Sri lankan's Unbiased Online Daily

Sri lankan's Unbiased Online Daily


Monday, June 30, 2008

Sri Lanka Air Force raids terror training camp - Mankulam

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Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets pounded an LTTE training base located at Ampakaman area, 8 Km Northeast Mankulama junction around 6.15 this morning (July 1) .

According to Air Force spokesperson, Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara, the targeted location was a training base for the LTTE members of specialized bands such as "air tigers" and others. He said the target was engaged with 8 fighter jets and the raid was successful.

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Sri Lanka's GDP Growth Slows as Prices Curb Spending

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By Anusha Ondaatjie

(Bloomberg) --Sri Lanka's economic growth slowed for the first time in a year in the first quarter as inflation running above 25 percent and escalating violence in the South Asian island's civil war damped spending.

Gross domestic product expanded 6.2 percent in the three months ended March 31 from a year earlier, compared with 7.6 percent in the fourth quarter, the Department of Census & Statistics said today. That was less than the median forecast of 6.4 percent in a Bloomberg News survey of 10 economists.

Spending by consumers and companies is weakening as the central bank holds interest rates at a six-year high to cool the fastest inflation in at least four years. Sri Lanka's economic outlook ``depends critically'' on an end to the island's 25-year civil war, according to the International Monetary Fund.

``Growth is slowing due to the impacts of the worsening security situation on business confidence and high inflation increasing costs for companies,'' said Vajira Premawardhana, head of research at Lanka Orix Securities Pvt. in Colombo.

The yield on the 7.5 percent bond due in March 2009 fell about 5 basis points to 18.4 percent at 11:50 a.m. Colombo time, according to Ceylinco Shriram Securities Ltd. The rupee was little changed at 107.7 to the dollar, according to Hatton National Bank Ltd.

`Significantly Higher'

Consumer prices in the capital Colombo rose 26.2 percent in May from a year earlier, after increasing 25 percent in April, on higher food and energy costs. Annual inflation, or the 12- month moving average increase in prices, jumped to 19.8 percent in May.

Sri Lanka's 2008 inflation rate is likely to be ``significantly higher'' than previous estimates as oil reaches records, the central bank said on May 26.

Inflation may slow to 14 percent by the end of this year, central bank Deputy Governor W.A. Wijewardena said on May 15. The central bank said in January it was targeting annual inflation of about 10 percent for 2008.

Policy makers in Sri Lanka, who have kept the benchmark repurchase rate unchanged at 10.5 percent for 16 straight meetings, may need to consider increasing the proportion of deposits that commercial lenders must place with it or let the currency appreciate to cool runaway inflation, James McCormack, head of Asia-Pacific sovereign ratings at Fitch Ratings, said April 10.

Commodity Exports

Growth may slow to 5.8 percent this year amid central bank measures to cool inflation, according to Fitch.

Sri Lanka's economic growth is expected to accelerate this year as rising government spending and commodities exports counter weakening consumer demand, the central bank said on April 8. Gross domestic product may expand 7 percent, at the lower end of the range estimated in November, and up from 6.8 percent last year, the bank said in its annual report.

The government on Jan. 16 formally ended its 2002 cease-fire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, saying the rebels had used the accord to rearm and prepare for further attacks. Sri Lanka is seeking $1.8 billion in aid and investment to help rebuild the eastern province captured from the rebels in July.

Services, which represent about 60 percent of the economy, expanded 6.4 percent, down from 7.4 percent in the previous period, the statistics bureau said.

Industry, which accounts for 30 percent of the economy, expanded 6 percent from 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Farm output, about 10 percent of GDP, grew 5.9 percent from 6.7 percent previously.

Victoria's Secret

Sri Lanka, the world's fourth-biggest tea producer, has benefited from rising demand for commodities and food from emerging economies as sales to the U.S. weaken.

The South Asian economy exported a record $1 billion worth of the commodity in 2007 on higher prices, and may earn more this year as violence disrupted supplies from Kenya, according to the Sri Lanka Tea Board.

Sri Lanka's overseas sales, mainly garments for brands such as Victoria's Secret and Gap, have become less vulnerable to a U.S. slowdown as the island has secured more European markets, Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said in January.

Exports climbed 11.3 percent to $2.49 billion in the first four months of 2008, according to the central bank. The bank expects overseas shipments to increase 10 percent this year.

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LOLC receives approval to mobilize foreign currency deposits

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Lanka ORIX Finance Company Limited, a member of the LOLC Group received approval from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to mobilize foreign currency deposits, thereby becoming the first Finance Company in the history of financial services in Sri Lanka to be granted such an approval.

The LOLC group recorded an unprecedented growth in its performance during the immediately past financial year with a top-line growth of 50% and a bottom line growth of 21%, which is noteworthy, given the negative environmental pressures that prevailed during the financial year with high interest rates and inflation causing an increase in borrowing costs. The company also made a strategic investment in Commercial Leasing Company Limited with a view to increasing its scale of operations. Furthermore, the group is continuously increasing its reach to remote areas around the country through the Service Centers, which are being opened at the Lanka IOC Filling stations, consequent to the agreement signed with Lanka IOC.

The Group Managing Director/CEO of LOLC Kapila Jayawardena mentioned that LOLC is well placed to enter the foreign currency deposit mobilization market in terms of the strategically located global ORIX network, the widespread local branch network, and a significant percentage of ex-banking professionals, in employment at various senior and middle levels within the LOLC group. Furthermore, LOLC has a very advanced IT system which links all branches on-line real-time and a treasury management system which provides superior management information. Jayawardena further stated that they entered into an agreement with Western Union Money Transfer earlier on this year becoming an authorized agent, in order to be able to use this as a channel to remit foreign currency from the various overseas locations to savings accounts, which will be maintained with Lanka ORIX Finance Company Limited. The stability of the LOLC Group, the high standard of corporate governance and sophisticated risk management techniques adhered to by the group may have added some weight to our proposal to mobilize foreign currency deposits. Kapila Jayawardena said, "We will be able to offer extremely competitive interest rates, an exceptional service and more importantly a high level of stability to NRFC and RFC account holders. We are also looking at giving very attractive promotional offers to our clientele and are confident that we will be the preferred NRFC /RFC partner to many an investor." The LOLC Group is a financial services conglomerate in the country and offers a range of financial solutions such as Insurance, Fixed Deposits & Savings, Factoring & Working Capital, Leasing, Fleet Management, Agro & Micro Finance, Pawning, Stock Brokering, Islamic Finance, and also non-financial solutions such as IT, Project Development, Real Estate and Forestry.

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India to train Lankan troops

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India is throwing open the doors of its different military institutions to train Sri Lankan soldiers. The Times of India says over 500 officers and other ranks will receive training in institutions ranging from Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare to specialised naval courses in gunnery, navigation, communication and anti-submarine warfare.

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Unions reject Govt. offer, general strike looms...

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The extra allowance of Rs. 1,000 offered by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to public servants on Sunday was rejected by a majority of trade unions representing almost the entire public sector as the amount was insufficient and nowhere near what they expected, union leaders said.

The National Trade Union Centre – an alliance of 366 private and public sector trade unions said the offer of Rs. 1,000 was a poor consolation when the demand was for a monthly increase of Rs. 5,000.

“The NTUC’s demand for a minimum pay increase of Rs. 5,000 is based on the cost of living index, which had increased by 2,430 points since the last pay rise in 2006. As such the offer of Rs. 1,000 hardly meets the expectations of public servants who are struggling to make ends meet under difficult conditions,” its president and JVP front-liner K.D. Lalkantha said.

In a letter to President Rajapaksa rejecting the offer of Rs. 1,000, Mr. Lalkantha said the one-day strike on July 10 would be held as planned if the government failed to increase the public servant’s monthly salary by Rs. 5,000.

Health Service Trade Union Alliance (HSTUA) – an alliance of 55 trade unions said the membership rejected the Rs. 1000 increase offered by President Rajapaksa as it was insufficient.

“Our main concern is to have our salary anomalies arising from the 6/2006 circular rectified. The anomaly has been further aggravated after the recent 100 per cent salary increase granted to doctors. The Treasury has not allocated necessary funds to service this salary increase and as such the increment is being funded by monies allocated for recurrent expenditure leading to a cut in amounts allocated for health employees’ overtime,” HSTUA Secretary Ravi Kumudesh said.

He said the HSTUA too would go ahead with the planned July 10 token strike.

All Ceylon Railway Employees General Trade Union Secretary Sumathipala Manawadu said the government could not please railway employees in the manner kids were kept quiet by giving them candy.

“Since 2006, the cost of living has increased by 300 per cent and to off set this the government is offering an extra allowance Rs. 1000.

Ceylon Teachers Service Union Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe said the membership flatly rejected the offer of Rs. 1000.

“We have a salary anomaly which is going on unresolved for 11 years. This has resulted in the Teachers’ salaries being cut by between Rs. 2,000 and 3,000 a month. Hence, no teacher can accept this increase of Rs. 1,000. We wholeheartedly support the proposed July 10 token strike and further trade union action after that if necessary to win our demands,” Mr. Jayasinghe said.

Postal and Telecommunication Officers Union Secretary K.S. Weerasekara said the membership was not satisfied with the President’s offer.

“We are demanding a salary increase of Rs. 8,000 a month, a cost of living allowance at the rate of Rs. 2.50 for each point increase and a reduction in the railway season ticket fare which is increased by 400%,” he said.

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SC bars police from seeking bank account details

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Except of suspected subversives by Chitra WeerarathneThe Supreme Court yesterday directed the Police Department to refrain from seeking details of a person’s bank account, unless that particular person or a family member was subjected to a specific investigation in respect of cordon and search operations in Colombo and the suburbs.
Any breach of this direction by any Police officer should be brought to the notice of the Supreme Court by the harassed party. The Court made the order after the Ceylon Workers’ Congress complained that the Police had been calling for a declaration of bank accounts held by certain persons whose premises had been searched by Police personnel.

The Court also directed the Police that in keeping persons under detention the time limits specified in Emergency Regulations should not be exceeded

M. A. Sumanthiran appeared for the complainants.

The Additional Solicitor General Palitha Fernando PC appeared for the Attorney General.

The Bench comprised the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justice N. G. Amaratunga and Justice K. Siripavan.

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India, Lanka to conclude CEPA talks

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India and Sri Lanka are all set to conclude their discussions on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by July 12. However, owing to the sensitivities of industries in both the countries, so far there has been no agreement on proposals regarding reduction of their respective negative list (items not subjected to tariff reduction commitments). In the final round talks, to be held in Colombo from July 9 to July 12, both sides would also finalise provisions regarding services and investment that form part of CEPA other than the trade in goods section.
Both sides have held more than 12 rounds of talks so far since February 2005. The two countries, had in March this year, finished the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement on trade in goods inked in March 2000. Though New Delhi and Colombo had recently asked industry bodies to respond to suggestions on a possible reduction of negative list to enhance bilateral trade and expand the scope of FTA, the response has been discouraging, a senior government official said, adding that they have decided to go ahead with the current negative list. Both sides are targeting to achieve a bilateral trade of $5 billion by 2010.

India-Sri Lanka trade in 2006-07 was $2.72 billion, marginally up from the previous fiscal’s $2.6 billion. Bulk of Indian export to Sri Lanka includes petroleum products and transport equipments (almost 50% of the total), while primary and semi-finished iron and steel is also a fast growing export item. Among the significant import items are coffee, tea, edible oil, non-ferrous metal imports, spices and electrical machinery.

At present, in its effective negative list India has 429 items comprising products from sectors like chemicals, plastics, small-scale industry products, textiles and edible oils. Apart from these items, India has placed 598 other items (all from the textile sector) where a 25% duty concession has been given, making them comparatively easier to trade in. On the other hand, Sri Lanka has kept 1,180 items in its negative list comprising mostly products from the agriculture, automobiles and capital goods sectors.

In the services side, both countries have exchanged a schedule of commitment to give greater market access to each other’s services industry and have agreed to make the pact WTO-plus. On its part, Sri Lanka had earlier agreed to give a revised commitment. Sri Lanka’s commitment is an offer to open services sectors like financial services, IT, maritime, audio-visual and some segments of health services to Indian industry. India has also offered for greater access to services of interest to Sri Lanka, comprising 110 sub-sectors including IT, convention, audio-visual, tourism (including hotels, travel and tour agents), maritime (including cargo-handling and customs clearance) and air transport.

However, as per the schedule of commitments on investments, companies can carry out services operations in the other country following the respective FDI guidelines. "The investment agreement is only to give protection post-investment," an official said.

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Direct flights between Sri Lanka-Nepal essential

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Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama said on Thursday that the absence of direct flights between Sri Lanka and Nepal was the biggest impediment to bilateral tourism.

He was speaking at a seminar, Windows on Nepal, in Colombo.

"The two governments should seriously consider the resumption of flights between the two countries if we are to promote their tourism interests," he said.

Today tourists visiting the two countries have to fly in circuitous routes such as Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata or Doha wasting valuable time and money, he said.

The Minister said that both countries were blessed with tourist attractions. Nepal had the breathtaking mountains and Sri Lanka the sun kissed beaches, he said.

Dr. Amunugama reminiscing the days he had worked as a UNadvisor said there were Westerners who used to spend a couple of months in Nepal visiting places of tourist interests such as Kathmandu and Pokhara and to take the direct flight to Colombo from Kathmandu and to visit the beaches in Hikkaduwa and Bentota.

"The flights were full of such tourists who were mainly hippies and the plane smelt of grass," he said in lighter vein.

Today some of them are holding top positions in their respective countries and would have fond memories of the good old days, he said.

As much as the two countries were blessed with many gifts of nature , they also had their share of problems, he said.

"Sri Lanka is saddled with the civil war and Nepal also has experienced a similar problem. But I am rely happy to note that Nepal has entered the democratic process," after going through a bad period," he added. There were opportunities to promote bilateral trade, he said.

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Politically ruined parties need press for survival - JVP

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Parties that are politically ruined would always seek the support of newspapers for their survival, JVP spokesman Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath said yesterday (30).
Commenting on the alleged attack on JVP rebel group parliamentarian Piyasiri Wijenaike, he said that there was a compliant made and an investigation was in progress.

The newly formed National Freedom Front member and Kalutara District JVP parliamentarian Piyasiri Wijenayake, who was allegedly attacked on Sunday had accused the JVP Central Committee of planning attacks and issuing death threats to NFF members.

He said that on Sunday evening around 6.00 p.m. when he was shopping at the Horana town when the JVP District Secretary and Divisional Secretary started using abusive language and assaulting him.

He said due to the intervention of the MSD bodyguards the attack was less severe. Prior to the attack he saw a JVP Central Committee member in the vicinity, he said.

The attackers grabbed his bag containing Rs. 200,000 from his vehicle. It was money given to him for the party’s work. "I have lodged a complaint with the Horana Police on the attack and the lost bag," he said.

On Sunday morning too some JVP members had come close to his residence and threatened him demanding that he give up engaging in the activities of FNN, he said.

Wijenayake said that constant death threats issued to the FNN membership were a clear indication that the JVP had a weak leadership.

A spokeswoman of the Horana Police Crime Division said that they had recorded a statement about two political groups clashing over a poster campaign which resulted in Wijenayake being attacked and investigations were continuing.

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Community helps homeless Lankans

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DOHA • Sri Lankans who became homeless due to the fire that burnt down their dwellings and killed six of their colleagues have found a permanent accommodation in the Muntazah area, The Peninsula learned yesterday.

The Sri Lankan Community Benevolent Fund (SLCBF), the charity arm of the Sri Lankan Coordinating Committee (SLCC) Qatar, has shouldered the first month's rent of QR11, 500 enabling the fire victims to move into the flat yesterday night. The SLCC and SLCBF officials together with the fire victims worked tirelessly for 11 days looking for a suitable flat or villa to permanently accommodate them.

Meanwhile, assistance from the community towards the affected persons is still coming in the form of cooked meals, dry rations and other basic needs, said SLCC President Lenny Cramer. Cramer lauded the community for its support to the SLCC toward assisting the affected persons and thanked a community member who provided temporary accommodation to the affected persons in his villa in Abu Hamour. SLCBF Vice-President Tennison Silva, SLCBF Treasurer Dammika Jayasena, SLCC General Secretary Ruwan Lankeshwara, SLCC Chief Coordinator Nimal Tudewatte, Sri Lanka Business Council (SLBC) General Secretary Jayantha Nanayakkara and Past President of SLCC Lokitha Karavita played major role in helping the affected persons, Cramer said.

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IAF choppers to guard PM in Colombo

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Armed helicopters of the Indian Air Force, bullet-proof vehicles and members of the highly-trained special protection group (SPG) would accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he reaches Colombo for the 15th SAARC summit in August.

Confirming this, chief of the Sri Lankan armed forces Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said on Monday that Indian helicopters would be deployed during the meeting of the heads of states on August 2 and 3, the last two days of the summit. “Few of the Indian helicopters will come (to Colombo) to assist the air force (Sri Lankan) to provide protection during the summit. No chances can be taken,” Fonseka said.

The weeklong event begins on July 27. It was further learnt that bullet-proof vehicles would be flown in from India for the Prime Minister during his stay in Colombo. Fonseka, who was interacting with Colombo-based foreign correspondents on Monday, added that the Indian PM will bring his own security as per protocol.

Unconfirmed media reports added that the Indian Navy would have presence in Sri Lankan waters to avert any LTTE attack from the sea. And that India would position radars in Colombo to thwart any air attack.

“We know what the threat is. We are ready to face the threat,” Fonseka said referring to the possible attempts by the LTTE to jeopardise the summit. He added that there would be no shortage of troops during the summit and a large number of personnel from the army, air force and navy would be deployed to throw several layers of protection around the heads of states and delegates.

Answering a question about Sri Lanka purchasing weapons from India, Fonseka said India should be ready to sell in the first place. “If anybody is ready to sell, we will buy,” he said. Sri Lanka is currently purchasing a large chunk of its arms and ammunition from China and Pakistan. “India is our nearest neighbour. If we could buy from India, we don't need to buy from anywhere else,” Fonseka said. He added that India has its own political sensitivities. “The LTTE after all comprises Tamil terrorists. India has to take a realistic view,” he said.

At the same time, Fonseka added that India was helping Sri Lanka in many ways.

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FMM condemns assault on Namal Perera

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The Free Media Movement (FMM) is shocked and outraged at the brutal assault of former TNL News Director and currently Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) employee Namal Perera and a friend this evening (Monday, 30th June 2008). Mr. Perera and his friend, Mr. Mahendra Ratnaweera, a Sri Lankan national working at the British High Commission in Colombo, were driving between Narahenpita and Kirulapone at around 06:00 p.m. when they were waylaid. The assault took place on the busy highway, in the vicinity of an army installation, the government information department and the security checkpoint at the Narahenpita bridge. The assaulters attempted to abduct Mr. Perera, but were resisted, and both Mr. Perera and his friend were badly beaten in the ensuing fracas. They are currently receiving treatment at the Apollo hospital. The potential abductors had clearly shouted that it was Mr. Namal Perera they were seeking.

FMM notes that at the time of the assault, the SLPI was contemplating legal action against the state-controlled Dinamina newspaper for reporting that the SLPI had sent members of the LTTE on a foreign tour to Denmark on the pretext that they were journalists (see FMM Statement of 27th June 2008).

This latest incident is sadly typical of the rampant assault on democracy and the freedom of expression that is taking place in Sri Lanka today. State-controlled media and government ministry websites are in the habit of baselessly demonising journalists and media professionals as supporters of the LTTE, and acts of physical harm are being committed with total impunity. The complete contempt for democratic freedom, fundamental human rights, and the rule of law that is demonstrated in incidents such as these, openly condoned by the highest government officials at various times, engenders no confidence that the dark climate of fear and intimidation shrouding media freedom in Sri Lanka today is being addressed by the government effectively or sincerely.

We will be closely monitoring the actions taken by the government to bring the perpetrators to justice in this latest criminal act, in particular the Cabinet Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of Minister Sarath Amunugama, and will be treating this case as the litmus test of its effectiveness.

FMM calls upon all citizens of Sri Lanka to regard these revolting acts of cowardly violence against journalists as an assault on democracy and the human rights of all Sri Lankans. FMM takes this distressing opportunity of the assault on Namal Perera and Mahendra Ratnaweera to unreservedly condemn, once again, the continuing attacks in various forms against independent media and to call for their immediate end.

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Sri Lanka & India’s Insecurity?

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by Shenali Waduge
Is India insecure by nature or should India have reasons to be insecure even after expansions in its military, diplomatic & economic energies far beyond Nehru’s Non-Aligned times? It is this aspect of insecurity that necessitates a closer review of India’s role in Sri Lanka. Does India need to be insecure of Sri Lanka? Or is it that India wishes to see Sri Lanka wriggling with “uncertainties” that will eternally leave a “vulnerable” country to which India can always remain bound to as “big brother” so that no other nation can or should touch (an indirect silent colony of India)? Is suspicion aroused purely because India sees itself engulfed in the bosom of western diplomacy over the more lack-luster Eastern ensemble? Possibly India may not be aware of exactly what is making India insecure…but insecure it certainly is.



The risk to India’s security vis a vis the LTTE factor must be answered not by Sri Lanka but by India alone for it cannot shirk its responsibility for arming, training, equipping & supporting the LTTE. Turning a rebel group with a xenophobic leader marshalling brainwashed cadres into an international terrorist network with side revenues coming from drugs, narcotics, human smuggling, scams & distortion, India cannot whine over LTTE threats on Indian territory….least of all when the leaders of Tamil Nadu are tolerant of LTTE presence in their state & use the “Tamil” factor as a manipulative tool against India’s Central Government no sooner elections come into focus. India should first fix the problem back home before interfering into the affairs of another country.



Understandably the geo-political importance of Sri Lanka has been oft quoted as being the primary source for any country to be involved in Sri Lanka. Notwithstanding this important geographical factor, there are obviously more players to contend with, more problems bigger than regional supremacy & India’s role in Sri Lanka cannot be assessed without considering other players & the other reasons for the interests of those players in Sri Lanka. It is indeed a very complicated scenario.



Political ambitions or Economic ambitions

It is apparent that India’s “ambitiousness” is at the center of countries alluring India’s allegiance. The path India is taking is a far cry from the status quo of post-independence, policy of non-alignment & a force that stood out from other countries who also experienced decolonization.



It was Sri Lanka’s closeness with the US that spearheaded India’s insecurity at a time when India took a pro-East policy. Now with the dependence on military power India needs to seek US assistance. Alongside this remains a need to be recognized as a global super power – for a large country with a booming economy India still has not been accepted into the UN Security Council. The US-Sino ties is unlikely to be jeopardized by any allegiance with India it is most likely that the nuclear deal is to purely balance the scales of power in the Asian region. But India’s hob nobbing with the Western world has increased its insecurity & the US is seeking mileage of this. We can be certain that if India has been inspired to entertain any ambition & ambitious intentions….the region is doomed to see plenty of turmoil internally & externally within the region.

As a threesome we can but hesitate to wonder what is likely to take place in a region domineering with weapons. The competition between China & India is undeniable interchanging their supremacy economically. If China is leading…we can be certain that India wants to take over or at least catch up. We must also note the presence of Russia & Japan.

Do we see a US-inspired ambitious India roving to take supremacy?



For the US, it would be in its best interest to have India & China at loggerheads. The important question that China & India need to answer is whether the two wish to follow a route of India plus China or India against China. This is not to imply that India & China together should work against the US because let us not forget the pros & cons of globalization & that China does eventually have to depend on US economically…. the recent claims on Chinese toys falling below standards & being removed from shelves also signals that US is always ready to change & challenge any status quo. The US too depends on China. Presently the US is in a sensitive situation with their home economy being affected drastically the US supremacy is being challenged without a doubt.



Whether the decision to align with US & sign a nuclear deal (one recalls the embargo on India following nuclear tests in 1998) was taken pragmatically or ideologically is unknown but it has brought trade improvements, foreign direct investments etc. Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour are all planning to enter India & India is likely to see many more drastic changes. India is now the largest trading partner in the EU accounting for 25% of both India’s imports & exports. Microsoft’s only overseas facility is in Hyderabad India. Domestic India however feels otherwise & we may possibly see a change in government. Could this be an alignment trap? As Brajesh Mishra put it: "One either changes the policy to suit the environment or changes the environment to suit the policy. The nuclear tests helped us change the environment."



India’s modernization plans have had disastrous affects on rural India – more than 10,000 farmers have committed suicide in 2005 unable to meet debts, more than 50% children are malnourished, 40% can neither read or write. India ranks 126th on the UN Human Development index, well below China in 81st place. There is greater divide between the upper classes – 5-6% of the population (60-70 million people) is almost in par with the living standards of Europe. An estimated 350-400 million out of its 1 billion inhabitants are still below the poverty line.



But, India cannot & should not forget it is an Asian country – it is the second largest demographically & geographically.



The other players

India does have conflicts with its neighbors – China continues to claim part of Arunachal Pradesh (North East India) while India claims Aksai Chin (North West). India recognizes China’s sovereignty over Tibet since 2003 though the US & China are at loggerheads regarding Tibet. The Kashmir issue between Pakistan & India has been dragging far too long marked by China’s unconditional support for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Then there is the Maoist (Naxalite) problem in Nepal, uncertainties in Bangladesh & the problems in Sri Lanka



China is also establishing its presence with the construction of a deep sea port in Gwadar, Pakistan near the Persian Gulf, funding Mynamar navy (Southeast of India) funding the development of the Hambantota harbor in Sri Lanka…the Iran-India pipeline & Pakistan’s role all these raise the question of encirclement & obviously draws India’s suspicion.



India has always viewed Pakistan as being the epicenter of terrorism. India is of the opinion that Al-Qaeda could not have become such a potent force if not for the assistance of Pakistan. India wishes the international community to correctly analyze the situation in Pakistan …it sounds very much like what the Sri Lankan people are asking of the international community especially India in relation to the LTTE. If the Al-Qaeda & Taliban are knowingly using Pakistan then this is exactly what the LTTE is doing in Tamil Nadu. Yet, the US is hardly likely to allow India to dictate its policy of Pakistan.



India is also concerned about stability in Central Asia – a region that has begun to figure significantly in view of its geo-political & geo-economic interest following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The countries of Central Asia face the menace of Islamic fundamentalism & terrorism which is the focus of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (a force to match NATO) which occasions both Pakistan & Afghanistan to function as “moderate” instead of “fundamental”.



The role of Russia should also not be forgotten. India does have technical & military cooperations with Russia – India buying most of Russia’s weapons. One can see how the energy factor becomes another source of importance where Russian- Indo relations are concerned.



If one gives the CIA credit for a possible alliance between India, China & the US then the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which forges alliances between China, Russia, & India alongside Pakistan & Iran is showing its face & influence in the region.



This leads us back home in Sri Lanka to wonder what significance we have for India.



Sri Lanka

For Sri Lanka it is best to be alert at all times & remember at all times that there are no permanent friends but permanent interests. Gone are the days that anyone or any country for that matter does anything “free” without expecting or asking for something in return!



The visit of a top Indian delegation comprising M K Narayan (National Security Advisor), Shri Vijay Singh (Defense Secretary) & Shivsankar Menon (Foreign Secretary) has given rise to many speculations as to the reasons for their visit – it was certainly not to discuss SAARC security arrangements. For in arming, training, supporting & financing the LTTE India is in a better position to ensure its Premier is unharmed ….but then India should also remember that the LTTE eliminated another prime minister on Indian soil in 1991. India should not have to worry about the LTTE at all since India has oft times then not made sure that the Sri Lanka security forces does not capture or eliminate LTTE leadership…the Vaddamarachchi operation & possibly the winding up operation in Mullaitivu is a case in point. In any case, the Sri Lankan people are highly unlikely to buy the security risk factor for the Indian premier as any reason for the 3 star visit ahead of the SAARC summit. If security is the risk shouldn’t India be concerned that the LTTE & Tamil Nadu leaders may join together & demand separation from India to make it a greater Eelam?



Doubting India

India has given no reason for Sri Lanka not to doubt its intentions & even a cordial visit is likely to be construed as a move to undermine the territorial integrity of the country. Presently we hear of the officials “instructing” Sri Lanka not to purchase military weapons without explicit approvals from India, not to allow any Pakistani intelligence personnel into Sri Lanka without clearance from India….is Sri Lanka a sovereign nation or not? Is this the sort of relationship that India wishes to nurture…especially when there are many who recall the times of sound cultural ties between India & Sri Lanka?



If the people of Sri Lanka do in any way doubt & question India’s role in Sri Lanka, India really has only itself to blame. Indira Gandhi saw to it that a rebel entity in Sri Lanka was created to force Sri Lanka to be “dependent” on India….”eternally” …even now India demands that Sri Lanka buys arms from only India. If creating a rebel group was not enough India forced consent to have its peace keepers in Sri Lanka – men who were clueless about what they came to do & ended up with the deaths of over 2000 IPKF soldiers, Sri Lankan women raped, shooting & killing the innocent ….finally to be asked by the Sri Lankan Government & surprisingly even the rebels to leave. Yet to be fair by the IPKF they did surround Prabakaran but instructions from Delhi were to release him. It was never investigated who gave the instructions & why? Would India wish to make this same mistake despite the hyped up calls for a new terminology in UN circles called “military intervention”? The IPKF troops in Sri Lanka & their failure in just under 2 years of presence does provide Sri Lanka to boldly denounce any calls for military intervention on the grounds that it proved a futile exercise leaving not only deaths of innocent Sri Lankan civilians but a large number of deaths to the peace troopers….the rebels remained unarmed & eventually ended up running off with the weapons of the peace keepers! Military intervention for Sri Lanka would be like jumping from the stove to the fire!

The Indians were also responsible for the Provincial Council system a devolution package hurriedly passed through with the 13th amendment & Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court declaring a referendum was not necessary. Can we still challenge this decision in the light of its importance being denied to the people of the country???

The next “intervention” by India incidentally or rather evidently came through an India-approved Norway role as peace facilitators invited by the then President Kumaratunga….making many to wonder who else was on RAW payrolls! Dr. Subramaniam Swamy registered a case against Sonia Gandhi claiming she is on KGB payroll & smuggling ancient antiques out of India. Even Japan which volunteered to facilitate in the peace process was specifically told by India to direct their support only by way of aid. Thus, we can see that the Norway-US connection & the India connection does raise a multitude of interest as to what they all “proposed” to do with regard to Sri Lanka & whether the Government of Sri Lanka had any “say” in this scenario at all – were our soldiers to be treated as mere pawns to a larger & greater plan? It does make us wonder how that penniless-rebel movement that doctrinated itself on the “Sinhala discrimination” tag soon copied Norway’s’ tag of “self-determination” & the right to a separate state & rose to greater fete than even the Al Qaeda.



India is concerned about the movements & actions of the present Government - the purported closeness which Sri Lanka is portrayed as having with China. India not only has to worry about China, Pakistan & the US, in all probability India must be concerned about the Rajapakse tactics on courting Iran which is likely to embark into retail oil sector that the Indian Oil Corporation presently occupies, Saudi Arabia to balance the relationship with Iran & Malaysia which has become the largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka. All these “developments” are likely to shrink India’s influence over Sri Lanka. However, let us hope that Sri Lanka does not end up another Myanmar.



At a time when international terrorism is being presented as the most important problem facing the international community & one to be tackled on a priority basis & dealt with even if these terrors are pro-western or anti-western, pro-eastern or anti-eastern. Yet there certainly are double standards. Should terrorism not exist in only western climes? Is it OK for terrorism to prevail in nations such as ours?

Despite it all why does Sri Lanka continue to receive mixed signals from India?



If the Indian Central Government continues to dance to the tune of the Tamil Nadu Government it purely showcases the ease with which votes can be manipulated. This aspect must have been taken into consideration by the Bush administration to push through the nuclear deal while Congress was in power. Who would have thought the Congress Government whose Chairperson was made widow as a result of the LTTE would opt for power over the annihilation of a group that was fostered by her mother-in-law?

Some problems offer mandate for India’s interference & the Tamil’s fleeing to Tamil Nadu gives room for the Indian Government to use as an excuse to pressure Sri Lanka & force its will upon our nation.

The slip of the tongue by McCain’s advisor’s that another 9/11 type attack would help McCain become the next President served only to confirm theories that emerged that the Bush administration was well aware of the attacks but decided to use it as a tool to bolster the declining internal support of Bush. Thus there will come a day when India’s own follies & misadventures will also emerge.

So what does India really want?

Clearly India does not want to see a “divided” Sri Lanka. The arrival of the three high-profile Indian officials with elections in the air was not to appease the Sri Lankan Tamils but to appease the Tamil Nadu leaders who have been of late breathing down the Central Government to take action against the GOSL. The significance of R. Sampathan’s comment that the Sri Lankan Tamils did not get anything despite the Indian’s getting Trincomalee is important in this context. Sampanthan seems to be confused by the “lease” element associated with the Trincomalee harbor.

Why should India be cautious of the LTTE? When India has & still provides safe haven for LTTErs fleeing from the North of Sri Lanka & supplies still very much coming in from Tamil Nadu. A few arrests to appease diplomatic ties is hardly likely to change the status quo. There is a saying that what goes round comes round & India’s manipulations are not likely to run its course. There is bound to come a time when India will soon face the very problems they helped create.

Currently, “those supporting” the LTTE are facing a crisis…with the ongoing military successes the bargaining power of the LTTE certainly diminishes & the non-LTTE Tamils are likely to raise the need for a negotiated political settlement before the GOSL takes the upper hand – this is where people like Mr. Anandasangaree will come into action. Are we to presume that the man who took on a nation & saddled many other nations to support his endeavor is likely to see a humiliating defeat? Most unlikely, are we then to presume that these “support bases” may “interfere” again & ensure that he is turned into a “Idi Amin” ….most likely! With a death penalty over the LTTE leader’s head, India may provide safe passage only but we can wonder which nation is likely to provide “safe haven” for this formidable leader?

If the much hyped security factor is of significance for India’s territorial integrity they should have dealt with the LTTE & the Tamil Nadu leaders. Prabakaran guilty of the death of Rajiv Gandhi is a proclaimed offender – Tamil Nadu leaders can be questioned by the state for acquiescence & support of the LTTE. With the SAARC summit to be hosted by Sri Lanka later on in the month, is it more embarrassing to have Sri Lanka’s integrity humiliated by the presence of 3000 Indian military personnel, armed trucks, Sri Lanka under radar surveillance, the Indian air force guarding the skies of Colombo just for a person’s whose very portfolio is likely to be in jeopardy following the looming elections to be held in India or to politely ask the Indian Premier to remain at home where he is bound to be “safe” – for a terrorist unit to have gone to India & masterminded the attack on Rajiv Gandhi it is likely to be peanuts to undertake another assassination if they so desired. India may well be reminded of the fact that the powerful & highly controversial Iranian President was also in Sri Lanka recently & there was no fuss by the Iranians over security matters. The presence of such a large contingent of Indians is hardly likely to change anything other than showing Sri Lanka & its Government that India is able to call the shots at any time….SAARC hasn’t been a fruitful endeavor so why should Sri Lanka have to be humiliated with foreign presence?

But India can look at options – it is now nuclear enabled, it has a standing army & it is cultivating bilateral & multilateral relations with neighbors & allies.



To Madeleine Albright, the US was the world’s “indispensable nation”. To Sri Lanka, India becomes an “unavoidable nation”.



Tamil Nadu has been used as a base to not only supply but also provide shelter to the LTTE for its attacks on Sri Lanka. Has India every thought that there may come a time if the LTTE is allowed to legitimize their struggle that the North of Sri Lanka may be used as a safe haven for terror tactics to take place in India & for Tamil Nadu to relaunch the “We Tamil” slogan which was squashed by the RAW before it took root. Tamil Nadu is the real homeland of the 400 million Tamils of the world & there real desire for a separate homeland is likely to start in Tamil Nadu. Prabakaran is likely to be just a tool in that exercise much like the case of Ben Bella of Algeria… the greater Eelaam may just take place with or without Prabakaran.

It is really poignant for India to first examine its geographical positioning…its strength & most of all the need to nurture good ties instead of making the nations that it surrounds hostile to it. This is where real supremacy comes about. The “insecurity” factor is a factor that is created in the ‘mind” of the Indian Governments because of their “selfish” & “self-centered” actions…no wonder it has not been accepted as a global power…India certainly has a lot to mature.

While it may be easy to blame foreign nations it is also prudent for the past & present Governments to take accountability for their actions that have made Sri Lanka a stooge on International platforms & be humiliated into accepting actions as a result of the wrong policy decisions they have taken.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time,but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

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North governor Victor Perera

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Outgoing IGP Victor Perera will be appointed as the governor of the Northern Province from Wednesday. The IGP retired from service today.

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New IGP assumes duties tomorrow

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Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Jayantha Wickremaratne will assume duties as the new Inspector General of Police on July 1, taking over the reins from IGP Victor Perera who retires tomorrow.

DIG Wickremaratne completed his education at Thurstan College and later obtained an Honours Degree in Public Administration from Sri Jayawardenepura University in 1973. He received his Post Graduate Diploma Certificate in Criminology from Sri Jayewardenepura University recently.

Mr. Wickremaratne joined the police Force in 1974 as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and was promoted to the rank of Superintendent of Police in 1983. He was promoted as a Senior SP in 1989 and Deputy Inspector General of Police in 1993.

Wickremaratne is a member of the National Dangerous Drug Control Board, Director National Child Protection Authority, Council Member of the International Police Organisation, Secretary and the President of the Police Savings Association.

He was also the President of the Sri Lanka Amateur Kabadi Federation in 2001 and Chairman of the Police Kabadi Tournament Committee since year 2000.

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Troops consolidating their hold in Wanni; 22 terrorists killed in yesterday's clashes

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Finalized military reports received yesterday (June 30) from the battlefronts indicate that 22 terrorists were killed and over 23 injured as troops further consolidated their new positions in the Wanni theater. Also, 2 soldiers were killed, one reported missing and 13 suffered injuries during these clashes.

On the Vavuniya front, troops further pushed forward their defence in the Periyamadhu area and confirmed 3 terrorists killed and 3 others injured in the effort. Also, troops removed 2 improvised bombs from the same area.

Elsewhere, troops had several clashes in the Naddankandal , Palamodai , Vilathikulama and Navvi areas during the course of the day.

At Naddankandal troops confronted with a group of terrorist last evening . Two soldiers suffered injuries in this incident. Terror casualties were not known. In a similar incident, reported from the Palamodai area in the afternoon troops claimed 2 terrorists were either killed or wounded.

In the general area West of Navvi , troops successfully repulsed an attack launched by the terrorists during the evening hours and confirmed 6 terrorists were killed and 8 others were either killed or wounded. Also, one soldier was killed, another reported missing and 3 suffered injuries in this incident.

In the general area Vilathikulama , a soldier suffered injuries in an anti personal (AP) mine explosion last morning.

On the Welioya front , troops engaged terror defences in the Mulaithiuvu jungle , North of Janakapura and Kiribbanwawa areas throughout the day and claimed 12 terrorists were killed, 21 others injured and 11more were either killed or wounded. One soldier was killed and 7 others were injured during these operations. Also, troops removed 115 AP mines and 5 improvised bombs during the clearing operations.

Meanwhile on the Jaffna theatre, one terrorist was reportedly killed in a confrontation occurred in the Muhamalai area last morning.

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Shell gas increases by Rs. 8

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Shell Gas will increase the price of a domestic 12.5kg cylinder by Rs. 8 with effect from midnight today, bringing the revised price to Rs. 1737.

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Another journalist assaulted

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Journalist and Course Coordinator of the Sri Lanka Press Institute, Namal Perera and one of his journalist friends attached to a Foreign Mission in Colombo had been assaulted by unidentified men, who came in a white van at Narahenpita this evening. They were admitted to a private hospital in Colombo.

A gang in a white van and a motorcycle ambushed his car, between Narahenpita and Kirulapone Junctions, around 6.15 pm today (June 30th).

The assailants had tried to drag him out of the vehicle, but failed.

Then, they had assaulted him with clubs.


He was rushed to the nearby Apollo Hospital at Narahenpita, SLPI sources said.

The assault came barely days after the appointment of a five-member ministerial committee to investigate harassment of the media.

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Air Force fighter jets raid LTTE's special weapon maintenance facility- Kilinochchi

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Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets raided an LTTE special weapon maintenance and training facility located in the Cheddikulam jungle area this afternoon.
According to the Air Force sources, the air raid was carried out around 2.45 pm at the weapon maintenance workshop and the training facility situated in the Kariyalivayal area, 3km Southwest of Chundikulam. The target was taken effectively though the exact damage caused is yet to be known, the sources added.

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Army sponsored free medical clinic conducted for Jaffna civilians

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The Sri Lankan Army Security Forces Headquarters Jaffna organized a free medical clinic for the civilians in Jaffna peninsula on Friday (June 28). According to the military sources in Jaffna, over 400 civilians residing in Kuddaththanai, Nadakuddathanai, Pothapadi and Manalkadu villages were given treatments by military medics and nursing staff at the clinic held at Kuddathanai Government School.
Elderly people, women and children were the majority among the patients, the sources said. Army provided dry rations and snacks for all who attended the clinic, the sources added.
According to the military medics the large number residents of remote Jaffna villages are suffering from dental, skin, respiratory, and worm diseases and from malnutrition. Also, they noted that nearly three decades of terror war has deprived the residents of remote villages of quality health service and extreme poverty has held them from going to towns where large health facilities are available. However, army conducts regular health clinics for the civilians with its resources, they added.
The clinic was organized under the guidance of Major General GA Chandasiri , the Security Forces Commander Jaffna and with the full cooperation of government administrative officials in the area.

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CTB to join July 10 strike

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CTB unions will join the Trade Union strike on July 10 and vows to keep busses off the roads.

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CTB to join July 10 strike

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CTB unions will join the Trade Union strike on July 10 and vows to keep busses off the roads.

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US embassy to resume its normal operation

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The suspicious powder found at the US embassy in Colombo last week did not pose any threat, investigation revealed and the Embassy has now decided to resume normal operation from tomorrow.

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Laugfs reduces gas by 53 rupees

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Laugfs gas is to reduce the price of a 12.5 kg Cylinder by 53 rupees from midnight today bringing the revised price to Rs. 1668.

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Civil society meeting with SCOPP General Secretary in District Secretaries of Ampara and Batticoloa

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Civil society organisations met with Professor Rajiva Wijesinghe, the Secretary General of SCOPP in the District Secretariats of Batticoloa and Ampara on the 24th June and 25th June respectively. Similar meetings with SCOPP were held from 2004.

The purpose of the meetings had was to exchange views and  understand the ground reality as well as working conditions for civil society in Ampara and Batticoloa District and to see how the SCOPP can assist with overcoming any difficulties they face in implementing their work.
 
The organizations appealed to SCOPP to intervene and ensure that abductions by unidentified persons are stopped, assault on youths do not take place, delays at check points are minimized, free legal aid services be accessible to grieving persons, information in those who get arrested be made known to their families, conflict affected victims be provided with priority service in obtaining social welfare, roads and transport systems improved. A  mechanism is being contemplated at district level to receive complaints from grieving parties if they feel injustice has been done to them and a focal point be appointed at the District Secretariat to facilitate communication with security establishments and civil society when mutual concerns arise.

The Secretary General, after paying heed to the ground issues faced by the Civil Society Organizations while carrying out their work, expressed his contentment over the work carried out by the NGOs which has undoubtedly lessened the burden of the Government.

He suggested that all NGOs, whist maintaining good coordination and networking among themselves, must focus on Language development opportunities in all projects and also look into the possibilities of providing more vocational training for school drop outs so that they can engage themselves in the job opportunities in Sri Lanka as well as the Middle East. He also emphasized the importance of linking all communities when designing projects.

[CHA as a national service provider in the non-profit sector and
representative of the resources and work of the humanitarian sector in Sri
Lanka]

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Sri Lankan and Indian Chambers signed a MOU

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Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI) of India and Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) signed a Memorandum of Understaing (MoU) to jointly ptomote trade and investment between the two countries.
“Still there is immense potential left to further expand bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka and since the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement in March 2000 trade has grown rapidly between the two countries,” said FCCISL Secretary General/CEO, Samantha B Abeywickrama at the occasion of signing the MoU with FAPCCI.
FAPCCI and FCCISL signed the MoU to foster friendship and to promote trade, investment, social, economic, human resource development, technical and scientific cooperation, friendship and other spheres of economic activity.
Abeywickrama said that negotiations on India and Sri Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is now ready to be signed and thus it would facilitate the inclusion of investment and services in addition to deepening commitments embodied in the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement signed in 2000.
He said that FCCISL is a one-stop shop for investments in Sri Lanka and invited Indian entrepreneurs to visit Sri Lanka to explore the opportunities.
Shri Suraj Prasad Agrawal, President, FAPCCI said that the early conclusion of CEPA will have an added impetus to the ongoing Indo-Sri Lankan economic partnership. The FTA has accelerated the development of economic cooperation and with growing mutual trade, a bilateral trade of US $ 5 billion is envisaged to be achieved by 2010.

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Matara bound train had derailed

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A Matara bound train had derailed on the Hikkaduwa bridge at approximately 12.40p.m. Initial reports claimed that some of the passengers have fallen into the river. Two deaths were also reported while the remaining injurered were rushed to the Galle Hospital. The train was travelling from Kandy to Matara.
All coastal trains to be terminated from Ambalangoda.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

JVP MP Wasantha resigns to contest PC elections

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JVP National List MP Wasantha Samarasinghe will tender his resignation from Parliament today to contest the North Central Provincial Council election as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.

The JVP nominated Mr. Samarasinghe who is also a trade union leader as the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming election several days ago. He was also a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts which probed malpractices into corruption and frauds at government institutions.

Party’s parliamentary group leader and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that the resignation letter would be handed over to the Secretary General of Parliament.

Mr. Dissanayake said that the party had not taken a final decision on the nominee to be picked to fill the vacancy created by Mr. Samarasinghe’s resignation.

“We will start our election campaign on July 4. We have already formulated the campaign’s strategy,” he said.

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Muslim Congress to go it alone?

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The SLMC leadership was increasingly under pressure from the party’s grassroot level members to contest the upcoming provincial council election under its ‘tree’ symbol in Anuradhapura and Kegalle without aligning with a major political party, General Secretary, M.T. Hassan Ali said.

The party has earlier decided to field their candidates on the UNP ticket for the election.

“Their belief is that the party can secure some slots in the two councils if they go it alone. We are unable to do it by aligning with a major party unless it supports our candidates during the campaign. Most likely, we will go solo in these districts,” he said.

He said the party would contest the election in Polonnaruwa and Ratnapura along with the UNP as usual. The SLMC contested the recently concluded Eastern Provincial Council, election under the UNP’s elephant symbol.

Asked for comments, UNP General Secretary, Tissa Attanayake said he had not been informed of such a decision, and therefore declined to say anything.l

Mr. Attanayake said the UNP was yet to finalise its nomination lists for the two councils, but has already identified the candidates.

“We will hand over our nomination papers on July 3 or 4. But, we will not announce the name of Sabaragamuwa chief ministerial candidate until then. We are compelled to take such a decision because of possible threat and intimidation on the selected candidate by the government,” he said.

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President offers extra Rs. 1,000 to public servants

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday agreed to pay all public sector employees an allowance of Rs. 1,000 and it was accepted by some trade unions though reluctantly.

The President made this offer after a lengthy discussion with several trade union leaders whom he met at Temple Trees and said the payment of this allowance would cost the government Rs 7 billion annually.

Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya President Leslie Devendra said the President had first offered an allowance of Rs 500 saying the war situation in the country had raised government expenditure, but subsequent to the Trade union representatives rejecting the initial offer the allowance was increased to Rs. 1000.

Mr. Devendra said his union was not satisfied with this allowance but were constrained to accept it considering the situation in the country.

Some trade union leaders said they had to first discuss the offer with their rank and file before accepting the President’s offer.

The Health Service Trade Union Alliance President Samantha Ratnapriya had told President Rajapaksa that his union would nevertheless go ahead with its planned agitation campaign to obtain the other demands including a resolution to the overtime issue.

Meanwhile The Trade Union Center convener K. D. Lalkantha said the offer of an allowance of Rs 1000 was a farce as the wages were to be increased by Rs. 375 from July and the Rs 1000 had been worked out by adding another Rs 625.

“Therefore this is nothing but eyewash,” he said adding that the trade unions centre will go ahead with the planned general strike on July 10.

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Porn suspect remanded

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Anuradhapura Additional Mgistrate remanded a manager of a popular IT institute in Anurdhapura till July 7 for allegedly uploading pornographic and paedophile material to the internet.

The Magistrate, Shivantha Manchanayaka ordered the Police to send the database of the computer used by the suspect to the Computer Technology Unit of the Colombo University for a report.

The Police had raided Simplex International Pte. Ltd., of Devanampiyatissapura on a search warrant issued by the Magistrate and arrested the suspect Theja Sri Atukorale along with the computer used by him for the alleged activity.

The Police producing the suspect informed e court that the CID had acted on a written complaint made by a customs officer in the US.

The suspect had uploaded the pornographic material using an address of one of his friends domiciled in the US called Sujeewa Ratnayaka. The Sri Lanka police working in close association with the US Police had tracked down the email address to locate and apprehend the suspect.

The additional Magistrate refused a request by the defence counsel to release the suspect on bail.

Inspector B.M.A. Sampath Kumara of the CID prosecuted while counsel Sajeewa Gunaratne appeared on behalf of the suspect.

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Gas price going up again

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The domestic cooking gas price is to be revised from midnight today according to the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA).
The price revision had been requested by Shell and Laugfs gas companies and would be based on the pricing formula.

Sources said the pricing committee of the CAA had finalized the new prices last week and these were submitted it to Chairman Rumi Marzook for a final decision today.

Meanwhile Shell Gas company had earlier requested for a price increase of Rs. 324 for a 12.5 kg cylinder of gas.

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Sri Lanka's embassy in Saudi launches 'Insight' newsletter

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The Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh launched a monthly newsletter dubbed INSIGHT to highlight Sri Lanka Saudi relations among Saudis, Sri Lankan and its well-wishers.

This is the first time the mission is coming out with a newsletter to reach out target market to project Sri Lanka as a country that has plenty of things to offer, A.A.M. Marleen, the islands ambassador said, adding that it is a monthly publication which is funded by sponsors from Sri Lankan managed business organizations both here and abroad.

The formal launch of the newsletter held Wednesday at the mission premises in the presence of leading community members. Marleen said that he has plans to publish this newsletter in Arabic to reach the people in the Middle East.

The publication is prepared by an editorial board comprising honourary members M.C. Rasooldeen- senior journalist in Saudi Arabia, Fazli Sameer, Saprullah Khan, Sarath Kumara and Yasantha de Silva.

The colourful four-page maiden issue carries a message from the islands Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollgama and articles pertaining to tourism, business opportunities in the Kingdom and Saudi contributions to Sri Lanka.

Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Minister A.H.M. Fowzie described it as a commendable effort to project the right image of the country. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussein Bhaila said that the newsletter will reach a new clientele of readers who could be partners to the islands development.

A.M.J. Sadiq, Director General Public Communications at the Foreign Ministry said the newsletter is definitely going to help the country in strengthening the bilateral relations .

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DVDs seized from air passenger

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Officials of the Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs at the Chennai airport seized 550 pirated DVD copies of recently-released English movies from Mohammed Yusuf Navasukan (33) of Ilayangudi, Sivaganga district, who arrived from Colombo .

A release from Parminder Singh, Commissioner of Customs (Airport), said when the officials checked his baggage, they found pirated DVD copies.

Investigation revealed that while the passenger was waiting to board the flight at Colombo, a stranger approached him and gave him a bag . He was asked to hand it over to another person outside the Chennai airport. For this, he was offered Rs.3,000.

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Nedumaran attacks Centre for mobilising troops to Lanka

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The coordinator of Tamil Eelam Liberation Supporter’s Co-ordination Committee, Pazha Nedumaran, on Sunday expressed dismay over the union government allegedly mobilising troops to Sri Lanka in the pretext of employing them for the safety of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will be visiting the island nation for the SAARC conference soon.

No nation hosting such a conference would approve of the arrival of troops en masse from other countries, Nedumaran said in a statement, adding that troop mobilisation was done with the intent to assist the Lankan army in decimating ethnic Tamils.

So far, about 1,500 troops had already been moved to Sri Lanka and a like number was in the offing to be moved there, Nedumaran asserted, flaying the Centre and appealing to Tamils world over to unite against the plan.

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Great scope for Pakistan to export cement to Sri Lanka

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There is a great scope for Pakistan private sector to export cement to Sri Lanka to meet the ever increasing demand of cement as construction industry in Sri Lanka was rapidly growing with a reasonable pace.

President, Sri Lanka Federation of Chambers and Commerce and Industry, Nawaz Rajabdin who is also VP, SAARC CCI, on Monday was talking to his counterpart in Pakistan Iftikhar Ali Malik .

He said Sri Lankan government has offered special package of attractive incentives for investment from Pakistan under SAFTA and FTA. He said that Sri Lankan ministry of Textile and Industries Development has floated international tenders to import huge quantity of cement and Pakistan private sector can take full advantage.

Nawaz Rajabdin also discussed the issues of mutual interest while emphasising the two countries should effectively contribute towards promotion of bilateral as well as regional trade.

Iftikhar Ali Malik said Sri Lankan minister for Textile and Industries Development Kanera Valgam has assured him that Sri Lanka will fully encourage Pak private sector to export cement to his country at competitive rate.

Sri Lanka attached great importance to private sector of Pakistan in the region and signed free trade agreement with Pakistan on August 01, 2002 followed by signing of the protocol on Feb 09, 2005 and full implementation of the free trade agreement on June 12, 2005.

Another member of the delegation Shahzad Ali Malik, Chief Executive Guard Rice said that Pakistan has granted tariff rate quota (TRO) arrangements to Sri Lanka for export of 10,000 MT tea,1,200 MT betel leaves and 3 million pieces garments every financial year (July-June) while Sri Lanka has granted TRO arrangements to Pakistan for export of 6,000 MT Basmati Rice and 1,000 MT Potatoes for every calender year.

However, import of potatoes is permitted only during the off-season period in Sri Lanka.

Nawaz Rajabdin said 4-days recent visit of President SAARC CCI Tariq Sayeed to Sri Lanka which concluded on June 28 was most successful for having more one on one personal interaction with business community and trade leaders of two countries.

It may be mentioned here that it was a great honour for Pakistan that Tariq Sayeed, a Pakistani business leader and SCCI Chief was especially invited to inaugurate the first ever chambers competition awards 2008 ceremony, a prestigious event organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka at Colombo on Friday (June 27).

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Great scope for Pakistan to export cement to Sri Lanka

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There is a great scope for Pakistan private sector to export cement to Sri Lanka to meet the ever increasing demand of cement as construction industry in Sri Lanka was rapidly growing with a reasonable pace.

President, Sri Lanka Federation of Chambers and Commerce and Industry, Nawaz Rajabdin who is also VP, SAARC CCI, on Monday was talking to his counterpart in Pakistan Iftikhar Ali Malik .

He said Sri Lankan government has offered special package of attractive incentives for investment from Pakistan under SAFTA and FTA. He said that Sri Lankan ministry of Textile and Industries Development has floated international tenders to import huge quantity of cement and Pakistan private sector can take full advantage.

Nawaz Rajabdin also discussed the issues of mutual interest while emphasising the two countries should effectively contribute towards promotion of bilateral as well as regional trade.

Iftikhar Ali Malik said Sri Lankan minister for Textile and Industries Development Kanera Valgam has assured him that Sri Lanka will fully encourage Pak private sector to export cement to his country at competitive rate.

Sri Lanka attached great importance to private sector of Pakistan in the region and signed free trade agreement with Pakistan on August 01, 2002 followed by signing of the protocol on Feb 09, 2005 and full implementation of the free trade agreement on June 12, 2005.

Another member of the delegation Shahzad Ali Malik, Chief Executive Guard Rice said that Pakistan has granted tariff rate quota (TRO) arrangements to Sri Lanka for export of 10,000 MT tea,1,200 MT betel leaves and 3 million pieces garments every financial year (July-June) while Sri Lanka has granted TRO arrangements to Pakistan for export of 6,000 MT Basmati Rice and 1,000 MT Potatoes for every calender year.

However, import of potatoes is permitted only during the off-season period in Sri Lanka.

Nawaz Rajabdin said 4-days recent visit of President SAARC CCI Tariq Sayeed to Sri Lanka which concluded on June 28 was most successful for having more one on one personal interaction with business community and trade leaders of two countries.

It may be mentioned here that it was a great honour for Pakistan that Tariq Sayeed, a Pakistani business leader and SCCI Chief was especially invited to inaugurate the first ever chambers competition awards 2008 ceremony, a prestigious event organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka at Colombo on Friday (June 27).

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Ambassador designate promises campaign against LTTE propaganda

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Sri Lankan Ambassador designate to the United States Jaliya Wickremasuriya told the Mahanayake Theros of Malwatte and Asgiriya the that he would campaign strongly against the false propaganda by LTTE against Sri Lanka.

Wickremasuriya called on the prelates after paying homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic for invoking blessings prior to leaving for the US.

The prelate of Malwatte said that the majority of those in diplomatic missions in foreign countries had not taken adequate steps to carry out propaganda in favour of their country.

The LTTE and their allies made full use of this lapse, they said.

Ven. Suriyagoda Jinasiri Thero, Mrs. Wickramasuriya and the children of Mr. Jaliya Wickramasuriya and his brother Prasanna Wickramasuriya accompanied him.

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EPDP won’t budge from TMVP territory

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The Eelam People’s Democratic Front (EPDP) has vowed not to budge from the Eastern Province, where the breakaway LTTE faction, the TMVP, now at the helm of the Eastern Provincial Council is seeking political dominance over rivals.

An EPDP spokesman accused the TMVP of exerting pressure on its cadres deployed in the East to leave the province. Claiming that there had been a series of attacks on its men, the EPDP alleged the body of Kaliappan Gunaseelan (29) allegedly abducted by TMVP cadres on June 19 had been found by Valaichenai police. The body had been found near a pond at Vinayaakapuram.

The EPDP alleged a gang led by a person identified as Ajith had taken the father of one at gun point. At the time of the abduction, he had been on his way from the EPDP office at Kaluwankerni to get some water from a nearby well.

The EPDP accused the local police of refusing to conduct a proper investigation. The police had swiftly moved against the EPDP after the TMVP called for police assistance.

Tamil and security sources likened the TMVP’s action to that of the EPDP in the Jaffna islands. Since the EPDP had moved into Jaffna islands during Ranasinghe Premadasa’s presidency in the 1990s, it had brazenly thwarted attempts by rival Tamil parties to conduct political activity.

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House ban on laptops to thwart LTTE infiltration

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by Shamindra Ferdinando

Fearing the LTTE would use someone to smuggle in an explosive device to Parliament to carry out an assassination, the government has prohibited all members from bringing in electronic equipment into the House.

Acting on the instructions of security services, Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara has informed ministers, deputy ministers and members of the unprecedented decision to prohibit laptops and similar equipment in Parliament.

The Parliament security has been instructed to strictly impose the latest security measure. In a recent letter to members, the Speaker said they could use the cyber café located in the library on the ground floor as the ban on laptops and similar equipment would be in force until the improvement of the security situation.

Authoritative sources said the LTTE had the expertise to turn out a high tech bomb to target an individual.

Referring to the August 1987 JVP hand grenade attack on the UNP parliamentary group in Parliament which killed Matara District MP Keerthi Abeywickrema, the sources said the LTTE would explore ways and means of striking at the SLFP-led ruling coalition.

The sources said the stepped-up military pressure on LTTE’s Vanni bases would prompt attacks on politicians.

It would be part of their strategy to off-set battlefield losses and trigger chaos in the South, the sources said, asserting the attacks could be directed at disrupting the forthcoming SAARC summit.

Two army divisions and two task forces are on the offensive across the Vanni and Weli Oya regions where the LTTE is trying desperately to halt the army.

Tightening of security at Parliament came to light hard on the heels of the alleged assassination attempt on Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake at a recent function at the BMICH.

The sources said the recent arrest of former head of the Tamil Section of the National Film Corporation Kanagasabai Devadasan alias Nadan revealed the LTTE infiltration of the JVP. He is alleged to have planned an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister.

The sources said investigators would try to establish the time Devadasan had joined the LTTE. What we really liked to know is whether he joined the LTTE willingly or was forced to carry out clandestine activities.

Well informed sources said this was a clear case of the LTTE infiltrating a political party. The person who had asked the then Cultural Affairs Minister Vijitha Herath to accommodate Devadasan on the NFC, too, would be an LTTE contact, the sources said.

Nadan had taken over the Tamil Section on March 25, 2004 until he quit on March 8, 2006. He had also contested election to the Western Provincial Council on the NSSP ticket in 1998 and Jaffna on the United Socialist Party ticket in 2001.

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Security Forces handover 26 LTTE corpses to ICRC- Vavuniya

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Bodies of 26 LTTE terrorists were handed over to the ICRC officials in Vavuniya, by Security Forces today (June 29) at 2.30p.m.

Preparations were made by the ICRC to take them to the LTTE dominated areas across Omanthai Entry/Exit point. The bodies were found by the Army soldiers while consolidating defences following heavy fighting with LTTE in general area Chiraddikulama, Mannar.

One of the LTTE's main strategic bases known as 'Five Four' base was overrun by the military on 26th June, which resulted in heavy losses to the LTTE, security sources said.

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Hand grenades, ammunitions uncovered on civilian information -Jaffna

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Troops acting on civilian information have uncovered 18 hand grenades, a T-56 assault riffle and few other war like items during a search operation conducted in general area Kopay, Jaffna today(June 29) at around 1.30 p.m.

The items were found hidden in an abandoned land, which also included 3 LTTE combat uniforms, an I-com set, a water can, 03 x LTTE packs, 120 x T-56 ammunitions, 05 field dressings and some water purifying tablets, security sources said.

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High-tech bridge for Arugam Bay

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The Government will open the new Arugam Bay bridge connecting Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama in the Eastern province, to the public today (June 30).

The bridge constructed at a cost of US $ 10 million, will replace the old bridge over Arugam Bay which was severely damaged in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided financial assistance for the construction of the new state-of -the-art bridge which has been designed and built according to US technology.

According to the Highways Ministry, the new bridge which runs parallel to the old one, comprises two spans measuring 185 metres, and offers user-friendly features like protected pedestrian walkways. The project launched in August 2006 also includes 900 metres of paved access roadway and a water supply system for Arugam Bay.

"We hope that the project will be a major boost for the fishing, agriculture and tourist industries in the areas and thus help the revival of the economy in the East," a Ministry spokesman said.

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AN INKLING OF INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE TO COME

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by -Jehan Perera

The visit of a high level Indian delegation to Sri Lanka barely a fortnight ago has given rise to much speculation regarding its purpose. The delegation consisted of National Security Advisor, M K Narayan, Defense Secretary, Sri Vijay Singh and Foreign Secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon. The three visitors were all senior members of the Indian administration, and not politicians, which indicates the broad consensus and continuity that India seek in its policy towards Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the key persons they met in Sri Lanka were President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his two brothers, Senior Advisor Basil and Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya, and the President’s secretary. Lalith Weeratunga. The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry was entirely left out of the deliberations. This shows the Indian perception of the narrowing power structure in Sri Lanka.

For days there were fevered speculations about the purpose of the Indian visit. A favoured interpretation was that the Sri Lankan armed forces were on the verge of capturing the LTTE strongholds of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu and its leadership. The hope was that India was coming to give some crucial support, by way of military equipment and intelligence, and this to a friendly neighbouring country that is fighting against a deadly foe that has been banned internationally on account of terrorism. However, there has also been a continuing fear that there could be a replay of history. The memory has never completely faded that when the Sri Lankan military was poised to flush out the LTTE from Jaffna way back in 1987 there was Indian intervention that put a stop to the Sri Lankan offensive.

Now two decades later the indications are that the Sri Lankan military is making steady, if slow, progress in its multi pronged offensive into the heart of LTTE controlled territory in the Wanni. The most recent success to be reported is the capture of the rice bowl area of Mannar from the LTTE. What is not known for sure, and can only be guessed at, is the cost of this and other military advances. At present, the only accounts of the progress or otherwise on the military battlefields comes from the statements of the Sri Lankan security establishment. Unfortunately independent accounts of the war in the north by journalists are few and far between owing to the death threats and physical assaults they have been subjected to with impunity. Hearsay accounts suggest a high level of casualties in harsh circumstances, but these individual accounts fail to give a composite picture of the prevailing situation.

Also not being disclosed from the battlefront is the fallout of war on the civilian population. The military battles taking place in the Wanni, and the lines of advance of the fighting forces, are not all through uninhabited jungle. Some of it, and perhaps most of it in the rice bowl area, would be taking place through populated areas. In the Mannar district alone nearly 40,000 people have been displaced and move from place to place to avoid the fighting. Those who have fled from LTTE-controlled areas at the risk of being shot dead by the LTTE and come to government controlled areas have been confined to specific camps, on account of the suspicion of LTTE infiltration. Large parts of the Wanni are inaccessible to even international humanitarian organizations. This very high cost to the civilian population is being projected as a necessary cost of the war.


INDIAN VISIT

Giving emphasis to the significance of their meeting, neither the Indian delegation nor the Sri Lankan government issued an official statement about the contents of their discussions. Recent media reports about the meeting suggest that the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka received top attention. The Indian concern could reasonably be that the reports from Sri Lanka of mass displacement, restriction on the movement of Tamil refugees and the continuing stream of abductions, extortions, killings and round ups of Tamil civilians can create problems within India itself. With India going into an election period in the not so distant future, no political party that seeks Tamil Nadu votes would like to be seen as being insensitive to the plight of the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

One of the first issues raised by the Indian delegation was reportedly that the Sri Lankan government should minimize civilian casualties in the course of the ongoing military operations. In particular there was reportedly a call for restraint in the utilization of air power to which the LTTE has still not found an answer, but which can also inflict heavy casualties on the civilian population in the event of inaccurate targeting. But there is no reason to believe, as some media have reported, that the Indian delegation put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to halt its military offensive in its entirety, as they did in 1987. It is significant that barely a week after the visit of the Indian delegation, the Sri Lankan military reported further advances into the Wanni.

The problem for the Indian government is that some of the small opposition parties in Tamil Nadu state have made the Sri Lankan conflict their main platform for mobilizing electoral support. It is reported that some of them could even be funded by the LTTE to keep the Tamil issue alive in Indian politics. Some of these parties have started to make calls for an Indian boycott of the SAARC Summit that is scheduled to be held in Colombo at the end of July on the grounds of the war situation in Sri Lanka.

Indian absence would effectively scuttle the SAARC Summit and cause a great deal of embarrassment to Sri Lanka. The conduct of the SAARC Summit specifically requires the presence of all heads of state or heads of government of each of the eight SAARC member countries. As the Sri Lankan government has put much emphasis on its relationship with Asian countries, the SAARC Summit has taken centre stage in the government’s international strategy. India’s bargaining strength comes from the fact that India’s attendance is crucial to the SAARC Summit being held at all.

Reports of a high level of civilian casualties in Sri Lanka could certainly put the Indian government in an embarrassing situation, especially if they take place nearer the time of the SAARC Summit. Therefore it is understandable if India requested the Sri Lankan government to take greater care in its military operations in the period prior to the SAARC Summit. However, the media reports indicate that the visiting Indian delegation went much beyond merely expressing their concern about the wellbeing of the Tamil civilian population in the run up to the SAARC Summit. It can be concluded that they utilized the opportunity presented by the SAARC Summit to try to get Sri Lanka back to some extent within the Indian sphere of influence.


MUCH FURTHER

In the present advantageous situation to it, the Indian delegation is reported to have brought up several issues of concern to India. The most controversial of these is likely to be the reported insistence that India should share the responsibility for ensuring security in Sri Lanka during the period of the SAARC Summit. Whether this will include the entry into Sri Lanka of armed Indian security personnel, the manning of radars to guard against possible aerial attack by the LTTE and additional surveillance at sea, as reported by the media, remains to be seen.

Other significant issues brought up by the visiting Indian delegation include those that can be construed as interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. These include speeding up the formulation of the government’s political proposals to resolve the ethnic conflict, inviting the largest Tamil political party, the TNA, which the government has been marginalizing to India for discussions, the growing closeness between Sri Lanka and India’s main neighbouring rivals, China and Pakistan, and issues concerning major Indian investments where Sri Lanka has taken a tough line. For a government that has given top priority to affirming the importance of national sovereignty these Indian demands might be a bitter pill to swallow if such demands have indeed been made.

What the Indian visit reveals is the vulnerability of Sri Lanka to external pressures. Over the past two years, the government has gained the admiration of nationalists for taking up strong and often belligerent positions in favour of the country’s national sovereignty. This, despite becoming increasingly dependent on foreign commercial banks to prop up the ailing economy. The government has often taken punitive actions against international organizations that it sees as meddling in the country’s internal affairs, especially with regard to humanitarian issues and human rights violations. The government has also not been averse to criticizing powerful countries, especially those from the West, on numerous issues in international forums even at the risk of alienating these economic aid-giving countries.

However, the problem that is becoming apparent is that Sri Lanka is too small, and too dependent on the international system, to wage a lone battle against the international system and the powerful countries that sustain it. It has been recently reported that the French-based NGO, Action against Hunger (ACF) which cruelly lost 17 of its staff in a massacre in Muttur in 2006 is campaigning for an international inquiry on the matter, having lost confidence in the Sri Lankan system of justice. In addition, the European Union is soon to decide on whether or not to continue with the economically important GSP+ privilege to Sri Lanka. International pressures may soon come to snag Sri Lanka’s efforts to solve problems in its own way, unless a different approach to conflict resolution is adopted.

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DS killed in explosion in Tiger territory

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The Divisional Secretary operating in Thunnukai in LTTE controlled Mullativu was killed in a claymore attack last evening.

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Military spokesman says more to be cleared in Mannar

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Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara says that there are more areas to be cleared in Mannar from the LTTE, and it was only the strategic ‘Rice Bowl’ which was captured today.

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Military clears Mannar – State media

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State electronic media quoted military sources while ago saying that troops today completed its moves to clear Mannar of the LTTE and as a result entire district is now under government control.

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Jaffna police has recovered twenty rounds of T56 ammunitions and a hand grenade from a vehicle belongs to the Jaffna branch of the Human Rights Commission.

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LTTE receives heavy beating: Troops takeover Mannar 'Rice Bowl'

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The advancing Security Forces took total control over the entire Mannar 'Rice Bowl' area this afternoon(June 29), denying terrorists its main and heavily fortified defences at the Mannar front after days of heavy fighting ensued between troops and LTTE.

The capture of this area stands to be a significant breakthrough made by the security forces following the liberation of Periyamadhu area from LTTE on 26th June. According to military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, the total area brought under control is approximately 120sq.kms, which mainly consists of the Island's most fertile paddy fields. In 1991, farmers have made a record-breaking paddy harvest from this area; the Spokesperson said adding that the famous 'Giants Tank' itself provides water to 153 small irrigation lakes.

Manthai, Manthottam, Adampan, Pallekuli, Kurukkandalkulama, Vellankulama, Vadakkandal, Alankulama, Andankulama, Marattikannadi, Alakaddiveli, Parappakandal. Parappukadatan, Tenveddiyan, Minukkulama, Vilayankulama, Papamoddai, Odduppalan, Kuruvil- Sluice, Neduvarampu, Kannaputtukulama and Vannakulama, were the main areas that was liberated by the security forces as troops are said to have consolidated and poised within striking distances to LTTE's strategically important coastal stronghold in Veddithalthivu.

Further speaking to defence.lk, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that, the capture of the Mannar 'Rice Bowl' and adjacent areas has denied the LTTE 12km of the A-32 Mannar- Pooneryn main road, in addition to the Uyilankulama - Adampan and Uyilankulama - Andankulama main roads, considered to be LTTE's main supply routes from the North.

The LTTE terrorists have also lost 13km of coastal stretch in Mannar, he further said.

The Sri Lankan Army infantry, armour and artillery troops mounted decisive attacks at LTTE positions inflicting heavy damages to the terrorists during the counter terrorist operations launched, with tactical fire support provided by the SLAF helicopter gun-ships, security sources said.

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43 LTTE terrorists killed, over 30 wounded in yesterday's clashes

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At least 43 LTTE terrorists were killed and over 30 reported wounded during ensued battles between troops and LTTE in the Wanni and Northern battle theatres, on Saturday (June 28).

According to military reports received, 2 terrorists were killed and a soldier wounded in separate incidents at Nagarkovil and Kilaly, Jaffna.

Meanwhile, at the Vavuniya battlefront heavy fighting was reported as troops claimed 20 terrorists were killed and 8 others severely wounded. 2 soldiers also have laid their lives during the confrontations, while 2 others were reported wounded, security sources said. According to reports, the clashes were reported from Ambaddankulam, Naddankulam, Navatkulam, Panichchanmadu, Naouarampu and Palamoddai areas.

At the Mannar battlefront, 7 LTTE terrorists were killed and 3 others wounded on Saturday, according to security sources. Also, at the Welioya front troops claimed that 14 terrorists were killed and over a dozen injured in clashes erupted in general areas North of Janakapura, Kokkuthudduwai and Kiriibanwewa. 4 soldiers were also injured during the fighting, security sources added.

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Arms and ammunition found - Muttur

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A special police investigation team conducted a search operation found arms and ammunition from Kadakarachchena area in Muttur last night, June 28.

The search operation was launched around 11.30 p.m., security sources said. A sniper gun, 2 communication sets, 2 hand grenades, 2 T-56 magazines, 300 T-56 ammunition were also among the items found, sources further said.

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Alleged torture of press owner: SC seeks report

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By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the Terrorist Investigation Division to produce press owner Vetrivel Jasiharan before the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer within one week.

The Bench comprising Justices Raja Fernando, Saleem Marsoof and K. Sripavan also directed the registrar of the court to call for a report from the JMO with regard to any injuries found on the suspect.

The Court made this order subsequent to submissions made by the petitioner’s Counsel J.C. Weliamuna who alleged that Mr. Jesiharan had been tortured.

The counsel requested court to direct that the petitioner be produced before the JMO for examination and for a report of any injuries found on him. Senior State Counsel Riyaz Hamza said he had no objection to the application. The petition was filed by Mr. Jasiharan’s wife V. Valarmathi – formerly Shakthi TV programme producer and temporary lecturer in Drama and Theatre at the Jaffna University.

Mr. Jasiharan was a contributor to the Tamil weekly “Sarinigar” and is the owner of Outreachsl.com website funded by a German Technical Cooperation project Facilitating Local Initiatives for Conflict Transformation (FLICT).

Inspector Prasanna de Alwis, Senior Superintendent Nandana Munasinghe and Inspector H.M. Janakantha of the TID, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Police Chief Victor Perera the Attorney General were cited as respondents.

He said that on March 6, several TID officers including Inspector Janakantha arrived at his printing press situated at Jampettah Street and took him to his house at Kotahena.

They searched the house and arrested him and his fiancée Valarmathi and took them to the TID.

The petitioner maintained that no search warrant was shown to him and neither was he informed of the reason for the arrest.

He claims he has never been involved directly or indirectly in any unlawful activity nor has he had any links whatsoever directly or indirectly with LTTE.

He alleged that upon his arrest, his father and sister immediately went to the Kotahena Police Station to lodge a complaint. However, the officers at the police station refused to entertain their complaint.

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Pillayan to seek police powers

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The TMVP will seek police powers for the Eastern Provincial Council to combat LTTE activities and other violence in the province, said its Spokesman Asad Moulana.
The related proposal will be tabled before the All Party Representative Committee as soon as the party obtains representation there, he said.

Party leader and East Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan will decide who would represent the TMVP at the APRC, Mr. Moulana said, adding that it would most probably be either himself or Batticaloa Mayor Sivagita Prabhakaran.

According to the TMVP spokesman, civilian life has now returned to normal in the province, and special arrangements are in place, after consultation with law enforcement authorities, to contain harassment of the public by various groups.

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JVP rejects President’s call

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The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) rejected a call from President Mahinda Rajapaksa for talks today to avert a general strike planned by its trade unions. “We are willing to take part in talks only to discuss the demands we have put forward,” JVP parliamentarian K.D. Lalkantha said.
Mr. Lal Kkantha is the Chairman of the National Trade Union Centre of the JVP which has planned a one-day general strike in the state sector on July 10. Its main demand is a wage increase of Rs 5,000 a month.

The NTUC has under its umbrella 366 trade union organizations. However, representatives of 142 other trade unions have said they would attend the talks at Temple Trees today. Mr. Lal kantha said “these trade unions are being summoned so that they will just tell what the President wants to hear. This will in no way affect our planned strike”.

President Rajapaksa has been informed in writing that the strike action will be carried out if the JVP trade unions’ demands are not met. Trade unions backed by the UNP are likely to join the July 10 general strike, parliamentarian Johnston Fernando, president of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya said last night. “We will take a final decision this week,” he said.

Mr. Fernando said the UNP-backed trade unions had not been invited for talks with the President.

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JNP Chairman denies Sri Lanka Marxist party's allegation

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June 29, Colombo: Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (National Freedom Front) Chairman, Wimal Weerawansa today denied violation of any intellectual property rights by publishing his controversial book, 'Netta Wenuwata Etta' (Truth instead of sham).
Weerawansa denied the allegations made by the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) for publishing some abstracts taken from confidential documents permitted to central committee members in the book.
Weerawansa also claimed that creator of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Rohana Wijeweera should also be classified as an intellectual property violator since he was the first to publish central committee documents.

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Phone call from VVIP unnerved Sannasgala

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UNP activist Upul Shantha Sannasgala’s abrupt decision not to contest the Sabaragamuwa Province as the UNP’s chief ministerial candidate has revealed the existence of a mole in the highest circles of the main opposition party.
Well informed sources said an angry Sannasgala had quit the race after a confidential discussion he had with the UNP nomination board was leaked to the top SLFP leadership immediately after he had left Siri Kotha.
The UNP leader has won Sannasgala’s consent last Thursday (June 19) to place his appointment as the chief ministerial candidate before the Political Affairs Committee the following day. The sources said they had dinner to finalize the controversial movie maker’s candidature against the backdrop of a section of the UNP making an attempt to discourage him.
A veteran NGO activist had pushed for Sannasgala’s appointment as the Sabaragamuwa leader, the sources said, adding the NGO player had discussed the appointment with the UNP leader before it was brought to the notice of the Political Affairs Committee.
Sannasgala had appeared before the five-man nomination board headed by the UNP leader on Saturday (June 21) to explain his strategy. The committee appointed on the previous day comprised UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, Chairman Rukman Senanayake, UNP National Organizer S. B. Dissanayake and Working Committee member D. M. Swaminathan.
The sources said an excited Sannasgala among other things had asserted the need to target SLFP Ratnapura District frontliner Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi. He had discussed the possibility of bringing in the former husband of the Youth Affairs Minister on stage, the sources said.
The nomination board had given its approval to the move, they said. What Sannasgala had not expected was to receive a call from a VVIP politician who had bluntly revealed his knowledge of his discussion less than an hour ago, the sources said.
Although the group of UNPers now clamouring for Wickremesinghe’s ouster had failed to discourage him, the unexpected call had unnerved him, the sources said.
Sannasgala called a press conference on Monday (June 23) to announce his decision to drop out of the contest but was careful not to discuss the actual reason for his pullout, the sources said.
The Sunday Island learns although movie star Ranjan Ramanayake has offered to lead the UNP in Sabaragamuwa, the party is likely to explore the possibility of fielding Thalatha Atukorale, MP, who is expected to return from an overseas tour today.
The sources said those who attempt to distract Sannasgala would try the same with Ms. Atukorale, a Ratnapura District MP and the sister of former UNP General Secretary Gamini Atukorale.
Political sources said retired Major General Janaka Perera would definitely contest the North Central Province as its chief ministerial candidate. Perera, who led a series of successful operations in the Northern and Eastern Provinces both during the UNP and PA administrations, has assured the UNP of his commitment to the party.
They said the government was likely to field a disabled soldier on its list for the North Central Province to counter Perera. Political sources asserted the UNP wouldn’t be able to challenge the government on the current status of the war effort but it would be open for attack on the economic front.
During the UNP leader’s recent visit to the Europe, he had received a call from a prominent UNP activist who had emphasized the urgent need to effect a leadership change as part of their efforts to strengthen the party, they said.
Speaking on behalf of the group pushing for far reaching reforms in the party, he had said the party’s elephant symbol should be replaced with a common symbol to facilitate a grand alliance to fight the government of the Rajapaksa brothers.
The UNP leader had not favoured changing the elephant symbol although he was ready to cooperate on the proposed grand alliance.
The sources said sections of the media which had been generally supportive of the UNP, too, had been divided over the ongoing efforts to force Wickremesinge out.

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Rohitha’s sister-in-law to be Sri Lanka HC in Singapore

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Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s sister-in-law, Jayathri Ranjani Samarakone, has been named Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner-designate to Singapore.
The former SriLankan airlines employee is expected to receive the blessings of the High Posts Committee headed by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake which recently received the proposal.
Recently the foreign minister promoted his brother-in-law, Palitha Ganegoda, to the post of the Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi. He had previously held the post of minister-counsellor.
The government has packed all ranks Sri Lankan missions abroad with political appointees.
Well informed sources said the percentage of the career diplomats in the missions has hit an all time low due to the unprecedented increase in outsiders accommodated.
Recently a lavish party was thrown at `Temple Trees’ with choice wines and delectable food served, to coincide with Presidential Media Director Chandrapala Liyanage going off to Rome to assume a senior diplomatic position in the mission there headed by another political appointee.
Bogollagama recently turned up uninvited in Rome when the president was there for an FAO meeting. He was eventually slotted in as the president’s interpreter at that meeting.
Although, the minister’s tireless efforts to counter the LTTE propaganda overseas had been lauded by many, the number of his overseas visits had been shocking, well informed sources said.
But the ministry has had its successes, the most recent being getting Israel to deny satellite transmission facilities to the LTTE, they said.

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Lanka calls for int’l support

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By Mendaka Abeysekera in New York
The Sri Lankan Government last week urged the international community to recognise that democracies could not take extra constitutional measures and that political solutions to conflicts required discussion, debate and compromise before consensus was reached.

Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Bernard Goonetilleke outlined this position on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government in his commentary published in The Washington Times last week.

Goonetilleke, one of the country’s most reputed and most experienced Foreign Service officers, stated that more than benevolent advice, Sri Lanka needed international support for combating terrorism and seeking a lasting solution.

“That includes persuading the LTTE to return to negotiations unarmed – parallel to Maoist rebels in Nepal – and to hang in there until a consensus is reached. It also includes curbing activities of LTTE front organisations on their soil, particularly their fundraising capacity. The support of the United States and Canada in outlawing the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation and the World Tamil Movement is deeply valued,” Goonetilleke said.

He also pointed out that the government had agreed to implement in full the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as a precursor to other power-sharing proposals, which India, the United States and other countries had welcomed.

“Following the success of the Provincial Council elections in the Eastern Province in May (where people were free to vote after 20 years under LTTE control) and the appointment of S. Chandrakanthan, Tamil leader of a breakaway LTTE group, as Chief Minister there, the LTTE’s claim of being the sole representative of Tamils is irretrievably shattered. This development is tangible proof that democracy is a viable alternative to Tiger hegemony,” he emphasised.

Goonetilleke also pointed out that the demand to disarm paramilitaries was illogical in the event the LTTE, the most menacing of armed groups, was excluded.

“Moreover, to wean the youth away from hopelessness and violence, the economic desolation of the east needs to be countered by developing infrastructure and encouraging investment. That transformation will send an unmistakable message to the Tamils still languishing in the Tiger lair in the north. Only such action will drive home the message that seizing power through terrorism, as Tigers currently seek to do, is unacceptable to the civilised world,” the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US maintained.

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TID ordered to produce Jaseekaran before JMO

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The Supreme Court has ordered Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) OIC Prasanna de Alwis to produce suspect Vettivel Jaseekaran before the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) for a medical examination to ascertain whether he sustained any injuries as a result of an assault.

Court also directed the JMO to produce his medical report to court.
The Bench, comprising Justices Raja Fernando, Saleem Marsoof and K. Sripavan, made this order sequel to a request made by Counsel for suspect J.C. Weliamuna.

Jaseekaran, who is in TID custody, filed this fundamental rights application claiming Rs. 10,000,000 compensation as violation of his fundamental rights by arresting him.

When the case came up before the court, Counsel for Jaseekaran informed the court that his client had been assaulted at the TID even after being produced before the Magistrate.

TID OIC Prasanna de Alwis, TID SSP Nandana Munasinghe, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, IGP Victor Perera, TID IP Janakantha and the Attorney General were cited as respondent by Jaseekaran’s petition.
In his petition he had stated that he had been arrested, that he had nothing to do with the LTTE and that he had been contributing to the Outreach SL.com website as a journalist.

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Govt considers moves to block demos near HSZs

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The Government is considering new emergency regulations to restrict public access to areas near high security zones in the city of Colombo. The move comes in the wake of last Thursday’s incident at Dharmapala Mawatha where Police fired water canons and baton charged Bhikku students marching towards Temple Trees.

The student-monks wanted to hand over a petition to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A Government source who spoke on grounds of anonymity said the new measures were aimed at preventing marches, protest rallies and demonstrations posing security threats within areas declared as high security zones. These include areas surrounding the Janadipathi Mandiriya, Temple Trees and the Parliament complex at Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte.

The source said the proposed regulations would not restrict the movement of the public particularly along roads or to venues which they now frequent.

However, access to designated areas which pose a security threat would require the approval of a Competent Authority, according to proposals now under consideration. It is not immediately clear how such an authority will function and the grounds on which it will allow individuals or groups access.
The need for the new measures has been further enhanced by the upcoming South Asian summit.
Leaders of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives are being invited by the Government for the summit that will be held in Colombo. The Foreign Ministerial level meeting will begin on July 28. Thereafter the summit will be held from August 1 to 3.

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CEB Chairman found corrupt, appointed again

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Why was Udayasiri Kariyawasam former chairman of the CEB appointed as the chairman in the first place, amidst overwhelming accusations of corruption levelled against him at his former workplace, the Bank of Ceylon remains a mystery.
The former Chairman of the CEB who initially held the chairmanship at the Bank of Ceylon was subjected to investigation by the PIU on a petition filed by the employees of BoC. The petition accused Mr. Kariyawasam of corruption at the BoC and the Grand Oriental Hotel an affiliate of the BoC.
The report filed by the PIU director General, Thilak Iddalmalgoda, which was addressed to the president was released on 15th August last year(2007.08.15)contained charges of corruption related to both the BoC and the Grand Oriental hotel.
The PIU report has found him guilty of spending Rs. 2,550,075.55 to renovate the office of the chairman and the chief secretary despite this being in good condition and not requiring renovation.
The tender had been awarded to Creation Advertising Company without following proper tender procedure.
Mr Kariyawasam is also accused of awarding a tender to the same Creation Advertising Company once again without following the proper tender procedures to renovate the BoC branch at the Nugegoda junction, despite the fact that the said branch had already been renovated.
The estimated cost of that renovation was to be Rs. 23,210,875.00.
The renovation however had not been done. Mr. Kariyawasam had not obtained board approval for the renovation project.
A similar situation transpired when renovating the conference hall of the BoC. Mr. Kariyawasam paid Creation Advertising Company a sum of Rs. 1,875,991.55.
The report also states: “The repairing of the generator of the Grand Oriental Hotel was given to B Mech Engineering Company by Anura Fernando (Accountant of the Grand Oriental Hotel appointed by Mr. Kariyawasam personally)
Proper tender procedures were not adopted by Mr. Anura Fernando when entrusting B Mech Engineering with the job. The cost estimate for the repair was increased from time to time and finally was settled at Rs.13 lakhs. A sum of Rs.1,037,500.00 was paid. Yet no repairs were done. Though parts of the generator were removed and taken they have not been returned. To this day (Date of release of the Report) the generator is not functional”
Observations made by Mr. Thilak Iddalmalgoda , the Director General, Presidential Investigative Unit states:”The accusations of this report have revealed the obstinate actions and the misuse of state funds by Mr. Kariyawasam. It is therefore my observation that Mr. Kariyawasam is unfit to hold an administrative post in any government office”

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Dharmadasa, Mendis signed multi million $ Taj TV deal without authority?

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An independent committee has been appointed by the Minister of Sports to conduct a detailed inquiry to find out if Jayantha Dharmadasa the former chief of the Sri Lanka Cricket interim committee, and its current CEO Duleep Mendis entered into two multi million dollar TV rights agreements with Taj TV without legal authority.
The information about these two TV rights ‘deals’ reached the ears of the Minister of Sports Mr Gamini Lokuge toward the end of 2007. He immediately wrote to the Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket Interim Committee and informed the Secretary that until he inquires into this matter the said two contracts shall stand suspended.
Immediately thereafter the Minister acting on legal advice sent a questionnaire to the Secretary of the Interim Committee asking him to explain the background to these two Agreements.
After receiving the relevant replies the said replies were forwarded to an eminent President’s Counsel for legal opinion.
“In the absence of a specific authorization by the Interim Committee it appears that neither Mr. Dharmadasa nor Mr. Mendis had the legal authority to commit the Interim Committee or SLC to these two addendums. They had exceeded their jurisdiction in entering into these addendums as representing the interim committee,” states a twenty-one paged Opinion sent to the Ministry of Sports by a leading President’s Counsel in Sri Lanka.

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75% SAARC confab fund for security

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More than 75 percent of the Rs 2.88 billion budget for the forthcoming SAARC summit has been allocated to the police department for security, authoritative sources said.
A supplementary estimate will be presented in parliament on July 8 to secure funds for the SAARC summit. A large sum of money is expected to be spent on buying new luxury vehicles to transport delegates.
According to sources, the foreign ministry will be given 11.95 percent of the budget with which they would have to meet accommodation, conference, decoration and other costs. A massive 75.2 percent of the budget will go to the police department for security.

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Vasudeva withdraws accusation against govt

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Vasudeva Nanayakkara who recently accused the government of not having spent on relief efforts for flood victims in the Colombo region has withdrawn his accusations, reinstating that the money was in fact given, but corruption had plagued the relief efforts in the divisional districts. Leader of the opposition of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that he was informed that a sum of money amounting to Rs 20 Lakhs had in fact been given by the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief headed by Minister Ameer Ali to the divisional secretariats in the North, Central and South.
“However, when it came to distribution, the divisional secretariat in Dam Street that governs operations conducted in the North and Central provinces had actually distributed dry rations and carried out relief efforts amounting to Rs 16 Lakhs, whereas the office that governs the Southern area located in Vajira Road had done nothing .” he said.
Nanayakkara said that he has sent a letter to the office demanding that they show proof of the funds being appropriately spent on relief efforts for the victims of the floods in the South. He charged that if the office declined to respond within the next few days it would have to answer to the President, saying it was a grave misappropriation of funds.
“I have apologized to those concerned over my accusations of the government for not having spent enough for relief efforts of flood victims, and have requested district offices to show proof of their operations, “ he added.
It was a only a few days ago during a meeting, a monthly session of the CMC also chaired by the Mayor, where Nanayakkara charged that the government spent funds amounting to Rs 1 billion for the Deyata Kirula exhibition but not a cent was spent on flood victims . According to statements made earlier by Nanayakkara, the Divisional Secretariat and the Disaster Relief Ministry had not provided relief to victims in the Colombo districts as earlier promised. This he said was a crime and one that embarrasses the CMC for not having done the necessary work in providing relief efforts.
LAKBIMAnEWS also spoke to Mayor Mohamed U. Emitiyaz on the matter. He said that it was Nanayakkara who had earlier informed the CMC that a sum had been separately allocated by the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief.
“He told us earlier on itself of the money that had been allocated, however since our meeting we have come to know of the funds being misappropriated once it was given to the divisional secretariats,” the mayor said. “The CMC has done what was possible at the time in helping aid relief efforts to the flood
victims.”
Emitiyaz said that the CMC could have done more relief work but they were asked not to since money had been allocated and was promised to be given.

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Wimal under fire for meeting Pillayan

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Opposition parties yesterday charged that JVP defector and Leader of the newly formed National Freedom Front (NFF), Wimal Weerawansa has acted against the democratic forces in the country by meeting with Eastern Province Chief Minister and leader of the armed paramilitary TMVP, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan.

Weerawansa met with Pillayan at the National Freedom Front office in Battaramulla behind closed doors yesterday at a time the opposition parties in the country as well as the international community were calling for the disarming of Pillayan’s group. The TMVP has refused to disarm despite claiming to have entered the democratic process.

The JVP has charged that Weerawansa’s act has been against all the democratic forces in the country.

The JVP says that the party as well as all the democratic forces in the country called for the disarming of the Pillayan group during the Eastern Provincial Council elections last month.

"However, the government did not listen to it and Weerawansa too said that the Pillayan group should not be disarmed when all democratic forces wanted the group to be disarmed," the JVP charged.

According to the JVP, Weerawansa’s meeting with Pillayan was an endorsement of his support to the government and all undemocratic forces.

The UNP also charged that Weerawansa’s actions showed his support to undemocratic forces in the country.

UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella told The Sunday Leader that even when the United Nations has asked the government to stop all its connections with the armed Pillayan group, Weerawansa has now actively met with him to further his political career by turning his back on the democratic forces in the country.

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France backs ACF call for int’l probe on Muttur massacre

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French charity Action Against Hunger (ACF) has began to approach international donors to Sri Lanka to establish an international inquiry into the killing of 17 of its local staffers in Muttur in August 2006, ACF officials in France said.

France, it is learned has already come out in support of the initiative.

Head, ACF communications, Lucile Grosjean told The Sunday Leader that coinciding with the launch of a new campaign over the Muttur murders on June 17, the organisation had first made its appeal to France.

"As the event on the 17th was the official launching of the campaign aimed at obtaining an international inquiry, ACF requests the support of France, European Union, Co-chairs of the Tokyo conference at this specific moment. We decided to go step by step asking first for the support of France," she said adding that the French government had reacted positively. "As requested by ACF, we are going to explore with our international partners the possibility of setting up an international commission of inquiry," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Paris on June 17 according to transcripts made available by the French Foreign Ministry.

Grosjean however said that the organsisation had only received the French response and was however not aware as to how the other countries would react to the idea of an international inquiry.

France will be taking over as the head of the European Union on July 1 and incidentally Kouchner was an original member of the International Independent Eminent Group of Persons (IIEGP) that was set up to assist the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry. He resigned when he was appointed as the Foreign Minister of the Nicolas Sarkozy administration. The IIEGP pulled out of Sri Lanka in March that was followed by ACF that had maintained a single member presence in the country to handle the matters relating to the COI proceedings on the Muttur massacre.

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94 persons missing since January this year

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A monitoring activity by a deputy minister has revealed that some 94 persons, all of them ethnic Tamil, are reported missing during the period of January 2008 to date.

According to Deputy Minister of Vocational Training, P. Radhakrishnan, a total of 147 were reported missing while 38 have returned home subsequently. Some 15 are believed to be detained, he said.

The Deputy Minister who also took up the case of the Sea Street jewellery shop owners being extorted thereby forcing them to flee the country now claims that though the reasons and the parties that were involved in these enforced disappearances were unknown, it proved that the community was under threat.

"However, I must hasten to add that we don't hold the government responsible for these atrocities. We still have no information on the culprits."

Radhakrishnan added that all necessary steps should be taken to ensure the personal security of innocent civilian victims.

Meanwhile, Convenor, Civil Monitoring Mission (CMC), WPF Leader and Colombo District MP Mano Ganesan blamed the international community for failing to exert sufficient pressure on the government to ensure adherence to human rights and show respect to the law.

He added that the continued incidents showed that enforced disappeared still occur, and added that these incidents have given the lie to the government's claims and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe's rhetorical assurances to the international community.

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Ranil elected Chairman, APDU

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UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was last week re-elected as chairman, Asia-Pacific Democratic Union, and Vice Chairman, International Democratic Union, at their respective meetings held in Paris on June 25 and 26.

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TU coalition poised to take action against govt.

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By Nirmala Kannangara

Trade unions have reached consensus to bring the country to a virtual standstill for three days before end July, Technological Service Trade Unions Federation (TSTUF) told The Sunday Leader.

The government’s failure to increase public, private and estate sector salaries on par with the rising cost of living (CoL), has compelled the combined trade unions, irrespective of party politics, to join the JVP at the proposed one day token strike on July 10 followed by a three day general strike, Deputy General Secretary, TSTUF, Nimal S. Andradi said.

"Ours is an independent trade union sans any political affiliation. TSTUF decided to support the JVP affiliated NTUC’s open invitation to join the proposed one day token strike to urge the government to address the working masses’ demands. The three day strike will be launched on a Wednesday. Work would then come to a standstill for five consecutive days taking Saturday and Sunday into account," he added.

"We learn that the government claims our request for the Rs.5,000 salary increase is unreasonable as the country is on a war footing. If this is the case people would be willing to make sacrifices but first the President and his cabinet of ministers should set an example by reducing wastage, bribery and corruption," said Andradi.

Meanwhile, Inland Revenue Service Unions (IRSU), also an independent body has decided to support the combined trade union action to urge the government to address the plight of the country’s eight million workers.

"The government has failed to address the peoples’ grievances and therefore we will join the JVP trade unions to force the government to grant the salary increase. Our members decided to cooperate with the NTUC," Ex-Co Member, IRSU, G.N. Jayaratne told he said .

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Sri Lankan community offers helping hand to fire victims

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DOHA: A Sri Lankan community organisation has come forward to support victims of the devastating fire that claimed the lives of five Sri Lankan workers a week ago. The Sri Lankan Coordinating Committee (SLCC) is now looking for permanent premises to accommodate the 32 Sri Lankans stranded following the fire.

“Currently they are put up in a temporary accommodation in Abu Hamour, provided by a member of the Sri Lankan community. Efforts are on to find a permanent house for them,” SLCC President Lenny Cramer said.

The Sri Lankan Community Benevolent Fund (SLBF) has promised to help the workers pay the rents for the first one month, once they get new accommodation, added Cramer. He thanked all Sri Lankans for their overwhelming support by providing cooked meals, food and other essential items to the stranded workers.

A religious ceremony will be held at the Sri Lankan Embassy premises today at 6 p.m. as a tribute to the five Sri Lankans killed in the fire. All community members have been invited to attend the event.
The remains of the five victims – Thusitha A. Abeywickrama, Roshan T. Kumara, Niula Ekanayake alias Nimal, Amila Madusanka and Nalinda Kumara – were sent to Sri Lanka for final rites.

The expenses for the repatriation of the bodies of Amila and Nalinda were borne by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) while the expenses for Thusitha, Roshan and Riula were borne by their sponsor.
Of the two persons who were injured in the fire, Dulan Salika Rathnasiri is still in a critical condition at the Trauma Intensive Care Unit of the Hamad Medical Corporation, while his colleague Vijitha Aluthge is recovering at the Burns Unit of the Rumaillah Hospital.
, adding that IRSU on several occasions had requested President Mahinda Rajapakse who is also Finance Minister to rectify the much-debated 06/2006 salary circular, but there was no response.

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Case against Sannasgala in Kandy MC

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Kandy Chief Magistrate Sumudu Premachandra had on Friday ordered the Special Crime Division of the Kandy Police to obtain the Attorney General’s advice to file charges against popular tutor, Upul Shantha Sannasgala over preparing a document with a fake signature.

The police it is learnt had informed the Magistrate that an examiner of questioned documents had verified the document as a fake.

Sannasgala is accused of preparing a document to prove that one Wijesuriya, an owner of several private tuition institutions in Kandy had obtained Rs. 600,000 from him.

Sannasgala was released on bail amounting to Rs. 5,000 and personal sureties and the Kandy Chief Magistrate had ordered him to appear before court on August 29.

Sannasgala, who initially agreed to contest the Sabaragamuwa PC elections under the UNP ticket suddenly withdrew last week.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

LTTE getting bomb chemicals from India

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Indian intelligence agencies say the LTTE is getting raw materials for its explosive devices from two major Indian cities, the United Press of India (UPI) reported yesterday. A senior Intelligence Bureau official said the raw materials were mainly being obtained from the Information Technology city of Bangalore and the industrial city of Mumbai. India's enforcement agencies in Madurai recently seized a vital commercial consignment of chemicals, used in making explosives.

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Judiciary should win the confidence of the masses: CJ

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Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva yesterday said the Judiciary could function properly only if it won the confidence of the common man irrespective of racial, religious or language barriers.

Addressing a gathering after the ceremonial opening of the new Labour Tribunal Building at the Kaduwela Magistrates Court, Mr. Silva said since taking up office he initiated a series of programmes aimed at achieving these goals.

He said he faced several obstacles in the past in achieving these targets, but was happy that an efficient deputy minister and a dedicated team were now playing a crucial role in uplifting the image of the judiciary.

The Chief Justice said the Justice Ministry has now set up Courts in LTTE controlled and even the Tigers had begun to respect the judicial system by not attacking them he assured that the country’s majority or the judiciary would never act in an unfair manner towards the minority communities.

Mr. Silva also stressed the importance of learning the Tamil language especially by public servants since that knowledge would help avert unfortunate situations we face today.

Deputy Justice Minister V. Puthirasigamani told the gathering that he did not like the idea of classifying people as majority or minority.

“The majority in one country will be a minority in another country. Language should not be a barrier to the cordiality among all communities. I never depend on anyone to find solutions for the problems of the Tamils. I have always placed faith and respect on the judiciary and the chief justice in finding solutions to the problems of the Tamils,” he said.JSC Secretary Susantha de Silva and Kaduwela Bar Association President Susantha Wettasinghe were also among those who addressed the gathering. .

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Private sector pay hike next month

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The government yesterday said salaries of private sector employees would be increased from next month, following a request made by the Labour Minister.

The private sector responded positively to a request made by Minister Athauda Seneviratne for a 15% to 30% pay hike for private sector employees.

Minister Seneviratne said the pay hike would come as a temporary solution for the skyrocketing cost of living largely triggered by rising world oil prices.Mr. Senevirate said the ultimate objective would be sustainable development through improving productivity. He said the pay hike would be implemented following discussions with the relevant parties.

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Garments specific for British Defence Ministry manufactured in Sri Lanka

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Texstyle Lanka Private Limited entered into an agreement with the BOI to manufacture garments for export on June 26. Mr. Ananda Bandara, Chairman and Managing Director and Mrs Hemali Bandara, Director of the company and Mr Dhammika Perera, Chairman/ Director General of the BOI, signed the Agreement. Dr Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion formally handed over the BOI Certificate of Registrations to the investor.
Minister Amunugama congratulated the investors stating that Texstyles Lanka Exports Private Limited illustrates well the spirit of enterprise of Sri Lankan companies who have succeeded in mastering cutting edge technologies and is now able to meet the requirements of demanding customers overseas. In the future other Sri Lankan companies will carve themselves niches as the demand for specialized and high-end goods will increase.

The cost of the project, which is located at Boralessgamuwa is US$ 718,000 and the company will be employing 175 workers. Texstyle Lanka exports 80% of all its production to the British Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Ananda Bandara, an engineer by profession, who has many years of experience in the textile industry. He founded the company as a garments buying and liaison office and got into manufacturing with his vast experience. Over the years he developed his knowledge in a very specialized area in the manufacture of garment, such as flying suits and equipment used by military and aerospace professionals.

Mrs. Hemali Bandara, his spouse, is also a company Director is well experienced in the textiles and garments manufacturing. Her knowledge of the garments industry included experience working for Hentley Garments, May Department

Stores International and also at Liz Claiborne. The company has been in existence since 2003 when it had just 9 employees as a modern sample-manufacturing unit. In 2004 it increased it staff strength to 75 employees. In 2006 Texstyle Lanka began producing aircrew coveralls and contracted with RFD Beaufort UK, main supplier to the British Ministry of Defence. The true knit unit was started in 2007 to supply sweaters, pullovers and cardigans to the UK market for labels such BHS, Chums, Woodwille, Heatons and other brands. In 2008, the company workforce was expanded to 120 employees.

Texstyle Lanka is the only Sri Lankan Company to supply United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence. The main buyer of the company is RFD Beaufort Private Limited, a British company that supplies safety, military, aerospace and survival clothing equipment for the British Ministry of Defence and other countries as well. For such production very advanced machinery is used to produce the garments needed to equip and protect fast jet pilots and parachutists.

Many of the clothing items use new types of high value non-flammable materials that meet the highest aerospace requirements. One example is a fleece-lined garment that protects fighter pilots flying in very cold conditions. The garment is also fire resistant.

Other products include suits for aircrews and for ground crews. Anti G trousers that counteract the forces of gravity are also among the goods produced and exported by the company. Furthermore they produce and supply fabric sea anchors used in life rafts for survival operations, in addition to specialized working clothes and helicopter flying suits for those employed on oilrigs. Future advanced products will include advanced garments such as tri-laminate immersion suits and submarine escape survival kits.

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Govt. will recapture North says President

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said there were people who supported terrorism unknowingly, some supported willfully and there was another section of people who supported terrorism maliciously.

Addressing a People’s Rally which was held after the opening of the newly constructed Fisheries Harbour at Beruwala, President Rajapaksa said the government did not prosecute a war against the Tamils but saved them from the jackboot of the LTTE. The government was determined to face terrorism with resolve and recapture the north as it did in the east, he said.

“These people can open their mouth only to eat. The objective of the armed forces is to give them an opportunity to enjoy the smell of democracy. We are achieving victories one after the other liberating the north from the clutches of the terrorists. When I was coming here this morning, the Army Commander informed me the forces had over-run one of their main strategic locations, the Five-Four-Base yesterday. They had also captured Periyamadu in thise process,” he said.

There were a lot of elements that wanted to delay the forward march of the security forces. They now want a ceasefire. When the ceasefire was in force, the terrorists could regroup and strengthen themselves. Then they attacked us out of the blues. We must learn from the past, President Rajapaksa stressed.

This government has decided to handover a safe country to the next generation. For that, we need to build a trouble and violent free country.

However, the government has already begun many programmes to make Sri Lanka self sufficient on food simultaneously with a series of development projects.

He expressed his gratitude to China for funding the Beruwala Fisheries Harbour Development Project with financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 410 million after the Fisheries Harbour was totally destroyed by the tsunami.

Fisheries Minister, Felix Perera said the government had launched a series of new programmes to enhance the income of fishermen.

The new Beruwala Fisheries Harbour has the facilities to repair 20 multi-day boats at a time which was not so in the past, he said.

Acting Ambassador of China in Sri Lanka, Ji Jan U said China was highly appreciative of Sri Lanka’s ‘One China’ policy.

The two countries have a longstanding friendship based on mutual understanding, co-operation and respect.

The century-old cultural, religious and trade links were further strengthened after the bilateral diplomatic ties were begun in 1957, he said.

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Troops make another breakthrough; Parappakkadantan falls to troops - Mannar front

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Security forces personnel operating in Mannar front made another major breakthrough capturing LTTE's stronghold in Parappakkadantan, 4Km north of Giant Tank, in Mannar front this noon, June 28.

According to the military sources, a firing rang used by the LTTE terrorists, probably for training requirements, also found in a search operation conducted in the 2 square Km area captured by the troops. Meanwhile, several tombs erected for terror cadres killed in past gun battles were also found in general area Alkaddiveli, between Andankulam and Parappakkadantan.

These areas were under LTTE clutches for more than two decades and it clearly shows the inability of LTTE terrorists to face security forces who are continuously marching towards LTTE strongholds in multi-pronged offensive launched to liberate the Wanni.

Troops are now consolidating their positions in the area.

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32 LTTE terrorists killed, 6 soldiers wounded in Mannar clashes

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The LTTE suffered heavy defeats with soaring casualties as the outfit lost almost all the bases within the Mannar 'Rice bowl' area with the fall of Andankulama in Mannar to security forces yesterday (June 27), military sources report. According to Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, 11 terrorists were killed in addition to 3 soldiers who were said wounded during the confrontations at Andankulama.

Troops have also gained full control over 13 square kilometers surrounding the Andankulma area, sources further said.

Also, the advancing Army battle formations have inflicted decisive blows to LTTE during multi-pronged attacks launched at LTTE fortified defence lines in general area Papamoddai, as troops confirmed at least 21 terrorists were killed in the confrontations. According to defence sources, pitched fighting were reported in Papamoddai and Neduvarampu general areas since 8a.m., which lasted till 4p.m, on Friday.

3 soldiers have received injuries, while military claimed to have uncovered another slain LTTE body along with a T-56 assault riffle following a search operation conducted in the area.

Papamoddai is located 12 km south of Vidathalthivu an LTTE strategic location and 8 km north of Mannar, on the Mannar-Pooneryn road.

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Army Commander Reviews Security Situation in Yala

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Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, accompanied by a few Senior Officers of the Army Headquarters, flew to Yala Saturday (28) morning in a bid to review the security situation in the area.

Commander Area Headquarters Hambantota Colonel Devinda Perera received the Army Commander on his arrival at the airstrip.

Arrangements made to ensure security in the area and adjoining villages were discussed at length during the meeting held at Area Headquarters auditorium.

Senior Officers of the Army and the Police responsible for the security in respective areas attended the meeting.

Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka gave further instructions on future security arrangements.

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'Tigers have lost world sympathy by slaughtering Sinhalese' says top ranked publication

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(By: Dayan Jayatilleka from Geneva)

"The LTTE have lost the sympathy of the world by their slaughter of innocent Sinhalese" says a leading US scholar writing in what is widely regarded as the world's most influential publication on foreign policy and international affairs. Prof Richard Rosecrance makes this observation about the Tamil Tigers in a contribution co-authored with Arthur Stein entitled 'Separatism's Final Country', which appears in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs (July-August 2008).

Debating Prof Jerry Muller of the Catholic University of America on the issue 'Is Ethnic Conflict Inevitable?' Prof Rosecrance concludes that:

"If a separatist group uses terrorism, it tends to be reviled and sidelined. If an ethnic group does not have enough support to win independence by peaceful electoral means inside its country, its resorting to terrorism only calls into question the legitimacy of its quest for independence.

Recognizing this, the Quebecois abandoned the terrorist methods of the Quebec Liberation Front. Most Basques castigate Basque Homeland and freedom (known by its Basque acronym ETA). Enlightened Europeans have withdrawn their support for the Chechen rebels. And the continued terrorist shelling of Israeli cities from a Hamas -dominated Gaza might undermine the previous international consensus in favour of a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem, or at least warrant a exceptional approach to Gaza.

....Even where the central government has used force to suppress secessionist movements, it has offered carrots at the same time that it has yielded sticks. The province of Aceh has been coaxed, even as it has been subjected to threats, to remain inside the Indonesian republic. Kashmir, facing a balance of restraints and incentives, is unlikely to emerge as an independent state in India. And the Tamil Tigers have lost the sympathy of the world by their slaughter of innocent Sinhalese."

Richard Rosecrance is Senior Fellow at the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University and Adjunct Professor of Public policy at the John F Kennedy School of Government, also at Harvard. His co-author Arthur Stein is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). They are co-editors of "No More States? Globalization, National Self-Determination, and Terrorism" (2006).

Their conclusion on the Tamil Tigers and secessionism appeared in the current issue of Foreign Affairs (Volume 87 No 4). The journal is rated in several surveys of the media as No 1 in influence among US opinion leaders and for four straight years the world's top publication on international affairs.

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Troops capture LTTE’s 54 base

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Troops in a fierce battle on Thursday night captured the LTTE’s 54 base in Chiraddikulam on the Vavuniya front.

Later the Army recovered 25 dead bodies (all male) inside the camp.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said "LTTE’s Charles Anthony Brigade had been based here,"

The bodies recovered would be handed over to the Vavuniya hospital by the Army.

Troops had also recovered 16 T-56 assault rifles, seven RPGs, one LMG, Two GPMC’s , three radio sets, and a large amount of ammunition and AP mines, he said.

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Appoint a commission to investigate into the killings of 37 members of Sri Lanka Parliament

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Pressure is mounting on the Government of Sri Lanka to appoint a commission to investigate into the killings of 37 elected members of Parliament of Sri Lanka, starting from the murder of Alfred Duraiyappah on 27 July 1975, up to that of the slaying of Minister Jeayaraj Fernandopulle on 06 April 2008, in a bomb blast in Welliweriya.

Alfred Duaraiyappah, who was a Member of Sri Lanka Parliament and Mayor of Jaffna was the first MP to be killed by the suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Though the case regarding the killing of Alfred Duraiyappah was taken up for hearing and judgment was delivered, it is suspected that the actual killer was not brought before any court of law in Sri Lanka.

In fact, V.Prabakaran, the leader of the LTTE, proudly claimed that he was the one who killed Alfred Duraiyappah, and he remains at large.

Unfortunately up to now, there is no way either to confirm or dismiss the claim of the Tiger leader about the killing of Alfred Duaraiyappah.

Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella said that he intends to take up this issue with the Government of Sri Lanka for the setting up of a Presidential Investigative Commission to go into the killings of 37 former Members of Parliament who represented the people of this country one time or more in their life time.

Asian Tribune contacted, Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotions and Welfare & Government Spokesman for Defense and National Security, regarding the move for the investigation on the massacre of 401 unarmed Police Officers on 11 June 19990.

Earlier, The Government officially announced on 13th June 2008 that investigations will be conducted into the massacre of 401 police officers on 11-06-1990 in Amparai, Trincomalee and Batticaloa areas on the request made by the affected families.

Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella said that the killing of 401 police officers … such a mass murder has gone without any investigation. Time to time this issue has been brought up, but so far no action has been taken. Many NGO organizations and r human rights groups are talking about this massacre. But I will say it is the obligation of the Government in fairness to the Police Department, I think this issue has to be investigated.

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CM candidates won’t be named till nominations – Tissa Attanayake

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The United National Party politburo has decided not to publicize the party’s Chief Ministerial candidates for the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Council elections until nominations are handed over.
Speaking to media, Attanayake said that the decision was taken after considering death threats posed on UNP candidates by the government.

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JHU to refrain from North Central & Sabaragamuwa PC elections

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The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) has decided not to contest the North Central and the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council elections.
The decision follows extensive discussions at the JHU Central Committee, says, Party General Secretray, Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera.

The JHU is based on their position of not accepting the Provincial Council system and also because these PC's are not as important as East PC polls, the Thero said.

Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera said that the JHU actively participated in the setting up of the Eastern PC with the intention of establishing democracy in the area.

Noting that the JHU was of the opinion that the government should focus on defeating the LTTE rather than on holding elections and implementing political agendas, Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera urged the government not to them give undue prominence.

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IUBF lodges complaint with HRC

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Claiming their Fundamental Rights were violated after being tear gassed and water cannoned by police during a protest march in Colombo, monks of the Inter-University Bhikku Federation (IUBF), lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (HRC) yesterday (June 27th).
Citing the Defence Secretary and the IGP as respondents, the IUBF requested the HRC to conduct an unbiased inquiry into the incident, convener of the IUBF, Ven. Namaloya Ananda Thera said.

The IUBF convener added that video clips and newspaper cut-outs containing pictures and details of the incident were also handed over to the Commission as evidence for the investigations.

The 11 Buddhist monks who were arrested following the incident, were released on bail yesterday, he further said.

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Pillayan - Wimal in hurried discussions

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Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan held a hurried discussion with the leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF) , Wimal Weerawansa at the NFF headquarters in Battaramulla today (June 28th).
Chief Secretary of the NFF, Nandana Gunatillake, NFF media spokesman, Mohomad Musamil and the most recent defector from JVP, MP Anjaan Umma attended the discussion.

It is reported the discussion was on the current political situation in the East and possible joint political interventions to defeat the LTTE.

The NFF leader was one of those who argued against disarming of the TMVP faction and this sparked off controversies between him and the JVP before the Eastern PC elections.

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Sri Lanka's national carrier slaps fuel surcharge

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Sri Lanka's national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, will re-introduce a fuel surcharge to cover rising jet fuel costs, the airline said Saturday.

"Sri Lankan Airlines has re-introduced the fuel surcharge for travel and ticketing effective July 1," the airline said.

It said flights between Sri Lanka and Southeast Asian countries will cost 50 dollars more while fares to the United States and Canada will increase by 160 dollars. Middle East and other destinations will cost 90 dollars more.

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Sri Lanka offshore sand deposits draw foreign interest

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Foreign investors are interested in mining sea sand off Sri Lanka's western coast to be used in the construction industry which is facing shortages of the material, government officials said.

But the high cost of the offshore sand mining and potential conflicts with fisher communities are deterrent factors, they said.
Geological Survey and Mines Bureau chairman N P Wijayananda said the best sea sand deposits are found between the coastal towns of Kalutara, south of the capital Colombo, and Kalpitiya, to its north.

"There are investors who want to mine, especially for the port projects."

Sri Lanka has two big port projects planned – one to expand Colombo port and the other to build a new harbour in southern Hambantota.

The sea sand deposits off the western coast have already been exploited by the government to provide material for highway as well as previous port construction projects, he said.

The bureau has issued an exploration licence to a Korean investor who showed interest in mining the offshore sand deposit north of Colombo.

"The investor is to do further investigations," Wijayananda said.


Another licence has been issued to an investor covering an area off southern Hambantota.

But sea sand off the south coast has been found to have more calcareous material – coral and shells – making it more suitable for filling purposes rather than construction, Wijayananda said.

Sri Lanka construction contractors are facing a serious shortage of sand owing to restrictions on river bed mining.

The restrictions were imposed to prevent environmental damage and led to prices of sand soaring in the local market.

Wijayananda said more offshore sea sand mining was required to fill up previously mined stockpiles as they get depleted. .

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SINGER SRI LANKA SELLS STAKE IN LEASING FIRM TO LANKA ORIX

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Singer (Sri Lanka) said it will sell its 30 per cent stake in its associate Commercial Leasing Co. valued at 495.8 million rupees (US$4.6 million) to Lanka Orix Leasing Co. (LOLC) following a mandatory offer.
Singer (Sri Lanka) said in a stock exchange filing that it has accepted the mandatory offer made by Lanka Orix Leasing Co. for the shares held by Singer (Sri Lanka) of Commercial Leasing Co.

Singer (Sri Lanka) held 30 per cent of Commercial Leasing Co. and accounted it as an associate company.

The statement said the value of the shares is 495.8 million rupees, which is about 408.9 million rupees above its Net Book Value in the company accounts and 80.2 million rupees above its Net Book Value in the Group accounts.

Commercial Leasing Co was taken over last month by Lanka Orix Leasing Company which offered to buy out other shareholders under stock exchange rules.

Commercial Leasing Co is a mid-sized specialised leasing company which was started in 1988, and has a share of around five per cent of the leasing market.

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Horrible situation for children”, Israel blocks UN committee from entering

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‘Half of the population of Gaza is made up by minors: their current situation is horrible and could worsen still’, said a special UN committee that accused Israel of having forbidden its access to Gaza ‘to hide the violations of human rights perpetrated against Palestinians’.
In Cairo, Prasad Kariyawasam, president of the committee and Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the UN, said that Israeli authorities have blocked the group’s access to Gaza, forcing it to ‘interview local witnesses by phone and to speak with humanitarian operators to understand what is happening on the ground’.
After outlining the damage done to the population by the longstanding blockade of Gaza, Kariyawasam stressed the serious situation faced by children, described as ‘the first victims of the siege’. According to pediatricians ‘child mortality rates have increased to become the highest in the region’ while the ‘psycho-somatic symptoms that many children have developed can be linked directly to the suffering they are forced to endure’.
The children, said the UN representative, ‘see their fathers being subjected to daily humiliations and insults and they lose hope, and with it, their childhood’. The international community ‘has the moral duty to intervene – said Kariyawasam – to save an entire generation of children that shall have to build the Palestine of tomorrow’.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, the atmosphere is tense following the announcement – for the third consecutive day – of the closure of cross-border points in response to the launch of two Qassam rockets toward the Negev, though these did not provoke any victims. Isralei leaders have chosen to shut down all borders, even thoughy their gradual re-opening was a major point of the latest ‘ceasefire’ accords. Only a small amount of fuel is getting through, moving through the Eretz border

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Eastern Province Chief Minister meets President

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Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan yesterday called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees.
Informed sources said that at the meeting government agreed to provide employment to 1,200 graduates in the East by next month. The government also agreed to provide more foreign funds for development work in the East, sources said.
Several senior government ministers also participated in the discussion between President Rajapaksa and the CM.

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PNM used for NFF activities: Ven Dambara Amila files objection

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Ven. Dambara Amila Thera and a group from the Patriotic National Movement (PNM) complained the break-away group from Janatha Vimukthi Peremuna (JVP) was trying to use PNM for the activities of their party National Freedom Front (NFF), formed by Wimal Weerawansa.
Ven. Dambara Amila Thera and a group of executive committee members objecting to a case filed by the Chairman of PNM, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara, said the General Secretary of PNM, who broke away from JVP has formed a new political party and PNM and its office was being arbitrarily used for the political achievement. In their objection the defendants further said a large number of members of the movement objected that it was used for politics and requested that the PNM be used only for the specific objectives for which it was formed.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

SL`s is a deadly conflict, but neither can win the war - over 250,000 have died so far! - Foundation for co existence

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The Foundation for Co existence Chairman, Kumar Rupasinghe said that over 250,000 persons have lost their lives in the on going conflict although it is reported that only 80, 000 died.
Speaking at the launch of his nine publications in Colombo he described Sri Lanka war as a deadly conflict with neither side winning.

He also emphasized that respect for laws of the country and lives of citizens must be respected in the first place, as they are imperative for any discussion.

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I think it is not easy to find a leader like Ranil Wickremesinghe-Tissa Attanayake

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The UNP was in a turmoil during the course of the week with a barrage of criticisms from its own stalwarts who were attacking UNP Leader and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for his poor performance in the recent hustings.While the party’s ‘young blood’ holding critical views about the leadership, the senior UNP politicians endorsed Wickremesinghe as still the ideal person for leadership as the UNP was facing a dearth of politicians who can win the confidence of the majority and the international community. While many UNP politicians were tightlipped this week, over the party rift, the UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake echoing the ‘official version’ of the whole drama to oust the UNP leader,


tried to make amends by simplifying it as ‘just proposals for the betterment of the party’s future’. “This is sinister propaganda by the state media”, he explained.
Agreeing that there are of course several lapses in party policies he said the need of the hour was to keep the internal crisis behind ‘closed doors’ as the party has a more important duty - to ‘save’ people from the unbearable economic burden and their security under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

Excerpts:

Q: It was reported that another split is brewing with some urging for a change in the party leadership. What is a latest situation?

A: At first I want to say that there was no such crisis in the UNP. From the leader to the ordinary supporter, all want to have a clear process to come to power. Now there is a proposal to speed up our organising campaigns to defeat this government. The fact is that there are different views and opinions expressed by our members and it is a positive sign.

Q: It means that you agree there were plans to oust the UNP Leader?

A: No. There was no such move. Nothing was suggested at the recent meeting and what they had pointed was the need of taking certain new measures to win the future elections.

When considering the present situation of the economy and the security, people say they need a change soon. So, the talk was how to accelerate the process to victory and the changes that could bring about to achieve the target.

Q: Are you confident that he would be able to remain as the UNP leader in the future?

A: Yes. Why have doubts. He is the party leader and it will remain unchanged. On the other hand, there are ways mentioned in the UNP constitution on how to change the leadership. That cannot be done by bringing proposals and it should be done according to the party Constitution. But, no one has challenged the leadership yet.

Q: You said that according to the Party constitution the leader can not be changed in an adhoc manner. So, it is obvious that the leader remains not because of the faith of majority UNPers but due to the clauses of the Constitution?

A: How do you say that Mr. Wickremesinghe does not have the confidence of majority of the Party. He is still the most suitable person to lead the UNP towards victory. And majority of our members do not intend to have a change.

Q: But it was reported that some senior UNP politicians have urged to change the leadership to save the party. Isn’t it?

A: No. I refute that claim. Even I read some of these news reports in papers. It is a known fact that all the facts reported in media are not 100 percent accurate. Some media have distorted the facts raised in the Committee.

Q: Are you covering up the present rift against the UNP leadership?

A: No. I am talking on real facts. To talk about a rift there should be a revolt against Mr. Wickremesinghe. But there is nothing of that sort. But there are few people whose ideas were expressed for the betterment of the party. Everybody cannot hole the same view. There are diverse views. What is happening is, our rivals try to take political mileage by spreading these rumours, especially the state media.

Q: Was there a proposal to cut down the responsibilities held by the UNP leader and to devolve them among the senior politicians of the party?

A: No but there are proposals. I agree that there are lots of people in the party who neglect their responsibilities. I also agree that we should have a new system of sharing responsibilities.

Each one should be given responsibility of leading the party to victory. Meantime, those who can work hard should be given a chance to rise. Then not only the UNP leadership but also each and every one assigned to the task should take the responsibility.

Q: The UNP leader has lost over 16 elections and don’t you think that he is now fast losing his credibility and the party needs a swift change of leadership to take the party to victory?

A: I think it is not easy to find a leader like Ranil Wickremesinghe. From the Chandrika Kumaratunge era upto now there are attempts to change the leadership. Why are they scared of him? One is, due to his wide experience in politics and the other is the local and international recognition that he has gained so far. We strongly believe that there is no need for a change in the UNP leadership.

Q: What are the main obstacles for the UNP, which have suffered continues election defeats, to win polls?

A: We are also facing the common problems faced by all other political parties. That is rigging of votes. As in the East the government is trying to win the future elections fraudulently.

People should organise to win their right to vote. It is high time to establish an Independent Elections Commission and a Police Commission. Until then we cannot have hopes for a free and fair election as the Elections Commissioner says he does not have powers to take action against rigging of votes.

Apart from those, as a party we should also need to have some policy changes within the party. More responsibilities should be given to organisers. It is true that the UNPers today claim that we do not look after our supporters well.

There should be a new system to address these issues. The other fact is that the UNP lacks dedicated politicians, today. The reason for this may be they have lost confidence. We all should get together to lead the party to victory. Leadership is not only Mr. Wickremesinghe but leaders at all levels.

As a leader Mr. Wickremesinghe should devolve responsibilities among those who are dedicated. Powers should be devolved to the leaders at all levels and need to monitor whether they are meeting the given targets and if not actions should be taken against them.10 to 15 percent of the UNP organisers are not performing their responsibilities at all. It is of no use of keeping them without punishing.

Q: Some identified S. B. Dissanayake and MP Sajith Premadasa as the saviours of the party. Are there any moves to elevate them?

A: Everybody in the party should try to come up and as a party those who work hard should be taken into the forefront. They should be given tasks and responsibilities. One allegation against the UNP is that those who work hard will not be given a chance to rise. But this is not the truth. We can not hand pick people for the leadership.

For example former President J. R. Jayewardene took over 40 years to become the Leader of the UNP. And R. Premadasa worked hard and won the confidence of the party. No use of creating issues among people but those who want to come forward should show their talent through their work. And they should have dedication towards the party.

We do not bother who will become the leader but what we want at this juncture is to lead the party to victory. Not only S.B. and Sajith there are lots of promising politicians who can rise to the leadership.

Q: As the General Secretary, do you think that the UNP does not have a future at this moment without Mr. Wickremesinghe?

A: We should not create issues at this juncture. The UNP Leader Wickremesinghe is not only the Opposition Leader but he is a leader who has won the confidence of a majority of people of this country.

People, including minority groups, have faith in him. Instead of agitation to win people’s rights, first priority of the JVP is to sling mud on our leader. What we say is that this is not the right time to change the leadership.

Our challenge is to defeat this government, which has created havoc. So we need a leader who has the confidence locally and internationally. We can not give birth to leaders instantly.

The UNP is a party which suffered heavily due to the LTTE. Lots of UNP leaders were assassinated by the LTTE. I think Mr. Wickremesinghe is the only person who can still lead the party and if some other person tries to do that the UNP will lag behind. I don’t say that those who want a change and want to bring new proposals should deny their rights to talk.

Let’s keep the arguments internally and discuss to find a way out. I also see some lapses in the UNP. The UNP needs a shift in its policies. We need to tell the supporters clearly that we are ready to look after them. Otherwise, they will lose trust. For the last 14 years UNPers are suffering.

Q: But it was reported that there were some discussions between Mr. Wickremesinghe and Anura Kumara Dissanayake?

A: I do not know any meeting as such. In the Parliament lobby and on other occasions we meet them. I met Minister Chamal Rajapaksa last week and MP Basil Rajapaksa two weeks ago. These are the gossips reported in the media. As I mentioned earlier the main target of the UNP is to defeat this government. Apart from that the serious challenge for the UNP is that how best the UNP can contribute to resolve the national problem.

Q: Apart from criticising the moves of this government to resolve the national problem how do you think that the UNP can genuinely contribute towards finding a lasting solution?

A: We are unhappy with the present process of resolving this problem.We tried our best to be a part of this process. After President Rajapaksa came in to power, the government claimed that the national problem would be solved within three months. But, today this government is going ahead without any responsibility. War is a show off.

They have achieved victories as well as defeats. But, at this moment we should consider whether we can afford to continue the war. We lost thousands of innocent lives. The UNP is not against any move to defeat LTTE terrorism. There is no doubt we need immediate steps to stop terrorist acts by Prabhakaran. If the government moves with this same process they will find it difficult to go ahead.

Q: Are you talking about resuming peace talks?

A: We think the government should come up with a credible political solution. If they go for peace talks there should be a political package. A proposal for a political solution should be the basis for a discussion.

The UNP has a strong basis to commence peace talks. The UNP is ready to start talks on a proposal which will not divide this country. It should ensure the sovereignty of the country. Most importantly it should be accepted by the majority. The UNP will not hold peace talks with the LTTE if they still intend to divide this country.

Q: The government is ready to talk with the LTTE if they can lay down arms. But this was refused by the LTTE. How can the UNP re-start peace talks under these conditions?

A: They did not lay down arms when they came for peace talks with the UNP and also with the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. When there are conditions the chances for talks are remote.

The main factor is to develop trust between the two parties. Then Pillaiyan was allowed to contest with arms and still his group is armed. If the LTTE say that they need arms for their security.

Q: You are talking about two different situations. Pillaiyan group is still under LTTE threats. Who are the rivals of the LTTE to carry arms in self defence?

A: Who says so? We do not know the rivals of the LTTE. And I do not want to talk on behalf of Prabhakaran. We cannot say that the LTTE does not have threats.

Q: Will these brewing internal issues end up with another split, like earlier when the UNP’s senior politicians crossed over to the government?

A: There is no bar from expressing their views to improve the present situation of the party. Those who crossed over claimed that they joined the government because of the country. But they did that for ministerial portfolios.

They are additional burdens on the people of this country. If they really intended to work for the betterment of the country they could help the government while being MPs. I do not think that there is such a group within the UNP who plans to step in to the government. All those who bring various proposals want to accelerate our march to victory.




* No crisis in the UNP.

* No doubt UNP Leader will remain.

* As the leader Ranil Wickremesinghe should devolve more responsibilities among those who are dedicated to the party.

* UNP today lacks dedicated politicians.

* It is true and fair to say that the UNP does not look after its supporters much.

* Not only S.B. and Sajith, there are lots of promising politicians who can rise to the leadership within the UNP.

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NFF decided to hold public rallies in Sri Lanka

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National Freedom Front [NFF] plans to hold a series of public rallies to educate masses on prevailing challenges of Sri Lanka.
Its spokesman said these rallies would not criticize the JVP or its activities but educate the public on present challenges, which are before the country.
Leader of the NFF Wimal Weerawansa , Nandana Gunathilaka and other leading members of the NFF will address these rallies.
According to the NFF sources its first rally will be held on 30th of this month at Nugegoda .
“This is the first rally of the NFF” , said a spokesman of the party.
He said the NFF recently made an application to the Election Commissioner and asked to obtain Commissioner’s recognition as a political party. He said the Election Commissioner’s ruling on their application would be received within next few days.

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IOM trains law enforcement officers on counter-trafficking

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By Passanna Gunasekera
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized a series of training workshops on counter-trafficking for law enforcement officers under a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen national efforts in addressing trafficking issues. To date over 300 law enforcement officers have been trained in identifying, tracking and prosecuting cases of trafficking in Sri Lanka during workshops held in Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Ampara and Kurunegala.

Following an assessment on the process of identifying and prosecuting cases of trafficking in Sri Lanka, IOM in consultation with stakeholders -- the Sri Lanka Police Department, the Attorney General’s Department and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment -- developed a curriculum for the training.

An international consultant, engaged by IOM, trained 50 police trainers from the Police Department representing all the districts. These trainers will continue to support institutional training of the police systematically. IOM is assisting the police in incorporating the training curriculum on trafficking into their existing training programme to ensure sustainability of training.

The project targets to train a total of 500 law enforcement officers including police and immigration officers by July 2008.
Other activities under this initiative include: setting up a database to track trafficking cases, enhancing collaboration and coordination among government and nongovernmental organizations, and developing a policy document on prevention of trafficking.

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LTTE casualties on the rise: Troops force into terrorist defences in Mannar

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Security source said that, LTTE terrorists were beaten off from Andankulama general area with heavy casualties as troops intensified attacks at the remaining LTTE flanks positioned at the Mannar defences today (June 27).
According to latest reports received, troops are making tactical advances in the areas, while consolidating defences as LTTE terrorists were forced to abandon its trench and bunker lines during the military launched multi-pronged offensive.
Earlier, on Thursday (26) Sri Lankan Army infantry supported by armour and artillery stepped-up fresh attacks with combined SLAF air support on the remaining terrorist strong-points in Mannar.
Meanwhile, Army sources said that they have recovered the bodies of 25 LTTE terrorists killed in the fighting yesterday (June 26). Arrangements are being made to hand over those bodies recovered, through the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), the sources further said.

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25 corpses of LTTE uncovered: consolidate defences

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Scores of LTTE terrorists were reported killed and 25 bodies recovered after fighting broke out between troops and LTTE in general area Chiraddikulama ahead of the Vavuniya defences yesterday (June 26), since 6p.m.
According to available information LTTE terrorists have received heavy damages as LTTE battle formations were said beaten in the military push launched by the 57 Division soldiers.
Meanwhile, 25 LTTE bodies were recovered by the troops who were engaged in search and clearing operations while consolidating the newly established defences, security sources said. Troops have also uncovered 20, T-56 assault riffles, 01x 12.7mm anti-air craft machinegun , 02x RPG launchers and 01x Light machinegun, MCNS sources said.

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'Salvage our lady of Madhu from LTTE' says Bethlehem Catholics

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The Catholic community in Bethlehem, Palestine issuing a statement has urged the leaders of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka to persuade the LTTE to return the statue to its original shrine so that it would be accessible to the devotees who belong to all religions in the island, foreign websites reported.
The Full text of the statement issued by the Catholic Community in Bethlehem:
"We the undersigned members of the Catholic community in Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus Christ are deeply concerned about the reported shifting of the highly venerated statue of our Lady of Madhu to an area 70 kilometers inside the jungle not accessible to the devotee. It is with great sorrow that we also learn of this venerated statue of Our Lady of Madhu being used as a shield by the radical group called LTTE in Sri Lanka.
"In view of the fact that the government of Sri Lanka has given the assurance that this shrine would be protected as in the past we appeal to the leaders of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka to persuade LTTE leaders to return the statue to its original shrine so that it would be accessible to the devotees who belong to all religions in the island. As we understand this statue end the shrine is a national heritage and should be protected by all irrespective of faith or ethnic identity.
Therefore we of the Catholic community in Bethlehem in Palestine appeal once again to all parties concerned to protect this venerated statue of Our Lady of Madhu and place it in historical site so that devotees from all over the world could worship as in the past."

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Soldier killed, one injured in LTTE claymore bomb attack -Jaffna

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A soldier was killed and another wounded when LTTE terrorists triggered off a roadside claymore bomb targeting an Army route patrol in general area Manthikai, Point Pedro in Jaffna, today (June 27) at 8.50p.m.
The injured soldier was rushed to the Palaly military base hospital, military sources reported, adding that the explosion had occurred between Manthikai and Kalikai areas in Point Pedro.
Extensive search operations are underway in the area, security sources said.

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President says enough

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed IGP Victor Perera to ensure the police do not use any kind of force to disperse street protests by monks or students. The instructions come in the wake of the police using teargas and water to breakup a protest staged by a group of monks who yesterday sought a meeting with the President to seek redress to some of their issues.

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Foreign capital must for economic survival of SAARC countries

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In the era of globalization the economic survival of developing countries, especially of the SAARC nations, depends on their ability to compete, create attraction for foreign capital, enlarge markets and pool their resources. President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry,Tariq Sayeed said while inaugurating the first ever ‘Chambers Competition Awards 2008’ organised by the Federation of Chamber and Commerce and Industry, Sri Lanka (FCCISL) in Colombo on Friday, according to a message received here.
“Ultimately it will be the collective,creative and enterpreneural energy of the South Asia that will enable it to compete and emerge as a dynamic partner of the global economy”.
He stressed the urgent need for the adoption of following measures to strengthen and boost the economy among SAARC countries:
Formation of the strategic planning,defining the role and objective compatible to the requirements of business community,building repute as a centre of quality information, improvement of role and advisory units for government on economic issues, refurbishing secretariat on modern lines,provision of training for augmenting capacity building of the employees, developing effective relationship with government agencies and promotion of public-private partnership.
He said he was confident that the adoption of such measures will not only designate chambers as true representatives of the business community of the country but also elevate the image of the institution.
Tariq Sayeed said that “FCCISL Chambers Awards 2008” will add a new chapter in the history of the FCCISL and create a “healthy environment” amongst the chambers at regional and national level.”This would go a long way in building the image of chambers as partners of economic development in a country”.
He said launching of this award was inspired by winning the world chamber award at the world chambers federation and congratulated FCCISL for this milestone. “This is not only a pride for the institution but also an honour for the region of South Asia”.
Tariq Sayeed said that conferring awards to regional chambers is a prestigious approach to acknowledge the most acclaimed projects undertaken by these chambers. Later,he gave away awards to winners.
VP SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry,Pakistan chapter and deputy leader of Pak Traders delegation Iftikhar Ali Malik also graced the occasion.
Nawaz Rajabdin,President FCCISL and Vice President SAARC,Sri Lanka chapter, speaking on the occasion, thanked Tariq Sayeed for inaugurating the mega event.
He said that services of Tariq Sayeed to bridge the gap between business community and promotion of commercial activities in the region were commendable. He said these awards will serve as a stimulator to uplift the chamber movement in the country.
It may be mentioned here that Tariq Sayeed is the first Pakistani invited by FCCISL to inaugurate the prestigious ceremony of Chambers Competition Awards 2008.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

SLAF raids LTTE training facility - Oddusuddan

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Sri Lanka Air Force supersonic fighter jets raided an LTTE training facility and special unit headquarters located in general area Oddusuddan this morning, June 27.

Air Force spokesperson, Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara, speaking to defence.lk said that the target which is located at Pirapavettuwan, 10km north of Oddusudan junction was engaged around 6.10 a.m.

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Police probe mystery powder at US embassy

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Police have initiated a probe over the suspicious powder discovered at the US Embassy premises in Colombo on Wednesday almost 24 hours after a complaint was lodged over the incident.

The police had earlier told the media they were not investigating the incident as a complaint was not lodged by the Embassy authorities.

Police Media spokesmen Ranjith Gunasekera said the Chief Security Officer of the Embassy last morning lodged a complaint with the police regarding the discovery, almost 24 hours after it was reported to the media.A sample of the substance was sent to the Medical Research Institute for investigations.

The U.S. embassy was closed on Wednesday after the powder was found in the premises.

"The suspicious substance will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Until the results are received and a determination is made that the substance does not pose health or safety risks, the embassy will be closed to the public," it said in an e-mailed statement.

The heavily-guarded embassy has thrice been closed in the past after suspicious powder was detected but on each occasion it turned out to be a false alarm.

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Senior lawyer suspended

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The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the Rule against Attorney-at-Law Elmore Perera (President of the Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance) in respect of contempt of court, and suspended him from practising as an Attorney-at-Law for seven years.

The Supreme Court had already issued an interim order, suspending him from practising until the conclusion of the inquiry for purported contempt of Court.

President’s counsel H.L. de Silva and Maureen Seneviratne and Attorney-at-Law Aravinda Aturupana appeared for Mr. Elmore Perera. President’s counsel Daya Perera and Mohan Peiris appeared for the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. Deputy Solicitor General V.K. Malalgoda appeared for the Attorney General.

The notice of a Rule (charge) had been served on Attorney-at-Law Elmore Perera for the purported disobedience and defiance of a direction of the court.

It stated that Mr. Perera had filed SC application No: 108/2006 (F/R) describing himself as a practicing Attorney-at-Law and supported the application for leave to proceed on 31.03.2006.

The Rule stated that he continued to read each and every averment in the petition, despite a specific direction given that the Bench was possessed of the contents of the petition and that he should not unduly take the time of court by reading each and every paragraph, but should make his submissions relating to the specific matters of law and fact, relevant to the matters at issue. Despite the said direction, in disobedience and defiance of the said direction, he continued to read the said paragraphs in the petition.

It further stated that, in the course of the said proceedings, when the bench required him to address court on certain issues for the purpose of clarification of questions of law that arose for consideration, he rudely and insolently refused to answer any questions despite repeated requests and he contemptuously told their lordships that they could look it up themselves, if they so desired.

The Rule stated that he used intemperate language and gesticulated to bring the proceedings of court into ridicule and contempt and thereby engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; he failed to assist in the proper administration of justice and/or permitted his personal feelings to influence his conduct before court in breach of Rules 50 and 54 of the Supreme Court (Conduct and Etiquette for Attorneys-at-Law) amounting to misconduct and malpractice as an Attorney-at-Law.

Such conduct on his part warrants proceedings against him for suspension or removal from the office of an Attorney-at-Law under the Judicature Act. Mr. Perera has been asked to appear before the court and show cause why he should not be suspended from practice or be removed from the office of an Attorney-at-Law.

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MR has no mandate for federal solution: JVP

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By Gagani Weerakoon
The JVP yesterday stressed President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not get a mandate from the people to implement a federal solution but to safeguard the unitary status of the country.

JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe also slammed India for what he described as ‘its invasive dictatorial foreign policy’ and urged the government to reveal the contents and outcome of talks it held with the high level Indian delegation which visited the country last week.

The JVP said neither the Indian government nor the Sri Lankan government had so far issued even a statement on the outcome of the talks.

“During the talks, the Sri Lankan side was confined to the Rajapaksa family because it is now virtually running the entire country by handling everything from defence, economy to foreign affairs. Even though the President has failed to mention what they discussed we have received information from local and Indian sources as to what had transpired during the talks,” he said.

Mr. Amarasinghe also said according to some reports, the Indian delegation visited Sri Lanka to discuss security measures about the forthcoming SAARC summit.

“It is understandable and fair enough for them to be concerned about the security measures given the unfortunate incident where an Indian Prime Minister was assaulted during his visit here. But we know that the security concerns were not the sole reason for their sudden visit. They have discussed the feasibility of implementing a federal solution that goes beyond the 13th Amendment,” he said.

Mr. Amarasinghe stressed President Rajapaksa did not get a mandate from the people to implement a federal solution but to safeguard the unitary status of the country.

“We are not going to let this issue be treated lightly as the Indian policy was not friendly from the beginning of our national problem. Most people attempt to project the JVP as being anti-India. We are not against India or its people. But we have a problem about the present Indian foreign policy,” he said.

He said his party always expected India to treat matters relating to Sri Lanka with cordiality and understanding.

“But it never happened and it always tried to dictate terms to the Sri Lankan government,” he said.

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SLPI seeks legal advice over state media allegations

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By Sandun A Jayasekera
The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) is seeking legal advice as to what action could be taken if the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House) did not take immediate action to correct a news item hugely damaging to the institute which appeared in a state owned daily yesterday.

Addressing the media, SLPI Director General Ranga Kalansooriya said the news item had damaged the reputation of SLPI as an independent body in the field of journalism in the country. The news item under the headline ‘Eight Tigers sent to Norway under the journalist label, Applications were called by SLPI’ inter-alia had said that police intelligence had received information to the effect that a group of LTTE members were sent to Norway through Denmark under the journalist label by the SLPI in 2007.

“The news item was totally incorrect, baseless and malicious. There was no source, no base and no origin to the news item. The SLPI did not send journalists to Norway in 2007 at all. All twenty journalists

sent in Feb – March, 2006 have returned. The next batch of journalists sent to Norway in the same period in 2008 have also returned. The news item is a violation of all known journalistic ethics and norms,” he charged.

The entire cost of these tours is borne by DANIDA, he said. The SLPI has sent a clarification to be published in the newspaper. The SLPI has also informed the recently established Ministerial Committee on Journalists’ Grievances.

This was the first time the SLPI was compelled to seek legal advice though reluctantly against a media institution, Mr. Kalansooriya said. Member of the board of the Institute, Manik De Silva responding to a question said the Institute could not entertain a complaint against the news item as the Institute itself is a party to the complaint.

Meanwhile, Police Spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara confirmed to Daily Mirror that an investigation had been begun on this allegation by the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB).

“I cannot vouch for the veracity of the ongoing investigation. But, the out come of the probe could be known in a few days,” he said.

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Yapa claims dissenting UNP MP’s will join government

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Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa yesterday claimed that a group of senior dissenting UNP parliamentarians would join the government shortly.

He told yesterday’s Cabinet press briefing at the Information Department that the UNP was facing a serious internal crisis with many members rebelling against the leadership.

Declining to mention the numbers who would cross over, Yapa said "I will reveal further details at the right moment. I am saying this with responsibility."

The UNP is making all sorts of contradictory statements and has still not been able to select its chief ministerial candidates for the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Elections, he said.

"But we have already named Berty Premalal Dissanayake and Mahipala Herath as our chief ministerial candidates for the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils."

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UNP condemns attacks on MPs’ offices

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The UNP yesterday condemned Wednesday night’s attacks on the offices of Parliamentarians Range Bandara in Anamaduwa and Ranjith Aluvihare in Dambulla.
In a statement yesterday the UNP described the attacks as a ploy to scare the people even before fixing the dates for the proposed elections to the two Provincial Councils. It said the Government was not in a favourable situation at the two elections and was inclined to resort to such activities.

Even on earlier occasions the Government had resorted to similar acts during the Wayamba and Eastern Provincial elections and the UNP called upon the people to unite to defeat such terrorist activities.

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Defence Ministry orders clearing of all pavements

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The Ministry of Defence has directed the Highways authorities to clear all pavements of hawkers and unauthorized structures in towns bordering major highways by August 1.
This is in view of substantiated fears that the LTTE could use such pavements and unauthorized structures to mount attacks, authoritative sources said.

Minister of Highways T. B. Ekanayake a study of LTTE attacks in major towns had revealed this.

All Provincial Councils and local bodies have been instructed to follow the directive, he said.

The directive applies to all major towns bordering ‘A’ and ‘B’ highways. It would also be a boon to pedestrians, he said.

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CEB engineers forego duty-free car permits:

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by Shamindra Ferdinando

The CEB Engineers’ Union has dropped its long standing demand for duty-free vehicle permits after Treasury Chief Dr. P. B. Jayasundera and President Mahinda Rajapaksa had explained the unprecedented financial crisis the government was facing due to the steep rise in crude oil prices in the world market.
Well informed sources said the Union had accepted the President’s position that foreign reserves shouldn’t be squandered on non-essential purchases due to mounting pressure on the economy.

The sources said the government delegation, which included Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Dallas Allahapperuma, wouldn’t have anticipated an early end to the trade union action launched by the union. Their action had caused frequent power breakdowns in several parts of the country.

The President has assured them that the suspension of the duty-free facility would be temporary.

The President summoned the influential Union for a meeting at Temple Trees after it resorted to trade union action to obtain duty-free permits. The government had earlier suspended the facility in a bid to save the country’s dwindling foreign reserves.

The sources said that initially the CEB Engineers’ Union had been sharply divided over the decision to drop its demand. In fact, their move had taken other unions, which had felt this would be detrimental to their efforts to obtain the concession, by surprise.

Trade union sources said the government had given in to the GMOA’s demand for duty-free vehicles after the association resorted to trade union action. They said the government had meekly met the GMOA demand fearing the doctors would cripple the health sector. The CEB engineers could have done the same but acted sensibly when the government had explained the untenable economic situation, sources said.

Chief Government Whip and MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena last week assured Parliament that the government would shortly take action to control the import of fuel guzzling vehicles. This was the assurance given in response to a query raised by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake. Gunawardena acknowledged the urgent need to curb vehicle imports as the country could no longer afford the extravagance.

Trade unions said the government should review the issue of duty free permits if it was genuinely interested in halting the import of fuel guzzling vehicles. The government, too, would have to set an example by cutting down on its expenditure. With the CEB Engineers’ Union setting a sterling example, the politicians on both sides of the divide and other trade unions, too, should curb expenditure wherever possible, a senior official said.

Sources said duty free permits issued to politicians, officials, professionals, sportsmen and religious institutions had been a heavy burden on the taxpayer. The facility which had been introduced by the first JR Jayewardene administration allows beneficiaries of this scheme to obtain duty-free permits periodically. MPs have the opportunity every five years.

The recent controversy over the transfer of a Mercedes Benz imported on a duty-free permit issued to JHU leader Ven. Ellawela Medhananda and the battle between JVP factions revealed the brazen abuse of the facility by political parties.

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Sri Lanka retailer cuts diesel price further

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Indian Oil Corp's (IOC.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) Sri Lankan retailing unit has reduced its diesel prices for a second time in a week by 10 more rupees ($0.09) per litre to 110 rupees line with those of state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC), official said on Thursday.

Lanka IOC LIOC.CM reduced its diesel prices to match the state owned oil retailers diesel prices in line with a request by the Sri Lankan government, said K.Ramakrishnan, the managing director of the Lanka IOC.

"We have done this on the advice of the government, we also firmly believe that the government will be lenient in the new petrol tax in turn of reducing the diesel prices," Ramakrishnan said.

Lanka IOC on Tuesday announced its decision to reduce its diesel prices by 10 rupees to 120 rupees with effect from Tuesday midnight. This followed the government's request last week that it cut by 20 rupees to bring them into line with those of state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC) or face 'severe' action.

Until Tuesday Lanka IOC sold diesel at 130 rupees ($1.2) a litre, 20 rupees more than CPC. The government said that had pushed up losses at CPC by 400 million rupees a month as drivers have flocked to its cheaper pumps, increasing its sales by 20 million litres.

Lanka IOC raised its diesel price three times late last month, increasing its margin over CPC, but kept petrol prices at the same level as CPC at 157 rupees a litre.

Sri Lanka says it already subsidises CPC at 30 rupees a litre for diesel.

In mid-2006, Sri Lanka allowed Lanka IOC to fix its own prices depending on world markets.

The Lanka IOC officials last week said 'there is no level playing ground' in Sri Lanka as the government imposed a new 24.50 rupee per litre tax on petrol imported as a finished product since May 25, had cut into its margins.

Lanka IOC has to pay the tax on every litre of petrol, while CPC only pays it on half the petrol it sells as the other 50 percent is refined locally, Lanka IOC said last week. ($1=107.73 Sri Lankan rupees)

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Four killed in Naula accident

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At least four people including three school children were killed and twelve others injured when a bus collided with a lorry at Naula along the Matale-Dambulla road this evening.

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Jayalath denies calling for Ranil's expulsion

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UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena says that although he stressed the need for an efficient mechanism to support and retain support for the party, he did not propose the ouster of incumbent leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Speaking to media he said that Mr. Wickremesinghe was undoubtedly a leader with a vision.

"However, there are members within the party who possess ideal political zest and their talents should be utilized to maximum use. They should be given responsibilities. The UNP needs an efficient mechanism of the sort," he added.

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Police baton-charge monk protest

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Police baton-charged, used teargas and water cannon to disperse a protest demonstration by monks of the Inter-University Bhikku Front in Colombo today (June 26th).The protest demonstration was held against the indefinite closure of the Buddhashrawaka Bhikku University, Anuradhapura.The demonstrators were marching from Viharamaha Devi Park towards Temple Trees when they were confronted and blocked by the police.

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Grenade attack on MP Range Bandara’s office

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An unidentified gang had lobbed a hand grenade at the Anamaduwa office of United National Party MP, Palitha Range Bandara last night (June 25th), Anamaduwa Police said.
No one has been hurt in the incident.
Speaking to media, Mr. Range Bandara said that two persons on a motorcycle had entered the office through a window and hurled the grenade.

The explosion has damaged the office interior, as well as furniture and equipment, he added.
The Parliamentarian also said that his district office in Madampe too, came under a grenade attack on June 24th, around 2.00 pm, but it had not exploded.
Noting that he had no personal enemies, Mr. Range Bandara said that he suspected that such attacks against him were a result of his criticism of the government.
If not, a certain group has taken advantage, he said, adding that the attacks would not have been possible without the backing of the government.

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4 UNP MPs officially call for Ranil's stepping down

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A quartet of United National Party MPs has officially challenged the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
They have proposed to a specially appointed committee that Rukman Senanayake should replace the incumbent leader, and that either Joseph Michael Perera or Gamini Jayawickrama Perera be appointed deputy leader.
The four MPs - Ravindra Samaraweera, Lakshman Seneviratne, Jayalath Jayawardena and Johnston Fernando - call on Mr. Wickremesinghe step down from the leadership.The special committee of party seniors Rukman Senanayake, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, John Amaratunga, Joseph Michael Perera, Sarathchandra Rajakaruna, Renuka Herath and Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake has received several proposals for the restructuring of the party.
According to Mr. Senanayake, who is the UNP chairman, the final draft containing these suggestions will be handed over to the party leader on June 29th after he returns from an overseas tour.

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Vavuniya Field Hospital Receives Army Chief

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Commander Of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka with several senior officers at the Army Headquarters Thursday (26) morning made a special trip to visit injured War Heroes in the Vavuniya field hospital.
The Army chief spoke to those wounded War Heroes and shared a couple of thoughts with them while inquiring into their specific needs, if any. He also instructed medical authorities in the hospital to provide all medical requirements for those inmates without fail. Commander, showing his fatherly care towards his brave soldiers listened to their opinions on ongoing clearing operations and inquired into their welfare measures. .
During their powwow with the Commander, soldiers under treatment expressed their readiness to re-join their fellow-mates on the battle front soon after their recovery and vowed to fight against the enemy.
Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka wished them well before he departed to the Security Forces Headquarters Wanni (SFHQ-W) at the end of the hospital visit.
Major General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander SFHQ-W after welcoming the Commander on his arrival sat with a gathering of Senior Ground Commanders representing Divisions and Brigades. Exchange of views on ground realities and present operations centered on the discussions that prevailed for some time. He gave further instructions and guidelines to his field commanders about future operations and other security measures need to be adopted.

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Former Chief Ministers will contest forthcoming PC election as CM candidates

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Former chief ministers Berty Premalal Dissanayake and Mahipala Herath will be nominated by the UPFA as its chief minister candidates of the north central and Sabaragamuwa provinces.
United People’s Freedom Alliance said nomination boards are operating to select candidates to compete the list of candidates for the forthcoming Provincial Election.
Meanwhile Election Department said accepting of nominations for the North central and Sabaragamuwa provincial council elections will commence from Friday. The nominations can be submitted at the district secretariat offices till the noon of fourth of next month. Nominations are also accepted during the weekends. The time period for independent groups to deposit sureties for the election will conclude from the noon of 3rd of next month. Date of elections will be declared after nominations are accepted.

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NFF invites JVP parliamentarians

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NFF-Newly setup Political party of Wimal Weerawansa could attract more JVP parliamentarians .
Anjan Umma is the new member who obtained her membership in today morning at the NFF headquarters , Pelawatta.
Wimal Weerawansa General Secretary of the NFF said he invites all JVP parliamentarians to join with the NFF to make a good political culture. At present 12 JVP parliamentarians are with Wimal’s group and another few MPs will join with them said the political sources.
NFF is the forth largest party at the Parliament today and Wimal Weerawansa could attract more members for the party, said a political analyst.
Meanwhile JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe said Anjan Umma’s case is second stage of one episode.

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Kuwait''s Foreign Ministry warns citizens from traveling to Sri Lanka

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KUWAIT, June 26 (KUNA) -- Kuwait Foreign Ministry warned on Thursday citizens from traveling to Sri Lanka, due to the current security situation in the country.
Director of the consulate in the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Jaber Duaij Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah, said in a statement, that the ministry is warning citizens from traveling to Sri Lanka at the current time, due to the dangerous security conditions in this country.

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IGP Victor Perera pays a courtesy call to Secretary Defence

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The Inspector General of Police Mr. Victor Perera, paid a courtesy call to the Secretary Ministry of Defence, today, Thursday the 26th of June.
The Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, held a brief discussion with the outgoing IGP of Sri Lankan Police.

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LTTE receives heavy beating: 12 terrorists killed as troops force into Papamoddai

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The Sri Lankan Army infantry and armour divisions stepped up ground advances backed by heavy artillery into South of Papamoddai and areas East of Marattikannnaddi and Minnaniranchan in Mannar since 6 a:m today (June 26), morning.
According to latest reports 12 LTTE terrorists were killed during the fighting ensued between troops and LTTE.
SLAF striker helicopters have also supported with tactical fire support during precision raids launched North of Andankulama this morning at identified LTTE positions ahead of the existing FDLs.
Papamoddai is located 12 km. south of Vidathaltheevu and 8 km north of Mannar, on the Mannar-Pooneryn road. According to available information heavy fighting was reported between troops and LTTE in separate locations South of Papamoddai as ground troops claimed to have chased off LTTE flanks sent to defends its last lines of defences in the area, which is said strategically important considering its proximity to LTTE's coastal stronghold Veddithaltivu.

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Total Security Appliances to Secure Sri Lankan Enterprises

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Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP), the worldwide leader in securing the Internet, announced the Sri Lankan launch of Check Point Power-1™, a new line of Internet security appliances offering high-performance sites a simple, robust, and easy to manage security solution with the best price/performance ratio available. Check Point also introduced in the Sri Lankan market the new UTM-1 Total Security® appliances, giving enterprise sites of all sizes more choices to match the right solution with their security and performance needs. Check point is pleased to announce the availability of these solutions through its Authorized Regional Distributor, Ceylinco Networking Technologies Ltd. (CNT).

Power-1 appliances combine firewall, IPSec, virtual private network (VPN) and intrusion prevention with advanced acceleration technologies, delivering a high-performance security platform for multi-Gbps environments.

"We are committed to providing our customers high performing security solutions," said Bhaskar Bakthavatsalu, Country Manager, India & SAARC, Check Point Software Technologies. "Power-1 provides customers the flexibility to combat malicious applications and threats while maintaining predictably high speeds. With the new appliances, tight security does not come at the expense of network performance."

"However Sri Lankan SMBs seeking to leverage the most out of constrained IT resources want out-of-the-box network solutions with all the key security features and services on a platform that can keep a network moving quickly and smoothly. With UTM-1 Total Security, customers get the most comprehensive, powerful network protection on the market based on the same VPN-1® solution that protects the Fortune 500 in a single, easy-to-manage, cost effective platform," he added.

Power-1 appliances provide performance up to 14 Gbps firewall throughput, delivering the most cost-efficient firewall for high performance environments a price/performance ratio under $4 per Mbps. With a 6.1 Gbps intrusion prevention speed, customers also gain the ability to stop application layer threats at industry-leading speeds. Consequently, organizations facing application security threats, such as worms or buffer overflows, will be able to stop them while maintaining high performance for business critical applications. Since advanced acceleration technologies are built into the software, customers can also receive performance improvements without upgrading hardware, maximizing the value of their security investment.

New security protections and product updates can be easily installed as needed so businesses get the latest security deployed quickly. Multiple Power-1 appliances can be centrally managed with other Check Point security gateways through a single console, thus simplifying network security management and reducing administrative costs. The console simplifies the management of complex architectures found in high performance environments. In addition, it provides a single interface for managing firewall, VPN, and intrusion prevention as well as analytical and monitoring capabilities. As sites increase in complexity or in size, their environments will require security appliances with more ports and higher performance. The two new Check Point Power-1 appliance models provide the ability to meet all levels of complexity.

The new UTM-1 Total Security appliances expand the performance of the UTM-1® line up to 4.5 Gbps. Customers can choose the right solution for their environment with appliances ranging in performance speeds from 400 Mbps to 4.5 Gbps. The entire UTM-1 Total Security product line comes with the "Total Security" package, which offers either one or three years of comprehensive security services and reduced support rates. Each UTM-1 Total Security appliance comes complete with all the security protection, software and security updates and hardware to achieve the highest levels of network security. Integrated security protections include:
· Industry-leading application and network-layer firewall
· Site-to-site and remote access VPN
· Gateway antivirus and anti-spyware
· Intrusion prevention with type-based SmartDefense® security update and type-based protection
· Web security with URL filtering and Web security protections
· Messaging security and anti-spam, including Check Point’s six-dimensions of comprehensive messaging security

“We at CNT are proud to represent Check Point in Colombo and the SAARC region. This step taken jointly by Check Point and CNT to launch these new solutions will further empower us to provide total internet security solutions to our clientele.” said Sanjaya Padmaperuma, Director/General Manager, Ceylinco Networking Technologies Ltd.

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Gowri Shankar at the helm as 36th President of CIMA Sri Lanka

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Ms. Gowri Shankar Somasundaram was elected as the 36th President of CIMA Sri Lanka Division at its 20th AGM held at the Cinnamon Grand. Guest of Honour on the occasion was Dr. B. Mahadevan, Professor at IIM Bangalore. The second woman to head this premier institution in Sri Lanka, and also the third woman President worldwide, Gowri Shankar now joins the echelons of a band of distinguished personalities who have chartered the destiny of this much respected institute, since its inception in 1965.

Accepting the Presidency, Gowri Shankar said her vision was to reinforce the professional excellence of the fraternity. “Profession First is a theme that I will be devoted to. My year will be dedicated to the advancement of the Management Accountancy Profession, to equip, elevate and enrich it”.

She further stated, “Our discipline is in the business of creating value. Value Creation is the foundation of any business. We will advocate ‘thought leadership’ through Technical Forums where new ideas will be encouraged. We will also be driving discussions as to the enhancement of the profession in the Public Sector by facilitating our discipline to be introduced through new initiatives.

Gowri is also committed to Islamic Finance. With her travel mainly in the Middle East and working in the Islamic Finance context, she will launch Islamic Finance as a master course. “Business today demands intelligent and insightful professionals with a strategic vision. Students are our future wealth. Student development and growth will thus be a major focus in developing the ideal professional the world demands”, she added.

Functioning as Advisor and Business Partner to His Royal Highness Prince Mish’al Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Bin Abdul Aziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since February 2006, Gowri Shankar has been participating in business development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Region.

Consultant and Representative of the Gulf Bureau for Research and Economic Consultations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Gowri will soon take office as Country President for Kampac Group of Companies for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Kampac is a group of companies in the Middle East with representation in 20 countries mainly in the oil industry, infrastructure and real estate development, telecommunications and hospitality. She is also developing a Finance and Re-structuring Consulting Company in the Bahrain mainly for the SME sector. She travels widely to GCC countries consulting in International Finance and Business Development.

Gowri who began working at Thomas Cook, UK, was later Group Finance Controller of the Cornels Group of Companies managing seven supermarkets after which she worked as a consultant at KPMG Ford Rhodes and Thornton. She then joined John Keells Holdings in 1995 as Manager for Corporate Finance and Management Review Division. She championed the e-commerce Strategy for the Keells Leisure sector and introduced Enterprise Risk Management to the John Keells Group.

Since 1994 Gowri Shankar has been involved actively in CIMA activities and also chaired a large number of committees dealing with a wide range of subjects at CIMA Sri Lanka Division. She is a Fellow Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants UK, and the Official Assessor for Membership for CIMA, London. Gowri Shankar is also an Accomplished Toastmaster and introduced Toastmasters to CIMA in 1993. She has actively conducted speech-craft programs for many corporates.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Man shot dead in Vavuniya

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A man who was returning home after work was shot dead by an unidentified gunman at Nellikulam, Vavuniya last night.

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Investigation on the massacre of 401 unarmed Police Officers to be expedited

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The Government officially announced on the 13th June 2008 that investigations will be conducted into the massacre of 401 police officers on 11-06-1990 in Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa areas on the request made by the affected families.

With this announcement by the Government, more and more members of the families of victims have made requests to the Defence Secretary to initiate the inquiry. They have pointed out that they did not receive any compensation nor have any legal documents confirming the deaths issued nor any formal inquiry held nor any responsible person was punished. In spite of the requests made by the members of the families for an inquiry, from the then Government, they fell on deaf ears.

This incident took place in the aftermath of the treaty signed with the LTTE by the then Government led by the late President R. Premadasa when the present Opposition Leader Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe was the Leader of the House and a powerful Minister. Further, the then Government ordered them to lay down arms and surrender to terrorists with the result the police officers were assassinated in the most brutal manner.

Under this treaty, the UNP Government supplied the LTTE with funds, weapons and military equipment. This is one of the charges mentioned in the impeachment motion moved by a group of the Members of Parliament in the Government party against the President R. Premadasa. The LTTE used the very weapons provided by the Government to assassinate the Police Officers. The question asked by the families is who ordered the Police Officers to lay down their arms and surrender to the LTTE. Considering the request made by the members of the affected families the Defence Secretary has requested His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to appoint a Presidential Commission to make a full scale investigation in to the massacre and to rectify the injustice done to them.

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LTTE Artillery/Mortar expert injured in Air Strikes at Muhamalai

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Defence Intelligence sources reveal that an LTTE artillery and mortar weapon expert called Iniyawan had been seriously injured during the air strikes taken at three LTTE artillery launching pads in Muhamalai last afternoon.

According the sources, the LTTE had suffered serious damages in the air raid that had been taken at the terror artillery launching positions located 3 km of army forward defence at Muhamalai.

Radio monitoring units too confirmed the information saying that there were many calls by LTTE cadres on radios asking for vehicles to evacuate casualties following the air raids.

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Troops in Mannar gains more ground; 17 terrorists killed in fierce fighting

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Troops operating on the Mannar battlefront continued to attack terror defences and to push own defences further into the Wanni territory. According to the military reports received so far from Mannar, 17 terrorists were killed during yesterday's clashes (June 25) .

In the general area Mullikandal, troops advanced 600m ahead from their earlier positions amidst heavy resistance from the terrorists during morning hours. Radio monitoring units revealed that 6 terrorists were killed in this incident. Also, 4 soldiers suffered injuries.

At Marattikannadi , troops confronted with a group of terrorists around 6.20 am. One soldier suffered injuries in this attack while enemy casualties were not known.

At Kilavanakaddu troops attacked an LTTE bunker defence around 9.35 am. Monitored radio transmission confirmed that 3 terrorists were killed and 3 others wounded in this incident.

In a similar incident at Marattikannadi around 12.30 pm, ground sources confirmed that 5 terrorists were killed and 8 others wounded.

Meanwhile, snipers deployed in the Minnanivanchan area claimed to have killed 3 terrorists around 2.15 pm.

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Torture endemic in Sri Lanka police-rights group

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COLOMBO, June 25 (Reuters) - Torture has become endemic in Sri Lankan police stations and there seems to be no political will to stop it, an Asian human rights group said on Wednesday.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said torture was standard procedure both in investigating ordinary crimes and as part of the civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels.

The government said the allegations were baseless.

Despite thousands of complaints, the commission said the attorney general's office had only launched three prosecutions against alleged official torturers.

"Torture is a way of life at all police stations in Sri Lanka, whether the alleged crimes investigated are those relating to petty criminal offences, serious crimes or offences under the emergency and anti-terrorism laws," the commission said in a statement.

Rights watchdogs have reported hundreds of abductions, disappearances and killings blamed on government security forces and Tamil Tiger separatists since a bloody civil war, in which 70,000 people have died since 1983, resumed in 2006.

The commission also said investigations into torture were being politically prevented to protect Sri Lanka's human rights record, and that the lack of political will to eradicate torture affected the entire administration of justice.

International observers quit the island earlier this year, saying a probe into a string of high-profile killings, including the massacre of 17 local aid staff in 2006, was going nowhere.

The UN Human Rights Council has called on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of killings and disappearances and prosecute those responsible, including members of the security forces.

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Twin air raids destroy LTTE training base and Forward Operating base - Mannar

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Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets and MI 24 helicopter Gunships carried out two air raids targeting LTTE camps located in the North Mannar this morning (June 26).

According to the Air Force sources, the first raid was carried out by MI 24 helicopters at 6 am targeting a Forward Operating Base (FOB) of LTTE located at Marattikannadi , 2 km North of Andankulama. The air raid was carried out to support the ground advance of Army 58 division on the Mannar front, said the sources. Ground troops have confirmed that the attack was effective, the sources added.

The second air raid was carried out by Air Force fighter jets around 6.10 am targeting a training base located in the Vellankulama area , 20 km North of Vidattaltivu. According the sources the target was accurately taken. Exact damage caused to the enemy in this attack is yet to be verified, said the sources.

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Police probe into attempt on PM’s life reveal..

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Police investigating an LTTE attempt on Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake’s life said the former director of the National Film Corporation, now in custody in connection with the attempt, had received several calls from a JVP MP shortly after his arrest.
Investigators said that the suspect received five calls within minutes of the police arresting him late last week.

They said the suspect’s mobile phone had registered the MP’s number. Police would shortly obtain permission from Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara to question the national list MP.

Investigations have revealed that the then Cultural Affairs Minister Vijitha Herath had appointed the suspect to the NFC directorate on the recommendation made by his colleague, sources said.

According to the investigators, the suspect had links with the LTTE and made use of his appointment to facilitate several LTTE operations in Colombo. The suspect had been a director of the National Film Corporation during Vijitha Herath’s tenure as the Cultural Affairs Minister in the 2004-2005 period.

The suspect had admitted that he was a JVP member and attended classes in 1975 in Jaffna and had links with the party and LTTE.

Earlier in the day, at a press conference, JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said that the LTTE suspect was not a member of the JVP. "There was no Tamil unit in the NFC when our comrade became the Cultural Affairs Minister. We recruited the person in question to commence a Tamil unit.


He was not a member of our party. There are many people who participated in our classes but all of them are not our members."

"We were suspicious of this person and sought clearance from the police intelligence but they never responded to request. In fact, at that time, Sunil S. Sirisena, additional Secretary to the Ministry of Defence had been the Chairman of the NFC," he said.

However, the sources in the State Intelligence Service denied the excuse made by the JVP and said that they had never asked for such clearance on the suspect.

Silva said his statement at the press conference was made on the assurance given by MP Herath that he had called for clearance.

When contacted, MP Herath said he had no documentary proof to prove the request because it was made in 2005 and the documents were in the NFC’s possession.

An LTTE intelligence wing cadre, under interrogation, had implicated the former NFC director. The police had kept the arrest of the intelligence wing cadre under wraps until they arrested the former NFC director. Investigators had recovered 9.5 kilograms of high explosives and a stock of steel balls from the suspects who revealed details of bombing operations mounted by the LTTE in the city and its suburbs. They had led the investigators to a shop on the top floor of a supermarket in the Kotahena police area where the intelligence wing cadre had turned out a range of explosive devices, particularly suicide kits.

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Sale of B’mulla land for golf course

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UDA acted on Cabinet decision – Counselby Chitra WeerarathneCounsel for the Urban Development Authority, Nihal Jayewardene, yesterday told the Supreme Court that the decision to construct a golf course at the flood retention area in Battaramulla had not been taken by the UDA. The UDA had acted on a decision taken by the Cabinet, he said. The Cabinet paper had been submitted by the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the Counsel said, adding that the land had been acquired in the early 1980s for the benefit of the Parliamentary complex as a flood retention area.


Chief Justice: It was never contemplated that this land was to be sold for a golf village. The direction was given by the then President and you did it.

Counsel: Everything was done after the Cabinet decision. Land developers have certain concessions.

In this case, the UDA had been made a respondent in a petition filed by two public interest litigants, challenging the decision of the former President to allegedly misdirect the cabinet to alienate state land at Battaramulla, to a private entrepreneur, to build a golf course for the affluent.

Chief Justice: The UDA had taken over land from the poor people and given it for the building of golf village for the rich. If the UDA had launched a middle class housing scheme, the Court would have commended you. You have given it to the rich. You ought to be dissolved.

The Bench comprised the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva Justice Shirani Thilakawardene and Justice P. A. Ratnayake.

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UNP welcomes Ranjan’s offer to be Sab. CM candidate

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The UNP yesterday welcomed leading film actor Ranjan Ramanayake’s offer to be the party’s chief ministerial candidate at the forthcoming Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Election, but said that it was a matter for the decision making bodies.
UNP General Secretary, Tissa Attanyake said ’ that there are about twelve persons including Ramanayake who have volunteered to be chief ministerial candidates at the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Council Elections."But it is upto to the Nomination Board and the Working Committee to select and ratify the names of the most suitable aspirants."

He said that more than 150 have sought nomination as candidates at both elections and they are having a tough time selecting the most suitable aspirants."It’s nice to see so many clamouring to contest on the UNP ticket."

Asked if former Major General Janaka Perera has been confirmed as the partys Chief Ministerial candidate for the North Central Province, Attanayake said that the names of all candidates will be known by July 1.

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TMVP demands police and land powers

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The TMVP is to put forward political proposals to the All Party Representatives’ Committee (APRC) demanding police, land, educational and financial powers for the provinces, which it cited as the unit of devolution when evolving a political solution to the ethnic conflict.

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Anjan Umma to join NFF

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JVP MP Anjan Umma is to join the NFF led by Wimal Weerawanse. NFF sources said she would join the party at a ceremony scheduled to take place tomorrow.

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Ranjan interest on UNP’s CM post for Sabaragamuwa

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Popular actor Ranjan Ramanayake today said he has informed the UNP leadership that he is willing to be UNP’s Chief Ministerial candidate for Sabaragamuwa Province and the party’s Working Committee is slated to take a decision on the matter soon.
Addressing a media conference in Colombo he said if he receive approval from the party he would definitely contest the forthcoming Provincial Council election.
“I will not refuse UNP’s offer, he said.

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150 LTTE cadres including child soldiers killed in one month -

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Three obituary posters found by troops operating in the Mannar battlefront have revealed details of 150 LTTE cadres, including more than 20 child soldiers, killed in one month. According to defence sources, the posters were found on a billboard at a recently captured office of an LTTE regional leader in the Karakakulam area.
The three posters contain details of 50 LTTE cadres on each, including their name, rank and the unit that they had been attached to. However, no ranks were mentioned against 30 cadres who appear very young in their early or mid-teens. According to the details mentioned on the posters, the LTTE cadres were killed at various locations in the Jaffna and Wanni theatre of operations from 17th February to 10th March this year.
A defence intelligence official speaking to defence.lk said that many of the LTTE cadres on the poster must have been those forcibly led into the battle by the terrorist leadership.
"The pictures of teenagers and children show the LTTE is still using child soldiers despite its attempts cover up the existence of its shameful baby brigade", he said.
"There were pictures of 5 self-styled "Lieutenant Colonels", 9 "Majors", 14 "Captains", 51 "Lieutenants", 41 "Second Lieutenants" and 30 others without any rank, on the posters", he added.
Speaking further he said the idea behind the posters might have been to convince the parents of those killed that their children had been given very high status or rank in the terror outfit.
" It is a well known fact that LTTE is forcibly taking young children from their parents to be trained as terrorists. So, aggrieved parents are now rallying against the LTTE leadership in the Wanni for robbing their loved ones from them", he added. Earlier, reports declared by the UNICEF have accused the outfit of recruiting over 2000 children to its ranks through coercion campaigns carried out in the non-liberated areas.

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Multiple air strikes at LTTE positions in Wanni and North

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fighter craft and MI-24 helicopter gun-ships launched multiple air strikes at identified LTTE positions in separate locations in Wanni and North this evening (June 25).
According to security sources, SLAF fighter jets have raided three LTTE artillery launching pads located 3km South of the Muhamalai LTTE forward defence lines (FDL) at around 1.45p.m. Earlier, Air Force MI-24 helicopter gun-ships attacked an LTTE bunker line located 3km North of Nittukaikulama Tank in Welioya, supporting advancing troops of the 59 Division at 1.15p.m, the sources added.

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SriLankan Increases Flights To Woo Middle Eastern Tourists

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SriLankan Airlines has increased its flights to the Middle East in an effort to woo more tourists from the region to Sri Lanka.
Working closely with the Sri Lankan government in this regard, the airline will now have 37 weekly connections to nine cities in the Middle East - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah and Kuwait.
SriLankan said in a statement here Wednesday that the additional flights are to three cities - Doha from the present four to six, Bahrain from five to seven and Dammam from two to three.
"The government has identified the Middle East as one of four major tourist markets and has launched a series of marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the islands attractions," SriLankan said.
According to the airline, there has been an 80 percent increase in Middle Eastern tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2008.
"Our focus is on leisure travellers and several holiday packages have been unveiled to cater specially for the Middle Eastern tourists," its regional manager for Middle East, Africa and CIS, Mohamed Fazeel said.

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High level Pak trade delegation leaves for Colombo

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A high level Pak trade delegation led by President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry,Tariq Sayeed left for Colombo Wednesday to participate in chambers competition to be held on June 27.
Deputy leader of the delegation VP SAARC CCI,Pakistan chapter,Iftikhar Ali Malik told APP here this evening that it is great honour for Pakistan that Tariq Sayeed,a Pakistani business leader and SCCI Chief have especially been invited to inaugurate the chambers competition, a prestigious event organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka at Colombo on Friday (June 27) .Sri Lanka attached great important to private sector of Pakistan in the region and signed free trade agreement with Pakistan on August 01,2002 followed by singing of the protocol on Feb 09,2005 and full implementation of the free trade agreement on June 12,2005.
Another member of the delegation Shahzad Ali Malik,Chief Executive Guard Rice said that Pakistan has granted tariff rate quota (TRO) arrangements to Sri Lanka for export of 10,000 MT tea,1,200 MT betel leaves and 3 million pieces garments every financial year (July-June) while Sri Lanka has granted TRO arrangements to Pakistan for export of 6,000 MT Basmati Rice and 1,000 MT Potatoes for every calendar year . However import of potatoes is permitted only during the off-season period in Sri Lanka. The Pakistan delegation will return home on July 29.

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Tissa meets Norwegian Ambassador

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UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake met Norwegian Ambassador Tore Hatrem on Tuesday at Sirikotha.
According to the Sirikotha sources Mr.Attanayake and Norwegian Ambassador discussed various issues .

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US embassy closes temporarily

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The US Embassy in Colombo has been closed to the public today following the discovery of a suspicious powder in the embassy premises.
Issuing a press statement the Embassy said all visa and other services sections of the embassy also temporarily closed due to this incident. The suspicious powder has been sent for laboratory tests.

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JVP selects its Chief Ministerial Candidates

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The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna [JVP] selected its two Chief Ministerial Candidates for the Sabaragamuwa and the North Central Provincial Councils.
General Secretary of the JVP Tylwin Silva said Chameera Koswatta will act as their Chief Ministerial Candidate for the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council and Parliamentarian Wasantha Samarasinghe will act as the
Chief Ministerial candidate for the North Central Provincial Council.
At present Koswatta holds Leadership of the JVP Student Wing and member of the Politburo. Parliamentarian Samarasinghe also a trade unionist, said Mr.Silva at a press briefing held in Colombo on Wednesday.
According to Silva Mr.Koswatta leads Ratnapura district and Mahinda Jayasinghe leads Kegalle district.
Indrananda Silva leads Polonnaruwa district and Wasantha Samarasinghe leads Anuradhapura district under the JVP umbrella.
Addressing media today Mr.Silva said the UNP is still searching its Chief Ministerial candidates .A veteran Tuition Master Upul Shantha Sannasgala has turned down UNP’s offer and Ex-Senior DIG Sirisena Herath also refused to contest under the UNP ticket.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

5.8 percent growth forecast for 2008 – RAM Holdings

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The Central Bank will have to continue with its tight monetary policy in order to curb domestic credit which led to high inflation (the highest in the region nearing 30 percent) by further raising interest rates, said Dr Yeah Kim Leng, Chief Economist, RAM Holdings Berhad yesterday.

Dr Leng expects the Central Bank to tighten interest rates by up to 75 basis points in the second half of the year.

"Expansion in demand for domestic credit is caused by excessive government spending to narrow down the fiscal deficit and by private sector spending," he said when RAM Holdings launched an economic outlook report titled "Sri Lanka: Key Economic Challenges and Prospects for 2008 and 2009 – Coping with External Shocks and Internal Challenges."

He pointed out that the high fiscal deficit (7.2 percent of GDP in 2007 which is expected to hover around 7 percent this year) was attributed to an increase in military and security spending, funding huge infrastructural and rural development projects and huge public sector wage costs while the current account deficit expanded on large oil, commodities and food export bills, a depreciation of the exchange rate and strong consumer demand.

The twin deficits led to persistently high levels of inflation, high interest rates, a volatile exchange rate and erosion in investor confidence and the government was urged to closely monitor the deficts.

Dr Leng recommended that private sector financing of infrastructure projects, privatisation, increased foreign direct investments, shifting into high value manufacturing and high wage services industry and increasing savings by broadening and deepening the banking system and capital markets are some of the policy measures the government ought to take to consolidate the fiscal deficit.

"By increasing foreign direct investments the government can finance its debt obligations which will leave room for the private sector to access domestic credit."

He said that having a healthy fiscal deficit was one way in which to escalate growth only if government spent well on development activities and stressed that a healthy current account deficit can be good if it is spent on more investment goods over consumption goods. The current deficit remains below 5 percent of GDP which is the prescribed limit in order to foster sustainable development.

"Sri Lanka needs to spend on machinery and investments to sustain the factory production capacities which are on the decline. While trying to curb its overspending, the government should invest more on education and health which will have multiplier effect on development."

According to the economic outlook report the agricultural sector is expected to grow by 3.6 percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2009 supported by buoyant exports of tea, rubber and related products which recorded 40 to 55 percent growth during the first quarter of the year.

It said that agriculture remained on a moderately declining trend which was consistent with the transformation of an agriculture-oriented economy to a manufacturing and services economy.

The Manufacturing sector is expected to grow by 5.7 percent this year and 5.4 percent in 2009.

"The output of the apparel industry remained strong in 2008 with a moderate rise in exports. Nonetheless this high profile industry’s growth may cool down in the medium term due to intensifying price competition from countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh," the report said.


Leng said that Sri Lanka’s economy would be more resilient than expected with growth forecast at 5.8 percent in 2008 (down from 6.8 percent in 2007) and 6.1 percent in 2009 despite adverse global economic conditions and strong domestic demand.

He said that high double digit inflation remains a major threat but the anticipated widening of fiscal and budget deficits are expected to return to a declining trend once international food and oil price shocks subside as speculators expect.

The overvalued rupee is expected to depreciate by one to three percent based on a trade weighted basis during the year.

Sri Lanka’s painful fuel subsidy removal in 2006 saved the country 0.7 percent of GDP annually but further escalation in fuel prices and energy costs continue to pose a threat.

Crude oil is expected to increase by 34.3 percent this year to decline by 1 percent in 2009, while international commodity and food prices are expected to increase by 22.5 percent and 18.2 percent respectively during the year, then decline by 2.5 percent and 0.9 percent in 2009.

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Sri Lanka - Diplomatic postings

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Jaliya Wickramasuriya is due to take over as Sri Lanka’s US Ambassador by the 1st of July. He was the former Consul General for Los Angeles.

He hails from the south of Sri Lanka and was a very successful businessman. He was earlier the Managing Director and CEO of the Ceylon Royal Tea and Supplies LLC, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has appointed two more ambassadors.

Tamara Kunananyakm, who is at present the Charge de Affairs in the Sri Lanka Embassy in Brazil has bee appointed as Ambassador for Cuba. She is said to be a political appointee and a specialist in Spanish language.

Also Ranjani Samarakoon, another political appointee has been appointed as High Commissioner to Singapore.

In the meantime, Sri Lanka’s veteran diplomat Bernard Goonatilake is leaving Washington to Colombo on 29 of this month. It is till not clear whether he will be given another diplomatic assignment to an Asian country.

Bernard Goonatilake was the one who organized the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat in 2002. He was also the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry sources revealed that Shenuka Senivaratne, the former High Commissioner to London has assumed duties as Director, Political Affairs (Europe) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ in Colombo.

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EPDP party representative arrested

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A EPDP Chenkaladi party representative has been arrested by the Vakarai Police early this morning according to Police Media Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekera. The suspect is allegedly guilty of a recent murder and several other crimes that occurred in the area.

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Dilantha second in Malaysia

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Champion Sri Lankan driver Dilantha Malagamuwa hit the podium again last Sunday at the Sepang Formula I track in Malaysia finishing second in the Aston Martin Asia Cup Round Three behind Kotha Sasaki of Japan.

Malagamuwa is still leading the championships points table thanks to the two victories he achieved in Shanghai, China a few weeks ago in the first two rounds.

Malagamuwa went off in the sixth lap losing valuable time while trying to overtake the race leader Sasaki who started off in the pole position.

However he hit back determinedly finishing in an overall time of 31:16.199 secs. to complete the twelve lap race just little more than two seconds behind the winner.

The fourth round of the championships held in the evening on Sunday was a bad experience for the Sri Lankan driver who faced an accident and finished only sixth-his worst finish in the championships so far.

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President insists war not against people

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A group of religious leaders yesterday offered to facilitate a meeting between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in order to promote national unity.

Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he was determined to defeat terrorism and not wage a war against the people of the country.

“I do not wish at all to wage a war against the people of the country,” the President told a group of leaders who called on him at Temple Trees yesterday.

He also said that if the LTTE lays down arms he will be ready to work with them to achieve peace, the President’s Office said in a statement following the meeting.


The President also stressed that he is not prepared to compromise the security of the country and betray the nation to any terrorist outfit.

Meanwhile, the Inter-religious Council of Sri Lanka in a statement said that during their discussion with President Rajapaksa they had offered to facilitate a meeting between the President and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. “Despite the current military operations we believed that two leaders should come together to promote national unity to promote good governance and human rights,” the Council said in a statement.

The Council also urged the President to ensure that all the political parties are included in the process of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), and that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution be fully implemented with necessary powers and resources devolved to the provinces.

The Ven. Dr. Bellanwila Wimalaratana Nayaka Thera, Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha thera, Dr. Ven. Brahmanawatte Seewali Thera, Rev. Bishop Harold Perera, Rev. Bishop Rayappu Joseph, Moulavi Alhaj Niyas Mohamed, Moulavi Shahul Hammed Adam Bawa, Mr. Kyoichi Sugino of the World Religious Organization, Mr. Kingsley Rodrigo Executive Director of the Religions for Peace Sri Lanka and others participated with the President in the discussion.

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Lanka once again in ‘Failed State’ list

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Sri Lanka has once again been included in the Failed States Index by the Foreign Policy and The Fund for Peace which rank the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away.

Sri Lanka has been ranked 20 in the list of 60 failed states with Somalia claiming the number one spot and the distinction of being the state most at risk of failure.

In the fourth annual Failed States Index, Foreign Policy and The Fund for Peace rank the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away.

“Whether it is an unexpected food crisis or a devastating hurricane, the world’s weakest states are the most exposed when crisis strikes,” the Index said.

The rank order of the states is based on the total scores of the 12 indicators. For each indicator, the ratings are placed on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest intensity (most stable) and 10 being the highest intensity (least stable). The total score is the sum of the 12 indicators and is on a scale of 0–120.

Founded in 1970 by Samuel Huntington and Warren Demian Manshel, and now published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., FOREIGN POLICY is the premier, award-winning magazine of global politics, economics, and ideas. Its mission is to explain how the world works—in particular, how the process of globalization is reshaping nations, institutions, cultures, and, more fundamentally peoples daily lives.

In 2007, several countries that have long served as the poster children for failed states managed to achieve some unlikely gains. The Ivory Coast, which unraveled in 2002 after a flawed election divided north and south, experienced a year of relative calm thanks to a new peace agreement. Liberia, the most improved country in last year’s index, continued to make gains due to a renewed anticorruption effort and the resettlement of nearly 100,000 refugees. And Haiti, long considered the basket case of the Western Hemisphere, stepped back from the edge, with moderate improvements in security in the capital’s violence-ravaged slums.

Bangladesh took this year’s hardest fall, set off in part by postponed elections, a feuding, deadlocked government, and the imposition of emergency rule that has dragged on for more than 18 months. These political setbacks were followed by greater economic hardships after a devastating cyclone in November flooded large swaths of cropland and left 1.5 million people homeless. In nearby Pakistan, also one of this year’s worst performers, a beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf sparked waves of violent protests when he dismissed the head of the Supreme Court and declared martial law. In a tragic close to the year, the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto left many wondering about the future prospects of this fragile, nuclear-armed state.

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Prisoners file FR against sentencing

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By Susitha R. Fernando

Fourteen prisoners, including those who are on death row and facing life imprisonment, filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court yesterday seeking to commute their imprisonment period.

They stated that according to prison rules, prisoners facing a life sentence could have their term commuted to twenty years imprisonment considering their good conduct. According to the Constitution the President is empowered to commute such imprisonments.


This is done on the report issued by Superintendent of Prisons to the President once in four years, they said.

In 1997 the then President had directed that prisoners convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment or death penalty, which would not be put into effect, to undergo 20 years imprisonment or at least for their imprisonment to be reduced. Following this direction the issuing of reports ceased.

The prisoners complained that the President’s decision was arbitrary and unfair and in protest they carried out hunger strikes in several prisons. Subsequently a committee was appointed to look into the issue and certain recommendations were made.

However in 2002, 23 prisoners convicted to life imprisonment had their sentences commuted, the prisoners complained.

The fourteen prisoners asked court to declare that their fundamental rights have been violated and to direct the Justice Minister to enforce the recommendation made by the committee appointed to look into their grievances.

The convicted prisoners at the Mahara and Welikada prisons filed the application citing the Commissioner General of Prisons Major General Vajira Wijegunawardena, Superintendents of Prisons in Mahara and Welikada, Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, Suhada Gamalath and Attorney General as respondents.

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Nesiah resigns...

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Dr. Devanesan Nesiah said he had officially tendered his resignation from the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into Alleged Serious Violations of Human Rights with effect from midnight yesterday without waiting for what he termed was an “overdue reply” from the President’s office.

The Chairman of the Commission Justice Nissanka Udalagama confirmed that Dr. Nesiah had stepped down and said that he would be missed in the ongoing Commission hearings. Nesiah states that the immediate cause for his resignation is a result of a letter from the Presidential Secretariat dated 7 June 2008 which states that there is a loss of "great trust and confidence" in his "prudence, ability and fidelity" once reposed in him by the President.

Nesiah states with criticism that “It is especially regrettable that in your letter follows a concerted media campaign against me spearheaded by the Counsel for the Army and the STF and by a section of the state owned media network.”

Speaking to media Dr. Nesiah said that he met with four of the CoI members yesterday and informed them of his decision. “They wanted me to remain and offered the possibility of taking up the Potuvil case in the future to keep myself occupied but I remain firm on my stance,” he added.

Witness protection and gaining access to witnesses who had gone overseas were stated as the major difficulties faced by the Commission which Nesiah felt slowed its progress. “The scope of witness protection the Commission has been able to extend to witnesses resident within Sri Lanka is very limited in respect of both degree and duration,” Nesiah says in his letter.

Dr. Nesiah further says the suspension of video conferencing to await the Witness Protection Act withdrew prospects of the investigations. “In my view, some of the provisions in the draft legislation may deter severely critically important witnesses from testifying,” he states in his letter adding that “In consequence the Commission may not be in a position to arrive at a robust conclusion in any of the sixteen cases assigned.”

“We will miss him at the commission hearings,” the Commission Chairman Justice Nissanka Udalagama said adding that the CoI will meet as usual this Thursday to inquire into the Trinco and ACF cases. Meanwhile he added that the CoI hopes to end the investigations into the two cases by July before resuming the Potuvil case.

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UNP rift deepens,rebels seek change

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By Kelum Bandara

A rift within the UNP continued to deepen yesterday with a group of UNP MPs demanding ‘drastic changes’ to the party constitution ensuring more powers for National Organizer S.B. Dissanayake, Party Chairman Rukman Senanayake and MP Sajith Premadasa.

The rebel MPs Dr. Jayalath Jayawardane, Johnston Fernando, Lakshman Senveratne and Ravindra Samaraweera were involved in talks yesterday with the committee appointed by the Working Committee of the party to look into the political crisis brewing within it.

The Committee comprising UNP seniors including John Amaratunga, Joseph Michael Perera, Renuka Herath and Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake were entrusted with the task of resolving the internal crisis without allowing it to trigger another split in the party.

The rebel MPs pointed out to the committee that the UNP had suffered a string of election defeats, and therefore structural changes were imperative to win future elections.

Informed sources said that these four members stressed on the need for the party Chairman Rukman Senanayake to be appointed as the new UNP leader while Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe remained as the opposition leader. They also pointed out that the second and third positions of the party should go to Mr. Dissanayake and Mr. Premadasa.

“They don’t mind Mr. Wickremesinghe remaining as the opposition leader. They also assured that that the youth wing of the party should be placed in the hands of Mr. Premadasa,” sources said.

Among other demands put forward by them is a proposal to completely amend the party constitution, and introduce a new one which will include more democratic features.

Asked for his comments on the rift, senior UNP MP John Amaratunga, who was among those who participated in the negotiations said that the Committee would take up the proposals with Mr. Wickremesinghe when he returns from overseas on Friday. Mr. Wickremesinghe is currently on a visit to Europe.

“We had talks with them. Our committee will forward proposals made by them to the leader to take a decision regarding its implementation,” he said.

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Rambukkana Police under scrutiny

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The Rambukkana Police is under the scrutiny of the Attorney General’s Department and the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) following the revelation of negligence on its part in a case of abduction and rape of a 15-year-old school girl.

The police allegedly turned a blind eye to a series of complaints against the suspect by the victim’s family since March, 2006 and no action was taken by the Rambukkana Police until the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) intervened recently on behalf of the victim to pressure the local police to act.

Although, the abduction and rape had taken place early this year, the first complaint against the suspect for harassing the family had been lodged in March 2006.

The suspect had gone berserk when the rape victim’s family asked him not to visit their home after the parents had noticed his unusual interest in their then 13-year-old victim and her 15-year-old sister.

Authoritative sources asserted that the girl could have been easily saved had local police acted swiftly when the victim’s family sought police protection. Unfortunately, their complaint hadn’t been properly investigated, the sources said. The suspect could have had some support from some policemen stationed at Kegalle. Finally, a special police squad, acting on the directions of Upali Hewage, DIG Sabaragamuwa, had arrested the suspect, an NCPA official said. In fact, an NCPA team, too, had been tracking down the suspect when the team from Ratnapura arrested him.

NCPA spokesman Dimuthu Galapathy said the Attorney General had directed the relevant authorities to speed up investigations.

Fielding questions, DIG Hewage said the Rambukkana police was to be blamed for this unfortunate situation. "I have already sent a report in this regard to the IGP," he said. The Officer-in-Charge of the station would be squarely responsible for negligence of duty. Hewage identified the suspect as a three wheeler driver.

Galapathy said altogether five persons had been arrested in connection with the case.

K. C. Logeswaram, Secretary to the National Police Commission (NPC) yesterday said the NPC would take up this case. "We would definitely make inquiries," he said, promising speedy inquiry.

According to the victim’s statements to police, the suspect had taken her to a hut on a hillside where he repeatedly raped her before a group of villagers led by her father rescued her. When they had reached the hut, the suspect hadn’t been there. By that time, Rambukkana police had called off their search leaving the victim’s father to pursue the search. The local police had failed to at least station a policewoman when she had been warded at the government hospital. Fearing for the safety of the teenager, the family had taken her home. According to the victim’s family, the suspect had phoned their home and had threatened them with death and once stormed their home, thrown chillie powder on the face of the victim’s mother and then tried to grab her. Swift intervention of the neighbours had thwarted the attempt to abduct her. But local police had turned a blind eye to terrorising of a helpless family, subsequent investigations have revealed.

In early June, the suspect had attacked the victim’s aunt with a sword. She had received severe injuries to a hand and on her back. According to statements given to investigators, the three wheeler driver had boasted that two of his brothers in the army (one deserter) would take care of them if anything happened to him.

Police said the Sabaragamuwa Range should be held responsible for this sorry state of affairs. Had senior officials in charge of the Sabaragamuwa Range been watchful, they would have noticed the failure on the part of the Rambukkana police and the Kegalle police which also had received a complaint from the targeted family, they said.

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North Central, Sab. Provinces postal voting:

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The Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake has instructed the Chief Returning Officers (Government Agents) of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kegalle and Ratnapura to display the electoral lists of 2007 for reference of those eligible for postal voting at the forthcoming elections to North-Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.

Additional Commissioner of Elections (Provincial and Local) W. P. Sumanasiri told The Island that the PC elections would be held according to the Electoral list for 2007 and that separate lists were on display for members of the security forces and the Police.

Senior SLAS official who is consultant to the Elections Secreteriat Bandula Kulatunga said that the Electoral lists had been displayed on June 13 and could be checked till July10.

As the chief Returning officer of the Anuradhapura district (GA) H.M.K. Herath had gone abroad, Additional GA Mrs. M. A. Anula Indrani was making preparations for the PC elections with Nominations to open from June 27 and close at 12 noon of July 4.

Assistant Commissioner of Elections for the Anuradhapura District S.M. Saman Bandulasena said that independent Groups were open to pay their deposits by 12 noon of July 3.

He said that there were 600,000 voters in the district and that recognized political parties could obtain nomination papers for 24 candidates to elect 21 members and that each independent Group was open to deposit Rs 48,000 each.

The Chief Returning officer (GA) for the Ratnapura district Mrs Malani Premaratne said that preparations were on for the PC elections.

The Assistant Commissioner of elections for the district of Anuradhapura M. A. B. C. Perera said that there were 725,000 voters in the district and that nomination lists should include the names of 27 candidates to elect 24 members and each Independent Group would have to deposit Rs 54,000.

The Chief Returning Officer (GA) of the Kegalle district Mrs D. M. P. Dissanayake said that preparations were on for the nominations.

The Assistant commissioner of Elections for the district of Kegalle P.A.S. Senaratne said there were 600,000 voters in the district and each nomination list should include the names of 21 candidates to elect 18 members and that each Independent Group deposit Rs 42,000 each.

The Chief Returning Officer (GA) of the Polonnaruwa District Ranjith Wijetilleke said that arrangements were on to accept nominations.

Assistant Commissioner of elections for the district of Polonnaruwa W. H. R. Wijayakumar said that there were 277,056 voters in the district and each nomination list should have the names of 13 candidates to elect 10 members and each Independent group should deposit Rs 26,000.

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Swedish technology company Pilum AB wins water treatment technology orders in Sri Lanka and Australia

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Swedish technology company Pilum AB said that its business area Technologies has received new water treatment technology contracts in Sri Lanka and Australia.

The new orders are valued at a total of SEK3m.

The customers were not named, but according to Pilum one of the two orders is an add-on to a previous delivery.

Pilum, headquartered in Malmo, Sweden, is an energy and environment technology provider focusing on flue gas and water treatment. The company has some 25 employees and reported a net turnover of SEK70.1m in 2007.

One British pound (GBP) is worth approximately 11.90 Swedish kronor (SEK).

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Fierce battle in Mannar front; troops capture 3 Sq Km, 18 terrorists killed

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Troops engaged in counter terrorist offensive operation in Mannar front inching further towards LTTE dominated areas capturing 3 sq Km areas in north of Adampan. In fierce gun battle took place in mainly three areas, Mullikandal, Minnaniranchan and Marattikannaddi, terror transmission confirmed that 18 terrorists were killed and 6 others wounded.

Troops attack at terror bunker defence in general area Mullikandal killing 5 terrorists and injuries 6 others. 3 soldiers also suffered injuries in this battle. Enemy bunkers at Minnaniranchan were also attacked by the troops killing 5 more terrorists. 8 more terrorists were also killed when the troops confronted with the terrorists at Marattikannadd area. One soldier suffered injuries due to the confrontation.

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Dialog Mobiles Can Now be Reloaded from Overseas

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Dialog Telekom - Sri Lanka’s largest mobile communications service
provider announced recently a partnership with ezetop Ltd., an Ireland based international mobile phone Service Company, to enable global reload of Dialog Prepaid Mobiles.
The groundbreaking facility enables in particular, expatriate Sri Lankans to reload Dialog mobiles of friends and relatives back home in Sri Lanka. ezetop services are available globally via the internet at www.ezetop.com and through a network of 40,000 outlets worldwide. ezetop has a significantly far reaching presence in the Middle-East making the Dialog-ezetop partnership of immediate value to
expatriate Sri Lankans living in the region and their families in Sri Lanka,
The facility also enables international travelers subscribing to Dialog’s instant roaming service to reload their accounts while overseas. This exciting new service enables individuals abroad to send mobile phone reloads to any Dialog prepaid customer using ezetop’s online top-up service at www.ezetop.com or at one of ezetop’s 40,000 over retail locations worldwide. The online top up
service works through an online account which is created at the ezetop website..
Speaking further on the partnership with ezetop, Group Chief Marketing Officer for Dialog Telekom, Nushad Perera said: “At Dialog Telekom we are constantly innovating our services in order to make mobile communication more convenient seamlessly available for our customers. The partnership with ezetop we will no doubt add a new dimension to customer convenience with the reloading of
Dialog mobiles now being made possible across international boundaries. Their strong presence in the Gulf is of special interest to us as it will add to the convenience of our customers.”
ezetop’s Chief Operating Officer, David Shackleton added “We are delighted to extend our services to all Dialog Telekom prepaid customers and we are pleased to now be enabling Sri Lankans abroad to stay in touch with their family and friends more easily.”

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DGUNP plans to contest under the UPFA umbrella

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Democratic Group of the United National Party says they will contest under the UPFA umbrella for the forthcoming Provincial Council Election .
Addressing a media conference Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said their members have discussed with the UPFA to reach an agreement .At present the Democratic Group is finalizing their candidates for the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Councils election.
“We will nominate our candidates within this week, he said.
During the Eastern Provincial Council Election the Democratic Group of the UNP has assisted the UPFA to obtain more votes for their candidates.
According to the Minister Senaratne two leading members of the Democratic Group of the UNP still represent these Provinces. They are Minister Mano Wijeratne and C.A.Sooriyarachchi.
Meanwhile Department of Election called applications for the postal votes.
Speaking to media General Secretary of the United National Party Tissa Attanayake said the party would nominate their Chief Ministerial Candidate for the Sabaragamuwa Province during this weekend. Yesterday UNP Chief Ministerial Candidate Upul Santha Sannasgala rejected UNP’s offer to contest under the UNP ticket for the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council.

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Ministerial Committee on Journalist’s grievances commenced

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Government appointed Ministerial Committee on Journalist’s grievances commenced its work from Tuesday.
The committee is housed in the BMICH , Colombo .According to the committee it has decided to fulfill six objectives such as help and ensure independence of media personnel and media institutions, To inquire into complaints of harassment and death threats to media personnel and intervene if such allegations are correct, To bring better understanding between state officials and media, To provide social recognition to media which depends national sovereignty and security, To follow up on projects proposed to promote the welfare of media personnel and ensure speedy implementation ,To assist in safe guarding right to incorporation of all citizens and create a responsible and social recognized media culture .
The Committee includes seven ministers namely Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa , Dulles Alahapperuma, Dr.Rajitha Senaratne, Laxman Yapa Abeyawardana , Rohitha Abeyagunawardana and Faizar Musthapa.
Addressing media on Tuesday evening Minister Dr.Sarath Amunugama said the government respects the media freedom and this committee would assists it.

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IOC decreases the price of Diesel

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Lanka IOC decreases the price of Diesel by ten rupees from mid night today.

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William Lacy Swing Elected Director General of the IOM

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Ambassador William Lacy Swing of the United States has today been elected as the next Director General of the International Organization for Migration.

Ambassador Swing was elected by a two-thirds majority vote of the Council, which brought together IOM Member States.

Speaking after his election, Mr. Swing said: “My vision for IOM is for a collaborative organization of professionals built on trust and one that listens to Member States and which efficiently and cost-effectively helps them manage migration to the benefit of all.”

Mr. Swing, who was the official US candidate for the post of Director General, brings to the 125-member Organization a breadth of international experience, a proven ability to manage complex multilateral operations and to collaborate productively with foreign governments, United Nations agencies and other inter-governmental institutions.

As UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from May 2003 till January 2008, Ambassador Swing successfully led all facets of the largest UN peacekeeping operation in history.

Prior to his work in the DRC, Ambassador Swing served from 2001 to 2003 as the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Chief of Mission for the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

During a long diplomatic career at the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Swing was a six-time ambassador, managing some of the largest diplomatic missions and foreign development and humanitarian aid programmes in two hemispheres, with a record of strengthening bilateral relationships.

Through his diplomatic assignments in countries facing significant migration movements, he has acquired a deep understanding of the multiple factors affecting international migration.

Ambassador Swing graduated from Catawba College in North Carolina (Bachelor of Arts) and Yale University (Bachelor of Divinity), and did post-graduate studies at Tubingen University in Germany and at Harvard University. He also speaks fluent French and German.

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European Commission and ECCSL conducts Workshop on “Sustainable Chemical Management– Focus on REACH Pre-registration and Registration”

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by Keerthi Abayawickrama of Garment Times

The “Latest Trends in Social and Environmental Responsibilities in Europe (LASER)” project is co-sponsored by the European Commission within one of its Asia wide programs namely: Asia Invest. Building stronger economic links between Asia and the European Union is in the interest of both European and Asian companies. Promoting Euro-Asian business co-operation, helping in particular European and Asian SMEs in their internationalization process, thus increasing opportunities for mutual trade and investment, remains the key objective set by Asia- Invest.
Hans Svendsen President of the ECCSL said the LASER project intends to sensitize the Asian business intermediaries on EU’s Business culture pertaining to environmental and social responsibility. The REACH chemical policy, enacted by the European Parliament and the European Council, which came into force from the 1st June 2007, is a prime example of the attempts of the European Commission to impose stringent social and environmental responsibilities on the chemical industries of Europe. One of the important implementation phase of REACH is expected to begin from 1st June’ 2008.
It is therefore that The European Chambers of Commerce in Sri Lanka, along with its other project partners including the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR), Sweden; the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (ViTO), Belgium and Network for Preventive Environmental Management, India is organizing a day long workshop on the important theme of “Sustainable Chemical Management– Focus on REACH Pre-registration and Registration”.
The organisers said its first workshop will be held on 27th June 2008, 8.30 a.m. in Colombo.
This workshop shall see international experts speaking on REACH, its various implications on non- European (non-EU) exporters and Roadmap for Compliance. The affected industries include exporters to EU in the Apparel industry,I Automotive industry,I Chemical industry,I Coating industry, Electronic industry, Inorganic Materials & Products, Packaging industry
' Petroleum, Plastic industry, Rubber & Rubber based industry and Wood Manufacturers industry.
There shall be special focus on the Pre-registration and the “only representative” issue. The “only representative”
shall have to be appointed by all the non-European exporters of chemicals and chemical containing products into Europe. The half day presentations will be followed by half day of interactive discussions with the industry with the provision for a one-on-one interaction with industries seeking specific solutions to the queries relating to REACH compliance.
This workshop is intended to coincide with the early Pre-registration period of REACH compliance in order to enable the chemical and allied industries of Sri Lanka to meet their various obligations for REACH compliance and ensuring continued exports to Europe. The industries are therefore invited to avail this excellent opportunity of understanding REACH and proceed ahead to meet the various deadlines within REACH thereby fulfilling their social and environmental responsibilities for sustainable chemical management.

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20 civilians fleeing LTTE areas seek security forces protection- Welioya

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Twenty civilians fleeing LTTE held areas in Mullaithivue and Malayanwadu reached the Kokilai army point seeking the security forces protection this morning, June 24.

The group comprising 14 males and 6 females have reached to the security forces controlling areas around 10.45 a.m, defence sources said. Three children were also among the escapees who have fled their native areas due to the LTTE's harassment and forceful recruitments, sources further said.

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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USA defence attaché meets Defence Secretary

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The newly appointed defence attaché of the USA Embassy in Sri Lanka, Lt Col Lawrence A Smith, accompanied by the departing defence attaché paid a courtesy call to the Secretary to the ministry of defence this morning, June 24.

Defence secretary bid a farewell for the departing defence attaché Lt Col James E. Oxley.

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Brandix Eco Centre plays host to reigning beauty queens

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The Green Plant of Brandix, Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter, recently hosted two reigning beauty queens on a familiarization visit.

Miss Netherlands Melissa Sneekes and Miss Sri Lanka Maria Colombage toured the three eco- friendly manufacturing facilities that make up the Brandix Casualwear complex at Seeduwa and were briefed on the remarkable savings it had achieved in energy and water consumption and the reduction of carbon emissions by 80 per cent, through a redesign of the building and the installation of eco-friendly air- conditioning.

Commenting on what she saw, Ms Sneekes said: “ Concern for the environment is very high in Europe, and I am most impressed by the efforts made by Brandix in Sri Lanka to switch to Green Manufacturing.

The Brandix Green Plant at Seeduwa was an eye- opener for me. Besides being one of the most eco-friendly apparel factories in the world, it also provides a very comfortable working environment.”

“It is very pleasing to see that garments reaching stores in Europe come from such well- designed and environment-friendly manufacturing locations. Congratulations, Brandix.”

Ms Colombage added: “There can be no better example of Sri Lanka’s commitment to environment-friendly manufacturing than the Brandix Green Plant at Seeduwa.

The commitment and effort that has gone into creating a showpiece of clean manufacturing is truly commendable. Sri Lanka can be proud of facilities such as this, which demonstrate that we can be world leaders in eco-friendly apparel manufacture.”

The 130,000 square-foot Brandix Casualwear factory at Seeduwa is the Group’s lead manufacturing plant for top international retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S), and surpasses internationally-stipulated Green factory standards for energy consumption, water conservation, solid waste management and carbon emissions.

The pioneer of the concept of inspired solutions for branded clothing, Brandix is a preferred solutions provider to some of the world’s best brands, including Gap, Marks & Spencer, Victoria’s Secret, NEXT, Lands End, Ann Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch and Tommy Hilfiger.

The Group specializes in casual bottoms, intimate and active wear, textiles, knitted fabrics, sewing and embroidery thread, accessories and hangers and also offers wet processing and finishing and fabric printing.

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Sri Lanka ready to host SAARC summit

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Arrangements have been finalized to hold the 15th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Sri Lanka from July 27 to Aug. 3.
The heads of states and governments of SAARC countries have confirmed their participation in the summit Foreign Ministry officials said.

With the theme of "Towards a South Asian Union," the summit will be held under the

slogan "Growing Together." The 15th summit will focus on soaring oil prices, food crisis, economic growth, social development and the problem of terrorism in
South Asia.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hand over the SAARC chair to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse during the summit.

India hosted the 14th SAARC summit in 2007. Foreign ministry officials representing the member states of SAARC countries are scheduled to hold discussions in Colombo on July 27 and 28. The foreign ministry secretaries of the
member states will meet on July 29 and July 30.

The Council of the Foreign Ministers will be held from July 31 to Aug. 1. The summit will be held with the participation of heads of states from SAARC countries on Aug. 2 and 3, the newspaper said.

Around 1,000 delegates from SAARC countries, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and hundreds of journalists are expected to participate in the summit.

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IFJ calls for fair judicial process

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The International Federation of Journalists calls on Sri Lankan authorities to ensure fair and transparent judicial process is applied to senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissanayagam, who continues to be detained by the Police Terrorist Investigation Division.

The IFJ said in a statement that a magistrate is due to issue a decision on June 30th in the case of the editor of the OutreachSl.com news website, who has been detained since March 7.
A ruling will also be delivered on N. Jesiharan, owner of E-Kwality printers, and his partner Valarmathi, who have been held since March 6th.
The expected rulings follow a court appearance by Tissanayagam and Jesiharan at Colombo’s Court No. 1 yesterday, according to the Free Media Movement, an IFJ affiliate.

Tissanayagam has been held without charge for 107 days. Under the Emergency Regulations Act, detainees must appear before a court upon completion of a
90-day detention order. However, the TID had previously failed to present him for scheduled court hearings due to purported administrative delays.

In court yesterday, Tissanayagam’s lawyer, Subandiran, argued that Sections 19 and 21 of the emergency regulation in force further required that detainees must be transferred to fiscal custody (that is, removed from TID special detention into general detention) upon completion of a 90-day detention order.

The court also heard allegations yesterday that Jesiharan had suffered torture in detention. Grave concerns are held for his welfare. “The prolonged detention of Tissanayagam, without explanation, breaches the basic human right to justice,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said. “Fair judicial process must be applied to Tissanayagam, and all cases, without exception,” the statement added.

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India helping Colombo to perpetrate genocide on Tamils

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In a letter to the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Vaiko, General Secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), accused India of ?equipping the Sri Lanka Government to help its war machine to perpetrate genocidal attacks against the Tamils...throwing to winds the farsighted foreign policy adopted by Pandit Nehru and Mrs. Indira Gandhi,? and urged the Prime Minister to not participate in the SAARC Conference.

Full text of the letter follows:

The betrayal being committed by the UPA Government at the centre against the Tamils,
with particular reference to the ethnic Tamils of the island of Sri Lanka has been thoroughly exposed by the statements of the Sri Lanka Government, its military officials and also by the condemnable activities, open and clandestine of the Government of India.

News have appeared in the print media in India and Sri Lanka that a top level Indian official team comprising Foreign Secretary Mr. Sivasankara Menon, National Security Advisor Mr. M.K. Narayanan and the Defence Secretary Mr. Vijay Singh has reached Colombo on 20th June 2008 for consultations with the Sri Lanka Government ''on matters of mutual interest''.It is reliably understood that the Indian team
has met the President of Sri Lanka Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, Defence Secretary Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga. The visit was kept a top secret.
A source in the Sri Lanka Presidential secretariat told the press that over Friday and aturday, the visiting team would discuss an array of issues, including the security in the island, the ongoing military operations against the LTTE in the North, the issue of the intruding Indian fishermen in North-West Sri Lanka, and matters relating to the SAARC summit to be held in Colombo in the first week of
August.

My repeated request to you by letters and also in person to stop forthwith any sort of military assistance to the Sri Lanka racist Government which is committing the grave crime of genocide against the ethnic Tamil race in the island have been callously thrown away.Eventhough the UPA Government did not sign the proposed Defence Pact with Sri Lanka in 2004; the Indian Government has been equipping the
Sri Lanka Government to help its war machine to perpetrate genocidal attacks against the Tamils.

I accuse that the Government of India supplied radars to the Sri Lanka Air-force which is strafing and bombing by which innocent Tamil people are brutally killed, the glaring example is Sencholai massacre.I accuse that the Government of India gave a red carpet welcome to the Sri Lanka President and the Ministers whose hands are stained with the blood of Tamils.

I accuse that the Government of India has sanctioned a loan of 100 million dollars at 2% interest to the Defence Ministry of Sri Lanka enabling them to purchase weapons from Pakistan and China, which would be used to decimate the Tamil race.

I accuse that the UPA Government has deliberately derelicted in its duty to prevent
the dastardly attacks and killing of the Sri Lanka Navy against the Tamilnadu fishermen. Adding insult to the injury, the Indian team is discussing with the Sri Lanka Government against the safety of Tamilnadu fishermen.

I accuse that the Government of India has mortgaged her sovereign rights, permitting the Sri Lanka Government to lay seamines in the international waters adjacent to Indian water.I accuse that the Government of India, burying fathoms deep all the norms of humanism, prevented the supply of food and medicines to the suffering Tamils in that island by not giving permission to the International Red Cross to send the materials collected in Tamilnadu.

I am pained to make the accusation that the Indian Government, particularly the
abovementioned officials are assisting the Sri Lanka Government, which is making all out military offensive to liquidate the Tamil race, throwing to winds the farsighted foreign policy adopted by Pandit Nehru and Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The UPA Government and its constituent political parties are held responsible for the loss of Tamil lives in the island of Sri Lanka and will be held accountable and answerable in the dock of the people's court of India.
In view of the abovementioned facts, I am registering my point of view that the Prime Minister of India should not go to Colombo to participate in the SAARC Conference.

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A different ‘Naguma’

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Employees of the Maga Neguma Project main office at Moratuwa launched a protest campaign in front of their office today demanding several issues be resolved including salary anomalies.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

New Sri Lanka High Commissioner for United Kingdom

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Retired Supreme Court Judge Chandra Nihal Jayasinghe is expected to take over, as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner of United Kingdom from 1st of July.

Shenuka Senivaratne, the outgoing High Commissioner has completed her tour of duty and has gone back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo on the 19th of this month.

Supreme Court Judge Chandra Nihal Jayasinghe retired from judicial service on 01 March, after serving in the legal profession for 37 years.

He joined the Attorney General Department in 1971. He was appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal in 1997, when he was serving as Deputy Solicitor General. Later, he was appointed Chairman of the Appeal Court and then a Supreme Court Judge in 2002.

Judge Chandra Nihal Jayasinghe was also appointed a Judge of the International War Crimes Court established by the UN Secretary General and served as a Judge in the International War Crimes Court, investigating war crimes committed by Pol Pot in Cambodia.

Furthermore, Sudantha Ganegamaarachchi, Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in London though has completed his term in UK is given extension up to the end of July this year. Also the First Secretary Maxwell Keegel term also expired but is on extension.

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Whole country a Peace Zone after Northern liberation - President

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa hands over financial aid to religious dignitaries for improving places of worship, at a ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Minister Dinseh Gunawardena is also in the picture. Picture by Sudath Silva

President Mahinda Rajapaksa asserts that his Government would seek to establish 'Peace Zones' not only in the precincts of sacred sites, but also in the whole country.

President Rajapaksa made this assertion when he presided and addressed the ceremony at which financial aid amounting to Rupees five million was symbolically handed over to religious dignitaries of 42 Temples, Kovils, Churches and Mosques, at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday(June 23).

"Every citizen of this land should have the freedom and the liberty to enjoy the right of religious worship, as per his conscience. The terrorists grabbed this right from the people.

However, we are a Government which is fully committed and prepared to make sacrifices and be committed to protect all faiths and their associated sites of worship," he said.

He pointed out that when the North is also liberated, the whole country would be a 'Peace Zone', and the 'Sacred Sites' would become 'Peace Zones' within it. "We are obliged to protect our religious devotion which we have sustained over the years," he added.

The President pointed out that the various religious units and ministries which were scattered in the past, were brought under one ministry, with the objective of integrating all religious affairs under one management and authority and averting conflicts of any nature.

"We need integration of our society and not division or differentiation. We formulated diverse programmes such as 'Mathata Thitha' with the objective of protecting our society. This project to develop our sacred sites would undoubtedly serve to achieve this objective," he said.

President Rajapaksa said that despite the war, his Government had not abandoned any mega development projects in the country, be it the expressways or the Norochcholai Coal Power project or any other. "We will not abandon the development of the religious sacred sites too," he added.

He was of the view that as a Buddhist, he learnt how to respect all communities and faiths, and was eager to protect all places of religious worship. He derived much happiness in doing so, he said. Sacred Sites Development Minister Dinesh Goonewardena and his secretary P. Ramajugan also expressed their sentiments at the ceremony.

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'Terrorism has no place in Canada 'says Canadian paper

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"Canada clearly cannot allow groups that use terrorism - or the organizations that support such groups - to operate legally in this country," said Nova Scotia based Chronicle Herald supporting the Conservative government's decision to ban the World Tamil Movement, a front organization of the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Halifax based newspaper known as Canada's longest standing independently owned newspaper said, "TERRORISM - those who practise it and those who support it - has no place in Canada." The editorial also said the Tamil owned businesses have been intimidated to give donations to the terrorist group.

The following are some excerpts from the editorial:
"Ottawa officially placed the Tamil Tigers on its list of terrorist organizations two years ago. The LTTE - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - is the guerrilla group that's used extortion, assassinations, suicide bombings and the forced recruitment of child soldiers in its bloody fight for an independent state within the island nation of Sri Lanka. By rightly banning the LTTE, Canada finally joined the United Nations, European Union and many other countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia, in explicitly designating the Tigers as a terrorist group.

"Last week, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day - citing RCMP evidence which he said showed that the World Tamil Movement (WTM) had been raising funds to support the Tamil Tigers - added the Tamil non-profit group, with offices in Toronto and Montreal, to the terrorist blacklist.

"Faced with hundreds of pages of RCMP affidavits alleging police knew how LTTE leaders in Sri Lanka had been using the non-profit group to extract money from the Tamil community in Canada, Mr. Day had no choice but to act. As the minister pointed out, the WTM - which denies the allegations - has every right to appeal the move, to himself and then to a federal court, where automatic appeal provisions renew every two years.

"Though the Tigers no doubt have the support of some in Canada's Tamil community, there have been reports others, including many Tamil-owned businesses, have felt they've been intimidated into donating significant sums of money - through the WTM - to support the separatist group.

"Mr. Day seemed to suggest the ongoing two-year RCMP investigation into the WTM may soon bring charges against individuals. "Stay tuned," said the minister.

"Canada clearly cannot allow groups that use terrorism - or the organizations that support such groups - to operate legally in this country. At the same time, Canada can continue to try to persuade both sides - the Sri Lankan government and LTTE - to stop the bloodshed and realize an end to the conflict would benefit both peoples."

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Automatic Weapons Found inside Three-Wheeler

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A THREE-WHEELER speeding past KOTAHENA area was stopped and checked by Army troops .
Troops found one T-56 weapon and one S-84 type weapon hidden inside the three-wheeler during search.

The driver of the three-wheeler was arrested and handed over to the KOTAHENA Police.

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CEB chairman out

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Chairman Udayasri Kariyawsam and the Board of Directors of the CEB were yesterday removed from office after discussions between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the CEB Engineers Union. Some of the members of the present Board will retain their positions, a senior official said.

A senior ministry official told The Island yesterday that Power and Energy Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne would likely appoint Ministry Secretary M. M. C. Ferdinando as the new Chairman initially for a month.


Minister Seneviratne said that discussions were in progress about who the new chairman would be.

All CEB employees, from engineers to labourers, must work for the benefit of the CEB rather than towards their own betterment, the Minister said.

The key role of a chairman was to keep the work force united. However the demand made for the removal of the CEB Chairman by the Engineers Union was unfair, he said, giving the assurance that a competent person would be appointed.

The CEB Engineers Union Executive Committee yesterday decided to temporarily call off their work to rule campaign following President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling.

Engineers last week launched their work to rule campaign demanding for the removal of the CEB Chairman and for permits to import duty free vehicles.

The Island learns that President Rajapaksa had told the engineers that Government was not position at present to provide such allowances but would see what could be done.

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SC directs WPTA to formulate regulations for bus crew

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by Chitra Weerarathne

The Supreme Court yesterday directed the Western Province Transport Authority to formulate regulations and prepare uniforms for drivers and conductors in consultation with the National Transport Commission, the Sri Lanka Transport Board and the Private Bus Owners' Association.

The WPTA was also directed to formulate regulations for the use of ticketing machines in conformity with the conditions of the National Transport Commission. The WPTA will give financial assistance for the purchase of the ticketing machines.

The regulations are to be implemented by August 1, and the National Transport Commission will prescribe a hot-line to be used by the public in the event of breach of the Highway Code, by any heavy vehicle and bus.

The directions were issued by the Court when the fundamental rights
violation application filed by Geethani Wijesinghe was called yesterday. The petition also pointed out air pollution caused by traffic congestion in Colombo and the suburbs.

The Deputy Solicitor General Bimba J. Tilakaratne, who appeared for the State, tendered to the Court the updated traffic plan for Colombo and the Greater Colombo areas.

Gamunu Wijeratne, the Chairman of the Private Transport Association, agreed to work out a timetable for the operation of buses along the routes in Colombo and suburbs.

This is to be done in consultation with the NTC and the SLTB. A meeting is to be held on July 1, and the SLTB has been directed to send an officer who could decide on its behalf. Gamunu Wijeratne, agreed to modify the silencers of buses, starting with the ones running on the Colombo, Kandy route. Surveys had shown that 48 percent of the buses have defective silencers. The case is to be called again on July 29, 2008.

The Bench comprised the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justice Shirani Tilakawardene and Justice K. Sripavan.

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International gem lab for Sri Lanka

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Chairman, National Gem and Jewellery Authority Hasitha Tillekeratne has taken steps to meet a long-felt need of Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery industry. It is the establishment of a fully-equipped laboratory to examine gem stones in accordance with international standards.

Western countries such as the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Asia’s Thailand already have such modern laboratories with the latest equipment.

The lack of such a lab was a major setback for Sri Lanka all these years. Although the NGJA presently does a thorough examination of gem stones before certifying them for export, most foreign buyers of gems expect certification of international standards.

For sometime the establishment of such a lab was in the minds of Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery traders who even established a ‘Laboratory Development Fund’ for this purpose. Based on a decision made in the year 2000, 0.25 percent of the value of the gems exported from Sri Lanka from 2001 was credited to the account of the above fund maintained by the NGJA.

Today the fund has reached nearly Rs.100 million. This will become the initial capital investment in establishing the new gem testing laboratory. It will be formed jointly by the State and the private sector and registered as a company under the name Lanka Gemological Laboratory Private Limited. The Secretary of the Ministry under which the NGJA functions, the NGJA Chairman and the NGJA Director-General and Chairman of the Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute have been officially appointed to the company’s board of management. NGJA Chairman Hasitha Tillekeratne was unanimously elected Chairman of Lanka Gemological Laboratory Private Limited at its first board meeting.

Addressing the meeting he said that the main equipment and expertise required for differentiating natural gems from heat-treated stones as well as identifying and certifying rare gem stones will be readily available after the establishment of the new laboratory. He requested the cooperation of all Sri Lankan gem traders to ensure that this lab continues to meet international standards.

The Chairman observed that the establishment of the international laboratory would help to save foreign exchange often spent by some local gem exporters in getting rare precious stones and heat-treated gems examined at Thailand’s laboratories.

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Moscow to screen movie on LTTE suicide cadres

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The Moscow Film Festival has turned down a request to cancel the screening of a documentary on female suicide bombers of Sri Lanka.

The movie ‘My Daughter the Terrorist’ by Norwegian director Beate Arnestad’s was to be screened last evening. Sri Lankan embassy representatives have alleged that the movie glorified suicide attacks.

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Sri Lanka Tourism to get a boost from Hikkaduwa promotion

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In a bid to promote the island’s southern coast as a tourist destination, the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) together with the local community of Hikkaduwa has organized a festival to take the country to a global platform.

The ‘Hikkaduwa Beach Fest’ which is to set to take place from July 30 to August 3, on the beach strip of Hikkaduwa is the first of its kind to happen on local soil. The festival promises to entertain the crowd with performances by local and international artists and be the first of many festivals to take place in the country. This new venture also aims to improve the current state of the tourism industry.

Speaking at a press briefing on the ‘Hikkaduwa Beach Fest’ the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; Renton De Alwis, noted that Hikkaduwa needs to be reinvented as a tourist destination as it has suffered many blows in the past.

“As Hikkaduwa has had difficult times in the past we need to reinvent its image by organizing events such as this and recreating its atmosphere. I have even made a proposal to construct a convention centre so that we can attract the Indian business market to improve the current situation,” he said.

Adding to this note, the Deputy Tourism Minister, Faiszer Musthapha said that even though the country is facing a war at the moment it needs to show that it still has a peaceful environment within its borders.

“By organizing events such as the Hikkaduwa Beach Fest we are able to increase our revenue as it attracts the local and the international markets and with the launch of the event we hope it will generate an increase of 5-6% of the income of the hoteliers in the region as we hope to sell 12,000 rooms for the event,” he said.

He also emphasized that the Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry is playing the role of a facilitator between the SLTPB and the respective Provincial Council and Municipal Council to coordinate this event.

Also addressing the media the Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, George Michael stated that we need to create positive events in order to send positive messages to the international arena.

Sri Lankan Air Lines which is also one of the sponsors of the event is offering special packages for tourists from India and Maldives to attract the tourists in these regions.

The Beach Festival which will take place for four days has its own unique theme for each day of the festival creating diversity and an environment for everyone in the family. The Grand Hikkaduwa day will be dedicated for grandparents while the rest of the days are named as ‘Girlisicous Thursday’, ‘Rapture on the sand’, ‘A2 meltdown’ and ‘Sun down Sunday’.

A beach parade, surfing show, kite festival, food festival and beach drum festival are some of the many events that are scheduled take place at the beach festival.

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AIT’s School of Management top internationally known in Thailand, says Eduniversal poll

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AIT's School of Management (SOM) has been ranked as the number one internationally known business school in Thailand, according to an educational survey published by Eduniversal International Scientific Committee.

In its recently published 2008 Eduniversal Official Selection ranking (available by visiting www.eduniversal.com), AIT was ranked first in the category of top business school internationally known, edging out Chulalongkorn University’s Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, which placed second.

The poll conducted from October 2007 to March 2008 sampled the opinion of 1000 selected business school deans who gave their recommendations about business schools around the world. Country by country, the deans were asked which business school(s) they would recommend to students. Amongst the seven Thai graduate business schools listed on the survey, AIT’s School of Management scored the top recommendation rate of 260 per 1000 respondents.

Eduniversal creates this ranking service to provide students, professionals, human resources executives and academic officers with a global panorama of the best educational opportunities. The 12 members of the International Scientific Committee are experts in the educational field and represent the five continents. According to Eduniversal, the 1000 business schools selected in the poll came from over 150 countries. Institutes and universities were selected based on their international and national influence and recognition.

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SL relatives received a dead body of a Swiss national

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Relatives of a youth, who died in Italy, say they have already handed over a body of foreign national to the Katunayake Police, which they received today from Italy.
They were surprised to find that the body sent to Kekirawa from Italy was that of a Swiss national and not of their Sri Lankan relatives.
According to the Police the body is now laying in Negambo hospital and the Police commenced investigations on this incident regarding the mix up of the bodies of the Sri Lankan and a foreigner brought to the country by an international aircraft.
The Sri Lankan had undergone a sudden dead in Italy. On reaching the island the body had been transported by relatives to Kekirawa and then discovered that it is of a Swiss national. Police said investigations revealed that the bodies were mixed up at the Airport. The bodies had been handed over to the relatives directly by the relevant flight and not through the police.

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Iran, Sri Lanka to boost mutual investments

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TEHRAN, June 23 (MNA) – The President has issued an order related to encouraging and supporting investments between Iran and Sri Lanka.
According to a report released by the Government’s public relations office, based on an agreement reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Sri Lanka, both sides based on their will to expand economic relations, and in line with their interests, have agreed to encourage and support mutual investments with the aim of utilizing their economic resources and potential facilities in investment and also in creating and maintaining proper conditions for investors to invest.

This agreement obliges both sides to support all investments made by the other side’s investors and issue required licenses for the investments in accordance to their own regulations.
The investments made will be supported by each sides legal systems and will enjoy a fair and reasonable conduct in such a way that their will be no difference between local and foreign investors.
All disagreements caused by the implementation of this bill will be initially solved through negotiations. In case the disagreement is not resolved through talks the complainant may communicate its complaint to the other side and take its complaint to a three member arbitration including one juror for each side and an elected arbitrator by both sides.

This agreement will become operational for 10 years, 30 days after both sides have announced that it has become obligatory in their country.

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Sri Lankan Army to Arrest 10,000 Deserters,

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The Sri Lankan army aims to arrest about 10,000 deserters after an amnesty for the soldiers to return to duty expired last month , a spokesman of the ARMY said.

About 5,000 soldiers responded to the amnesty, which was introduced in 2003 and allowed deserters to either return without being punished or pay any money they owed to the military and quit legally.

``We have given enough time for the army deserters to return,'' it cited military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara as saying yesterday.

Sri Lanka's military is fighting an insurgency by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have fought for a separate Tamil homeland in the island's north and east since 1983. More than 70,000 people have died in the conflict.

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A British fashion chain cancelled exports from Indian manufacturers employing child labor from Sri Lanka Tamil refugee camps

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Primark , one of the biggest chains of low cost fashion stores in the United Kingdom had to drop three of its suppliers in India as a BBC Panorama programme exposed the supplying factories were employing Sri Lankan Tamil children in South Indian refugee camps.

In the program it was exposed the subcontractors for Primark’s suppliers were employing the refugee children as slave labor to complete embroidery work.

The Guardian newspaper published photos of the working children attaching sequins to a T-shirt and a model wearing a similar T-shirt.

The retailing chain said as soon as it was alerted about the child labor fiasco it cancelled all new orders with factories connected with the practice and withdrew the relevant clothes from is shelves.

The agitation against the practice with few demonstrations in front of the Primark shops started when reporters for the BBC’s Panorama Television programme exposed the practice.

Panorama report said, after a seven months investigation, that they found three firms in Tirupur, an industrial area in Tamil Nadu supplying clothes to the British firm Primark.

The Panorama said, children as young as 11 who were in Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camps were toiling in these factories for a low salary of about sixty British pennies a day. According to Panorama as many as 20,000 fashionable items were produced by these firms.

According to BBC sources the Primark clothing giant was notified about the discovery of the reporters during the final process of the editing of the programme. Immediately after they were alerted the company has responded. Primark is owned by Associated British Foods. The owning company’s CEO George Weston immediately took the decision to sack the culprit suppliers.

"We don't want,” Weston said, “ kids working on our clothes. We are very angry." Another statement from the company said that they are an ethical company and they expected highest standards from its suppliers. The statement further said, "It has a strict Supplier Code of Conduct which expressly bans the use of child labor. In addition none of our suppliers is permitted to sub-contract without our specific consent and agreement.

"Primark does not tolerate serious breaches of its fundamental principles."

Primark, which is worth an estimated £5 billion, sources around £700m of clothing from India each year.

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3 Police constables killed, one injured in bomb explosion - Batticaloa

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3 Police constables were killed and another injured when a bomb exploded within 400m distance of the Ayithamalai Police post in Batticaloa this evening (June 23), Police sources report.

3 constables who had gone to bathe in the lake nearby were killed in the explosion said Police Spokesperson DIG Ranjith Gunasekara, adding that it is believed to be a time bomb set by infiltrated LTTE operatives in the area.

The injured identified as PC Amila was rushed to the general Hospital at Batticaloa, he said.

The Police and security forces personnel are conducting further search operations in the area, according to our Batticaloa correspondent.

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4 LTTE terrorists killed, bunker destroyed in Mannar

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4 LTTE terrorists were killed in two separate attacks launched by military, and an LTTE bunker reported destroyed ahead of the Mannar forward defences today (June 23).

According to reports, 2 terrorists were killed in SLA sniper attacks in general area Mullikulama, at around 3.25p.m. Earlier, two other terrorists were confirmed killed during an Army forward push into LTTE defences in general area Puliyankulama, at 8.50a.m. An LTTE bunker was also destroyed during the military assault, sources further added.

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Hand grenades, ammunition found on civilian information - Jaffna

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Troops acting on civilian information have recovered 3 hand grenades, 116 T-56 ammunition rounds and few other items during a search operation conducted in general area Manalkadu, Jaffna today(June 23) at 5.a.m.

According to security sources, the items were found buried in a sandy beach stretch at Manalkadu.

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Seven Tamil gang members convicted in London's sword crime

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Seven members of a Sri Lankan Tamil gang led by a heinous criminal named Psycho who by using a Samurai type sword left another Tamil man's profusely bleeding hand hanging from his wrist were convicted by a criminal court of the Old Bailey.

Judge Richard Hawkins QC said sentencing will be done July 18 after deliberations to decide whether the Tamil gang members are so dangerous to be locked up indefinitely.

In this case 21-year-old Senthurrajah "Psycho" Thavapalasingham , a Sri Lankan Tamil with his other gang members of the East Ham Gang were accused of cutting another Tamil named Arulmurugan Sebamalai, 23, and leaving his hand hanging from his wrist, among other crimes like unlawful assembly.

The victims and his other friends, who were members of another Tamil gang named DMX, the court was told, ambushed by Psycho's East ham Gang while the former were on their way to play cricket, about two years ago in an East London Tamil suburb.

Sabesan Sivaneswaran, 19, a factory worker; jobless Santosh Panthaplavil Sasidharan, 24; Selvarajah Mayuran, 28, a salesman; Arumugan Paratheeban, 24, a student, and Edward Jaganathan, 26, a salesman, were also convicted of crimes of violence in this trial which, started three months ago.

"Psycho was armed with a samurai sword. The sword was around three feet long, silver coloured. It wasn't in a sheath. He was holding it in a raised position and running towards us. I got out the car and I had a bat in my hand. When he started cutting me repeatedly I tried to block it," the victim, Arulmurugan Sebamalai told the police.

He and his friends, members of a Tamil gang known as DMX, were ambushed by up to 25 men led by 21-year-old Senthurrajah "Psycho" Thavapalasingham as they travelled to play cricket, the victim further told the police.

According to the evidence led at the trial, armed with swords and pick-axe handles they singled out Sebamalai and rained down a series of blows as gang members shouted: "Slash him, Psycho, kill him."

Sebamalai lifted his arm to shield his face but the razor-sharp sword blade sliced through his arm and exposed the bone, he said.

The attack took place on August 28, 2006, after the 25-strong "East Ham Gang", in five cars, tracked Mr Sebamalai to Braemar Avenue in an East London Borough.

When they spotted him in a car with his friends they surrounded it and started throwing bottles at the white Suzuki Swift, witnesses said. Alarmed by the attack Ashokumar Tharmarajah, who was driving the car, stopped and the group got out, arming themselves with cricket bats and stumps, the evidence led at the trial further revealed.

Thavapalasingham and fellow gang member Kirubananantharasa Gunaratnam, 32, got out of their green BMW and picked out two swords from the boot.

The victim's friends, Tharmarajah and Lynkaran Tharmalingam, told the courts that they saw him being slashed before the fight was eventually broken up by police.

Thavapalasingham later told a friend that he would have killed Mr Sebamalai if officers had not arrived, the court heard.

Seven gang members were convicted of a string of offences at the Old Bailey June 19 including Thavapalasingham, 21, and Gunaratnam. Sebamalai had identified them both as his attackers at an identification parade and a jury convicted them of attempted murder and violent disorder.

In an interesting revealation Thavapalasingham confessed that he was going to offer the victim's family œ40,000 if they did not pick him out in an identity parade. He was arrested at the scene while Gunaratam was arrested hiding in a nearby street. Other members of the "East Ham Gang" were arrested after a police search of the area.

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31 LTTE terrorists killed, scores wounded in yesterday's clashes

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LTTE terrorists have received heavy beating at the Wanni and Northern battlefronts on Sunday (June 22), as troops surged forward into non-liberated positions ahead of the LTTE defences killing at least 31 terrorists, while reports confirmed that 70 others were also wounded in the fighting.

At the Mannar theater of battle, troops have destroyed 8 LTTE bunkers killing 20 terrorists and injuring 34 others, MCNS reported. According to sources, the clashes were reported from Charaddikulam, Chalampan, Vediyamuruppu, Kovitkanchi and Ampadiilupukulam general areas in Mannar.

MCNS also reported that 3 terrorists were killed, 30 wounded at the Welioya battlefront in fighting erupted with LTTE in general areas at North of Janakapura, Manikindamalei, Veddankern. 8 soldiers were also reported wounded during the clashes, while the sources added that troops have uncovered 96AP mines and 6 IEDs during search operations conducted.

Separately, at the Vavuniya battlefront, 8 LTTE terrorists were killed and 6 wounded MCNS reported adding that, the clashes were mainly reported from general area Periyamadu.

Meanwhile, at the Jaffna front in general areas at Kadirathanan and Ponnar 2 LTTE terrorists were killed, sources further said.

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Body mix-up

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Relatives of a youth, who died in Italy, were surprised to find that the body sent to Kekirawa from Italy was that of a Swiss national and not of their Sri Lankan relative.

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Tamil Nadu authorities probe alleged child labour case

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Officials from the Tamil Nadu labour department are investigating allegations of child labour plaguing the Bhavanisagar refugee camp involving Sri Lankan children. Meanwhile campaigners were scheduled to demonstrate outside Primark’s flagship London branch today, accusing the cut-price fashion chain of behaving irresponsibly in response to allegations of child labour in its overseas manufacturing operations.

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24 Maldivian military personnel pass out in Sri Lanka

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Twenty-four personnel from the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), who underwent eight months Commando training in Sri Lanka, today passed out at the Commando Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army, Ganemulla.

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Sirisoma retains billiard Championship

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Title record holder for 17 years K.H. Sirisoma of Ports Authority retained the 56 National Billiard Championship beating S.H.M. Aslam of Moor SC in the final at Reid avenue today.

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Kingfisher likely to commence ops to Sri Lanka from Sept

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Indias private air carrier Kingfisher Airlines is likely to begin its operations to Sri Lanka from September this year.

The airline would be operating two daily flights from Chennai and Bangalore.

"Sri Lanka has tremendous growth potential since many Indians travel to Sri Lanka," an airline official said.

The airline is expecting to get the government's approval to fly abroad on the rights of low-cost carrier Air Deccan, which it has acquired.

As per the prevailing norms, an airline is allowed to fly overseas only after it completes five years of domestic operations and has a 20-aircraft fleet. Air Deccan will complete its five years of domestic service on August 23 this year.

After the launch of these new services, Kingfisher Airlines will have 254 departures a day and would be flying to 40 destinations with a fleet of 42 new aircraft, the state owned Daily News reported today.

Kingfisher is expected to begin its flights to Huston, New York and Bangladesh by end of August.

Kingfisher Airlines is part of The UB Group, an Indian conglomerate with a global presence.

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Sri Lankan opposition wants details of Indian delegation's visit

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Sri Lanka's opposition parties have urged the ruling coalition to disclose the reasons behind the 'sudden visit' to Colombo by a high-powered Indian delegation led by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, a media report said Monday.

The demand from the opposition parties has come as both the Indian and Sri Lankan governments remain tight-lipped on the visit, while implying that the officials came here for a routine consultative meeting ahead of the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Colombo.

John Amaratunga, a leader of the main opposition United National Party (UNP), claimed there was a 'crucial aspect' to the two-day previously unannounced visit, pointing out that it had came at a time when the country was 'at crossroads in economic and war fronts'.

'Today, India is concerned about what is happening in Sri Lanka. The ongoing military campaign will have serious implications (for) Tamil Nadu (and) the Indian government. So we are eager to know the true position of the visit,' said Amaratunga.

The Indian delegation, which included foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and defence secretary Vijay Singh, arrived here Friday. The team called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday and met other officials, including defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the army and navy commanders, separately.

Before returning to New Delhi Saturday evening, the delegation also held talks with R. Sampanthan, the parliamentary group leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which supports the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The team also met Minister of Social Services Douglas Devananda, who is the leader of the anti-LTTE Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP).

The Indians, however, did not meet UNP leader and former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is reportedly facing an internal party crisis.

Meanwhile, the radical Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has claimed that the visit by the Indian delegation was 'similar to what happened during the Vadamaradchchi operation in 1987' and demanded the government divulge the details of all discussions held.

JVP's parliamentary group leader Anurakumara Dissanayake said India intervened to halt the Vadamaradchchi military operation against the LTTE in 1987 and later forced a peace accord on the Sri Lankan government.

'It is the responsibility of the government to disclose the details of the visit as conflicting reports have appeared in the media,' said Dissanayake.

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Greek-US Economic group will focus on investment plans

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The meeting of the Greek-US Committee for Economic and Trade Cooperation focused on routine issues as well as on investment and trade potential between the two sides, stated Greek foreign ministry Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Theodoros Skylakakis.
The meeting, held at the US State Department, tackled issues as regards the strengthening of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, the promotion of investments, and joint action in the sector of developmental cooperation.
Skylakakis referred to the strengthening of relations between Hellenic Aid and USAID to include programmes currently in progress concerning trafficking issues in Albania and programmes in Sri Lanka and Jordan as well as strategic programmes on energy saving and renewable sources in SE Europe, and developmental cooperation in the Adriatic region in the sector of tourism.

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IFC, Dialog Telekom Join Forces

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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Dialog Telekom PLC have joined forces to help strengthen the business skills of Dialog Telekom’s retail distributors in Sri Lanka. This will help them build a track record of creditworthiness by using the IFC SME Toolkit, an advisory product implemented in more than 25 countries worldwide, the company said.
IFC will provide $250,000 to support Dialog Telekom’s distributor-retailer community network project, which looks at strengthening the skills of the company retail and distributor network. This follows an IFC investment in September 2007 to help the company expand its network and build new telecommunications infrastructure. The $100 million financing package included long-term debt and equity.

IFC and Dialog Telekom have also signed an agreement for the IFC SME Toolkit, an online resource designed to serve the needs of small and medium enterprises in developing and frontier markets. A version of the toolkit is being customised to meet Dialog Telekom’s needs and will be available in two local languages, Sinhala and Tamil. This effort is also helping to further strengthen the distributor-retailer community network itself.

On the occasion, Dr Hans Wijayasuriya, director and chief executive, Dialog Telekom, said, “At Dialog Telekom, we have always been committed to fostering entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka, specially in the SME sectors. We feel that our own retailers and distributors play a vital role in our company achieving the goals of its triple bottom-line, and our distributor-retailer community network seeks to provide our retailers and distributors with the necessary tools to achieve their goals. By assisting in the design and implementation of this innovative project, IFC has demonstrated its understanding of Dialog’s business needs and showcased its expertise in ensuring the well-being of the small and medium enterpreneurs that drive Dialog’s distribution network.”

Gilles Galludec, country manager, IFC, Maldives and Sri Lanka, said, “This innovative programme will help build capacities of small businesses in Sri Lanka and bring them into the formal banking sector, thus creating better linkages between SMEs and banks. IFC is keen to strengthen its partnership with Dialog and support the programme.”

The IFC SME Toolkit leverages the latest information and communication technologies to help SMEs learn and implement sustainable business management practices. It offers free business management information and training on accounting and finance, business planning, human resources, marketing and sales, operations and information technology. It also offers a wide range of resources to help users start, finance, formalise and grow their businesses.

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President urged to remove CEB Chairman

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The CEB Engineers’ union reiterated its call for the removal of CEB Chairman Udayasiri Kariyawasam, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa met a delegation to discuss how to resolve the ongoing protest campaign. The engineers have threatened to disrupt regular operations unless the government replaces the Chairman with a person qualified to head the public enterprise.

A spokesman said the delegation had explained the difficulty in working with Kariyawasam, who had repeatedly clashed with engineers and other unions. Well informed sources said the President had pledged to resolve the issue.

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JVP to announce cm candidates

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JVP heavyweight Lal Kantha said the chief ministerial candidates of the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces would be named on Wednesday. The JVP politburo would meet on Monday night to decide on the two leading candidates, he said, adding the rest of the candidates had been already picked.

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Sannasgala rejects the candidature

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A local tuition master Upul Shantha Sannasgala said that he will not contest the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Election.
Addressing a press conference in Colombo he said this Chief Minister ship is not sufficient to serve the masses .
Sannasgala was named as the UNP candidate for Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister by UNP on last Friday.. Former DIG Sirisena Herath has also stated that he will not contest the election under the UNP ticket.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

GOVERNMENT HAS MECHANISMS TO TURN INTERNATIONAL OPINION AROUND

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by Jehan Perera

Implementing reforms in a time of war when the pre-occupation is with issues of both physical and political survival is a difficult task,
especially if those reforms are of a self-critical nature. In these
circumstances it is not surprising that the fate of two major reforms
of the government that can impact upon the longer term prospects of the country hang in the balance. Both of them are connected with the government's ability to address the challenges presented by the ongoing war.
These reforms are the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the
Constitution and obtaining justice through the Presidential Commission of Investigation into Serious Human Rights Violations.
The government has pledged to implement the 13th Amendment which became part of the country's supreme law in 1987 in response to an interim recommendation of the All Party Representatives Committee to find a solution to the ethnic conflict. The implementation of this reform reached a high point with the conduct of the Provincial Council election for the Eastern Province in May of this year. On the other hand, the appointment of the Presidential Commission of Investigation into Serious Human Rights Violations by President Mahinda Rajapaksa took place in November 2006 in the aftermath of several incidents of human rights violations that shocked the conscience of the nation and were flashed in the local and international media.

The future of both reforms has come to a critical juncture. They could take the country into a positive direction in respect of conflict resolution, or they could fall into the limbo of good intentions that failed to materialize. The conduct of the Eastern Provincial Council election in terms of the 13th Amendment was fraught with controversy, charges of large scale pre-election intimidation and election-day rigging. But to their credit, the opposition appears to have reconciled itself to its loss at those polls. The opposition members of the Eastern Provincial Council belonging to the main opposition coalition gave their support to the newly appointed Chief Minister's first policy statement.

Chief Minister Chandrakanthan, better known as Pillayan, won the election pledging to make a difference to the war weary people of the east.
There appears to be a sense in civil society that he is serious about
rebuilding the torn fabric of communal harmony in the region, though he faces enormous challenges. His senior advisor Dr K Wigneswaran is a former government administrator, was a member of the Panel of Experts that was commissioned to come up with an acceptable political package to resolve the ethnic conflict by the All Party Committee, and a political activist with an unblemished reputation for non-violence, who could provide a counterpoint to Pillayan, with his background as a former LTTE military commander.


TIGHT CONTROL

The question is whether the government will honour its promise to fully implement the 13th Amendment that would devolve the necessary power and resources to the provinces. The new eastern administration's ability to provide a viable alternative to the LTTE's rejection of a united Sri Lanka would hinge on the government's willingness to place it trust in the system of devolution. It is an international phenomenon that countries that devolve power to restive regions are less likely to break up than countries that seek to centralize powers against the wishes of the people in the regions. The problem is that the government's nationalist allies, and
sections within the government itself, are mistrustful of the devolution of powers to the Tamil-majority areas, and fear that devolved power to subjects such as police and land, could be misused to further the separatist agenda.

Unfortunately, the government's mistrust of systems and its preference to tightly control matters from the centre is also evident in its second major reform programme. The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Serious Human Rights Violations is currently in the midst of a two-fold crisis. The COI was set up with a mandate to look into 16 serious incidents of serious human rights violations, in which the government's team of lawyers from the Attorney General's Department had not been able to do any successful prosecutions. Impunity cannot be accepted in any country that claims to be a democracy that is ruled by law. The COI was initially given a year in which to report its findings. Although its term was subsequently extended for a further year, it has been able to make considerable progress in two cases, which are now threatened by negative government action.

The two cases that the COI focused its attention upon relate to the
killing of 17 aid workers in Muttur and 5 students in Trincomalee. The key witnesses in both cases are abroad as they have had death threats leveled against them and their families. The COI was using modern techniques of video conferencing to elicit important evidence from these witnesses. Some of the initial testimony that was given was extremely powerful and moving. Some witnesses were seen weeping as they spoke about the killing of their children and the harassment they subsequently underwent. The government is now refusing to provide funds for the video conferencing. The government's argument is that video conferencing from
abroad, without government representatives being present, can lead to abuses such as the coaching of witnesses.

It is reported that some of the countries that earlier provided members of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons to assist the COI have offered to pay for the video conferencing to take place, but the government has declined this offer. Instead the government has said that the issue of video conferencing can be resolved once a new law regarding Witness Protection is passed by Parliament. The new law would permit video conferencing only if government representation is provided at the site of the video conferencing. But one consequence of this course of action is that the obtaining of critical evidence by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Serious Human Rights Violations has been crippled at the present time.


ADDRESSING CONFLICT

Another unfortunate action of the government is to call for the
suspension of participation in the Commission of Inquiry with regard to the Muttur and Trincomalee cases of one of its commissioners, Dr Devanesan Nesiah.
This is on the grounds of conflict of interest, as he has been associated with the Centre for Policy Alternatives which is intervening on behalf of victims. Any independent assessment would reveal that Dr Nesiah's association with the NGO is not a major one, and he is not known to speak or act on behalf of the NGO. However, nationalist groups have seized upon this relationship to seek to discredit Dr Nesiah and block his participation in the present inquiries.

Ironically, the government itself has been accused of a more serious
conflict of interest. This is on account of the central role played by
the Attorney General's department in the conduct of the investigations by the Commission of Inquiry. This point was highlighted by the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons who were appointed to advise the COI. It was the AG's department that was responsible for investigating the cases of serious human rights violations that are now before the COI, and which it is now assisting the COI to investigate again.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has complaiened to the international media that Sri Lankan has not been faring too well in the propaganda war with the LTTE. The proper implementation of the 13th Amendment and expediting the work of the Commission of Inquiry would be positive evidence to the international community that the government is serious about long term conflict resolution. The goodwill towards the country could multiply into tangible benefits if the government is able to show its commitment to the
devolution of powers and to the protection of human rights. The government needs to rethink its approach to the 13th Amendment and to the Commission of Inquiry to obtain justice that is seen by the world.

The recent decision of the World Bank to provide the country with significant economic assistance over the next three years, the repeated visits by EU delegations who are tasked with ascertaining whether Sri Lanka qualifies for the tax concessions of GSP+, and the most recent visit by a very high powered Indian delegation suggests that the international community stands ready to assist the government. The manner in which the government deals with the two issues of a political solution and the human rights crisis is most likely to be the criteria by which the international community would measure Sri Lanka's progress in terms of conflict resolution. The ability to turn international opinion around is within the power of the government.

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Need for a Substantial Revision of the Victim and Witness Protection Bill

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) expresses its deep concern on the draft bill on the Assistance and Protection to Victims of Crime and Witnesses (the "Draft Bill"). The Draft Bill was presented to parliament on June 6th and is to be taken up for a second reading on June 17th and 19th. CPA strongly recommends that there be substantial revision of the Draft Bill before enactment in order to address the fundamental flaws within the Draft Bill which have been raised previously by civil society.

The key recommendations are:


The Draft Bill should make a distinction between Victim and Witness Protection

The actors mandated with victim and witness assistance and protection should be independent and not political appointees An independent and impartial protection division needs to be established with a clear division of the responsibility for protection among the various actors provided in the Draft Bill The Draft Bill should be comprehensive, including all aspects in relation to victim and witness assistance and protection Victim and witness assistance and protection, including obtaining evidence and testimony through videoconferencing should be done with no interference by the State or its actors, ensuring that it is an independent process

The 17th Amendment to the Constitution should be fully implemented and an independent National Police Commission re-established.


Need for Protection: An effective victim and witness protection system is essential for the proper functioning of any justice system, as it protects victims and witnesses from threats and attacks, and thereby encourages the reporting of crimes and for witnesses to come forward. It allows witnesses to present their evidence in a full and impartial manner, and prevents or mitigates the re-victimisation of victims and the victimisation of witnesses. In the Sri Lankan context, the very low four percent conviction rate and the high incidence of intimidation in cases involving the police, non-state groups and other actors only reinforce the argument for such protection.

Enacting a law that creates a piece of legislation that puts in place a weak, ineffective protection programme may in fact be worse than having no protection programme at all as witnesses may falsely place their trust in a system that cannot protect them while at the same time allowing politicians to trumpet their promotion of human rights when they have in fact fallen short of the mark and result in further endangering the lives of victims and witnesses.

While the initiative to develop legislation on the issues of victim rights and victim and witness protection is welcome and is a critical step in strengthening the justice system, as the Draft Bill currently reads, these objectives will not be realized nor will the bill help reverse the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka.

CPA is gravely concerned with the serious flaws with the law making process which is one of secrecy and exclusivity, with little or no public participation, transparency and inclusiveness in the drafting of laws and policies. In this instance substantive changes recommended by various actors have not been incorporated. The actors involved in taking the Draft Bill forward towards enactment must address the weaknesses in the current version of the Draft Bill if it is going to play a part in combating the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka.

The Draft Bill can only be effective if an enabling environment of respect for constitutionalism, the rule of law and the non-politicisation of key institutions is also in place. The Draft Bill cannot be ineffective unless the 17th Amendment to the Constitution is fully implemented. As such, CPA calls for the 17th Amendment be fully implemented and an independent National Police Commission to be re-established.

Make a distinction between Victim and Witness Protection: The Draft Bill deals comprehensively with victim rights and assistance but only cursorily with witness protection issues. Like in many other countries, Sri Lanka should deal with these issues in separate pieces of legislation because although they are inter-related issues, they have different purposes and focuses. The Draft Bill should be divided into two parts- one which deals with compensation for victims of crime, while the other addresses the protection of witnesses. In addition, separate institutions with different members for these two functions should be established.

CPA welcomes certain improvements which have been made to the bill including the broadening of the definition of a witness to include the family of witnesses as in certain cases they face intimidation and to include not just those who have provided information but also those who believe that they might be expected to provide information.

More independent mechanisms: The Draft Bill creates a number of institutions including the National Authority for the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses (the "Authority"), the Advisory Commission on Victims of Crime and Witnesses, the Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and the Protection Division of the Sri Lanka Police Department (the "Protection Division") which are all critical for the effective functioning of the Draft Bill. The composition of both the Authority and the Advisory Committee are excessively dominated by the executive which can be remedied by greater involvement of independent persons and civil society groups. In addition, a major problem with the legislation is that the division of responsibilities regarding protection is not clearly set out. The Authority and the Protection Division are given similar functions.

Critically there is no provision for the independence and impartiality of the Protection Division. Indeed the Supreme Court in its opinion (S.C.S.D. 01/08) on the constitutionality of the Draft Bill highlighted the importance of the independence of the Protection Division. The Draft Bill states that the Protection Division is to be established and maintained by the Sri Lanka Police Department, raising with it concern on the independence of appointments and dashing any hope of the Protection Division consisting of actors who will be able to function independently. Given the politicisation of the police, it is almost farcical to leave the granting of protection to the very body from whose members protection may be sought. It is only with independent actors and the functioning of an independent programme that public confidence can be won with more people coming forward to provide valuable evidence and information and thereby ending the culture of impunity.

Provisions on Video-Conferencing: The provisions on videoconferencing are seriously flawed as they undermine one of the key rationales for the legislation i.e. the need to protect witnesses who feel threatened by hostile and violent state and non-state actors. Section 29 (b) of the Draft Bill provides for the presence of a 'competent persons' appointed by a court or Commission on the recommendation of the Attorney-General and the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be present at the location from which a victim or witness is to provide testimony through video conferencing. CPA believes that this provision will not only undermine the basic principle of witness protection legislation but also may conflict with the domestic laws of the countries who provide safety and security to witnesses who feel threatened.

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Terror Propaganda television Tharisanam suspends its Euro Broadcasts

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The European broadcasts of the "Tharisanam" Television - a major propaganda arm of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is to be suspended immediately, the service announced.

It is believed the Television Service which has been used for a long period of time as an organ not only for LTTE propaganda but also as a tool to raise funds for the terrorist organization's much needed weapons and ammunition, that have been also used to harm civilians through their suicide bombers and claymore mines became a major cause for Israeli government to bring pressure on the Israeli satellite company to suspend the broadcasts.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said , "I have spent the major part of 2007 to educate foreign governments about the lethal quality of the LTTE and how its broadcasts are used to raise funds for terrorism against unarmed civilians."

It is believed that the broadcasting of Tharisanm , which could be translated easily to "True View", was connected to companies in France, Israel and Hong Kong.

Tharisanam did not promise to return the money of its subscribers and it is generally believed it would use avenues like Tamil political parties in Tamil Nadu to continue their broadcasts through some other satellites. Though Tharisanam has been suspended in Europe and Britain, where part of the money is raised for the terrorist group, it is believed the broadcasting would continue in Australia where a different satellite is being used.

According to Sri Lankan authorities the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo has been working on the problem continuously for the last seven months. It has come to light that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been using French and Israeli satellites , named Globecast and Satlink, with the help of the pro-LTTE political party Pattalai Makkal Katchi (PMK) in Chennai that is led by Dr. Ramdoss. It is alleged the LTTE funds PMK activities in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile the London based Tamil Broadcasting Corporation head, V. Ramraj leaked the following letter to the press, claiming that it had been sent to the Israeli satellite Company by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel:

"Following our conversation, we wish to bring to your attention an application that has been received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri-Lanka, referring our attention to broadcasts of the Tamil underground organization LTTE, by Satlink Communications Company. According to the information we have received, the company under your management is broadcasting, via satellite, a Tamil channel named Tharishanam".

The content of the broadcast includes propaganda on behalf of LTTE, to the Tamil community exiling in Europe, including an effort for money raising for the benefit of the activity of this organization in Sri Lanka. The government of Sri Lanka required from the State of Israel to act so that the Israeli company will cease the broadcast of the Tamil channel.

"For your knowledge, the Tamil underground LTTE, is battling for independence in east of Sri Lanka and is making use of means of terror and violence. Said underground is defined as a terror organization in the United States, Canada, the European Union countries and India. It is not yet defined as a terror organization in Israel. However, any connection between it and an Israeli body is highly problematic and even extremely severe in light of Israel's coping against the terror organizations.

In light of the high political importance that we see in resolving the issue, according to the manner required by the government of Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is of the opinion that it is not appropriate that an Israeli company shall provide services, directly or indirectly to a body that is identified with a terror organization such as the LTTE. "Therefore, we will be thankful for taking our aforesaid standpoint into consideration in the continuation of your activity."

Ramraj claimed he managed to obtain it from certain LTTE activists in London who are disgruntled with the hierarchy of the party.

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Troops Attack LTTE Bunker & Kill One More Terrorist

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ONE LTE TERRORIST was killed Sunday (22) at about 5.45 p.m. when the troops attacked an LTTE bunker in the general area of KATHIRATHAN.

One more LTTE terrorist was killed by the troops in confrontation at PONNAR Sunday (22) at about 5.45 p.m..

The same day, on information received from a civilian, troops recovered one detonator, one 9 V battery and some medical items from MEESALAI area.

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It happened again

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A sound mine at the Ratmalana airport exploded this morning when a stray animal stepped on it.

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Insurance agent shot dead in Trinco

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A district insurance agent of a leading insurance company was shot dead last night by an unidentified gunman in Trincomalee.

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Tea Board faces internal problems

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Sri Lanka Tea Board is undergoing certain internal problems as a result of a group of producers and sellers who downgrade Ceylon Tea in the world market by sending low quality products under Ceylon tea tag, Tea Board Chairman Lalith Hettiarachchi said.

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Lankan child slaves for world fashion store

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A BBC programme to be aired today exposes how Sri Lankan children at a Tamil Nadu refugee camp were being used to stitch clothes for a huge fashion store in Britain.

Primark has already sacked three of its suppliers last week after an investigation for the BBC's Panorama and The Observer uncovered children labouring in Indian refugee camps to produce some of its cheapest garments.

The investigation found that in the refugee camps of southern India young children had been working long hours in foul conditions to sew the designs that will see, at current growth rates, Primark eclipse Marks and Spencer as Britain's biggest mass-market fashion retailer by 2009, taking £1 of every £10 spent on clothing in the UK.

Other major retailers are scrambling to follow the cheap, fast and fashionable concept for good reason. Worth an estimated £5 bn, the Primark chain now has 4.8 million sq feet of retail space across 177 stores in three countries, employing 25,000 people.

But as this child labour scandal shows, the Irish conglomerate, which sells one in every 10 items of clothing bought in Britain today, had little control over part of its supply chain.

Campaigners are now demanding that the UK government acts to force companies to be responsible for the welfare of workers all the way down their tangled supply chains.

One such child working at the camp is Mantheesh, who works for one of the sacked suppliers. At 11 her life is already an extraordinary story of survival. An orphan, this Tamil refugee had fled the bombings of Sri Lanka only to find herself abandoned by an opportunistic trafficker on a sandbank 10 miles off land.

Exhausted and dehydrated, in the middle of the treacherous Palik Strait, the channel between India and Sri Lanka, she was rescued by fishermen just as the tide was closing over her.

Mantheesh ended up at India's Mandapam transit camp, a fenced-off series of dilapidated, one-storey cement blocks, 12 miles from the flat Arichalmunai beachfront, the first port of call for Sri Lankan refugees brought in by smugglers.

She traced the path of thousands of her fellow refugees, moving north to the camps of the major textile industry region of Tamil Nadu where menial jobs are available to those desperate enough to take them. Mantheesh went to Bhavanisagar camp, 60km from Tirapur.

Within months she was absorbed into India's burgeoning economy, hand sewing from dawn to dusk for a businessman who had shrewdly recruited hundreds of refugees on the cheap to make garments destined for half a dozen European firms, including Primark.

Mantheesh's home, the Bhavanasagar refugee camp, was at the very bottom. The Primark supplier in question, a major Indian exporter called Fab n Fabric, had employed a subcontractor who had discovered the ultimate disposable workforce: child refugees.In northern Sri Lanka, where the war continues between separatist Tamils and the Sri Lankan government, the decision to leave is increasingly an economic one. 'The cost of being smuggled to India is the equivalent of £80,' said Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch.

'The trip often requires families to sell property or their wedding gold. They travel by illegal boats and most hope to head north to find work. They are caught between a rock and a hard place.'

About 76,000 Sri Lankan refugees live in poverty in 102 camps across Tamil Nadu. Several hundred thousands more have been absorbed into India's black economy. The state government provides a relief package to those in camps - the head of a family gets 200 Indian rupees, around £3, a month, with smaller payments for additional family members.

Police and state intelligence officers are stationed at the gates of many of the camps. One government official told The Observer the police protect the refugees, but Tamils believe their guards are more concerned with controlling and monitoring their movements.

In Bhavanasagar, many of the children hand-sewing Primark garments had been born in the camp. Others, orphaned or detached from families by war, were more recent arrivals. Home for most are crude huts, amalgams of straw and broken pieces of corrugated iron. The shop offers cheap cigarettes, sold in singles, and dry biscuits.

A Primark spokesman told The Observer that the firm is appointing an agency 'as a partner to act as its eyes and ears on the ground' and is establishing a charitable foundation for children. He said: 'Primark is an ethical organisation and takes its responsibilities seriously, and it is an absolute outrage for anyone to suggest otherwise.

The BBC came to us with very serious allegations about the conduct of a small number of factories that sell to Primark which we investigated immediately and very thoroughly. What we found left us with no option but to drop those factories - no right-minded person would have done anything different.

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Former DIG declines to contest election

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Former Senior DIG, Sirisena Herath had declined to accept the request by UNP to contest the forthcoming elections to the North Central or Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils.

The UNP had earlier decided to field him as a candidate for the election, representing the Anuradhapura District. Informed sources said yesterday Mr. Herath had refused to accept the party’s request since he was not made the chief ministerial candidate for either council.

For the North Central Provincial Council, the UNP has now decided to nominate retired Major General, Janaka Perera and popular Sinhala language literature tutor, Upul Santha Sannasgala for the Sabaragamuwa Province as the chief ministerial candidate.


In the meantime, former DIG, Gamini Randeniya had also agreed to contest the poll on the UNP ticket.

Asked for reasons not to join the fray, Mr. Herath, however, said this was not the right time for him to make such a decision. He said he was under pressure from people and well wishers in his native village in Anuradhapura and Ratnapura where he worked for ten years, to be a candidate of this election.

“I have a ten-year work experience in Ratnapura. So, people even requested me to become the chief ministerial candidate for Sabaragamuwa. But, I declined to accept it since this is not the appropriate time. However, I will continue to do my social services,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UNP has started a series of pocket meetings in the four districts where the elections are to be conducted. National Organiser, S.B. Dissanayake addressed four such rallies in Polonnaruwa yesterday.

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President tells CEB Chairman to step down: Unions

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In response to the demand put forward by the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union, President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday directed CEB Chairman Udayasiri Kariyawasam to handover his resignation with immediate effect.
The President conveyed his decision to representatives of more than 14 CEB Unions including the Engineers Union when they met the President for discussions.

The Engineers Union media spokesman Athula Wanniarachchi said the President had however turned down a request by the CEB engineers to allow them to import duty-free vehicles, considering the present economic situation in Sri Lanka.

The Engineers said they would continue the work-to-rule campaign which had during the past few days interrupted power supplies to some areas as the engineers were following laid down procedures to the letter before attending to repairs.

The Unions are expected to meet today to discuss the situation and decide on a course of action to agitate for their demands.

Earlier Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne had vowed he would not yield to the Union’s main demand, which was for the removal of Mr. Kariyawasam from the post of CEB Chairman. Mr. Seneviratne taking a tough stand said it was solely the right of the Minister to either appoint or remove the Chairman and that the engineers had no say in it.

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LTTE plan to launch air raids on city uncovered

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By Yohan Perera
An LTTE plan to launch air raids in Colombo by bringing in dismantled aircraft and assembling them in Yatiyantota in the Kegalle area has been uncovered by police.

SSP Yatiyantota Wilfred Mahanayake made this disclosure at a workshop held to educate the estate sector in the area on security. He also noted the air force had noticed some mysterious aircraft flying in the area before and asked people to report any such activity to the police. The workshop was jointly organized by the Police and Caritas SL, the social service arm of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Mahanayake also pointed out the Yatiyantota- Colombo road had become a key route used by the LTTE to bring explosives in to Colombo. He therefore requested estate workers to be vigilant and inform the police of any suspicious movement of strangers coming into the area and any suspicious objects. He said disasters come in many forms and people should be ready in order to avoid them.

Minister of Science and Technology and Chairman of the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) Tissa Vitharana said the TMVP will also be a part of its next session which will be held shortly. He said all other parties which did not participate earlier will also be invited. He was confident that the Committee would be able to come up with a solution to the crisis taking place in the country. The Minister also reminisced the very first sessions of the APRC was also stormy and he had thought that was going to be the first and last meeting they would hold. “However we were able to hold 75 sessions since then and make good progress,” he added

The workshop was organized following the discovery of C4 explosives at a line room in an estate located in Yatiyantota area recently.

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Wimal’s new book to say it all

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Former JVP propaganda secretary and parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa said yesterday he would expose the secrets of the JVP and the circumstances that led to his defection in a new book titled ‘Neththa Venuwata Eththa” (Truth in place of untruth), NFF sources said.

They said the book which is the maiden publication of the National Freedom Front – comprising ten JVP dissidents who crossed over from the JVP recently -- would be launched at the Mahaveli Center tomorrow.

NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa is also expected to speak on the contents of the book and his reasons for leaving the JVP .

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Police Commandos gun down LTTE cadre - Batticaloa

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Police Special Task Force (STF) commandos gunned down an LTTE cadre during a confrontation at Kaluthavalai in Batticaloa this evening (June 22). According to the defence sources, the STF personnel have launched a cordoned search operation in the area following the claymore attack that killed 2 police personnel in this morning.

The STF personnel have encountered small arms fire during the search, originated from an abandoned house around 2.45 pm. The STF has retaliated to the attack and subsequently found a body of an LTTE cadre along with 2 hand grenades, and a cyanide capsule. The body of the LTTE cadre has been handed over to General Hospital Kalawanchikudi.

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PBOA irked over reduction in passengers

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By Shezna Shums

The Private Bus Owners' Association (PBOA) has recorded a significant reduction in the number of bus passengers entering the city of Colombo.

President, PBOA, Gemunu Wijeratne said that following several terrorist attacks on the public transportation system the PBOA noticed that a large number of people are avoiding travelling in buses and altogether avoid coming into Colombo if possible.

Given the deteriorating security situation in Colombo and within the public transportation system, people from the suburbs and outstations prefer to do their shopping in the areas they live in rather than travel to Colombo.

Passengers travel to Colombo only when there is an urgent need to do their work in the city, he said.

Owing to these public fears and action taken by the public the PBOA is now seeing less passengers travelling in the buses.

Other problems encountered by the PBOA, owing to the new security and traffic arrangements is that long distance buses are not allowed on the Galle Road as well as on Duplication Road in Colombo.

The PBOA is currently in discussion with the authorities to sort out this problem.

The PBOA states that the one way system does not cause problems with regard to the amount of diesel used, and in fact they find that traffic moves much faster.

The National Transport Commission officials said that they were unable to comment on the reduction in passengers as a survey has not been done, but stated that the PBOA figures must be correct as they count their profits daily.

The NTC noted that whenever there is a fuel price increase, terrorist attacks on public transportation or a rise in the cost of living it is obvious that the number passengers was bound to decline, and that this may be a temporary feature.

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A gas price revision from July 1

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By Nirmala Kannangara

Laugfs and Shell gas companies have made applications to the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) in early June seeking a price revision on domestic gas effective from July 1.

Despite the gas companies declining to reveal what their anticipated prices would be, domestic gas prices are to go up further from July 1, The Sunday Leader learns.

Director Finance, Shell Gas Company, Rimoe Saldin said that Shell gas has made an application to the CAA for a price revision on a domestic gas cylinder from July. However he said that till the CAA made the final decision he was not in a position to say whether the request would be granted or not.

"According to the pricing formula, we sent the data to the CAA early this month as the gas companies could request a price revision once in two months. Accordingly we made an application for a price revision from next month based on the world fuel prices and freight charges," Saldin said.

According to Saldin although he was positive of a price revision he was not sure what the exact figure would be.

"The price revision is based on the world oil prices in April and May and the price adjustments would depend on these prices," added Saldin.

However Managing Director Laugfs Holdings, Thilak de Silva said they too have made an application to the CAA according to the pricing formula agreement but said that he was positive that there wouldn't be a price hike this time.

"Laugfs too made an application to the CAA early this month but we are positive that there would not be a price rectification this time," De Silva stated.

Meanwhile Chairman, CAA, Rumy Marzook added that Shell and Laugfs gas companies have made applications to the CAA for a price revision from next month but refused to comment as to what the revised prices would be.

"It is being reviewed at the moment," Marzook said.

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TMVP vows not to disarm till LTTE is wiped out

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The TMVP yesterday reiterated that they would not disarm until the LTTE is totally wiped out.

TMVP spokesperson Azath Moulana said that they will not lay down their arms as the threat by the LTTE still prevailed.

The TMVP's refusal to disarm came amidst claims by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse and Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona that only the police and security forces were entitled to bear arms.

The government however has not taken any steps to disarm the TMVP.

Moulana said the LTTE's presence in the north was a threat to the breakaway faction and added that the LTTE had to be wiped out from the country before they could surrender their weapons.

The TMVP cadres were attacked on several occasions in the east during the local government elections in Batticaloa in February, he charged.

The TMVP blamed the LTTE for these attacks despite government claims that terrorism was totally wiped out from the east.

"The LTTE's strength is its military wing and the intelligence wing. Once they are destroyed, automatically, the LTTE would be powerless. Both these factors have been destroyed in the east," he said.

Uduman Lebbe, a UPFA minister at the eastern provincial council on Monday also called for the disarming of the TMVP, due to the many allegations of child recruitment and abductions.

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Sri Lanka gem show expects Asian influx

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Organizers of FACETS 2008, Sri Lanka's annual gem and jewellery exhibition, are expecting an influx of participants from East Asia for the expo that is now in its 18th year. The Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association said representatives from Hong Kong, Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore are billed to participate in the fair. A trade delegation from Egypt would also arrive.

The exhibition will be held at the BMICH convention centre in Colombo on September 6 to 9.

The show's organizers say it has attracted over a million buyers and sellers in the past 17 years.

"The domestic market has been impacted due to the security situation and rising international gold prices," the chairman of the Gem and Jewellery Association, Chanaka Ellawela, said in a statement.

"But the Gem and Jewellery Association is taking steps to safeguard the industry and the FACETS Sri Lanka Show is one such initiative.

"The FACETS Sri Lanka Show promotes Sri Lankan products to the world in a big way."

Sri Lanka gem and jewellery exports rose to 471 million dollars in 2007 from 364 million dollars in 2005.

The show is organized in partnership with The National Gem and Jewellery Authority and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board.

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Freelancer for ‘Thinakkural’ abducted

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A freelance journalist for ‘Thinakkural’ newspaper has been abducted by a group in a white van.

Identified as Thirukumaran, he had been taken from his home at Ebenezer Place, Dehiwela around 8.30 pm yesterday (June 21st), the Free Media Movement said.

The abductors had been wearing military and civilian clothing, according to reports.

Mr. Thirukumaran, an officer at the Ministry of Environment, is also an environmental activist.

Dehiwela Police said that they were unaware of any search operation conducted in the area by law enforcement authorities last night.

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Four terrorists killed and three bunkers captured by troops in Mannar

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Troops launched a attack and captured three LTTE terrorist bunkers in PERIYAMADHU area, MANNAR on Saturday (21) morning around 9.15 while seven terrorists were also reported injured during a confrontation at ANDANKULAM, MANNAR on Saturday afternoon around 12.45.

A soldier on duty at MAVILAKKANDI, MANNAR was reported wounded 15 minutes after midnight on Friday (20) around 00.15.

Meanwhile, four LTTE terrorists were reported killed and two terrorists were seriously injured when Troops launched another massive attack and captured three LTTE bunkers in NEDUNKANDAL area, MANNAR on Saturday (21) between 9.30 a.m. and 3.15 p.m.

Two soldiers were reported wounded in action in the attack while another soldier was reported wounded in action in NEDUNKANDAL around 10.00 in the night on Saturday (21

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32 anti-personnel mines recovered by Troops

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32 Anti - personnel mines were recovered by Troops in a search operations conducted in DANGALIYADDE, WELIKANDA on Saturday (21).

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Unidentified gunman injures two TMVP members

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A unidentified gunman fired at the PORATIVU PATTU Provincial Council Vice President at his temporary residence in the evening on Saturday (21) around 7.00 injuring two TMVP members who were in the house.

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STF officer and Policeman killed by terrorist claymore mine

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A Special Task Force person and a Policeman were killed today (22) around 7.25 in the morning when terrorists targeted them at the KALUDAWELI Road Junction, BATTICALOA .with a claymore mine explosion.

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Confrontation

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A terrorist targeted Special Task Force (STF) personnel who were conducting a search operation on the coastal belt in KALUDAWELI area today (22) around 2.45 p.m. The STF personnel retaliated.

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Media urges Ban Ki-moon to protect SL journalists

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Leading media organisations spread across the world, in an appeal to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have urged him to pressurise the Sri Lankan Government into respecting the UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on journalism in conflict zones and put an end to all actions which undermine the independence and safety of the news community.

The appeal, sent out by 29 IFEX members and other organisations, alerted the UN Secretary General to several statements made by the government and military which “put journalists in grave danger.”

“Under terms of UNSCR 1738, on the protection of journalists in conflict, we write to draw your attention to the alarming situation in Sri Lanka, where statements associated with the government and the military have, in our view, put journalists in grave danger,” the letter stated

In commentaries published on its website on June 5, the Defence Ministry labelled journalists critical of the war effort against Tamil rebels as “enemies of the state” and said it would take “all necessary measures to stop this journalistic treachery.”
In addition to news organisations, the Ministry singled out for criticism the Free Media Movement (FMM), a prominent local rights group.

This followed comments last January by Army Commander Major General Sarath Fonseka, who labelled some journalists as traitors. His statement came in the wake of a strike by the Sri Lankan Air Force against the official Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) radio station, which killed at least three editorial staff the previous November, the media organisations said in the letter.

“The undersigned organisations, all of whom fully support the UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on journalism in conflict zones, condemn these statements, which risk encouraging those who have used extreme violence against journalists and other news professionals in the country,” the letter said.

The letter went on to say, “The global survey of news media casualties, presented to you by the International News Safety Institute last December, placed Sri Lanka 14th out of more than 70 countries where journalists died trying to do their jobs over the past decade. Journalists continue to work there in conditions of fear and harassment. As you know, Resolution 1738 urges all parties in situations of armed conflict to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.”

“We seek your support in urging all United Nations member states to respect Resolution 1738 in letter and in spirit, and specifically request your help in persuading the Government of Sri Lanka to withdraw these statements and immediately stop all actions which undermine the independence and safety of the news community,” the letter added.

The signatories included the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in Cairo, ARTICLE 19 in London, Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in Manila, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Freedom House in New York, Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and International News Safety Institute, Brussels, the International Press Institute (IPI) in Vienna, the London based Index on Censorship, the Colombo-based Free Media Movement (FMM) and World Association of Newspapers (WAN) in Paris.

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SL an illegal firearm haven

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By Ayesha Wijeratne
Nearly 35,000 illegal firearms are in circulation in Sri Lanka, disclosed South Asian Small Arms Network (Sri Lanka) (SASA Net) Chairman Kingsley Rodrigo, recently said.
The situation, Rodrigo pointed out, was exacerbating the prevailing insecurity in the country. He added that majority of those who hold the illegal firearms were the youth.

“Around 15,000 weapons had been given to politicians and their supporters during election time by the then government in 1989 to overcome threats by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). But records show that, since 1989, those who were given weapons are yet to return them to the respective authorities,” Rodrigo said. He said there were some 70,000 Army deserters in the country who had left their weapons in their camps at Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Elephant Pass, paving the way not only for civilians, but even the LTTE, to easily acquire them.

According to SASA Net, there were more than 20,000 illegal firearms circulating in the country in 2006.
According to estimates, more than 1,000 civilians die annually due to incidents related to illegal firearms. The most number of deaths have been recorded in the Anuradhapura District, due to the injuries caused by trap guns.
Approximately 2,500 people sustain injuries every year due to trap gun related incidents. In addition, some 22 elephants die of trap gun related incidents annually.

Rodrigo said that a new reform to the Firearms Act would be enacted as soon as the matter was taken up in Parliament. He said that Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Silva was working on it, as one of the members of the National Commission to Combat Illicit Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).

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GSP+: EU Ambassadors warn of dire consequences

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Visiting European Union (EU) Human Rights Ambassadors have warned of dire consequences in the event Sri Lanka fails to comply with international human rights conventions and improves its human rights record in the war-torn island.
Human Rights Ambassadors from Spain and Netherlands were in the country last week on what seemed to be a fact-finding mission.

The delegation, which also included Sweden, was in the country to get a firsthand impression of the human rights situation in the country. The visit, it is learnt, was tied to the much-hyped Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+) trade scheme benefit.
The delegation had met with a cross-section of people, including opposition Parliamentarians and human rights activists.

The delegation had impressed that their stand was that the government must work towards improving the human rights situation in the country and comply with international conventions on human rights, which if successfully carried out, would pave the way towards obtaining the GSP+.

Meanwhile, Civil Monitoring Commission Convenor and Colombo District MP Mano Ganesan, who had met with members of the delegation, charged that the government was neither complying with international conventions, nor working towards maintaining an acceptable human rights situation in the country.

“I brought to their notice the challenge everyone was facing today, which was the right to life,” Ganesan said.
He emphasised that extra judicial killings and white van abductions have continued unabated.
“I urged them to use their influence and to pressurise the government into complying with all conventions related to human rights,” he added.

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Labour Ministry to enact new regulations

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By Harshanee Jayasekera

Sri Lanka is in need of legislation to cover all workers in the country since the existing legislation is inadequate in terms of Occupational Safety and Health.
This was revealed at the inauguration of the recently held training course for certified lead auditors for occupational health and safety management system.
Conveying the Message of the Minister Athauda Seneviratne, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower said, “The main piece of legislation on Occupational Health and Safety in Sri Lanka is the Factories Ordinance. It provides various standards in preventing industrial accidents and spread of diseases. However we have observed its inadequacies in addressing in terms of emerging challenges relating to occupational safety and health, and the limitations in coverage to workers other than those workers who work in “factories” as defined by the Factory Ordinance.”
Therefore the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower has taken measures to enact new legislation to overcome the shortcomings of the present legislation. The minister revealed in his speech that the proposed law recognizes the need to formulate and adopt an Occupational Safety and Health policy.
He also stated, “A safe working environment is important for improving productivity and reduction of work hours caused due to injuries and illnesses. Therefore an OHS management system has become a legal requirement in many countries.”
The representative of the Asian Productivity Organization K.D .]
Bhadwaj said, “2.2 million people die in the world of occupational accidents, 270 million suffer from non-fatal injuries that make them stay out of work which is a cost of about 810 man days per year and 170 million suffer from occupational illnesses.”
He added that the cost of all occupational accidents in the world accounts to US$125 trillion every year. He said, “Every year the occupational accident and illness rate is increasing and it is 4 to 5 times high in the developing countries compared to the developed countries.”
Commenting on the positive effects of promoting occupational safety in a country he added that by promoting safety measure in a work place the industry can improve productivity by which competitiveness can be increased.
He further added that 90 to 95 percent of the victims of occupational accidents are of the Small and Medium Enterprises which is the “most important section in a developing economy” and emphasized the importance of occupational safety and health

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Electricity strike over chairman’s ouster

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By Ravi Handagama

Power and Energy Minister W D J Seneviratne yesterday reiterated that he would not remove Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman Udayasiri Kariyawasam, “just because a union wants me to.”
However, he said he would look into the contents of a report by the presidential investigation unit (PIU) which finds Kariyawasam unfit to head any government institution.
Meanwhile, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) work-to-rule - launched on 19 June - will continue till Wednesday and culminate in a countrywide power strike if their demands are not met.
The CEBEU met with Seneviratne on Friday night. “I explained to them my position,” Senewiratne said.
“They have no business to demand that the chairman be removed and I asked them to withdraw that demand. They brought to my notice a document produced by the presidential investigation unit. I said I will go through it and consider the matter but I will not remove the chairman just because the union demands it. You can’t run a government like that.”
CEBEU President Jayawilal Meegoda said he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. “We got a good response from the minister and I think our demands will be met,” he said. “However, the proposed countrywide power strike will take place as scheduled on Wednesday if our demands are not met,” he added.
The union demands the immediate removal Kariyawasam. They also want engineers to be permitted to import vehicles under a duty concession of 60%.
The CEBEU maintains that Kariyawasam - an accountant and auditor by profession - has no experience in the power sector and that this was an impediment to the successful conduct of their duties. They want someone to be appointed who has experience and knowledge in the power sector.
“The chairman is not suitable to head this Rs 130 billion organisation,” Meegoda said. “With him in charge, we find it extremely difficult to carry out our professional duties.” He added that they found the choice of the current chairman disappointing when there are so many qualified and competent individuals for the post.
Kariyawasam said , “My post as chairman was an appointment. If anyone wants to contest it, they will have to speak to the minister.”
Meegoda said the CEBEU regretted the inconvenience caused to the general public. “But if the company is to progress, these demands must be met,” he said, referring to the impending strike.
Pointing to the second demand for duty free vehicle permits, Meegoda said the government had promised them this facility but not honoured its pledge.
The government has so far issued around 17,000 permits to other professionals and senior public officials. According to the CEBEU, only around 1,500 CEB engineers will be eligible for the duty free permit - this small number will, therefore, not cause a foreign exchange crisis if the concessions are granted. “We are only asking for a duty concession of 60%, as opposed to the total duty free permit,” Meegoda said. The union is also concerned about the Sri Lanka Electricity Draft Bill which proposes a regulatory commission to be set up within the CEB. There is particular apprehenssion over who will be appointed members of this commission. “We must ensure that suitable and competent individuals are appointed. They must not be political appointees,” Meegoda stressed. One of the tasks of the regulatory commission is to handle complaints made to the CEB. This is currently the responsibility of the chief electrical inspector.
The CEBEU has proposed three amendments to be incorporated in the bill. The main amendment opposes the break up of the CEB into three sections. The bill, which was to be produced in parliament on the 17 June, was withdrawn by Seneviratne to consider the amendments proposed by the CEBEU.

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Salary hike not on the cards

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The deadlock over a salary dispute between the National Salaries Commission and Teacher Union Federations is expected to bring this year’s marking of Advanced Level and Ordinary Level answer scripts to a complete standstill, as teachers have threatened to resort to further trade union action .
Speaking to media, Joseph Stalin, Chairman of the Ceylon Teachers Union and chief organizer of the Trade Unions Federation stressed that all union members have agreed to stop correcting answer scripts, if their demand for a pay hike is not met.
“What we have been demanding for is nothing new,” he said. “What was set out for teachers in the circular many months ago is not being delivered yet. That’s the only thing we need.”
Stalin further said that there is no reason for the National Salaries Commission (NSC) to make a fuss about the issue, as it is something that the Commission itself had promised to deliver. “There is no reason for the NSC to be confused over the matter. There is nothing wrong if the process is speeded up, as it was prolonged for such a long time.”
He further complained that the NSC was the stumbling block, even after Education Ministry officials promised the said increase. “Currently the Commission is just not in a position to look into a salary increase. But we are working to clear anomalies. We met with officials concerned to discuss the matter,” said Lionel Fernando, Chairman, National Salaries Commission.
Fernando added, the Commission is in fact looking into the matter and trying to arrive at a reasonable solution. “However, a pay hike is just not on the cards at the moment,’’ he said.
Stalin said that they would resort to strike action and have also requested teachers to refrain from initiating or taking part in extra curricular activities in schools. The continued wave of trade union action follows the sick note campaign initiated by the Teachers’ Union Federation.

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Minister averts SLC insurance scam

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Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge has directed his secretary S. Liyanagama, the acting chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, to award the controversial insurance tender for the upcoming Indian tour to a previously government run insurance company.
A near and dear of a VVIP of SLC was appointed as insurance consultant to SLC, who then in turn got a private company in which he has an interest the insurance tender for the Sri Lanka’s tour of West Indies, and this contravening the tender procedures to boot.
In the light of this incident, the companies who were at the receiving end due to alleged favouritism have complained to the ministry of sports, which subsequently decided that the tender for the forthcoming Indian tour be awarded to a previously government run insurance concern. Accordingly, the insurance tender for the forthcoming Indian tour of Sri Lanka —- worth Rs. 17 million smackers — is to be awarded to the said insurance company.
A former CEO of Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, also ran a similar racket ten years back.

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SAARC summit to cost BILLIONS

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The projected bill for the forthcoming SAARC summit to be held in Sri Lanka is Rs 2,880,180,332. (Approx' 3 billion rupees.) This is a bill running into the Ministry allocation range - - and is about three quarter of the country's annual education budget for instance. Transport is a major component of the cost of the summit, with several new cars purchased. A million rupee question is also -- who will these cars go to after the summit?

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Seminar on Management of Ocean Resources

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Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka has organized a seminar on Management of Ocean Resources with the objective of enlightening construction industry stakeholders on potential for consultancy and contracting opportunities in the exploitation of Sri Lanka’s Ocean Resources. With the Government of Sri Lanka taking positive steps to undertake Oil and Gas exploration activities, a large number of business opportunities will become available for the construction industry, opening new horizons.

The Chamber has successfully articulated offshore sand as an alternative for river sand for construction purposes consequent to the banning of large scale river sand mining which has caused irreparable damages to the environment such as collapsing of river banks, intrusion of sea water and a total change in the echo system. Chamber however, has expressed its concern regarding the procurement process that has been implemented for offshore sand mining in the recent past.

In the economic development of offshore resources necessary safeguards have to be taken to ensure protection of the marine environment and prevention of pollution a subject that will be dealt at length at this forum.

If Sri Lanka is to obtain fullest benefits of exploiting the vast ocean resources it is enriched with, not only the institutional and policy frame work which is an essential pre-requisite should be strengthened but also the required infrastructure must be developed. Technical and Managerial Human Resources Development and Capacity Building will have to be immediately commenced so that the domestic construction industry will reap the fullest benefits of this national endeavour.

The correct exploitation of Ocean Resources will accrue substantial benefits to all supporting industries by providing a large number of contracting opportunities including pipe laying, underwater welding, building of storage tanks, structures, piers, pumping stations among many others. The process of initiating backward integration for Oil and Gas exploitation must commence.

The Forum will be addressed by some of the most knowledgeable and internationally respected resource persons in the calibre of Dr. Hiran Jayawardena, Dr. Neil De Silva, Dr. Wijeyananda, Dr. Ranjith Mahindapala, Dr. Kapila Perera, Mr. Nissanka Perera among many others.

This seminar has already generated substantial domestic and regional interest for those who are seeking business and investment opportunities on other marine deposit exploitation as well.

This seminar will also provide a new learning experience to decision makers and those who will be engaged in the development of legislative enactments, institutional frame work and to other pubic offices engaged in Marine Sector.

Dr. Sarath Amunugama Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion will deliver the key note address as the Chief Guest.

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Sri Lankan journalists cite intimidation

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With civil war raging in Sri Lanka, the journalists trying to cover the conflict find themselves increasingly under siege.

They have been hounded by the government, attacked by unknown assailants and accused of aiding the rebels. Many reporters have been arrested or fled the country, while others have resorted to self-censorship, journalists said.

Rights groups blame much of the intimidation on the government, saying that since fighting with the Tamil Tigers flared more than two years ago, pressure has grown on journalists to report the official line.

When media don't comply — reporting higher troop casualties or alleging corruption in arms purchases — "they are branded as traitors," said Sunanda Deshapriya of the Free Media Movement.

"The government does not accept that media can play a watchdog's role," he said.

Media Minister Anura Yapa denied the government was intimidating the media or orchestrating the assaults.

"We have no intention of suppressing media freedom. Why should we attack journalists and get our image tarnished?" he said.

For their part, the rebels allow no independent media at all in their de facto state in the north, which they run as a dictatorship. The rebels also have been accused of killing journalists critical of them in the violence-plagued Jaffna peninsula.

Pressure on the media has grown along with the fighting. Both sides have been accused of exaggerating victories and downplaying defeats, while the government has restricted access to the war zone, making independent reporting difficult.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently summoned top media officials and warned them that the rebels, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, could be using their reports on the war to predict future military operations.

"I said that such information is a blow to the country at a time when we are trying to weaken the LTTE militarily," Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times.

Last year, two private newspapers critical of the government were closed down after the government accused them of links to the rebels; the printing press of the Sunday Leader, a pro-opposition newspaper, was torched by unknown attackers; and a radio station was forced off the air after a report on a rebel assault.

At least 100 reporters have been attacked, 25 journalists have fled the country and several others have gone underground, said Deshapriya of the Free Media Movement.

Many have been arrested, including J.S. Tissainayagam, a Sunday Times columnist who has been jailed without charge since March by the government's anti-terror squad.

Keith Noyahr, defense reporter for The Nation newspaper, was abducted by a group of men outside his home on May 22. Six hours later he was released, beaten and bloody.

No one has been charged with the attack, which came several weeks after Noyahr wrote a column about controversial military promotions.

Noyahr's colleagues said he and his editor have fled the country. The colleagues, who declined to give their names out of fear of repercussions, refused to provide contact details for either man, and calls to their mobile phones went unanswered.

In a letter to Rajapaksa last week, Joel Simon, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, accused the government of stifling war reporting and doing nothing to protect reporters.

"Those who wish to harass, harm, or even kill journalists can operate with relative impunity in Sri Lanka," he wrote.

Days later, Rajapaksa established a committee of government ministers to look into the complaints.

In the face of the violence and intimidation, many journalists said they have stopped reporting information that might embarrass the government.

"We don't want to be pet-poodles of the government, (but) neither to antagonize the military," said Ranga Jayasuriya, defense columnist at the Lakbima News newspaper.

Iqbal Athas, a high-profile defense columnist for the Sunday Times who is routinely threatened, said this was the "worst period" in his 42-year career.

The government withdrew his security detail after nine years last year when he reported on irregularities in the purchase of fighter jets. The Ministry of Defense Web site accused Athas of working for "the pro-terrorist propaganda machine" and trying to sow "disloyalty, suspicions, disobedience, rumors, etc." among troops.

"It's clear that what they want to do is silence me to not write anything they dislike," Athas said.

This week, he suspended his column.

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Indian delegation meets Rajapaksa

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A high-powered Indian delegation led by national security adviser M.K. Narayanan on Saturday met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and is understood to have discussed security for the upcoming Saarc summit.

The meeting between Mr Rajapaksa and the top Indian officials took place at the residence of the Sri Lankan President before the Indian team’s return home and even photographers were not allowed, sources said.

The meeting is believed to have lasted about an hour. Besides Mr Narayanan, the Indian delegation’s members were foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and defence secretary Vijay Singh. The India team is understood to have discussed with Mr Rajapaksa the security scenario in the island country for the Saarc summit in August. It is believed that they could have also touched upon the internal situation in Sri Lanka and areas of mutual interest.

The Indian delegation met top senior Sri Lankan officials on Friday. The closely-guarded visit of the Indian officials comes two days after Sri Lanka offered to hold talks with the LTTE following a two-year gap, saying the outfit does represent a "fair amount" of Tamils.

The visit also comes amid reports that China and Pakistan have offered arms assistance to the island nation in its fight against Tamil rebels. Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama recently visited India to personally invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Saarc summit.

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4 LTTE terrorists killed - Vavuniya front

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Four LTTE terrorists were killed when the troops launched an attack in general area Puwarasikulam in Vavuniya this morning, June 21.

According to the available information troops launched an effective fire observing terrorists bunker and hut in them.

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SLAF MI-24 helicopters raid LTTE gathering - Mannar

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Sri Lanka Air Force MI-24 helicopter gun ships raided a gathering place of the LTTE terrorists located in general area 2Km north of Andankulam this afternoon, June 21.

Air Force spokesperson, Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkra, speaking to defence.lk said that the air raids were launched around 12.30 p.m in support of the ground troops advancing in Mannar front. Further he said that LTTE terrorists and few vehicles were also observed in this area.

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2 claymore mines uncovered - Vavuniya

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Acting on information received from civilians, army personnel uncovered two claymore mines, anti-tank mines and hand grenades from general area Periyamurippu in Vavuniya this afternoon, June 21.

According to the available information the recovery was made around 2.00 p.m and 2 anti-yank mines and 12 hand grenades were also among the items recovered.

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Claymore mine uncovered - Colombo

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A claymore mine weighing of 6Kg was found while clearing the canal near the R. PREMADASA Cricket Stadium at Maligawatta in Colombo this afternoon, June 21.

A group of UDA (Urban Development Authority) employees who were clearing the canal detected the claymore mine and brought it to the notice of the Police.

It was later defused by the Bomb Disposal unit.

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Commander sits with his Wanni commanders

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With view to boosting morale of the Army troops who continue to move forward smashing LTTE strongholds in the Wanni front and to addressing the Senior Ground Commanders leading those troops from the field, Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka flew to Vavuniya Saturday (21) morning.

On being received by the Commander Security Forces Headquarters Wanni (SFHQ-W) Major General Jagath Jayasuriya, Army Commander met the Commanders of Divisions, Brigades and Units who were present at the SFHQ auditorium.

After reviewing the security situation in respective areas, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka gave instructions on future security measures in respective areas, specially strengthening positions in liberated areas in Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya.

Attention on welfare of Internally Displaced Civilians arriving in cleared areas from un-cleared areas was also drawn during discussion.

A few Senior Officers of the Army Headquarters took part in the visit.

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Film Corporation director behind Colombo civilian massacres arrested

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Sri Lanka police intelligence sleuths yesterday (June 20) arrested the mastermind behind recent civilian massacres carried out in Colombo and suburbs by the LTTE terrorists. According to the police sources, the terrorist has been acting as a handler of "suicide bombers" and the main distributor of bombs for the terrorist network in the South.

Police media spokesperson, Senior Superintendent of Police Ranjith Gunasekara speaking to the defence.lk said that, the arrest was made last evening during a special raid carried out in the Kotahena area. He said the arrest was made on information provided by one of suicide bomber arrested in the Wellawatte area few days ago. The said suicide bomber had been handled by the terrorist who was arrested yesterday, he added.

"The terrorist was found in possession of an identity card issued by the National Film Corporation calling him to be a Director of the Corporation", he said.

"Also, he has a shop in the first floor of the Kotahena Supermarket where he used to keep the suicide cadre harboured during night hours", he further said.

Police media spokesperson refrained from revealing the names of the two suspects but confirmed that both of them have already confessed the crimes they had committed against innocent civilians.

"It was this "director" who had sent the female suicide bomber on the mission that killed 14 people including 7 school boys of the D.S Senanayake College at the Fort railway station on 3rd February in the wake of the independence day celebrations", he said.

"The suicide bomber who was arrested in this case is the one who had made the bombs under his handler's shelter at the shop at Kotahena". "The 'Director' was the one who had distributed the bombs to the other bombers to carryout civilian massacres" he added.

defence.lk further learnt that the police had found 9.5 kg of high explosives, a stock of detonators , iron balls weighing 1.5kg, and batteries with the suicide bomber. During the interrogations made he had revealed vital information on the LTTE network in the south.

The suicide bomber has told the police that he had been engaged in reconnaissance operations on VIP movements close to the Government Information Department at Narahenpita during recent past.

According to our sources, the suicide bomber had requested from the Wanni to give him a target as soon as possible for he could end his life and the immense mental agony that he had been suffering. The suicide bomber has further told the police that he does not wish to die for the LTTE any longer and agreed to give his full cooperation for the investigations, the sources added.

Meanwhile, the "Director" has revealed that he was to participate for a cultural show held at BMICH yesterday (21). The Prime Minster and Minister Mahinda Yapa Abewardane were also to participate for the same event. Police have found an invitation addressed to the terrorist for the said event issued by the Director of Cultural Department.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Economic crisis to be debated in parliament

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Parliament will debate the present economic crisis during its next session, following a request by the JVP.

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Top Indian delegation in talks with govt.

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By Jamila Najmuddin

A high level Indian delegation, including the National Security Advisor, were in Colombo yesterday for talks with the government on the country’s situation, the upcoming SAARC summit in Sri Lanka and the safety of the delegates, the Daily Mirror learns.

The Indian delegation comprising Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Defence Secretary Sri Vijay Singh arrived at the Bandaranaike airport on board a special flight last morning and were flown to Colombo by helicopter.

An Indian High Commission spokesman said the delegation was here to discuss the SAARC summit scheduled to open on August 1 in Colombo.

When contacted sources in New Delhi said the delegation was in the country to discuss defence issues, the security of the SAARC delegates and to meet top military and other officials during their short visit.

A spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Colombo said the sole purpose of the visit was to discuss issues about the upcoming SAARC summit and to prepare a detailed report about the event. He also said since the Indian Defence Secretary himself was part of the delegation the country’s security situation would have also figured in the discussions.

“One of the main purposes was to discuss the SAARC event but since they were in the country then issues regarding the country’s security situation also may have been discussed.

India aims at making the upcoming SAARC Summit in Colombo a success. During the delegations visit, I am sure that both countries would have also discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations as well,” the Indian High Commission spokesman told the Daily Mirror.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona also maintained that the Indian delegation had arrived in Colombo to discuss issues about the upcoming SAARC summit.

“The delegation is in Sri Lanka to fine tune issues regarding the SAARC summit. They will meet some senior government representatives and might return to India soon,” Dr. Kohona said.

The delegation was expected to leave for India either last evening or this morning.

The IANS news service reported that the delegation was scheduled to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other key government officials. The report also quoted an official at the Presidential Secretariat as terming the visit as a “regular one”.“Their visit is part of the ongoing consultations between Sri Lanka and India on the current developments,” the official said, in an obvious reference to the conflict raging in Sri Lanka.

The official pointed out that a Sri Lankan delegation comprising Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, president’s secretary Lalith Weeratunga and presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa went to New Delhi late last year.

The forthcoming SAARC summit to be hosted by Sri Lanka is to address issues of food and energy security as well as terrorism. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama was in India this week to extend an invitation from President Rajapaksa to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the Summit.

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UNP vows to punish racketeers

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By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera

The main opposition UNP said yesterday that under a UNP regime those found guilty of misappropriating public funds would be punished.

Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera told parliament that more than 3.5 billion rupees had been wasted by establishing the now grounded ‘Mihin Lanka’ set up by presidential coordinating secretary Sajin Vas Gunawardane.

“We will punish such officials who robbed public money in this manner,” he said and added that the 30 per cent inflation rate in Sri Lanka was second only to that of Zimbabwe.

He said it was urgently necessary for the government to control the prices of essential commodities while considering concessionary rates for milk powder, sugar, dried fish, dhal, fresh fish and other items.

Mr. Perera said the government should also remove taxes imposed on crude oil purchased from Iran at a concessionary rate and bring down the fuel prices in the local market.

He proposed that as a cost cutting measure during this economically and politically crisis-ridden time the jumbo Cabinet should be reduced to 20.

“If you are unable to implement these proposals, it will be better for the government to quit office so that somebody capable can run this country,” Mr. Perera demanded.

House leader and senior Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said the UNP had painted a distorted picture of the economy and country was not in such a bad shape economically and the people were not forgoing their meals as the UNP alleged.

Responding to the UNP demand to quit office, he said the government was in office only on the given by the people.

“We will leave office when the people want us to do so,” the Minister said.

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Sannasgala, Janaka UNP’s CM candidates

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By Kelum Bandara

The main opposition UNP yesterday decided to nominate popular lyricist, author, film producer and Sinhala tutor Upul Shantha Sannasgala and retired Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera as the chief ministerial candidates for the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Councils at the upcomoing elections.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had last evening informed the party’s Political Affairs Committee about the decision.

The UNP is to meet today to identify other candidates to be fielded on the party ticket to contest the August elections.

The party decided to field Mr. Sannasgala as the Sabaragamuwa chief ministerial candidate after National Organizer S.B. Dissanayake reportedly declined to accept it after consulting lawyers.

The UNP also passed a resolution at yesterday’s meeting to contest the election as an alliance with the SLFP (M), SLMC and the Western People’s Front. Accordingly these political parties are also expected to field some of their members under the UNP’s elephant symbol.

Meanwhile, former senior DIG Sirisena Herath will contest the NCP election on the UNP ticket from the Anuradhapura district.

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Vasu will contest only if made CM nominee

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By Yohan Perera

Colombo Municipal Council’s opposition leader Vasudeva Nanayakara said yesterday he would contest the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council on the UPFA ticket only if he is made the Chief Ministerial candidate as proposed by the Socialist Alliance which supports the government He is also expected to lead the Ratnapura District list of the UPFA if he contests.

He said the decision to nominate him as UPFA’s Sabaragamuwa Chief Ministerial candidate was taken by the Socialist Alliance and was not his personal decision. “I will not contest if I am not put forward as the Chief Ministerial candidate,”

he said. The matter is to be discussed with the President soon. Mr. Nananayakkara obtained the highest number of preferential votes from the Ratnapura district at the 1994 General Elections. He was also the UPFA Mayoral candidate for the Colombo Municipal Council in 2006.

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Credit card machine found in Colombo

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A sophisticated machine used for printing forged credit cards was recovered by a special CID team yesterday along with four suspects, sources said.

A defence official told the Daily Mirror the machine was found after interrogating Neshanadan Muruganandan alias Anandan - the alleged mastermind behind an international credit card scam - arrested by Special Task Force personnel in Wellawatte last week.

The official, who declined to reveal the location where the machine was found however said it was found in a house in Colombo. He said the four arrested suspects were also having direct links with the Tigers and further investigations were underway to arrest more suspects.The main suspect had a large number of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) of credit cards and bank receipts issued by both local and

foreign banks, amounting to more than Rs. 100 million, in his possession at the time of the arrest. He also had local bank receipts on credit cards and receipts of goods bought from an electrical items shop during the past three weeks.

He had cloned credit cards using PIN and card numbers obtained from unsuspecting original credit card holders in Britain, Singapore, Switzerland, Malaysia and Canada.

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Dinesh: Govt wants to discourage import of luxuary vehicles

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In reply to a question on the number of motor vehicles imported during recent years as well as during the past 12 months, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said 13,227 motor cars, 27,911 lorries and trucks 27,664 tractors, 195,832 motorcycles, 1,327 buses and 509 vans were imported in 2007. Though a larger number had been imported in the previous years there had been a decline.

Although a large number of vehicles were imported at different times all were not sold immediately. The policy of the government was to discourage the import of luxury vehicles and give preference to smaller vehicles that consume less fuel. The reduction of imports of vehicles cannot be attributed to an economic crisis in the country.

He said the government was in the process of formulating a new policy on fuel and vehicles with emphasis on reducing fuel consumption and discouraging the import and use of vehicles that are heavy on fuel.

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Yapa disputes threats on journalists

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Dayasiri Jayasekara (UNP) Kurunegala District said the journalists are threatened by the Government and a number of them in the north had been killed. Journalists like Poddala Jayantha or Sunanda Deshpriya have been threatened with death and have been called terrorists. There was a list of 27 journalist who were under threat.

Minister of Media and Information Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said a list of 27 journalists had been faxed to various foreign embassies in Colombo as persons under death threats. The list had been sent by the same source but the names of the Army Commander, Defence Secretary and Basil Rajapksa were also mentioned in the document with the intention of defaming the government alleging that journalists are being threatened. An inquiry has been instituted by the government to find out the persons who were behind this document which was totally rejected by the government as untrue. But we are in the process of trying to find out who was responsible for this harmful attempt to blame a government that did not threaten any journalist. Some of the journalists in that list had denied any threat to them. The list was a calculated attempt to tarnish the image of the Government.

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SPC member turns hi-jackerS.

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A Southern Provincial Councillor has ‘hi-jacked’ a van belonging to the Southern Provincial Chief Secretariat.

Though the incident took place on April 30.2008, the Secretariat had failed to take legal action the offender well informed sources said.

A complaint has been made by the driver of the Dolphin van bearing number 61-4435 Anusha Adihetty, to the Deputy Secretary (Finance) of the earlier mentioned institution that the Provincial Council member has hi-jacked the vehicle.

The driver said that the Deputy Secretary has failed even to lodge a complaint at the police to this effect.

Chairman of the Accounts Committee of the Southern Provincial Council Nalin Hewage said the same Provincial Councillor had hijacked a Pajero bearing number 32-1422 belonging to the same institution and returned the vehicle after using it for 14 months.

Hewage warned if the authorities at the Chief Secretary’s office fail to take legal action against the Provincial Councillor he will lodge a complaint himself with the police.

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3 LTTE terrorists killed, 2 wounded in Mannar

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Three LTTE terrorists were reported killed and two wounded in SLA launched ground attacks at the Mannar front on Friday (June 20), security sources report.

A terrorist was killed in general area Mullikkandal, following an Army sniper attack at around 2.50p.m., the sources said. Two other terrorists were killed and similar numbers believed wounded in an Army offensive launched in general area Nedunkandal, at 5.25p.m., the sources added.

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Lankan embassy working to send fire victims’ bodies

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The Sri Lankan embassy in Qatar is waiting for the local government offices to resume tomorrow to make arrangements for sending the bodies of five of its nationals.
The five were killed in a fire at their accommodation in Al-Maymoon Street, Shaara Asmakh on Wednesday night.
A Dharmakulasingham, charge de affaires at the mission, said the embassy would make arrangements for sending the bodies once the police investigation is over.
Lennie Cramer, president of the Sri Lankan Co-ordination Committee, said of the five victims, Roshan Thushita and Nimal were married. Nimal has an 11-year-old daughter as well.
Two wounded in the fire are still undergoing treatment, Cramer said.
At least two of those killed had been absconding from their sponsors. “None of those killed were labourers,” said a community member.
The accommodation where the victims were staying housed about 40 people, in six or seven rooms.
Every room reportedly houses six to seven people.
Most of those stayed at the ill-fated accommodation belonged to different companies.
Meanwhile Cramer said there was very good response from the community members to help the victims of the fire.
Already, foodstuff for at least one week has come and more is still expected, he said.
People donated pillows, bedsheets and other items for the injured, which were moved to a temporary accommodation in Abu Hamour.
Cramer said the SLCC was working to find a permanent accommodation to those who were rendered homeless.
Sri Lankan community representatives and embassy officials on Thursday visited the site of accident and Hamad hospital mortuary where the bodies were kept.
For making donation, contact Cramer (5608780), Ruwan Lankeshwara (5297126), Nimal Tedewapte (5830794) or Pennison Silva (5382301).

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Government recruits ex-military men to protect the state transport

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Government of Sri Lanka decided to recruit six hundred
security officers who had military training in the government forces.
These officials will assist security of commuters who use state transport services. This measure aims at preventing terrorist attacks targeting civilians and school children.
According to a spokesman of the local transport ministry nearly 190 security officers have been recruited to the Sri Lanka Transport Board

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Ranil must resign from the party leadership says Rajitha

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The democratic group of the United National Party say the only solution to the crisis in the UNP is for Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe to resign from party leadership. The group further points out majority of the party also hold the same view.

Minister Rajitha Senaratne at a media briefing in Colombo on Thursday he said the UNP under the present leadership of Mr. Wickremasinghe has not ability to win any election.

Minister Senaratne has further said the first rebellion against Mr. Wickremasinghe had taken place in the year 2000 under the leadership of late Gamini Athukorale. Eruptions against party leaderships had taken place in every two years thereafter.

He further said the group will contest the forthcoming Sabaragamuwa and north central provincial council elections with the government and the nomination list will be handed over to the President by the 21st of this month.

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TJL set to become the largest weft knit fabric unit

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Textured Jersey Lanka (TJL) has recently completed its new major phase of development to become the largest weft knit fabric manufacturer of the country, housing some of the finest modern dye houses.

TJL’s customer profile includes UK’s Next and Marks and Spencer, USA’s Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Ann Taylor and Italian Intimissimi.

Local manufacturers making up the fabric for export include MAS, Brandix, Martins, Hirdaramani and Omega Line.

Inaugurated by the US Ambassador Robert O Blake, the company is employing a team of over 1,200 within its 18 acre green field site at the Seethawaka International Industrial Park.

Already, the apparel industry represents the leading edge of manufacturing success in Sri Lanka. Companies like Brandix, and now Textured Jersey Lanka, demonstrate the potential for firms in other domestic industries to make it big as exporters of top quality manufactured goods.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Blake said, “This is an important occasion, not just for Brandix and its partners, but also as a mark of progress towards greater integration in Sri Lankan apparel industry. By bringing fabric production on shore, the company is diversifying the industry and reducing costs. These together will enhance your efficiency and competitiveness.”

He further noted, “Brandix and its fellow apparel firms can be proud of the vital role they play in Sri Lankan economy. Garment exports had another great year in 2007, generating US $3.3 billion, or over 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s total 7.7 billion dollars in exports. In fact, the United States bought about half of those garments, so there is no question but that the United States and Sri Lanka are in this business together.”

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Buddhi Batik – a rising star in art galaxy

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Batik, an art form that combines the illustrative skills of an artist with a wax-resist dyeing technique that is applied to natural fabric - cotton, silk, linen, and rayon, has created a niche for itself in the international market.

Buddhi Batiks, a well known company in this field, is presently experiencing a huge demand in India.

Ms Darshi Keerthisena, Director/Head of Design, Buddhi Batiks informed Fibre2fashion, “At Buddhi Batiks we strive to combine the artistry of the traditional Sri Lankan batik craft with modern design, giving new life to a cottage industry. We produce apparel and accessories that cater to contemporary fashion trends while still remaining true to our Sri Lankan roots. We use innovative fabrics not traditionally used in Sri Lankan batik such as silk satin, chiffon, and georgette, which have captivated the fashion market, especially when they are presented in the form of our famous designer saris.”

Divulging about the production line Ms Keerthisena, stated, “We produce a full range of contemporary women’s wear: dresses, tops, skirts, knitwear, beachwear, and underwear. We are working on a range of swimsuits, which together with the accompanying batik cover-ups (kaftans, robes, beach wraps, skirts) and accessories, will form a complete range of swimwear aimed at the EU and US market. We also produce a complete range of men’s wear: shirts (both cotton and silk), sarongs, Blazers, full suits, denim jeans, T-shirts, and hoodies.”

“Sri Lankan sari and talent, both are unique and Indian customers have already accepted that; now I want to promote this exclusiveness in the global market as well,” said Ms Darshi proudly.

The Buddhi Batiks atelier was founded in 1970 and is located in the village of Koswadiya. The workshop employs primarily women from within the village. Further the Ms Keerthisena reiterated, “We have a special quality control unit that supervises the production process - cloth waxing, colour blending, dyeing, and tailoring - to ensure the consistency and high quality of the product.”

“While our commercial success has provided a tremendous impetus to the company, we have reinvested most of our profits to upgrade the batik workshop, introduce eco-friendly methods, and increase the salaries of the batik artisans who are cajoled into producing work of a higher quality, both in aesthetic terms and in final finish. Most importantly, we have been experimenting, pushing the limits of the batik craft still further with new styles, silhouettes, and even more fabrics—velvet, lurex, denim—all with a view to reaching a level of maturity in product range and quality that will enable the Buddhi Batiks vision of becoming a complete international brand.”

Buddhi Batiks has participated in a fashion show which held in Bangalore, alongside some of the stars of the Indian fashion industry — Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal, Krishna Mehta, Abraham and Thakore, J J Valaya, and many others. The Group also retails in Indian stores in Chennai and Bangalore.

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Sri Lanka Telecom selects UTStarcom for IPTV solution

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UTStarcom, a provider of telecommunications infrastructure, handsets and customer premise equipment, has announced a multi-million dollar contract with Just In Time Holdings to supply its RollingStream end-to-end IPTV solution to Sri Lanka Telecom.

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) IPTV deployment is designed to support approximately 100,000 subscribers in the next two years and will enable the company to provide video services to future subscribers over copper lines in the next three to four years.

Vijay Yadav, managing director for UTStarcom in South Asia, said: "UTStarcom is looking forward to the opportunities our relationship with Sri Lanka Telecom will present in the region and we are committed to providing the operator with a competitive IPTV solution that will extend SLT's strides and solidify Sri Lanka as a major telecom hub in South Asia."

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Sri Lanka top attraction for ME tourists

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Sri Lanka has reported a surge in tourist industry arrivals in the first quarter of this year. The highest performer during the period was the Middle East, which registered an increase of 80.6 per cent in comparison with 2007 according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.

For the sun-sea-and-sand enthusiast, Sri Lanka offers unbeatable value. Due to its location along the equatorial zone it has a tropical climate which varies with the regions and the seasons.

Summer temperatures range between 24 to 26 degrees celsius and sunny, blue skies are virtually guaranteed. The island nation offers several public beaches as well as five-star beach hotels and resorts.

“A full range of water sports can be enjoyed in Sri Lanka, including swimming, sailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, water-skiing and deep sea fishing. Equipment for all sports can be hired and professional instruction is available throughout the coastal areas,” said SLTPB managing director Dileep Mudadeniya.

Divers in Sri Lanka are treated to some of the most spectacular reefs in the world as also large schools of a variety of colourful fish. The islands coastlines have dozens of famous ship wrecks dating back centuries and also coral reefs, under sea caves & rock formations all around the island.

When even the most avid sun-bather needs a break from the beach, Sri Lanka offers a variety of options to unwind. Comfortable tours of the city are also possible with air-conditioned coaches and multi-lingual guides introducing you to the island’s unique culture.

All of the above attractions are combined with the highest standards of luxury and comfort and service with a smile. There are more than five thousand rooms available in graded establishments along the southern coast offering a wide range of options for high spenders as well as budget travellers.

Sri Lanka is especially attractive this summer for families (June 1 to August 31 2008) as the Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau in conjunction with SriLankan Airlines has announced that prominent hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka will extend a value added benefit for Middle East travellers by offering a free stay for one child free (below the ages of 12 years) per paying adult sharing the parent’s room as an industry standard during the summer months. This includes, airline tickets, hotel stay and ground transportation as well.

As night falls, the partying begins and continues into the wee hours of the morning. The hotels are geared up to provide maids and nannies to look after the children so that the parents can enjoy the holiday.

A visit to Sri Lanka would hardly be complete without sampling the wild natural beauty of the country including the scenic waterfalls, spice and tea plantations, bird and wildlife reserves, tropical jungle excursions and the luxurious yet eco-friendly accommodation.

SriLankan Airlines operates a full Airbus fleet to 41 destinations in 22 countries worldwide. Flights from the Middle East to Colombo connect with onward services to the Maldives, 11 key destinations in India, seven destinations in the Far East including Malaysia, Singapore, China and Thailand.

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Already struggling Consumers caught in the cross fire

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It is only recently, the fuel price and the electricity tariffs were raised by the Govt. On various pretexts. The fuel price hike was the fourteenth increase in two and half years since this Rajapakse Govt. came into power, and the electricity hike was the highest ever increase on a single occasion in the history of Sri Lanka.!
Not enough the burdens imposed by the Govt. on the people by price increases all round, now there are threats of power black out too to incommode them.

It is alleged that even after the tariff revision the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has not paid its dues to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) which can lead to CPC‘s diesel supplies to the CEB being withdrawn necessitating power cuts.

Judging by the regular steep price increases by these two Institutions , it is argued whether both Institutions are having holes in the pockets (larger than the manholes !) through which all the income earned by extorting from the people are draining out , for, with all these increases they are unable to uplift the people or themselves.

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UNP leader calls for interim constitution

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Leader of Opposition , Ranil Wickramasinghe , reiterated that a political solution to the national ethnic issue should be incorporated in the constitution ,and the President must be should be responsible to Parliament. But, now, the Parliament is reduced to a joke, he said.
He called for an interim constitution enshrining these provisions until a new constitution is drafted.

While emphasizing the need for a small Cabinet of Ministers based on traditional Sri Lankan values, he said, Late Dudley Senanayake insisted that political and economic freedom must be the right of every citizen.

The vote base of the UNP rose during Dudley’s time, and now it is strongest, he asserted.

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17 LTTE terrorists killed, 20 wounded in yesterday's confrontations

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Security forces continued advancing into LTTE strongholds in multi-directions from the Wanni and Northern battle theaters inflicting heavy damages to LTTE, as troops confirmed 17 terrorists killed and over 20 wounded following yesterday's clashes (June 19).

According to reports received, 3 soldiers have laid their lives and 7 others wounded in the clashes. In addition, 37 LTTE terrorists were also reported either killed or wounded, the sources further stated.

On the Jaffna front at Muhamalai, 3 soldiers was reported wounded in two separate clashes with LTTE, while military claimed 2 terrorists killed due to Army sniper attacks in the same area on Thursday. At the Vavuniya battlefront, troops have killed 2 terrorists in general area Vedamakilam, at 12.15p.m., during an offensive launched at an LTTE bunker defence security sources said, adding that 2 more terrorists were killed and another wounded during an ambush sprung by troops in general area Kayamoddai. According to military reports, a total of 8 LTTE terrorists were reported killed and similar numbers wounded in the Vavuniya front.

Meanwhile, at the Welioya front in areas North of Janakapura, Mankindamalai, Andankulama and Kiribbanwewa North troops said that at least 7 terrorist were killed and 12 others wounded during sporadic clashes erupted between troops and LTTE on Thursday. 5 soldiers have also received injuries during the confrontations, security sources said, adding that the operations are gaining success at the Wanni battle theater.

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Army guns down 3 LTTE cadres - Mannar

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Troops deployed on the Mannar frontline yesterday (June 19) reported that 3 terrorists were killed in separate incidents.

In the Nadunkandal area, a terrorist was gunned down around 12.45pm. In the Periyaoddeppu area troops gunned down a terrorist detected ahead of the defence line around 8.50am. Also, in the Mulikkandal area, a terrorist was reportedly shot dead around 11.45am.

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Transport of Essential Items to Un-Cleared Areas Continues

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Eighty Four lorry loads of food and other essential items had been dispatched to un-cleared areas in the northern province during the period between 6 June 2008 to 12 June 2008.

Those consignments had reached areas in Kilinochchi and Mullative districts via Omanthai and Uyilankulam entry points.
The stocks contained rice, dhal, dried fish, clothes, fuel, spices, building materials, vehicle spare parts, medicine and the such like which are needed for the use of civilians in un-cleared areas.

A total of 3426 civilians had crossed over to the un-cleared areas through those checkpoints while an estimated 3383 civilians had arrived in Vauniya from un-cleared areas during the said period.

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IFC and Dialog Telekom Help Small Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka Develop Business Skills

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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Dialog Telekom PLC have joined forces to help strengthen the business skills of Dialog Telekom’s retail distributors in Sri Lanka.
This will help them build a track record of creditworthiness by using the IFC SME Toolkit, an advisory product implemented in more than 25 countries worldwide.

IFC will provide $250,000 to support Dialog Telekom’s Distributor-Retailer Community Network project, which looks at strengthening the skills of the Company retail and distributor network. This follows an IFC investment in September 2007 to help the company expand its network and build new telecommunications infrastructure. The $100 million financing package included long-term debt and equity.

IFC and Dialog Telekom have also signed an agreement for the IFC SME Toolkit, an online resource designed to serve the needs of small and medium enterprises in developing and frontier markets. A version of the toolkit is being customized to meet Dialog Telekom’s needs and will be available in two local languages, Sinhala and Tamil. This effort is also helping to further strengthen the distributor-retailer community network itself.

Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Director and Chief Executive, Dialog Telekom said, “At Dialog Telekom we have always been committed to fostering entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka, specially in the SME sectors. We feel that our own retailers and distributors play a vital role in our Company achieving the goals of its triple bottom-line, and our Distributor Retailer Community Network seeks to provide our retailers and distributors with the necessary tools to achieve their goals. By assisting in the design and implementation of this innovative project, IFC has demonstrated its understanding of Dialog’s business needs and showcased its expertise in ensuring the well-being of the small and medium enterpreneurs that drive Dialog’s distribution network.”

Gilles Galludec, IFC Country Manager for Maldives and Sri Lanka, said, “This innovative program will help build capacities of small businesses in Sri Lanka and bring them into the formal banking sector, thus creating better linkages between SMEs and banks. IFC is keen to strengthen its partnership with Dialog and support the program.”

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Sri Lanka's "missing" woman parliamentarian safe

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The Sri Lankan government said Friday that a female parliamentarian who was reported missing by her husband on Wednesday has reported safe to police.

Anjan Umma, the parliamentarian from the main left party JVP, or the People's Liberation Front, was reported missing by her husband Tuan Dulapandan.

"She left home on Tuesday evening for parliament and has not come back home since then," Dulapandan told police on Wednesday.

However the officer-in-charge of the police station at Mirigama, about 45 km north of Colombo, said on Friday that the lady parliamentarian telephoned the police on Thursday to say that she was safe.

Umma on Wednesday wrote to the secretary general of parliament saying that she had broken ranks with her party and would act in parliament as an Independent.

Her defection is being seen as a continuation of the JVP's internal struggle.

Some 10 parliamentarians out of their total strength of 38 in the 225-member assembly defected to form a separate party, the National Liberation Front in March.

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Top Indian delegation in Colombo to meet Rajapaksa

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A high-powered Indian delegation headed by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan arrived here Friday, with Indian and Sri Lankan sources giving different accounts of their mission.

Accompanying Narayanan were Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh. The three officials between them virtually determine India's policy vis-a-vis Sri Lanka.

The three arrived on a special flight from New Delhi around 11.30 a.m. on a two-day visit, an Indian diplomat told IANS. 'Their visit is in connection with the forthcoming SAARC summit.'

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit is scheduled to open Aug 1 in Colombo.

'The delegation is scheduled to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other key government officials', the source said, declining to give further details about the previously unannounced trip.

When contacted, a top official of the Presidential Secretariat played down the importance of the visit, calling it a 'regular one'.

'Their visit is a part of the ongoing consultation between Sri Lanka and India on the current developments,' the official said, in an obvious reference to the conflict raging in Sri Lanka.

The official pointed out that a Sri Lankan delegation comprising Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the president's secretary Lalith Weeratunga and presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa went to New Delhi in late 2007.

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Supreme Court rejects FR petitions

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Supreme Court of Sri Lanka dismissed two fundamental rights petitions filed by the UNP and JVP challenging the dissolution of North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils. The Supreme Court said the Governors of the Provincial Councils had followed legal ways to dissolution of the both Provincial Councils. The bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N Silva, Sriyani Thilakawardene and K. Sripawan.

Petitioners A.M.R. Banda Abesinghe and H.M. Anil Ratnayake for the North Central provincial council and A. A. Wijetunga and K. S. S. Perera for the Sabaragamuwa provincial council cited governors of the respective province and the commissioner of elections, the respective returning officers and other as respondents. They filed two fundamental rights petitions in Supreme Court on 13th June asking an interim injunction on holding elections for the two Provincial Councils on the basis of their fundamental rights had been violated due to the dissolution of the councils.

Earlier the UNP said the dissolution of these councils was illegal and filed two petitions before the Supreme Court. The JVP also followed a similar way.
According to the government sources the provincial council elections of Sabaragamuwa and North-central province may also be scheduled to hold in August.
However Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) recently expressed displeasure at the government's decision to dissolve the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils.
Meanwhile General Secretary of the UNP Tissa Attanayake said they hold discussions with the other political parties to contest the proposed Provincial Council elections .

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Ghana: Come to Our Aid, Garment Manufacturers Appeal to Gov't

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Operators in the local garment industry have outlined a number of problems, confronting the smooth running of their businesses in the country.

Speaking to journalists, after a tour of his outfit, Chandrapala Dissanayake, General Manager (GM) of Oakbrooks Ghana Limited, manufacturers and exporters of polo shirts and pharmacy coats for the American market, said topmost on their complaints chart were shipping problems.


The working tour was put together by the Ghana Shippers Council (GSC), for members of the Eastern Shippers Committee, which is one of the 10 Regional Committees set up by the GSC across the country, to enable them acquaint themselves with the operations of the garment companies.

Mr. Dissanayake also mentioned non-availability of skilled personnel, and technically know-how staff, sub-standard infrastructure, high cost of labour, electricity, transportation, and non-availability of raw materials.

"The costs of labour, electricity, transportation, among others, are higher than it is in other countries, which are our competitors, and therefore it is adversely affecting our operations," he pointed out.

He further disclosed that financial constraints, high interest rates, rapid increases in costs, low efficiency level, and productivity concept not known to employees, among other factors are impeding the growth of the industry.

According to him, while their competitors, in other parts of the world, use 18 days to ship their wares to their customers in America, theirs takes 45 days to reach the same destination, thus they are always unable to meet deadlines.

He affirmed that this practice had caused his company to lose a very lucrative business contract in America, which could have earned the company, at least two million dollars profit.

The man, who is one of the five expatriates, imported from Sri Lanka, working for the wholly Ghanaian-owned company, declared, "There is no direct vessel from Ghana to America, hence the delay in the shipment of our goods."

Mr. Dissanayake hinted that getting raw materials for the production of the garment, was also a task as Herculean as taming a lion, saying, "We have to travel all the way to China, Sri Lanka or India, to obtain the needed raw materials, for our jobs back here in Ghana."

He explained that import and export formality difficulties, and transit schedules from countries in the Far East, and the United States of America ports, are highly excessive, which is not acceptable to buyers.

"The clearing expenses, directly or indirectly, are higher here in Ghana, than in other competing countries, which accordingly, affects our product costing requirement locally," he asserted.

The Tema Branch Manager of the GSC, Mrs. Naa Densua Aryeetey, said the reason for the tour, was to help their members know what is happening in the shipping industry outside the country.

She observed that they had been organizing seminars, and workshops for their members, to give them inside knowledge, as far as their operations were concerned, adding "this is to help them have first hand experience in what they do."

Mr. Osei Ampofo, Chairman of the Eastern Shippers Committee, thanked the GSC for putting the tour together for them.

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Sri Lanka wants LIOC to sell diesel at reduced price

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Colombo, June 19 (IANS) Sri Lanka Thursday asked the Indian oil giant, Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC), to sell its petroleum products at reduced prices or face unspecified action, officials said. After the recent price revision, the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) sells auto diesel at Rs.110 per liter while LIOC is selling at Rs.130 per liter, although both are selling petrol at the same price in their respective outlets.

“We received a letter of advice today (Thursday) from the Petroleum Ministry that we should sell all our products at the prices that of the CPC, otherwise appropriate action would be taken,” LIOC managing director K. Ramakrishnan told IANS Thursday.

He said LIOC was selling all its products at prices on par with the CPC at its petrol stations, and compensating the loss in selling diesel with the extra profit in selling petrol.

“It had worked well till May 25 when the Sri Lankan government imposed an additional tax in the name of customs duty on the imported petrol,” he said, adding LIOC was forced to increase the diesel price by Rs.20 more than that of the CPC to cover its losses.

“Selling diesel at Rs.130 per liter is our cost price and there is no profit or loss. Expecting us to sell diesel less than the cost is not just practicable, which the Petroleum Ministry is well aware of. We will not be able to survive for long if we do it,” Ramakrishnan said.

LIOC, which has 153 retail outlets throughout Sri Lanka, holds 19 percent of the market share in distributing fuel products. On an average, it sells 15 million liters of petrol and 30 million liters of diesel in Sri Lanka while the CPC sells 45 million liters of petrol and 170 million liters of diesel per month.

Ramakrishnan said LIOC is looking forward to explain to the government of Sri Lanka the difficulties faced by it in carrying out its latest demand.

He, however, said the letter from the ministry did not mention any “specific action to be taken if LIOC fails to comply with its latest demand”.

“We are a local company, we are a shareholder, we have a liability, we have responsibility. We are into a business which is important and all our petrol stations are serving people well. So, whatever the government says is final, we will go by that,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie was not available for comment immediately.

LIOC is a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and is the only public oil company other than the CPC. It has been incorporated to carry out retail marketing of petroleum products, bulk supply to industrial consumers, building and operating storage facilities at the Trincomalee Oil Tank farm.

LIOC is the only company in Sri Lanka that imports petroleum products in two ports - Colombo and Trincomalee and keeping stocks in both places. In November last year, the IOC commissioned a $5 million lube oil blending plant with the capacity of 18,000 tonnes a year.

Annually, Sri Lanka consumes not less than four million tonnes of fuel products. The nation depends 100 percent on imports for its fuel product needs.

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NGOs - Insidious International Networks that Disturb Global Governance

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by Shenali Waduge

After three and a half decade of Nation State systems a group of self-appointed “watchdogs” better known as NGOs are challenging the status quo? Who are these NGOs? How do they function? Who funds them? Are they transparent? To whom are they accountable? Do they have any legal right to question & issue ultimatums to democratically elected Governments? Are they really free of the corruption, mismanagement they accuse others of? Can anyone dare to contest them, query their work & demand why they wish to break down age-old cultures, traditions & territorial boundaries? These are perhaps some of the questions that emerge no sooner the topic of NGOs enters discussion & debate. Thus, these NGOs break the rules of non-intervention, established by the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and blur the lines between domestic and international affairs. They take advantage of the porous nature of the geographic and national borders and challenge state sovereignty. Are we exaggerating the argument? The British East India Company immediately emerges as perhaps a possible forerunner to what these NGOs have in mind! Obviously traditionalists are in contention with the modern system of governance that is being espoused through the NGO league!



With two major world wars over, end of communism, spread of “democracy” in poor nations, changes to technology, economic integration in short the advent of Globalization has brought with it a host of worries & problems, most of which have provided fertile reasons for NGOs to stake their claim as better suited to offer solutions through their experience & efficiency. Influential Governments have been influenced & have opted to choose NGOs to channel aid & funds why should we be surprised when these NGOs in turn begin to dictate terms to national governments & have of late even demanded greater prominence at UN negotiations & even in the General Assembly. The place they have berthed for themselves in developing countries is in deed a case in point. Today, many of the development assistance is being channeled through NGOs, & a few would say that they do in fact deliver services that faltering governments could no longer manage but then the nature of their “services” have also become questionable.



Yet, functioning as charities, businesses, Churches, proxy trade unions, member-based groups (Amnesty International), huge profit making organizations…..it does make one wonder exactly how accountable they really are. Not helping matters has been governments themselves especially those of the developing nations who give enough & more reasons for these NGOs to stand supreme over them. It is an easy endeavor to tag governments as “corrupt”, “inefficient”, “ruthless’, discriminating etc & draw picturesque examples via international media channels as proof yet it is not so easy to do the same regarding a particular NGO or NGOs for their lack of credibility. This is what makes the difference in the two entities. The binding element still for all remains where nation states are concerned especially those that are elected democratically into governance but where NGOs are concerned their “meritorious” claims to society & its betterment cannot be questioned & vilified at international levels. What makes NGOs immune from a lot of the problems plaguing governments under the influence of globalization of financial markets are some of the very virtues that NGOs are excluded from. Being a global actor, they do not face any of the problems that countries have to deal with while taking care of their citizens.



No longer are NGOs mere institutions of the state, by the state & for the state. They have emerged global players, creating global constituencies, directly connecting with people & obviously ending up undermining a states hitherto preserved credibility. Once again we see a jolt to Westphalian world order no sooner these NGOs begin to collaborate with regimes, terrorist groups or even in sensitive issues like human rights, refugees, arms control, democracy etc. thus sparkling the “interference factor” into debate where NGOs are seen to meddle in the affairs of internal crisis. This is evidenced in international financial institutions that are also seen to interfere in domestic affairs of countries attaching stringent conditions for loans & tying these loans to the concerns they have regarding a government’s policy on environment, human rights, military spending etc. thus we can see how governments of developing nations are being diminished by policy makers like the World Bank, IMF etc who have preferred to forge alliances with NGOs.



In this context we can picture how 35,000 international NGOs with backing of international world bodies can create misery to developing nations. They are financially sound, efficient & have enough expertise to force their gameplan upon smaller & weaker nations.



This does make scope for a possible dominance of non-state players that would essentially question traditional cultures, national boundaries, language, currency, political & emotional alliances of people belonging to over three & a half centuries of nation-state systems.

Arguably with so many non-state players performing “miracles’ globally we wonder why “world peace” seems so aloof & why miseries faced by people even before the entry of NGOs still very much exist!



While calling for greater democracy of nation governments, the standards of some NGOs too come into question – the selection of their leaders, the processes by which their policies are determined, the financial contributors & how NGOs are answerable to the spending requirements stipulated by these contributors & what agendas do these contributors really espouse globally. Now we come to where doubts emerge as to the modus operandi of NGOs globally – many of these global “players” succeed by the financial & insightful expertise of a few influencers focused on realizing global goals irrespective of their outcomes long term or short term.



Do we witness a power shift arising? It apparently does raise more than a few eyebrows as to what the bigger picture of these global NGOS are actually up to – as powerful non-state actors their role can be assimilated to the manner in which the British East India Company managed to run the entire sub-continent during their reign of colonialism. It then becomes no surprise when the “neocolonialism” theme emerges no sooner certain NGOs begin to work outside of their mandate? But then what exactly is their mandate? Thus we see rudiments of imperial commercialism, Christian evangelism tied to the workings of most NGOs – this would explain why many of the world’s NGOs are actually Churches!



While Governments whatever their faults derived their legitimacy from their voters, corporations accountable to their shareholders to whom were NGOs accountable? Is it to the donors who support the work of NGOs, or to official aid agencies & Governments that channel aid through NGOs or should it be to the recipients of NGO assistance? Thus the accountability factor remains unanswered. How credible were their reports that they expressed the “real” voice of the people? From this stems the argument of NGO bias & questions the credibility of mission statements purely because they say they are working towards promoting “universal human rights” against “genocide” & “ethnic cleansing”. The themes of humanitarian law & issues deriving therein have created very powerful groups like Amnesty International (membership of over one & a half million & an annual operating budget of $30million with projects in 140 countries), Human Rights Watch, the Ford Foundation, International Commission of Jurists, Christian Aid etc.



Sri Lanka’s dilemma

The NGOs in Sri Lanka have received continued flak from intellectuals to ordinary common masses – reasons that have enough credibility & give vent to worthy arguments. It also depicts the degree to which most people are alert with regard to the intricate dealings of NGOs in Sri Lanka. There are even Governments who have worked tirelessly to provide respectability to the LTTE globally. Norway’s role immediately comes to mind possibly because it too became independent from Sweden only in 1905 thus their obsession with the right to self-determination for nations – a concept formulated by them & being conveniently used by the LTTE. This will also explain why NGOs like the All Party Solidarity Group for Sri Lanka, Oslo Peace Research Center, Christian Michelsen Institute, World Christian Council of Churches, National Christian Council, National Peace Council, Bergoff Foundation, Center for Policy Alternatives are a few of the organizations set up to legitimize LTTE barbarism. LTTE stands a banned entity in India, US, UK, Europe & Canada, its annual “income” is estimated to be USD3million annually through extortion, scams, illegal dealings, human trafficking, etc. A large amount of money comes through forceful “contributions” to their “cause” while others are through shady dealings using front organizations (NGOs) that promote a front office “humanitarian cause” & its back office takes care of the procurement needs for arms & ammunition. Two front organizations so far have been banned internationally the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization by the US & the World Tamil Movement by Canada. UK has arrested a “few” LTTE operatives but we can wait a desirable increase in these arrests for the LTTE has become a menace to cities of London with their terror & money laundering dealings.

It has been easy to use NGOs to carry out front campaigns for LTTE in Sri Lanka partly due to the inefficiencies of past & present Governments. Over the years they have created socially accepted & elite members that circle the diplomatic functions & society parties & who are able to vilify the terror movement as one which has legitimate rights to fight an armed struggle. To this group of “elite persons” the LTTE are mere “rebels”. “Liberators” & christening them “terrorists” is abhorred. So much so they refrain from even issuing statements no sooner the LTTE carries out their true to form attacks on civilians but emerge no sooner the armed forces take on targeted attacks on LTTE bases. Immediately we see the wire networks being contacted, statements issued portraying a completely different scenario to what has occurred – this is given unprecedented publicity over electronic channels since it meets the objectives of those agendas ….so we have unfortunately an alliance against a legitimate Government which is trying to protect its people from terrorism.

The ineffectiveness of Governments is a secondary matter. The emerging need of the nation is to be liberated of LTTE terrorism. It has been a cancer that has malignant entities in the form of these NGOs who feed its existence. The people of this nation do not have any of the problems that have been portrayed globally. We do have one problem & that is in the form of terrorism & it is this that needs to be nullified & all other matters can be dealt with thereafter.



However, the strength of the NGOs has risen in great proportions & it has become a somewhat invisible force – who they are, what they do, what they want to do are elusive to all of us. The local mouthpieces at work in Sri Lanka are mere stooges playing chorus for monetary advantage…everyone is not born or work to virtues & espouse moral integrity. Yet, the need of the hour for the sake of humanity is to deal with terrorism if that is the real agenda. Somehow, something seems missing in the jigsaw.

It repeatedly calls to mind the British East India Company & applauds the need for the country to be alert at all times.

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SC dismisses two petitions

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Supreme Court dismissed two petitions filed by the UNP challenging the dissolution of North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincil counicils a short while ago.

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A high powered Indian delegation visits Colombo

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A high powered Indian delegation comprising Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Defence Secretary Sri Vijay Singh arrived at the Bandaranaike airport in a special flight at 11.35 am and was flown to Colombo by a chopper.

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Rs.5 million expenditure on two ministers for WC

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Parliament was informed today that Sri Lanka Cricket has incurred an expenditure of Rs. 5 Million on behalf of a cabinet and a non-cabinet minister during the last World Cup.

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Anjaan Umma is safe - Police

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Anjaan Umma is safe and is in an unspecified house in Colombo, Police Media Spokesman, Ranjith Gunasekara said today. She had allegedly called the police and informed them that she was not kidnapped and that she is safe.

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War toll in Sri Lanka jumped 3.6-fold - Study

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The death toll from the conflict in Sri Lanka jumped 3.6 fold during the second half of the 20th century, a British study said today adding that around the globe wars had killed three times more people during the same period than previously estimated.

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Ranil calls for interim Constitution

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By Yohan Perera

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, stressed the need for a new Constitution and called for the setting up of an interim constitution until a new one is drafted.

Mr. Wickremesinghe made this call at a ceremony organized to commemorate the 97th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, in Colombo yesterday.

He said a political solution to the national issue should be an integral part of the Constitution in order to bring peace to the nation and there should be a President who is responsible to Parliament. He also stressed the need for a small Cabinet based on traditional

Sri Lankan values. “This is also an essential need, as Parliament and the Cabinet have become a joke today,” he said.

The Opposition Leader explained that the late Mr. Dudley Senanayake had changed the UNP’s line of thinking and insisted that political and economic freedom should be the right of every citizen. He said this policy had been carried forward by his successors J. R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa who had enshrined these policies in the Constitution.

He also explained that the vote base of the UNP was widened gradually by Mr. Senanayake and this had resulted in an increase in UNP votes from 751,000 in 1956 to 1.5 million in 1965 and then to 3.1 million in 1977, under Mr. J. R. Jayewardene. “It took such a long time for the UNP to build up its vote base,” he said. He added that the party had suffered setbacks -- in 1983, after the racial riots, and in 1991with the defection of Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali. “But now the party is in a strong position,” he said.

Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara said Mr. Senanayake’s policies had been based on Buddhist principles and that was why he had the rare quality of gaining high positions and then resigning when moral considerations impelled him to do so. “This quality of his is an example for today’s politicians,” he said.

The Speaker also stressed that a leader should possess compassion as well as wisdom. “There is no point in possessing wisdom without compassion towards others,” he said.

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, said Mr. Senanayake’s economic policies which were based on agriculture were appropriate for today when the whole world was facing a severe food crisis. “The advice of the West does not suit us any more,” he said.

TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan recalled how hard Mr. Senanayake had toiled to bring about a solution to the national issue and stressed the need for a political solution.

The ceremony brought together members of the UNP Democratic Group such as Hemakumara Nanayakakara and P. Dayaratne, current UNP members such as Johnston Fernando and Lakshman Kiriella and members of the old guard such as Dr. Ranjith Attapattu and Wijepala Mendis to pay tribute to Mr. Senanayake.

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Lal Kantha likens govt. to JR’s, warns of impending doom

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By Gihan de Chickera and Kelum Bandara

The undemocratic policies of the late President J.R Jayewardene has pushed the country towards a bloodbath and the current regime should take note of such lessons from history to prevent the re-emergence of a similar crisis, JVP trade unionist MP K.D Lal Kantha said in Parliament yesterday.

“The country plunged into a bloodbath at the tail-end of President Jayewardene’s rule in the late 80’s, due to his undemocratic actions. This government should learn from the mistakes of previous governments and not suppress democracy in the country, or else a similar crisis may re-surface”, the MP warned, speaking during the Adjournment debate on the non-implementation of the 17th amendment in the House yesterday.

“Today we don’t see any emerging ministers in the government. The President has consolidated his powers over the government and the Cabinet no longer has a voice”, the MP Lal Kantha noted.

He said that since the war had now become a daily routine, it was no longer a political topic amongst the people, currently suffering under severe economic strain and the high cost of living.

“The government wants to maintain the war as its main political tool, but the people’s economic hardships, the threat to democracy and media freedom are now the main issues in the country. This government has no remedy to the present economic crisis and therefore it has called for provincial council elections before it gets even more unpopular”, he said.

The MP warned that by the end of the year, a barrel of crude oil, currently priced at US dollars 137, would rise to US dollars 200. He said the country needed to return to the parliamentary style of politics, as it was undemocratic to vest so much power in an executive president, adding a good balance was needed between the executive, legislative and judiciary, currently not seen in the country.

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Judges’ appointments challengeable without CC: Srikantha

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By Kelum Bandara and Gihan de Chickera

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said in Parliament yesterday Judges had been appointed to both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal without the approval of the Constitutional Council (CC), and therefore, there would be a constitutional confrontation between the executive and the judiciary if someone challenged it legally.

TNA MP for the Jaffna district N. Srikantha pointed this out to the House during the debate on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which provided for the establishment of the independent commissions.

MP Srikantha took the government to task for not constituting the Constitutional Council as required in the Constitution, so that members could be appointed to the independent commissions in an impartial manner. He said Judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal should be appointed with the CC approval only, but there had been a serious deviation from proper procedure in this regard. “If somebody challenges this in the court, there will be a constitutional confrontation between the Judiciary and the Executive, eventually leading to a constitutional deadlock,” he said adding that he hoped President Mahinda Rajapaksa would take serious note of it.

The Tamil legislator said there had been an atrocious disregard for the CC. He said the government could not shirk its responsibility in this regard reasoning that a select committee had been appointed to sort out lacunas in the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. “We flatly reject this argument put forward by the government. A select committee cannot delay the appointment of the CC,” he said.

He said that the CC is part and parcel of the Constitution, which he cited as a living document and nobody can play around with it.

Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe pointed out the first CC appointed under the 17th Amendment was constituted in March 2002 and its term expired in March, 2005. The Minister said that the CC couldn’t start functioning as there was a lack of consensus among the minority parties regarding the tenth nominee to it. “The resulting deadlock meant a situation arose where no fresh appointments to critically important national institutions could be made. Under these circumstances, the State machinery was in danger of grinding to a complete halt,” he said.

As a result, he said the President was compelled to make some appointments to certain institutions.

“Take, for instance, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. If the appointments of five commissioners were not done, the Commission would cease to function as an effective institution. Under the circumstances, the staff of the Commission, the ordinary petitioners who sought relief and matters pending before the Commission could not be proceeded with. It is therefore not only a question of the five individuals who were appointed commissioners. It is a question of an eleven-year old institution of State being rendered non-functional,” he said.

Constitutional Affairs Minister, DEW Gunasekara said the CC has been defunct from March 22, 2005, and it was neither the President nor the government that created this impasse.

The Minister said the problem existed due to the wrangling among the minority parties over their nominee. He said the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was an ill conceived piece of legislation brought to the House hurriedly. “We have identified 15-20 areas where we find flaws and snags in this legislation,” he said adding that a Select Committee was appointed in 2006 to look into this matter and bring about corrective measures.

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PIU finds CEB chairman unfit for post

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The agitation campaign of Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union appeared to have at least partly paid off, when in a confidential report, the Presidential Investigation Unit had stated that the CEB Chairman Udayasiri Kariyawasam was not fit to head any Government institution.
According to well informed sources, the CEB Engineers Union has had access to the confidential report sent to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the Director of the Presidential Investigation Unit, former Senior DIG Thilak Iddamalgoda, The Island learns.
The Unit’s findings, according to sources, are based on a report prepared after an inquiry into Kariyawasam’s activities during his tenure of office as Chairman Bank of Ceylon.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Human rights abuses and technical assistance from the west

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The government's response to human rights violations in Sri Lanka, such as torture, extrajudicial killings and attacks on media personnel is that they are definitely concerned about it, but are unable to prevent it due to the lack of technical assistance, meaning money and experts, from the western countries. The government does not want criticism from western countries or human rights monitors but admits that it needs money and advisors from the west to prevent these abuses. This position is expressed in many different ways and in many different places. This statement examines the validity or otherwise of this position and the implications of taking such a position.

Over a long period of time there have been accusations from the people of the country, from the media and also many organisations about serious human rights abuses. There have been similar allegations from the governments of many countries and also international organisations. The state of Sri Lanka (GOSL) no longer denies such abuses. It goes even further by expressing its concern about such abuses. However, the expression of such concern does not go to the extent of accepting responsibility for such abuses. The gap between expressions of concern and the acceptance of responsibility for such abuses seems to lie, judging by the impression that the GOSL is trying to create, that it is not really within its power to prevent such abuses as it does not get the technical assistance from the west. The GOSL statements therefore urge the western governments to grant such technical assistance urgently and in abundance if the abuse of human rights is to be prevented.

The implications of the GOSL position is that the responsibility for human rights abuse in Sri Lanka lies squarely with the western countries due to their lack of will to provide it with technical assistance. While one country is praised for providing such technical assistance to the fullest in order to improve capacity, others are blamed for not providing such assistance. The GOSL position implies that it is not really in a position to be capable of the prevention of torture, extrajudicial killings and attacks on journalists, to mention a few of the prominent abuses. At the same the GOSL vehemently protests the criticism that it lacks political will to prevent abuse of human rights. The problem, according to these statements is not the lack of political will but the lack of capacity due to the absence of technical assistance from the western countries. With particular regard to impunity, this means that the government does have the political will to prevent impunity but is unable to do so due to the lack of money and experts from the international community, really meaning the western countries.

The question then is as to what are the areas in which the GOSL thinks that it needs technical assistance?

a. Is it in the area of the judiciary?

b. Is it in the area of the system of the prosecutions which in Sri Lanka functions under the Attorney General's Department?

c. Is it in the area of policing, particularly in the branches of the police that deal with investigations into crime which includes gross abuses of human rights?

d. Or is it in the area of constitutional law where some of the basic public institutions are prevented from functioning in the manner required by the constitution due to the non-operation of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution? Or is technical assistance needed to remove the position of superiority and predominance that the executive president in the country holds in relation to the constitution of Sri Lanka, and particularly with regard to the blanket immunity the president enjoys in terms of the constitution?

If the GOSL spells out its needs regarding technical assistance with regard to any of the items mentioned above it would be possible to comprehend what this call for technical assistance is all about, what type of technical assistance would be needed, and anyway, whether any such technical assistance would contribute to the eradication of the human rights abuses that take place in the country.

In considering this question let us take the example relating to torture. There are two types of torture that are revealed from the complaints frequently received. These are the torture that routinely takes place at police stations and the torture that is alleged to take place in the interrogation of suspects relating to the operation of emergency and anti terrorism laws. As there is extensive documentation collected over several years and well publicised on routine police torture perhaps it may be useful to refer to such cases to begin with in seeking clarity as to how technical assistance may or may not be able to prevent such torture.

The High Courts of Sri Lanka have heard several cases of torture under the CAT Act, Act No. 22 of 1994 and have made judgements in some of them. There are three cases in which the High Courts have found the accused police officers to be guilty of torture and have sentenced these officers to the mandatory sentence of seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000/=. These cases are:

Selvin Selah and another vs. State of Sri Lanka - H.C. 966/2002 of Court No. 1 of the Colombo High Court, decided on 20.7.2007. The decision was written by the High Court Judge of Colombo, Upali Aberatne. Kirthi Bandara Edrisinghe - IP vs the State of Sri Lanka - HC 1392/2003 of Court No. 3 of the Colombo High Court. The decision in this case was delivered on 20.8.2004 by the High Court Judge, Eric Bassanayake. And Madiliyawatte Jayalathge Thilankaratne Jayalath vs State of Sri Lanka - HC9775/99 of Colombo High Court No. 2. Decided by S. Sri Skandarajah on 19.1.2004

In these three cases the common feature was that the police officers tortured the victims due to the pressure of an affluent person who had sought the help of the police. The police proceeded, without sufficient evidence to warrant reasonable suspicion and after arrest, tortured these persons. In two instances the affluent complainants watched the torture. Acts of torture for similar reasons have been documented in publicised reports for many years now. Such police torture takes place either to please an affluent complainant, to find a substitute for an uninvestigated crime or due simply to the irritation of one of more police officers, which is the most common explanation for such torture.

There is also a series of cases decided by the Supreme Court in recent times on fundamental rights applications where acts of assault amounting to torture or cruel and other inhuman treatment has taken place at police or military check points. This has been due to either the failure of police officers to obtain some favour, for example in one case, when the driver of a car refused to hand over a bottle of perfume to an officer who demanded it, or due to the failure to pay a sum demanded by an officer. In hundreds of cases decided over several years by the Supreme Court the torture had taken place due to extremely trivial reasons which suggests the absence of even the slightest form of diligence in the performance of duties, such for example as checking the name of a person, manifested by several cases where people have been tortured due to mistaken identity.

The question then is as to why technical assistance by way of foreign experts or foreign money is needed to stop such torture. All that is needed to stop this torture is to give a clear command of disapproval of such arrests and torture and to impose it through the police hierarchy that has command responsibility to prevent such actions. Though this may sound simple in theory in practice it is not so. It requires political will to act since such behaviour has been allowed in the past for many years. Anyone who tries to impose discipline will be seen to be acting outside the convenient practices prevailing in the institution. Any police officer who dares to act to end these things must face opposition from those who are accustomed to such a convenient way of living. While an exceptionally daring officer may try this others will do so only if there is a clear political will expressed openly by the government which supports such officers who are diligent, honest and committed. However, if the general perception is that such an officer may not only be opposed by rank and file but also be undermined by the political establishment, it is not possible to prevent the type of torture that is taking place in the police stations of Sri Lanka.

What this clearly illustrates is that it is not the lack of finances or experts from the west that is making it difficult to eliminate torture but a clear lack of political will to stop torture. Even if foreign experts were to come or a foreign government to provide money, this situation will not change. The foreign experts can give any amount of training but the institutional habits protected by interest groups cannot be changed by such training.

Therefore the argument that torture in Sri Lanka takes place due to the absence of technical assistance from foreign countries is an argument that contradicts experience. It is clearly a matter of the absence of political will on the part of the state to stop the torture practiced at police stations.

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Indiatex 2008 trade fair from June 26

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Powerloom Development and Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL), will be holding a buyer seller meet Indiatex 2008, on June 26 in Colombo. The two day fair will provide a perfect platform to the manufacturers for showcasing their products.

The producers and exporters who are members of PDEXCIL will be participating in order to build new business contacts and venture into new deals for earning high revenues. The buyers and sellers are expected to make the best use of the opportunity as they come face to face.

The event has been organized 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 organizers are anticipating participation of a lot of enterprises along with large number of visitors.

The two day summit will be inaugurated by Mr Welgama, Minister for Industry Development and Mr Chandrasekar, Minister for Employment.

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TJL set to become the largest weft knit fabric unit

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Textured Jersey Lanka (TJL) has recently completed its new major phase of development to become the largest weft knit fabric manufacturer of the country, housing some of the finest modern dye houses.

TJL’s customer profile includes UK’s Next and Marks and Spencer, USA’s Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Ann Taylor and Italian Intimissimi.

Local manufacturers making up the fabric for export include MAS, Brandix, Martins, Hirdaramani and Omega Line.

Inaugurated by the US Ambassador Robert O Blake, the company is employing a team of over 1,200 within its 18 acre green field site at the Seethawaka International Industrial Park.

Already, the apparel industry represents the leading edge of manufacturing success in Sri Lanka. Companies like Brandix, and now Textured Jersey Lanka, demonstrate the potential for firms in other domestic industries to make it big as exporters of top quality manufactured goods.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Blake said, “This is an important occasion, not just for Brandix and its partners, but also as a mark of progress towards greater integration in Sri Lankan apparel industry. By bringing fabric production on shore, the company is diversifying the industry and reducing costs. These together will enhance your efficiency and competitiveness.”

He further noted, “Brandix and its fellow apparel firms can be proud of the vital role they play in Sri Lankan economy. Garment exports had another great year in 2007, generating US $3.3 billion, or over 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s total 7.7 billion dollars in exports. In fact, the United States bought about half of those garments, so there is no question but that the United

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Local medical team visits Myanmar

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A medical team has been dispatched from Sri Lanka to assist measures in Myanmar to prevent its cyclone victims from succumbing to epidemics.
According to the ministry of health the team left for Myanmar on Wednesday on a request made by the Myanmar Ambassador in Sri Lanka.
In addition the ministry will also provide medical equipment and medicine worth 30 million rupees to the cyclone victims. The Sri Lankan medical team will engage in treating victims in remote areas for period of two weeks.

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Pillayan seeks foreign help for East

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Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan is to meet the heads of diplomatic missions based in the country to discuss the present situation in the Eastern Province and obtain foreign funds for development work.
The Chief Minister’s Co-ordinating Secretary Azad Maulana said that dates are yet to be fixed for such meetings.
Mr. Maulana said that Mr. Chandrakanthan also met Senior Presidential Advisor and MP Basil Rajapaksa and Resettlement and Relief Services Minister Rizard Bathiudeen during the last few days regarding development activities to be launched in the East.
He said that the foremost priority would be given to resettle and rehabilitate people affected by war.
Improvement in the educational sphere is also on the top of our agenda, he said. We are also planning to meet Engineering Construction Minister Rajitha Seneviratne, he said
Meanwhile, the Eastern Provincial Council has decided to appoint a ‘deputy secretary’ to overlook the resettlement work. Provincial Health Minister M.L.A.M. Hisbullah said it is planned to develop the Trincomalee Base Hospital, with assistance from the line Ministry and USAID. He said the Health Ministry had agreed to establish para medical training centres in the province.
“The World Health Organization will help us in this regard. Besides, I had talks with Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge regarding development of sports activities. We have planned to establish three fully fledged sports complexes for each district in the east,” he said.

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NLF to go it alone

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The Jathika Nidahas Peramuna is planning to contest the forthcoming Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Council elections on its own -- once the Elections Commissioner recognises the party, party leader Wimal Weerawansa MP said.
“We had a formal and cordial discussion with Elections
Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayaka on Tuesday afternoon. He said that he would convey his decision on the registration of the JNP shortly; hopefully, during the course of next week. We have no doubt that the decision will be a positive one,” Mr. Weerawansa said.
.Referring to the party’s preparations for the PC elections, he said the grassroots level organizations of the party had requested the Central Committee to nominate party front liner, Kalutara District MP Piyasiri Wijenayaka, as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the North Central Province and another party strongman Senarathna De Silva as the Chief Ministerial aspirant to the Sabaragamuwa Province. The JNP will take a final decision at its Central Committee meeting scheduled to be held at the end of this week.
Asked about the possibility of Gampaha District MP Anjaan Umma, who officially left the JVP on Tuesday, joining the JNP, Mr. Weerawansa did not rule out such a move.

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UPFA gears for polls

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A nine-member high powered steering committee has been appointed by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to carry out its political campaign at the forthcoming Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Councils, sources said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed this special committee which Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake will lead. The other members were Ministers Maithripala Sirisena, Susil Premjayantha, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Dallas Allahapperuma, A.H.M. Fowzie and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa.
Informed sources said that the committee was tasked to organize all the activities in connection with the PCs polls.
It is also learnt that more Parliamentarians and Provincial Councils members had been also asked to assist the new committee.
Meanwhile, the UPFA has decided to give nominations to all the members of the previous Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Councils, at the forthcoming PC polls.
Sources said that the decision to name earlier members of the two PCs had been taken by a Party’s committee appointed to make the nominations from the party.
They said that all the members had been summoned to Colombo on June 24 to Colombo to discuss matters further.
The two Provincial Councils were dissolved early this month by the two respective Governors. Later the Elections Department announced that the nominations will be accepted between June 27 and July 4.
The date of the elections will be announced later.

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Mervyn evade hearing on assaulting SLRC News Director

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The Human Rights Commission today (June 19th) took up a complaint filed by four media organizations against Minister Mervyn Silva for assaulting the former News Director of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, T.M.G. Chandrasekera.
Though the minister informed to appear before the HRC at the hearing, he has failed to do so.
On 2007 December 27th, Labour Minister Mervyn Silva and a group of thugs entered the SLRC premises and assaulted the state owned institution’s News Director.
Subsequently, a heated situation took place as the angered SLRC workers hurled their fury on the attackers.
Minister Silva was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital with head injuries while one of his accomplices, Kudu Lal was arrested by the police and produced before the courts.
Later, Kudu Lal was released on bail.
Following this incident, three more SLRC workers were attacked in separate incidents while two others received death threats.
On the face of protests conducted by media organizations, trade unions and political parties, even President Mahinda Rajapaksa was compelled to intervene and a three-man ministerial committee was set up to probe into the crisis.
However, this committee is yet to issue a report on the matter.

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Hong Kong Government agrees to provide legal assistance in criminal matters

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Agreement between the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK SAR) of the People's Republic of China concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters was signed on the 16th of June 2008 at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. While Secretary, Ministry of Justice Mr. Suhada Gamalath signed on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, Secretary for Security of the Department of Justice, Mr Ambrose S K Lee signed on behalf of the Government of the HK SAR.
On an initiative by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the commencement of negotiations between the two parties began in early 2003 with a view to further enhance co-operation between the two countries to combat criminal activities, drug trafficking and the scourge of terrorism.
The objective of the Agreement is to improve the effectiveness of Law Enforcement of both Parties in the investigation, prosecution and prevention of crime and the confiscation of criminal proceeds.
The scope of assistance covered by the Agreement include identifying and locating persons, the service of judicial documents, the obtaining of statements and evidence from persons, executing requests for search and seizure and the tracing and confiscation of proceeds and instrumentalities of criminal activities.
It will also improve implementation of the bilateral Extradition Treaty that is already in force between Hong Kong and Sri Lanka thus providing a comprehensive legal framework for mutual judicial cooperation between Sri Lanka and HK SAR. During discussion between the two delegations that led to the conclusion of this Treaty, both sides expressed their determination to redouble efforts to eradicate the scourge of terrorism and to use this Treaty as an instrument to that end.
The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing re-activated the scrutiny procedure early this year, to enable both parties to conclude the Agreement without further delays.

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BOI signed 6 investment project agreements

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The Sri Lanka Board of Investment have signed 06 investment project agreements valued over 15 million Rupees. More than 1100 employment opportunities are to be created.

The New Medicare Hospitals Private Limited has entered in to an agreement with the Board for the construction of a fully fledged Hospital Complex at a cost of 1.3 million Dollars.

Other investment projects are related to tyre production deal and setting up of trade centers for exportation of Granite.

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New Lankan envoy to Qatar named

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VIJAYASIRI Padukkage, a career diplomat, is to replace S B Atugoda as the next ambassador of Sri Lanka in Doha.
Atugoda, who relinquished duty this week as the envoy, left Doha on Monday at the end of his three-year tenure. He has been the ambassador in Doha since April 2005.
Padukkage, 50, is currently the acting director-general of United Nations Human Rights and Multilateral Affairs. Earlier, he has served as minister counsellor at the permanent mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, in New York. He is expected to arrive in Doha in about a month.
During the tenure of Atugoda, a career diplomat, he worked hard to improve the bilateral relations between Qatar and Sri Lanka. Also, the profile of the Sri Lankan expatriates in Qatar changed from that of unskilled workers to skilled workers and professionals.
The strength of the community grew rapidly to the current count of 130,000.
His tenure also saw the formation of an umbrella federation uniting all the community social organisations in Qatar. All the disparate bodies now come under the Sri Lankan Co-ordinating Committee.
Also during his tenure, Sri Lankan construction companies won several contracts to build houses in Qatar, said A Dharmakulasingham, the charge d’affaires at the embassy. These contracts amounted to up to $300mn.
Dharmakulasingham, who came to Doha last month, replaced A G Abeysekara, who has returned to Colombo. Abeysekara, who went back to the foreign ministry, had been in Qatar since March 2005.
Both Atugoda and Abeysekara were given a fond farewell by the community last month. They said they had enjoyed their stay in Qatar and had immensely gained from their experience here.

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Law to protect rights of maids

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Qatar’s advisory council has approved a draft law that seeks to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers and improve their working conditions, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The 26-article of law will now go to Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for final approval, the Gulf Times daily reported after an Advisory Council meeting on Monday. The council is like a parliament but cannot legislate. Thousands of women from South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines, work as maids and nannies for families across the Gulf region.

Arab governments have been criticised by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, for failing to curb serious abuses suffered by some of these maids in their countries. Under the draft law in Qatar, domestic workers would be able to take disputes to a new department set up in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Employers would have to pay all expenses related to recruiting maids, including visa fees, without deducting the expenses from the employee’s salary, according to the draft law.

“This article is meant to combat possible human trafficking and other practices of exploitation,” said the report. The draft law also calls for domestic workers to receive three weeks holiday a year and one paid day off each week. Workers should receive their monthly salary by the third day of every month, it added. Employers face imprisonment and fines of up to 10,000 Qatar riyals ($2,747) for violating the law, the paper said. Asian workers fill all sorts of low-paid construction, domestic, retail, manufacturing and agricultural jobs across the world’s biggest oil-exporting region.

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Give estate workers a wage hike: Sathasivam

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By S.S.Selvanayagam
In the face of the high cost of living and the recent increase in the price of fuel, the Estate Workers’ Alliance urged the Labour Minister to increase the wages of the estate workers, not considering the relevant Collective Agreement.

General Secretary of the Alliance S.Sathasivam, who is also an advisor to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a memorandum to Labour Minister Athauda Seneviratne, pushed for the wage increase to plantation workers and cautioned that failure to act in this issue will leave the plantation workers with no alternative but to call for trade union action.He brought to the notice of the Labour Minister that the plantation workers are experiencing lot of difficulties in their day to day living due to the high cost of living. He said estate workers are not only working for their living but are responsible for generating a huge amount of foreign exchange into the country as well.

He said this as he had learnt that the Labour Minister was considering increasing the salaries of private sector employees from 15% to 25%.

Although the Collective Agreement is an obstacle for the wage increase of plantation sector employees, he insisted the Minister treat plantation workers as much as he did workers in the private sector and consider giving them a reasonable wage increase, in accordance with the high cost of living.

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Chinese company gets contract for construction at Lanka port

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The government of Sri Lanka has offered a leading Chinese company the contract to build a fuel tank farm and bunkering facility at the new harbour at Hambantota in the southern part of the country, a media report said here Thursday.

'The unsolicited project proposal sent by the China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corporation for building the bunkering facility and tank farm at the Hambantota harbour has been approved by the project committee and the cabinet-appointed negotiations committee.

According to the agreement, the total value of the project would be $76.5 million and it would be completed by 2010.

A set of fuel tanks, bunkering facilities, aviation fuel storage facilities and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage facilities will be built as part of the project at Hambantota, about 230 km south of Colombo.

The facilities would be constructed in such a way that they would be able to operate independently with separate loading arms and pipelines connecting the oil and gas jetty.

There is a proposal to take a loan for the project from the Exim Bank in China, a spokesman of the government of Sri Lanka said.

The Hambantota Port Development Project consists of four stages and is expected to be completed within 15 years. Under the first phase of the project, an industrial port with a 1,000 metre jetty and an oil refinery estimated to cost $1 billion would be constructed.

Although the Hambantota port was initially planned as a service and industrial port, it is expected to be developed as a trans-shipment port at a later stage to handle 20 million containers per year.

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Govt. launches war on media not terror - UNP

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UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara accused the government of launching a war on media not on terror. He made this statement today in parliament.

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Five Sri Lankans die in Doha fire

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Five Sri Lankans have died in a fire accident in Doha, Qatar, midnight yesterday. Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Chairman, Kingsley Ranawaka said that immediate measures will be taken in collaboration with the Sri Lankan embassy there. Two more Sri Lankans are said to be critical.

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Ban on Deeghavapiya housing project extended

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The Supreme Court today extended the stay order against granting permits or leasing out any land or housing unit from the Norochcholai Housing Project situated in Deeghavapiya, Ampara. The order was issued in sequel to a fundamental rights case filed by Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero and a group of other monks.

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Law to protect rights of maids

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DUBAI: Qatar’s advisory council has approved a draft law that seeks to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers and improve their working conditions, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The 26-article of law will now go to Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for final approval, the Gulf Times daily reported after an Advisory Council meeting on Monday. The council is like a parliament but cannot legislate. Thousands of women from South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines, work as maids and nannies for families across the Gulf region.

Arab governments have been criticised by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, for failing to curb serious abuses suffered by some of these maids in their countries. Under the draft law in Qatar, domestic workers would be able to take disputes to a new department set up in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Employers would have to pay all expenses related to recruiting maids, including visa fees, without deducting the expenses from the employee’s salary, according to the draft law.

“This article is meant to combat possible human trafficking and other practices of exploitation,” said the report. The draft law also calls for domestic workers to receive three weeks holiday a year and one paid day off each week. Workers should receive their monthly salary by the third day of every month, it added. Employers face imprisonment and fines of up to 10,000 Qatar riyals ($2,747) for violating the law, the paper said. Asian workers fill all sorts of low-paid construction, domestic, retail, manufacturing and agricultural jobs across the world’s biggest oil-exporting region.

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"We respects Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity" - Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister

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Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen has stressed that policies guiding their engagement with Sri Lanka remain firm and will not change.

In light of the recent public debate about Norwegian policy towards Sri Lanka, the Deputy Norwegian Minister in a statement said Norway is fully committed to assisting Sri Lanka in finding a solution to the national conflict, while respecting the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Norwegian government had to issue this statement after a Norwegian ruling party Councillor had stated during a pro LTTE rally that the Tamil people deserve a free and independent country. The pro LTTE website had attacked all Western countries and India who are making statements supportive of Sri Lanka's sovereignty.

Meanwhile political analysts point out that although the Government of Norway facilitated six rounds of 'peace talks' between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the LTTE continued to violate provisions stipulated in the agreements including killing civilians, depriving the rights of Tamil civilians lived in the non-liberated areas, and smuggled weapons into the country, forcing the Government of Sri Lanka to abrogate the Ceasefire Agreement that Norway brokered between the two parties.

The Government of Sri Lanka has categorically announced that the LTTE should first disarm as a non-negotiable pre-condition for future talks aimed at resolving the conflict.

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LTTE intelligence leader for Trincomalee south killed

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Sri Lanka army soldiers have gunned down the LTTE intelligence wing leader of the Trincomalee South region at Manachchena, 2 km North of Pahala Thopoor this morning (June 19). According to the defence sources in the area, the terrorist identified as Soundarajan alias Thangan has been hunted down by soldiers whilst being engaged in a cordon and search operation around 9.30 am.

Soundarajan was the successor of Arichchellwam who was also gunned down by army in January this year. A micro pistol, 3 magazines and a pistol pouch have been found in the possession of the slain terror leader.

The sources further revealed, that the slain terror leader was the head of the special LTTE team sent to the east to disrupt the prevailing normalcy in the area.

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Gota: let us zero-in-on the common enemy

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by Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa wants the UNP to stop playing politics with the ongoing war effort against the LTTE.

In an interview with The Island, Rajapaksa regretted the UNP-led Opposition had chosen to undermine the military campaign which he asserted was on track despite the LTTE and its sympathisers frantically fighting to save the day.

Fielding questions, the outspoken official said the Opposition could play a constructive role, thereby facilitating the military effort against the common enemy. "We need to zero-in-on-the enemy. Unfortunately politicians are distracted and seem interested in petty squabbles, jeopardising the war effort."

"Unfortunately, in the eyes of some, I am a traitor," the retired infantry officer said, accusing the Opposition of conveniently turning a blind eye to what he called significant progress on the battle-field. No one would deny their right to attack the ruling coalition over spiralling cost of living, waste, corruption and irregularities, but the war against terrorism should not in anyway become an issue, he said.

He regretted the Opposition hadn't acknowledged the significance of break-up of the LTTE triggered by one-time Batticaloa leader Karuna, clearing of the Eastern Province of the LTTE, the breakaway faction contesting local government elections and provincial council election on the government ticket and the gradual disintegration of the enemy's Vanni bases. The Defence Secretary urged the Opposition not to throw a lifeline to the common enemy now struggling on the Vanni and Welioya fronts. He said the Opposition's strategy had allowed LTTE's overseas supporters to constantly meddle in what he called an essentially a domestic issue.

Recently UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe accused Rajapaksa of deserting the army in the early 90s and went on to call him a traitor.

Rajapaksa said he would have expected to heavy attacks on himself if he had signalled any interest in entering politics. "I have absolutely no interest in politics." he said. Rajapaksa emphasised that he would never seek to take political advantage over his critical role in what is widely believed to be the most successful campaign in the Eelam war.

The three service chiefs were responsible for the implementation of the overall security strategy, and the government was confident of their ability and capacity to execute the war successfully, he said, stressing the pivotal importance of the government and the Opposition co-operating on the war effort.

Drawing attention to a spate of indiscriminate attacks on public transport in the city, its suburbs and the provinces, Rajapaksa warned the Opposition not to shirk its responsibility. "Whatever our differences on other issues including the economy, there should be a common approach towards terrorism," he said. The country would never have another opportunity to wipe out the LTTE.

According to the Defence Secretary, the combined security forces were making significant progress on the Vanni front. The army on Mannar (Task Force 1), Vavuniya (57 Division), Welioya (59 Division) and Omanthai west (61 Division) fronts were gradually taking over enemy territory, he said. Although the LTTE would continue to make attempts to bring in fresh supplies, recruit more cadres and adopt new tactics, security forces had the wherewithal to meet any eventuality.

Commending the Canadian ban on the World Tamil Movement, a major supplier of funds to the LTTE war chest, the Defence Secretary said the Canadian action could not have come at a better time. "We expect other governments to follow the Canadian example." The international community no longer could encourage terrorism by turning a blind eye to massive fund raising operations undertaken by various groups, he said.

Hard on the heels of the Canadian action, the Italian government arrested 30 LTTE activists engaged in a major extortion racket. The Defence Secretary said the government was confident that the ongoing crackdown on the LTTE in various parts of the world would facilitate the destruction of the group. He accused a section of the Opposition of coming to the enemy's rescue as the military turned the heat on the Vanni.

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Wanni operations continue; 5 terrorists killed over 11 wounded in yesterday's clashes

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Troops continued their multi front assaults at LTTE defences in the Wanni, causing heavy damages to the terrorists in yesterday's (June 18) operations. According to the finalized military reports received from the warfronts in Jaffna and Wanni theaters of operations, 5 terrorists were killed, 11 sounded and 42 more were recorded as either killed or wounded. Also, 3 soldiers laid down their lives in the battlefield while 15 suffered injuries.

In the Jaffna Theater of battle, troops attacked a group of LTTE terrorists detected ahead of Muhamalai defence early last morning. Ground sources confirmed that 2 terrorists were either killed or wounded . Meanwhile, 2 soldiers suffered injuries due to anti personal (AP) mine explosion occurred in the same area during morning hours.

In the Wanni theatre of operations, troops confronted with a group of terrorists in the Periyamadhu area last evening. A soldier was killed and 5 others injured in this incident while no details available on terror casualties. Meanwhile, 2 soldiers suffered injuries due to an explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Chiraddikulama area in same evening while another soldier was injured in an AP mine explosion occurred in the Kayamoddai in the morning.

Troops engaged in clearing operations, removed 119 AP mines from Periyamadhu area during the day.

On the Welioya front, troops marching ahead in the Mulaithiuvu jungles had a series of clashes in the North of Janakapura and North of Kiriibbanwewa during the day and claimed 3 terrorists killed , 11 wounded and 40 others were killed or wounded. In addition, one soldier was killed 4 others suffered injuries during these clashes. Troops captured an LTTE bunker located in the North of Janakapura and found 2, T-65 riffles, 3000 ammo, 25 hand grenades and 6 RPG rounds, during subsequent search operations. Further, during the search operations, troops removed 25 AP mines, 2 trapped mortars and 2 hand grenades.

On the Mannar front , troops ambushed a group of LTTE terrorist in the Parappakadaththan area last evening and claimed 2 terrorists were killed.

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2 Police constables killed by alleged LTTE gunmen- Ampara

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Two Police constables attached to the Samanthurai Police were shot dead by alleged LTTE gunmen this morning (June 19), while heading towards Kalmunai along the Akkaraipattuwa- Kalmunai main road at the Tharawakovil junction in Ampara district, at around 8.45a.m.

The victims were identified as Constable S. Ramesh and Constable S. Gasali who were riding towards the Kalmunai courts' on a motorbike. The assailants have come on a motorbike, opened fire at the Policemen killing them on the spot and fled the scene immediately, sources said citing witnesses.

The bodies of the two constables killed were kept at the Kalmunai Ashroff hospital for postmortem and magistrate inquires.

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Public help sought: Reward Rs.1 Million

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Police seek public assistance to trace a blue colour Hero Honda 100 CC motor cycle bearing number WP UD 2643 which may be used for terrorist activities. The reward for a successful lead is Rs. 1 Million.

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Govt heading for dictatorship - UNP

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UNP Parliamentarian Joseph Michael Perera said in Parliament today that the government is heading for dictatorship by not appointing Constitutional Council.

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Two persons shot dead in Ambalangoda

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Two persons were shot dead moments ago in Madampe, Ambalangoda by an unidentified gang. Police are conducting inquiries into the shooting.

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CEB engineers threaten to create darkness at noon

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By Sandun A Jayasekera

The CEB engineers are threatening to plunge the country into darkness unless their two demands, including the immediate removal of chairman Udayasiri Kariyawasam, were met before next Wednesday.

Until then the 500 odd members of the CEB Engineers Union will launch a work-to-rule campaign from today. The Union in an extra ordinary meeting held on Tuesday had decided to give an ultimatum of one week to the Government to meet its demands to prevent a general strike which would result a total breakdown of electricity supply to the country, CEBEU president Jayawilal Meegoda told the Daily Mirror yesterday.

The other demand is to permit engineers to import vehicles under duty concessions.

“There is no rapport between Mr. Kariyawasam and the CEBEU members and we are on a non-cooperation course for the last 40 days. He has been an impediment to our work. As the CEB is supplying a vital public utility, there must be close cooperation between the administration and the engineers which is not forthcoming,” Mr. Meegoda told the Daily Mirror.

He alleged the chairman meets the board of directors only once a month and even in that meeting 95% of vital board papers which need immediate approval are rejected. This has become a drawback for the smooth functioning of the day to day work of the corporation, he said.

There is a shortage of about 400 electrical engineers. The Cabinet had made a policy decision to recruit 200 of them some two months back. But Mr. Kariyawasam was still sitting on the Cabinet decision. What ever suggestions are given by engineers for the improvement of the CEB and its services are arbitrarily turned down by the chairman even without checking their merits or demerits. He is simply obstructing our work, Mr. Meegoda charged.

“We want a professional who has knowledge in this field. We also want to raise the ‘procurement limit’ from the present three million rupees which was set five years ago,” he said.

The engineers must be granted the duty concessions given to other professionals and senior public servants to import vehicles. Every month two or three engineers are leaving the country for greener pastures as they are not treated properly in their own country, he said.

Commenting on the proposed Sri Lanka Electricity Bill which was withdrawn by the Power and Energy Minister W D.J.Seneviratna, Mr. Meegoda said the CEBEU will start an indefinite struggle if the Minister presents the Bill in Parliament without incorporating its amendments.

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JVPers arrested with equipment meant for disabled soldiers

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by Saman Indrajith and Norman Palihawadane

The Welikada Police yesterday recovered a massive stock of crutches, wheel chairs and equipment meant for war heroes allegedly stolen by the JVP and arrested two party activists.

The equipment was worth over two million rupees and had been sent by Lankan expatriates in United Arab Emirates to the Manel Mal Movement. Stored initially at the MMM head office , they had been taken away by a JVP member in Rajagiriya.

Following Wimal Weerawansa’s breakaway, the PNM severed connections with the JVP and the MMM requested the JVP to return the wheel chairs and crutches. Since the requests had been turned down, the MMM’s Chief Executive Officer Anura Atapattu complained to the Welikada Police last week.

OIC of the Welikada Police CI Neville Silva said the stock of wheel chairs and crutches had been recovered from a house in Obeysekerapura in Rajagiriya.

The police had also arrested two persons for illegal possession of items belonging to the MMM, and investigations were on, he told The Island.

The suspects were due to be produced before Magistrate yesterday, police said.

JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said the PNM, MMM and JVP were the same. Purchase of the stock of wheelchairs and crutches had been funded by the JVP members in the United Arab Emirates while he was the International Affairs Secretary of the Party. "These items were bought and stored at a place belonging to JVP members. The owner of the place later wanted them removed for want of space and we shifted them to another location. But, there was no stealing. They had been sent by our members thus they belong to the party," he said.

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Ven. Amila slams govt over PC polls

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By Saman Indrajith
The Pro-JVP National Bhikkhu Front has condemned the decision to call for elections to the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces as it would be detrimental to the ongoing war effort.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Chairman of the NBF, Dambara Amila Thera said the priority need was to concentrate all resources and efforts to wipe out the LTTE and to liberate the remaining areas currently under their control. He accused the government of mixing up its priorities.


He said the Government should have spent taxpayers’ money to rehabilitate areas liberated from the LTTE recently without squandering money on elections which the people weren’t interested in. This would only demoralize the security forces, he said, asserting that redeployment of security forces and police to facilitate provincial council elections would cause a severe shortage of personnel for anti-terrorist operations.

General Secretary of the NBF, Attanayale Samitha Thera condemned the Government for giving importance to electioneering when its main concern should have been mobilizing the funds to end the LTTE once and for all. "When the Government shifts its concentration from the war against terrorism towards polling higher number of votes and winning more of seats, the LTTE would gain time to re-strengthen. At this point that’s what the LTTE needs. Thus this election craze of the Government should be rejected by the patriotic forces," the Thera said.

"There are so-called patriots holding the JHU and NFF banners calling upon the Government to set the country on war footing and end the LTTE militarily. They do not utter a single word against the Government’s absurd action of going for provincial elections and thereby allowing a free time for the LTTE indirectly."

The JHU and NFF were props of the Government, Amila Thera said. "The Government makes use of these props in its power hungry plans of winning the two provinces."

National Organizer of the NBF Kalawelgala Chandraloka thera and Media Secretary of the NBF, Wakamulle Uditha Thera also addressed the press.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Allianz Lanka geared to provide Title Insurance

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Property transactions in Sri Lanka can now have a title insurance cover from the world’s largest general insurer to fall back on, in case something is wrong with the property’s title. Allianz Lanka, the local arm of Munich-based financial services conglomerate Allianz SE, is now fully equipped to provide corporates and individuals in Sri Lanka with title insurance cover.
On board at Allianz Lanka is an experienced team of underwriters, supported by a team of legal experts, with the capability of processing all documentation to offer title insurance covers within 24 hours.
The new unit comes in the wake of the recently set up D&O (Directors’ and Officers’ Liability) Insurance unit, and is part of Allianz’s expansionist plans for the future.
Allianz Title Insurance is vital when it is necessary to establish ownership to a property when obtaining a loan from a lending institution by morgaging personal property, or when buying or selling property. Allianz Title Insurance protects a potential owner of a property against loss from legal defects in the property’s title, either from any litigation that may arise as a result of a defective title, or by compensating him for financial loss associated with such a defect. Residential as well as commercial properties are covered by the Allianz Title Insurance policies.
“It is prudent for companies to protect themselves from as many potential risks as possible. Mitigating risk should be part and parcel of all property transactions, and protecting assets from issues as potentially debilitating as title defects should be a necessity, especially if they involve significant levels of capital,” Allianz CEO Surekha Alles noted. Title insurance is of two types: Lenders title insurance and Owner’s title insurance. The former is issued to mortgage lenders like banks and other financial institutions when issuing a loan, and protects the lender’s interests in the property in case a problem with the title arises. The policy amount decreases each year and eventually disappears as the loan is paid off.

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LOLC introduces Islamic banking solutions

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Lanka ORIX Leasing Company PLC (LOLC), ventures into a range of Shari’ah compliant financial products in Islamic banking as an initiative to tap the growing market concern.
Head of Branch, LOLC, Shiraz Refai said that they will continue to make a vital contribution towards the growth in this sector through innovative services availble in other parts of the globe.
“This initiative is a step taken towards enhancing quality of products and providing a wider range of fanatical solutions which will also merge with religious and cultural needs of Islamic communities, which is a growing need and of which only around 20 per cent market has been taped in Sri Lanka, he said. We are the only Central Bank approved product to mobilise Shari’ah compliment deposits, which is a wonderful way with many banking benefits,” he stressed.
Speaking of LOLC’s decision to introduce Islamic financing , he said, “ The entry of LOLC Group into the arena of Islamic financing will add momentum to the growth of the product innovation and countrywide distribution through its strategically placed branch network, he said. We in the future wish to venture into regional markets like India and Malaysia where we see lot of potential in, with this special product”.
With US$ 600 billion asset base and a 35 percent annual growth as in last year’s survey, even the non-Islamic communities, around the globe, see Shari’ah as a very beneficial financial solution, where world commerce: financial institutions and education are giving importance to Islamic finance: this has evolved from being a niche market to becoming a mainstream component of global banking and is recognised by international bankers and economists, he added.
President Shari’ah Supervisory Board LOLC Shakih Fisil Farook said that this system will be more successful once it reaches communities across the country, towards which LOLC is working hard. The newly set up unit will be manned by well trained individuals in Islamic trade to implement the best quality of product Shari’ah, he said. We wish that LOLC will be the best financial solution provider, with the new venture into Islamic banking, he added.
The Islamic Banking Unit - Shari’ah will contain and offer services under Ijarah (Leasing), Murabaha (Trade Finance), Mudhabarah (Profit Sharing Investments) and Diminishing Mushrakah (Property Financing), and will be supervised by the Shari’ah supervisory board in order to assure that the services are strictly guided by the Shari’ah principles.

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SLMC and WPF to form alliance

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The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Western Peoples Front (WPF), two minority parties, held discussions last week to form an alliance, party sources said.
“Both parties representing the Tamil speaking minorities have realised the historical necessity for this”, a joint statement issued by the two parties said.
The SLMC has also expressed its willingness to participate in the human rights campaign, the Civil Monitoring Committee of which Mano Ganesan is the convener.
The press communiqu‚ further said: “SLMC and WPF both will work together in a loose alliance with United National Party in the opposition. Talks covered many political issues including that of examining methods to be carried out at the time of any future elections. Both sides have agreed to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between two parties”
Parliamentarian Saffeek Rajabdeen and Western Provincial Councilor Praba Ganesan have been nominated to head respective committees of SLMC and WPF.
This joint committee is entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a draft for the MoU. Initial talks were held at SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem’s residence in Colombo.
Rauf Hakeem with members of the SLMC high command participated at the talks while Mano Ganesan and General Secretary Dr. Nalliah Kumaraguruparan MMC represented WPF.

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Sri Lanka advised to launch ‘image building’

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Sri Lanka was recently advised to launch an aggressive image building campaign to make it much easier to attract new investments to the country.
High Commissioner for Australia in Colombo, Ms. Kathay Klugman recently addressing the Sri Lanka - Australia - New Zealand Business Council acknowledging the difficulties faced by the local business community in doing business with Australia said: “Business community is left with less options due to the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka. What needs to be done is image building by the Sri Lankan High Commission in Australia. When Australians contact us in Colombo we do the same by giving success stories which will encourage them to start doing business with Sri Lanka. However, if there is an escalation of conflict, the image building efforts has to be very aggressive.”
High Commissioner in her capacity to develop the bilateral trade relations stated that Australia is keen on staring renewable energy investment in Sri Lanka.
“I have met Basil Rajapaksa and have discussed how Australia could start a new business venture while help reducing the energy cost of the nation. This is to introduce Australian solar technologies and renewable energy programmes to the Eastern part of Sri Lanka. However, these will be on a commercial basis but not as grants. Investments are welcome to Australia and the Government has already identified 27 areas which need to be liberalised after discussing with the State Governments,” she added.
Commenting on the regional growth and the Australia’s role, the High Commissioner went on to say that China and India has already strengthened its ties with Australia which will have a good impact on other countries in the region.
“The newly elected Government in Australia is very much concerned in building presence in the region. China happens to be one of the largest trading partners of Australia. The links with India is growing rapidly as it has become an outward looking country during the last few years. They try to fore see the country’s requirements which has made them to open-up,” she explained.

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400 million more dumped for new PC polls

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With government coffers drying up, the Treasury is looking for ways to find another Rs.400 million to hold the Central Provincial and the Sabaragamuwa Council Elections, finance sources say.
The recently held Eastern Provincial Council election and Eastern local government elections cost the government nearly Rs 260 million.
Meanwhile the government also raised a syndicate loan of US$150 million from the international money market.
Earlier the government borrowed US 500 million and US$ 50 million at a high commercial rate from international banks.
“When people are wondering how to survive due to the soaring food and oil prices, burdening people with another Rs.400 million debt is a case of sending them from the frying pan to the fire’’, JVP Spokesman Vijitha Herath said.
He said that those two Councils were elected for four years but the Government got the Chief Ministers to propose their dissolution purely for petty political reasons. .
“We are trying our best to block these elections by taking legal action as the people of this country cannot be burdened with unnecessary expenses’’, Herath said.
Meanwhile, the opposition UNP filed two petitions in the Supreme Court against the dissolution of the two provincial councils last Friday.

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Army Chief meets his ground commanders in Jaffna

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Commander of the Army Lt. General Sarath Fonseka, alert to the most recent security concerns unfolding in the northern Jaffna peninsula, following a couple of outbreaks of LTTE violence received an update from Jaffna Commander and respective Division and Brigade commanders when he met them Tuesday (17) morning at Jaffna Headquarters.

Lieutenant General Fonseka during his meeting with those Commanders highlighted the importance of looking into all the needs of the soldiers serving the area while ensuring welfare measures and their transport in order. Desertions among the troops, he said, should be kept to the minimum, if we were to defeat the enemy. "Commanders should make a special note of it and act accordingly," Lt. General Fonseka reminded.

Taking stock of the internal security situation, preventive measures, counter operations against the LTTE and possibilities of the enemy's infiltration, Commander stressed the need to further beef up security network with minimum inconvenience, caused to the general public. He also paid attention to several administrative measures that were taken up for discussion during the same meeting. Jaffna Commander Major General G.A Chandrasiri received the Commander and his entourage on arrival at the Palaly air base.

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23 terrorists killed, 9 wounded in Wanni and Northern clashes

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At least 23 LTTE terrorists were reported killed and 9 others wounded during fighting ensued between troops and LTTE at the Wanni and Northern battlefronts on Tuesday (June 17).

According to military reports, 3 soldiers have laid their lives and 7 others wounded during the confrontations with LTTE.

In Jaffna, in general area Nagarkovil a soldier has received injuries due to an anti-personnel (AP) mine explosion, security sources said. The soldier was rushed to the Palaly military base hospital for treatment. At the Vavuniya battlefront, heavy fighting was reported from Navathkulama, Periyamadu, Kayamoddai, Palamodai and Koviltkunchukulam areas according to military reports received. 19 LTTE terrorists were reported killed and scores wounded during the clashes erupted, security sources said; adding that 2 female LTTE bodies were also recovered during a subsequent search operation conducted in general area Periyamdu. Also, troops have uncovered 2 T-56 assault riffles and 2 dog-tags during the search operation, the sources further stated.

Meanwhile, on the Welioya battlefront, North of Janakpura troops forced into an LTTE bunker line, captured 2 bunkers and later claimed to have seized warlike items including 2 claymore mines each weighing 5 kg. Clashes were also reported in general areas Andankulama and North of Kiribbanwewa, as troops claimed 4 terrorists killed and another 6 wounded. 8 more terrorists were also believed either killed or seriously injured, secuiryt sources said citing ground troops.

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Deccan Lanka bags global contract

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Domestic airline Deccan Aviation Lanka has been awarded the crew rotation contract for First Choice Airways, which operates flights from Europe to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. For the second consecutive year, Deccan aircraft will be utilized to transfer crew and staff of First Choice Airways between Colombo and Maldives. The twice weekly rotation from May through October is being cited by industry sources as a strong signal of the long term commitment and interest in Sri Lanka by major charter airlines and tour operators.
Deccan Aviation Lanka has in recent years quietly emerged as a leading player in the domestic and regional general aviation market. Interestingly, Deccans largest shareholder, Deccan Aviation India, is now a part of Vijay Mallya controlled UB Group, which also owns Kingfisher Airlines. The company however did not wish to comment on whether the entry of the UB Group would have any impact on their plans for Sri Lanka.

Operating a fleet of 32 aircraft from 15 UK airports, First Choice is a UK based permier airline that flies six million customers on more than 30,000 flights to around 60 destinations world-wide every year, including the Maldives, Mexico and resorts across the Mediterranean. Founded in 1987, the airline is now a part of travel giant TUI Travel PLC.

Operating a Beechcraft 1900 for the operations, Deccan will transfer crew twice weekly between Colombo and Male' international airports for a 6 month period. "Our 2008 contract is significantly than in 2007, arising from the increased frequency of flights by First Choice, which is definitely good for the tourism industry overall"

Deccan Aviation operates the only permitted civilian helicopter service in the country, and operates aircraft on a number of daily flights throughout Sri Lanka and beyond, and has in recent times emerged as the local aviation company to watch.

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Soldiers awarded certificates on completion of gem cutting training

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First batch of differently-abled soldiers who had successfully completed the course in gem-cutting training at National Gem and Jewellery Authority at Eheliyagoda, were awarded certificates recently.

The soldiers possessing these certificates were donated with Rs.65,000/= worth of gem cutting machine, at a function held at Ehaliyagoda Gilan Ceremonial Hall.

Further, gem cutting training course for the second batch of 12 soldiers were inaugurated at this function.

Apart from this, Officers of National Gem and Jewellery Authority, Department of Agrarian Services and other State institutions organized a “Mini Piyasa” program to resolve the problems faced by the people engaged in the field of gem and jewellery in Eheliyagoda Division.

Many gem and jewellery problems related to gem mining, gem auction licence were resolved at this Mini Piyasa program.

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Ranil to launch non-violent campaign against state repression

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Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared his intention to launch a non-violent campaign later this month against all forms of state repression, including curbs against democracy, media freedom as well as the economic woes of the people.

He made the announcement at a function at Dharmavijaya Foundation in Colombo.

On the occasion, the National Intellectual Council collected signatures for a petition that urges the protection of media freedom, implementation of the 17th Constitutional Amendment and for a solution to the national question that promotes communal harmony.

Speaking further, Mr. Wickremesinghe said, "Everyone in this country lives in fear today. Several main issues concern us. Firstly, how can we bring peace to the country? How can media freedom be protected? How can the 17th amendment be implemented? How can there be a free vote? How can we end communalism? How can we provide for the hungry people? Whenever we are going to address these problems, the government uses its repressive power."

He said, "Journalists are abducted and killed for writing about the war and state corruption. Therefore, many talk of leaving the country. Government groups attack trade unions that call for pay hikes. Clergy and laity that speak against the government are threatened. All these lead to an increasing state of fear in the country."

Mr. Wickremesinghe said that as the opposition leader, he would protect everyone if he could have had a police force, or had there been a state mechanism for the purpose.

Noting that he had neither, he asked as to what he could in the prevailing situation.

However, the opposition leader said that he would not resort to violent means to unite the people.

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JHU accuses UNP of having Pillayan Group

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The Jathika Hela Urumaya has accused the UNP of having betrayed the TMVP, or Pillayan Group, by revealing locations of the camps of the party that has recently renounced arms and entered the democratic mainstream.
JHU spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe said that his party strongly condemned this action of the UNP, and challenged the main opposition to similarly publicize the whereabouts of the LTTE camps.

According to him, the UNP was trying to avoid the polls for the North Central Provincial Council by using the reported location of 12 camps of the Pillayan Group in Polonnaruwa as an excuse.

The JHU spokesman added that the UNP should use the opportunity to test the southern public's opinion, without challenging the dissolution and the forthcoming polls for the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils.

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FMM urges govt. to withdraw Defence Ministry guidelines

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The Free Media Statement said in a statement today (June 18th ) that in a recent editorial posted on the Defence Ministry website, the Ministry has set forth its views and suggested guidelines with regard to reporting of military-related matters.
While it is not clear whether this offensive editorial is a representation of official government policy, its content represents in intent and effect the imposition a framework for self-censorship on the media.

In remarks that have come to characterize the attitude of this government in general and the Ministry of Defence in particular in relation to media freedom, the editorial argues that media scrutiny in the public interest and open discussion about important military-related issues are inimical to national security, tantamount to supporting terrorism, and can therefore be labeled as acts of treason.

This lays bare the contempt and disregard for democratic values and the public interest that is at the heart of the government’s prosecution of its war on terror.

The editorial is explicit in revealing the position of the Ministry of Defence with regard to these issues when it states that, “The final but the most serious concern the Ministry has on the defence reportage is the unethical measures that have been used to obtain information by some of these so called ‘defence analysts’ [sic]. Thus, the Ministry does not find any other word better than a ‘Traitor’ to call whoever attempts to show the soldiers as thieves or fools by making false allegations and raising baseless criticism against them [sic].”

The chilling effect of the editorial’s articulation of the Ministry’s attitude in terms of tone, content, and language requires no emphasis.

It is in this context that the editorial proceeds to set out what appear to be the Ministry’s guidelines on how the media should regulate itself in regard to military-related reporting.

According to these censorship guidelines, the media should not:

* Be critical and analyze military strategies

* Scrutinize promotions and transfers within the military

* Question military procurements and tenders

* Espouse/ discuss anti-war positions

* Obtain information from military officers other than official
spokespersons

The Free Media Movement (FMM) finds these prescriptions of the Ministry of Defence wholly unacceptable from the perspective of both democratic values and internationally accepted standards with regard to reporting on military-related issues.

These guidelines may have been laughable in any other context, but amusement unfortunately is not a response available in the climate of fear, intimidation, and capricious violence that characterize the working conditions of media personnel in Sri Lanka today.

The guidelines are grounded in a worldview that rejects the democratic way of life and fundamental human rights, that is fearful of both open government and free discussion, and is intolerant of dissent.

A free media is pivotal to transparency, accountability and good governance, and FMM clearly views these guidelines as yet another attempt to suppress this democratic space on spurious claims of protecting national security.

FMM unequivocally stands by the right of media organizations and personnel to be critical of military strategies, scrutinize military procurements, question transfers and promotions, and to discuss policy options other than war in the settlement of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

FMM firmly rejects the view that such discussions constitute a threat to national security.

It is our view that open and informed discussion on these matters provide the governors as well as the governed in a democracy with a better understanding of the war, the way it is carried out, and its broader implications, vital for promoting both democratic governance and peace-building in our country.

FMM therefore urges the government to withdraw these restrictions imposed on the media, and further, to make an urgent clarification as to whether they constitute elements of official government policy rather than merely the views of an editorial writer, given that the editorial under consideration, published on the Ministry of Defence website, purports to state the views of the Ministry of Defence.

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No minister could be forced to answer: PM

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Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake said yesterday that no Minister could be forced to answer any question in Parliament.

The Prime Minister made this point at the unveiling of the portrait of seven distinguished statesmen including C. W. W. Kannangara, A. E. Goonasinghe, Dr. S. A. Wickramsinghe, Dr. N. M. Perera, G. G. Ponnambalam, Philip Gunawardene and Dr. T. B. Jayah at the Parliamentary Complex yesterday.

Mr. Wickramanayake recalled that the late Dr. N. M. Perera once argued in the House that no one could force a Minister to answer a question. He said the point raised by Dr. Perera then was most appropriate today.

He also recalled that all these men shed their differences and came together to save the nation when there were threats of foreign invasion. “These persons are honoured today because they shed party differences for the sake of the country,” he added.

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said these persons were the ones who had toiled to safeguard the supremacy of the legislature. He said these men were a group who made the history of Sri Lanka. “G. G. Ponnambalam is a person who worked towards independence and it is ironical that the circumstances have not allowed his grandson to participate in this function,” he said.

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Doctors warn Health Minister against harassment

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by Don Asoka Wijewardena
The Government Medical Officers Association has warned the Minister of Health and the Director in-charge of Private Sector Hospitals Dr. Harsha de Silva to stop harassing MBBS doctors practicing in private hospital since they are already registered with the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC). The harassment, according to GMOA sources, was for failure to get registered under the Private Medical Institutions Act which is absolutely not necessary since they are already registered with the SLMC.

The GMOA brought the harassment of MBBS doctors to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s notice. The President instructed Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage to stop raids on MBBS qualified doctors since they have been already registered with the SLMC.

A senior member of the GMOA Dr. Upul Gunasekera, commenting on a recent statement by Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, that he would continue to nab quacks practicing in private hospitals, described it as a senseless statement since all doctors practising at recognized private health institutions possess registered medical degrees.

At the meeting the GMOA had with President Rajapaksa it was pointed out that the Private Meedical Institution Act violates a number of medico and medico legal procedures and it was not necessary for MBBS doctors registered with the SLMC to register again under the Private Medical Institution Act.

The GMOA finally warned of severe trade union action if raids on qualified MBBS doctors continue.

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Anakarli, Duminda dispute ends in cop shop

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An argument between Popular actress Anarkali Akarsha and dissident UNP Provincial Councillor Duminda de Silva at the Cinnamon Grand ended in her mother calling police emergency fearing for the safety of her daughter.

They were taken to the Kollupitiya Police station where the OIC intervened to settle the dispute.

The OIC said that he had warned de Silva and reconciled the two parties.

However, Anarkali when contacted said she had consulted her lawyers and was contemplating legal action. She said that she had had an intimate relationship with de Silva for three months but finally decided to part Company last Saturday (13).

She had come out yesterday with her mother, after leaving JAIC Hilton, where she had been staying for three months, Anarkali said.

De Silva had met her at Elibank Road and she had agreed to meet him at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel under duress after a heated argument, she said.

At the hotel while Anarkali and De Silva were engaged in a discussion, her mother called the police.

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Sirisena blasts his Ministry Secy.

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Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Minister Maithripala Sirisena severely criticized his Ministry’s Secretary for failing to perform his duties and urged him to find a job elsewhere if he cannot perform his duties properly.

The Minister lashed out at the Ministry Secretary at the Galle District Agrarian Conference held at the Siridahamma Vidyalaya Auditorium in Galle on Monday.

The Minister’s grouse against the Secretary stemmed from the latter’s failure to distribute funds to Agricultural Research and Deputy Production Assistants despite the Treasury allocating a sum of Rs 100 million six months ago for their travel expenses.

The Minister said that even the brief cases for use by these officials have still not been distributed. "Decisions taken are blocked and not implemented. Three chairmen were sent home during the last one and a half years due to corruption and irresponsibility. When I was holding the portfolio of Environment, I got 13 officials remanded. Officials must act with responsibility," the Minister warned.

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Govt cannot fund CoI video conferencing

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By Jamila Najmuddin

The government is yet to accept a proposal by foreign countries to fund the stalled video conferencing facility of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI), Daily Mirror learns.

According to sources, three foreign countries had offered to provide funding for the video conferencing facility to obtain evidence from witnesses now living abroad. However the government had refused to accept the funds as the countries had wanted to release the monies in the form of aid.

“The CoI cannot be funded by aid. Although one of the main reasons for the temporary suspension of video conferencing is the lack of funds, we cannot accept aid from foreign countries in order to go ahead with collecting evidence from witnesses living abroad,” a government official said.

CoI Chairman Nissanka Udalagama told Daily Mirror that foreign funding was solely decided by the Foreign Ministry and countries that wished to fund the stalled video conferencing facility could do so after approval by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. “No country or embassy should contact the CoI direct. They have to come through the government,” Justice Udalagama said.

He added: “One of the reasons for the temporary suspension is the lack of funds. Video conferencing at this end was funded by the presidential secretariat; it is the lack of funds at the witnesses’ end that has caused the suspension. This was earlier funded by the IIGEP.”

Video conferencing involving witnesses living abroad was temporarily suspended on the directive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa on June 2.

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Court issues notice on Pillayan and Polls Chief

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By S.S.Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeal yesterday issued notices on Eastern Province Chief Minister, the Elections Commissioner and others when the SLMC candidates who contested on the UNP ticket filed a petition against the elections in the Batticaloa district.

Notice returnable on July 14 was issued by Appeal Court Judge Rajith de Silva on EP Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan who contested from the Batticaloa district, Council members A.S. Javahir Salih and A.L.M.Hisbullah, Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, Batticaloa Returning Officer S. Arumainayagam, Disaster Relief Services Minister Ameer Ali and the OICs of the Kattankudy and Valaichchenai police stations and 11 others.

In the petition SLMC candidates A.L.M.Marsook, M.H.S.Ismail and L.T.M.Furkan are seeking an order from court that the May 10 election was void. They said Tamil MakkalViduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) under the leadership of Mr. Chandrakanthan had contested the election as an ally of the UPFA while the TMVP had camps all over the Batticaloa district with its armed cadres manning them.

The petitioners alleged Mr. Hisbullah who contested on the UPFA ticket was provided with a large number of security personnel by the state. These security personnel included Army and STF cadres.

They appealed that election be declared void on the grounds of general intimidation, misconduct, non-compliance with the provisions of the Provincial Councils Elections Act and other reasons.

The petitioners alleged that senior presiding officers of the Batticaloa district polling booths unlawfully refused to record the complaints of illegal activities that took place in the booths.They also said Mr. Hisbullah had publicly declared and campaigned all over the district among the Muslim voters informing them that he would be appointed as the Chief Minister if more Muslim members were elected through the nomination list of the UPFA.

They said Mr. Hisbulla called upon Muslim voters to cast their votes only for the UPFA symbol and their preferences only for him and other Muslim candidates of the UPFA to ensure he would be the Chief Minister.

The petitioners charged that Mr. Hisbullah by his false election propaganda and campaign, had created an image as the Chief Ministerial candidate in the minds of innocent Muslim voters and that by misguided and misleading election campaign, he deceived and cheated the Muslim voters.

They contended that soon after the elections results, the Muslim voters were made to realize that Mr. Hisbullah’s election campaign and propaganda were made with an intention to unduly influence the Muslim voters and to prevent them voting for the recognized political party or independent group which they preferred. This significantly affected the results of the election.

Earlier the opposition UNP-SLMC alliance also challenged the election results in the Ampara district of the Eastern province.

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Six LTTE bodies handed over to ICRC

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Six bodies of LTTE cadres killed in recent clashes in Mannar and Vavuniya battle fields were handed over to the ICRC officials by the military in Vavuniya.

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Members of last PC councils to get nominations

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SLFP has decided to give nomination to all the members of the previous Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Councils at the forthcoming PC polls.

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Grenade found in bus

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A hand grenade which was set to explode automatically, was found in a bus in Salve Island a short while ago. According to Police Media Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekera the bus on the 122 route was plying from Avissawella to Pettach.

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Italy holds 'Tamil Tiger' members

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More than 30 suspected members of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebel group have been arrested in Italy in a series of raids across the country, police say.

They say all of them are Sri Lankan citizens suspected of extorting funds for the Tigers, who are banned as a terrorist group by the European Union.

Police said that more than 200 officers were involved in the operation.

They say that the arrests have effectively dismantled the Tamil Tiger fundraising network in Italy.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says that police swooped at dawn in simultaneous raids on suspected Tamil Tiger hideouts in eight different cities - from Genoa in the north to Palermo on the Mediterranean island of Sicily.

Police said they have been investigating reports for the past two years that Sri Lankans had been extorting money from fellow nationals working in Italy and sending it to Sri Lanka to finance Tamil Tiger rebels fighting government forces.

Three months ago the Italian authorities closed down an illegal Tamil Tiger propaganda TV channel operating from Italian territory.

There are an estimated 50,000 Sri Lankan immigrants working in Italy.

Many arrived illegally but have since obtained work and residence permits, our correspondent says.

The Tigers have been fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka for a generation. More than 70,000 people have died in the conflict.

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Prostitution triggered murder of Srilankan woman

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KUWAIT CITY : Securitymen from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in the Capital Governorate have arrested three Asians suspected of killing a Sri Lankan woman, whose body was found in the sea behind the Maternity Hospital in Al-Sabah two days ago.
Reportedly, one of the suspects is a driver transporting nurses to Al-Sabah Hospital, the other works at Amghara scrapyard and the third had allegedly absconded from his sponsor.
Speaking to the Arab Times, security sources said Assistant Undersecretary for Public Security Affairs Brigadier General Ghazi Al-Omar had instructed security authorities to track down the murderers of a Sri Lankan woman, whose decomposed body was found dumped in the sea.
In compliance with Al-Omar’s instructions, Manager of the Capital Governorate CID Lieutenant Colonel Bader Al-Ghadouri formed a team to conduct an intensive investigation into the killing.
According to Forensics, the body belonged to a Sri Lankan woman, identified as Fatema Radhwan, born in 1978. Investigators discovered a telephone line registered under her name. Upon checking the calls the woman made in the last few days, police found the number of an Indian laborer in Amghara scrapyard.
During interrogation, the Indian laborer admitted he knew the killer and guided police to another Indian residing in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh, which led to the arrest of the second suspect and a Sri Lankan woman.
Sources said the victim lived with the three suspects in the same flat and were engaged in prostitution.
Disagreements over the revenues of the ‘flesh’ trade had allegedly triggered the killing.
Sources added the victim threatened to inform the authorities about the illegal business if the three suspects did not give her share in the revenues. While the victim was sleeping, the suspects stabbed her to death, wrapped her body in a blanket and dumped her into the sea in an attempt to get rid of any proof of the crime.
Sources added the suspects tied a rock to the victim’s body to keep it submerged in the sea but members of an environment protection group found the body. Police also found the murder weapon and investigations are ongoing in this regard.
Security sources revealed the Indian, who stabbed the victim, works as a driver transporting nurses to Al-Sabah Hospital. The second suspect, another Indian who helped kill the victim, works in Amghara scrapyard while the Sri Lankan woman is registered missing at the Immigration Department as she had run away from her sponsor.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

JVP’s Polgampala disturbs Anjaan Umma

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JVP Kegalle district parliamentarian Anuruddha Polgampala has disturbed MP Anjaan Umma when she was making the statement to Parliament police today. The Police in turn had got another statement from Polgampala. During last year’s budget debate MP Nandana Gunatilleka lodged a complaint alleging that the Kegalle district MP had assaulted him in Parliament

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UTStarcom Selected by Sri Lanka Telecom to Launch IPTV Services on the South Asian Island

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UTStarcom, Inc.today announced a multi-million dollar contract with Just In
Time Holdings Pvt Ltd. to supply its industry-leading RollingStream(R)
end-to-end Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) solution to Sri Lanka Telecom Public
Ltd. Co. (SLT), the country's largest tier-one wireline and incumbent
operator.


SLT, a provider of international and domestic voice, Internet, and data
services, will use the RollingStream platform to bring IPTV services to its
growing customer base throughout Sri Lanka. SLT, with more than 87 percent
market share and a wireline subscriber base of more than 1,300,000
customers, expects to grow its residential and commercial business through
its increased triple play capabilities now available with this IPTV
deployment.

"UTStarcom's market position is unique in that it primarily offers
'end-to-end' IPTV solutions," noted Gary Schultz, president of MRG, Inc.,
which publishes the semi-annual IPTV Global Market Leader Report that
tracks deployments in six IPTV sub-sectors in Asia, Europe, North America
and Rest-of-World.* "In terms of the total number of actual IPTV
sub-sectors -- and subscribers -- served, UTStarcom is the leading
end-to-end supplier in the Asian IPTV market. IPTV, as an
application-enabler, continues to open up new opportunities for revenue
generation for service providers. MRG forecasts global IPTV network capital
expenditure (CAPEX) to grow at a 16 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate
(CAGR) over the next few years, as service providers provision
differentiated service offerings to further their competitive edge."

SLT's IPTV deployment is designed to support approximately 100,000
subscribers in the next two years and will enable the company to provide
video services to future subscribers over copper lines in the next three to
four years.

"Sri Lanka Telecom is well-known in the region as a tier-one
communications provider and is credited with establishing several industry
firsts in the country," said Vijay Yadav, managing director for UTStarcom
in South Asia. "UTStarcom is looking forward to the opportunities our
relationship with Sri Lanka Telecom will present in the region and we are
committed to providing the operator with a competitive IPTV solution that
will extend SLT's strides and solidify Sri Lanka as a major telecom hub in
South Asia."

UTStarcom's RollingStream end-to-end IPTV system currently supports
more than 850,000 live IPTV subscribers globally and maintains a total
system capacity exceeding 2.5 million subscribers as a result of recent
successful deployments in China with China Netcom and China Telecom, in
India with Bharti Airtel, MTNL/Aksh and UTL, in Japan with Softbank, in
Latin America with Brasil Telecom and in Taiwan with Markwell.

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Wanni liberation operation continues; 6 terrorists killed, 14 injured - Wanni front

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Security forces personnel engaged in counter terrorist offensive are further inching towards LTTE territory inflicting damages to the enemy in Wanni front. Six LTTE terrorists were killed and 14 others suffered injuries in yesterday's clashes reported in Vavuniya and Welioya fronts, the finalized military report received from the battle front said. Further, 15 more terrorists reportedly either killed or wounded, the report further said.

In Vavuniya front, troops attacked at a group of LTTE terrorist in general area Periyamadu and ground troops confirmed that 3 terrorists suffered injuries in this attack. In another confrontation took place in Palampiddy, ground troops confirmed that 2 terrorists were killed and 2 others suffered injuries.

Meanwhile troops have found a body of a slain LTTE cadre along with a T-56 weapon in a search operation conducted in general area Kovitkunchukulam during day hours yesterday.

Two army soldiers sustained injuries in two separate confrontations took place in Vannakulam and Palamoddai areas. Separately, another soldier suffered injuries exploding an anti-personnel mine while he was in mine clearing operation in general area Kovitkunchukulam.

In Welioya front, troops attacked at a group of LTTE terrorists who were constructing their bunkers in general area north of Janakapura. LTTE transmission also confirmed that 2 terrorists were killed in this attack. A claymore mine weighing of 2.5 Kg was uncovered from this area. Separately, 2 ammunition boxes consisting 1500 T-56 ammunition were uncovered from a terror bunker captured in the same area.

An LTTE terrorist was killed while anther 6 suffered injuries when the troops attacked at enemy bunker line in general area north of Janakapura. An army soldier also suffered injuries due to a separate confrontation took place in the same area during day hours yesterday.

Troops engaged in mine clearing operation in general area north of Janakapura have unearthed 40 anti-personnel mines, the report said.

Meanwhile, 3 terrorists suffered injuries and 15 others reportedly either killed or wounded due to several clashes reported in general area north of Kiriibbanwawa, the report said. Three army soldiers have received injuries in three separate incidents reported in same area, the report further said.

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Portraits of seven remarkable politicians unveiled in parliament

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The portraits of seven politicians who left their mark in Sri Lankan politics were unveiled in the first floor of the Parliament building in a special ceremony by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake.

The politicians thus honoured were, Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara, A.E. Gunasinghe, Dr. S.A. Wickramasinghe, G.G. Ponnambalam,. Dr. N.M. Perera, Phillip Gunawardena and Dr. T.B. Jayah.

The Speaker, W.J.M.Lokubandara, speaking at the occasion said that these leaders, although subscribing to different ideologies, all worked tirelessly and selflessly for the freedom of the country. He observed that the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon these leaders is for present day parliamentarians to understand the exemplary parliamentary culture and traditions that helped create and act accordingly.

A large and distinguised audience, including relatives of the leaders honoured thus, the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe and newly appointed Chief Government Whip, Dinesh Gunawardena, were also present.

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Sri Lanka May tea output down 4.4 pct on year

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(Reuters) - Sri Lankan tea production fell 4.4 percent in May from the same month a year earlier, the Sri Lanka Tea Board said on Tuesday, citing adverse weather
conditions and low fertiliser usage.
Tea output fell to 31.87 million kg from 33.34 million in May 2007.
"Adverse weather conditions prevailed in May and low fertiliser usage by tea producers due to high fertiliser price are the reasons for this drop," said H.D. Hemarathna, the director general at Sri Lanka Tea Board.
The output in Jan-May period rose 19.9 percent to 144.02 million kg from 120.14 million kg a year earlier, due to a low base in 2007 followed by the lingering effects of a sector strike.
Output fell 2 percent to 304.6 million kg last year from 310.8 million in 2006, with officials citing inadequate fertiliser use due to high prices, unfavourable weather and the fallout from an industry strike.
Sri Lanka exported 309.8 million kg of tea last year, including re-exports of 15.6 million kg in imports that tea companies had purchased from overseas to meet client orders.
Bulk tea accounted for nearly 60 percent of exports.
Tea export revenues surpassed $1 billion in 2007 despite the fall in output, thanks to a rise in global tea prices.
Sri Lanka Tea Board officials said the industry expected to boost foreign earnings by 20 percent in 2008 by adding value.
Sri Lanka's record 2005 harvest of 317.2 million kg made it the world's fourth-biggest producer behind China, India and Kenya and second only in exports to Kenya in that year.
Tea is one of Sri Lanka's main foreign currency revenue earners, along with remittances, textiles, garments and tourism.

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European Commission funds the Tsunami affected Vakarai Maha Vidyalaya

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Reconstruction works on the Vakarai Maha Vidyalayam complex started early this month in the Batticaloa District under the European Commission's Tsunami assistance programme for Sri Lanka.
This school complex, is being financed from the EC’s overall post tsunami aid package of EUR 147 million (approximately LKR 24.2 billion) which covers not only affected districts in the South and East but also has provision for support to the affected districts in the North.
The reconstruction of Vakarai Maha Vidyalayam, which was completely destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami, will include permanent building for the students currently studying in temporary buildings with considerable difficulties. The school complex includes a primary and secondary school, which will benefit over 800 students from grades 1 to 13, who will now be able to continue their education under improved conditions.
We are confidant that our implementing agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and their selected contractor will accomplish the task of completing reconstruction of this school by 2009.
The European Union is making an additional allocation of EUR 60 million (approximately LKR 10 billion) in 2008, for housing and socio-economic community infrastructure to support livelihoods in the North and East. Our intention is to repeat the successful model and modalities of rehabilitation developed under the EU-AMPARA partnership.
The EC will make further financial resources available in 2009 and 2010. And as EU-AMPARA Partnership funding will continue to be implemented up to 2010, the seven other districts in the North and East will be eligible under this additional funding. The EC will continue to a build closer relationship and friendship with all communities in the North and East through these initiatives.

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Anjan Umma decides to act as Independent in Parliament

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JVP Parliamentarian Anjan Umma decided to act independently in Parliament and lodges a complaint at the Parliament Police requesting her two vehicles back.

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Eastern PC Batti Polls petition respondents issued notice

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Court of Appeal yesterday (17) directed the Registrar of the Court to issue notices on the respondents when the election petition challenging the Eastern Provincial Council election held in the Batticaloa district, returnable on July 14.

Notices were issued on Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan, A.S.Javahir Salih, A.M.Hisbullah, Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake, Returning Officer Batticaloa District S.Arumainayagam, Minister of Disaster Relief Services Ameer Ali Police OICs of Kattankudy and Valaichenai and 11 other respondents.

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Australian support for development projects in Sri Lanka

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The Australian High Commissioner, Kathy Klugman, presented funds worth approximately Rs 3 million to beneficiaries of the Australian Government's Direct Aid Program (DAP) in a ceremony held this morning.

Speaking at the occasion Ms Klugman said that the High Commission takes great pride in the Direct Aid Program as it allows us the opportunity to provide direct benefits to those most in need; which includes women, children, the disabled, conflict affected persons, the elderly and other disadvantaged groups.

The Direct Aid Program is aimed primarily at supporting small-scale development activities that fully involve beneficiaries in the identification, design and management of the activities.

In the current funding round, the High Commission will support the National Cancer Institute to transport two containers of hospital equipment from Australia for a new ward at the National Cancer Hospital in Maharagama; the Centre for Women and Development in Jaffna for an income generation project to provide support to 800 women; and the Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development in Matara for a home gardening and self employment project for tsunami affected women.

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2 terrorists killed, 3 killed or wounded in yesterday's clashes - Jaffna front

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2 terrorists were killed while 3 others reportedly either killed or wounded due to the clashes reported in Jaffna front yesterday, June 16. Further, three soldiers also suffered injuries during these clashes, the report received from warfront said.

Army snipers deployed in general area Kilaly gunned down an LTTE terrorist ahead of security forces defence line. Two soldiers suffered injuries in a separate confrontation took place in same general area last morning.

Troops attacked at terrorist observing an LTTE movement in general area Nagarkovil. Three terrorists were either killed or wounded, troops confirmed.

Another LTTE cadre has been gunned down by the army snipers in Muhamalai front. One soldier also sustained injuries due to a separate confrontation took place in the same area.

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Home Ministry probes allegation on Malaysian link to intended bomb attack in Colombo

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The Home Ministry has begun investigations into an allegation that some Malaysians planned to give instructions to a group of Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger terrorists to launch a bomb attack in Colombo.

This followed the arrest of six members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ellam (LTTE) on Saturday in Wattala, Sri Lanka, with the seizure of 2.7kg of high-powered C4 explosives.

According to a news report in the Sri Lankan mediia, the suspects under interrogation by (Sri Lankan government troops), said they were waiting for instructions from some Malaysians - via the telephone - to launch the attack.

Commenting on the news report, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the government would investigate the matter thoroughly, and take severe action against any Malaysian with links to the LTTE.

He said his ministry had contacted the Sri Lankan government to clarify the allegation in the news report, and seek its assistance to obtain information on the alleged links between some Malaysians and the LTTE.

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BoC written off Rs. 1.36 Billion bad debts in 2006

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The Bank of Ceylon had considered loans worth Rs. 13,603 million as bad debts by 2006, Parliament was informed today.

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New regulations for Finance Companies

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has prepared an exposure draft on corporate governance for registered finance companies having considered the views expressed by the Finance Houses Association of Sri Lanka and registered finance companies on the earlier distributed draft Code of Corporate Governance. The exposure draft is released to solicit comments, views and suggestions from the stakeholders of registered finance companies and the interested public.
The exposure draft, which is based on the direction issued to licensed banks on corporate governance, is organised under ten subheadings dealing with the responsibilities of the board of directors, meetings of the board, composition of the board, criteria to assess the fitness and propriety of directors, management functions delegated by the board, the chairman and the chief executive officer, board appointed committees, related party transactions, disclosures and transitional provisions.

The final date for receiving comments, views and suggestions is 15.08.2008. A revised draft will be made available after considering the comments, views and suggestions.

The exposure draft is expected to be issued as a direction to the registered finance companies from 01.01.2009 onwards. The direction is expected to strengthen the corporate governance practices in registered finance companies.

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New regulations for Finance Companies

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has prepared an exposure draft on corporate governance for registered finance companies having considered the views expressed by the Finance Houses Association of Sri Lanka and registered finance companies on the earlier distributed draft Code of Corporate Governance. The exposure draft is released to solicit comments, views and suggestions from the stakeholders of registered finance companies and the interested public.
The exposure draft, which is based on the direction issued to licensed banks on corporate governance, is organised under ten subheadings dealing with the responsibilities of the board of directors, meetings of the board, composition of the board, criteria to assess the fitness and propriety of directors, management functions delegated by the board, the chairman and the chief executive officer, board appointed committees, related party transactions, disclosures and transitional provisions.

The final date for receiving comments, views and suggestions is 15.08.2008. A revised draft will be made available after considering the comments, views and suggestions.

The exposure draft is expected to be issued as a direction to the registered finance companies from 01.01.2009 onwards. The direction is expected to strengthen the corporate governance practices in registered finance companies.

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Court prevents group from summoning PNM meetings

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By Susitha R. Fernando
The Colombo District Court yesterday issued an enjoining order preventing Ven. Dambara Amila Thera and a group of executive committee members of the Patriotic National Movement from summoning meetings and conducting news conferences under the name banner of the movement.

Colombo District Judge Sisira Ratnayake issued the order following a case filed by Dr. Gunadasa Amerasekara of the PNM.

Dr. Amerasekara cited PNM executive members Ven. Amila Thera, P. T. Hassan, Dr. Sayakkara Jayawardena and Vinnie Hettigoda as defendants.

Counsel Roland Perera and Chandima Mendis instructed by Marlon Rajapaksa supporting the application told court it had initiated disciplinary inquiries against Ven. Amila Thera and others relating to some of their conduct and that their memberships were to be suspended. They have already been asked to show cause over some actions committed by them, the counsel said.

He said despite these disciplinary inquiries against them, the defendants have been summoning meetings and news conferences on behalf of the PNM. Further the defendants had organized a convention at National Youth Council in Maharagama yesterday on behalf of the PNM.

Following the submissions made by the plaintiffs, the court issued an enjoining order preventing them from summoning meetings on behalf of the PNM and taking part in executive committee meetings. The case will be taken up on June 27.

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SB UNP’s CM candidate in Sabaragamuwa?

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UNP Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe told the party’s Working Committee yesterday he was consulting legal experts regarding the possibility of nominating National Organiser S.B. Dissanayake as the Chief Ministerial candidate for the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council.

Mr. Wickremesinghe was responding to Kegalle District MP, Premadasa Champika who proposed that Mr. Dissanayake should be made the Sabaragamuwa chief ministerial candidate at the forthcoming election.

Mr. Dissanayake has lost his civic rights following the jail term served by him for contempt of court.

The party has appointed two committees to conduct a preliminary survey in the Sabaragmuwa and North Central Provinces, and make recommendations before working out strategies to face the elections.

For the North Central Province, the UNP was considering the nomination of retired Major General, Janaka Perera as the chief ministerial candidate.

Besides, former senior DIG Sirisena Herath would contest the polls on the UNP ticket in the Anuradhapura district.

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Parliament to debate draft on protection for crime victims

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Political party leaders have decided to debate the draft bill on Assistance and Protection to Victims of Crime and Witnesses in Parliament today (June 17th).

This particular draft will be taken up instead of the Electricity Reforms Bill, which was in the day's agenda, but the government decided not to deal with.

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JVP sabotages heroic soldiers - JHU

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The Jathika Hela Urumaya, a government affiliate, has accused the JVP of staging anti-government protests to sabotage decisive efforts by the security forces to eliminate terrorism.

JHU spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe said .

He said, "The entire nation should rally round the heroic soldiers who are sacrificing their lives to wipe out terrorism."

Mr. Warnasinghe alleged the JVP had no honest intent to see an end to separatism.

"Therefore, we are challenging the JVP to temporarily stop all protests if it sincerely wants to defeat separatism."

He added that the JHU would urge the government to prioritize the war over elections and other matters for a period of one year.

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IPI Retains Sri Lanka on Watch List

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The International Press Institute (IPI), at its board meeting in Belgrade, Serbia on June 14th, unanimously voted to keep six countries, including Sri Lanka on the IPI Watch List.

The other five countries in the list are Ethiopia, Nepal, Russia Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The IPI Watch List is a list of countries in which press freedom conditions have rapidly deteriorated.

The guiding principle behind the Watch List is to open up a dialogue with these countries before they slide into repression.

The IPI says that in Sri Lanka, where the conflict between the government and the Tamil rebels has recently escalated, journalists have been specifically targeted because of their reports.

In many occasions, authorities have threatened the media not to publish "unpatriotic" reports, and physical attacks and other forms of harassment are commonplace.

Attacks on journalists, including murder, remain unpunished, with no apparent official investigations being conducted into such crimes.

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Wimal to sit as backbencher

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National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa has lost his front row seat in Parliament after the JVP notified the Speaker that Anura Kumara Dissanayake has replaced him as leader of the party's parliamentary group.

The seating arrangements of members were extensively discussed at a party leaders’ meeting, presided by the Speaker at the Parliamentary Complex yesterday (June 16th).

It was decided at the meeting to allocate a seat for Mr. Weerawansa in the second row, as he is neither a former minister nor the leader of a recognized political party.

According to another decision reached, former Minister and SLFP (M) leader Mangala Samaraweera will get a front row seat.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Sri Lankan expatriates enabled to top-up their mobiles from abroad

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Dialog Telekom announced recently a partnership with ezetop Ltd., an Ireland based international mobile phone service company, to enable global reload of Dialog Prepaid Mobiles.

The ground breaking facility enables in particular, expatriate Sri Lankans to reload Dialog mobiles of friends and relatives back home in Sri Lanka.

ezetop services are available globally via the internet and through a network of 40,000 outlets worldwide. The company has a significantly far reaching presence in the Middle-East making the Dialog-ezetop partnership of immediate value to expatriate Sri Lankans living in the region and their families in Sri Lanka.

The facility also enables international travelers subscribing to Dialog’s instant roaming service to reload their accounts while overseas. The new service enables individuals abroad to send mobile phone reloads to any Dialog prepaid customer using ezetop’s online top-up service or at one of ezetop’s 40,000 over retail locations worldwide. The online top up service works through an online account which is created at the ezetop website.

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Sri Lanka assures security for SAARC summit

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Sri Lanka says it would be able to host the next SAARC summit despite a surge in deadly rebel attacks.

The eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, SAARC, is due to hold its 15th annual summit in Colombo in early August.

Colombo says everything possible would be done to ensure security.

Sri Lanka has seen a surge in violence since the government scrapped a 2002 ceasefire with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam in January.

This year's SAARC meeting is seen as key as the region faces growing crises over soaring fuel and food prices as well as terrorism.

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Rohitha Bogollagama invited Indian leaders for the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo

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Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama met in Delhi on 16th June with Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India and with Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs of India. The Minister handed over to the two Indian leaders the letters inviting them to the 15th SAARC Summit and its antecedent meeting of the Council of Ministers to be held in Colombo from 31st July to 3rd August 2008, while also briefing them of current developments in Sri Lanka and consulting on the key issues before SAARC.Rohitha Bogollagama and India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee
During the summit Manmohan Singh will hand over the SAARC chair to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollogama who arrived in New Delhi on Sunday night, met Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday to apprise him about the security situation in Sri Lanka in the wake of recent LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) attacks.

Minister Bogollagama emphasized the positive outcome of the recently held election to the Eastern Provincial Council, which took place on the basis of almost all the major political parties in Sri Lanka participating in the contest and with an electoral turnout of over 65%.

The Government of Sri Lanka is now looking forward to working closely with the newly elected Chief Minister and his Board of Ministers, for the successful application of the provisions of the 13th Amendment and for the rapid development of the Province.

The Foreign Minister emphasized that continuity of the valuable work done by the past Chairs of SAARC, would be a guiding principle for Sri Lanka’s stewardship of the Association. At the same time, Sri Lanka would endeavor to engage the peoples of the region as closely as possible in the work and programmes of SAARC. Given the challenges posed by the increase in food prices and energy costs, regional responses for food security and energy self sufficiency would be high on the Summit agenda.

Mr. Bogollagama’s discussions in Delhi took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality and warmth. The Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister appreciated the briefing on current developments in Sri Lanka. They expressed their thanks for the invitations and affirmed that India is looking forward to working closely with the host country Sri Lanka, for the success of the forthcoming SAARC Summit in Colombo.

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Army attacks 3 LTTE bunkers; 11 terrorits killed - Mannar

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Troops operating on the Mannar front attacked 3 LTTE bunkers at two separate incidents this morning (June 16) and claimed 11 terrorists were killed and at least 2 others wounded.

In the general area Southwest of Periyamadhu, troops attacked and destroyed an LTTE bunker around 9.15 am. Ground troops claimed that 6 terrorists were killed in this incident. Troops suffered no casualties.

Separately, troops attacked 2 LTTE bunkers located in the Mullikkandal area around 9.45 am. Both ground troops and monitored radio transmissions confirmed that 5 terrorists were killed in this incident. Also, 2 soldiers were killed and another suffered injuries. The injured was directed to immediate medical attention.

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Tamil Gangsters to be sentenced for murdering youth by stabbing - London

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(By Walter Jayawardhana)

Four Tamil gang members were convicted for the murder of another Tamil youth by stabbing him 31 times on a London street in the most insensate manner and the Old Bailey said they will be sentenced July 7.

The police said gangs of violent Sri Lankan Tamil men in South London area, where illegal fund raising activities of the liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are quite rampant are "constantly tooled up" and "ready to go", for such crimes .

"There have been a number of violent clashes involving groups of Tamil men in Croydon and other parts of south London in recent years", said a local newspaper Wandsworth Borough News.

"They culminated in the murder of 28-year-old Prabaskaran Kannan in Tooting last year. He was chased by a group of four men from Croydon who stabbed and slashed their terrified victim 31 times outside a fried chicken takeaway shop", the newspaper reported. The case came to be known as Chicken Cottage Tamil murder after the name of the take away restaurant. The chief detective in the case said Croydon's Tamil gangs were causing concern among officers.

Detective Sergeant Mick Snowdon spoke out about the problems surrounding Tamil gangs after five men were convicted of Mr Kannan's murder at the Old Bailey in London.

Witnesses said in the courts that Mr Kannan was heard shouting "It wasn't me, it wasn't me" shortly before he was brutally set upon and killed by the four Tamil gang members.

Last week, homeless Vabeesan Sivarajah, 22, Aziz Miah, 20, of Sumner Road, Croydon, Asif Kumbay, 20, of Grasmere Road, Purley, and Kirush Nathankumar, 18, of Purley Way, Croydon, were all convicted of murder by an Old Bailey jury. They all denied the charges.

"The young men burst into tears after the sentence was announced. A jury of nine men and three women took three days to reach their verdict", reported the local newspaper.

"The four were also convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm to two gang members who were with Mr Kannan that night.

"Another defendant, Mayuran Srivinayagam of Greyhound Terrace, Streatham, was cleared of murder and manslaughter but found guilty of assault.

"Earlier in the trial a sixth gang member, Mahitharn Ratnasingham, of Lesley Grove, Croydon, was cleared of murder and manslaughter. He admitted assault. The men are due to be sentenced on July 7.

"After the men were convicted Det Sgt Snowdon told the Croydon Guardian: "They the gangs are very violent. They are constantly tooled up and ready to go. It is almost like the level of violence is ad hoc. Whatever happens for them happens, and it depends on what weapons they have around."

Quoting a businessman who runs a shop in Croydon the newspaper said Sri Lankan Tamil gangs controlled most of the crime and had the town centre on "lockdown."

Police have always in the past denied there was a problem with the gangs in Croydon, but have now admitted there was a specialist officer dealing with Tamil gang activity in the borough. A member of a gang who did not want to be named said: "These guys are tough man, they do not care who they hurt or who gets in their way. They ride around in flash cars tooled-up with knives, swords, bats and whatever else they can grab to do damage to a guy."

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Govt. decides on austerity, halves Ministry allocations

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by Don Asoka Wijewardena

The government has decided to reduce the monthly monetary allocation to all Ministries by 50 per cent as an austerity drive but the budgetary allocations for the year 2008 will remain intact. Foreign travel of all Ministers will be restricted in order to save foreign exchange and steps are to be taken to do away with unnecessary ministries. The government has also decided to stop renting expensive building complexes, Media Minister Laxman Yapa Abeyawardena said yesterday at special conference held at the Media Ministry.


Ministers will be responsible for eliminating waste and rationalizing energy an all Ministers have been advised to restrict their foreign tours.

The government had to take some painful decisions at this juncture as the country was faced with economic, social and financial crises, Yapa Abeywardena said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on his recent visit to London had told a London based journalist that responsible journalism was an essential component in a democratic society. Journalists were patrons of any society and he was not against freedom of expression he emphasised. He had cautioned journalists to be extra-careful when reporting defence matters and the war.

Minister Abeyawardena said that the JVP MP Vijitha Herath had criticized the dissolution of North-Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils ahead of schedule. It was the JVP who approached the former President Chandrika Kumaranatunga in 2004 asking her to dissolve Parliament

ahead of schedule, because the JVP’s principal objective was to join the then government and increase JVP seats in the House. The government was confident of winning the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial elections, but the JVP would lose a number of seats at these elections, he predicted.

Minister Abeyawardena said that MP Vijitha Herath had also said that the government would spend around Rs.400 million for the two Provincial elections. He should know that the government had spent Rs.4,000 million for 2004 general elections.

Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera had made a sensible statement that the two main political parties should get together if the country was to be developed. The government would appreciate that statement Yapa abeywardena said. The third crisis in the UNP was about to surface soon. Since Nanda Mathew’s cross over, the UNP had suffered two political crises and the third one was forthcoming.

Asked whether the Cabinet of Ministers would make any contribution to mitigate the hardships faced by the people on the economic front, Abeywardena said that the government was in the process of formulating a constructive plan to introduce political leaders’ contributions to ease the burden on the people.

Asked about whether the reduction of portfolios of Non-Cabinet Ministers was to be implemented, Minister Abeyawardena said that he was unaware of that and that decision would be taken by President Rajapaksa himself.

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Polls chief cancels leave

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Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake has directed that leave of all the staff attached to the Asissistant Commissioner of Elections offices in the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Ratnapura and Kegalle be cancelled with immediate effect until the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils elections are concluded.

The UNP with a view to forming a Broader Alliance reached an agreement with the SLFP (M) led by former Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the Western Peoples Front led by Mano Ganeshan. They were to hold talks with the SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem. The General Secretary of the SLMC M. T. Hassen Ali, speaking from his Hospital bed at the Delmon Hospital, said that it would be most probable that they would join this alliance to challenge the UPFA after consulting the Party’s High Command next week.

A very confident President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Saturday requested all the constituent party members of the UPFA to submit their lists of prospective candidates for the forthcoming Provincial elections to UPFA General Secretary and Minister Susil Premajayanth by June 20.

Peoples Liberation Front (JVP) Somawansa Amerasinghe was not available for comment, but Party sources said that there were moves to form a Broader Socialist Alliance before the nominations closed on July 4.

Additional Commissioner of Elections (Provincial and Local) W. P. Sumanasiri said that the Gazette notification announcing the date of the period of nominations from June 27 to July 4 noon had been issued.

The Commissioner of Elections is to commence interviewing the members of the 11 new political Parties, including the National Freedom Front, led by Ex JVP (MP) Wimal Weerawansa, today for Registration to be concluded by the latter part of June.

The Asisstant Commissioner of Elections for the Kegalle District P. A. S. Senaratne said that according to the Electoral Register for 2007 there were 600,000 voters who were eligible voters. All Registered Political Parties could hand in their nomination lists by 12 noon on July 4 and all Independent Groups should hand in their deposits of Rs 42,000 by 12 noon on July 3. Each nomination list should have the names of 21 members to elect 18.

The Asisstant Commissioner of Elections for Polonnaruwa W. H. R. Wijayakumar said that according to the Electoral Register for 2007 there were 277,055 voters who were eligible. Each nomination list should contain the names of 13 members to elect 10 and each Independent group should deposit Rs 26,000 by 12 noon of July 3.

The Asisstant Commissioner of Elections for the District of Ratnapura M. A. B. C. Perera said that according to the Electoral Register for 2007 there were 725,000 voters who were eligible to vote. Each nomination list must include the names of 27 members to elect 24 and each Independent group must hand in their deposit of Rs 54,000 by 12 noon on July 3rd.

The Asisstant Commissioner of Elections for the Anuradhapura District S. M.Saman Bandulasena said that According to the Electoral Register for 2007 there were 600,000 eligible voters. Each nomination list must include the names of 24 members to elect 21 and each Independent Group should deposit Rs 48,000 by 12 noon on July 3.

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President admits anomalies in Judges’ pay – Lalith W

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by Chitra Weerarathne

The Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga yesterday voluntarily appeared before the Supreme Court and said that the President conceded that there were certain anomalies in the payments made to judicial officers.

Weeratunga added that the anomalies in the allowances would be rectified forthwith, while the anomalies in the salary structure of judicial officers would be rectified at the budget. These payments would be made from January 1, 2009.

The Secretary to the President said that he appeared before the Court to clarify certain misunderstandings that had taken place between the National Salaries and Cadre Commission and the Judicial Services Commission in respect of the discussion the High Court Judges Association recently had with the President.

The salaries review committee will recommend to the President the reviewed salary structures. The decision of the President will be notified to the petitioner by the Secretary to the President.


In this application to the Court, the High Court Judges, District Judges, and Magistrates had complained that the National Salaries and Cadre Commission had failed to recommend to the Cabinet and increased salary structure for the judges, different from the other public servants. The judges are differently placed in the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

D. S. Wijesinghe PC appeared with Dr. Jayampathy Wickramarathne, Pubudini Wickremaarathne, and Kaushalya Molligoda, instructed by Dhammika Molligoda for the petitioner judges’ association.

The Deputy Solicitor General Indika Demuni de Silva appeared for the State. The bench comprised the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justice N. G. Amaratunga and Justice K. Sripavan. The case is to be called again on June 30, 2008.

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Blood transfusion Act for Parliament approval

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by Don Asoka Wijewardena
A new Blood Transfusion Act, Under the Tissue Transplant Act is to be submitted for Parliamentary approval soon.

Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Athula Khadaliyanage told The Island that the principal aim of the new Act would be to maintain adequate stocks of blood at the National Blood Centre with 100 per cent quality assurance.

He said that the amount of blood collected by the National Blood Centre annually was found to be inadequate to meet the demands.

The Health Ministry believes that when the new Act comes into effect, the National Blood Centre will be able to maintain adequate stocks of blood for the security forces at the battle front and patients.

He added that several studies had revealed that the blood collected by the National Blood Centre was not sufficient to meet the demands of the blood transfusion needs of the security forces and patients.

He said that the annual requirement of blood was around 300,000 pints but the National Blood Centre had been collecting only 200,000.

He said blood distribution had been streamlined by the National Blood Centre because unlike the private sector hospitals it was very rare that blood recipients had contracted deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS through blood transfusions.

Safety measures, precautions and sterilization of blood transfusing instruments have been prioritized in all State hospitals. The Health Ministry would be able to supply the required blood to all hospitals without interruption when the legislation comes into force, he said.

The Health Ministry has also planned to set up 9 regional blood centres and 27 district level blood centres to streamline the blood distribution system.

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Civilians from uncleared areas seek Navy protection

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Six civilians from uncleared areas in Kilinochchi have sought Navy protection at Parivarakandal, Mannar, defence sources confirmed.

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Two UNP frontliners ask for change in leadership

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By Kelum Bandara

The UNP Working Committee said yesterday it had appointed a committee comprising party seniors to look into the demands of some MPs who are said to be revolting against the party leadership.

The committee comprises parliamentarians John Amaratunga, Joseph Michael Perera, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera and Amara Piyasili Ratnayake.

UNP front-liners Lakshman Seneviratne and Johnston Fernando criticized the party hierarchy at the Working Committee meeting yesterday and said the party had suffered a series of election defeats under the present leadership.

They said the party had failed to win the support of a majority of Buddhist monks and Sinhala Buddhist voters at previous elections, and therefore the present leadership should make certain sacrifices if the UNP was to move forward.

Mr. Fernando even suggested that Chairman Rukman Senanayake be appointed UNP leader and was critical of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe whom according to Mr. Fernando had not played a proactive role at the Eastern Provincial Council election.

However, party senior Renuka Herath said the UNP should mend its fences and resolve its problems especially at a time when a crucial election had been declared. She said the party had to campaign without getting embroiled in internal disharmony.

Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said he had worked according to the decisions taken by the party Working Committee and the Political Affairs Committee, and he had never deviated from those decisions.

Mr. Wickremesinghe said people expect the UNP to play a greater role on their behalf at this critical juncture, and the party should not breach this trust at any cost.

Most of the party seniors spoke in support of the leader, and one electoral organizer even alleged that the internal crisis brewing in the party was a conspiracy hatched by the 18 members who switched allegiance.

The electoral organizer said these members wanted a change of the leadership so that they can appoint someone who would dancing to their tune, and the party should not fall into this trap.

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Send male migrant workers free of charge

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By Gagani Weerakoon
The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) is examining the possibility of sending skilled male migrant workers to Middle Eastern countries without charging money.

SLBFE Chairman Kingsley Ranawake said recruitment agencies were now charging a minimum of Rs 60,000 from each prospective male worker who migrated to the Middle East for work.

“There is a huge demand for skilled male workers in the Middle East -- especially in the construction industry. It is a pity that our male workers have to pay such a big amount to migrate there.

Those countries are wasting millions due to lack of skilled workers in many industries. We are holding discussions with recruitment agencies about sending male workers without charging a fee from them,” he said.

He said that the government was now discouraging females from migrating as housemaids and this system of charging money from male workers would interfere with its attempts to reduce the number of female workers. The recruitment agencies at present do not charge money from women when they are migrating to the Middle East.

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ECP minister urges govt. to disarm TMVP – BBC

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A minister in the recently established Eastern Provincial Council has urged authorities to disarm the Chief Minister’s paramilitary group.
Minister Uduman Lebbe, a member of the ruling coalition in the ECP, told BBC Sandeshaya that the Tamil Makkalai Vidutalai Puligal (TMVP), known as Pillayan group, should lay down arms.
ECP Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan also known as Pillyan is the current leader of the TMVP, which is formed by breakaway LTTE leader Karuna amman.
The TMVP is accused of gross human rights violations including abductions and child recruitment.
Chief Minister Pillayan himself admitted that TMVP cadres are involved in abductions that led to tension in Batticaloa district.
Minister in charge of Power, Irrigation, Highways, Water Supply and Housing Uduman Lebbe said it is high time that the government seize weapons kept by TMVP.
In an interview with the BBC, Chief Minister Pillayan however refused to lay down arms until the ‘LTTE is defeated’ in the east.
Minister Lebbe expressed hope that the TMVP would soon lay down arms as the paramilitary group has now entered the democratic process.
The TMVP and some Muslim parties contested the ECP polls together with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

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Norway says policy towards Sri Lanka remains same

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In light of the recent public debate about Norwegian policy towards Sri Lanka, Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen, says, the policies guiding our engagement with Sri Lanka remain firm and will not change.”
“Norway is committed to assist Sri Lanka in finding a solution to the ethnic conflict while respecting the country’s territorial integrity,” said the Deputy Foreign Minister.
“Norway will support a negotiated solution that addresses the legitimate grievances of the Tamil speaking communities and is acceptable to all communities,” said Mr. Johansen.

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PNM's path cannot be tackled & obstructed - Amila Thera

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The Patriotic National Movement's Propaganda and Publication Secretary Ven. Dambara Amila Thera said that the path of the PNM cannot be tackled and obstructed.
He was delivering a lecture at a public seminar titled ‘responsibility of the national movement in the face of foreign involvement’ in Maharagama today (June 16th).
Speaking to media, a member of the organizing committee said that though the event was originally to be held at the Maharama Youth Centre, they were compelled to change the venue to Somro Hall after the original venue was not granted.
Despite the change of venue, over 3,000 people attended the event, he added.
Due to inadequate space, the gathering was given seating facilities in the second floor of the building, where a wide digital video screen was set up for them.
In addition, loudspeakers were installed for those who flocked around the hall.
Speaking further, the prelate said, "We emphasize that the activities of the PNM cannot be stopped by obstructions such as changing seminar halls. We also think that the government should realize that big halls are unnecessary to inform the public."
Despite the poster that advertised the starting time of the seminar as 3.00 p.m., it was brought forward and started at 10.00 a.m.
By the time the seminar ended, the Colombo District Court issued an injunction to Ven. Dambara Amila Thera and three others against holding meetings and news conferences using the name of the PNM.

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Committee of seniors to reorganize UNP

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The United National Party ended its Working Committee meeting today (June 16th) by appointing a committee of party seniors to recommend measures for the reorganization of the UNP.
It comprises Joseph Michael Perera, John Amaratunga, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Sarathchandra Rajakaruna and Renuka Herath.
The UNP's WC committee was in focus after the state media reported that Ranil Wickremesinghe was facing an internal rebellion that would expel him from the party leadership at the meeting.

Despite such reports, the meeting took place in a calm atmosphere, where it was reiterated that the party needed reorganization in order to bring it back to power, with Lakshman Seneviratne and Johnston Fernando strongly criticizing the existing inefficient state of affairs.
Mr. Wickremesinghe, after considering the views and proposals made at the extended meeting, decided to appoint a committee for the party's reorganization.
The WC meeting also saw the appointment of two nomination boards for the polls in the Sabaragamuwa and north central provinces, with General Secretary Tissa Attanayake handed over the related coordination work.
It also vested Mr. Wickremesinghe with the powers to discuss and reach unions with other parties to contest future elections.

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Air Force targets LTTE positions- Wanni and Jaffna

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Sri Lanka Air Force today (June 16) carried out 2 air raids targeting LTTE positions in the Jaffna Forward Defence Line (FDL) and at Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mulaithiuvu LTTE stronghold.
According to the Air Force sources , fighter jets pounded a key LTTE logistic base comprising a warehouse complex located 2 km southeast of Puthukkudiyiruppu junctions around 10 am . The sources confirmed that the target was accurately taken.
The second raid was carried out by the MI 24 helicopter gunships targeting LTTE positions in the Nagarkovil area around 11.30 am. The sources said that the attack carried out in support of the Army operations currently underway in the area. The attack was successful, the sources added.

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Non-profit group added to terrorism list

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Stewart Bell, National Post
A Toronto-based non-profit organization has been outlawed by Cabinet under the Anti-Terrorism Act, in what may signal an aggressive new approach to combating terrorist financing in Canada.
The decision to add the World Tamil Movement to Canada's list of outlawed terrorist groups marks the first time Ottawa has used the anti-terrorism law to shut down a Canadian community group for ties to terrorists.
Stockwell Day, the Minister of Public Safety, was expected to make the announcement in Toronto today at 1 p.m. but financial institutions were officially notified at 9 a.m. this morning by Canada's banking regulator.
The directive issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions advised banks and insurance companies to notify the RCMP or CSIS if they hold any accounts linked to the WTM.
The announcement may mark the end of the road for the WTM, which has operated in Canada since the 1980s. Earlier this year, the RCMP seized dozens of bank accounts linked to the group's officers and shut down its Montreal branch office.
The Anti-Terrorism Act, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, allows federal Cabinet to prepare a list of "entitites" whose activities are proscribed by Canadian law due to their involvement in terrorist violence.
Until today's announcement, there were 40 listed entities, all of them groups directly engaged in violence, such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. Although the law allows for the listing of front or support groups, Cabinet had so far refrained from doing so.
Because this is a first, it is unclear what will happen next. The listing makes it illegal to financially support the group. Presumably, the WTM offices in Canada would be forced to close and cease operations. The group could also appeal the ruling.
The WTM has been under close police scrutiny. Headquartered in Scarborough, Ont., the group is accused by Canadian police and intelligence of being the leading front organization for the Tigers, a separatist guerrilla group responsible for scores of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.
RCMP national security teams have been conducting a criminal probe of the WTM since 2003, and raided its offices in Toronto and Montreal in April 2006, seizing a truckload of documents and Tigers paraphernalia.
In court, RCMP officers claimed to have found evidence indicating the WTM serves as a Tigers front and has been aggressively fundraising in Canada in close concert with Tigers headquarters in Sri Lanka.
Many Tamil-Canadians support the Tamil Tigers, considering them freedom fighters, but other have complained to police about the heavy-handed fundraising tactics of the WTM, which some have likened to extortion, but the group, while it admits it is sympathetic to the Tigers, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Isolated on a small island, the Tigers are heavily dependent on outside sources of financing, which they use in part to purchase the weapons needed to prosecute a civil war that has been reignited by the collapse of a ceasefire agreement and the withdrawal of international monitors.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, have been fighting since 1983 for a separate state for Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority but in addition to traditional guerrilla tactics, the group has resorted to such terror tactics as suicide bombings, targeted political assassinations of leading government figures as well as the bombing of buses, trains and commercial buildings.
As home to the world's largest ethnic Tamil populations, Canada has also become an important offshore base for the rebels, which control several front groups in Toronto that harness political and financial support to finance the ethnic insurgency half-a-world away.
Canada outlawed the Tigers under the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2006 but fundraising and other forms of support have continued. Late last year, thousands of Tamil-Canadians converged at the Markham Fairgrounds north of Toronto to attend funeral services for S.P. Thamilselvan, the second-in-command of the LTTE, who was killed in a government air strike. Several Toronto-area Liberal MPs also attended and later defended their actions.

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NLF leaders met the President

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President Mahindha Rajapaksha agreed to summon other political parties and discuss the NLF proposals on safe guard of the country and the people.
Senior leaders of the party met the President at the Temple Trees in this morning.
A senior spokesman of the NLF said Wimal Weerawansa , Nandana Gunathilaka and Piyasiri Wijenayake, leaders of the National Freedom Front, briefed their proposals to the President .
President Rajapaksha warmly welcomed the NLF leaders and said he would consider their proposals.
According to the party sources, the NLF recently unveiled their party proposals to safe guard the country and the people.
The NLF sources said it plans to set up a consultative committee to strengthen safe guard of the public and the country with the help of the President.
This meeting was the first meeting of the NLF leaders who met the President after forming their party.

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LTTE affiliate WTM in Canada outlawed

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Toronto-based LTTE front organization - World Tamil Movement - has been outlawed by the Canadian Cabinet under the Anti-Terrorism Act, today.

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President meets Wimal’s NFF

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Members of the National Freedom Front led by MP Wimal Weerawansa called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees today.

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Twin raids by air force

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Air Force fighter jets raided an LTTE’s supply and warehouse in Pudukuduirrippu in Mullaitivu, while combat helicopters attacked Forward Defence Lines of the LTTE in Nagarkovil today, the air force said.

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Dinesh new Chief Government Whip

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Close associate of the President Rajapaksha veteran Parliamentarian and Minister Dinesh Gunawardana appointed as the Chief Government Whip of the Parliament. Currently he holds leadership of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna .

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Serbia shuts down LTTE radio

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After exposing that Voice of Tigers (VoT) is the official radio of the banned terrorist outfit LTTE, the Serbian authorities have taken prompt action to cease the transmission of the radio station which broadcasted its programmes from 1st June up to 9th June. According to reliable sources, the Government of Serbia has terminated the broadcast license granted to VoT to retransmit to Europe, North Africa and Middle East via Serbian satellite.

It is reported that several influential contacts have helped the LTTE to obtain the transmission license to broadcast of Tamil FM Radio through Serbian satellite. However, the Serbian authorities were not aware of the true nature of the contents of VoT and the moment they realized the connection between the VoT and the LTTE, the transmission was terminated.

Earlier the LTTE used the US based INTELSAT-12 for their radio and television transmissions which was banned later by the authorities with the unveiling of that these stations are solely carrying out a propaganda mission of the proscribed terrorists outfit distorting the real image of Sri Lanka in favour of the terrorists.

The second attempt of the LTTE to resume their transmissions through the Hong Kong based AsiaSat, using a third party to obtain a satellite loop was also ceased with the timely revelation of the true nature of broadcast material.

Last month, the LTTE, though influential contacts in the Middle East, obtained the services of EU TELSAT in Serbia for the transmission of a newly set up radio station named Tamil FM Radio. However, within a few days it became known that the Tamil FM Radio is nothing but the VoT, the official broadcast station of the LTTE. When the Serbian authorities realized that the transmission was promoting terrorism, the agreement was terminated.

With these setbacks in their propaganda mechanisms experts point out that the LTTE terrorists may be eyeing on setting up a new radio or TV channel using some other name via a different satellites. Experts are also of the view that a international regulatory mechanism is urgently needed to prevent terrorist organizations from using radio and television waves for propaganda.

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Air Force targets LTTE positions- Wanni and Jaffna

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Sri Lanka Air Force today (June 16) carried out 2 air raids targeting LTTE positions in the Jaffna Forward Defence Line (FDL) and at Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mulaithiuvu LTTE stronghold.

According to the Air Force sources , fighter jets pounded a key LTTE logistic base comprising a warehouse complex located 2 km southeast of Puthukkudiyiruppu junctions around 10 am . The sources confirmed that the target was accurately taken.

The second raid was carried out by the MI 24 helicopter gunships targeting LTTE positions in the Nagarkovil area around 11.30 am. The sources said that the attack carried out in support of the Army operations currently underway in the area. The attack was successful, the sources added.


Troops spearhead from Vavuniya front; 29 terrorists killed in yesterday's clashes
With the addition of two new divisions to the Vavuniya front, troops have set their main thrust in the Wanni theatre in the west of A-9 road. According to the military reports received from all battlefronts, indicated that 29 terrorists were killed, 19 others wounded while 18 more were recorded as either killed or wounded during yesterday's (June 15) clashes.

On the Vavuniya, front troops belonging to 57, 61 and 62 divisions had a series of clashes with the terrorists at several locations during the course of the day and claimed 13 terrorists were killed and 3 others wounded. Also, one soldiers was killed and 8 others wounded during these clashes.

In the Navatkulama area, troops attacked a group of terrorists last evening using small arms and RPG and claimed one LTTE cadre was killed. Also , troops removed 3 AP (Anti Personnel) mines during search operations in the area.

In a similar incident occurred in the Weerapirayan area troops claimed 2 terrorists killed in the same evening. Meanwhile, at Navvi , troops attacked an LTTE bunker last evening and confirmed 3 terrorists were killed.

Separately in the Kovitkunchu Kulama area , troops clashed with the terrorists at 3 occasions and claimed 7 terrorists killed and 3 others wounded. During the subsequent searches, troops found 3 bodies of LTTE cadres along with three T-56 riffles and one radio communication set. Also, one soldier was killed during one of these incidents.

Meanwhile, 8 soldiers suffered injuries in AP mine explosions occurred in the Palamoddai, Mundumurippu, and Periyamadhu areas during the day. Soldiers engaged in clearing operations in the Periyamadhu area uncovered 4 claymore mines.

On the Welioya front, troops had daylong clashes in the North of Janakapura and Kiriibbanwewa areas and claimed 8 terrorists were killed, 15 others wounded and 15 more were either killed or wounded. Also, one soldier was killed and 4 others wounded during these clashes. Troops removed 31 AP mines and found 7 hand grenades during search operations.

On the Mannar front, five soldiers suffered injuries due to an LTTE attack in the Nedunkandal area last morning.

Meanwhile, on the Jaffna theatre of battle , troops attacked LTTE positions in the Ponnar , Kilaly and Muhamalai areas during morning hours and claimed one terrorists was killed and 3 others were either killed and wounded. A soldier was injured during a clash occurred in the Muhamalai area.

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British High Commission’s Defence section to close down

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The British High Commission in Colombo announced that it would continue its bilateral defence relationship with Sri Lanka without residential Defence representation in Colombo.
In response to the claims that the Defence section in the High Commission in Colombo would be closed down soon, a spokesman for the Commission in Colombo said that it had decided to remove the resident Defence Adviser from Colombo and close the Defence section stating that it “looked carefully at our global representation and where we could continue our bilateral Defence relationship without residential Defence representation.”

He also said that the British Defence Ministry has had to “prioritise its resources in the face of the increased costs of the Defence Attache network together with other financial pressures.” However the spokesman also stated that its Defence relationship with Sri Lanka will not be covered from the British High Commission in New Delhi.

“The Ministry of Defence in London will continue to monitor developments in Sri Lanka, and if the situation requires, may deploy individuals for short terms,” he added.

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INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONTINUES TO PIN HOPE ON GOVERNMENT

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--Jehan Perera


The World Bank’s decision to provide Sri Lanka with USD 900 million over the period 2008-2011 would come as a morale booster to the government. Sri Lanka’s inability to retain its seat in the UN Human Rights Council despite intense lobbying by the government has been generally seen as a vote of no confidence on account of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. However, the World Bank’s willingness to commit itself to a significant level of developmental support to Sri Lanka for a three year period suggests that the international community is reluctant to penalize the country, and the masses of its poor people, on account of the human rights situation.

The World Bank decision would encourage the government to view its forthcoming application to renew the favourable tax concessions from the EU in terms of the GSP+ facility with a greater measure of confidence. Economists have pointed out that Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU, particularly from the apparel industry, are crucially dependent on the favourable import duty reductions that the GSP+ facility makes possible. Due to the fact that over 100,000 jobs are believed to be at stake, even the main opposition party has pledged to support the government’s efforts to enact and implement the necessary requirements to retain the facility.

Obtaining the GSP+ facility is likely to prove harder than obtaining economic assistance from the World Bank. The World Bank is first and foremost a bank, and its decision making processes are primarily driven by economic motivations. From an economic point of view Sri Lanka is an attractive investment option, in comparison to many other third world countries. It has an educated population, a comprehensive social welfare system and a dense network of governmental institutions that operate in the remotest villages. Further, responsible fiscal management by successive governments has ensured that Sri Lanka has never defaulted on its international financial commitments.

On the other hand, the GSP+ facility is only partly an economic contract. Countries that are entitled to receive its benefits need to demonstrate their commitment to international law and to practices of good governance that are consistent with upholding the rule of law. Accordingly, countries that seek to obtain the GSP+ facility need to show their adherence to 27 international agreements, which include protection of human rights and labour rights. Reports submitted by UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, and the International Labour Office, influence EU decisions in this regard. Unfortunately the escalating war that the country is presently experiencing has made the fulfillment of these criteria problemmatic for the government.


CENTRE STAGE

Any country that is fighting a war will sooner or later find that the war has taken centre stage in the affairs of the country. The nature of violence, like that of fire, is to expand and spread. This means it is difficult to fight a limited war in which human rights are protected and the rule of law prevails. This is true of Sri Lanka’s war as well as international wars. Even the US, which seeks to ensure human rights compliance worldwide stands accused on this count. There has been a recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States permitting those incarcerated in US prisons in the war against terror to file Habeas Corpus applications in the regular civilian courts of law, rather than be restricted to military tribunals.

In a similar way, the war against terrorism that the Sri Lankan government is fighting against the LTTE has led to serious human rights violations. The worst manifestation of these is the targeted killing of civilians by bombs placed on buses and trains and remote-controlled claymore mines in different parts of the country. There has also been a long list of political assassinations, abductions and intimidations that have targeted a range of actors, including the media. Addressing the inaugural convention of the breakaway faction of the ruling SLFP, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga is reported to have said, “It is not right for a government which is fighting against terrorism to act like terrorists. It will not be successful. There should be alternatives to end terrorism. The only solution to terrorism and terror is freedom and democracy.”

The present government needs to be more mindful of the need for it to balance the competing interests of liberty and security. This is precisely the position taken by the US Supreme Court in ruling that the US government could not deprive any person, even those arrested in the course of its war against terror, from knowing the charges against them. The US Supreme Court said, “Liberty and Security can be reconciled; and in our legal system they are reconciled within the framework of the law.” The majority in the Supreme Court took this decision despite a minority of judges opposing it on the grounds that the US was at war with radical Islamists, and one judge saying the decision “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Strict adherence to the rule of law, even in a time of war, is what makes a country democratic and not fascist.

It is no cause for surprise that attacks in Sri Lanka against media personnel in particular would become well known internationally, as the international media would rally together to protect its own. The treatment of senior journalist and editor, J S Tissainayagam would be a case in point. He was arrested over three months ago, on allegations that he was supporting the LTTE. But so far no charges have been leveled against him in open court. His case has been taken up by the international media, and media organizations, including the International Federation of Journalists. These send negative messages to the international community.


UNBALANCED APPROACH

Underlying the government’s seeming insensitivity to international opinion, appears to be an attitude that there is no greater national purpose than to remain in power and defeat the LTTE. The government’s decision to dissolve the Provincial Councils for the North Central Province and Sabaragamuwa Province are pointers in this regard. The government’s attention ought to be devoted to safeguarding civilian life, the spiraling cost of living and securing the EU’s GSP+ facility. Instead the government appears to be focusing its energies, and the attention of the country, onto elections that are not essential at this time.

The government has sought to justify its decision to dissolve the two provincial councils on the grounds that they have become ungovernable. The ruling party has the largest number of seats in the two provincial councils, but it does not have an absolute majority. Until the government suddenly dissolved the two provincial councils it was not evident that there was indeed a problem of ungovernability. The opposition has taken the issue of the premature dissolution of the two provincial councils to the judiciary arguing that this action was taken without consulting them.

It appears that the government’s intention is to consolidate its power by obtaining a fresh term of office in the provincial councils, which would further demoralize and weaken the opposition. But the loss to the country can be as high as the gain to the government. This is on account of the neglect of the principles of good governance that are crucial to obtaining the GSP+ facility. In addition, the arbitrary dissolution of the provincial councils by Presidential fiat will undermine confidence in the strength and viability of the provincial council system which the government has been promoting as the solution to the ethnic conflict.

Despite the problems with these government actions, the underlying strength of international support to Sri Lanka, which is one of the third world’s oldest democracies, remains intact. French Ambassador Michel Lummaux who speaks on behalf of the EU on account of Slovenia currently holding the presidency of the EU, has reconfirmed the EU’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s unity and democracy and opposition to a separate state. He also stated that the grievances of minority communities should be addressed within this contextual framework. This political support of the EU, combined with the World Bank’s support for economic development, demonstrates the goodwill of the international community in facing the LTTE’s challenge. But to maximize this support, the government needs to adopt a more balanced approach to conflict resolution.

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