle, where they were reportedly abused and tortured. During the past two weeks a spate of abductions, disappearances and arrests have been reported from different parts of the country. The latest one was the abduction and physical assault of senior journalist Keith Noyahr outside his home in a residential suburb of Colombo.

Membership in the UN Human Rights Council confers a moral duty and great responsibility to uphold the highest standards of human rights throughout the world. Sri Lanka's inability to obtain re-election is likely to hurt the country's international reputation and be a psychological blow to the
government. NPC sees this reversal as being a wake up call to the government to improve the situation so that greater costs are not inflicted on the country in the future owing to the inability to maintain internationally acceptable standards of human rights.

In November 2007, NPC released a media statement discussing the possible consequence of not implementing international human rights commitments. We expressed our strong concern regarding the possible the removal of Sri Lanka from the General System of Preferences (GSP), giving us exemptions from significant tariffs for trade with the European Union, Sri Lanka's largest trading partner. Losing these benefits will only worsen an already critical economic situation, which has seen drastic increases in gas, electricity, and food costs. Every Sri Lankan therefore has many reasons to be concerned about the Government not living up to its commitment to improve the human rights situation in the country.

NPC therefore appeals to the government to work with civil society organisations in the country for the benefit of all Sri Lankans and meaningfully respond to all human rights violations, no matter who the perpetrators are.

We recommend full implementation of the 17th Amendment of the Constitution in appointing an Independent Constitutional Council and an Independent Human Rights Commission and other oversight bodies.

We call for government-civil society dialogue on this and other issues, and stand willing to do our part to bring the human rights of Sri Lankan citizens to the forefront. Only through sustained cooperation will we be able to jointly achieve a just, peaceful, and prosperous Sri Lanka. We believe that human rights and peace are two sides of the same coin. It would be futile to imagine that we can have one without the other.

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Insurance scheme for housemaids in Saudi

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An insurance scheme for housemaids serving in Saudi Arabia is to be implemented. This was a result of discussions held between Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and the Labour Minister of Saudi Arabia.
The foreign employment bureau says it has been agreed at the talks to pay the insurance premium to any international insurance company named by Sri Lanka.
Another decision taken at the meeting was to credit the monthly salaries of the Sri Lankan housemaids to the bank accounts of their choice.
The migrant housemaids should hand over details of their non-residential bank accounts to the prospective employerd when they leave the country.
The Labour Minister of Saudi Arabia said stern action will be taken against employers who act in contrary to the agreement. He has pledged to focus more attention for the recruitment of more Sri Lankan migrant workers for massive development projects being unleashed in Saudi Arabia.

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ABDUCTION AND RELEASE OF JOURNALIST: END THIS IMPUNITY

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The abduction of senior journalist, Keith Noyahr, Associate Editor of the Nation newspaper just outside his home in a residential suburb of Colombo is a shocking incident that highlights the vulnerability of human rights and the media in Sri Lanka. Mr Noyahr wrote the defence column for his newspaper in addition to editing it. The National Peace Council condemns this abduction which adds to the dismal toll of victims of serious human rights violations. Ironically, this incident occurred on the day after Sri Lanka failed to obtain re-election to the UN Human Rights Council which demands that member countries demonstrate the highest adherence to human rights norms.

A notable feature of these abductions is that they take place even in areas where there is a high level of security and checkpoints at regular intervals. It appears that the abductors are able to take their victims through these security checkpoints with impunity. In addition there have been a number of attacks on journalists, leading in some cases to their death, in which the perpetrators have been able to get away with impunity.

While we are happy to note that Keith Noyahr has been released following appeals to the highest government authorities we are appalled that this incident took place. He had been physically assaulted and we join his family and loved ones in wishing him a speedy recovery. The sooner those who ordered the abduction and those who carried it out are identified and brought to justice, the sooner will it be possible for us to move forward as a society that respects the rights of individuals, even those holding opposing views, and truly re-emerge as a united nation respecting democratic norms.

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Police starts extensive investigations on Keeth Noyar case

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Senior DIG N.K. Illangakoon said an extensive investigations are conducting to the incident faced by the Deputy editor of the Nation Newspaper Keeth Noyar.
Three special police teams have been deployed in this regard.
The team was guided by the senior superintendent of police of the Colombo Crime Division Anura Senanayake and Superintendent of Police Lesley Gunawardena. The police have begun their investigation immediately after receiving a complaint lodged at the Dehiwala police by his wife.
She has informed that Mr. Noyar has returned home between 5 and 6 ‘ 0 clock this morning. However he was not in a good health condition,
DIG Illangakoon at a media briefing in Colombo Friday he further said that the police could not obtain a statement from the media man currently receiving treatment at the Colombo National hospital duty to his adverse health condition.

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Presidential task force on productivity has been established

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A Presidential task force on productivity has been established. Chairman of the task force is secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga.
Mr. Mahinda Madigahewa will act as secretary. Appointment letters for 18 members of task force will be held at the Presidential secretariat today under the patronage of Presidential secretary.
Convener of the task force Wijeya Wickremaratne says the major task entrusted to the task force is to uplift the productivity in the state and private sector.

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President calls for investigation

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President has directed DIG N.K. Illagakoon to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged abduction and assault on Nation Deputy Editor Keith Noyhar.

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School rugby squad taken to courts

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Almost the entire first fifteen rugby squad of St. Benedict’s College Kotahena, including its captain, has been released on bail to appear in court next week after they were arrested by police on a complaint made by a team member over an alleged case of assault.

The player is alleged to have been assaulted by his team-mates and was admitted to hospital with bloody injuries and his statement was recorded by the Kotahena police who produced the suspects in court.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Series of programmes to commemorate heroic war heroes

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A series of programmes have been organised to commemorate heroic war heroes who laid down their lives for the country.
Acting chairman of the Ranaviru Seva Authority Major General Palitha Fernando said the main event will be held on the 7th of next month near the parliament complex under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Speaking at a press conference at the Government Information Department last evening, Mr. Fernando said family members of deceased soldiers will also attend the ceremony. The president declared a month for war heroes from the 7th of May to the 7th of June.

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Keith released

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The Nation deputy editor Keith Noyhar returned home a short while ago badly beaten up. He has been admitted to hospital.
Last night hje was abducted by an unknown gang .His car was found abandoned near his house .
He is a Defense writer and the Associate Editor of English weekly The Nation.
He has been admitted to the hospital.

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JVP refutes Kettepearchi allegations

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The JVP General Secretary in a statement to the Inspector General of Police, has refuted allegations by Sampath Dimuthu Kelepearchi that in the early hours of May 15, 2008, two armed personnel belonging to the JVP had raided his house and removed some vital documents, A party press release said on Wednesday.

The complaint to the Welikada Police alleged that the armed duo had gagged Kelepearachi and his wife and removed some important documents from his residence. He alleged that the suspected JVP duo had removed documents pertaining to MPs Sunil Handunnetti, Vijitha Herath, Anura Dissanayake and of Tilvin Silva himself.

Tilvin Silva has further said in his letter that this was a conspiracy by Kelepearachi to bring disrepute to the JVP and alleged that a letter addressed by Kettepearachi to JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe on "April 22, 2008, includes a confession that 14 people including Kelepearachi himself had robbed Rs. 1.6 million from a bank.

The JVP General Secretary urged the IGP to consult the Attorney General and take action against what has been stated in this confession addressed to the JVP leader the release added.

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Loss of seat on UN HR Council Sri Lanka has only itself to blame - HRW

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Human Rights Watch yesterday said the Sri Lankan government had only itself to blame for not getting re-elected to the UN’s most important human rights body the UNHRC on Wednesday.

The United Nations General Assembly yesterday rejected Sri Lanka’s candidacy for the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka’s 101 votes were fewer than those received by four other countries running for the four open seats for Asia: Japan (155 votes), Bahrain (142), South Korea (139) and Pakistan (114).

"The Human Rights Council vote should be a wake-up call for the Sri Lankan government," HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams said. "President Mahinda Rajapaksa hopefully will get the General Assembly’s message and start taking real action to end human rights abuses in Sri Lanka."

Human Rights Watch urged the Sri Lankan government to reassess its human rights policies and practices, including its rejection of an international human rights monitoring mission. Under the auspices of the UN, the mission would investigate and report on rights abuses by government forces and non-state armed groups, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

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Tamil political party member shot by LTTE gunmen- Mannar

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A member of the Tamil political group Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party (EPDP), was shot and injured by alleged LTTE gunmen at the Mannar Town area around 5.35p.m., yesterday (May 22). The EPDP member was identified as Ranaiyya Devan, 43, as Police said, "has escaped near death receiving two gunshot injuries at his left shoulder and neck". According to the sources, Mr. Devan was distributing an EPDP published newspaper at the Mannar bazaar area.

Following the shooting gunmen have fled the scene taking cover among civilians, sources said. The Vavuniya Police said that, Mr. Devan was rushed to the general hospital at Mannar for immediate medical attention, and further added he was recovering and out of danger.

Earlier, on 13th May LTTE gunned down Ms. Maheswari Velayudan, Human Rights activist and public relations coordinator of Minister Douglas Devananda in Jaffna.

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Air Force fighter jets pound on terror command centre - North of Mannar

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Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets pounded on an LTTE Command Centre located in the Parappakadattan area, on the Mannar warfront this morning (May 23).

According to Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Andrew Wijesuriya, the target was engaged around 7.40 am to support troops advancing on the Mannar front. He said that the target was effectively his but the damages caused to the terrorists are yet to be verified.

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Remarkable change in the Eastern Province- says Frontline

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Leading Indian national magazine, Frontline, notes remarkable change in the Eastern Province. A correspondent of the magazine toured Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee during the period that covered the recent eastern provincial council elections.
The report rejects charges of massive election rigging on the grounds that the UNP-SLMC combine polled over 42 percent of the votes.
Frontline also notes the relative absence of violence as a result of comprehensive security measures taken by the government. Over 32 thousand security and police personnel were deployed to guard 1,022 polling booths.
The Indian Magazine also states that the eastern election passed off without any major incident of violence on the 10th of May. Frontline observes that this in itself is no mean achievement given the fact that just under a year ago the province was the theatre of battles between the security forces and LTTE.

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EP polls an organized fraud by Govt;

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Rauf Hakeem, the SLMC leader, addressing a in Ampara said that the Muslim community, which his party represents, will emerge stronger after the recent Govt. rigged elections, like how the Tamil people grew stronger after the 1981 District council elections.
"As everyone is aware that the Govt. won by malpractices denying the people of their legitimate right to elect their candidates of their choice, the people have now become more determined to resist Govt. actions and its selfish evil plans not aimed at helping the people. But, only on winning elections by foul methods, ' he said.
“If anyone including Govt. think that we have lost, they are sadly mistaken”, he said.e and malpractices with the sole intention of continuing in power, to look for scapegoats to cover up its incompetence and corruption, he exhorted.

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Government slinging mud against the UNP says Kiriella

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UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kirella said the government uses its media to slinging mud against the UNP and its leader.The Dinamina, the ITN and the Rupavahini have carried headlines news that Leader of Opposition is on a tour of Europe to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka. It has also alleged that Noel Selvanayagam, a Sri Lankan Business entrepreneur who is in Germany is also a party to it and a ‘Tiger’ supporter.
It is a pity that this Rajapakse Govt. Is so bankrupt and incapable of doing anything constructive for the country and people has found it easy to resort to destructive policies of character assassinations, he said.
Mr.Kiriella said that Ranil Wickremesinghe , is on a tour to Germany on an invitation to attend a seminar “Plan 2050” to mark the 50th anniversary of the Friedrich Naumann Trust.
He is also to meet the European Union Leaders thereafter, to resolve the urgent GSP + issue without which the whole local Apparel Industry will collapse. In other words, Ranil is trying to save the country on an issue which this Govt. and its Ministers have made a hash of, and failed to solve.
Rather than accusing the leader of Opposition, the Govt. must, on the contrary express its profound gratitude to Wickremesinghe for embarking on this tour, it is little wonder, and similarly, this Govt. has alienated all friendly countries too by this irresponsible and disdainful attitude, Kiriella added.
Noel Selvanayagam too, another individual who has come within the Govt.’s vilifying campaign and is now in Germany to renew relief for Tsunami victims in Sri Lanka is a Business magnate who was a member of several Trade delegations led by the Govt.’s own Minister Dr. G.L.Peiris, he asserted.
It has become the common practice of this Govt. which has lost its sense of shame, going by the conduct of the President and its Ministers who are only consumed in breaking laws, spawning violence.
Referring to the allegations against UNP of Tiger connections , the whole world knows that it is the Rajapakse Govt. which enters into secret pacts with the LTTE as it did in the last General election, and now, again with the TMVP during the Eastern provincial Council elections .The UNP on the contrary has always done agreements openly and across the table. Even its agreements with the LTTE have been done with full endorsement of all Int. communities unlike the ‘under the counter’ transactions of the UPFA, he explained.

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Programme on Strengthening the Provincial Council System

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives supported by USAID organized an island-wide programme on strengthening the Provincial Council System with the participation of elected representatives and high officials from all Provinces, including Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries. The objective of the programme was to identify the challenges and potential for effective devolution in Sri Lanka through an analysis of the Provincial Council System in operation over the last two decades.

The National Conference will highlight the salient findings of this analysis and suggest a set of recommendations identified by the provincial stakeholders for strengthening the existing system.

These recommendations will be presented to H.E. the President, the Leader of the Opposition and other key policy makers.The programme will
be held on 28th of this month in Colombo.

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Soldier injured in LTTE claymore mine explosions- Akkaraipattuwa

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A soldier received minor injuries when LTTE terrorists triggered off 2 byroad claymore mines, targeting an Army route clearing patrol along the Akkaraipattuwa - Pottuvil main road in Akkaraipattuwa, today (May 22) at around 10.15a.m.
The explosions were said, have occurred between Urani and Komari general areas, MCNS sources said. The injured soldier was immediate rushed to the general hospital at Akkaraipattuwa.
During subsequent search operations conducted, troops have found 4 battery cells, sources further said.

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Normalcy restored in Kattankudi

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The tense situation in Kattankudi, has been brought under control and normalcy restored by evening, police said adding that tight security had been imposed in the troubled area.

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All Ceylon Muslim Congress decided to support the government

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Eastern provincial council minister A.L.M. Hisbulla says the councillors of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress decided to support the government in order to attain national unity.
Mr. Hisbulla said he decide to accept the provincial council post after discussions with Muslim political leaders and Ulama religious leaders of the East.

Speaking to media in Colombo today assured his maximum contribution to fulfil the aspirations of eastern people through the newly establish provincial council.

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Vrious NGOs obstructed Sri Lanka

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Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa says Sri Lanka lost a seat in the UN Human Rights Council as a result of various actions taken by various non-governmental organisations operating in the country.
He said 101 countries voted in favour of granting the seat to Sri Lanka despite requests by NGOs to not grant membership. Speaking at the cabinet press briefing in Colombo this afternoon he said Sri Lanka was the only country among contenders to the Security Council seat that faced opposition.
He said Sri Lanka lost only its voting rights in the council but retains the privilege of expressing proposals and views and participating in debates.
The Minister further noted at certain organisations in the country dislike government’s anti terrorist drive. He said these groups act in this manner against the government so that the LTTE is benefited. He expressed regret that the opposition leader and other UNP leaders also behave in this manner.

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Five bodies at Batticaloa hospital

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Director Batticaloa hospital Dr. K. Murugananthan says the hospital has received five bodies of persons including those of the two TMVP cadres who were shot dead this morning. The other three bodies belong to civilians who got killed in the afternoon due to clashes in Ariyampathy area in Batticaloa.
Meanwhile a police curfew has been imposed in Kattankudy after tensions erupted in the area this afternoon, police spokesman N.K. Ilangakoon said.
Chief Minister of the Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan (Pillayan) and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem had a telephone conversation a while ago to discuss measures to be taken to ease the tension between the TMVP and Muslims in Kaththankudi. Following the gunning down of two TMVP cadres in Kaththankudi this morning the TMVP unleashed violence and allegedly killed two residents of Kaththankudi.

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Two TMVP cadres shot dead

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Two TMVP cadres including an area leader was shot dead around 11.15 am thia morning at the Kathankudi bus stand. One of them was identified as Shanthan, a top official of the outfit.

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Two claymore explosions in Ampara

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Two claymore mine explosions have occurred in the Ampara, Urani area. Sources have confirmed that one soldier has received minor injuries from the blast.

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Thilanga acquitted in passport forgery case

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Thilanga Sumathipala was acquitted by courts today in the case where it was alleged that he sent a man to watch 1999 cricket world cup on a forged passport.

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Hizbullah takes oaths as Health minister in EPC

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
M.L.A.M. Hizbullah took oaths this morning at the Temple Trees as the Eastern Provincial Council Minister of Health, Youth and Women's Affairs before President Mahinda Rajapakse.
However Mr.Hisbullah said yesterday he agreed to abandon their protest if the government adds education to the ministerial portfolio offered to Hisbulla in addition to Health and Muslim Affairs.
The majority of the people in the Eastern Province, he said, were Tamil speaking and the subject of education should be assigned to a minister who was conversant with their problems and needs.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Army Inches forward to Mullaithivu; 17 terrorists killed on the Welioya front

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The Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) says that 17 terrorists were killed in daylong clashes occurred in Welioya warfront yesterday (May 21).
Troops inching forward to Mulaithiuvu jungles attacked and destroyed a fortified enemy defence located in the North of Janakapura area last evening. Fierce clashes erupted around 2.20 pm as army infantrymen charged to the enemy defence. Ground troops claimed 7 terrorists were killed in this incident.
During subsequent search troops found 4 bodies of female LTTE cadres along with two rifles (T-56, T -81), 2 hand grenades , 72 Anti Personal (AP) mines and 29 Improvised bombs.
10 Other terrorists were killed in a series of other clashes occurred elsewhere.
On the Vavuniya front, reports indicate three clashes occurred in the Palampiddi, Mundimurippu, and Palamodai areas during the day. During these clashes 3 terrorist were reportedly killed and 6 other wounded. Also, one soldier was killed 2 others wounded due to LTTE mortar fire.
On the Mannar front, troops confronted with a group LTTE cadres detected in the Nadunkandal area around 4.30 pm. One soldier was killed in this incident. During the subsequent search troops uncovered 2 T-56 rifles.
Meanwhile in the Jaffna theatre of battle, one LTTE cadre was reportedly wounded in confrontation occurred in the Muhamalai area last morning. Also , a soldier suffered injuries due to an AP mine blast.

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Nahil to launch budget airline

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Ravi Ladduwahetty
Business magnate Nahil Wijesuriya and related parties will invest US$ 20 million for a budget airline, which will initially fly to sub continental routes.
The initial destinations will be Chennai, Trivandrum and Bangalore in South India and later Mumbai, Wijesuriya told Daily News Business by telephone from Singapore.
"There is tremendous scope for budget carriers and all the Government has to do is to have an open skies policy and Sri Lanka will have unlimited scope like Jet and Air Sahara making headway here due to the unparalleled strategic advantage of its geographical proximities, he said.
"This will be the testing water for us and if it is proved successful, we will expand the routes further, he said.
He said that finding investors and leasing aircraft was done internationally with consummate ease. He said that incorporating a company could be done in as less as three minutes, the way it happens overseas!!
He said that the modern trend was for Asian companies to operate budget airlines through leases, as Asian airlines were the most trendy due to restrictions in making capital investments.
He also implored the Government to favour the locals and not the foreigners in the spirit of the country favouring its people for the people to favour the country.
This is what is happening in the Indian Aviation industry unlike in Sri Lanka where we were pampering foreigners all the time, he said in disdain.
Wijesuriya, whose Air Lanka Ltd cargo flight, which was a single Russian aircraft, had round trips on the route Colombo- Male- Sharjah- Chennai Colombo, operated over 70 flights as a test run prior to wanting to operate passenger flights, which were to be from Colombo to Jaffna and South India.
But the then Government Agreement with Emirates was the drawback in the way of implementing the project.
The airline was disbanded and the aircraft returned. "We did not want to operate cargo flights for the rest of our lives," he said.
Wijesuriya's Air Lanka Ltd also had a legal snag as its name was in conflict with the national carrier and later changed its name to Inter City Airways Ltd.
Wijesuriya and parties, hot on the heels of the acquisition of the controlling stake of Hotel Services (Ceylon) Ltd, has also written to the remaining shareholders making a mandatory offer for the 10% remaining shares at Rs. 138 per share.
The original owner P. Sharma is believed to have said that he wants to retain his 7% and it will also be interesting to see how and when the remaining 1600 shareholders react to selling the remaining 3% at Rs. 138 when the market price is Rs. 142.

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SL should have world class universities – Bill Gates

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The chairman of global IT giant Microsoft, Bill Gates said that Sri Lanka should find ways of developing world class universities locally, thereby enabling the island to enter into a new world of knowledge and technology. In that respect, Microsoft has announced the possibility of setting up an innovation centre in Sri Lanka, whilst facilitating greater support for the IT/BPO industry, greater investment in education and boosting IT capacity in Sri Lanka.
Gates made this suggestion when he met an eminent Sri Lankan delegation at the Government Leaders Forum (GLF) organized by the Government of Indonesia in collaboration with the Microsoft Corporation. The event, titled ‘Serving the Citizen: The Transformative Power of Information Technology in Delivering Government Services’ was graced with the presence of high profile participants in the league of President of Indonesia Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation.
The GLF provided an opportune moment for leaders in the Asia Pacific Region to converge in an exchange of views relating to administrative governance, education, healthcare, sustainable economic growth and most importantly, addressing the role of information and communications technology (ICT) within these spheres and the value it adds to the successive evolution of the above.
At a meeting with the Sri Lankan delegation the Microsoft Corporation went onto state that they would explore the possibility of commissioning a McKenzie Consultant Study for Sri Lanka, focusing on the potential for IT/BPO industrial growth in the country. Whilst launching a special initiative to boost the country’s IT capacity,
Microsoft also plans to develop the specialist skills of approximately 500 Government employees, communicating greater support towards rural computing and adding emphasis on working through the Nenasala and Vidatha centres and more. Further, enhancing its commitment towards skills development in Sri Lanka, Microsoft also plans to equip overseas workers with IT training and provide them with email IDs prior to leaving the country thereby supplementing the ICTA eFEB project simultaneously.
After receiving a special invitation extended by President Mahinda Rajapakse to visit Sri Lanka, Bill Gates indicated his support towards the country’s ‘Year of IT’ plan for 2009, and went onto make further recommendations to the Sri Lankan delegation in the wake of reducing internet access costs, which he felt was a prime factor in regard to a population’s progression in being internet savvy; and further increasing broadband penetration in Sri Lanka.
The Microsoft Corporation reaffirmed the importance of educating local consumers on the many drawbacks, and global repercussions of contributing to the ever increasing growth of software piracy that is prevalent in the country today. The government recognized the severity of the issue, and guaranteed that methods to curtail the distribution of pirated software in the country will be paramount in their plan of action.
The partnership between the two organizations is to be spearheaded within the related areas of the Sri Lankan Government by Minister Karu Jayasuriya and Prof. Tissa Witharana. The campaign will have the fullest support of the President’s office, which will play a pivotal role in these initiatives, thus providing for the nation a concrete body to liaise with new developments, undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka. A task committee of such stature only reaffirms Sri Lanka’s commitment towards these new initiatives, and their will to make these visions a reality.
The Microsoft Corporation and Government of Sri Lanka alliance is tipped to be a very positive milestone in the ongoing economical development of the nation. With a worldwide network that sets the standards for bridging the gap along the information superhighway, this partnership promises new hope for Sri Lanka, and its many generations to come.
The Sri Lankan delegation to the seminar was fortunate to have been selected as one of four countries to have a series of one-to-ones with Gates and his team members. Microsoft was delighted and keen to hear of President Mahinda Rajapakse’s vision for Sri Lanka as a key player in the global IT revolution, and went on to state that the positive impression presented by the Sri Lankan delegation created and provided a moment for Sri Lanka and Microsoft to forge a public-private partnership with each other. In addition to the interaction the delegation had with Gates, they also had the opportunity to have multiple meetings with Chris Atkinson (President South East Asia – Microsoft Corporation) on strategies and implementation aspects of the proposed partnership as well as Michael Donlan (General Manager Public Sector, APAC – Microsoft Corporation) who further helped the delegation prepare for the proposed strategy.

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Hassanali understands the pulse of the Muslim politicians and their selfishness in the East.

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Noor Nizam in Canada

The Muslim voters represented by the Muslim ministers are indeed SLMC votes polled because of the Presidents promise of a Muslim CM. Therefore the Muslims deserve the CM post. Yet the geo-political reasons have made the President to appoint TMVP Pilliyan as the Chief Minister. This is political strategy – meaning that Pilliyan's appointment creates confidence in the Tamil community of the Sinhala government, gives leverage internationally that the Mahinda Chinthanaya in fact recognizes the Tamil issues and political wish to govern themselves within the Constitution of Sri Lanka, allows for development and socio-economic progress in the East as planned and create a climate for assured development aid and assistance from the West and strength the Presidents "military action" for PEACE in the North.
What it means to the Sri Lankan Muslims and specially the Muslims of the North, North east and East is the creation of an environment and culture of NONVIOLENCE, HARMONY and PEACEFUL LIVING WITHOUT CALAMITY IN THEIR VILLAGES. But what it does NOT mean is whether there will be fairness meted to the Muslims of the East as assured by the President. Yet the Muslims have always refrained from taking to arms and have depended on the democratic process and institutions.

At the same time, the President has to face the reality that, it is the Muslims of the EAST that has given him the bulk votes and enough members to claim the majority, be privy to the 2 bonus seats and be the winning alliance in the PC elections.
The ministers of the East who had demanded for Mr. Hisbullah to be made the CM were just "podiyans" in the SLMC during the tenure of the late Hon. M.H..M.Ashroff. But he was proactive and gave opportunities to the young and vibrant youth who merged forward to take up the challenge of the SLMC under his commandments. The late Hon. Ashroff harnessed the vigour of these aspirants by making sure that they did not take to violence or any form of arms struggle, though the East was entrenched in a culture of violence and arms environment as a result of the ideology of the LTTE being embraced by the Tamil youth. There seems to be no change because of the claim made by the TMVP that they have now entered the path of democracy. Pilliyan and his TMVP have said they will still carry arms.
The credit of keeping the Muslim youth of the North, North Eastern and East away from taking to arms should go to the credit of the later Hon. Ashroff and few of his close associates who can be seen as the present hierarchy of the SLMC. One special SLMCer is Hon. Hassanali.

The SLMC is the representative political entity of the Muslims in the Eastern Province .
It was in this backdrop that the late Hon. M.H.M.Ashroff was able to focus the issues of the Muslim Community in the East as the primary political instrument, (though the SLMC later on embraced the Muslim issues nationally), which fetched the support of the Eastern Muslims in making the SLMC what it is today. This political dimension of the Muslims came to reality in the Provincial Elections in 1988 and later on it took a strong appearance in the local and parliamentary elections that followed – the Muslim political "Representative and Brokerage Strength" that the SLFP,UNP and the FP then, later the TULF followed by the TNA and now the TMVP (Pilliyan) cannot deny to accept. The SLMC and it's voters/supporters (poraaligal– soldiers of democracy) became the voice of the Muslims of the East as the SLMC evolved into a National political entity with the late Hon. Ashroff , the charismatic leader he was, at the helm. There was no question about his leadership and he was the SLMC to all the aspirants of the "Muslim Factor" and voters in the East.
HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government should realize the fact, that the SLMC is the representative political entity of the Muslims in the Eastern Province . Talking to Mr. Hisbullah means nothing, but only to cut down his political pretense. Therefore Hon. Hassanali is quite correct in challenging the Muslim ministers to quit if they had any self-dignity. These Ministers who were bred, born and nourished by the popularity of the SLMC, though they have "somersaulted" now for personal gains, will never resign their ministerships - they do not have "self-dignity".

The reality is that Hon. Rauf Hakeem and Hon. Hassanali are different. They have proven to accomplish what they say.
As someone hailing from the East and Trincomalee, specially, though domiciled abroad, we have to be pragmatic in our approaches of resolution, be it political or otherwise. The question now is - How can we assist the great endeavour of the Muslims of the East and to contribute our part to help our Nation and the East to achieve the goals of upliftment and development, IRRESPECTIVE of party politics or communal feelings. The fact is that the PC Elections results may have indicated that the SLMC/UNP alliance has LOST. The elections were contested under the UNP symbol and UNP party.The TRUTH is that the SLMC did really win the PC elections. The Muslims voters voted 17 members to the Council. Though it was a divided vote of 8 muslim members to the UPFA and 9 muslim members to the UNP, all 18 muslim members are from the ground base votes of the SLMC, the national Brokerage Political Representation of the Muslims in the East. Therefore, the UNP has really lost the elections.
Hon. Hassanali understands the pulse of the Muslim politicians and selfishness in the East.
It is in this context that one has to view the elections in the present scenario. The so-called Muslim ministers who threatened to resign will never do so. Hon. Hassanali is quite correct in what he said. As a veteran politician of the East, he understands the pulse of the Muslim politicians and their selfishness in the East.
These political personalities have only made themselves as Muslim political clowns and staged a drama that has disgraced the National Muslim community in Sri Lanka and specially the Muslims of the East.
It is a disgrace that veteran Muslim politicians like Hon. M.H.M.Fowzie, Hon. M.H.Mohamed and Hon. Bhaila also played the role of "Muslim political clowns" to the Muslim world and to the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka and abroad. It would have been better for these politicians to have set in motion a realistic alliance discussions between the UPFA and the SLMC in the beginning. If that was done, today, the SLMC would have been stronger and the Muslims respected as politically matured, while the "paamara makkal" would have been peaceful and built bridges with Tamil communities. Hon Hassanali's statement that these ministers will never resign their ministerships - they do not have "self-dignity" is true. The Muslims in the East were stabbed in the back by these political Muslim stage players from the beginning.
HE the President told the same thing.
It is on record that HE. The President on a phone call from London has told Hon. Basil Rajapaksa the following when the president was informed about the threat of Muslim ministers resigning.
"They will make some noise and eventually accept what is given, the President was to say".
And so be it, as said in the Englsh language. That is the fate of the Muslims in Sri Lanka .
A true Sri Lankan Muslim cannot allow this to be so – Insha Allah.
This is because all the votes that were polled by the 17 Muslim PC members are Muslims votes of the East. The Muslims cannot just side on a side and watch all the benefits of the state, development aid, humanitarian assistance, employment prosperity and socio-economic upliftment that has to be made available to the Muslims being robbed by the "political communalists" and the "biased bureaucrats" who will take control of the day to day administration and management of the East Provincial Council. It is here that the Professionals and Academics of the EAST will be only too willing to return to Sri Lanka to give their best. What we need is the assurance that our abilities, professional knowledge and the foreign experience we have gained will be duly respected and integrated to find the best local resolution of pragmatic and innovative approaches to the gigantic challenges that will lay ahead in a team spirit environment with the local administrators. The UPFA/TMVP and the UNP/SLMC have to arrive at a consensus building to make this happen. HE the President should immediately call for an interactive discussion of Eastern Sri Lankan expatriates in all fields of Technical Expertise, Administrative & Management backgrounds, Aid and Humanitarian Assistance Management and Financial/Investment Management to create a roster of commitment for those willing to be involved immediately.
TALKING TO Mr. HISBULLAH OR THE MINISTERS WHO THREATENED IS NOT GOING TO BE PRAGMATIC. IT IS ADVICEABLE FOR HE. MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA TO SET ASIDE HIS PRIDE AND POLITICAL STAND A BIT AND TALK TO Hon. RAUF HAKEEM AND THE SLMC. THE PC ELECTIONS ARE OVER, THE EAST HAS TO MOVE FORWARD FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL, INCLUDING THE MUSLIMS, Insha Allah.

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UN Member States elect 15 countries to serve on UNHRC

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Fifteen countries have been elected to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for three-year terms starting next month after one round of balloting today among Member States at UN Headquarters in New York.
Six countries contested for the four positions available for Asian States, with Japan, Bahrain, the Republic of Korea and Pakistan winning the most votes to join the panel, and Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste missing out. According to the polling Japan received 155 votes, Bahrain 142, South Korea 139, Pakistan 114 and Sri Lanka 101
Zambia, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Gabon were chosen in that order to fill the four vacant African seats on the 47-member panel, according to a formula that allots seats among regions.
The three seats up for grabs in the Latin America and the Caribbean region – successful candidates in each category must obtain an absolute majority of valid votes cast by the 192 General Assembly members – went to Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
In the Eastern European category, Slovakia and Ukraine won the two available seats, while Serbia was unsuccessful.
The closest contest occurred in the race for the two vacant seats in the Western European and Other States category. France scored 123 votes and the United Kingdom picked up 120, edging out Spain, which garnered 119 votes.
General Assembly spokesperson Janos Tisovszky told reporters that there were 190 valid votes and two invalid votes in the Western European and Other States category. Ten of the valid votes cast were abstentions.

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The University of Melbourne Meets Friends in Sri Lanka

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The University of Melbourne, ably supported by Austrade held a function for alumni, parents of currentstudents and friendsrecently in Colombo.
The University attracts outstanding students from Sri Lanka, including students at the graduate level on Australian Government Scholarships such as AusAID, Australian Leadership Awards and Endeavour Scholarships. The University of Melbourne has had a long term association with Sri Lanka, the first students coming under the Colombo Plan post the Second World War. Attendees at the function included Colombo Plan scholars.
The occasion was an opportunity for the University to brief parents and friends on the landmark changes it is introducing in higher education in Australia which include a broader undergraduate degree structure followed by highly focused graduate professional programs. In 2008 for example Law will only be offeredat graduate entry level. Employers internationally have lauded these changes.
The University is currently ranked 10th in the world by employers following a survey of major global and national employers across the public and private sectors identifying the universities they preferred when hiring graduates. (2007 Times Higher Education Supplement World University Rankings) While students are an excellent way of building links between countries, academic collaborations and research interactions are also important in building cooperation and understanding. The University of Melbourne has a number of collaborative research activities and projects with Sri Lanka. For example DrFiona Miller of the University of Melbourne has been involved in a three year project post the tsunamilooking at community based volunteering, Dr Saman Kumara Halgamuge is working on an Australian Research Council e research grant co-applied with colleagues of Universities Moratuwa and Peradeniya on "Tsunami Early Warning Systems using animal behaviour".
There is currently a proposal on the table between academics of the University of Melbourne and Sri Lanka to look at irrigation and climate change- a key area of global interest. In a welcoming address, the Deputy High Commissioner emphasised the contribution of educational linkages to the strong bilateral relationship enjoyed by Australia and Sri Lanka. Many former students to Australia now held positions of influence in Sri Lanka and were helping to shape the country’s future. She noted that the popularity of Australia as an education destination with Sri Lankan students reflected the high quality of the educational institutions, as well as the ease with which Sri Lankan students adjusted .

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LIOC increase Diesel price by Rs.20

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The LIOC is to increase the price of diesel by Rs. 20 from midnight today. Although the CPC has not announced of an immediate price hike a Corporation spokesman said that a CPC diesel price hike could be expected within this week.

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Govt hesitant to implement UN human rights protocols

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The UNP alleged today that the government is hesitant to introduce parliamentary regulations to implement the UN human rights protocols in the country, due to what it termed as the ‘worst ever human rights record’.

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Government hits out at Carter, Tutu

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The government today came down hard on former US President Jimmy Carter and Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu, accusing them of being biased and ‘irresponsible’ by making critical statements on the country’s human rights situation.

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Wanni liberation continues; 23 terrorists killed yesterday's offensives

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Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) says that 23 killed and at least 26 wounded in yesterday's (May 20) clashes reported from Welioya, Mannar, Vavuniya and Muhamalai battlefronts.
On the Welioya front, troops confronted with the terrorists in the Kuhankankulama, Paliyandankulama, Kuttankulama, Kokkuthuduwai, North of Janakapura and North of Kiriibbanwewa during the course of the day and claimed to have killed 5 terrorists and injured 17 others. During these operations troops have uncovered 3 hand grenades, 1 T-56 riffle, 12 mortar bombs (120mm), 18 mortar bombs (81mm), 11 improvised bombs and 236 anti personnel mines (AP). Also, 2 soldiers suffered injuries in a confrontation took place in the North of Janakapura area.
On the Mannar front, troops had a confrontation with the terrorists last afternoon and claimed to have killed one LTTE cadre. A soldier suffered injuries due to an AP mine blast at Minukkai on the same day evening.
On the Vavuniya front, clashes continued in the Nadunkerni, Nenukkuddikulama, Mullimurippu and Periyamadhu areas and terrorists numbering 17 were reportedly killed and 9 others suffered injuries. Two bodies of slain LTTE cadres were also found following a clash occurred in the Periyamadhu area. 8 soldiers suffered injuries during these clashes.
Finally, in the Jaffna theatre of battle, the MCNS claimed that army had destroyed 10 LTTE bunkers at Muhamalai during the day and injured 3 LTTE cadres. 4 soldiers were also injured in this clashes.

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FMM refuses to withdraw statement over Lanka Dissent hacking

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The Free Media Movement has refused to withdraw a statement, as demanded by the Ministry of Defence, over the hacking of the Lanka Dissent news website.

The FMM said in a statement, “The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence in response to our Press Release of 17th May 2008 on the alleged hacking of the Lanka Dissent website in Sri Lanka "categorically states that it does not have any unit engaged in the work of experimenting with or carrying out any studies on how to disrupt websites, or engaged in any form of disrupting websites, whether staffed by electronic and IT experts or not, and that it is not doing so in the said location or any other location in Sri Lanka or elsewhere."Curiously though, the MoD's response also takes issue with our statement for publishing an excerpt from the open letter Lanka Dissent sent us alleging the existence of an electronic media observation unit under the MoD.
The MoD states that "it is regretted that [the FMM] has thought fit to publicize this totally false allegation through its own statement to the media, without verification of this matter from this Ministry."
Calling for us to withdraw our statement the MoD finally notes, "In the absence of such a remedial measure for the harm caused to the image and reputation of this Ministry, it will be necessary to seek legal recourse in this regard."
The FMM finds no reason to withdraw its statement because we explicitly asked the MoD to clarify the allegations made by Lanka Dissent against it.
We pointed that in a context where there is an indubitable block against tamilnet.com met with vehement denial from the regime and where independent media personnel face unprecedented physical and verbal violence, allegations such as those made by Lanka Dissent needed to be taken seriously.
We noted quite clearly in our statement that, "The FMM urges the authorities to immediately clarify the existence and nature of the electronic media-monitoring unit by the Ministry of Defence as noted by Lanka Dissent."
The MoD's deliberately partial reading of our statement and its expression of spurious grievances is indicative of a regime does not even tolerate attempts to clarify allegations made against it.
Our larger concerns about media freedom in Sri Lanka stand, as well as significant disquiet on the well documented hate speech repeatedly and blatantly promoted by the MoD against independent investigative reporting in Sri Lanka,” the FMM statement added.

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Hizbullah agrees to take oaths tomorrow

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M.L.A.M. Hizbullah has promised the president that he would be ready to take oaths as Health Minister of the Eastern Province tomorrow (May 22nd), after the postponement of the event scheduled for this morning, sources at the Presidential Secretariat said.

The swearing-in of Mr. Hizbullah was put off after the president refused to add the education portfolio to his subjects, as requested.

The Muslim politician had then been promised several other portfolios, after which he had said that he would take oaths of office tomorrow.

Accordingly, Mr. Hizbullah will also be given the Muslim Affairs, Information Technology, Tertiary Education and Youth Affairs subjects.
Commenting on the President’s delaying of the swearing-in ceremony, SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem has told the media that Mr. Hizbullah was having a taste of his own medicine after deceiving the eastern Muslims at the May 10th polls.

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Mervyn Silva's supporters attack Sirasa TV crew

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Persons believed to be supporters of Minister Mervyn Silva have yet again attacked a Sirasa TV crew and smashed up their camera equipment two days ago, according to a complaint with the Kiribathgoda police.
The journalists were filming the Vesak Pandal in the town on May 19th when the group had approached them and demanded to know their identities.
Saying that Sirasa TV is not allowed in the area, they had threatened the media personnel to leave immediately.
A member of the gang however, said that they cannot be allowed to leave so easily.
After assaulting the driver, they had forcefully taken the Sirasa vehicle to a deserted road.
A gang member had called on his mobile phone a person, addressing him as Minister and informed him of the Sirasa TV crew’s presence in the area.
Thereafter, the gang had smashed up the TV camera and destroyed all video tapes in the possession of the camera crew.The complaint also alleges that though a group of policemen was present in the area, they had not taken any step to prevent the assault.

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President expresses condolence towards the earthquake victims in China

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President Mahinda Rajapakse expresses condolence towards the earthquake victims in China.
In a special message President extended sympathy of Sri Lankan government and its people to the Chinese government and the public on behalf of the victimized families and individuals.
The President also wrote a condolence message at the special book kept at the Chinese Embassy in Colombo this morning.

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ACN to open tourism fair May 30

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Asian Cultural Network, an event-organizer in support of Asian embassies, launched its initial project in Kuwait with an exhibition of tourism, cultural and services of six Asian embassies in the country.
The exhibition hopes to provide information on tourism and trade, available services and products and an opportunity for locals and expatriates to choose their intended destinations for summer holidays in Asia.
It will also include the participation of local organizations who intend to promote their groups to the Asian community in Kuwait. The exhibition, which will be participated in by the embassies of Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Sri Lanka in Kuwait, will be held at the ballroom of Swiss-Bel Hotel, located beside Al-Muthana Complex, on May 30. Fifty tables are currently being rented for exhibitions and six major tables will showcase the embassies displays and information services.

The ambassadors will officially open the exhibition at 10 am on May 30 and series of presentations from different local organizations will provide entertainment during the day and at 7 pm selected Asian countries showcasing traditional dances and costumes will stage a cultural presentation.
ACN expects participation of several vendors from the Asian and European communities, who will display and sell handicraft, textile materials, packed food products, services, airlines, travel agencies, apparels and information booths on summer destinations.
ACN also affirmed that part of the proceeds of the event will be donated to a local children’s charity. The Asian envoys have scheduled series of television interviews in “Good Morning Kuwait” KTV1 and disseminated press invitations to view the exhibition.

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Malaysia Top Investor In Colombo For Three Straight Years

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By P.Vijian

Malaysia scored a hattrick in conflict-hit Sri Lanka to emerge as the top investor in the country for the third year in succession, with total investments of nearly RM1.8 billion.

From RM317 million in 2005, Malaysia's investment in the country increased to RM523 million and last year investors pumped in RM943 million, making it the largest investor.

Sri Lanka's total foreign direct investment (FDI) last year was RM2.3 billion.

"Sri Lanka offers considerable opportunities for Malaysian companies to expand their businesses and we have an excellent location, a skilled workforce, beneficial free trade agreements with India, Pakistan and the European Union," Sri Lanka Board of Investment (BOI) director-general, Dhammika Perera, told Bernama.

The nation's economy, with a gross domestic product of RM104 billion, is thriving at six percent annual growth -- after an uneven growth due to the 30-year-old civil war that kept foreign investors at bay.

Colombo's economic landscape is slowly changing, although the war is intense in the country's north, about 400km from the capital, and cash-rich investors are queuing to pour money in the emerging fertile economy.

Malaysia's investment is largely concentrated in infrastructure, telecommunications, garments and property development.

Companies like Dailog Telekom, ranked the top mobile operator, Salcon Engineering, MTD Construction Sdn Bhd and HiTech Padu Bhd are the early birds that boldly invested in the economy and more Malaysians are now exploring business opportunities.

“Sri Lanka and Malaysia have always had excellent relations. Relations have flourished both at the government and individual levels. We are both medium-sized Asian countries with a rich ethnic mix and have always been open to external influences.

"I am confident that investments from Malaysia will continue to be high, but other regional investors will also play a major role.

"Neighbouring India and China are emerging as major investors in Sri Lanka of late. Their enterprises are keen on large-scale infrastructure projects such as power stations and major construction such as skyscrapers," he said.

BOI's 2008 FDI target is RM3.2 billion and having pulled in RM2.4 billion in 2007, that figure seems realistic, especially after Colombo was judged the seventh most business-friendly and most cost-effective city in Asia out of 200 cities by the FDI Magazine for 2008.

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Will Sri Lanka loose IHRC membership?

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Local Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe says there is a tendency for Sri Lanka to receive membership in the International Human Rights Council. There are 192 member states at the UN. The election for council will take place at 9.30 pm Sri Lanka time today at New York.
He said six Asian countries are contesting for this council to receive membership. They are Japan, South Korea, Bahrain, Pakistan East Timor and Sri Lanka. 192 countries are illegible to vote this election. It is secret ballot, he said.
Addressing media in Colombo on Wednesday he said Sri Lanka has confidence to achieve this task.
“We have voluntarily implemented measures to upgrade human rights sector. Lanka always respects the human rights and accelerate meaningful steps to safe guard the human rights , “ he said. Speaking to media he said he recently attended Human Rights Consultation Committee meeting held in Geneva. All the member countries were satisfied about Sri Lankan steps on Human rights, he said.
However rights groups are still objecting to Sri Lankan position and said the international community must remove Sri Lanka from the International Human Right Council. Three Nobel prize winners and Ex- USA President Jimmy Carter also push the international community not to give a chance to Sri Lanka. They said Sri Lanka violates human rights of its citizens .

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Tilvin complains to IGP

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In a letter to IGP Victor Perera, JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva urged legal action against Sampath Dimuthu Katapearachchi for swindling Rs 160,000 from a public bank. Tilvin claims that Katepearachchi has confessed to carrying out the burglary in the name of the Party during 1988-89 insurrection.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

4,000 rejoin Army extends amnesty for deserters

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The Sri Lanka Army has extended an amnesty for its deserters by two more weeks, as nearly 4,000 deserters had reported back during the first two weeks, the military said.

Army Headquarters said that some 3,709 army deserters had reported back for duty since May 2 under the amnesty period ended May 16 which was extended later.

The decision was reportedly taken following requests from several sections, including the deserters urging more time to rejoin the force.

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LTTE still recruiting child soldiers - Report

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The LTTE continued to recruit and use children, despite repeated commitments not to do so, a new report on global child soldiers released yesterday has said adding that in the east the Karuna faction was also involved in the same practice.

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Pillayan denies role in Maligawa attack

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TMVP leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan, yesterday denied that he had had a hand in the 1998 LTTE attack on the Dalada Maligawa and expressed disappointment over growing criticism of his visit to the temple and calls for him to apologise for the attack.

“I am disappointed that some sections see this as some sort of political gimmick. I am visiting all religious institutions purely to strengthen ties between the communities. This should be welcomed instead of being criticised,” TMVP spokesman Azad Maulana quoted Pillayan as saying.

Neranjan Wijeratne, the former Diyawadana Nilame of the Dalada Maligawa, was among those who criticised Pillayan’s visit to the temple and insisted that he apologise for the attack, alleging that Pillayan was among those who had masterminded the attack.

Pillayan, who was a member of the LTTE at the time, had dismissed the allegations saying he hoped history would not repeat itself and strain relations between the country’s Buddhists and Hindus.

Mr. Maulana asserted that the purpose of Pillayan’s visit to the sacred temple was to bridge the religious divide in the country and that it had no political motive.

Pillayan says the LTTE intelligence unit masterminded the operation and that it was a regrettable incident.

Mr. Wijeratne had said that people had not forgotten the attack, which he said was masterminded by Pillayan, and added that the Chief Minister should not have been allowed to meet the Mahanayake Theras under these circumstances.

On January 25, 1998, the LTTE carried out a deadly suicide attack on the temple, killing eight civilians, injuring 25 and causing damage to the temple structure.

The Kandy Mahanayake Theras invoked blessings on the new Eastern Province Chief Minister when he visited the temple last Sunday.

The Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter, the Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharakkhitha Thera, commended the Chief Minister for giving up arms and joining the democratic process.

Accusing some Tamil politicians of trying to provoke Sinhala - Tamil disputes for political gain in the past, the Mahanayake Thera urged Pillayan to work towards establishing national unity.

Security was tightened in and around the Dalada Maligawa as the militant leader turned politician visited Kandy with a group of security personnel on Sunday evening.

Mr. Chandrakanthan was also blessed by the Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter, the Ven. Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala Mahanayake Thera.

The Mahanayake Thera of the Malwatte Chapter wondered why Sri Lanka’s main communities could not live in harmony in the East -- as they did in Kandy.

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Red Star Relief Task Force ready to go to China

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JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe has intimated to the Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka Mr. Ye Dabo that his party's "Red Star Relief Task Force" was prepared to dispatch a team of relief workers along with doctors to engage in relief activities in the Sichuan earth quake last week.

Somawansa said that the JVP's Red Star Relief Task Force gained considerable experience during the tsunami that struck Sri Lanka's coastal areas on December 26, 2004.

The Chinese Ambassador has informed the JVP and said that he would contact his Government and would get back to the JVP leader. The latter had also requested the Ambassador to convey his party's deepest condolences to the Government of China and to the Chinese Communist party.

JVP Parliamentarians Sunil Handunnetti and Ramalingam Chandrasekeran were associated with Mr. Amarasinghe at the meeting with the Chinese Ambassador.

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Pillaiyan joins other Chief Ministers to demand full powers to PCs

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Franklin R Satyapalan
All chief ministers of the eight provincial councils including the recently elected chief minister of the Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan have decided to forward a resolution to the Government that they be vested with full powers in accordance with the 13th amendment.

These powers hitherto not enjoyed by the seven provincial councils include police, land and judiciary. Government was in favour of granting these powers to the PCs as recommended by the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) chaired by Minister Prof.Tissa Witharana

The chief ministers conference to be held in Badulla will be presided by Uva Provincial Chief Minister Vijith Wijthamuni Soysa. It is scheduled for May 30 and 31 and is the 24th such meeting of chief ministers.

Soysa said even at the previous meetings of the chief ministers they were agitating for the full implementation of powers vested under the 13th amendment.The chief ministers will also request more funds from the central government to rectify shortcomings in administration, filling of vacancies and the full implementation of maga neguma, gama neguma and the apiwavamu ratanagamu programmes.

Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga will be chief guest and guest of honour will be Secretary to the Treasury Dr.P.B.Jyasundera..

The following chief ministers will grace the occasion, Reginald Cooray( Western Provincial Council), Shan Wijelal Silva (Southern Provincial Council), Sarath Ekanayakae (Central Provincial Council) Shan Wijesinghe (Wayamba Provincial Council), Mahipala Herath (Sabrgamuwa Province), Berty Premlal Dissanayake (North Central Province) Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan (Eastern Province) and Vijith Wijithamuni Soysa. The chief secretaries of all provincial councils will also participate.

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Alleged LTTE gunman kills a Police Constable - Batticaloa

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A Police constable who was shot at while returning after completing his duty succumbed to his injuries on admission to the Batticaloa hospital last evening, May 20.

The targeted police constable was performing duties at a police check point in Mamathgama junction in Batticaloa and the shooting incident took place around 6.15 p.m, Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

It is believed that the LTTE operative carried out this attack to disrupt the normalcy in the area and Batticaloa police conducting further investigations.

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SLAF launches close air support mission - Muhamalai

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Sri Lanka Air Force MI-24 helicopter gun ships launched close air support mission ahead of security forces defence line in Muhamalai in Jaffna this morning, May 21.

Air Force spokesperson, Wing Commander Andrew Wijesooriya speaking to defence.lk said that targets of the mission were an LTTE mortar launching pad and an LTTE's gathering place located 3Km ahead of the security forces defence line in Muhamalai.

Air raids conducted around 6.00 a.m, spokesperson further added.

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Minor explosion at Katugastota Railway Bridge

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Pedestrian track of the Katugastota railway bridge received minor damages due to an explosion took place in late night yesterday, May 20.

According to the Katugastota Police sources, the explosion occurred around 11.50 p.m.

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Balraj dies of heart attack

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A senior leader of LTTE died of a sudden heart attack on Tuesday in Kilinochchi a pro-rebel website said.

"Brigadier" Balraj, a commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), led the rebels' conventional fighting unit that has carried out repeated attacks on Sri Lankan troops, it said.

The rebels did not give Balraj's real name or his age, but said they have declared three days of mourning in areas under their control, starting Wednesday.

"Brigadier Balraj, a senior and a special commander of the LTTE, passed away Tuesday," the Tamilnet website said.

"He was an expert on different forms of warfare, including psychological operations, and deployed different tactics during the planning and the conduct of the operations."

Balraj was the second leader to be conferred the rank of "brigadier" by the LTTE leadership, after its former head of the political wing S. P. Tamilselvem. Thamilselvam was killed during an air raid conducted by the Sri Lankan military last year.

He had also been hospitalised for nearly three months earlier this year, the website said.
Meanwhile our sources said the LTTE announced a three day mourning period to honor Brigadier Balraj.

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AIT pledges $45 K to assist Myanmar cyclone victims

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The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) has launched a multi-phased international funding initiative to aid victims in Myanmar of Cyclone Nargis, which includes an initial cash pledge of US$ 45,000.


The launch of the ‘AIT-Myanmar Fund’ was announced today (15 May) by AIT President Said Irandoust, who stressed the institute’s financial contribution would fund immediate relief efforts in areas most devastated by the recent disaster.


“AIT will respond immediately by sending water, food, medicine and clothes to disaster affected people via our alumni network in Myanmar,” President Irandoust said.


The Bangkok, Thailand- based graduate institute is also assembling an interdisciplinary disaster assessment team of experts who will visit Myanmar in early June to assess ways in which the institute could assist medium and long term recovery efforts. Based on the team’s findings, AIT will co-ordinate with its many international partners to implement a comprehensive rehabilitation program, targeting people struggling the most in the aftermath of the cyclone.


Early plans include specific measures for human habitat and ecological recovery, coastal rehabilitation, and capacity building for victims’ self-recovery. AIT is a regional higher learning leader in the fields of integrated tropical coastal zone management, and disaster preparedness, mitigation and management.


The AIT-Myanmar Fund will open-up opportunities for long term sustainable development strategies in Myanmar, eventually leading to vocational trainings and educational opportunities for those in disaster affected areas. Water and Disaster Management courses at Yangon Technical University and Mandalay Technological University, both academic partners of AIT, will be strengthened through the Fund, AIT officials said.


President Irandoust stressed that AIT has drawn on its experience gained during the 2004 Asian Tsunami, to assist devastated Myanmar.
“We learned that an interdisciplinary approach to disaster rehabilitation and recovery really works, and that public and private sector partnerships are the key to helping victims cope and to recover in the longer-term,” President Irandoust said.


One of Asia’s academic leaders in the field of environmental science and sustainable development, the Asian Institute of Technology was recently designated by the United Nations as the ASEAN Regional Centre of Excellence on the Millennium Development Goals.

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Two soldiers injured in confrontations

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Two soldiers were reported injured in two areas in JAFFNA on Monday (19) in confrontations.

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Seven LTTE terrorists killed in confrontations

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LTTE terrorists shot and killed one in VAVUNIYA town on yesterday (19) around 1.30 p.m.

One soldier was injured due to an Anti personnel mine explosion in PERIYAMADU area around 8.45am.

In another situation in KASAWALPULIYANKULAM around 8.10am troops killed two LTTE carders. One soldier was reported injured in the confrontations. Troops also recovered two claymore mines, three safety codes, ten meters wire roll one, three magazines and ninety T-56 ammunition rounds.

Meantime in PERIYAMADHU area troops killed three LTTE terrorists on yesterday (19) around 5.30pm. One soldier was reported injured in the confrontations. After a search operation troops recovered two T-56 assault rifles.

Meanwhile in PALAMPIDDY area between 9.00 a.m. to 7.45 p.m. troops killed two LTTE terrorists in confrontations. Also one soldier laid his life and two were reported injured in the confrontation.
Troops also recovered seventeen anti personnel mines.

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Rights group tells UN to vote Sri Lanka off rights council

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by Mel Gunasakera


COLOMBO (AFP) - UN members should reject Sri Lanka's re-election bid to the world body's Human Rights Council, a rights group said Tuesday as it accused Colombo of widespread abductions and "disappearances."
Elections to the 47-member council, the UN's leading human rights body, will be held in New York on Wednesday, when candidate countries need an absolute majority -- or 97 votes from the UN's 192 nations -- to be elected.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) branded Sri Lanka one of the world's worst perpetrators of "disappearances" and abductions and described the situation in the island -- torn by a decades-old ethnic war -- as a "national crisis."

UN Human Rights Council members are required to "uphold the highest standards" of human rights and "fully cooperate" with the council, New York-based HRW said in a statement.

Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea and Timor Leste are running for the four seats allocated to Asian states.

The group noted that three Nobel peace laureates have already called on UN members to reject Sri Lanka.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa charged earlier this month that "the systematic abuses by Sri Lankan government forces are among the most serious imaginable," citing widespread torture and extrajudicial killings.

"Governments owe it to Sri Lankan human rights victims -- and to victims of human rights abuses around the world -- to ensure that the Sri Lankan bid fails," said Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Also this month, Argentina's 1980 Nobel peace laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel compared the routine "disappearances" and extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by Sri Lankan security forces to the "dirty wars" waged by various Latin American governments against their own citizens in the 1970s and 1980s.

The 2002 Nobel winner and former US president Jimmy Carter asked UN members in mid-May to vote Sri Lanka off the council, citing a "deteriorating human rights record."

According to HRW at least 1,500 people "disappeared" between 2006 and 2007 -- mostly ethnic Tamils living in the island's restive north and east.

A coalition of more than 20 non-governmental organisations from around the world wrote to UN members earlier this year to oppose Sri Lanka's re-election to the council.

It blamed Colombo for a range of serious abuses, including hundreds of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, widespread torture and arbitrary detention.

On its website the group, NGO Coalition for an Effective Human Rights Council, accused Sri Lanka of rejecting the recommendations of UN human rights experts, attacking UN rights officials and refusing to allow international monitoring.

The coalition also noted that the armed separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have long been implicated in serious human rights abuses, but says this provides no justification for alleged government abuses.

Colombo pulled out of a tattered 2002 truce with Tamil rebels in January in the belief that it could defeat the guerrillas.

Tens of thousands of people have died since the rebels launched a separatist campaign in 1972 for autonomy or independence for minority Tamils in the island's north and east in the majority Sinhalese country.

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Immigrant wins top literary prize

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A lost dog was Sri Lankan immigrant Michelle de Kretser's inspiration for her novel that took the top honour at the NSW Premier's Literary awards.

At the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, Ms de Kretser - an international best-selling author - won the Book of the Year and the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction for her novel The Lost Dog.

The two awards earned her a total of $50,000 from a prize pool of $320,000 – the government's contribution increased from $137,000 last year to $290,000.

Ms de Kretser, who immigrated to Australia with her family in 1972 at the age of 14, has combined the cultural challenges of that experience with the distress of losing her dog.

She and her partner cut short an overseas holiday when they learned their dog Gus was missing from her partner's parents farm in south Gippsland, Victoria.

"One morning we were thinking if we find him, we'll find a corpse," Ms de Kretser says.

"But struggling through this very dense terrain, he just came limping out of the bush. I feel like crying still when I think about it."

The Lost Dog is the story of fictional character Tom Loxley, whose poverty-stricken family immigrated to Australia in the mid-twentieth century.

"There's a lot in the novel about loss and being haunted by what is not there and what has been left behind," Ms de Kretser says.

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Pillayan invited to Chief Ministers' Conference in May

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The newly-inducted Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan has been invited to represent the Eastern Province at the annual meeting of the Chief Ministers' Conference later this month.

Mr. Chandrakanthan is among the list of invitees for the two-day parley that begins on May 30th, Chief Minister of Uva Province Wijith Wijithamuni Soyza, who is hosting the event, told the media.

This year, the meeting will discuss problems common to all provincial councils, including the powers that are due but yet to be vested on them, Mr. Soyza added.

With a proposal to grant police and land powers to the eastern provincial council under discussion, other chief ministers are preparing to demand that they too, be given the same authority.

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Hisbulla supporters assault senior journalist in Kaaththaankudi

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Supporters of M.L.A.M. Hisbulla, the successful United Peoples? Freedom Alliance (UPFA) candidate in Eastern Provincial Council, (EPC) assaulted the senior journalist T. L. Jawfer Khan and another journalist at Hisbulla's Kaaththaankudi office Monday.Mr.Khan was seriously injured and admitted to Kaaththaankudi hospital.

The two journalists had gone to Hisbulla's office to interview him on his recent announcement that he was going to break away from the UPFA and his intention of functioning as an independent group.

Hisbulla's supporters who were at his office assaulted both the journalists and damaging Khan's camera.

The journalists have lodged complaints with Kaaththaankudi police.

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UNPers seek Court order to dissolve CMC

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By Yohan Perera
UNP candidates who contested the Colombo Municipal Council under the ‘spectacle’ symbol at the 2006 municipal poll are seeking a writ application from Supreme Court to stop the functioning of Colombo Municipal Council which they say is functioning illegally.

Former Deputy Mayor Asath Sally who was among the candidates said they would file the writ application immediately after the Vesak holidays.

He said the group was seeking a Court order for the dissolution of the council as the one-man Commission appointed to inquire into the activities of the council had found the council guilty of charges made against it.

“We decided to take this action as the commission report is lying idle and no action had been taken against the council” he said.

He also charged that illegal hoardings were coming up in the city under the new Municipal Commissioner.

Mr. Sally said VIPs were attempting to takeover certain institutions and functions which did not come under their preview. He said this had been the case with the Eastern Provincial polls where several ministers made similar blunders.

He accused the government of harassing Muslims and not giving them what they deserve, as in the case of the appointment of the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province. “No other government has been so communal minded as this one” he said.

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Three Policemen injured in a grenade attack

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At least three Policemen were injured when the LTTE threw a hand grenade towards a police post in the Menik-farm area on the Medawachchiya-Mannar road this morning.

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Ministry of Defence concerns on disrupting website

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The attention of the Ministry of Defence has been drawn to a statement issued by the Free Media Movement regarding disrupting website last Saturday, and published in the media yesterday, which makes a serious allegation against this Ministry.
The Ministry categorically states that it does not have any unit engaged in the work of experimenting with or carrying out any studies on how to disrupt websites, or engaged in any form of disrupting websites. The ministry states that it is not staffed by electronic and IT experts, and that it is not doing so in the said location or any other location in Sri Lanka or elsewhere.
Accordingly, it is regretted that it has thought fit to publicize this totally false allegation through its own statement to the media, without verification of this matter from this Ministry.
This Ministry says that such reports are intended to discredit the Government of Sri Lanka and tarnish the image of this country abroad on a subject that is at present attracting considerable attention among activists for Human Rights and Media freedom. The ministry stresses that the legal action will be taken unless in the absence of such remedial measures for the harm cause to the image and the reputation of it.

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Weerawila International Airport will commence within two months

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Minister Chamal Rajapakse says the construction work of the Weerawila International Airport will commence within two months. He also says that 25 percent of the construction of the Hambanthota International harbour is now complete.

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Foreign Minister condolences for the earthquake victims in China

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Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has expressed the Sri Lanka government’s condolences for the earthquake victims in China.
Accordingly he visited the Chinese embassy in Colombo this afternoon and signed the Condolence Book.
At a subsequence meeting with Chinese ambassador Ya Dabo he assured that the government will do all within its capacity to help those in need.
The Sri Lankan Minister also expressed appreciation over work commenced by China to provide assistance and relief to all affected by the earthquake. Minister Bogollagama added that he is in touch with government and privet sector bodies to arrange assistance to areas in urgent need of medical supplies, shelter, food and other essentials. He recalled the outpouring of china’s generosity after the 2004 Tsunami.

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JVP to appoint new group leader for parliament

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Sunil C. Perera and Chithralal Jayasinghe

The polite bureau of the JVP will appoint a new group leader for their parliamentary affairs when the next parliamentary session begins.
At present Wimal Weerawansa holds this post, but he formed his new party abandoning the JVP.
The President Mahindha Rajapaksha prorogued last Parliament and the next session will commence on 6th June.
A leading JVP strongman and polite bureau member said they would have a new group leader on that day. He said JVP will take stern action against Wimal Weerawansa and his fellow members who joined the recently formed National Freedom Front.
“We will take this decision according to the party constitution , he explained.
Meanwhile internal sources of the JVP said a number of important decisions will take place during the forthcoming polite bureau meeting which is to be held within next few days.
The JVP having their Annual General Meeting on 27th of May. Most of future decisions will be approved by the JVP party members at the AGM..

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Carter against Lanka re-election to UNHRC

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Former US President Jimmy Carter is against Sri Lanka being re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and is seeking support against such a move.

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For small investors and enterprises

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Citi India today announced a three-year programme with the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) to study, develop and recommend measures that will promote financial inclusion and improve capital markets access for small investors and enterprises.

Citi Foundation is committed to provide a $1.5 million grant to the Centre for Analytical Finance (CAF) at the ISB, over a period of 3 years. Under the aegis of this grant, CAF will undertake projects on a range of subjects in the financial domain. The objective of this program is to support changes that will have a positive impact on emerging financial markets and participants, including small investors, SMEs and micro entrepreneurs. CAF will formulate recommendations to support regulators, practitioners, academics, and other opinion leaders to implement financial development in the country.

Announcing Citi's support for this partnership, Sanjay Nayar, CEO, Citi India, said, "While India is witnessing unprecedented levels of economic growth, two-thirds of our population is presently unconnected to the formal banking and financial system. Government, private organisations, NGOs and individuals have undertaken several initiatives recently to extend financial inclusion and to improve capital markets access for small investors and enterprises. There exists a definite need to understand the impact these initiatives are making and to identify key issues for stimulating dialogue amidst all relevant stakeholders to induce the next level of reforms to facilitate all-inclusive growth."

"With this research program, our longstanding relationship with ISB will be further strengthened. CAF is uniquely positioned to undertake this project as it has prior experience of doing quality work in this and other related areas," Mr. Nayar added.

Speaking on the need for detailed study in this area, M Rammohan Rao, Dean, ISB, said, "In spite of the Indian economy growing at a rate of 8%, the growth in rural areas is still low. We believe that there is a critical need to ramp up financial growth in rural areas to make the economic growth more robust and inclusive. We are happy to be associated with Citi for this programme which will allow the ISB to contribute towards implementing inclusive financial developments in the country."

Using the grant support, CAF will organise several major projects, international conferences, workshops/lectures, and extensive dissemination of the project findings over the next three years. "Our focus at the CAF is to research capital markets in emerging economies, especially India. We expect our project findings to provide help and support in creating a sound financial infrastructure for those markets, and facilitate reforms to increase their global competitiveness," explained Professor Sankar De, Executive Director, Centre for Analytical Finance (CAF) at the ISB.

CAF is the first research centre of its kind in India devoted exclusively to scholarly research in finance, and the second such centre in Asia. The CAF is supported by leading academicians, top executives from national and international financial institutions and acknowledged regulators and policy makers. Over the past few years, CAF has organised several high profile international conferences/workshops/lectures by leading academicians and industry leaders. It has associated with top B-Schools for collaborative research and is working on several strategic research projects.

In 2001, the Citi Foundation gave a grant of US$1 million to the Friends of the Indian School of Business Foundation to start an Endowment Fund. The Fund's earnings have been used by the ISB for scholarships to deserving students pursuing its one-year Post-Graduate Programme. This programme, known as the Citi Scholars Programme, has benefited 30 students to date.

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Killer motor cycle not TMVP member’s

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Chief Minister Sivanesthurai Chandrakanthan of the Eastern Province said that the owner of the motor cycle taken into custody by the police Janathan in connection with the attack on the Lotus Road was not a member of his group.

Chandrakanathan said threats or attempts to assassinate him will not deter him from serving the people and he was not afraid to serve the people who elected him.

Leader of the UNP and Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe said there was a doubt whether there was an attempt to suppress the police investigation into the suicide bomb attack at Lotus Road after it became known that the owner of the suicide bomber's motor cycle was the head of the Trincomalee office of the Chief Minister Chandrakanthan.

The UNP said the owner of the motor cycle was Wijepala Jinendra alias Jana.

Police were continuing their interrogation of Janathan who was arrested in connection with the attack that killed 9 policemen, two civilians and injured a large number of police personnel and civilians.

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SL to send a medical relief team to help Chinese earth quake victims

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Sri Lanka will dispatch a medical team consisting of nurses and doctors to provide care for those thousands of victims injured by China's 8.0 magnitude earth quake, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said.

Expressing the profound grief of the country's President Mahinda Rajapaksa's and his on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka Bogollagama said at the Colombo's Chinese Embassy that they were prepared to send a team immediately to care for those who have been devastated by the major earthquake that had struck the People's Republic of China last week. The massive quake epi-centered in Wenchuan County in Sichuan Province affected the whole country in general. By Monday the death toll rose to more than 34,000, according to official figures.

The Foreign Minister was at the Chinese Embassy to sign a book of condolence that was kept open.

Recalling the most generous and outpouring Chinese aid to Sri Lanka when Tsunami struck the island nation the Minister said this is the time for Sri Lanka to show their gratitude in return.

The Minister showed his willingness to send a medical team to help the Chinese victims at a subsequent meeting after signing the condolence message. He told Chinese ambassador Ye Dabo that the Sri Lanka government would do everything in its capacity in this hour of grief. He said that the Sri Lanka government was satisfied by the relief and rehabilitation work already started by the Chinese government and under the leadership of President Hu Jintao the Chinese people would definitely overcome the great disaster.

The Foreign Minister immediately started contacting some of his cabinet colleagues, Ministries and their officials, private sector well wishers and other interested parties to supply food, shelter and medical assistance. The Chinese ambassador Ye Dabo said that he appreciated the Sri Lanka government's immediate response to extend humanitarian help reflecting the thousands of years of friendship between the two nations.

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Troops dismantle LTTE offensive: 12 killed, 21 wounded in Wanni fighting

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SLA troops deployed ahead of the recently liberated Palampiddi area, Vavuniya have totally neutralized an LTTE offensive attempt to open -up the military defences in a heavy gun attack mounted from non-liberated areas on Monday (May 19).

LTTE offensive elements were forced to withdraw with soaring casualties during what was said as 'sustained heavy retaliation' by security forces, Wanni defence sources report. At least a dozen terrorists were killed and 21 others injured during the counter terrorist operations launched since yesterday morning at around 5, at the Wanni battle fronts.

According to military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, 7 terrorists were reported killed in confrontations ensued with troops in Periyamadu, Palamipiddi and Mullikulama general areas, while 5 others were also said killed during fighting in Welioya defences. At the Welioya front, confrontations with LTTE were reported from general areas Janakapura, Andankulama and Kokkuthuduwal, the sources further said. 21 terrorists were wounded during the fighting on Monday, MCNS reported.

Meanwhile, 3 soldiers have also laid their lives in addition to 8 battle casualties, sources further added.

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Mangala before the disciplinary committee

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Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera has been summoned to appear before an SLFP disciplinary committee on Friday to give reasons why he should not face action for violating party discipline.

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East PC to be adjourned if Hizbullah refuses support?

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The President is planning to handover the chairmanship of the Eastern Provincial Council to the opposition and adjourn sittings for one month if the M.L.A.M. Hizbullah faction refused to support the UPFA.

The period of recess will be used to gain a majority, a top minister who is close to the president and one of the alliance’s top campaigners at the May 10th polls told ‘Lanka Dissent.’
The President is well aware of the predicament of Mr. Hizbullah and has made several proposals that will be profitable for the future of the Muslim leader as well as that of the eastern people, according to the minister.


The government, with the expectation that Mr. Hizbullah will receive the blessings of the eastern Muslim religious leaders to agree to the president’s suggestions, has arranged for his swearing in on May 21st as a minister in the council.

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JHU accuses Rauff of unleashing armed Muslim extremism

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The Jathika Hela Urumaya has accused Rauff Hakeem of attempting to unleash an armed Muslim extremist campaign in the east after his failure at the May 10th elections for the province.

JHU Policymaker and Government Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka alleged that these Muslim extremists have already attacked Tamil people in Kattankudy.


The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader should take full responsibility if the Muslims are forced to take up arms, Mr. Ranawaka added.

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Sri Lankan Ambassador to China visits the Sri Lankan students at the Sichuan University

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Sri Lankan Ambassador to China K. Amunugama visited the Sri Lankan students at the Sichuan University.

According to the release of the foreign Ministry Sri Lankan students are well and safe.

The Sichuan University authorities as well as the foreign office of Sichuan have assured that they would take every effort to look after the welfare of Sri Lankan students.

According to the Chinese Foreign Office authorities no foreign students have been affected by the earth quake.

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Former ANCL Chairman passes away

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President’s Counsel and former Associated Newspapers Ceylon Limited (ANCL) Chairman A. K. Premadsa passed away yesterday at the age of eighty five.

The late Mr. Premadasa was the first Chairman of the ANCL, after the coalition government of Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike took over the Lake House group of newspapers in 1973. He served as its head till 1977.

Again Mr. Premadasa served as Chairman of ANCL for a brief period in 1994.

He also served as the President of the Press Council in 1973.

In 1994, he served as the Chairman of the State Mortgage Bank and director of Sri Lanka Telecom during the same period.

He is the father of Dr. Kirthi Premadasa, former Head, Department of Mathematics, University of Colombo.

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Police gang kidnapping Tamils busted

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by Hemantha Randunu
Two members of a group of police personnel engaged in blackmailing Tamils with forged travel documents into parting with large amounts of money were arrested by a special police team on Saturday.

They were arrested in the act of receiving Rs. 800,000 from two Tamil civilians in Colombo Fort.

The gang is said to have the backing of several high ranking police officers in Colombo, who allegedly get part of the money it extracted.

The two suspects were constables attached to the Fort Police Station and more arrests were imminent, investigators said.

The gang is in cahoots with a notorious forger in the Grandpass area to facilitate its operations. He is believed to provide the gang with information about the Tamils who visit his office to get bogus travel documents.

The modus operandi of the gang had been to approach the Tamils with forged documents demanding money, investigators said.

Eighteen Tamils who were in Colombo to travel abroad had been blackmailed by the police gang into paying millions of rupees, initial investigations have revealed.

The two policemen now in custody are alleged to have been in possession of Rs. 450,000 and a revolver.

The police acted on a tip-off. Investigations continue.

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Two terrorists killed and two injured in Muhamale

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A soldier was killed and another was reported injured in MUHAMALE, JAFFNA due to LTTE terrorist mortar fire on Sunday (18) around 11.20 in the morning while Troops recovered a hand grenade during a search operation conducted in JAFFNA Town on Sunday (18) 12.40 in the afternoon.

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Seven terrorists killed and seven injured in Vavuniya

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Seven terrorists were killed and seven more terrorists were injured during confrontations with Troops on Sunday (18). Four soldiers were also killed and three were wounded in action on the same day (18).

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14 persons, 12 from India, 2 from un-cleared areas report to Security Forces

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Twelve (12) Sri Lankan Tamil who had arrived from Tamil Nadu, India reported to the Security Forces in TALAIMANNAR on Friday (16) while two persons who had escaped from the Un- cleared areas reported to the Navy detachment in PALLIMUNAI, MANNAR, on Saturday (17) around 1.30 in the afternoon.

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Maunagurusamy declines to accept post in EPC- TMVP

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The TMVP is contemplating on nominating its Trincomalee district candidate Ragu or Batticaloa district candidate Prasanthan to one of the two bonus seats awarded to the ruling UPFA since former Batticaloa Government Agent R. Maunagurusami had declined to be a member of the council .

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One person shot dead in Vavuniya

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A resident from Jaffna was shot dead allegedly by the pistol gang of the LTTE in Vavuniya a short while ago, police said.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

PFA names bonus seats for EP Council

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Former Batticaloa Government Agent R. Maunagurusami and Priyantha Premakumara who unsuccessfully contested in the Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts respectively at the East polls, were named by the UPFA for the two bonus seats awarded to the party.

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Smuggling module of LTTE busted by ‘Q’ Branch

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S. Vijay Kumar
MADURAI: In a swift operation, sleuths of the ‘Q’ Branch here on Sunday nabbed two Sri Lankan nationals allegedly supplying explosives and electronic gadgets to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The duo had sent huge quantities of explosives to the LTTE through agents along the Rameswaram coast.
Followinginformation, police intercepted a Tata Sumo vehicle near Villapuram and took into custody P. Jayaraja alias Viji alias Vijayan (28) of Mannar and T. Chinnavan alias Padmaraja (27) of Jaffna. They were in possession of 44 walkie-talkie sets and Rs. 4.59 lakh cash. K. Senthil of Madurai who provided logistic support to the two was also apprehended, sources in the intelligence agencies said.
Preliminary enquiries revealed that Jayaraja and Chinnavan had entered the country as refugees in 1990 and stayed on in different parts of the State without renewing their registration. They often visited Sri Lanka, mostly LTTE-controlled areas, with the help of clandestine boat operators. Besides supplying about 20,000 detonators, they also provided Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to Sea Tigers, the Naval Wing of LTTE.
Operating from Arappalayam in Madurai, their modus operandi was to transport explosives, explosive substances and gadgets through vans and hand them over to agents at Uchupuli. From there, the consignments would be ferried to LTTE camps. Sasi, one of the close associates of Jayaraja, was shot dead by the Sri Lankan Navy in 2007 when he was found venturing into the sea with a consignment, the sources said and added that five cans of resin were seized from Senthil’s house.
“They were also smuggling tobacco and beedi bundles. We are trying to establish the source of explosives and supply network of this smuggling module of the LTTE.
Special teams are also probing the source of money. It is not clear whether these suspects were involved in the supply of a large explosives consignment seized from a boat at Thangachimadam recently,” a senior police official said.

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Domestic Workers From Sri Lanka to Be Insured

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Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News
RIYADH, 19 May 2008 — Saudi Arabia will soon introduce a mandatory insurance scheme for Sri Lankan domestic workers.
The decision was taken during talks between Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi and Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Promotion and Labor Welfare Minister Keheliya Rambukwella at Riyadh’s Royal Conference Palace on Saturday. Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohamed Ageed Mohamed Marleen and Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Chairman Kingsley Ranawake were present.
The Lankan minister said that it was agreed that the Sri Lankan government would appoint an international insurance company and the Saudi government would encourage employers to pay the premium on behalf of their workers.
“Such an arrangement will ease problems for both the employees and employers as well as the two governments in case of eventualities,” the minister said.
More than 80 percent of the 550,000 Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom are housemaids. Remittances by foreign workers is the second largest source of foreign exchange for the country.
Rambukwella said Al-Gosaibi agreed to take stern action against employers who pay salaries stipulated in the work contract. Beginning January this year, Sri Lanka had introduced a minimum wage of SR650 for a housemaid who comes for employment to the Kingdom.
Rambukwella said the Sri Lankan government will in the future open Non-Resident Foreign Currency (NRFC) accounts in banks for each maid coming to work in the Kingdom and employers will be asked to deposit wages in the accounts so that the authorities could keep track of the payments.
During talks with Deputy Interior Minister Mohammed ibn Naif, Rambukwella said the Interior Ministry has agreed to release Sri Lankan prisoners who had served their terms but are still languishing in jails due to bureaucratic procedures. Some prisoners have remained incarcerated for up to six months beyond their terms because of delays related to deportation clearance.

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PILLAYAN SUCCESS MAY PAVE THE WAY FOR FUTURE LTTE ENTRY

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--Jehan Perera

The government’s victory in the eastern election has given rise to an acute problem that could escalate to serious proportions. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has had to decide whether the breakaway former LTTE leader Pillayan or the breakaway SLMC leader Hizbullah, both of whom contested under the banner of the ruling party, should be chosen as Chief Minister of the recently elected Eastern Provincial Council. This was a question that arose prior to the election, but to which no conclusive answer was given. So far President Rajapaksa has shown himself to be adroit in the art of causing splits in the ranks of opponents. But on this occasion, he has had to weigh the risk of a break in his own alliance with the priorities of his government.

After a delay of nearly a week the President chose Pillayan who heads the TMVP to be the Chief Minister. In doing so, he has risked losing the support of a significant section of the Muslim community in the east who had voted for government believing it would obtain for them a Muslim Chief Minister. On the other hand, an alienation or withdrawal of TMVP support would be detrimental to government control over the east, which is contested by the LTTE. The selection of the Chief Minister was undoubtedly a difficult one for the President as there were important reasons for the appointment of both Pillayan and Hizbullah for the Chief Minister’s post.

Pillayan had the merit of obtaining the most number of preference votes at the election, though it is reasonable to believe that a significant number of them were obtained by stuffing ballot boxes, impersonation and intimidation. The reports of the election monitoring groups make sorry reading to those who were hopeful of a free and fair election. A more compelling reason for the appointment of Pillayan as Chief Minister would be the TMVP’s contribution to the government’s victory over the LTTE in the Eastern Province. The TMVP provided, and continues to provide, invaluable intelligence to the government’s security forces.

On the other hand, Hizbullah too had reasons to expect being appointed as the Chief Minister. During the period of the election campaign when the issue of who would be appointed as Chief Minister came up, President Rajapaksa promised the position to the leader of the group that won the most number of seats. Most of the government’s seats at the eastern election were won by Muslim candidates. Indeed, most of the seats in the entire Provincial Council were won by Muslim candidates, making Hizbullah the person on the government side most likely to command the allegiance of the majority of members of the Eastern Provincial Council. As the Muslims strongly feel that they are a community that is caught up in the middle of the ethnic conflict, and often victimized by the competing forces of Sinhalese and Tamil nationalisms, the Chief Ministership of the east would have been a reassurance that they too will be part of a political solution to the ethnic conflict.


FATAL WEAKNESS

In these circumstances it was no cause for surprise that President Rajapaksa delayed taking a decision on appointing the Chief Minister. But from the beginning, and notwithstanding the President’s pledge regarding giving the position to the party with the largest number of votes, the odds were stacked against Hizbullah. The government’s reliance upon the TMVP to maintain military control over the east was a virtually insurmountable obstacle to the hopes for a Muslim representative to be appointed as the Chief Minister. If the President had chosen Hizbullah over Pillayan, there was a risk of the TMVP withdrawing its support to the government, and even rejoining the LTTE. While this option may not be open to Pillayan, in view of the LTTE’s poor track record of tolerating internal dissent, the option of going back to the LTTE would be open to the next levels of leadership within the party.

Hizbullah has been open to the media regarding his disappointment at being let down by President Rajapaksa who has apparently explained that the government’s rationale for selecting Pillayan was on account of the need to deal with the LTTE through military means. The government continues to see the solution to the ethnic conflict as lying in the military suppression of the LTTE and therefore the democratic potential of the Eastern Provincial Council is to be subordinated to the military imperative. Indeed, after the eastern election the government took the position that the verdict given by Tamil and Muslim ethnic majority in the province proved that its strategy had received popular backing.

However, the fatal weakness in the government’s strategy of conflict resolution is that militarily evicting the LTTE from territory over which it has administrative control will not necessarily eliminate the LTTE’s ability to be present in those areas. The LTTE’s ability to enter into government-controlled areas even outside the north and east and launch attacks is continuing evidence of failure on the part of the government to safeguard the country and its people. The insurmountable problem that the government faces is that so long as there is no political solution to the ethnic conflict, the LTTE will be able to maintain its support base amongst the Tamil people and undertake its operations especially in areas where they are present.

It is also evident that the government’s maximum efforts to prevent the LTTE from launching guerilla and terror strikes against military and civilian targets are only having limited success. Whether it was the suicide attack against police buses in the heart of Colombo or a bus bomb in a suburb outside Colombo, the most stringent security precautions have not worked. The backlash from these security precautions which serve as a source of intimidation and harassment to Tamils, and has led to allegations of human rights violations including abductions and disappearances also needs to be noted. The excesses stemming from these security precautions have led to international opprobrium, which can even have major economic consequences, such as the loss of GSP+ import duty concessions by the European Union.


BUDDHIST WISDOM

The challenge for the government is to channel the opportunities that the eastern election has brought about into the direction of conflict resolution that is based on principles of good governance and human rights. The participation of the TMVP in the eastern elections and the manner in which the elections were held has come in for strong criticism from the opposition and civil society groups. On the other hand, by bringing this armed group, consisting of former LTTE cadre, into contesting elections that are within the framework of a united country, the government has shown the possibility of the LTTE doing the same some time in the future. The government has shown that an armed Tamil group can be accommodated within the structures of governance even while they are armed, so long as they do not present their fight as one for separation.

It also appears that the majority Sinhalese population has been accepting of the government’s decision to give the Chief Minister’s position to Pillayan, even though he heads an armed Tamil group. Some nationalist groups associated with the government have objected to the granting of powers over police and land to the Eastern Provincial Council, which have so far not been devolved to any other province. But there has also been hardly any public agitation about the government’s stated intention to devolve the full range of powers contained in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, including those of police and land.

The significance of granting those special powers to the Eastern Provincial Council is that they will make it easier for the TMVP to transform its armed units into a legitimate police force. The devolution of power over land would also serve to reassure the Tamil people that their fear of government sponsored Sinhalese settlements in the north and east will be less likely in the future. The government’s success in making the Eastern Provincial Council rise to its full potential is that it will provide the LTTE and the Tamil people with the opening to negotiate for a greater degree of power and rights in the country, on condition that they put aside the demand for a separate Tamil state in the manner of the TMVP.

The Vesak season can serve as a period of reflection regarding the method of conflict resolution that is to be followed. The weeks prior to Vesak have shown the very high cost of war, of bombings, abductions, killings and rapes, which are all on the upsurge in the context of war. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn has written “In true dialogue both sides are willing to change…Understanding is the most important component for transformation. If we talk to each other, if we organize a dialogue, it is because we believe there is a possibility that we can understand the other person better…Dialogue is not a means for assimilation in the sense that one side expands and incorporates the other into its ‘self’. Dialogue must be practiced on the basis of non-self…”

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Army thwarts terror attack on Mannar defence; LTTE turns tail with heavy casualties

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LTTE terrorist yesterday (May 18) made an abortive attempt to halt the army advance on the Mannar front by attacking the Nadunkandal army deployments.
According to military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara the terrorist launched heavy mortar fire around 1.40 pm. One soldier was killed in this incident. Later, the terrorists attacked the army defence around 3 pm. Troops gave an effective retaliation killing 11 terrorists and forcing the others to withdraw, he said. 4 soldiers suffered injuries in this incident, he added.
The terrorist again made an attempt to capture the Nadunkandal army defence around 5.45 pm but failed in the face of army counter offensive, Brigadier Nanayakkara further said. During this incident which was lasted for more than one hour 21 terrorists reported to have killed and 12 other suffered injuries. Also, 5 soldiers were killed in action and 3 suffered injuries, he added.
Meanwhile in a separate incident, army attacked and captured an LTTE bunker defence in the Karukkandal area around 6, last morning. 7 terrorists reported to have killed in this incident while 4 soldiers were killed 3 went on missing and 4 suffered injuries.
At Alankulma , troops reported to have killed one terrorist in a confrontation occurred around 2.20 pm .
Limited counter terror offensives are being continued.

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All should work together to form a free and just society-President

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President Mahinda Rajapakse says that all should work together to form a free and just society. It is useless to find faults done in past. It is our supreme duty to inherit prosperous and peaceful country for the future generation.
Issuing a message to mark Wesak festival the President stresses that all should essentially thrive towards development with a correct vision to achieve this goal. The Lord Buddha has shown the correct path to achieve physical and spiritual success for the man kind . The supreme respect we can offer to Buddha is to lead life abide by Buddhist principles . The president further says that the government is also committed to rule the country according to such principles . He appealed to the public to lead good life with love and compassion to others .

Prime Minsiter Rathnasiri Wickremanayake says that all should determine to establish a peaceful society that respect for positive human relationship. The best way to face the challenges of this complicated society is to lead a simple life without endless desires.

Minister of Religious Affairs Pandu Bandaranaike , Jathika Hela Urumaya and several other religious dignitaries have also issued wesak felicitation messages. Meanwhile Arch Bishop Rt.Rev. Oswald Gomes says that all should join hands during this wesak season to form religious harmony.

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Pillayan visits religious places

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Chief Minister of Eastern Province Sivanesathurei Chandrakanthan says that he is committed to work for the betterment of all ethnic groups in the province.
He said that the first task of his agenda is to develop the province. The people of the area have been suffering for over 20 years due to lack of proper administration.
However the avenues are now open to focus lights of development towards the gloomy areas in the province. The areas which the priority should be given have already been identified .
Accordingly the fields of health , education and self employment will be developed soon. The new chief minister added that it was blessing for him to worship the temple of the tooth in Kandy and to get the blessings of mahanayaka theras.
The chief minister also met the Maha Nayake Theras of Malwathu and Asgiriya chapters. The theras invoked blessings to him for his future career. HE visited the Museum of the Temple and focussed special attention to the photographs which show the damages inflicted to the temple by the LTTE attack in the past. The chief minister also visited Ganga Rama temple in Hunupitiya, Colombo and took part in religious activities.

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Air force mounts support missions to advancing troops on Mannar front

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Sri Lanka Air Force MI-24 helicopter gun ships today launched a close air support mission for advancing troops on the Mannar front this morning (May 18) targeting a gathering of LTTE cadres in the Andankulama area.

Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Andrew Wjesooriya said that the targeted location was the same that was targeted in the yesterday's (May 17) mission. He said that the air sorties were carried out around 11.50 am as Sri Lanka army reported a fresh enemy gathering at the tactical operation center located 3km northwards from the army's present defence line. The exact damages to the terrorists are yet to be ascertained, he added.

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Wanni liberation continues : 12 terrorists killed

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Sri Lanka Army's mission to liberate Wanni from terror clutches reached another important juncture yesterday (May 17) as troops reached Palamiddi junction, the Northern edge of the Madhu jungle. While troops reached Palampiddi without facing much resistance from the terrorists, army continued its multi frontal offensives causing heavy damages to the terrorists.

On the Vavuniya front alone, defence sources claimed 2 terrorists were killed and another wounded in yesterday' clashes.

At Mundumurippu, troops attacked a group of terrorists in the morning hours and claimed 2 terrorists were killed and at least 2 others wounded. However, monitored radio transmissions later confirmed that only one terrorist was killed and another wounded in this confrontation. Troops suffered no casualties.

In a similar incident at Palamodai later in the same day morning, it was reported through radio transmissions one terrorist was killed.

A solider suffered injuries due to anti personnel (AP) mine explosion, whilst engaged in clearing operations in the Navvi area in the afternoon. The injured was admitted to the military hospital Anuradhapura.

On the Mannar front, troops engaged terror targets in the Alankulam, Koddaikulam, Veddayamurippu, Parayakulam, and Nedunkandai with ground assaults and indirect fire throughout the day.

At Alankulama , troops attacked terror bunkers using heavy weapons and destroyed them last night . Ground troops claimed 3 terrorists were killed or wounded in this attack. Also, an Army sniper deployed in the same area claimed to have shot one terrorist in the evening.

In the general area Koddaikulam troops engaged several LTTE bunkers using armour tanks and destroyed them in the morning hours. According to the ground sources, 10-15 terrorists were either killed or wounded in this incident. In a separate incident in the same area, troops engaged small arms fire at a group of terrorists and one terrorist was killed.

At Veddayamurippu, a sniper reported to have gunned down one terrorist in the evening hours. Also, 2 soldiers suffered injuries due to AP mine explosion in the same general area. At Parayakulam, another sniper target was confirmed in the same day evening.

On the Welioya front , daylong fighting continued between army and LTTE in the North of Janakapura and Kiriibbanwewa areas yesterday.

In the North of Janakapura area, troops attacked a group of terrorist in the afternoon hours and claimed 4 terrorists were killed . In a separate attack took place later in the evening in the same area , troops destroy enemy trench defence and claimed at least 6 terrorists were killed or wounded. During this incident troops came under heavy terror indirect fire and 3 soldiers suffered injuries as a result.

Meanwhile, troops engaged in mine clearing operations in the area removed 88 AP mines and 7 improvised bombs for the day. One soldier suffered injuries due to an AP mine explosion.

In the North of Kiriibbanwewa area, troops attacked a terror observation post last afternoon and claimed 2 terrorists were either killed or wounded. Later, monitored radio transmissions confirmed that 2 terrorists were killed in this incident. During the subsequent search, troops found 300 ammo used for T-56 riffles along with other personal items. Later in the in the evening, troops confronted with a group of terrorists in the same general area and claimed 3 terrorists were either killed or wounded.

In the Jaffna theatre of battle troops continued to attack terror bunkers in the Muhamalai and Eluthumaduwal areas during the day. However, no terror casualty figures were obtained so far. Meanwhile, one soldier suffered gunshot injuries whilst deployed in the Muhamalai defence last morning and admitted to Palaly military hospital.

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Pillayan visits Temple of Tooth Relic

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Newly appointed Chief minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan paid homage to the Temple of Tooth relic, Kandy this morning.
He met Chief Incumbents of the Malwatta and Asgiri Chaptors .He also visited Gangarama Temple this morning.He attended religious ceromanies at these places.

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JVP plays a crucial role when the EPC inaugural meeting

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Rumours are spreading on JVP’s behavior on inaugural Eastern Provincial Council meeting .At present both the UPFA and the UNP are waiting the JVP’s act on this issue. The JVP said it could now play a crucial role because the UPFA and other opposition parties were tied at 17-seats each. Leading JVP front-liner said the party believed the newly-elected council was in crisis even before it started functioning but he did not indicate the JVP would respond. The JVP has one seat at the EPC and M.L.A.M.Hisbullah and his two followers who got seats of the EPC decided to act as independently at the EPC.
On Sunday Mr. Hisbullah said another member of the UPFA agreed to support Hisbullah faction.
However JVP says it would not assist the political parties which help for separatism. Issuing a press statement the JVP Politburo told they have experience on major parties move during the EPC campaign. However during the polls Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) recorded a dismal performance in terms of the percentage of votes the party polled.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Visiting Sri Lankan Minister Not to Raise Rizana Case

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Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News

Sri Lanka’s minister for foreign employment, who arrived in Riyadh yesterday, said he would not take up the issue of Rizana Nafeek, the Lankan maid who is on trial accused of murdering a four-month baby in her care, as the case is being heard by the Supreme Judicial Council.

“Sri Lanka respects the laws of the host country and it is not proper for us to take up this issue when Nafeek’s case is before the supreme court of the Kingdom,” Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka’s minister for foreign employment promotion and labor welfare, told Arab News as he arrived at King Khaled International Airport.

Saudi Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi and officials from the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh, headed by Ambassador Mohamed Ageed Mohamed Marleen, received the visiting minister, who is being accompanied by Kingsley Ranawake, chairman of the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE).

During his two-day stay in Riyadh, the visiting minister is expected to hold talks with Interior Minister Prince Naif, Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi and Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman. He will also visit the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) where he will discuss matters of mutual interest with RCCI President Abdul Rahman Al-Jeraisy and Saad Al-Badaah, chairman of the Saudi National Committee for Recruitment. He will also meet GCC Assistant General Dr. Abdullah Al-Hashim.

Explaining the purpose of his visit to the Kingdom, Rambukwella said that the Kingdom is home to more than 500,000 Lankan workers and that he is here to strengthen existing relations, explore new areas of cooperation in promoting employment opportunities and work for the welfare of Sri Lankan workers.

He pointed out that problems faced by Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom are minimal considering their number.

“The Riyadh mission records around 10 runaway housemaids a day and a good number of them are settled by holding negotiations with their respective employers,” he stressed.

The minister added that he also has plans to meet community members in the Kingdom to get a first-hand knowledge of their experience in Saudi Arabia.

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British royal prince visits Habitat’s projects In Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

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Nearly 20 years after a first trip to Bangladesh, a member of the British royal family and patron of HFH Great Britain returned to visit Habitat for Humanity’s housing and cyclone-response projects in the South Asian country.

Prince Richard, Britain’s Duke of Gloucester, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth, spent four days in Bangladesh following a short visit to see a Habitat project in Sri Lanka.

In Bangladesh, the duke visited Habitat’s cyclone-response project in the south where 280 core houses are being built by Habitat and its partner Christian Aid Ministries. The project was started to help families who lost their homes during Cyclone Sidr that devastated southern Bangladesh in November 2007.

The duke was accompanied by Anwar Choudhury, the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Chris Austin, country director for Bangladesh, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Tim Khan, head of British Business Group, among others. They met with selected beneficiary families, visited a completed core house in Mirzaganj where 60 houses have been built.

The Daily Star, a local newspaper, reported the British High Commissioner as saying: ‘The UK has already provided US$22 million to Bangladesh for rehabilitating the victims of Sidr-hit areas and the trend of providing such assistance will continue in the future.’ Choudhury made the comment in cyclone-hit Majher Char island in Mothbaria subdistrict, Pirojpur district, where the duke was visiting a model village project by the British Business Group.

Later, the group travelled north to Savar subdistrict, about 24 km. northwest of the capital Dhaka. There, the prince was shown a house being built by local volunteers under Habitat’s Save & Build housing microfinance program.

Under Habitat’s Save & Build program, nine to 12 families form a savings group and save toward the cost of a house. When the savings group has saved one-third of a house’s cost, Habitat contributes one-third while Habitat’s partner or donor will come up with the remaining one-third. The savings group continues saving until all its members have received their houses. All the members of the group typically receive a house within 18 to 24 months.

He spoke with HFH Bangladesh’s staff on Habitat’s success in attracting local and international volunteers. The duke was no stranger to volunteering, having taking part in a Habitat build in the Tanzania village of Kitope, Zanzibar, in January 2008.

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Bishop Tutu opposes UNHRC seat for Lanka

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Nobel peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has said that Sri Lanka does not deserve a seat in the UN Human Rights Council due to its worsening human rights record.

"In the entire world, Sri Lanka stands out as the most clearly unqualified state seeking election to the council this year, and the place where things are getting unambiguously worse," he wrote in a opinion column that appeared on the web site of the Guardian Newspaper in UK on May 15.

Sri Lanka is heavily canvassing to retain its seat in the 47 member council with Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe leading a high ranking delegation to Geneva recently to lobby other member states.

Before Bishop’s Tutu’s opinion piece international human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International too had said that Sri Lanka should not get a seat in the council. The re-election vote will be held on May 21.

"Defeating the Sri Lankan candidacy would be a comfort to the people of Sri Lanka. It would place international pressure on the government to respect human rights, and to accept a UN human rights monitoring mission, which it has stubbornly refused.

"It would help make the council a place where true human rights leaders in all regions can help lead the world towards greater respect for human life and human dignity. An outcome, in short, that would benefit those who care about human rights in the world. Any other result would be a travesty," Bishop Tutu wrote.

He said that the country’s human rights record had worsened after joining the council two years back. "Sri Lanka has failed to honour its pledges of upholding human rights standards and cooperating with the UN since joining the council two years ago. Indeed, its human rights record has worsened during that time. The Sri Lankan idea of cooperation with the UN, meanwhile, has been to condemn senior UN officials (including the high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, and the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, John Holmes) as "terrorists" or "terrorist sympathisers."

He also blamed the government as well as the Tigers for abuses — "The systematic abuses by Sri Lankan government forces are among the most serious imaginable. Government security forces summarily remove their own citizens from their homes and families in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again. Torture and extra judicial killings are widespread. When the Human Rights Council was established, UN members required that states elected must themselves "uphold the highest standards" of human rights. On that count, Sri Lanka is clearly disqualified.

The separatist Tamil Tigers have used despicable tactics in their war against the government, including frequent suicide bombings. But that can in no way excuse the scale of government abuses, the Bishop has said.

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Pillayan faces defeat at first council meeting

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By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema, and Nirmala Kannangara

With the UPFA reduced to a minority in the Eastern Provincial Council following the resignation of three Muslim members headed by M.L.A.M. Hizbullah, the opposition was considering the possibility of defeating the administration at the first council meeting.

The UNP, SLMC and the three member group led by Hizbullah charged that Friday’s appointment of Pillayan as chief minister for the Eastern Province was unconstitutional since he did not command a majority in the council and that the possibility of defeating the UPFA at the first council meeting was under active consideration.

The crisis in the UPFA exploded on Friday when Hizbullah wrote to the Eastern Province Governor, Mohan Wijewickrema stating he along with two other members would function as a separate group in the council under Hizbullah’s leadership.

In the letter to Wijewickrema, Hizbullah has stated that the trio had not given their consent to the UPFA to appoint any nominee other than Hizbullah as chief minister and has also drawn attention to the fact that the UPFA did not command the majority in the council without the support of the three members.

President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday morning had met Hizbullah to discuss the crisis on the appointment of the chief minister.

Rajapakse had informed Hizbullah that Pillayan had to be appointed as the chief minister. Hizbullah after refusing to accept the President’s decision had also turned down Rajapakse’s offer to appoint Pillayan as chief minister for a period of two and a half years and Hizbullah for the remaining two and a half years.

Hizbullah told The Sunday Leader that at the meeting with the President he had requested Rajapakse to honour his pre-election pledge of appointing a nominee from the group that returned the highest number of members to the council.

"We asked him to give the post to us and said it was not right to appoint Pillayan. But the President said he had to appoint Pillayan," he said.

Hizbullah said Pillayan’s appointment was unconstitutional, as the UPFA has now been reduced to a minority in the Eastern Provincial Council. "The majority is now with the opposition," he said.

Hizbullah also said that they were now discussing the next course of action and said defeating the government at the first council sitting was a possibility.

Meanwhile, UNP General Secretary, Tissa Attanayake told The Sunday Leader that the appointment of the chief minister to the Eastern Provincial Council was unconstitutional.

Attanayake said that Pillayan’s appointment, as the chief minister was unconstitutional since the opposition held the majority in the council.

"As usual, the Mahinda Rajapakse administration has failed to abide by the law and the appointment of the chief minister has been done against the Provincial Councils Act. The UPFA won only 18 seats and since M.L.A.M. Hizbullah has now withdrawn his support to the UPFA with two other members they are not entitled to the two bonus seats. In this backdrop how could the President appoint a minority member as the Chief Minister," Attanayake said.

When queried whether there were plans to hold negotiations with Hizbullah, Attanayake said that the party has so far not decided on it.

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37 Prado jeeps for East PC members

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The government has ordered brand new Prado luxury jeeps for each of the 37 newly-elected councilors in the Eastern Provincial Council, according to government sources.

Without taxes, a Prado costs Rs. 2.5 million, but the normal market price is around Rs. 20 million.

The new councilors are also getting a new look provincial council building in Trincomalee, refurbished at a cost of more than Rs. 05 million, the sources added.

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Pillayan Group killed 2 police in B'caloa - Ranil

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The murder of two police officers for fearlessly opposing malpractices at the East PC polls are yet to be investigated, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has alleged.

Mr. Wickremesinghe said he had been told by top police officials that the Pillayan Group had shot the two dead in Batticaloa, one on the 15th and other on the 16th of May.

Speaking to UNP activists from the Central Province who campaigned for the party at the May 10th polls, he also said, "Yesterday (May 16th), a bomb exploded near Colombo Hilton. Police officers who had been protecting Pillayan and his councilors were targeted. We have doubts about the investigation into this bomb attack. According to today's Lankadeepa newspaper, the motorcycle used by the bomber had been owned by Vijayapalan Jinendran alias Jina, who works at Pillayan Group's office in Trincomalee."

"Yesterday afternoon, Trincomalee Police arrested Jina. But, this morning, the investigating team had been removed on the instructions of the Defence Ministry and Vijayapalan handed over to the TID. The Defence Ministry's intervention is suspicious. The government covered up the murders of T. Maheswaran and others. We suspect that the bomb attack investigation too, would be covered up," the Opposition Leader said.


"Sri Lanka has Asia's oldest police service. However, Rajapaksa's dictatorial fury is trying to destroy that police service. Therefore, all peace-lovers should unite to protect the country's police service for the sake of law and order and peace," he added.

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Five terrorists killed in Mannar

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Five LTTE terrorists were killed and ten were reported injured during confrontations on Saturday in the MANNAR area.

One (01) LTTE terrorist was killed and ten (10) other terrorists were reported injured in a confrontation with Troops on Saturday (17) in MURUNKAN NORTH, MANNAR while twenty five (25) anti - personnel mines were recovered and another terrorist was killed during a confrontation in DEVULKANDAN MANNAR on the same day (17). One more terrorist was also killed and two soldiers were also reported wounded in action in a confrontation at UYILANKULAM, MANNAR on Saturday (17).

Two more terrorists, one at VEDIYAMURIPPU and the other at PARAYAKULAM, MANNAR were reported killed at 6.10 and 6.25 respectively on Saturday (17).

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Biggest trade fair in Jaffna after seven years

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The improved security situation after seven years in the Jaffna peninsula has set the stage for the Armed Forces to hold the first ever, biggest trade fair and carnival in Jaffna.

Commander, Security Forces Headquarters - Jaffna Major General G. A. Chandrasiri told the Sunday Observer that normalcy has returned to the peninsula and the Security Forces are doing their best to maintain security and avoid LTTE infiltrations.

He said a small trade fair held two weeks ago attracted over 10,000 people.

Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri said that these events were organised by the Security Forces to change the mindset of the people in Jaffna who witnessed the gravity of the war for decades. Children in the peninsula have not enjoyed life for years and we want to change this too, he said.

According to Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri, the Jaffna peninsula is always a target of the LTTE and the terrorists try to infiltrate into the area but it is now a difficult task for them as security has been tightened to the maximum.

"I cannot give a 100 per cent assurance that Jaffna is free of LTTE cadres.

There may be sleeping cadres and people who do not want the LTTE to be in their areas will inform the Security Forces even if there is the slightest incident", he said.

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Omanthei Entry/Exit point opens for religious festival - Vavuniya

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Security forces have taken necessary steps to keep the Omanthei Entry/Exit point in Vavuniya opened for northward passage Sunday (18) from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

This special arrangement on Sunday was announced with a view to facilitating the passage of Hindu devotees in cleared areas to attend the annual religious festival at Vattappalai Kannakyabal Hindu temple in un-cleared area of Mullaithivu.

The Entry/Exit point is usually remains closed on Sundays.

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MI-24 gun ships raid LTTE tactical operation centre - Mannar

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Sri Lanka Air Force MI-24 helicopter gun ships raided an LTTE tactical operation centre located in general area Andankulam in Mannar front last night, May 17.

Air force spokesperson, Wing Commander Andrew Wijesooriya, speaking to defence.lk said that air sorties were carried out around 11.05 p.m targeting an LTTE tactical operation centre located about 3km north from the security forces' defence in Mannar front.

According to the initial ground fire experienced by the pilots it is believed that a large gathering of LTTE cadres was there when the time the target was hit, spokesperson added.

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Visiting Sri Lankan Minister Not to Raise Rizana Case

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Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News

Sri Lanka’s minister for foreign employment, who arrived in Riyadh yesterday, said he would not take up the issue of Rizana Nafeek, the Lankan maid who is on trial accused of murdering a four-month baby in her care, as the case is being heard by the Supreme Judicial Council.

“Sri Lanka respects the laws of the host country and it is not proper for us to take up this issue when Nafeek’s case is before the supreme court of the Kingdom,” Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka’s minister for foreign employment promotion and labor welfare, told Arab News as he arrived at King Khaled International Airport.

Saudi Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi and officials from the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh, headed by Ambassador Mohamed Ageed Mohamed Marleen, received the visiting minister, who is being accompanied by Kingsley Ranawake, chairman of the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE).

During his two-day stay in Riyadh, the visiting minister is expected to hold talks with Interior Minister Prince Naif, Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi and Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman. He will also visit the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) where he will discuss matters of mutual interest with RCCI President Abdul Rahman Al-Jeraisy and Saad Al-Badaah, chairman of the Saudi National Committee for Recruitment. He will also meet GCC Assistant General Dr. Abdullah Al-Hashim.

Explaining the purpose of his visit to the Kingdom, Rambukwella said that the Kingdom is home to more than 500,000 Lankan workers and that he is here to strengthen existing relations, explore new areas of cooperation in promoting employment opportunities and work for the welfare of Sri Lankan workers.

He pointed out that problems faced by Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom are minimal considering their number.

“The Riyadh mission records around 10 runaway housemaids a day and a good number of them are settled by holding negotiations with their respective employers,” he stressed.

The minister added that he also has plans to meet community members in the Kingdom to get a first-hand knowledge of their experience in Saudi Arabia.

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British royal prince visits Habitat’s projects In Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

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Nearly 20 years after a first trip to Bangladesh, a member of the British royal family and patron of HFH Great Britain returned to visit Habitat for Humanity’s housing and cyclone-response projects in the South Asian country.

Prince Richard, Britain’s Duke of Gloucester, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth, spent four days in Bangladesh following a short visit to see a Habitat project in Sri Lanka.

In Bangladesh, the duke visited Habitat’s cyclone-response project in the south where 280 core houses are being built by Habitat and its partner Christian Aid Ministries. The project was started to help families who lost their homes during Cyclone Sidr that devastated southern Bangladesh in November 2007.

The duke was accompanied by Anwar Choudhury, the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Chris Austin, country director for Bangladesh, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Tim Khan, head of British Business Group, among others. They met with selected beneficiary families, visited a completed core house in Mirzaganj where 60 houses have been built.

The Daily Star, a local newspaper, reported the British High Commissioner as saying: ‘The UK has already provided US$22 million to Bangladesh for rehabilitating the victims of Sidr-hit areas and the trend of providing such assistance will continue in the future.’ Choudhury made the comment in cyclone-hit Majher Char island in Mothbaria subdistrict, Pirojpur district, where the duke was visiting a model village project by the British Business Group.

Later, the group travelled north to Savar subdistrict, about 24 km. northwest of the capital Dhaka. There, the prince was shown a house being built by local volunteers under Habitat’s Save & Build housing microfinance program.

Under Habitat’s Save & Build program, nine to 12 families form a savings group and save toward the cost of a house. When the savings group has saved one-third of a house’s cost, Habitat contributes one-third while Habitat’s partner or donor will come up with the remaining one-third. The savings group continues saving until all its members have received their houses. All the members of the group typically receive a house within 18 to 24 months.

He spoke with HFH Bangladesh’s staff on Habitat’s success in attracting local and international volunteers. The duke was no stranger to volunteering, having taking part in a Habitat build in the Tanzania village of Kitope, Zanzibar, in January 2008.

Before leaving Savar, HFH Bangladesh’s CEO, Roger Bodary, thanked the guests for their visit and said: ‘When we help a community, a family build, we’re not just building a house, we’re building a home, we’re building up dignity’, said Bodary. ‘We have a saying at Habitat Bangladesh, when you give the gift of a home, you’re giving a gift for life.’

The duke also lauded HFH Bangladesh’s dedicated staff in recognition of Habitat’s increasing capacity in the country. Among those who left with a deep impression was the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Anwar Choudhury. He said: ‘To be able to provide a home at no interest, that is a marvellous thing, more people should know about it, and I will do what I can to tell them about it.’

The trip to Bangladesh included a courtesy call on the country’s President Iajuddin Ahmed.

Prior to Bangladesh, the prince had visited a 35-house project in tsunami-hit Kalutara, about 40 km. south of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo. Funded by the UK-based Christian relief and development agency, Tearfund, the US$240,000 project helps fishing families to rebuild their homes in Minnerithanne village.

While he was there, the duke officially handed over Habitat houses to four families. H.W.D. Ananda Abeywickrema and his family were among those who met the duke. The Habitat home partner said: "We were living in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps for three long years; the new house comes as a blessing, for my young daughter and son to live in dignity; it provides a conducive environment for them to further their education."

Before leaving Minnerithanne, the duke planted a sapling of the local tree called jak in the village. Not only can the fruit of the jak tree be consumed in different ways, its trunk yields solid wood that can be used for windows and doors and furniture - a ftting symbol of abundance for the tsunami-affected families rebuilding their lives.

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Police arrested owner of the motor cycle which used to detonate Friday's bomb

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Police reveal that the motorcycle of the suicide bomber involved in yesterday’s (May 16th) bomb explosion near the Colombo Hilton Hotel belongs to a associate of Pillayan named ‘Jana’.

A special police team in Trincomalee has arrested him under the suspicion last evening.Jana, resident of Palauththu in Trincomalee, is a prominent Tamil member of the TMVP and is currently engaged with a Muslim girl, a senior police officer said.
The owner was traced after investigating details on the motorcycle’s registration number with the Department of Motor Traffic.Jana is being questioned at length, reports say.

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Declare a general election- UNP

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UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, at a meeting in Kandy today, challenged the government to declare a general election if possible instead of holding ‘mini polls’ to evaluate the public opinion.

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LTTE terrorist killed, 63 AP mines recovered - Mannar

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An LTTE terrorist was reported killed by SL Army snipers deployed ahead of enemy defences in general area Alanakulama, Mannar yesterday(May 16), security sources said.

In addition an Army soldier was also reported wounded due to an AP mine explosion in general area Thrikethishwaran. The soldier was rushed to the general Hospital in Mannar for treatment, military sources said. Meanwhile, troops engaged in clearing operations in Thrikethishwaran have also recovered 63AP mines and 4 booby traps, sources further said.

SL Army yesterday handed over 7 LTTE bodies including 6 female bodies to the ICRC, later to be handed over to the LTTE at the Omanthai Entry/Exit point. According to military, the LTTE bodies were found left behind by fleeing terrorists following Army advances made in the Vavuniya and Welioya fronts recently.

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Army Commander visits Wanni

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To assess the military successes of troops in the Wanni war fronts, Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, accompanied by a few Senior Officers at Army Headquarters, visited Security Forces Headquarters Wanni (SFHQ-W) Saturday (17) morning

Wanni Commander Major General Jagath Jayasuriya welcomed the Army Chief to the SFHQ-(W). Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka met Senior Ground Commanders at the SFHQ auditorium where he was briefed on the updated security situation in different fronts.

Army Commander who reviewed the security in each area gave further instructions to Commanders of respective Divisions, Brigades and Units deployed under SFHQ-W on future security measures

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Troops reach to Palampiddi Junction - Vavuniya

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Security forces personnel engaged in counter terrorist offensives to liberate Wanni have reached to the Palampiddi junction this afternoon, May 17.

According to an initial report received from Vavuniya warfront said that troops reached to Palampiddi junction without much resistance as the LTTE terrorists fled the area when the security forces advanced into LTTE dominated Palampiddi area. Heavy confrontations took place in this area recently and 13 bodies of slain LTTE cadre were found in subsequent search operations conducted, sources further added. In addition, T-56 weapons, Multi Purpose Machine Guns (MPMG), T-81 weapons were also found in these search operations, sources added.

Troops now consolidating the area unearthing hundreds of anti-personnel mines and booby traps which were laid by the fleeing terrorists. With reaching the Palampiddi area, the war on terror to liberate Wanni civilians has also reached to a significance phase. The brave soldiers fighting against a ruthless terrorist organization, LTTE, in Vavuniya front are moving further towards LTTE terrain.

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FLAWED DEMOCRACY AND PROSECUTION OF WAR CANNOT WIN PEACE -NPC

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The suicide bombing in a busy street in Colombo’s commercial area of Fort, targeting buses in which riot police were stationed have killed at least 10 and injured another 95 including civilians passing by in the vicinity. The National Peace Council condemns this attack which has the hallmarks of the LTTE.

Sadly the blast took place in the heart of Colombo's business centre, in close proximity to the Hilton hotel and opposite a Buddhist temple. It took place at a time in which millions of Sri Lankans are preparing to celebrate Vesak, the day of the birth, Enlightenment and passing of Lord Buddha, whose foremost precepts were to not take life and to meet hatred with love. Ironically, the police personnel were stationed for riot duty in view of the inauguration of the administration of the newly elected Eastern Provincial Council at the Presidential Secretariat nearby and a demonstration by the opposition parties against the manner those same elections had been held.

The Provincial Council elections and the local government elections held earlier in the east were deeply flawed.They highlighted the disappointing status of democracy in Sri Lanka despite over seventy five years of universal franchise. The people living in the Eastern province failed to experience free and fair elections that could have facilitated a credible process of devolution of power. It is now the responsibility of the government and provincial administration to ensure that development of the east will go hand in hand with the protection of human rights and human security in these areas.

The National Peace Council expresses our condolences to the victims and their families. We call upon both the Government and the LTTE to end their reliance on a military solution and, in this Vesak period, to contemplate the path of negotiations based on human values and principles of non-violence to ensure the best interests of the people they claim to represent.

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Media activists complain against defamation

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By Kurulu Kariyakarawana
Three leading media activists representing organisations fight for media freedom and rights lodged a complaint with the IGP yesterday against a defamatory article published in a weekly newspaper, “Lanka Irida Sangrahaya” last week.

Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association President Sanath Balasuriya its Secretary General Poddala Jayantha and President Federation of Media Employees Trade Union Dharmasiri Lankapeli lodged a written complaint to Police Chief Victor Perera.

The complaint was against an article published in “Lanka Irida Sangrahaya” on May 11, Sunday under the heading of “Mahinda Chinthanayen Lake Housiyath Kapothi”.

President SLWJA Sanath Balasuriya told the Daily Mirror yesterday that the article had ghastly insulted the above mentioned three persons for representing and taking perks from certain NGOs which allegedly aid and abate the LTTE.

He said the article had caused an unnecessary dangerous environment for them by labelling them as LTTE sympathisers.

“This also conveys to the people in the country a wrong picture about us, having dedicated ourselves to fight to achieve media freedom and rights in Sri Lanka”.

“As a result of the article we have already received several telephone calls with death threats which we have complained to the IGP,” Mr. Balasuriya said.

He further said that it is no secret that many persons were enraged and threatened us time to time for the protests and demonstrations we organised related to the media rights and freedom. As a result the danger we already face in our lives is not simple, he stressed

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Visitors from 5 nations may get visa on arrival

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NEW DELHI: The government is considering visa-on-arrival facility to citizens of Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Maldives and the Philippines. The facility would be offered on a reciprocal basis, ensuring that Indian citizens also get a similar benefit in these countries. At a recent meeting between intelligence agencies, and the tourism home ministries, details have been worked out to allow visa-on-arrival at major international airports.

This concession would be extended later to 18 other countries who do not offer this facility to India. Tourism ministry officials said providing visas on arrival would not be a problem since advance passenger information system is in place at the 6 major international airports. “The home ministry has cited some security issues in allowing visa-on-arrival to the nationals of all 18 countries. Therefore, chances are that the facility would be provided to only those countries which offer reciprocal benefit to Indian tourists,” a source in the tourism ministry said.

Sources said the home ministry has agreed to consider implementation of visa-on-arrival gradually. However, the facility would not be extended to all categories of travellers and countries due to security reasons. The ministry had earlier been against the very idea of visa-on-arrival.

The government is now considering visa-on-arrival to citizens of the US, Japan, France, Germany, New Zealand, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Vietnam, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and the UK. A liberal visa regime will facilitate business visits to India which, in turn, will boost foreign investment.

The government feels that by mid-2009, infrastructure at major airports like Delhi and Mumbai will have been upgraded to handle tasks related to issue of visas. At present, the infrastructure at major airports is inadequate for providing visa on arrival.

The visa-on-arrival list initially had 16 countries, which has now been enlarged by including the US and the UK. A final decision on the list will be taken shortly. While India has always refrained from issuing visas on arrival, this facility has been extended to certain categories of visitors in special circumstances. In December 2004, the government had announced visa on arrival at Wagah border for certain categories of Pakistani travellers.

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SLAF raids Iranamadu runway - Mullaittiuvu

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The Sri Lankan Air Force fighter craft made precision air sorties at the Iranamadu runway this evening in Mullaittiuvu, Air Force sources said.
According to the sources, the target was engaged following information received of intensified LTTE activities at the location.

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India behind Pillayan’s appointment: JVP

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JVP MP Vijitha Herath said today the appointment of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan as the Chief Minister was a fulfillment of Indian interests, and the government had sown ethnic discord among the communities in the East through this exercise.

Meanwhile Anura Kumara Dissanayake says in an interview with the ‘Lakbima’ newspaper and commenting on whether it was wise to vest the East with police and land powers, the JVP MP said, the Eastern PC polls were not called to defeat terrorism or to establish democracy.

It was chiefly done on the influence of the Indian government; he said adding that India has already devoured the bulk of Sri Lanka’s economy, he added.

Currently, India is preying upon several small, medium and large-scale businesses and has its eyes set on the crude oil deposits as well. To attain their goal, they must intervene and create a suitable political environment in the country, the JVP politburo member said.

By means of war, they got involved in the country’s politics by taking measures to secure the East coast as well as by providing arms and technical equipment, he added.

Their influence on Sri Lanka’s politics is so vast that they even compelled us not to purchase arms from other countries, Dissanayake said.

Now that terrorism in the country has weakened, the possibility of Indian intervention through the war has minimised, the JVP MP said.

India has already managed to own a vast amount of land in Sampur, Nilaweli and Pulmudai, abundant in mineral deposits, he added.

Police and land powers are to be granted to continue this practice. This is disastrous and must be stopped immediately, he said, adding that the government is attempting to betray the lands that were liberated by the security forces.

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Grenade explosion in Vavuniya injures 17 civilians

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Seventeen civilians, including six women and two children were injured in a grenade explosion in Bazaar street, Vavuniya around 11.00a.m. today (May 17th), defence sources say.

Reporting the incident, ‘Tamil Net’ said that the injured included three children and six women.

“The police alleged that the grenade was lobbed by attackers who targeted a Special Task Force (STF) vehicle, but the grenade missed the target and exploded on the road,” the website added.

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Tissa passes 47

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Kandy District MP and General Secretary, United National Party (UNP) Tissa Attanayake is 47 years old today (17).

Born at Uduwawala near Katugastota in Kandy, on May 17, 1961, Tissa Attanayake received his schooling at Uduwawala, Handaganawa and Morayaya schools. He graduated with a Commerce Special degree from the University of Kelaniya and took to politics joining the UNP political activities as an assistant to Harsha Abeywardena and Ranjan Wijeratne, Chairman and Secretary respectively of the UNP.

Attanayake was elevated in the party by being appointed as the chief organiser of Udadumbara in January 1989. At the election on February 02 1989, he was elected to Parliament as the UNP MP for Udadumbara, and retains the seat.

He has been a Member of Parliament for 19 consecutive years.

He held the Portfolio of Higher Education from 1993 and Central Region Development Minister from 2001.

Attanayake was Secretary of the Kandy District Branch of the United National Party and later became Chairman of the Branch.

Tissa Attanayake was appointed General Secretary of the UNP on October 19, 2006 at the 58th convention of the party.

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Court Issues order to preventing the erection of Vesak Pandal

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Mt.Lavinia Magistrate Harsha Setunge yesterday issued an order preventing the erection of a Vesak pandal on Dehiwela Station Road on an application made by Dehiwala Police.

Police made the application citing the "Public Nuisance" Laws.The Magistrate allowing the application prohibited any construction taking place at Station Road’s ‘Vesak Zone’.

Earlier, notice was issued on DIG (Western Province) to appear in Court yesterday. Chief Inspector Wasalatantri representing the DIG submitted that buses ply along Station Road. In addition, government buildings are also situated along the road. A terrorists attack would cause loss of life and damage to property which Police might not be able to prevent.

OIC Ranjith Kottachi submitted that the SSP had been informed about the construction of the pandal. Already four bombs have exploded in the area. Intelligence reports warn of terrorists activities. If the request of respondents is allowed, Police would be hard pressed in performing their duties.

Attorney at Law Ravi Matugama appearing for respondent Sunethra Ranasinghe, the Mayor of Dehiwela-Mt.Lavinia Municipal Council, in his submissions described the erection of a pandal as a peoples’ effort and that police objections were based on an erroneous basis. A pandal is a public necessity, he submitted.

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Hizbullah to file court case against appointing Pillayan as CM

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Claiming that Pillayan does not command a majority in the Eastern Provincial Council to be appointed as its’ Chief Minister, member of the Eastern PC, M.L.A.M. Hizbullah has decided to take legal action against the appointment, ‘Lanka Dissent’ reliably learns.

In addition, United National Party and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress members of the East PC are planning to bring a no-faith motion against the provincial Chief Minister at the council’s inaugural meeting, sources add.

With the faction led by M.L.A.M. Hizbullah deciding to function as an independent entity in the Eastern Provincial Council, a crisis has risen regarding the balance of power in the East PC.


Speaking to media a senior Muslim minister said that though the inaugural meeting of the Eastern Provincial Council is to be held on May 21st, it may be postponed due to this imbalance of power.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

SLMC wants Independent Commission before next polls

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By Kelum Bandara
The SLMC yesterday decided to talk to other political parties including the JVP and the LSSP with a view to filing a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a ruling for the government’s full implementation of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution before another election is announced.

The SLMC had obtained the consent of the UNP for this purpose and the party’s Deputy General Secretary Nizam Kariapper said the SLMC hoped to come to an agreement with the other parties by next week and the petition would be filed the following week.

Mr. Kariapper said free and fair elections could never be held without the functioning of the Independent Police Commission, the Public Service Commission and the Election Commission as envisaged under the 17th Amendment

“We experienced this situation at the May 10 Eastern Provincial Council election where government thugs had a free run in unleashing violence against opposition members,” he said.

Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) Co-convener Paikyasothi Saravanamutthu said the implementation of the 17th Amendment was absolutely necessary for a number of reasons.

He said last week’s provincial council election only reinforces the need for such Independent Commissions.

The People’s Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) another election monitoring body, welcomed the SLMC’s decision to file a petition in the Supreme Court.

PAFFREL Chairman Kingsley Rodrigo said there was no reason for the President to continue delaying the appointment of the Constitutional Council as all obstacles have been cleared.

“The present Elections Commissioner wants to retire. But sadly he is unable to do so given the absence of the Independent Elections Commission,” Mr. Rodrigo said.

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LTTE aircraft sighted

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An LTTE air craft was detected by the air defence system yesterday evening over the LTTE built Iranamadu runway, military sources said.
A senior Air Force official told media that the air defence system had detected the LTTE aircraft soon after, it was airborne. “However it immediately disappeared from the radar system, as it went down,” the official said.

A few weeks ago an LTTE air craft bombed the Welioya forward defence lines injuring one soldier.

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A series of protest campaigns against recent EP polls

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UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake , said , this Govt. has no capacity to do anything legal and honest ,whether it is administration, development or in the conduct of elections. It thrives only on murder, mayhem, corruption and malpractices. The Eastern Provincial Council elections bore all those hallmarks, he added. At the last Presidential elections it entered into a pact with the LTTE paying them billions of rupees betraying the country, and won. This time it entered into an alliance with the TMVP, the LTTE breakaway group and scraped a narrow victory at the EP polls.
This Govt. created a record for breaching the laws most in a democratic election. Using State property, Govt. vehicles, intimidatory tactics, murder and mayhem. Can you imagine the President, he highest in the hierarchy of the country openly violating the election laws by making an election campaign speech on the eve of the elections, he asked.
The non-implementation of the 17th amendment of the constitution by the President is to permit these violations, Attanayake said. By all this the President has only achieved his ambitions together with Pillayan . But, what about the people who were expecting relief from the liberation accomplished by the Forces by their sweat and sacrifices after 20 years.
To beat this tyranny and lawlessness this Govt. and its Pillayan ally are spawning aimed at destroying the basic and birthrights of the people, the UNP has decided to take several measures in the interests of all communities and the country such as to file Court action against the unlawfully conducted elections, To whip up support of the International community against the despotic and dangerous trends in the county by apprising the Foreign Ambassadors and foreign missions.
A series of protest campaigns are to be organized around the country starting on Friday.
The UNP is also to agitate for the re opening of Parliament which is now prorogued by the President without valid grounds, so as to debate these issues. All provincial Councils and District Councils are also to be alerted to these issues with a view to finding a solution to remedying the corrupt, tyrannical and un democratic activities of the Govt. he said.

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Lanka Dissent hacked & disrupted

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Editorial of the 'Lanka Dissent' news website said it has been experiencing technical disruptions since this morning (May 16th). The editorial said it is a clear political attempt to silence their voice against biased reporting.

The LD editorial requests the freethinking public to consider this as yet another instance of grave violations of media freedom.

Since the inception, their site has been facing threats from the government and other war mongering factions.

After failing in their attempts, they have now resorted to technically disrupt the LD website.

In a letter to Free Media Movement Convener, Sunanda Deshapriya today, Chief Editor of LD Indika Gamage calls for speedy intervention in this matter.
“We wish to stress that this cannot be a ‘lone hacker’ enjoying his/her exploits. We have reason to believe this is an attempt in blocking local news going out into the local and the international community. This is an attempt at suppressing the remaining independent part of the Sri Lankan media and thus a serious infringement on the right for information and expression, said Indika Gamage
Chief Editor of the www.lankadissent.com

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Pillayan -First Chief Minister for EP

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Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan was sworn-in as the Chief Minister for the Eastern Province before President Mahinda Rajapaksa this evening.
Three other provincial councilors also took their oaths, as cabinet of ministers despite M.L.A.M Hisbullah was absent. They are T.Navaratnarajah, Wimalaweera Dissanayake and M.Uduma .
After swearing in ceremony Minister Athaullah welcomed the newly appointed Chief Minister.
Chandrakantha obtained the highest number of preferential votes from the Batticaloa District in the recently concluded Provincial Council elections.

Meanwhile Chief Minister aspirant and Batticaloa strongman M.L.A.M. Hizbullah said that it's illegal for Pillayan to take oaths as CM since he doesn’t command a majority in the UPFA team.

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Pillayan - new CM EP

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Mr.Pillayan took oaths as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council in a short while ago.

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Police begins investigations

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Extensive investigations are now being commenced on the suicide bomb attack occurred at Colombo Fort this morning.
Police Media spokesman Senior DIG N.K. Ilangakoon said the Colombo Crime Investigation Division and the Fort Police conduct investigations according to the instructions of CID. The Government Analyst has also concluded his investigation. It is being identified the motorbike which the suicide bomber had travelled has been registered in the Eastern Province. The registered number of the bike is EP MX 3875.
The bomb which is believed to be weighed two to three kilograms had been planted in the oil tank of the bike. The investigations have revealed it contained high explosives and large number of iron balls. The police say body parts of the suicide LTTE cadre have also been recovered.
Meanwhile Director of the Colombo National Hospital Dr. Hector Weerasinghe says nine persons have been killed from the incident and seven of them are policemen. Out of them three are Woman Police Constables. 94 injured persons have been admitted to the hospital. 30 of them are Police officers and six of them are Army personnel. Dr. Weerasinghe said 58 civilians have also been injured by the incident.
Ten persons are in critical condition. The bus of the Police Riot Squad which was used to provide security for a demonstration of the United National Party against the Eastern Provincial Council Election caught in the suicide attack. Police say 15 more vehicles have also been damaged by the bomb blast.

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Pillaiyan – Hisbulla clash develops

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(Lanka-e-News, ) The function scheduled for today (16) for the official swearing in of Pillaiyan as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province was postponed due to the protest of the Muslim Ministers of the government.

The President was in a lengthy discussion with 11 Muslim Ministers and the MPs last evening (15) and they pointed out that they could not face their people if Pillaiyan was appointed as Chief Minister.

The President held discussions with Muslim MPs and Ministers as a group and individually. They have said that the Muslim councilors will act independently in the Provincial Council.

Sources from Temple Trees said that the government Provincial Councilors had been informed to arrive in there between 1.30 and 2.00 PM today (16) to swear in on auspicious time of 2.07 PM.

Pillaiyan Group won the maximum number of seats as a party in the Eastern Provincial Council. He won 06 seats while SLFP won 05, Athavulla 04 and Hisbulla 03. There are 08 Muslim MPs in the UPFA but Hisbulla’s group has only 03 while Athavulla faction has 04.

However, the Mawlavis in the Eastern Province insist that Mr. Hisbulla should be granted the Chief Minister post. It is reported that the politicians in the Eastern Province will be unable to engage in politics if the requests of the Mawlavis are not granted.

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President condemns LTTE bomb attack

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The LTTE has once again demonstrated to the world its total commitment to violence and terror to achieve its separatist goals in Sri Lanka, and its absolute contempt for democracy and human rights, The President stated while expressing his condolence to the families of those many killed and wounded in the LTTE's latest carnage today.
He also requested all the citizens to remain clam and to be provoked by this display of its unmitigated terror.
Full text of the communiqu‚ issued by the Presidential Secretariat :
I hasten to unreservedly condemn the latest act of cowardice and brutality by the LTTE, in exploding a bomb that has killed and injured many civilians and police personnel, in Colombo, today.
I wish to first extend my sincere condolences to the bereaved families of those killed, and call upon blessings for a speedy recovery to all those injured in this act of wanton savagery.
With this bomb attack on a busy street, the LTTE has once again demonstrated to the world its total commitment to violence and terror to achieve its separatist goals in Sri Lanka, and its absolute contempt for democracy and human rights.
Repeated savagery of this order underlines and reiterates the need for concerted action by all those who cherish democracy, human rights and the values of civilized society, to eradicate the menace of terrorism of which the LTTE remains the bloodiest example today.
While understanding the deep shock and revulsion felt by all at this loss of life and limb caused by the LTTE, I call upon the people to remain calm and not be provoked by this further display of its unmitigated terror. Your continued patience and restraint in the face of such undisguised savagery is the best way to assist the Security Forces to succeed in their operations to defeat terrorism in our country.

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Pillayan’s oath taking unconstitutional – Hizbullah

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Hours before the installation of Pillayan as the Chief Minister of the East M.L.A.M Hizbullah along with two other elected Muslim members from Batticaloa to the Eastern Provincial Council have informed the Governor-East that they would not support Pillayan in the council and would function as a separate group.
He said that it's illegal for Pillayan to take oaths as CM since he doesn’t command a majority in the UPFA team.

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Government announces a Wesak Week

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The government has announced a Wesak Week from 18th to the 24th of this month.
It has also announced to close down all liquor bars, betting centers, casinos and social clubs from 18th to the 20th . Places of slaughter and meat sales outlets will also be closed down from the 18th to 21st.
Series of Buddhist programmes organized annually by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress in connection with the Wesak Festival will be conducted at the Bauddaloka Mawatha in Colombo from 19th to 22nd of this month.
Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation is the audio media sponsor of this event. The Lakbima newspaper provides the print media sponsorship.
The Wesak Mihira exhibition motorcade , which commenced journey from Ruwanwella this morning will reach Kurunegala this evening. The tour has been organized by the Shanthi Foundation and the Seruwila Buddhist center under the sponsorship of the Presidential secretariat.

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Death toll rises-96 wounded

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
The Police say around 96 people were injured and 10 were killed due to the suicide bomb blast .The bomb squad said that the motorcycle which was fitted with 7kg of explosives was driven into a parked police bus carrying policemen to provide security for the UNP protest to be held today at Maradana.
The police confirmed that 9 including 7 police personnel were killed. Minister Gamini Lokuge’s driver is also among the dead.

Latest casualty’s figures reveals that out of the 9 people dead, 2 were civilians and 7 were policemen. Furthermore out of the 7 policemen killed, 3 of them were Policewomen constables and 4 were policemen.

Director General National Hospital Dr. Hector Weerasinghe said that, over 90 people have been already admitted to the National hospital. Sixty two (62) civilians, 30 Police and 3 Army personnel were among the casualties received, he was quoted as saying.

The blast comes in the eve of the Vesak week, which was declared by the government starting from today.

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Police Sergeant killed in LTTE attack- Mannar

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A Police Sergeant has succumbed to injuries on admission to the general hospital at Murunkan this morning (May 16), after been shot at by LTTE gunmen in general area Malavarayan-Kaddaiadampan, along the Vavuniya- Mannar main road.

The victim identified as Sergent Preethirathne, 47, was shot by unidentified LTTE gunmen at around 10.45.a.m., Murunkan Police sources said.

Investigations are on progress, Murunkan Police sources further said.

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SLAF pounds Sea Tiger base in Vettilaikerni

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Sri Lanka Air Force fighter craft engaged an LTTE sea tiger base South of Vettilaikerni in general area Mulliyan this morning, May 16.

The targeted LTTE sea tiger base was located in Kaddiyankadu, 2 Km south of Vettilaikerni and 1Km from the coastal belt, Air Force spokesperson said. The air sorties were launched around 6.45 a.m., and the target was accurately hit, he further said.

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Seven killed -50 injured

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A bomb exploded near Lake House at around 12noon, today (May 16). According to the available information, a motor bike riding LTTE suicide bomber had rammed into a bus carrying Police personnel at the Ceramic Junction, near Lake House.Around fifty people injured and seven were killed due to the bomb blast ..

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Provincial ministers for the Eastern Provincial Council will be sworn in today

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
The Presidential Secretariat says provincial ministers for the Eastern Provincial Council will be sworn in this evening.The ceremony will be held around 4. 00 pm at the Presidential Secretariat.
However there is no news about Chief Ministership , said sources. Yesterday a government spokesman said TMVP leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan would be sworn in as chief minister of the Eastern Province .
Later the government postponed the swering in ceremony. The latest reports reveal that the new Chief Minister of the Eastern Province will be sworn in today at 4 PM Sri Lanka time. Still Presidential secretariat has not anounced the name of the Chief Minister designate. So who is he? – Sivanesathurai Chanthirakanthan nom de guerre Pillaiyan? or M.L.A.M. Hizbullah?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bomb blast in Colombo

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Bomb blast in FORT, Colombo, a short while ago.Wait for details .

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PC shot dead in Batti

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A police constable, attached to the Kattankudi police station in Batticaloa was shot dead a short while ago, the Police said.

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"LTTE still uses Tamil Nadu as supply base"

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The Centre has extended the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as an unlawful association by two years. The notification to this effect was issued on Wednesday, according to a Home Ministry release here.
The LTTE, an association based in Sri Lanka, has sympathisers, supporters and agents on Indian soil. The group's objective for a separate homeland for all Tamils threatens the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, the notification said.
It said the LTTE continues to be an "extremely potent, most lethal and well organised terrorist force in Sri Lanka and has strong connections in Tamil Nadu and certain other pockets of southern India."
The LTTE also continues to use Tamil Nadu as the base for carrying out smuggling of essential items like petrol and diesel besides drugs to Sri Lanka.
The notification said the LTTE will continue to remain a "strong terrorist movement and stimulate the secessionist sentiment to enhance the support base of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu as long as Sri Lanka continues to remain in a state of ethnic strife, torn by the demand for Tamil Eelam which finds strong echo in Tamil Nadu due to the linguistic, cultural, ethnic and historical affinity between the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka."
The LTTE, led by V. Prabhakaran, has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by several countries including the U.S. It was also involved in the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in May 1991.

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JVP forcibly entered house of a former JVPer

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Former JVP activist Sampath Ketape-arachchi says two armed individuals of the JVP forcibly entered his home yesterday and harassed his wife before taking away several confidential documents.
He said confidential documents pertaining to JVP MPs Sunil Handunneththi and Wijitha Herath were taken away in this manner. Mr. Ketape-arachchi said he personally knows the two intruders and made a complaint to the Welikada police.

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Air force fighter jets have pounded of an LTTE camp

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Air force fighter jets have pounded of an LTTE terrorist operational camp at the West of Nayaru lagoon in Welioya. Air force spokesmen wing commander Andrew Wijesooriya said that the attacked was launched at around 7.30 last evening.
The place is located 6 kilometres north of the Welioya forward defence line. The Air force spokesmen said the camp could be identified as a meeting place for LTTE leaders and combat troops.
He said the air strike was targeted accurately and was a success. Intelligent reports confirmed the location prior to the attack.

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Chief Minister race still on the way-swearing in ceremony postponed

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The swearing-in ceremony of the new Chief Minister for the eastern province scheduled to take place tomorrow before President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been postponed, the Presidential Secretariat said.
According to the government sources there is yet no consensus reached in the discussions between the Muslim Ministers and the President on who should be the Chief Minister. The Muslim Ministers have been pushing for a Muslim Chief Minister on the basis that no constituent party of the UPFA would be able to do politics in the East if a Muslim is not appointed the Chief Minister, when the majority members elected are Muslim.
While the President had been in consultation with Muslim Ministers on a ‘one to one’ basis and with no possibility of arriving at a decision, it is reported, the President has decided not to name the Chief Minister for now. Meanwhile President Mahindha Rajapakse summoned a meeting of Muslims ministers in his government for a crisis meeting to discuss the post of chief minister of the East.
However minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said the government would announce name of the Chief Minister on Friday.

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Sri Lankan students safe

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A group of Sri Lankan students of the Sichuan Medical University are safe and have been evacuated from the earthquake hit province in China, the Foreign Ministry said.

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Army Commander Reviews Security Situation in Jaffna

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Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka in an attempt to take an overall stock of the latest ground situation flew to Jaffna this morning, May 15, with several senior military officers of the Army Headquarters.
Commander, Security Forces Headquarters - Jaffna (SFHQ- J) Major General G A Chandrasiri after receiving the visiting Army chief gave a detailed outline of the security developments unfolding in areas under his command. All respective Commanders in Divisions and Brigades joined him afterwards to brief the visiting commander on the current situation.
After reviewing the present security situation in the areas under SFHQ(J), Army chief gave additional instructions to all senior ground commanders on future security arrangements in respective areas.

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Terrorists suffer heavy losses in clashes - Vavuniya

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Sri Lanka Army soldiers yesterday (May 14) found five bodies of female LTTE cadres along with 5 T-56 rifles, after hours long clashes occurred in the Periyamadhu area on the Vavuniya warfront. According to the defence sources in the front, heavy clashes had prevailed between 8.30- 10 am as troops continued to march ahead into the LTTE dominated Wanni territory.
The terrorists had showered mortar fire on the charging soldiers but failed to halt them, the sources said. One soldier was killed, one reported missing in action and four others suffered injuries in the incident, the sources added.
Elsewhere, troops confronted with a group of terrorists around 2 pm and claimed at least 4 LTTE cadres were killed. One soldier suffered injuries in this incident.
In a similar incident at Palamodai troops attacked two fortified LTTE bunkers around 3.50, last evening. Ground sources have confirmed that 6 LTTE cadres were killed in the incident. Army suffered no damages.
Separately, a sniper deployed in the Palampiddi area claimed to have shot down one terrorist around 11.15 a.m. One solder suffered injuries due to an Anti Personal (AP) mine explosion in the same area on the same day evening.
Meanwhile, Army Electronic Warfare (EW) cells based on radio monitoring reported that terrorists had transferred 8 of its cadres to Molangavil government hospital in the non liberated area, out of which 3 had died at the hospital.

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Government categorises GS divisions by its poverty level

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Grama Niladari Divisions of the country have been categorised according to their levels of poverty.
The Department of Census and Statistics has compiled a report depicting these levels of poverty.
The report was presented to Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake at his office recently by Director General of the Department G.B.T.S. Vidyarathne. Deputy Director of the Department Dr. Amara Satharasinghe said the report will be useful for regional planning, poverty eradication programmes and the allocation of Development aid.

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NFF misled & booked BCIS as venue for inauguration

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'Lanka Dissent'

The newly-formed National Freedom Front has reportedly misled officials and fraudulently booked the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies as the venue for its inauguration.

The date had been booked by the Manel Mal Movement, purportedly for a meeting of intellectuals to discuss support for war heroes.

The NFF held the first delegates' conference, chaired by its leader Wimal Weerawana, at the BCIS on May 14th.

According to the institution's constitution, the BCIS cannot be given for any political activity.

Executive Director of the BCIS Bandula Ekanayake told 'Lanka Dissent' that the NFF had committed a serious fraud, and that disciplinary action would be taken against the officials responsible.


Our attempts to contact BCIS Director Dr. Tusitha Tennkoon and NFF spokesman Jayantha Samarawera were futile.

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EP Chief Minister will be named tommorrow.

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
Eastern Province Chief Minister to be named tommorrow.This was stated by Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa at the weekly cabinet press briefing held at the Department of Information this evening.
However rumours are spreading about appointing of the Chief Minister .According to the news reports TMVP Leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan, is tipped to be appointed as the Eastern Province Chief Minister despite requests by Muslim ministers to appoint M.L.A.M. Hizbullah to the post.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had, on Tuesday, contacted two senior Muslim ministers and told them that the controversy over demands that Mr. Hizbullah be made the Chief Minister should be resolved before his return to the country from Britain, scheduled for yesterday.

President Rajapaksa had also expressed his disappointment to the ministers over comments by Mr. Hizbullah to the effect that he was confident of being appointed to the post.

“The President told us to resolve the matter before his return to the country,” one of the ministers said, adding that the President had said he did not want to come home and face a ‘disaster,’ with Hizbullah or the Muslim ministers. He had said that Pillayan was tipped to be appointed to the post.

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Prorogation hampering parliament business - DEW

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Prorogation is no doubt hampering the parliamentary business but nobody could blame President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the present prorogation as it is a prerogative vested with the Head of State by the Constitution, Constitutional Affairs and National Integration Minister D.E.W.Gunasekara said.

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Objections to the NFF 'Crown' symbol

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An organization committed to protecting the national heritage of the country has objected to the adoption of the ‘Crown’ as the party symbol by the newly formed political party ‘National Freedom Party’.

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Sri Lankan caught with drugs at airport

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Kuwait : Customs officials at Kuwait International Airport foiled a Sri Lankan boy’s attempt to smuggle 10,000 narcotic pills into the country.
Security sources say the contraband was hidden inside his hand language.
The drug pusher, who was coming from Colombo, was referred to Drugs Control Department.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shashi devastates Wimal’s efforts

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(Lanka-e-News, ) Shashi, the spouse of MP Wimal Weerawansa is a frequent focus of media criticism. However, Lanka-e-news never posted news on personal affairs of any person since it was our policy.

However we publish this story pertaining to the inappropriate behavior of Mrs. Weerawansa at the inaugural congress of National Freedom Front (NFF) since it is a moral issue.

Mrs. Weerawansa who arrived in the congress late, took a seat allocated for clergy next to Maha Sangha including Bangamuwe Nalak Thero. She was unaware that her seating manner was odd not at this meeting but at anywhere else in this country.

One participant of the congress said that Wimal Weerawansa who is educating the nation the ethics, patriotism etc. could have begun them from home.

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TIME APPEAL FOR RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS-NPC

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The killing of Maheswari Velayutham takes away from the political community another strong personality who headed the Forum for Human Dignity and was also closely associated with the EPDP, a former Tamil militant organisation that is now with the government. She had escaped previous assassination attempts and was aware of the threats to her life, but this did not dissuade her from continuing her work for the rights of the people in Sri Lanka.The National Peace Council condemns the assassination of this activist who assisted victims of war and participated in programmes we organised and who shared her anguish about the war trap that the parties to the conflict were in. In addition, several accounts of human rights violations involving Tamils in the context of the war are being reported by the media.

A tragic example recently highlighted in the media is the rape of two teenage girls and the abduction of one of them in Kalmunaiin the presence of their family on the day of the Eastern Provincial Council elections when the presence of security personnel in the area on guard duty was very high. The family alleges that armed men came in a white van who committed the crime on their children. When the mother wentto the police station to make a complaint the police reportedly sent her away on the grounds that most officers were on election duty. Later that same night the men returned and took the elder girl away. She is missing since then. The fact that the police refused to accept their complaint indicates state culpability in the practice of impunity.

In addition, contradicting the claims that abductions and disappearances of Tamils in Colombo have come to an end is the disappearance and abduction in the heart of Colombo of Sinnathurai Varatharajan, a highly reputed tuition master from Jaffna and his cousin. They were allegedly taken away by armed men in uniform who came in a white van. Witnesses were told that they were being taken away for questioning, but they have not reappeared. The National Peace Council appeals to the government to ascertain their whereabouts and ensure their safe return to their families.

We also call on the government to re-organise the security apparatus so that human rights violations listed above do not take place with impunity. The Government should do away with the culture of impunity. It is the bounden duty of any state to protect all its citizens. The state by its failure to protect Tamil civilians may give a message to the world that it is the state of the ethnic majority and excludes the Tamils which can bolster the claim to a separate state among the International community.

Finally, we appeal to the government to immediately release senior journalist and human rights activist, J S Tissainayagam, who has now been in government custody for over--- Mr Tissainayagam was detained on the allegation that he had connections with the LTTE. But so far the government has not charged him in a court of law. During the period of the Ceasefire Agreement and peace process from 2002-06, there were many, especially journalists, who made contact with the LTTE for legitimate and peaceful purposes.

As the country prepares to celebrate the holy day of Vesak, we cannot forget that Lord Buddha preached compassion and respect not only for human life but also for the lives of animals. May the spirit of compassion enter the hearts of our country’s decision makers, and may the wisdom of our religious tradition guide them to show their compassion to the victims of human rights abuses, and motivate to solve the country’s problems without harming the lives of innocent Tamil civilians.

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Terrorists suffer heavy losses in clashes - Vavuniya

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Sri Lanka Army soldiers yesterday (May 14) found five bodies of female LTTE cadres along with 5 T-56 rifles, after hours long clashes occurred in the Periyamadhu area on the Vavuniya warfront. According to the defence sources on the front, heavy clashes had prevailed between 8.30- 10 am as troops continued to march ahead into the LTTE dominated Wanni territory.
The terrorist had showered mortar fire on the charging soldiers but failed to halt them, the sources said. One soldier was killed, one reported missing in action and four others suffered injuries in the incident, the sources added.
Elsewhere, troops confronted with a group of terrorists around 2 pm and claimed at least 4 LTTE cadres were killed. One soldier suffered injuries in this incident.
In a similar incident at Palamodai troops attacked two fortified LTTE bunkers around 3.50, last evening. Ground sources have confirmed that 6 LTTE cadres were killed in the incident. Army suffered no damages.
Separately, a sniper deployed in the Palampiddi area claimed to have shot down one terrorist around 11.15 a.m. One solder suffered injuries due to an Anti Personal (AP) mine explosion in the same area on the same day evening.
Meanwhile, Army Electronic Warfare (EW) cells based on radio monitoring reported that terrorist had transferred 8 of its cadres to Molangavil government hospital in the non liberated area, out of which 3 had died at the hospital.

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Outcome of Eastern PC election is message of freedom from East to North

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Government Defence spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told media that the outcome of the Eastern Provincial election is the message of freedom and democracy sent by the Easterners to their brethren in the North. He said that the people in the East have clearly rejected Prabhakaran's desire to create a mono ethnic separate homeland for Tamils but embraced the democracy. The Minister made these comments addressing at the weekly media briefing held at the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), Colombo.
Recalling the Indo - Sri Lanka peace pact signed by late president JR Jayawardane and Late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Minister pointed out that the Provincial council system was originally introduced as a probable solution to the ethnic issue but none of the previous governments could implement it in the areas where its is really intended for.
The Minister further said that the present government has not only liberated the Eastern province from the clutches of terrorism but also launched a massive development program in the area which had been long neglected by previous governments. While doing so, the Minister said that the government has now given the political freedom to the easterners by conducting, the local and provincial council elections peacefully. He added that the elections have created a history as a group of former LTTE cadres had abandoned terrorism and joined main stream politics to achieve their missions.
He further said that election itself was a unique achievement in that the people who were denied the basic fundamental right of franchise did exercise the right after a lapse of 30 years, many for the first time in their life.
Commenting on the opposition's allegations over the election that it was not a free and fair one, the Minister told that the any party has democratic rights to make any such comments, but highlighted that it a natural occurrence in the political field in Sri Lanka to see the defeated parties blaming the winning party. However, he hoped that the opposition would be fair enough to highlight the LTTE terror attacks that had been launched to cripple the election with the other violent activities that it is going to take up in future.

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Police seek order against Vesak celebration

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The Mount Lavinia Magistrate issued summons on the Dehiwala – Mount Lavinia Mayor and the Secretary of the Dehiwala Mercantile and Industrial Association to appear in court sequel to an application filed by the Dehiwala police against a Vesak festival named “Sesi Vesak Puravaraya – 2008.”
Dehiwala police had complained that the festival could be a threat to public security and could block the highway and cause traffic jams, and asked that an order be issued preventing the ceremony. Police had filed an application in court to issue an injunction preventing the Secretary of the Dehiwala Mercantile and Industrial Association and the Mayor of Dehiwela – Mount Lavinia from holding the festival.
Chief Magistrate Harsha Sethunga ordered the police to hand over the summons personally.
The police had asked court to act on the relevant section of the Criminal Procedure Code to prevent a threat to public security.

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Mahinda set stage for UPFA to violate election laws

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– Attanayake
by Zacki Jabbar
President Mahinda Rajapaksa by making an election speech on the eve of the Eastern Provincial Council Election(EPCE), set an example for UPFA candidates to violate all laws and win the EPCE hook or by crook, the UNP said yesterday.
General Secretary of the UNP, Tissa Attanayake addressing a news conference in Colombo, said that UPFA candidates having observed the manner in which the President of the country circumvented election laws and campaigned on their behalf, used all State resources at their disposal to defraud the UNP-SLMC of a certain victory."
"The entire might of the government was unleashed on opposition candidates contesting the EPCE. Ministers, Government MP’s, the armed TMVP and their goon squads moved about like a small army, terrorising and assaulting anyone who was opposed to them."
The EPCE, was a re-enactment of the November 2005, Presidential Election which Mahinda Rajapaksa won by entering into a secret agreement with the LTTE, he alleged."The only difference this time was that his partner in crime was the TMVP, who just like the LTTE, helped prevent a UNP victory by resorting to intimidation and violence."
Attanayake, said that they would not only challenge the EPCE verdict in courts, but also enlighten the international community of the threat to democracy by the Rajapaksa Government.
"In addition, a series of street protests would be launched, the first of which will be held in Maradana on Friday."
Demanding that Parliament be reconvened immediately, he urged the Speaker to permit a debate on the election fraud foisted on the eastern people,who had waited patiently for 20 years to elect the leaders of their choice.
"We will also move for debates on the EPCE in provincial, district and local bodies."

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LTTE conscripts children who failed O/Ls - Military spokesman

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Army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara says the operations to liberate the northern province are carried on successfully. The security have already consolidated their powers up to Adampan in Mannar and Palampidi in Vavuniya.
The security have achieved their forward defence in five kilometres ahead in Trincomalee. According to the intelligence information of the army the LTTE is in a severe shortage of their carders. The spokesman further added the LTTE are now engaged in recruiting the children who failed the GCE O/L examination last year. He made these statement in a news briefing held in Colombo today.
He also reiterated the LTTE are involving such obstructing to the education of innocent poor children.He revealed that the LTTE terrorist have started to conscript children in Mulaithiuvu and Kilinochchi districts who had failed in last GCE ordinary examinations in 2007. Citing the military intelligence sources, he said that the terror outfit has banned all the children in the areas still under its domination from sitting the examination for the second time. He disclosed these facts speaking at the weekly media briefing held at the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), Colombo this morning (May 14).

Speaking further he revealed that 358 civilians of non liberated Wanni had sought protection from the Security Forces since January 1 , 2008. Also , he said terrorist numbering 368 had been killed and another 438 wounded in counter terror offensives conducted since May 1. Commenting on the security forces' deaths and casualty figures, he said 41 soldiers had been killed and another 155 have suffered injuries during these operations. Further, 17 civilians had been killed and 39 others wounded in terror attacks during this time, he added.

LTTE is a ruthless terror outfit that has been blacklisted under the UN list of shame for using children as armed combatants for years. The GCE (Ordinary Level ) examination is the first educational qualification that all Sri Lankan schoolchildren should acquire, if they are to follow higher education. Sri Lanka though a country that provides free education from kindergarten to the university for all, the people living under the jackboot of LTTE tyranny have been robbed of their opportunity to educate their children as the terror chief V. Prbhakaran has been using the Tamil children as cannon fodder for almost 3 decades.

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Measures will be taken to rapidly develop the areas in the north

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Minister Nation Building S.M. Chandrasena says that measures will be taken to rapidly develop the areas in the north which are being liberated by humanitarian operations against the LTTE.
The development process is carried out under the programmes of Jathika Saviya and Maga Neguma. At a media briefing held today he said that 400 million rupees have been allocated in developing activities in Vavuniya district.
Attention will be paid to enhance the basic needs of roads, education, health and houses. Financial allocations have been made to construct bunkers in Athawatunuwewa, Janakapura, and Kalyanapura. At present 248 bunkers have already been constructed in Athawatuwewa area.

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India views Sri Lankan rebels as threat

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NEW DELHI, May 14 (UPI) -- India says the air capability of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels could pose a threat to vital southern installations.

Interior Minister Shivraj Patil, addressing a New Delhi seminar organized by the Interior Ministry, expressed concern over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's reported air capability.

He said the government would take all steps to protect atomic energy installations and ports. Patil said the government was aware of the need to provide foolproof, multilevel security for key atomic plants, establishments of the Indian Space Research Organization and other institutions across the country, The Hindu reported Wednesday.

"There is a need to pool our efforts, have better coordination and upgrade our technological skills to secure our installations, which are critical to our country," he said.

The LTTE is fighting for a separate homeland for the ethnic Tamil people in the north and east of Sri Lanka, India's southern neighbor. India has its own large Tamil population.

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Army gains further ground as clashes continue in Mannar and Welioya

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Army soldiers venturing out further northwards from the recently liberated Adampan town, in Mannar captured an LTTE trench defence and a fortified strongpoint located in the Minukkal area this morning (May 14).
According to the defence sources on the Mannar battlefront, the soldiers advanced about 2.5 km northwards from Adampan town and captured the terror strong point around 11.45 am after a heavy gun battle. Ground troops have confirmed at least 4 terrorists were killed in this incident. During the subsequent search, a body of an LTTE cadre have been found along with a T-56 riffle, an RPG weapon and 3 RPG bombs.
Elsewhere, on the same front , a sniper reported to have killed one LTTE cadre detected in the Alankulma area around 10.40 am. Troops engaged in clearing operations reported to have removed 54 anti personnel mines , three booby traps and found 8 hand grenades from the same area during the day.
Meanwhile, on the Welioya front, troops advancing into the Mulaithiuvu district, attacked an LTTE trench defence this afternoon, said the defence sources. Following the attack troops found a body of a female LTTE cadre along with T-56 weapon, 2 hand grenades and ammo.

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Wanni Liberation; 11 terrorists killed yesterday's clashes

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Finalized military reports received from the Wanni and Jaffna warfronts yesterday (May 13), indicate that 11 terrorists were killed and at least 17 others suffered injuries in the day's offensives. Another 22 cadres were reported to have either killed or wounded. In addition, 10 soldiers suffered injuries during these clashes
and admitted to hospitals.

In the Jaffna theatre of battle, troops launched an attack at a terror group detected in the Muhamalai front last morning and claimed that one terrorist was either killed or wounded.
A sniper deployed in the Eluthumaduwal area claimed that one terrorist was killed on
the same day evening. Further, one soldier suffered injuries due to an Anti Personnel (AP) mine explosion at Muhamalai last morning and was admitted to Palaly military hospital.

In the Wanni theatre of battle, troops engaged terror strongholds in all three battlefronts i.e. Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya throughout the day.
On the Vavuniya front, troops confronted with a group of terrorists detected in the
Chinnavalayankaddu area in the forenoon and claimed 2 terrorists were killed and 10 others were injured. In addition, one soldier suffered injuries and was taken to immediate medical attention.

Separately, snipers deployed in the Sivaravankulam, and Mundumurippu areas claimed
to have killed 3 terrorists during the day. 2soldiers suffered injuries due to terror mortar fire and another in AP mine explosions in Navavi, Sivaravankulam and Palaimodai areas respectively. The injured were transferred to Vavuniya and Anuradhapura hospitals.

Meanwhile, troops extending their lines further into the LTTE dominated territory found a vacated terror bunker in the Vairavarpuliyankulam area along with 9 Arul
Bombs, 25 hand grenades, and 1 claymore bomb.On the Mannar front, a sniper deployed in the Alankulama area claimed to have killed one LTTE cadre last morning. Later, one soldier suffered injuries in a confrontation occurred in the Nedunkandal area. On the Welioya front, troops had daylong clashes in the North of Janakapura, Kiriibbanwawa, Andankulama, and Vadukkanari area and claimed 4 terrorists were killed and at least 7 others were injured. In addition, in the same clashes it was reported that 21 terrorists were either killed or wounded. 3 soldiers suffered injuries due to AP mine explosions and another due to terror small arms
fire.

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NPM divided into two groups?

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National Patriotic Movement [NPM] is divided into two groups.Gunadasa Amarasekara and some of leading figures of NPM are supported Werawansa and Rev.Dambara Amila and some regional leaders of the PNM support the Somawansa faction.It came to light today at the inaugural meeting of the JNF [ political party of the Wimal Weerawansa faction] held in Colombo.
In a separate media briefing held in Colombo today Rev. Dambara Amila of the PNM critisised Gunadasa Amarasekara's actions on the JNF.He said Mr.Amarasekara is acting without consulting the other PNM members , he said.This situation shows the PNM is not addressing their main aim such as the defeat the terrorism and to educate public on terrorism .

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Dilan wants 1 bonus seat given to a Tamil

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Minister of Justice Dilan Perera wants one of the bonus seats the UPFA has won at the East PC polls given to a Tamil candidate to realistically represent the interests of the community in Trincomalee.

In a letter to the party's General Secretary Susil Premajayantha, Mr. Perera says the 48 per cent of Tamils in the district are not properly represented at the provincial council.

It has only two Tamil councilors, both elected from the UNP, out of a total of 10.

While noting that he strongly opposes the consideration of ethnicity in any matter, Minister Perera says he wants to see the hand of friendship is extended in all honesty to the Tamil people of Trincomalee through the implementation of his suggestion.

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Dessidents start their new party

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The inagural meeting of the representatives of National Freedom Front is now being held at the BMICH under its President Wimal Weerawansa.
The founding members of the Front, intellectuals, artistes and senior leaders representing patriotic forces have participated in the meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Mr. Wimal Weerawansa said the front could be introduced as a new political movement needed for the present society.
This movement crops up to provide solutions to challenges facing the country at present. He further said it is important for the front to respond to the accusations raised by some forces.

Chief Secretary of the Front Nandana Gunatilleke, said the political parties which are not ready fulfill the aspirations of the people will be defeated.
He said the failure of the JVP to gain power in the country even after 40 years portrays their inability to identify the pulse of the people.
He also added that the biggest mistake they made recently was not being a stakeholder of the Rajapakse government.

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We would have got more seats - Dayaratne

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There was no rapport between the UPFA and the UNP Democratic group during the Eastern Provincial Council election and the UPFA would have won a few more seats if there were consultations between the two groups, Plan Implementation Minister P. Dayaratne said today.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dialog TV announces the first Twelve Winners

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Twelve lucky winners walked away with fabulous prizes as Dialog TV announced the first winners of the “Little Box of Big Surprises” promotion, at an awards ceremony held at the Dialog TV Head Office, with one lucky winner walking away with a million rupees!

Dialog TV commenced the “Little Box of Big Surprises” a nationwide promotion on 01 March for the very first time since Dialog TV commenced operations last year. The promotion was carried out throughout the months of March and April. The first prize was One Million rupees while the other prizes included a 32” LCD TV, home theatre systems, Dialog Broadband connections, weekend holiday packages, CDMA phones and mobile phones. The winners were selected on a random selection basis through an automated system.

“The ‘Little Box of Big Surprises’ was a very exciting promotion for us, and today we successfully conclude the very first promotion”, said Mr. Nushad Perera, Chief Executive Officer of Dialog Television speaking on the occasion. “There was a tremendous response from customers to this promotion, which has exceeded our expectations. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our twelve lucky winners, and restate in confidence that we will continue ‘Little Box of Big Surprises’ promotion every month, continuing to add value and excitement to all DTV subscribers.”

“Keeping with the name of the promotion, it was actually a ‘big surprise’ when Dialog TV called me and told me that I won the first prize. I am very thankful to Dialog TV for carrying out people oriented promotions of this nature” said Mr. Rohan Irugalbandara, Managing Director of Alliance Five (Pvt) Ltd, who was the winner of the Grand prize of One Million rupees. “Dialog TV offers a variety of channels, and it is great to see a lot of new local channels being incorporated into the lineup of channels,” he further added.

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Sri Lanka plans to celebrate the Vesak festival in a grand scale

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Buddhists are preparing to celebrate the Vesak festival in a grand scale. Arrangements have been made all over the country with meditation and pinkamas.
In the city of Colombo Vesak pandals are being erected. The All Ceylon Buddhist Congress has made arrangements to celebrate the Vesak from 18th to 22nd at Colombo Bauddhaloka Mawatha.
The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and the Lakbima Newspaper are the sponsors. The SLBC also has made arrangements to broadcast various programmes to mark the occasion.
Meanwhile the Shanthi Foundation of the Seruvila Buddhist Centre in Colombo has organised a Vesak show at Ambalangoda. The Presidential Secretariat has sponsored this programme.

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Air Force bombs key terror training facility - Kilinochchi

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Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets bombed a key LTTE training facility located at Kollanvillu , 4 Km South of Mulankavil in the Kilinochchi district this morning (May 14).

According to the Air Force sources, few air sorties were carried out between 7.15 - 7.30 am targeting the LTTE camp. The sources said that the target has been registered by the defence intelligence authorities after thorough ground surveillance. The target was effectively acquired, the sources added.

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9 LTTE terrorists killed, over 13 wounded in Wanni fighting

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At least 9 LTTE terrorists were killed, over 13 others reported wounded when troops clashed with LTTE at the Wanni theater of battle on Monday (May 12), security sources said.

According to reports received, an LTTE terrorist was killed during fighting ensued with troops at the Vavuniya front in addition to an Army casualty reportedly caused due to an AP mine explosion. On the Mannar battle front 6 terrorists were killed and 5 others wounded, what ground troops described 'sporadic clashes' in general areas Alankulama, Udiyadi, Kaddpulama, Pikkulama and Sirumullikankandal. Two soldiers were also reported wounded in general area Kaddpulama.

Meanwhile, at the Welioya front military sources said that, 2 LTTE terrorist were killed and 8 others injured in fighting ensued between troops and LTTE in general areas North of Janakapura and North of Kiriibbanwewa. Three soldiers were also wounded during the fighting, military sources further added.

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If Sri Lanka fails against LTTE then the world fails against Terrorism – Mahinda Rajapakse at Oxford Union

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Calling it the plain truth President Mahinda Rajapaksa said if Sri Lanka failed in her war against the LTTE the world will fail in its fight against terrorism and democracy will be victim addressing the Oxford University Student Union.

“The LTTE is the most brutal terror outfit the world has ever seen and defeating them requires global support. What Sri Lanka is doing is fighting the terror outfit single handed to ensure that democracy and respect for human life prevail in the world,” the President said.

Calling the LTTE the main obstacle to development in Sri Lanka the President said, it is time the world raising its united voice express its utter revulsion of the barbaric practice of suicide bombings and that form of political expression, if it could be described as such is utterly unacceptable in the civilized world.

Speaking to a packed house of Britishers and expatriate Sri Lankans the President pointed out at the Oxonians like the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike whose wife was the first woman Prime Minister of the world and the late Laxman Kadirgamar who was brutally assassinated by the LTTE.

Sri Lankan Society President Dilan Fernando and his members were joined by Pakistani, Palestine, Indian Society members in felicitating the President. Thai Society also sent their delegation to the audience.

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SB claims UNP would have won EPC polls had he led campaign

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Had he been given a chance to lead the campaign for last Saturday’s Eastern Provincial Council polls, the UNP would have recorded a landslide victory over the Government, UNP National Organiser S.B. Dissanayake said yesterday.

"Allegations of intimidation of UNP activists during the campaign are on record. I know how to win elections under such threatening situations. But I was denied an opportunity. The East would have been in the UNP’s hands if I had been given the chance to lead the campaign," the seasoned campaigner lamented.There was no point in accusing the winners of malpractices after losing an election. "What matters at the end is the victory," he said.

The UNP had a golden opportunity to grab the floating votes, especially after the JVP crisis, but threw it away.

"The JVP’s campaign was in disarray and the UNP could have exploited the opportunity to muster these votes. Instead, it now seems that those who were disgusted with the JVP had voted with the Government," Dissanayake said.

Dissanayake was scheduled to leave the country yesterday for the United States to attend to a matter related to his son’s education. His son is studying in the USA.

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Expatriate assaulted in FTZ

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By Poornima Weerasekera
An Indian owned company in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone has come under a series of attacks and intimidations allegedly by the free trade zone mafia.

“The General Manager of the company was a victim of a surprise assault, when an employee entered the GM’s office premises about 10 days ago and was attacked with a steel rod. The assaulted expatriate manager from India was hospitalized and was later discharged,” a company spokesperson said.

“There was no labour dispute or any other form of unrest in the organization at the time. The attack came as a surprise and we are still unable to determine the cause of the attack. The perpetrator of this attack, who was absconding from the Katunayake Police was later taken into custody and has been released on bail,” she said.

However, the spokesperson said a group of five unidentified persons had entered the FTZ on the night of May 12 and had tried to assault another expatriate official who resided in the factory.

“The person has run and hidden behind a tank. It had been difficult to identify the persons in the dark but the attackers were armed. The ability for outsiders to enter the FTZ, sheds light on a serious loophole in the special security provided for the zone,” the spokesperson said.

This incident had occurred in the immediate aftermath of another event, where residence of 5 expatriate workers from India and Nepal, employed in the factory concerned was surrounded by about 12 armed men.

“Now these people have fled their residences and are in hiding. The factory management has approached the Board of Investment and also informed the Indian High Commission about this series of intimidating events. However, now we are facing a difficult situation because if the expatriate workers opt to go back to their countries we might have to shut down the factory,” the spokesperson added.

The Officer in Charge of the Katunayake Police was not available for comments.

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Roshan Peiris passes away

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Veteran journalist Roshan Peiris passed away yesterday at the age of 78.
Widow of the late Denzil Peiris who was a former editor of the Sunday Observer and the Roshan founder-editor of Sinhala evening daily “Janatha”, Roshan was among the first women to enter the field of journalism in Sri Lanka.

A graduate of the Peradeniya University Roshan began her journalistic career at the Sunday Observer at the age of 24, Denzil Peiris was the editor of this newspaper. She later served on the editorial of the Sunday Times. Roshan leaves her daughter Savithri and sons Suren and Ranjith.

Her remains now lie at No. 318/8, Swarna Place, Nawala. Cremation will take place at the Borella General Cemetery at 4.00 pm tomorrow.

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Dauglas’s consultant shot in Jaffna

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EPDP leader Dauglas Devananda’s consultant Maheshwari Velayuthan was shot in Jaffna and has been rushed to hospital for treatment.

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Ceyva Fund expands its services to serve rural masses

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo

Ceyva Fund expands its arm to serve rural masses providing energy, clean drinking water, basic healthcare, and affordable housing coupled with business solutions .Its CEO Mr. Arvind Navaratnam said the Ceyva Fund empowers and strengthens underserved segments of the Sri Lankan population by using entrepreneurial solutions to catalyze rural development while providing philanthropists and the Sri Lankan Diasporas an opportunity to transparently invest in and support apolitical, sustainable, rurally-oriented enterprises.
Ceyva uses a venture capital model of strategic investment to improve socioeconomic conditions in vulnerable communities throughout Sri Lanka by making primarily equity investments in rural enterprises providing critical goods and services to the poor and larger enterprises with a direct social mission.
“Over the past year we have seen an acute need for investment in rural projects that provide energy, clean drinking water, basic healthcare, and affordable housing coupled with business solutions and expertise.” The Ceyva Fund, led by Arvind Navaratnam, CEO, Chandra Ranawickrama, Country Director, and Asangi Jayasinghe, Director Business Development are leading the charge to provide this solution.
The Ceyva Fund, an international non profit humanitarian organization headquartered in the United States and Sri Lanka has moved its Sri Lanka office to a larger office at 13/2, 1/1, Pelawatta Mawatha, Nugegoda.

CEO of the Ceyva Fund, commented that the Ceyva Fund moved to larger offices to house its growing team, reflective of the acute need for Ceyva’s unique model in the country. “Sri Lanka’s underserved want to solve their problems, they just need help” commented Mr. Navaratnam.
For more information about the Ceyva Fund, log on www.ceyvafund.org.

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Govt. won't spend on expatriating non-registered migrant workers – SLBFE

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SLBFE Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka said that the Government will not spend a single cent in expatriating Sri Lankan migrant workers stranded in Kuwait or any other Middle East country unless they have got themselves registered before migration.

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JHU against giving land and police powers to East

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While Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that Eastern province will be given land and police powers, the Jathika Hela Urumaya told media today that they are against the idea of giving these powers to the Eastern Provincial Council.

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Sri Lanka to give US$ 100,000 to Myanmar

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Financial aid worth US$ 100,000 will be given by Sri Lanka for cyclone victims in Myanmar through the Norwegian embassy, minister Lakshman Yapa announced at a press conference today.

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'Stop LTTE from raising funds' urges Consul General- Toronto

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(By: Bandula Jayasekara - Consul General for Sri Lanka -Toronto)

Though more and more Sri Lankan Tamils and Sri Lankan/Canadian Tamils have begun to oppose and stand up against the extortion and harassment meted out to them by the LTTE-front organizations in Toronto, many still live in fear because these front groups threaten to harm relatives in Sri Lanka, states Council General for Sri Lanka in Toronto in an article forwarded to the Canadian 'Globe and Mail' news portal on Tuesday (May 13).

The Council General's statement follows the crack downs made on the LTTE front organisation - 'World Tamil Movement' by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) last month.

The RCMP has filed documents in court seeking authorization to seize the World Tamil Movement's bank accounts, who are said 'busy fund raisers for the internationally banned terror outfit'. WTM is alleged of intimidating, extorting and fundraising from the 250,000 strong Tamil community in Canada to assist the LTTE, a terrorist organisation whose suicide bombings and political assassinations have killed 4,000 people in the past two years.

Following is the full text of the article.
I have received many complaints from frightened Sri Lankan Tamils on how they are being harassed by the LTTE in Toronto and the surrounding area (Sri Lanka's Model Democracy Is Being Ravaged By War - May 12).

Though more and more Sri Lankan Tamils and Sri Lankan/Canadian Tamils have begun to oppose and stand up against the extortion and harassment meted out to them by the LTTE-front organizations in Toronto, many still live in fear because these front groups threaten to harm relatives in Sri Lanka. Many of them are forced to take part in demonstrations against Sri Lanka, including old ladies and children. I wonder how many Canadians, including Bob Rae, are aware of LTTE's Grandma Brigade, where they train grandmothers to use weapons.

If Mr Rae , for whom we have great respect, and his colleagues were to tell LTTE groups and supporters, "Stop raising funds here. Force your leader to end terrorism in Sri Lanka" It would help bring peace, and the model democracy in Sri Lanka would flourish.

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Indian professionals to enter Lankan services sector

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Talks for an agreement on enhanced market access for service sectors between India and Sri Lanka are at an advanced stage and are likely to be concluded by the month-end according to a report by an Indian business publication.

The two countries had entered into a free trade agreement (FTA) covering goods that became operational since March 2000. The FTA will be upgraded to a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that also covers services and investments.
"We hope to conclude negotiations by the end of this month. If that happens, the deal could be signed by August," said an Indian government official.
However, the provisions in the proposed agreement may be toned down, as Sri Lanka is currently not comfortable in opening up its services sector.
Sources said Sri Lanka wants to adopt a gradual opening of its services sector. "They want to give access to mode 4 services covering movement of professionals, only when mode 3 services covering firms opening affiliates abroad are allowed," the official said.
This implies that Sri Lanka is not open to giving access to Indian professionals like doctors or architects. However, if an Indian firm opens a branch in Sri Lanka, Indian professionals can join it. However this is expected to met with stiff opposition as professionals in Sri Lanka’s near saturated services sector had already expressed their aversion to the proposed move.
The negotiations on the CEPA had hit a roadblock last year, as India felt that the Sri Lankan offer was not adequate.

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US and European envoys meet Ranil and Rauff

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Diplomats from US, German, British, Italian and Swiss missions in Colombo met UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem at the UNP leader’s residence this morning to discuss the Eastern PC polls.

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Inaugural convention of JNP

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The inaugural convention of the Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (National Liberation Front) the new political party of the JVP breakaway group that includes Nandana Gunatilleka and Wimal Weerawansa will be held at the Bandaranaike Center for International Studies (BCIS) tomorrow (14).

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Bridge under troubled waters

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The much-loved story of Ramayana, a famous epic of ancient India, is as timeless as history itself. It is a story of courage that embodies a moral code of ethics and culminates in the triumph of good over evil. In dance performances depicting Rama's life, the story tells of how the demon king, Ravana, uses trickery to kidnap Lord Rama's wife, Sita, and how Rama, with the help of his army of monkeys, builds a bridge of stones from India to Sri Lanka to rescue her.Ram Setu, meaning Rama's Bridge (also known as Adam's Bridge) is the name given to the narrow ridge of sand and rocks between Sri Lanka and India which may or may not be the mythical bridge. For the majority of Indians on the subcontinent and countless more worldwide, particularly across South-East Asia, the 48-kilometre-long underwater feature is physical evidence of the Ramayana and hence has huge cultural significance. The name Adam's Bridge indicates that Christians and Muslims may have reason to revere the bridge.

But now it needs rescuing. The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project has started dredging the sunken causeway with the aim of reducing travel time for ships going from the west to the east coast of India. Dredging began two years ago and already 20percent of the bridge has been destroyed. However, after fierce criticism, the project stalled in 2007 and is yet to restart. Perhaps Rama's monkeys are lending a hand again.

The bridge has been mentioned in many historical documents and 12th century maps including those of Marco Polo. He called this area Setabund-Rameswara, which means a bridge constructed at Rameswaram, reinforcing the belief that this structure is the ancient bridge.

In 2002, a NASA satellite produced images of what looks like a string of pearls connecting Rameswaram off the south-eastern coast of India with the north-west of Sri Lanka. The question being asked is, "Is it a natural phenomenon or the remnant of something man-made?"

Calls for the preservation of the bridge have come from various groups including naval cartographers and shipping specialists who question the usefulness of dredging when the resulting canal will be just 12metres deep, and only small and medium-sized vessels will be able to use the new passage.

The worldwide trend in shipping is to larger ships because it is more economical. The Panama Canal allows vessels of 90,000 tonnes and the Suez 120,000 tonnes - but the maximum for the Sethusamudram would be 30,000 tonnes.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Tamil businessman shot dead by LTTE gunmen- Jaffna

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Alleged LTTE gunmen shot and killed a Tamil businessman, owner of a communication center at Pothapady Road in Kokuvil East, Jaffna yesterday (May 12) evening.
The victim identified as Mahendran Paramanathan, 36, was shot by alleged LTTE gunmen who stormed into his communication store at around 7.p.m. The gunmen were on motor bikes and have immediately fled the area, Jaffna Police said citing witnesses.
According to relatives Mr. Paramanathan sustained severe gunshot wounds and succumbed to injuries after been rushed to the Teaching Hospital in Jaffna. LTTE operatives are alleged to have increased extortions from Tamil businessmen discretely through intimidations as reported by Police sources.
Earlier, on 9th May LTTE gunmen similarly shot dead a Tamil businessman in general area Nallur at Kopay in Jaffna, as he was said to have refused paying ransom to the terrorist operatives.

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More civilians fleeing LTTE held areas seek Government protection

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A group of civilians fleeing LTTE held areas in Kilinochchi reached the Fishing Marshalling Point at Pallimunai in Mannar, jointly manned by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Police, seeking the protection of the government security forces yesterday, May 11.
The group comprising of five, belong to four separate families, reached to the security forces controlling area in two separate occasions yesterday, sources said.
Firstly, a youth, aged 18, who had reached the Pallemunai Point said that he escaped the LTTE controlling area to avoid terrorists' forceful recruitment and intimidation.
Later, a mother, aged 40, and her son, aged 21, along with another two youths arrived Pallemunai Point on sea route in a local fishing boat, sources further added. The two other youths who had been living under pressure were 17 and 21 in age. During the primary investigations the escapees stated that they fled due to lack of basic needs in LTTE held areas and to avoid forceful recruitment.
Security forces personnel have provided all the necessities for the escapees and steps have already been taken by the government officials to provide safe shelter for them.

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Four embassies raised money to defeat govt – Champika

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Four embassies raised money and gave it a Colombo based businessmen to help defeat UPFA at the Eastern PC polls and the same countries which have realized they have been placing bets for the wrong horse all these days are now issuing statements criticizing PC election, Minister of Environment Champika Ranawaka said.

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No major incidents - PAFFREL

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: Except for certain violent incidents including a bomb attack carried out by the LTTE targeting innocent civilians on the eve of the election at a restaurant in Ampara, no major incidents took place in connection with the Eastern Provincial Council Election, People’s Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) Chairperson Kingsley Rodrigo said yesterday.
“After nearly two decades for the first time a free and fair election was held in the Eastern Province”.
He said nearly 60 per cent cast their votes to elect their representatives to the Eastern Provincial Council.
Addressing the media at the National Library and Documentation Services Board Auditorium, Rodrigo said there were a large number of rejected votes out of the votes cast. He said a ship was also was sunk beyond the Trincomalee sea area.
He said 83 complaints had been made to PAFFREL in connection with the election violence. Most had been made by UNP-SLMC combine. Nearly 25,000 police officers had been deployed along with the Armed Forces to ensure security of the candidates and voters.
Malaysia based National Institute for Electoral Integrity Chairperson Yunus Ali said Saturday’s election was the symbol of the restoration of peace and democracy in the Eastern Province after two decades. He said candidates without any fear was able to carry out their election propaganda campaign throughout the province.

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Nedumaran arrested

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Pazha Nedumaran, leader of Tamil Nationalist Movement (TMM), and 350 party workers were arrested for organising a protest in front of the Collectorate here on Monday against the killing of the fishermen of Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy.

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Prisons chief denies attack on prisoners

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The Prisons Commissioner General denied allegations that a group of Tamil political prisoners were assaulted after being transferred to the Boossa prison. He also said that prisoners were temporarily transferred to Boossa and Mahara prisons for security reasons.

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68 Tamil prisoners transferred to Boosa and assaulted - TNA

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TNA MP N. Srikantha claims a group of 68 Tamil political prisoners had been transferred to Boosa from the magazine prison in Welikada and assaulted.

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Policeman shot dead

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A police Sergeant was shot dead and another injured when the LTTE pistol gang fired at them this evening at Arasadi junction in Batticaloa, police said.

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AEO says the Eastern Provincial Council Election was free and fair despite Opposition allegations

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Asian Election Observers Society says the Eastern Provincial Council Election was free and fair.
Head of the observers Tericita Liyoko says the people in the province voted in the election with much eagerness. She pointed out the people in the province has realised the importance of restoring democracy in the area.
Mrs. Liyoko made these remarks at a media briefing held in Colombo this morning.
The observers group includes members from ten countries.
Democratic Left Front says although there were few shortcomings in the eastern provincial council election the UPFA had claimed a clear mandate.
Secretary of the party Vasudeva Nanayakkara in a press release points out the public had taken the maximum advantages from the opportunity they have obtained after 20 years.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party Women’s Organization notes the results of the election have clearly indicated the people of the eastern province have approved the government’s measures to develop the eastern province.
Meanwhile the main opposition United national Party said it would not accept results of the Eastern Province election .
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem addressing a joint press conference in Colombo today said both parties would get onto streets to protest against gross malpractices that took place at the Eastern Provincial polls.Speaking to media Mr.Wickramasinghe said it is not a free and fair election .
He said the elections commissioner should have rejected ballots where poll rigging and malpractices were reported.Wickremesinghe added that he would take to the streets with a public backing to secure democracy.

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Chief Minister of the Eastern Province will be named soon-Government

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The government says the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province will be named within the next few days.
The Chief Minister will be nominated after discussions with the representatives of parties who contested for the election under the ticket of United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance.
President Mahinda Rajapakse is due to call discussions with the representatives shortly.
Speaking at a media briefing held in Colombo this morning Minister Maithreepala Sirisena said an agreement was made in this regard before the election.
He noted victory of the Eastern Provincial Council Election is the greatest achievement made by President Mahinda Rajapakse during his tenure of last two and half years.

Speaking on the occasion Minister Rajitha Senarathne pointed out Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan had achieved a mandate, which could not claimed by Prabhakaran. He also pointed out the number of votes won by United National Party in the Presidential Election has been decreased in this provincial council election.
Meanwhile, Minister Dalas Alahapperuma emphasized it is the objective of the government to empower provincial councils according to the 13th constitution amendment.
He also disclosed final report of the All Party Representative Committee is due to be issued by the end of next month or the first week of July.

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President will address the Oxford Union

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President Mahinda Rajapakse will address the Oxford Union tomorrow on the invitation of the Oxford Union and the Sri Lanka Society of Oxford University.
The topic of his address will be the “strategy towards empowering the rural economy of Sri Lanka”.
President Rajapakse will be the first Head of State of Sri Lanka and a Sri Lankan statesman who had not previously held office in the Oxford Union to address it as a guest speaker.
The late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadiragamar was the last distinguished Sri Lanka to address the Oxford Union.

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A claymore mine, weapons and ammunition found - Batticaloa

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Troops conducted a search operation in general area Vellaveli in Batticaloa found a claymore mine and some other warlike items in early hours yesterday, May 11. A Claymore mine weighing of 5.5Kg, 55 meters length flexible wire and one 9v battery were also found in the search operation conducted around 5.00 am, sources said.

Meanwhile, in a separate search operation conducted at Mudagala in Batticaloa, troops have found 2 T-56 weapons, 3 hand grenades, 300 MPMG (Multi Purpose Machine Gun) rounds, 14 T-56 magazines and an LTTE flag yesterday, May 11.
According to the report reached from the forefront, the incidents are reported from Periyamadhu, Palampiddi and Palamoddai areas.
Troops have ambushed a terror movement killing 4 terrorists in general area Periyamadu in morning hours yesterday.
Meanwhile, troops attacked an LTTE gathering in general area Palampiddi and monitored LTTE transmission confirmed that 2 LTTE cadres were killed in the attack. In the same area, an army soldier was killed exploding an anti-personnel mine while conducting mine-clearing operations in the area. Another army soldier was killed in a confrontation occurred around 2.45 pm yesterday. The enemy casualties not reported yet.
Separately, troops have ambushed a group of LTTE terrorists in general area Palamoddai last afternoon. Ground troops confirmed that 5 terrorists were killed in this attack. No damages reported to own troops in enemy retaliation.
Troops conducting mine-clearing operations in Kovitkunchu and Palammodda areas have unearthed 11 anti-personnel mines through out the day.

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Kingfisher Airlines mulling Sri Lankan operations

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India's private air carrier Kingfisher Airlines is planning to operate flights to four more destinations including Sri Lanka by the year end.

"We would be flying to Bangladesh, Huston and New York by end of August. Sri Lanka has been in the list of Kingfisher's expansion of horizons for a long time," Regional Manager Trade Sales, of the airline, Ritam Saha said here.

Kingfisher, to begin with, hopes to operate three flights a week to the Island country, he said.

Asked if they would look for a partner in Sri Lanka, Saha told the state owned-Newspaper 'Daily News' that Kingfisher would be going on its own.

"Sri Lanka has tremendous growth potential since many Indians travel to the Island nation," Saha said.

Commenting on speculation that the airline was keen to purchase Emirates airline shares he said this was not something in its plans.

"We want to consolidate our Indian operations and moving into another country is not in our agenda right now," the newspaper quoted Saha as saying.

Kingfisher Airlines is part of The UB Group, an Indian conglomerate with diverse interests and a global presence. The UB Group is also a major producer of beverage alcohol (beer and spirits) and is the third largest maker of spirits in the world.

With Kingfisher Airlines acquiring a stake in Air Deccan, the airline covers many segments of air travel from low fares to premium fares and has a large flight network in India.

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Mahinda repeated what J.R did in 1981

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The government who deprived the citizens in the East of democratic rights by sparking a racial conflict between Tamils and Muslims, has opened doors for the LTTE, says Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna politburo member, Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Speaking at a media briefing in Colombo today (May 12th), he said that the JVP completely rejected the results of the Eastern Provincial Council elections.

By crippling the youth who protested against the Act against Terrorism in 1987 and by sending a group of thugs to rig votes at the 1981 District Development Council elections, J.R. Jayawardena made it possible for the LTTE to make the best out of the situation, Dissanayake said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa did the same as J.R. Jayawardena at the Eastern Provincial Council elections, he added, noting that the 110-man cabinet was used as a vote machine rather than to serve the country.

The JVP will form a broad National Front against such a situation, MP Dissanayake said, emphasising that the public should not accept the results of the election either.

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UK must pursue investigations against suspected war criminal

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Amnesty International UK today expressed disappointment that despite six months of investigation, the United Kingdom authorities have not been able to amass sufficient evidence to determine whether it is possible to mount a successful prosecution of a Sri Lankan commander suspected of torture, hostage taking and war crimes.

Vinavaamoorthi Muraliitharan, commonly known as Colonel Karuna, is suspected of abducting hundreds of teenagers to serve as child soldiers, and of having tortured, taken as hostage and killed hundreds of civilians in Sri Lanka.

Colonel Karuna was a prominent leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an armed opposition group fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. He left the LTTE to set up his own splinter group, the Tamileel Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, or People's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (TMVP), which also has a political wing. Since March 2004, the group appears to have been operating with the support of the Sri Lankan Army to challenge the LTTE in eastern Sri Lanka.

Colonel Karuna was residing in the United Kingdom when he was taken into custody by British authorities in November last year on charges of immigration offences.

According to reports, Colonel Karuna was released from prison and transferred to an immigration detention centre late last night pending possible deportation.

Under international law, the UK must conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations of allegations of torture, hostage taking and war crimes, including child recruitment and the use of child soldiers.

However, Amnesty International understands that the fact that the UK does have jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity was not made clear to victims and prospective witnesses.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

'The police and the Crown Prosecution Service must make every effort to encourage anyone with information about any such crimes to come forward with evidence, by providing them with effective guarantees of their security.

'Without such assurances witnesses may be reluctant to relay information about alleged crimes that the UK authorities are obliged to investigate.'

Colonel Karuna, like anyone suspected of a criminal offence, is entitled to be presumed innocent, until and unless his guilt can be proved beyond reasonable doubt in a fair trial. However, the organisation is aware of numerous allegations against him that merit thorough investigation.

Amnesty International urges the authorities to investigate thoroughly, promptly, impartially and independently all allegations of crimes committed by Colonel Karuna and his forces including:

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Sri Lanka's opposition says it will launch mass campaign against election violence

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Sri Lanka's opposition said Monday it would launch a mass campaign calling on the government to restore democracy in the island nation after tense Eastern Province elections that it says were tainted by vote tampering and intimidation.

The government hailed Saturday's vote as a return to democracy in the country's east less than a year after it drove out the rebels who had controlled the region for 13 years.

But the opposition says the poll — in which the ruling party coalition took 20 out of 37 seats — was irreparably flawed.

"We will launch a mass campaign ... and will continue it until democracy is restored," said Ranil Wickremesinghe, opposition leader and head of the United National Party.

Independent monitors reported dozens of incidents of vote tampering and said a faction of former rebels allied with the government were responsible for a wave of intimidation before the campaign that made it impossible to hold a fair vote.

Wickremesinghe said the vote was marred by violence and rigging.

"Today, there is no free and fair elections in Sri Lanka," he said. "We are taking another step toward dictatorship."

Rauff Hakeem, leader of the opposition Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, said they are collecting evidence to file a suit to overturn the election.

Health Minister Nimal de Silva dismissed the opposition's complaints.

"We would most welcome such litigation because we can prove beyond any reasonable doubt before the court that the elections were free and fair," he said.

He said there were a few minor incidents, but nothing that would have affected the outcome of the vote.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

GTB launches TMT STEEL BARS in SRI LANKA

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
GTB is set to lead the industry with new generation Reinforcement Steel Bars by introducing Thermo Mechanically Treated Bars with superior mechanical property and economy is use over conventional Reinforcement Bars.

Thermo Mechanically Treated Bars are recognized through out the world as superior construction material as compared to conventional cold twisted deformed steel bars on account of distinct advantages of Higher Bond Strength, Excellent Bendability, Superior Weldability, Higher Corrosion Resistence and Superior Seismic Resistance.

GTB had used THERMEX thermo mechanical process developed by M/s QEK, Germany which enabled the production of high strength deformed bars that meet all the requirement of civil engineering industry viz. minimum yield strength, ductility, weldability and higher elongation value.

Advanced technology from Thermax, Germany, is used for the first time in Sri Lanka, produce GTB TMT 500. Thermax process imparts high strength to the bar using the latest technique of thermo mechanical treatment as against cold twisting, which is used to manufacture traditional reinforcing bars.

The micro - structure of the bar consists of a combination of strong outer layer of tempered martensite and a ductile core of ferrite pearlite. This is what give GTB TMT 500 an excellent combination of strength and ductility.

GTB Colombo Corporation sources finest steel billets manufactured by prime mills using captive raw material in state of the art facilities like blast furnace, Ladle Refining Furnace and continuous Billet casting process. Billets thus produced contain no harmful residuals assuring consistent and predictable quality of GTB TMT 500.

Yield point of minimum 500 gives to structural engineers an opportunity to design RCC structures. Using 8% lower quantity of steel in the RCC Structure.

Rib pattern of GTB TMT 500 has been specially designed using automated milling machines, resulting in uniform and precise ribs profile through out the length of the bars ensuring excellent bond strength between the bar and the surrounding concrete.

While the specification stipulates that bond strength should be 40% higher than that of mild Steel plain bars, GTB TMT 500 has typical values which are higher by as much as 100%. This leads to increased safety and durability of the structure even in the most hazardous environments.

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Pillaiyan to be appointed Chief Minister

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(Lanka-e-News, ) The election result of the Batticaloa district has prompted the government to appoint Pillaiyan as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council.

The President stated in advance that the person who attains highest number of preferential votes would be appointed as the Chief Minister.

Pillaiyan achieved the highest number of preferential votes and earned the highest number of votes for the government from Batticaloa district. He won all three electorates in the district and turning the 2005 Presidential result upside down, Pillaiyan-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) team won the district with a majority of 46,739 votes. At the Presidential election President Rajapakse acquired mere 28,000 votes while Ranil Wickramasinghe gained more than 100,000 votes.

Pillaiyan said in public that he would be the Chief Minister if UPFA won the election. The day before the election was held, Pillaiyan said to an English newspaper hundreds more will rise to replace him if Pillaiyan was cheated.

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THE GOVERNMENT’S WINNING FORMULA IN EAST--AND ELSEWHERE

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by Dr.Jehan Perera
On May 10, the LTTE launched three major attacks in the east. They sank a naval cargo ship within the highly defended Trincomalee harbour. In addition they launched a series of mortar attack in Damana, a Sinhalese-inhabited part of the Ampara district and exploded a bomb in a restaurant in the middle of the Sinhalese-inhabited Ampara town killing over a dozen civilians and injuring many more. These incidents appear to have been timed by the LTTE to cast a pall of fear and apprehension over the voters as they prepared to vote at the decisive Eastern Provincial elections set for that same day.

The LTTE, of course, was not a direct participant in those elections that both the government and opposition had turned into a virtual referendum on the future of politics in the war torn North and East of the country. Although the LTTE have registered a political party with the Election Commissioner’s Department it has gone into long hibernation. The LTTE’s inability to develop a viable political party indicates a continuing preference for reliance upon military rather than political means of conflict resolution. The TNA, which is the political party that is closest to the LTTE, and which is believed to be subservient to the LTTE’s political decisions, also did not contest the elections.
The TNA claimed that its decision not to contest the Eastern Provincial Council election was due to their objection to the de-merger of the Eastern Province from the North-East Province as decided by the Supreme Court. It is also likely that potential TNA candidates would have felt vulnerable to assassination by the TMVP, the breakaway LTTE group in the east, who have retained many of their LTTE characteristics. If they had contested the provincial election, the TNA, which swept the Tamil vote at the last Parliamentary election in 2004, could have made a big difference to the balance between the government and opposition.

The LTTE’s multi-pronged attacks on government and civilian targets in the east on the day of the elections would have reminded the people in the east of the LTTE’s continued presence and destructive power in the east. It would have served to confirm the worst fears of the non-Tamil majority in the east, comprising Muslims and Sinhalese, that the LTTE continues to be an organization that is willing to engage in terror attacks against them, as they have done in the past. While some would have seen in this the need for the government to engage in political negotiations with the LTTE, others would have seen the need to militarily eliminate them on the lines that the government has been proposing.


DISADVANTAGED OPPOSITION

There were doubts about the possibility of the government winning the eastern elections. About 80 percent of the eastern population is equally divided between the Tamil and Muslim communities. As the present government is closely associated with the forces of Sinhalese nationalism, there seemed to be every likelihood of the Tamil and Muslim vote going in large measure to the opposition. A defeat for the government would have indicated that the ethnic minorities disapproved of the government’s strategy and actions in the war-torn North and East.

However, the results of the election have shown otherwise. A majority of the Tamil and Muslim voters appear to have supported the government. The implications of this are significant. It would legitimize the government’s argument that the Tamil and Muslim population in the east is prepared to support, or at least acquiesce, in its strategy of military elimination of the LTTE to be followed by reconstruction and a restoration of the electoral process.

Critics of the government, including election monitoring groups, have argued that the opposition parties were disadvantaged from the outset of the election campaign, and that conditions of free and fair elections did not prevail during the entire course of the election campaign and poll. The free and fairness of an election cannot be determined solely by considering what occurs on election day, as there are a number of other factors which can affect citizens and political parties' ability to effectively participate in the democratic process.

The period of the election campaign was marked by undercurrents of intimidation although there was low overt violence during the campaign itself. As a result, campaigning was carried out under a security environment not conducive to a free and fair election. One of the most controversial features of the elections was that the TMVP, which is a former militant group, continued to retain its arms on the grounds of self defence. The basic requirement for a free and fair election were not met. One of the contesting parties was armed and in a position to intimidate both their political rivals as well as voters and election officials.

Adding to this problem was the fact that the TMVP was contesting in alliance with the government, which put the system of checks and balances on electoral malpractice into jeopardy. There were numerous complaints from contesting parties of police and administrative inaction in the face of their complaints that a significant level of intimidation had obstructed their electoral campaigns. There were allegations that the TMVP had been intimidating its political rivals. The very low level of campaigning by rival parties in some parts of the east was independently verified by election monitors and the media.
An idea of the situation that prevailed during the period of the elections can be gleaned from the following excerpt of a PAFFREL election monitoring report.

“A fear psychosis had spread all over the Eastern Province. (especially in Batticaloa District); The presence in the area of an armed group, the TMVP, which had associated itself with the government in liberating the Eastern Province from the LTTE control, their activities with a special authority, and the fact that they were also contesting the polls; Unduly influencing public opinion by the government by starting new economic development programmes which should not be done during a period of an election and against the election laws; Having radio broadcasting and television programmes targeted to the Eastern Province by using primarily the state media; Eruption of various conflicts due to a large number of leaders and activists of various political parties going to the Eastern Province from Colombo and other areas, residing there temporarily and engaging in electioneering activities with their supporters; Obstruction to the performance of duties by police and other administrative authorities due to ruling politicians interfering in activities in connection with the election; Due to various obstructions including intimidation, some political parties could not deploy polling agents at some of the polling stations.”

SAME CALLING

In the aftermath of the eastern election there is a need for re-thinking on the part of those who oppose the government and its strategy of conflict resolution. Whether the easterners who voted in favour of the government at these flawed elections were a majority or not, it is clear that a significant proportion of the Tamil and Muslim voters in the east did cast their votes in favour of the government. This means that they do not see a viable alternative to the government, or that they support the government’s policies, or both.
It appears that the government’s success is based on a winning formula that incorporates at least three factors, these being patronage, strong arm tactics and the LTTE. The legitimacy of the strong arm tactics used by the government is intertwined with the presence of the LTTE and its seemingly unending appetite to engage in violence. The TMVP has retained its arms on the basis that they will be killed off by the LTTE if they are disarmed. But as a result of being an armed group, the TMVP was able to intimidate and threaten the electorate at the elections. As the TMVP was the electoral partner of the government, the security forces found themselves disempowered in fulfilling their legitimate duties by the people. The vast majority of complaints on election day were against the TMVP.

The government’s willingness to use patronage was another factor that was obvious at these elections. Virtually the entire cabinet, along with deputy ministers, numbering over a hundred were reported to be present campaigning on the ground. Another feature of these elections that detracted from the standard of free and fair elections was the misuse of state property to take forward the government’s election campaign. State vehicles and buildings, including schools and rest houses belonging to various government departments were blatantly utilized for the election campaign. The ministers swarmed around like busy bees inaugurating dozens of economic development projects during the election period.
The government’s campaign strategy may be costing the country dearly in terms of economic logic and political morality. But it shows results that matter most to politicians, which is the vote of the electorate. It also appears from public opinion polls that the majority of people are prepared to go on bearing the terrible cost of the war for the sake of defeating the LTTE once and for all, as promised by the government. It is ironic that the LTTE should provide the justification to the government in regard to its prioritization of a military solution at any cost. Until the LTTE is influenced to change course, the dynamic of war, propaganda and sacrifice is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
Those who believe that the government’s high cost strategy is not viable in the longer term nevertheless face an uphill task in the present time. Their stance that conflict resolution requires respect for human rights and a political solution that is offered in negotiations to the LTTE are not being supported by the outcomes of the electoral process. This situation will be especially discouraging to the opposition political parties that have been dealt yet another defeat. They will need to rethink their strategy to capture political power. But for those whose vocation is peace and human rights, and not political power, their calling remains the same.

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Army snipers gunned down one LTTE cadre; Soldier injured in Mortar fire- Mannar

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Military reports received so far on the Mannar battlefront for the day (May 11), indicate that one terrorist was killed by an Army sniper deployed in the Karunkandal area around 5.55 pm.

Also, one soldier suffered injuries due to LTTE mortar fire directed at Nadunkandal army deployment around 12.55 in the afternoon.

Troops engaged in clearing operation in the Alankulama area removed 22 anti personnel mines (AP) and 2 trapped bombs. Also, 2 hand grenades were found during these operations.

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Documents handed over for NLF

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The Wimal Weerawansa faction today produced the documents at the Elections Commissioner's Secretariat to register a new party. The party is named the National Liberation Front(NLF), colour Gold and the emblem the crown.

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Troops capture terrorist "Trench Line" killing Five and recovering 85 anti- personnel mines

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Troops have maintained offensive action against LTTE terrorists in the WELIOYA area throughout Saturday(10).

Three terrorists were killed and four terrorists were reported injured in the fighting in the area of JANAKAPURA NORTH , WELIOYA .

In the search operation which followed the offensive Troops recovered a body of a terrorist, a T56 assault rifle, and one hundred and forty nine (149) anti- personnel mines from the area.

Meanwhile, the Army kept the pressure on the terrorists in the NORTH KIRIIBBANWEWA area, WELIOYA in the morning around 10.15 on Saturday(10) to capture a LTTE area including a terrorist " LINE OF TRENCHES" killing one terrorist and another reported injured in the attack.

Eighty five (85) anti- personnel mines, three Drums of Light machine gun rounds and tin food were also recovered by Troops in a search operation conducted after the attack.

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SB calls for national PC

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by Cyril Wimalasurendre

UNP National Organiser S. B. Dissanayake has proposed a National Provincial Council for the Eastern Province.

Addressing the press in Kandy on Sunday the outspoken politician said that he was happy with the government’s victory at the just concluded election but regretted the way the ruling coalition had secured the first Eastern Provincial Council.


After a lapse of twenty years the people of the Eastern Province had enjoyed their right to vote, the former SLFP heavyweight said. He called for the establishment of a National Provincial Council to run the province. Such an arrangement would involve people of all three communities, he said, expressing the belief all parties would take advantage of the current situation to encourage unity among the communities.

He has stressed the need for a power sharing arrangement to ensure the people would receive full benefits of the newly elected EPC.

Dissanayake severely criticised the government for allowing the breakaway LTTE faction the TMVP to engage in violence in the run up to Saturday’s poll. The abuse of public property and an organised campaign of terror had facilitated the government victory, he said.

He was in Kandy to attend a function organised by the Dumbara Lions to gift school books and other material to children at the Kandyan Cultural Centre under the patronage of the president of the Lions Club, Kandy Municipal Council Member Raja Pushpakumara yesterday.

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CMEV records 64 incidents

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The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence has recorded 64 incidents of violence as at 6 p.m today, 10 May. Of these, 48 have been classified as Major Offences and 16 as Minor. The majority of the Major Offences - 28 - were committed in the Batticaloa District followed by Ampara (12) and Trincomalee (08).

Of the Major Offences, systematic impersonation was the most widespread with a particular concentration in the Batticaloa District where 15 of the 2 such incidents occurred.

Areas of serious concern in respect of violence and malpractice in the province are Valiachennai and Kathankudy inthe Batticaloa District, the Pottuvil Polling Division in the Ampara District and Thiriyai in the Trincomalee District.

CMEV calls upon the Election Commissioner to order a re-poll in these areas.

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Election results show people's mandate to government policy against terror - President

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The results of the elections to the first Eastern Provincial Council show the people's endorsement of the government's policy of restoring democracy and normalcy to areas hitherto controlled by the terrorists, and the overall development programme already initiated in the Eastern Province said President Mahindha Rajapaksha issuing a press statement.
“Following the successful completion of the elections to local government bodies in the Batticaloa District in March this year, this is another important milestone in the government's policy of restoring democratic rights to the people in areas once dominated by the LTTE, and of ensuring democracy throughout the island, he said.
The voters of the Eastern Province who participated in this election peacefully and in large numbers have demonstrated their interest in protecting their democratic rights, which were denied, to them for nearly two decades by the forces of terror; which were restored to them with the liberation of the Eastern Province by the Security Forces.
This election emphasizes the policy of the government to create an environment in which all our people could enjoy democratic rights and live in freedom and harmony. I note that the people of the East have given a clear mandate for peace through the defeat of terrorism, the strengthening of democracy and the development of the country.
I thank all political parties and candidates that participated in the important election, all personal of the Department of the Commissioner General of Elections, all other public officers, and members of the Armed Services and Police that helped in the successful conduct of this election, he noted.
The representatives of the people chosen in this peaceful election represent the will of the people, and I look forward to their cooperation in the country's march to strengthen and widen democracy throughout our country, and to assisting in the tasks already initiated and ahead to develop the Eastern Province, the President assured.

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UNP plans to file a court case against the government ?

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The United National Party says the entire polls of the Eastern Province were corrupted and the party will take legal actions against the responsible authorities. Speaking to media General Secretary of the party Tissa Attanayake said the UNP has a number of evidence against poll rigging , assaulting and threatening of members of the party, destroying properties of its activists .
The Politburo of the party will meet on Tuesday and decide their next step on results of the Eastern Province election.
“This is highly corrupted election and the government used its full of power to grab votes, he said.
He charged that the government rigged the eastern provincial polls by chasing out opposition polling agents and forcibly entering polling booths to stuff ballot boxes.
He said that several incidents were reported where UNP polling agents were sent away forcibly.

According to the UNP, its polling agents were not allowed to be present in 85 polling booths in Batticaloa (35), Trincomalee (20) and Ampara (30).

He alleged that 81 instances were reported where UPFA supporters had forcibly entered polling booths in Batticaloa (45), Trincomalee (08) and Ampara (28).

He also highlighted instances where vehicles of UNP members were attacked during the polls yesterday.

“We cannot call this a free and fair election, especially when we take into consideration these types of incidents,” Attanayake said.

Meanwhile, the JVP also said the eastern election was not conducted in a free and fair manner adding that this was so from the time the polls were announced. However, the TMVP denied such reports by the opposition parties and said the election was held without any violence or violations.

Meanwhile, UNP Eastern Chief Ministerial Candidate Rauf Hakeem has accused the police of actively trying to “disenfranchise the Muslim community” at yesterday’s Eastern Provincial Council election.

In a letter he wrote yesterday to Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, Hakeem accused several government ministers of bringing “large numbers of goons and hit men” into the east, who were “unleashing violence to create a fear psychosis amongst the Muslims” in areas with significant Muslim populations.

Despite Hakeem speaking to Eastern Range DIG Upali Gunasekera and UNP MP John Amaratunge bringing the matter to the attention of the IGP, he wrote that “the police did not do their job.” Senior officers were not contactable throughout the election, Hakeem wrote, adding further that police refused to record complaints from some UNP candidates against the violence perpetrated by ministers Rishard Bathiudeen, Welgama and K. A. Baiz.
“While people in Trincomalee were brave enough to fight violence unleashed by government and minimized rigging, in both Batticaloa and Ampara the government had a field day with TMVP and rigged votes especially in Tamil areas” he said.
“With evidence we are going to prove how the government along with Pillayan rigged this election” he added.
Meanwhile Election Commissioner said the UPFA has secured majority of the EPC.
UPFA has won seven polling divisions out of 10 polling divisions of the province. The first chief minister of the EPC will assume duties under the UPFA banner.

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Pillayan tops preferential votes in Batti

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TMVP leader Pillayan has got the most number of preferential votes for the UPFA in Batticaloa with 38, 718 votes while J. S Mohomad came second with 34,782 votes and M.L.A.M Hisbullah came third with 34,581 votes.

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UPFA won EP election [update]

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The United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance has achieved an outstanding victory in the first ever provincial council election in the eastern province. The UPFA received 308,886 votes and 20 seats in the eastern provincial council. The United National Party has received 15 seats.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Tamil Democratic National Alliance have received one seat each. The UNP has received 250,732 votes and the JVP received 9,390 votes.
The UPFA secured victory in seven out of ten polling divisions at yesterday’s election. These polling divisions are Ampara, Samanthurai, Potuvil, Seruvila, Kalkuda, Batticaloa and Padirippu. The UPFA has won the districts of Ampara and Batticaloa.
The party also won in all three districts in postal voting. Meanwhile, the UNP gained victory in the polling divisions of Kalmunai, Trincomalee and Muttur. The party also emerged victorious in the Trincomalee district. According to results released so far the UPFA has gained six seats in the Batticaloa district and four in the Trincomalee district. The UNP has gained four seats in the Batticaloa district and five in the Trincomalee district.
The Tamil Democratic National Alliance has gained one seat in the Batticaloa district. The JVP has gained one seat in the Trincomalee district. In the Ampara district the UPFA has gained eight seats and the UNP six seats.

A notable factor in the election is that the UNP lost the Batticaloa district which it won in the last presidential election. Over 60 percent have cast their vote in yesterday’s election while PAFFEREL says overall the election was conducted peacefully and in a free and fair manner.

The counting of preferential votes is now taking place. Retuning Officers believe that the outcome could be declared within today.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tamil votes rigged, we don’t accept results -SLMC

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“While people in Trincomalee were brave enough to fight violence unleashed by government and minimized rigging, in both Batticaloa and Ampara the government had a field day with TMVP and rigged votes especially in Tamil areas” says SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem , a shortwhile ago.
“With evidence we are going to prove how the government along with Pillayan rigged this election” he added.
Meanwhile UPFA won the Amprara district .The UPFA secured 144247 votes and the UNP secured 121272 votes.JVP obtained 4745 votes.

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UPFA won the EP Election

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The Election Secretariat says the UPFA has secured majority of the EPC election a short while ago.
UPFA has won seven polling divisions out of 10 polling divisons of the province.The first chief minister of the EPC will assume duties under the UPFA banner.

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Mutur OIC transferred with immediate effect

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OIC Mutur who was beaten up by Minister K.A. Baiz and now receiving treatment at Mutur hospital has been transferred with immediate effect.

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UPFA will take control of EPC

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Political anylits say the United People Freedom Party will take control of Eastern Provincial Council.
The reason is they got the huge lead in Batticolao.The lead was 47,739 votes.In Batti UPFA secured 105341 votes.UNP secured 58602.UPFA lost Trincomalee.The difference is nearly 10,500 votes.This results indicates Mr.Pillayan will be assumed duties as the Chief Minister of the provincial council.


Trincomalee district final results

UNP- 70858- number of seats 5

UPFA 59298 - number of seats 4
JVP -4266 - Number of seats -1


Batticolao district final results

UPFA-105341- number of seats 6
UNP - 58602- number of seats 4

TDNA-7714 - number of seats 1
Awaits for Ampara district results.

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Aswar too becomes a rowdy

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(Lanka-e-News) President's Adviser A.H.M. ASwer arrived in Sammanthurai, Al-Arfat school polling center in a vehicle bearing the number HW9736, trespassed No: 39 polling center Hall No: 01 and chased away the voters who had come for voting.
UNP media Bureau said that a group of thugs who came in vehicles bearing numbers 64-9347 (Pajero Intercooler), WP HH-7288 and 58-4198 assaulted a group travelled with MP Sarathchandra Rajakaruna at Thampalagamuwa in Trincomalee district.
The Vice Chairman of Ampara Pradeshiya Sabha Udeni Chinthaka came last night around 10 PM in a vehicle numbered 64-1804 and wielding a T-56 rifle and threatened W.A. Subasinghe, a UNP candidate.
UNP media bureau said that a group came in several vehicles with Minister Rishad Badurdheen attacked the vehicle of UNP MP Gayantha Karunathilaka and a group of people who were with him at Thoppur. Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna came to Hulannuge polling center in Pottuvil in an Irrigation Department vehicle bearing the number 65-7293 and a led a mob to prevent people voting. UNP media bureau further said that armed cadres of Pillaiyan Group allied with UPFA chased away the voters from polling centers in Trincomalee, Thiriyaya, Kiliweddi and Seruwila.

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Postal votes are being counted

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The Election Commission revealed that voting ended at 4.00pm yesterday. According to reports received at the close of the poll, the estimated voters turnout was approximately 60 % and 65% of the registered voters cast their votes in Amparai district, 55% voters have cast their votes in the Batticaloa district , meanwhile 60% voted in the Trincomalee district.
A total of 1342 candidates were in the fray in the East Provincial Council election. The polling took place in the Amparai, Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts to elect 37 members for the East Provincial Council. A total of 982,721 eligible voters in the three districts polled to elect 14 members from the Amparai district, 11 from Batticaloa and 10 from the Trincomalee districts. The political Party or the independent group which receives the highest number of votes will receive extra 2 bonus seats.
In the meantime, Election Commission Department in a press release said that there are some allegations made by some political parties and the Department will get a decision after considering the polling agents’ confidential reports. Election Commission Department sources said that is the normal practice adhered in elections in Sri Lanka.
Latest reports revealed that ballot boxes from all the polling stations have been brought to the respective counting centers. In the meantime our Correspondent reports that postal votes are being at present counted and tallied.

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East PC polls, most corrupt in history - UNP

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Polls for the Eastern Provincial Council will go down in the country's election history as the most corrupt of its kind, the United National Party has said.

Irrespective of the outcome, the UNP will go to courts against the election, the party's General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said in a statement.

All three districts to the election experienced massive vote rigging and intimidation of voters, but the law enforcement authorities failed to take any preventive action, he said.


The Pillayan-led TMVP, as well as several government ministers and their gangs were responsible for unleashing the terror and the malpractices.

Ministers Risath Bathiudeen and K.A. Baiz had terrorized Trincomalee, while the Pillayan Group and other government gangs stuffed ballot boxes and expelled voters from polling centre, Mr. Attanayake alleged.

UNP MPs Ravi Karunanayake, Gayantha Karunatilake and Sarathchandra Rajakaruna had their vehicles attacked by armed groups, he said.

In Dehiattakandiya, the son of speaker of parliament, Ujith Lokubandara was threatened at gunpoint by the governor of the Sabaragamuwa Province.

The UNP General Secretary said further that a former police chief was responsible for the violence in Batticaloa, and that the ex-IGP had spent the previous night at a camp belonging to Pillayan.


The UNP's polling agents had been driven out from 45 polling centres in Batticaloa, 28 in Ampara and eight in Trincomalee, he added.

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EPDP tops 1st result out unofficially

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The EPDP has topped the list in the first result from the May 10th Eastern Provincial Council election that has been released unofficially.

With the count of votes of the displaced voters in Batticaloa taken, the party has polled 52 votes.

The UNP is in second place with 48 votes, followed by the UPFA with 19 votes, unofficial results say.

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East polls, a non-election: should be held afresh - LPW

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Lanka Polls Watch urges the Elections Commissioner to hold fresh elections for the entire Eastern Province, as today's poll had been a non-election infested with corruption and state-sponsored terror.

LPW Coordinator Gamini Pannila says in a statement that the East PC polls ended as another corrupt, infamous election and a black mark against democracy, in which voters did not have even the democratic right to exercise their franchise.


LPW says it has been receiving and continues to receive reports of widespread violence and malpractices from Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Digamadulla districts.

LPW vehemently condemns the robbery of eastern people's voting right before the very eyes of observers not only by Pillayan, but also by government politicians and officials.

The arrest of Malaka Silva, who is the son of Minister Mervyn Silva and Colombo Municipal Councilor Lal Peiris at the Bambarawana Central College polling station in Dehiattakandiya by the STF, threats received by the wife and the son of the Speaker of Parliament by an armed group in Ampara, malpractices committed by supporters of Minister Amir Ali in Valachchena and grave intimidation of voters by Minister K.A. Baiz in Mutur are enough evidence to press the point.

In certain areas, even the contesting candidates were threatened when they went to cast their votes. Therefore, it is not difficult to surmise the plight of the average voter.

According to LPW's observations, a daylight robbery of votes had been committed by armed groups with affiliations to the government without any show of opposition evident from law enforcement and election officials at around 80 polling centres, and therefore, today's election cannot be termed as a free and fair one under any standard.


Taking all these into consideration, LPW defines the East PC election as a non-election, and urges the Elections Commissioner to annual the entire results and hold fresh elections to ensure the democratic right of the eastern people that had been snatched away from them.

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OIC Mutur assaulted by Baiz, hospitalised

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The OIC of the Mutur Police has been hospitalised after he was assaulted by Minister K.A. Baiz inside the house where the latter was hiding.
A team of STF personnel had managed to rescue Minister K.A Baiz after a mob surrounded his house in Akkaraichenai, Mutur .

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Government denies claims of unfair election in east

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The Sri Lankan government on Saturday denied claims by election watch dogs and the main opposition party that the Eastern Provincial Council election held for the first time in 20 years was not free and fair.
"Except for a few incidents, the election was free and fair," Anura Yapa, the government spokesman and the Minister of Media said.

Susil Premajayantha, the minister of Education said that a few incidents were not big enough to alter the final outcome of the election.
Keerthi Tennakoon, media spokesman for the Campaign For Free and Fair Elections said that over 175 incidents of assault, threats on voters, impersonation had been received by the watch dog. Tennakoon said that children around 13 years old had been used as impersonators.

The Department of Elections said in a short statement that the estimated voter turnout was approximately 65 percent, 55 percent and 60 percent respectively in the three administrative districts of Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee.

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CMEV report on Election-related Violence

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From Sunil C. Perera


CMEV has received 25 complaints of election related violence, today 10 May 2008, polling day in the Eastern Provincial Council Election. Of these, eighteen (18) fall into the category of Major Offences. The offences in the latter category include Murder, Attempted Murder, Assault, Threat and Intimidation, Impersonation and Ballot Stuffing. Of the Major Offences, 13 were reported from Batticaloa, 03 from Ampara and 02 from Trincomalee.

CMEV is concerned that the fears expressed by political parties and monitors regarding an upsurge of violence and malpractice on polling day are being confirmed by accounts of systematic impersonation, ballot stuffing, the chasing way of Polling Agents and the intimidatory presence of armed groups in the vicinity of Polling Stations. The nature and extent of the violence is such that we call upon the Elections Commissioner to annul the poll in Polling Stations identified below. The context of violence in which this election is taking place has also been reinforced by the sinking of a Sri Lanka Navy logistics vessel inside the Ashraff jetty in the Trincomalee Harbour this morning. This has been attributed to the LTTE.

CMEV calls upon all political parties and armed actors to desist from violence and malpractice which endangers human security and the integrity of the electoral process.

Ampara District

SYSTEMATIC IMPERSONATION IN THAMBUVIL, TIRUKOVIL
TMVP supporters at Polling Station 52, AK/Thambiluvil Central Collage were seen removing voter ink from their fingers and returning to vote repeatedly with new Polling cards at around 9.15 a.m. The TMVP office is located right next to the Polling Station. A CMEV monitor reported that there are no Polling Agents of the other political parties inside the Polling Station. A PAFFREL monitor and a Police Officer were present at the Polling Station. It is also reported that a TMVP supporter was seen in front of the Polling Station carrying a T-56 Weapon. CMEV Colombo office reported this to the SSP Ampara who was unaware of this and said he would investigate.

In 51 AK Thambiluvil Kaleimagal Vidyalaya, Thambiluvil, TMVP members were observed distributing Polling Cards at the entrance to the Polling Station and impersonating voters. Here too, no Polling Agents from other parties were present in the Polling Station and the Voters List given by the Gramasevaka has reportedly, not been updated. The distribution of Polling Cards and voter impersonation was observed by CMEV monitors from 10am this morning. When contacted by CMEV, TMVP Ampara Office (0773 971201) stated that no such incident had taken place and that if anyone has lodged such a complaint that the TMVP would investigate it.

Given the systematic impersonation of voters, CMEV calls for the voting in Polling Stations 51 and 52 to be annulled.

MORTAR ATTACK CLOSE TO POLLING STATIONS
Two Polling Stations - Sri Sudharashanaramaya 2 - C Village and Pannalagama Vidyalaya, Pannalagama, came under mortar attack at approximately 7am this morning. The mortar fell on houses close to the Polling Station. Four people sustained injuries including three women and a child who was grievously hurt. It has been reported in the media that the mortar attack was carried out by the LTTE. The Polling Stations were subsequently re-opened. The police is carrying out investigations.

Given the violent disruption of the poll that has occurred, CMEV calls upon the Commissioner of Elections to order a re -poll in that Station.

INTIMIDATION AT DEHIATTAKANDIYA
The CMEV monitor in Dehiaththakandiya observed three vehicles (WP KD - 3784 Maruti Alto, 32-3381 Pajero, JF - 3114 Double Cab) in the vicinity of Wevumedagama and Diyawiddagama this morning. CMEV monitors also reported that two people in these vehicles were bearing arms and that they stopped a Land Master tractor carrying voters and snatched their Polling Cards. These voters reported the incident to the CMEV monitor.

Police Officers headed by S.P Samarasinghe and accompanied by STF personnel have arrested the group of armed people traveling in the three vehicles and informed CMEV of the action they had taken. Deputy Minister Premalal Jayasekara who came to the Police Station claimed that the arrested persons with arms were in his security detail and that he was traveling with them when the reported incident took place. He claimed that the people in the tractor ran away when his vehicle stopped by them, and denies taking their Polling Cards. The Police have released the individuals. No complaints or statements have been recorded.

BATTICALOA

IMPERSONATION IN VALACHCHENAI
CMEV monitors report that voting in Polling Station numbers 58, 59, 60, 68, 69, 72, 73, 75 and 76 has been marred by systematic impersonation including the use of false ID cards and by violence and intimidatory presence in the vicinity of the Polling Stations. CMEV calls upon the Commissioner to order a re -poll in these Polling Stations.

ASSAULT OF PARTY MEMBERS
Two cadres from the EPDP, Siva and Arasaratnam Kalamohan, were allegedly attacked by the organizer for TMVP in Arapattu, Shanthan (Sasi) and his cadres at 1.10 pm today. According to Navaratnam Navam of the EPDP Batticaloa Office, the TMVP were intimidating voters. Batticaloa Hospital confirmed to CMEV that the two individuals had been admitted.

OPPOSITION POLLING AGENTS DENIED ACCESS TO POLLING STATION KATHANKUDY
CMEV Monitors report that Polling Agents of Opposition Parties have been denied access to the Polling Stations by TMVP cadres from 7 a.m. this morning at Palamunai Aliyar Vidyalaya Hall No. 2, Kathankudy, Batticaloa. There are further reports that because of violence by the TMVP against them, no Polling Agents from the other political parties are present in Polling Stations in the area. CMEV calls upon the opposition political parties in particular, to urge the Commissioner to annul the poll in the area, on account of this.

ASSAULT OF CANDIDATE IN KATTANKUDY
Farook Majeed of SLMC complained to CMEV that Mr. Mohammed Nilam Candidate No 10 of Independent Group was assaulted near the Polling Booth by alleged UPFA supporters when he was trying to enter the polling booth at 110 Hiluriya Vidyalaya Kattankudy 03 at 9 am. According to Majeed he was admitted to the Kattankudy Hospital. The hospital stated that there was no such case, but Mr. Majeed insists that he was injured, received treatment and left the hospital. No Police complaint has been made as of noon.

UNTOWARD INFLUENCE
CMEV Monitors report that UNP and SLMC supporters were using the PA system of the Mosque near Mavadichchennai at 8 a.m. to dissuade voters from supporting the UPFA. They are reported as saying that those who do will "Face Consequences" and that they, the SLMC and UNP supporters will not "guarantee the safety of such voters."


TRINCOMALEE

ASSAULT AND OBSTRUCTION OF VOTING
At Tiriyaya Maha Vidyalaya, Kuchchaveli a large group of people allegedly assaulted voters at 7 am. According SLMC Leader, Rauf Hakeem, the thugs were both inside and outside the Polling Station and that they were preventing people from casting their vote. He claimed that this continued and was on going, at 8.30 am. The OIC confirmed that people had been prevented from voting.

CMEV calls upon the Commissioner to order are poll in this Polling Station.

CMEV MONITORS NOT PERMITTED TO MONITOR POLLING IN PALATHOPPUR
CMEV monitors were not permitted to visit polling stations in Palathoppur and were detained at a check point at around 10.40 a.m. today. They were taken in for questioning to the Muttur Police Station and as of noon, they have been released and allowed to continue with their monitoring work.

CMEV was formed in 1997 by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Coalition Against Political Violence as an independent and non-partisan organization to monitor the incidence of election related violence. It is currently constituted by CPA, FMM and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.

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GTB introduces Thermo-Mechanically treated bars to Sri Lanka

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GTB Colombo Corporation which is a member of the Construction Chamber of Industries introduced the Thermo Mechanically Treated (TMT) bars in Sri Lanka at the 9 Excon 2008 Construction Exhibition.

“The Thermo Mechanically Treated bars that will reduce the cost of construction by 10% as well benefit the construction contractors and home builders”, Minister of Construction and Engineering Services Dr. Rajitha Senaratne stated at the launch of Excon 2008 Construction Exhibition. Last year also CCI introduced manufactured sand as an alternative to river sand for construction purposes. Devco Showa which will be names Fujeema State Corporation will venture into the production of rock sand and will introduced to the domestic market. Arrangements are been made by me to make available offshore sand properly washed and sieved to the construction contractors with the collaboration of a foreign investor, the minister added.

When this is done it will also help protect the environment by reducing the dependence on river sand for building purposes.

Another problem the construction industry is facing the acute shortage of cement as the global demand for cement is increasing rapidly due to the hectic construction activities in China, India, Middle East and other oil exporting countries.


The Minister further stated that he has taken the initiative to reactivate the KKS Cement Factory that remains closed since June 1990, in collaboration with one of the biggest industrial conglomerates in India. Once it is completed the total requirement of cement can be manufactured locally along with other factories already in production in Sri Lanka and this will save valuable foreign exchange to the country.

It is the policy of my Ministry to encourage domestic contractors and consultants to achieve required quality standards and effectively engage on construction activities in foreign countries and I am willing to intervene positively to remove and stumbling blocks faced by our contractors and consultants in achieving this objective. Through this he hopes to increase the contribution of construction industry to the GDP from present level 7.4% to at least 15% and also position it as a thrust industry earning foreign exchange.

“The construction industry locally is not doing well”, CCI President Sarath Wickremasinghe said. When the eastern province is all cleared and going well we’ll have a lot of work builders and contractors there. In Sri Lanka if we don’t have any funds we can’t do any developing work. We have very little land in Colombo like about 15 square miles of the city area. Eleven percent of this is occupied by slums or shanties and around 11, 000 acres of land are just wasted.

“This is the sixth consecutive Excon Construction Exhibition we are holding at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Hall and which will go on till tomorrow”, CCI CEO and Secretary General Dakshitha Thalgodapitiya stated. New courses by City and Guilts for the construction industry and CCI’s own distance learning program are among the concurrent events that will take place at the exhibition. In 2009 we plan to have a more meaningful exhibition. Excon 2008 is designed to facilitate enhancement of industry capacities and competitiveness by promoting linkages among different stakeholders drawn from large multinationals to the SME Sector.

This is an ideal opportunity to promote and discover new products ad discover new products, services and appropriate technology. For the benefit of SME’s which account for over 90% of the construction industry, CCI in collaboration with ICTAD will host an interactive session to discuss issues and impediments faced by the SME sector of the construction industry today from 9am onwards at the ICTAD Auditorium.

There are 150 trade stalls providing opportunities for vendors of plant and equipment and other construction inputs, financial services and other service providers to meet their target clientele. A large number of foreign guests from India, UK, State of Qatar and Malaysia are expected to visit the exhibition as well. Other attendees will be leading construction consultants, developers, contractors, vendors of construction equipment, raw materials and technology, professionals service providers, public sector institutions and home builders.

The ministry has pledged its support for Excon 2009 that is scheduled to be held from the 29 to the 31 of May 2009 as Sri Lanka’s first international construction related exhibition with the specific objective of promoting Sri Lankan enterprises to showcase their capabilities to the international market.

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Vehicles of Ravi K and Gayantha damaged

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The vehicles of UNP MPs Ravi Karunanayake and Gayantha Karunatilake have been attacked today allegedly by goons brought by a government minister in Trincomalee.

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Govt failed to hold free and fair poll in East - JVP

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The JVP says government failed to ensure the democratic right of Eastern people to elect their representatives freely. JVP strongman Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the government never tried to hold a free and fair poll in the East from the beginning.

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After Pillayan’s vote stuffing by cadres - UNP

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Around 3.40 pm a group of TMVP cadres had forcibly entered the polling booth in Vipulananda Vidyalaya in Pethalai, Valachchenai where TMVP leader Pillayan cast his ballot this morning, and stuffed the ballot boxes, UNP alleges.

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Monitors want re-poll in many places

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Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) is planning to make a request from Elections Commissioner to ask for a re-poll in several areas including several booths in Aladivembu and Thirukkovil areas in Ampara.

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Baize gone in hiding, enraged people surround house

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Minister K.A. Baiz had hidden himself in a house in Akkaraichchenai, Mutur and enraged crowds have surrounded the house. The Special Task Force is supposed to rescue him.

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LTTE artillery launching pad and ammo storage destroyed in air raid- Mullaithivu

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SLAF fighter jets made precision air strikes at an LTTE artillery launching pad and ammunition storage located North of Nedunkerni in Mullaithivu today(May 10) at 12.15 p.m.
Pilots have confirmed sporadic explosions followed by smoke clouds rising from the target location, during low diving observations made subsequent to the air sorties, Air Force sources said.
The destroyed LTTE location was constantly been used as an LTTE artillery launching pad where several indiscriminate attacks were mounted at civilian settlements bordering Welioya, sources further said.

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Summon parliament to discuss East polls - UNP

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The UNP is to request the Speaker to summon an emergency meeting of Parliament to discuss violence and malpractices in the Eastern Provincial Council election.
The House should debate the most corrupt and violence-ridden election in recent times, the party said

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Woman and child wounded in LTTE mortar attack- Bakmitiyawa

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LTTE terrorists mounted an indiscriminate 81 mm mortar shell attack at a civilian settlement at Pannalgama general area in Bakmitiyawa, Damana today(may 10), injuring 4 people including a woman and a child, at around 7.15a.m., sources reveal.
According to latest reports received, terrorists have fired 7 mortar bombs at the Pannalgama civilian settlement, what was said to be another attempt of LTTE to flush the settlers from their native lands. The injured child was said to be a 10-year old, informed sources said.
According to Damana Police, an injured civilian was rushed to the Tottama rural hospital. Security has been tightened in the area as combined Army and Police search teams were dispatched to the scene.
Pannalgama is located approximately 25km South East of Damana.
LTTE is a ruthless terrorist outfit that has been fighting for mono ethnic separate homeland for Tamils since 1983.
The outfit led by its psychopathic leader V. Prabhakaran is notorious for crimes against women and children. During its three decades of terror campaign against Sri Lankan citizens the outfit has killed and maimed over tens and thousands innocent children in ethnic cleansing raids and indiscriminate bomb attacks.

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Peaceful election - say EC

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The voting for the East Provincial Council election which commenced around 7.00am this morning at 1,070 Polling Stations in the three districts, concluded peacefully at 4.00 pm today.

According to election commission nearly 52 % of the total voters voted in the three districts. In Trincomalee 55 % voted followed by Amparai 52 % and Batticaloa 50%.

Reports arriving from the east, officers in charge of polling booths are making arrangements to take the ballot boxes to the counting centres in the three districts.

Also it was reported that counting centres in the three districts have started counting the postal votes. According to election commission, total number expected postal votes are 22333 and already a 20362 postal votes have been cast.

No major incidents were reported by the three Returning Officers of the three districts except for unconfirmed allegations leveled by two anti-government election monitoring organizations.

Returning Officers of Amparai, Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts reported that polling continues very peacefully without any major incidents in their respective districts
But PAFREL said that in the morning session an average of 40 % of total voters have cast their votes in the three districts.

In the meantime, our sources filing their reports from those districts revealed that in the Batticaloa 35%, Amparai 35% and in the Trincomalee district 55% of the voters have cast their votes by midday.
Our reporters further added that there were no major incidents, but they indicated that a brisk voting is expected in the second session in the three districts after midday.

Election Commissioner Dayanada Silva speaking, said that the first results of the Eastern Provincial Council voting is expected to be anounced by 12.30 midnight and the final results by 6.00 AM on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the separatist Tamil outfit, in a desperate bid to interrupt the polling in the East Provincial Council has fired mortars towards the Village of Namal Oya located in the Amparai district, killing 4 innocent villagers and injuring many.

Our reporter in the east further reported that security forces have discovered two claymore bombs in Valaichaenai.

This morning around 7.00 a.m. Voting began in the 1270 polling stations in three districts, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampaarai, of eastern province. Polling for the East Provincial Council is reported to be progressing calmly, except for a few reported minor incidents.

1342 candidates from 35 political parties and 56 independent groups are in the fray to elect 35 Provincial Council Members. The population of the province is 1,419,602 and 982,721 of them are eligible voters.

In the meantime, TMVP leader and UPFA Chief Ministerial candidate Chanthirakanthan Sivanesathurai, who is popularly known as Pillayan cast his vote at Vipulananda Vidayalam in Peththalai polling division in Valaichchenai.

Speaking outside the polling station, Pillaiyan appealed to the voters not to be intimidated, but to exercise their franchise though LTTE was hell bent to disrupt the polling.

Earlier in the morning around 2.15 a.m., naval vessel A-520, named 'MV Invincible', used for Naval logistic supplies underwent a mysterious explosion, while it remained anchored in the eastern port of Trincomalee.

The vessel which was apprehended while ferrying illicit immigrants was confiscated by the Navy and has been in use. The blast reported to have been triggered with the help of a seaborne explosive device and vessel was reported to sinking after the explosion.

Initial investigations mentioned that Tigers now hell-bent on causing maximum destruction and disrupting today’s (10) Provincial Council Election were behind this blast. However, no loss of lives has been reported. Latest Tiger reports admitted to having carrying out the seaborne attack on the vessel.

It was only on Friday (9) evening Tamil Tigers triggered a blast inside a cafeteria in the Town of Amparai and killed eleven innocent civilians taking refreshments in the place.
Our reporters have filed reports of three incidents of election irregularities in the east provincial council polling, involving UPFA.

The first incident involving Malaka Silva, son of Mervyn Silva was reported from Baharawavana, located Dehiattakandiya in the Amparai district was reported. According to the report it was said that Malaka Silva and his supporters were involved in a free for all fist fight with the a dozen of villagers.

The second incident too was reported from Dehiattakandiya, where Parliamentarian Premlal Jayasekera and his supporters were arrested by the Police for travelling in a car displaying UPFA posters and the numbers of the candidates and the party symbol, which is said to be a violation of the election laws.

In the third incidents, voters in Kuchchaveli in the Trincomalee district had smashed up two vehicles belonging to the staff of Minister Rishard Badurdeen when they attempted to unleash violence near a polling booth. The minister’s team has been led by one Ali Khan.

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Govt. thugs denying Muslims' voting right - Hakeem

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SLMC leader and chief ministerial candidate Rauff Hakeem says groups of thugs in the employ of several government ministers are terrorizing areas with a decisive Muslim voter base.
He told 'Lanka Dissent' a short while ago that the government was trying to prevent votes being cast to the SLMC in Mutur, Thambalagamuwa, Thoppur, Jinnarnagar, Asathnagar and Irakkandy areas.Despite complaints by the party and himself that more than 200 thugs are terrorizing the district, police have not taken any action, Mr. Hakeem said.

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People identify 14 vehicles used for poll malpractices

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People of Puduwakkattu in Kuchchiweli have identified 14 vehicles that have been used for election malpractices in the Thiriyaya area.
These vans and buses had arrived in the area around midnight yesterday (May 09th), and some of are still said to be there.
They bear the numbers WPPB 0537 van, 53-8133, WPG 0880 jeep with a garage number, PA 7991, 58-4858, PA 5389, GX 3372, HM 9787, HJ 6988, HR 9986, JV 6799, JA 3273 Tata bus, HP 3926 and 53-1139.The same vehicles were chased away by the people of Puduwakkatu.

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2 claymores found in Valachchena

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Defence authorities found two claymore bombs weighing 10 kilogrammes hidden near Pattini Amman Kovil at Vipulananda Mawatha in Valachchena this morning (May 10th).
An investigation into the finding of the two bombs is underway. The probe will look into how the claymores came to be hidden there at a time when unprecedented security measures are in place for the East PC polls.

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UNP alleges 80 vote-riggings

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The UNP has alleged that the UPFA and the armed TMVP have rigged votes at 80 polling centres on Election Day in the east so far.
The party said it has lodged a complaint in this regard with the Commissioner of Elections.
According to the UNP, most of the incidents have been reported from Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts.In Ampara, several government ministers were responsible for perpetrating poll malpractices, the party added.

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Navy logistics ship sinks after blast at Trinco harbour

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logistics vessel belonging to the Sri Lanka Navy sunk after an explosion at the Trincomalee Harbour in the early hours of this morning (May 10th), the Navy Spokesman said.
The A520 'MV Invincible', moored at the Ashroff Jetty, was damaged in an underwater explosion and sank around 2.15 am, he said.
According to the Navy Spokesman, an Improvised Explosive Device had been used for the blast.
No lives were lost to the explosion, the Media Centre for National Security said.
Meanwhile, 'Tamil Net' reported that Sea Tigers' Black Tiger underwater naval commandos from the Kangkai Amaran Unit had staged the attack.The attack was carried out when the vessel was loaded with explosives to be transported to the Kankesanthurai Harbour in Jaffna, it said quoting LTTE officials in the Wanni.
A-520 was a merchant vessel built in the1970's and handed over to the Sri Lanka Navy, following a court order after it was apprehended while transporting 254 Pakistani migrants off Tangalle in 2003.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

UNP urges people, Police and Forces in their own interest to uproot the gun culture

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Lakshman Kiriella, UNP M.P. speaking to the media today (9 May) , said the Govt. is so sure of losing on a Fair and lawful election on 10th May, is resorting to foul and unlawful activities. He urged the people of the East, the Police and the Forces to think of the country’s future and of their children, and give their might to fight against this dangerous fascist trend which the Rajapakse Govt. is creating along with the LTTE breakaway group, Pillayan.
“Today, it is using violence, intimidation and murder tactics mainly directed against the Opposition parties; tomorrow, it will be you” he pinpointed. ‘When the neighbour’s wall is ablaze, your own is at stake”, he warned.

He referred to a spate of incidents of violence and threats directed against UNP candidates and M.P.s. Citing an incident in Trincomalee yesterday (8May), he explained,
how , no less a person than a President’s advisor , Bharatha Lakshman ,with a band of thugs (Army deserters) came to Trincomalee, and openly threatened UNP M.P. Joseph Michael Perera and his group to immediately leave Trincomalee , or they will have to face dire consequences. In another separate incident, another UNP candidate was forced to resign. Two hand grenades were also lobbed at a House where UNP supporters were residing, and how the so called President advisor arranged for the arrest of the innocent house owners by the Police, he bemoaned.

Though elections campaign had to end on the 7th May, it is reported, that Govt. is disregarding the regulations. It is continuing to remove UNP posters and replacing them with those of the Govt. and laying foundation stones in an attempt to hoodwink he masses. Pillayan too is continuing to erect camps in all areas, Trincomalee Ampara and other districts even today, where there are a dense population, viewed as an attempt to rig elections, he exhorted.

Kiriella said, the situation is so drastic and unlawful that even as he is speaking, UNP M.P.s Ravi Karunanayake, Joseph Michael Perera and others are at a meeting with the IGP to brief him on this Govt. backed tyranny and to urge him to arrest Baratha Lakshman for the terror he is unleashing..

If people want to defeat terror, restore peace and provide a brighter future for their children free from a gun and terror culture, he said, it is only UNP that can save them, which is the only party which stands for peace and unity of all ethnic races.

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Bomb kills 11 civilians

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Defense sources confirmed that LTTE exploded a bomb inside the "New City Cafe" in Amparai town around 5.45 p.m today.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanyakkara confirmed 11 death and 29 persons wounded. According to reports the bomb was a parcel bomb, which was kept in the café in Amparai town near the main bus stand.
This is another cowardly attempt of the LTTE terrorists to disrupt the normalcy in the area as the government scheduled to head the provincial council election tomorrow to establish the democracy in the eastern province.

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Bomb blast in Ampara.

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A powerful bomb blast occured in Ampara town around 5.40 pm. Wait for details.

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Excon 2008 begins

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Local Construction and Engineering Services Minister Rajitha Senaratne opens Sri Lanka’s premier construction exhibition Excon 2008 in Colombo on Friday.
The exhibition is designed to facilitate the enhancement of industry capacities and competitiveness by promoting linkages among different stakeholders drawn from large multinationals to the SME sector.
It is the gateway to the establishment of strategic partnerships and the expansion of markets. This is an ideal opportunity to promote and discover new products services and appropriate technology.
Inaugurating the Excon 2008 exhibition Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the local construction sector would receive cement and river sands soon. At present the ministry is working with private and public sector institutions to ease Sand shortage and shortage of cement. Due to the global demand cement has a huge demand from various countries.
Sri Lanka has already discussed with the private sector how to reactivate the Kankasanthurai cement plant, which is now idling. One of India’s leading cement makers Birala Group has already made their bids before the government of Sri Lanka to reactivate the KKS Plant.
The Minister said the national construction chamber helps to increase the contribution of the construction industry to the GDP from 7.4 percent to 15 percent.
Speaking on the occasion Chairman of the National Chamber of Construction Industry Deshabandu Surath Wikremasinghe said Excon 2008 provides opportunities for local and international venders to meet their target clientele.
Addressing the gathering CEO of the Chamber Dakshitha Thalgodapitiya explained the event would be attended by leading consultants ,developers ,contractors vendors and professional service providers. Around 30 thousand visitors from Sri Lanka and foreign guests from India UK and Qatar are expected to visit this exhibition.

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Karuna still under detention

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The British Home Office says Karuna Amman remains detained under immigration powers for carrying an apparently genuine Sri Lankan diplomatic passport issued under a false name.

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SC directs Elections Comm. to ensure free and fair poll

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The Supreme Court today directed the Commissioner of Elections to ensure free and fair elections in the Eastern Province.

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33 terrorists killed, over 40 wounded in heavy fighting - Mannar

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At least 33 LTTE terrorists were killed, over 40 wounded in heavy fighting ensued between troops and LTTE since this morning (May 9) in general area Alankulama, North of Giants Tank- Mannar, Wanni military sources said.
Intense battles were reported as SLA infantry and armour units backed by close SLAF air support forced into the LTTE stronghold during a multi-pronged offensive launched at around 6a.m. According to initial reports received, 3 soldiers have laid their lives in addition to 5 others who were wounded in the confrontations.
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that 5 soldiers were reported missing since they have failed to marry-up with the advancing troops.
Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets carried out two separate air sorties targeting LTTE strongholds in Mannar front on the Wanni theatre of battle today, May 09. Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Andrew Wijesooriya speaking exclusively to defence.lk said that, these air raids were launched in support of army advances in the Mannar front.
According to the air force sources, SLAF MI-24 helicopter gun ships raided terror strongholds in general area north of Alankulam around 1.15 pm.
Meanwhile, this morning, SLAF fighter gets carried out air sorties targeting an LTTE gathering in general area Parappakadaththan. An LTTE operation controlling room was also targeted in the air raid launched around 10.15 p.m.

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Air raid on LTTE base at Parappakadattal - SLA

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The Air force claimed that it carried out an air raid on an LTTE base at Parappakadattal in Mannar.

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Govt. suspends sending workers to Lebanon

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The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau says it has decided to temporarily suspend sending Sri Lankans to Lebanon due to the prevailing internal conflict situation in that country.

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Ranil betrayed UNP to Hakeem – Navin

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Navin Dissanayake told media today that UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has betrayed the party mandate to SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem.

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Presidential advisor’s men threaten chief opposition whip - UNP

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The UNP alleged today that a gang backed by a Borella based Presidential advisor with an Indian sounding name had threatened Chief Opposition Whip, Joseph Michael Perera in Trincomalee to refrain from election work.

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Mother sells child for Rs.12,000

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A mother who sold her three day old child for Rs. 12,000 has been arrested by the Matara police and is to be produced before courts later today.

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Sri Lanka's 2008 budget will be presented to parliament on November

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The 2008 budget will be presented to parliament on November 7th.
Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said next budget would be a people friendly and development oriented one, which has been linked to the government’s three-year development programme.
The Ministry hopes to accept public opinions accordingly. The proposals from the local entrepreneurs and industrialists will specially be considered.
Minister added that next budget would pay special attention on uplifting the economy of low-income groups and accelerating the development in remote areas as mentioned in the Mahinda Chinthana.

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Released Fishermen are scheduled to arrive in the island

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Forty five fishermen who were taken into custody by the Indian coastguards and released later on, are scheduled to arrive in the island tomorrow.
They were engaged in fishing in six fishing boats. Another batch of 15 fishermen taken into custody by Indian coastguards will rive in the island on the 15th of this month with their fishing trawlers.
They were taken into custody for violating sea boarder limits. Minister Filix Perera has mediated with the office of Sri Lankan High commission in Chennai to release these fishermen. The Minister further said the fishermen should take special care not to violate borders while engage in fishing.

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Security Forces consolidate power in the Adampan town.

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The Security Forces consolidate power in the Adampan town. Fifteen terrorists were killed in clashes and large numbers were injured. Two Security Forces personnel have laid down their lives on behalf of the country in the encounter.

The Media Centre for National Security says the troops have captured power of the Adampan lake and surrounding areas in attacks launched yesterday.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ranil to take up GSP+ with EU

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Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is planning to meet with representatives of the European Union and secure a renewal of the GSP+ facility for the country that expires in June.

Mr. Wickremesinghe says he will take up the responsibility after setting aside political differences for the betterment of the garments industry, despite the lackadaisical attitude of the president and his government.

The present regime had failed to fulfill certain conditions in the agreement for the export of garment products to Europe with duty concessions, which makes it possible that there it would not be renewed after June.

They include the safeguarding of human rights and the resolution of the national conflict by political means, he said.


The country would lose a large income and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands at stake if the benefit discontinues, Mr. Wickremesinghe pointed out.

The opposition leader said he would meet with EU representatives in Brussels and attempt to get it renewed.

Despite the animosities against him, Mr. Wickremesinghe said, he would raise the matter with the President as well in consideration of the country's economic security.

Meanwhile European Union wants Sri Lanka to receive GSP+ again for coming three years. Sri Lanka will get GSP + again if it meets the eligibility criteria .The government can meet criteria if it wants to and the EU is working closely with Sri Lankan government to that end, said Julian Wilson, EU Charge de Affairs in Colombo.
Speaking at the EU's 51 birthday held on Thursday in Colombo he said that he is not going to bore with Sri Lanka further detail on GSP+ .
"I will only say that a lot of melodramatic rubbish has been written about the renewal of GSP+ in local press. The truth is simple if somewhat banal-the EU wants Sri Lanka to receive GSP+ again for the coming three years, he said.

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Manoj appointed SriLankan CEO

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The head of worldwide passenger sales at SriLankan airlines Manoj Gunawardane has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the airline today.

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EU wants to Sri Lanka to receive GSP+ again-Julian Wilson

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Sunil C. Perera in Colombo
European Union wants Sri Lanka to receive GSP+ again for coming three years. Sri Lanka will get GSP + again if it meets the eligibility criteria .The government can meet criteria if it wants to and the EU is working closely with Sri Lankan government to that end, said Julian Wilson, EU Charge de Affairs in Colombo.
Speaking at the EU's 51 birthday held on Thursday in Colombo he said that he is not going to bore with Sri Lanka further detail on GSP+ .
"I will only say that a lot of melodramatic rubbish has been written about the renewal of GSP+ in local press. The truth is simple if somewhat banal-the EU wants Sri Lanka to receive GSP+ again for the coming three years, he said.
"Our help goes beyond trade. The EU has also given substantial development assistance to Sri Lanka. Over one billion US$ in grants and subsidized loans has come to Sri Lanka in the last few years, specially for conflict and tsunami reconstruction in the South, East and North of Sri Lanka .We have approved this year a further installment of over 100 million US$ in humanitarian and longer term development funds to be spent over the coming two years, he said.
Attending this occasion Minister M.H.M.Mohomed said preparations are underway to hold the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission in June this year. This will no doubt elevate our relations into a higher platform, he said.
He further said the outcome of the EU -Sri Lanka Joint Commission will positively consider Sri Lanka application at the next revision of the EU GSP+ scheme scheduled to be taken place in end of this year.

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Pillayan Group encamps in Panama

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A group from the Pillayan led-TMVP is establishing two camps around 100 metres away from the ‘Okanda Devalaya’ of Panama, using child soldiers under 15-years of age, area residents say.

Two buses and several vans carrying the necessary equipment had reached the site yesterday (May 07th).


Area residents said the Pillayan group has forbidden outsiders from entering the area, adding that they heard the sound of gunshots from the vicinity in the night.

Speaking to media JVP MP Wasantha Piyatissa confirmed that the armed group was encamping in the Panama area.

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Foreign media banned from East - CAFFE

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The government has declared the eastern province out of bounds for the foreign media wanting to cover the May 10th provincial council polls there, the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections alleges.

In a letter to the Elections Commissioner, CAFFE said a journalist from the Associated Press had been turned back from the east, and that he had been told that permission was needed from the Defence Ministry to enter the province.


The Defence Ministry order is a violation of the fundamental right to information, and a curb on independent reporting, it said.

CAFFE requested the Elections Commissioner to focus his attention on this as a priority matter.

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Harthal in Vavuniya ; LTTE kills a Tamil civilian

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Suspected LTTE terrorists have gunned an elderly Tamil civilian, the third such slaying within last 72 hours this morning (May 8), said the defence sources. According to the sources an armed gang arrived in a three-wheeler has fired at the victim using a machine gun whilst he was at his own boutique around 9.20 am.

The victim has been identified as Baskaran, a father of two children. According to the civilian sources LTTE agents have been terrorizing businessmen in the area demanding them to offer money to the outfit. Those who do not comply with their orders have to face the "consequences", the sources added. Police probes in to the killing.

Meanwhile, the residents in the Vavuniya town have observed a harthal today, to protest against LTTE killings of civilians in the area. All shops have been closed and public transport services have come to a stand still. According to the civilian sources Peoples' Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), a mainstream political party has organized the Harthal campaign.

On Tuesday (May 6) , A PLOTE activist was killed by LTTE gunmen at Maharambakulam.

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Military captures Adampan tank

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The Adampan tank and two square kilometers of LTTE territory north of Mannar was captured by the military today after killing at least ten LTTE cadres. One soldier was also killed and another injured, the military said.

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Detained journalists released - FMM

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Free Media Movement says that the two detained journalists were released by the Army and the Ministry of Defence had claimed that they detained the journalists due to a misunderstanding.

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PLOTE move to postpone Eastern polls rejected

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The Appeal Court today rejected a request by PLOTE leader D. Siddharthan to postpone Eastern Provincial polls. The case was filed by PLOTE leader after his party’s nomination papers for Trincomalee district was rejected by the Elections Commissioner.

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Ranil to discuss apparel crisis with government

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Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he is willing to help the government to resolve the apparel sector crisis with the EU contemplating suspending the GSP + status to Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka allows foreigners into bill market

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Sri Lanka has decided to allow foreign institutional investors, mutual funds and overseas corporate bodies to buy into its treasury bills market.

Under the new provisions, foreign investors will be permitted to invest up to 10 per cent of the value of treasury bills outstanding at any given point of time through the primary market.

Treasury bills will only be allowed to be purchased by foreign investors through licensed commercial banks and primary dealers.

Sri Lanka’s local debt investors have recently been asking for yields as high as 18.5 per cent on treasury bills.

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Sri Lanka allows foreigners into bill market

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Sri Lanka has decided to allow foreign institutional investors, mutual funds and overseas corporate bodies to buy into its treasury bills market.

Under the new provisions, foreign investors will be permitted to invest up to 10 per cent of the value of treasury bills outstanding at any given point of time through the primary market.

Treasury bills will only be allowed to be purchased by foreign investors through licensed commercial banks and primary dealers.

Sri Lanka’s local debt investors have recently been asking for yields as high as 18.5 per cent on treasury bills.

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Sri Lankan military bars foreign media from polls

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Sri Lanka's military barred foreign journalists Thursday from covering weekend elections in the east that are seen as a test of confidence in the government, which seized the region from Tamil Tiger rebels last year.

Maj. Gen. Palitha Fernando said any foreigner not registered as an election observer cannot be in Eastern province during the polls.

An Associated Press reporter and a photographer were stopped at a checkpoint and were asked to go back.

Fernando said the barring of journalists and other foreigners during the elections was for their own protection.

"It could be dangerous. If something happens and a foreigner gets injured it will create problems," Fernando said.

Saturday's first-ever elections for the Eastern Provincial Council are seen as a referendum on the government's performance since it drove the rebels from their strongholds in the province last year.

Opposition parties accuse the government of forming an alliance with a group of former rebels accused of killings, abductions and recruiting child soldiers. They say the group has terrorized opposing candidates and voters.

The government says the group's members carry guns only to protect themselves from the Tamil Tigers, from which they broke away.

Tamil Tiger rebels have fought the government since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils in the island's north and east. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The government announced last July that it had cleared the east of rebels, although the guerrillas continue to operate in small cells and launch sporadic attacks on soldiers.

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EASTERN ELECTION MUST NOT LEAD TO FURTHER ALIENATION says NPC

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On Saturday May 10 the people of the Eastern Province will cast their vote at crucial elections that will have a bearing on the future course of politics in the country, and especially with regard to the ongoing ethnic conflict. The election can be historic as it will represent for the first time the hopes and opinion of the people of the east through an electoral process that is confined to the Eastern Province alone. The National Peace Council expresses its concern that the period of the election campaign has been marked by undercurrents of intimidation although there has been low overt violence. If conducted unfairly, these elections can misrepresent the will of the people of the east, who are unique in being from all three major ethnic communities and in significant proportions.

The National Peace Council views the forthcoming elections as providing an opportunity to the government to demonstrate its commitment to the democratic process as part and parcel of its strategy to resolve the ethnic conflict in a just and democratic manner. So far the level of violence has been relatively low which is a positive feature that we hope will continue until election day on May 10 and in the post-election period. However, available evidence indicates that campaigning was carried out under a security environment not conducive to a free and fair election.

The relative fairness of an election cannot be determined solely by considering what occurs on election day, as there are a number of other factors which can affect the citizen's and political parties' ability to participate effective in the democratic process. One of the controversial features of the elections is that the TMVP, which is a former militant organization continues to retain its arms on the grounds of self defence. In addition, the TMVP is contesting in alliance with the government, which has put the system of checks and balances on electoral malpractice into jeopardy. The basic requirement for a free and fair election is that all the contesting parties are unarmed and not in a position to intimidate both their political rivals as well as voters who will be fearful to cross the path of the armed party. Election monitoring organizations even filed action in the courts calling for the disarming of the TMVP for the purposes of conducting free and fair elections but without success due to the absence of jurisdiction of the courts in this matter.

Reports from the opposition political parties contesting the eastern elections, and from election monitors and the media, have highlighted a significant level of intimidation that has obstructed the electoral campaigns of the opposition parties. There are allegations that the TMVP has been intimidating its political rivals and put them into such a state of fear that they dare not campaign in areas in which the TMVP has its armed presence. The very low level of campaigning by opposition parties in some parts of the east has been independently verified by election monitors and the media. These same sources have also reported that in some instances polling cards have not been delivered to voters and that the TMVP has been issuing identity cards on its own, which could be used to fraudulently cast votes.

The National Peace Council urges the government to ensure that the election officials and police are suitably empowered to deal with any and all attempts made to tamper with the electoral process on May 10. We believe that having elections in the east, accepting some flaws, is an important step towards empowering the people in the east to democratically determine their future. But we wish to register our concern that an electoral process marked by intimidation and other abuses, unless rectified even in these last days, will undermine the democratic processes that are necessary to restore peace and ethnic harmony in the country and can lead to a further marginalizing and alienation of disempowered ethnic minorities.

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Military Equipment found in Batticaloa

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In search operations by troops in NARAKAMULLA, BATTICALOA the military items shown below were recovered.

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Two Bunkers destroyed in Jaffna

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Two LTTE terrorist bunkers were destroyed by troops in NAGAKOVIL area, MUHAMALAI around 5.10 pm on Wednesday (07).
One soldier is reported wounded in action.

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We are considering a ban on trade action – Nimal Siripala

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Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said this morning that the Ministry is seriously considering bringing in legislation to ban trade union action in the health sector as trade unionists have taken the innocent patients' lives into ransom.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

CMEV monitors EP election and Launches a blog

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The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) will be monitoring the Eastern Provincial Council Election on 10 May 2008. CMEV is currently constituted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) the Free Media Movement (FMM) and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre. Set up in 1997, CMEV has monitored every election since then. It observed the elections to local government authorities in the Batticaloa District in April 2008.

CMEV will be deploying 330 stationary monitors within selected polling centres across the Eastern Province and an additional 49 Mobile Teams.

CMEV’s focus on election day as opposed to the entire campaign as well, has been necessitated by financial constraints. CMEV will issue reports on Election Day and a consolidated final report.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said the launch of its new website, available immediately at http://cmev.wordpress.com

The new website features all CMEV press releases and situation reports on the Eastern Province elections scheduled for 10th May 2008. In addition, it contains links to all CMEV archives, dynamically updated situation maps with reports sent in from the field by CMEV monitors and a Twitter feed that you can follow and subscribe to from your mobile device or PC. You can also subscribe to all new updates using RSS.We will soon update our maps section with monitoring information leading up to and on the day of the elections. See http://cmev.wordpress.com/maps/ for details. As we use Google Maps, you can locate, print, email and share incidents quickly and easily, a spokesman of the CMEV said.

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Hand grenade lobbed at SLA route patrol

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Unidentified LTTE operatives hurled hand grenades at a SLA route patrol along the Parameshwaran - Kaladdy main road in Jaffna town area in proximity of the Jaffna University and reportedly have fled taking cover among commuters and civilians present, on Wednesday at around 7.p.m.

According to Jaffna security sources, a grenade has exploded but no damages were caused to civilian or security forces personnel.

Troops have refrained from retaliating avoiding any civilian fatalities, security sources said. Tension prevailed in the area and among many University students who were engaged in their evening studies.

Troops cordoned off the area and recovered an unexploded hand grenade during search operations conducted.

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Fake bomb, control-blasted at Sri Pada

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A bomb disposal squad from Maussakelle Army camp control-blasted what was said to be an unattended parcel which had caused fear and panic among hundreds of devotees' pilgriming Sri Pada yesterday evening (May 7) in Rathnapura.

According to Nalathanni Police sources, the Chief Incumbent at Sri Pada Ven. Dampahala Seelananda Thera had immediately noticed the Police after a suspicious box was detected by a labour, left on a roof of a public lavatory at the Vihara premises.

On information, the Nallathanni Police and Army have rushed to the scene and immediately laid a combined cordon in the area and later it was ascertained the parcel contained nothing dangerous except two battery cells.

Thus the public is been urged to keep constant alertness of the surroundings while assisting security forces to avert every possible terrorist attempt to disturb normalcy.

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Three deaths at Ratnapura hospital due to strike

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Hospital sources have just confirmed that three patients have died due to the ongoing strike by the nurses at the Ratnapura General Hospital. A child is reportedly among the deceased and the lack of medical care is said to have caused the fatalities.

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RAK Airways launches first holiday promotion to Colombo

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RAK Airways, the national airline of Ras Al Khaimah, has onWednesday, May 7, 2008 announced the launch of its first holiday promotion to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, as part of an extensive joint marketing campaign between RAK Tourism and its Sri Lankan counterpart to promote their respective tourist destinations.
The announcement was made in the presence of Mr. Dilip Mudadeniya, Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism and other key dignitaries and industry officials during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2008, where RAK Tourism is participating at the Ras Al Khaimah Stand in Hall 4, Stand # UAE 880, Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The promotion comes only months after RAK Airways launched its inaugural 4-hour direct flights to Colombo, which are part of the airline’s aggressive program to increase its fleet and expand its coverage of key international markets. RAK Airways also announced during ATM 2008 that it will soon open a new division to manage holiday packages for all its international destinations.

'RAK Airways is moving forward and acting swiftly to take advantage of the growing interest in Ras Al Khaimah from tourists and entrepreneurs all over the world. The new flights to Colombo will help strengthen our presence in the Asian market and also open new opportunities to expand in other key destinations in the region,'said Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Civil Aviation and Deputy Chairman of RAK Airways.

Mr. K. Ravindran, COO, RAK Airways commented: 'The continued growth of RAK Airways will positively contribute to Ras Al Khaimah's economy and will be a critical element in the long-term development program of the emirate. In addition, RAK Airways' expansion initiatives and strong market performance will help further promote Ras Al Khaimah in the global tourism sector and consolidate the emirate's growing reputation as a favourite holiday destination in the region.'

While tourist arrivals through RAK Airways have been projected to reach up to 60,000 passengers in 2008, the airline is seeking to further increase its capacity to complement the ongoing upgrade program being implemented at the RAK International Airport, which expects to handle over 1.2 million passengers by 2009.

The robust growth prospects of the emirate's airline industry are based on the increasing visitor footfall in Ras Al Khaimah, which according to RAK tourism officials reached around 500,000 in 2007. Within the next four years, industry experts have predicted a 400 per cent increase in total number of visitors, or about 2.5 million travellers to the emirate by 2012.

RAK Airways is the fourth national airline of the UAE established in February 2006 under an Emiri Decree by H.H. Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. The airline operates both charter and scheduled services to several international destinations, as it aims to promote Ras Al Khaimah on the global map and support the economic development of the emirate.

RAK International Airport, for its part, has been increasing its reputation as an important gateway to the Gulf. It is only one hour away from Dubai though the Emirates Road, wherein travellers can reach the airport by taking Exit 119 just before they reach Ras al Khaimah City. With the airport offering free parking for travellers, plus easy and hassle-free check-in procedure, more and more travellers have been making RAK Airways their preferred airline in the UAE.
Sri Lanka to open tourism office in Dubai
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) announced that it has selected Dubai as the base for its Middle East Headquarters as part of its efforts to consolidate on the strong growth from the region which increased by 80.6% in Q1 2008.
The announcement was made on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market 2008, the Middle East's premier travel and tourism event in Dubai.

The Dubai office will be the 6th office in SLTPB’s international network of overseas offices which includes the United Kingdom, India, Germany, France and Russia.

“The opening of an office in Dubai underlines a crucial aspect of our long-term approach to develop powerful ties and build effective partnerships across the region,” said HE Faiszer Mustapha, Deputy Minister of Tourism for Sri Lanka.

HE Mustapha remarked that the SLTPB has chosen Dubai as it ranks as the commercial and tourist heart of the Arabian Gulf region and has a historical trading tradition that continues, as the city has developed into a regional hub. “The emirate offers Sri Lanka with an ideal gateway for attracting tourists from the Middle East and is politically stable, crime-free, pro-business and liberal.” We have taken many factors into consideration before deciding on Dubai including its strategic location, free enterprise system, first-rate air transport links, well-developed business Infrastructure, state-of-the-art-telecommunications and sophisticated support services,”
said SLTPB Managing Director, Dileep Mudadeniya.
The opening of a new SLTPB office in Dubai will maximize the opportunities emerging throughout the Middle East while strengthening support for the travel trade in the region.

SLTPB’s Dubai office will co-ordinate all of Sri Lanka’s tourism promotional activities in the Arab markets including exhibition participation, marketing visits, presentations and road shows, advertising, brochure distribution, public relations, as well as familiarization visits to the island for influential business and travel journalists.

The office will also function as the preliminary contact point and enquiry processing centre for travel trade companies and tourists in the region.

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Arif Habib Securities to trade in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka on Wednesday approved the first Pakistani brokerage and only foreign securities dealer to trade on the Colombo Stock Exchange, the securities watchdog said.

SKM Lanka Holdings, a unit of Pakistan’s Arif Habib Securities, was granted a licence to trade in equities and debt, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka said.

Foreign brokers had previously traded on the stock market through joint ventures with local firms, but the last pulled out in early 2000. Several foreign banks deal in the secondary debt market.

Arif Habib Securities, a unit of the Arif Habib Group, is listed on the Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad Stock Exchanges. It also has operations in banking and fund management.

The Pakistani broker is entering Sri Lanka as part of a regional expansion plan, Arif Habib’s chairman, Khalil Masood said.

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Sufficient officials deploy for EP election

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The Election General Secretariat says all the arrangements have been finalized for the upcoming Eastern Provincial Council.
Officers who have been deployed for the election are due to report to their centres form today. The Election office for the added they have been deployed from Colombo and several other areas.
Assistant Election Commissioner of Batticaloa S.Sudakaran said several officers who have been deployed for the duties in the province have already reported to service.
Arrangements have also been finalized to send ballot Boxes and the officers for the polling booths by tomorrow evening.
Assistant Election Commissioners of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara say they should inform the shortcomings and how the voting will take place in the centres after they report to their services.
Around 6500 officers will be deployed for the election activities in the Batticaloa district. 362 polling centres have been established in the district and out of that 32 centres have been set up for the displaced. In the Ampara district 7578 officers will organize the election activities.
They will be deployed for 430 polling centres. Assistant election commissioner of the Trincomalee district disclosed around 3000 officers will be deployed for the election activities and 284 polling centres have been established in the district.
Representing 35 political parties and 75 independent groups 1342 candidates will contest in the Eastern Provincial Council Election. The voting will take place from 7 AM to
4 PM on Saturday. The counting will commence at 4.30 PM. The official results will be issued from the Election General Secretariat at Colombo.
Meanwhile Senior DIG of Election activities Gamini Navaratne says a comprehensive security plan is in effect to conduct a peaceful, free and fair election in the Eastern Province. Around 28,000 policemen are stationed in the province. Campaigning for the Eastern Provincial Council elections concluded last midnight.
He said that anyone who engages in election propaganda or sabotage after midnight could be arrested without a warrant. DIG Nawaratne also added a peaceful setting persists in the province and 95 percent of the complaints received so far are minor incidents.
He said any act of sabotage, including spreading false rumours, could be notified through the telephone number 119. The DIG requested all candidates, organisers and party leaders to extend their maximum support towards conducting a peaceful election.

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Lanka has become notorious worldwide for Media oppression and suppression

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Speaking at the Ananda College auditorium yesterday (6 May), at the launch of ‘Mage hadha gasma’ (my heartbeat), a collection of Parl. speeches of Imtiaz Bakeer Markar said, there were never unruly ugly incidents disgracing the Rupavahini (Mervyn Silva episode) when Imtiaz was the Media Minister.
When UNP was in power in 2002-2003, Sri Lanka was considered as a model in Press freedom, but, now, it is in the watch list of the Int. Press Institute (IPI) as a Nation threatening its Press freedom, he exclaimed.

In an inspirational speech, Wickremesinghe said the civilians are unable to think in terms of a Sri Lankan identity. No one is a second class citizen based on ethnic differences, he emphasized.

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Controlled blast atop Sri Pada

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A Police team with the bomb squad performed a controlled blast atop the Sri Pada sacred mountain on a suspicious parcel discovered there, Nallatanni police said.

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LTTE suspect swallows cyanide

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A LTTE suspect swallowed cyanide after being arrested by police together with another individual in Kothmale.

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Palampiddi bridge captured - Military

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The Military claimed today that they have captured the strategically important Palampiddi Bridge North of Mannar.

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Elections won't be free and fair - PAFFREL

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PAFFREL said that the forthcoming elections won't be free and fair as TNA is not contesting. They also claimed that there is no conducive environment for free campaigning and 61 complaints were lodged so far.
It has issued the pre-election monitoring report of eastern provincial council election. Deputy executive director of the PAFFREL Rohana Hettiarachchi said in a media briefing held in Colombo this morning the monitoring of the election will be carried out in three stages.
18 political parties and 60 independent groups are contesting the election.
The special feature of the election is that all recognised parties are contesting the election. Observations of the foreign monitors have also been included in this report. Over one million people are eligible for voting. Out of 22 thousand postal voters, 80 percent have cast their votes.
1070 polling centers will be set up to conduct the election. More than 2000 monitors are scheduled to deploy for monitoring.

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Government is committed to consolidate law and order

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President Mahinda Rajapakse stresses that the government is committed to consolidate law and order and peace harmony with the help of heroic forces who have already liberated the eastern province.
The soldiers have rendered a priceless service to eliminate terrorism. Therefore, it is the responsibility of government to look after the welfare of the war heroes and their families.
The President made these remarks at a ceremony held in Temple Trees today to declare a month for war heroes from today to June 7th. The main objective of this move to honour the war heroes who laid their lives to safeguard the motherland. The heroic soldiers have dedicated their lives for the benefit of the people.
Although they fight bravely at the war front against the terrorists they treat the general public with humanitarian attitudes. The President also praised the service rendered by the soldiers for the development of the country.

A flag to honour the heroic soldiers was also issued and the first flag was sold to the President at the event by a daughter of a war hero.

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