The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Saturday, 28 June 2008

6th Sri lankan die: Doha Fire

The death toll from last week's fire tragedy in the Al Asmakh area of Doha rose to six yesterday with one of the injured succumbing to his injuries.

Dulan Salika Rathnasiri, who was in a critical condition at the Trauma Intensive Care Unit of Hamad Hospital, passed away at 9am, Sri Lankan Coordinating Committee (SLCC) President Lenny Cramer informed The Peninsula.

The fire, in a two-storey building on Al Maymoun street, had claimed five lives on June 19.

The Sri Lankan community in Qatar held a religious ceremony at the Sri Lankan Embassy premises yesterday evening to pay its last respects to the six victims — all Sri Lankans — of the devastating fire.

A Tharmakulasingham, Charge d' Affaires at the Sri Lanka Embassy, and his wife Rohini Tharmakulasingham attended the ceremony, which was led by the Sri Lanka Daham Pasala. Sri Lankans of all faiths took part in the ceremony.

Prayers were also offered for the speedy recovery of another of the injured, Vijitha Aluthge, who is recuperating at the Burns Unit of the Rumaillah Hospital.

Source: thepeninsulaqatar

India, Sri Lanka set up a security group

India has set up a mechanism with Sri Lanka to establish contact on the security situation and other bilateral issues.

India and Sri Lanka have formed an informal mechanism to remain in regular touch on the security situation in the island nation as well as on bilateral issues, a foreign ministry official said Friday.

He said the three-member Indian group in the mechanism includes National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defense Secretary Vijay Singh. The Sri Lankan team consists of the secretary to the president, the defense secretary and the political secretary to the president.

The Indian team had visited Colombo last week to meet the Sri Lankan group. Both sides held detailed discussions on the steps being taken by the authorities to ensure an incident-free South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit in August and other related matters. Sri Lanka will hold the crucial meeting of the SAARC, a body of South Asian nations, amid growing incidents of violence.

Notwithstanding repeated requests from Colombo urging New Delhi to help find a solution to its ethnic conflict, New Delhi has refused to intervene in the matter for domestic political reasons.

Source: metimes

Friday, 27 June 2008

Sri Lankan military says it has killed 49 rebels

Sri Lankan forces captured a Tamil Tiger supply center and bombed a rebel training base amid a surge in the island's civil war that killed 49 insurgents and two soldiers, the military said Friday.

"This shows that the soldiers are moving forward, gaining ground," military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.

The army offensives are taking place in areas with a lot of rebel fighters, leading to the high death tolls, he said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment.

The government has vowed to crush the Tamil Tigers and capture the vast area controlled by the rebels by the end of this year.

In the latest fighting, troops seized a key supply base Thursday in the northern Vavuniya district that was used to replenish the Tamil Tigers' front line troops, Nanayakkara said.

The battle, as well as two other clashes in Vavuniya, killed 30 rebels, he said.

Other fighting Thursday along the front lines in the Mannar and Welioya regions bordering the rebels' de facto state in the north killed 19 rebels and two soldiers, he said.

The military said fighting over the past week has killed 180 rebels and 19 soldiers. Analysts accuse both sides of exaggerating enemy losses and underreporting their own casualties.

Meanwhile, air force fighter jets pounded a rebel training base Friday deep inside rebel territory, the army said. Nanayakkara did not provide details of damage or casualties, but said the pilots confirmed that the target was hit.

It was not possible to independently verify the military reports because journalists are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place.

The Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Source: AP

SriLankan to fly six times a week to Colombo from Doha

SriLankan Airlines yesterday announced it will be increasing its frequencies to Colombo out of Doha to six times a week with effect from July 15. The airline uses Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft on the route.

The flights will depart from Doha daily except Saturday. Three flights a week will be routed via Bahrain, Mohamed Fazeel, SriLankan Airlines Regional Manager (Middle East, Africa and CIS), said yesterday.

The increased frequencies can be attributed in part to the Sri Lankan government's moves to increase tourism from the GCC. A special promotion is also being offered where two children aged 12 and under will be allowed to fly free. Arrangements have been made with certain hotels in Sri Lanka as well as ground services like airport transfers to ensure the package is carried forward there, Fazeel said.

"We have confidence in this (Doha) market. This has been a profitable route for the airline in comparison to points like Dubai, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. Doha and Bahrain are the only routes on which we have increased frequencies," he said.

Bookings for the holiday package have to be completed by July 15 and the promotion runs until August 31. "We hope to attract more Qataris to Sri Lanka. This is the peak time for Arabs in the region to travel. If all goes well, we may even extend the promotion," said Fazeel.

Last year, 800 nationals visited Sri Lanka from Qatar and another 1,800 residents went to the island-nation last year. SriLankan is also touting its easy connections to destinations in the Far East, via Colombo, to points like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The airline, like most others around the world, has been hit by the rising costs of jet fuel, forcing it to raise fares by 10 to 15 percent across the board. "We are trying to cut down costs but not in passenger-related areas. There has been staff cuts and e-ticketing has helped us reduces costs in printing tickets," said Fazeel.

Asked about whether Emirates would sell its 43 percent stake in Sri Lanka's national airline, Fazeel said it was up to the Dubai-based carrier to decide. Although Emirates continues to hold on to SriLankan shares, it has relinquished management control.

After Emirates gave up management control, rumours abounded about other carriers moving in to pick up Emirates' shares, including Qatar Airways, which firmly denied it had any interest. Other names mentioned include India's Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines.

SriLankan operates a fleet of 14 all-Airbus aircraft. Although no acquisition of jets is planned, the airline is looking to 're-fleet' its Airbus A320 aircraft through leases of jets.

Source: thepeninsulaqatar

LTTE rebels sourcing explosives from India

Indian intelligence agencies said Sri Lanka's rebels are sourcing raw materials for explosives from two major Indian cities.

According to a senior Intelligence Bureau official, armed guerrillas of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are sourcing raw materials for explosives and ammunition from Information Technology city Bangalore and industrial city Mumbai, previously called Bombay.

India's enforcement agencies seized an important commercial consignment of chemicals, which is used in making explosives, at Madurai in southern Tamil Nadu state last month. It was dispatched from Bangalore and was meant for delivery to the LTTE, who have been waging an armed battle against the island government demanding independence.

The consignment -- 500 kilograms (more than 1,100 pounds) of a variety of chemicals including diphenylamine sulfates, some chlorate salts and acids -- was seized minutes before it was to be offloaded at a transit point, the enforcement department said.

"The seized chemicals can be altered to make explosives. The consignment was marked commercial and was to be handed over to some locals and Sri Lankans, who were assigned with the task of smuggling it to Sri Lanka. "We have arrested some people and are investigating the case," said an official.

Source: upi

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Torture endemic in Sri Lanka police-rights group

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 today.

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.

Fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger guerrillas has intensified since the government formally pulled out of a six-year-old ceasefire pact in January.

The Tamil Tigers, who are fighting for an independent state for minority Tamils in the north and east of the island, have hit back with a campaign of suicide attacks.

Source: deepikaglobal

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

31 LTTE cadres, two soldiers killed in Lanka clashes

At least 31 LTTE cadres and two soldiers were killed in fierce clashes in Sri Lanka's embattled northern region where army captured a portion of the rebel-held territory, officials in Colombo said on Wednesday.

As many as ten LTTE cadres were killed in confrontations with security forces as troops brought under their control areas in Mullikkandal, Minnaniranchan and Marattikannadi in Mannar region, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

The army also said it had captured three square kms of area in north of Adampan in Mannar.

Another three Tiger rebels were killed in two different confrontations in Periyamadu in Vavuniya yesterday, the MCNS said.

While three rebels were shot dead in Nedunkandal in Mannar, two others were killed in Anandakulam in the region, the military said.

Two LTTE cadres were killed in Sirimullikulam in Mannar yesterday, the MCNS said, adding another rebel was gunned down in Weerapirayan area in the region.

At least three LTTE cadres were shot dead and 18 others injured in different incidents in Kiriibanwewa in northeast Welioya, the military said.

Separately, troops killed seven rebels and injured nine in confrontations in Welioya, the MCNS said, adding two soldiers also lost their lives.

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry said at least 20 civilians fled from the LTTE-held areas in Mullaithivue and Malayanwadu and reached a Sri Lankan army point seeking protection.

"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," it said.

Source: hindustantimes

Karunanidhi, Vaiko protest attacks on Indian fishermen

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concern over the Sri Lankan navy repeatedly opening fire on Indian fishermen in the waters between the two countries. A copy of his letter was given to the media here by the chief minister’s office.

In his letter, Karunanidhi urged the union government to ensure that the “rights and privileges of the Indian fishermen to carry on their normal occupation of fishing in the waters of Katchatheevu (an island in Palk Strait)) must be recognised and restored”.

Reminding the government of the 1974 and 1976 agreements between India and Sri Lanka, Karunanidhi said, “Fishermen were allowed to dry their nets in Katchatheevu but were prohibited from fishing in Sri Lankan territorial waters around Katchatheevu following executive instructions”, which, he pointed out “did not flow from the two agreements”.

“…they were executive instructions and cannot supersede the provisions of the legally valid agreement entered into by the two countries”, Karunanidhi said.

The executive orders have caused a great deal of hardship to Indian fishermen over the years as their “traditional rights” in Katchatheevu have been denied them.

“Time and again our fishermen have been arrested, attacked and shot dead in these waters. Each one of these incidents has shocked the people of the state and rocked the legislative assembly,” the note said.

“I urge the Government of India to take necessary steps to protect the precious lives of Indian fishermen and also to ensure their livelihood,” Karunanidhi said in his letter.

MDMK general secretary Vaiko too wrote to the prime minister Tuesday, urging him to boycott the forthcoming SAARC meeting in Sri Lanka because of the attacks on ethnic Tamils in the neighbouring country.

Source: thaindian

Monday, 23 June 2008

Tamil Nadu govt. orders survey to detect property purchases by Lankan refugees

The Tamil Nadu government has ordered the revenue department to undertake a detailed account of movable and immovable properties owned by Sri Lankan refugees in the state.

As per the government policy, refugees should not be allowed to buy property in the country. But it was not followed, leading to complications in some localities.

An official told PTI the Central government has sent several circulars asking the officials to keep a watch on the purchase of properties by the refugees.

The officials of the Q-Branch and the revenue department would conduct an initial survey of the properties owned by the refugees, followed by a detailed survey which would cover vehicles also.

With the officials having the list of refugees staying inside and outside the camps, it should not be a problem to find out the purchases made by the refugees, officials said.

But if the properties had been bought outside the state or in the border areas, it would be a problem. The officials would approach the residential localities where the refugees were staying and find out if any purchase had been made.

The help of the sub-registrar office also had been sought to find out the details.

The details about workshops, industrial units etc owned by the refugees were also being collected. The properties included land, house sites, houses, two-wheelers and heavy vehicles.

Source: Hindu

Clashes Kill 18 In Northern Sri Lanka

At least 16 Tamil Tiger rebels and two security personnel were killed in fresh clashes in Sri Lanka's restive northern region, the military said on Sunday.

Sri Lankan troops on Saturday had several confrontations in the Navatkulama, Chiraddikulama, Palamodai, Mundimurippu, Navvi and Kurukkolkulam areas on the Vavuniya front, the defense ministry said.

One security personnel lost his life in a The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) booby trap suspected to have been set up by the rebels in Jaffna's in Kilaly area on Sunday morning, the ministry reportedly confirmed.

It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because media are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels have been battling for an independent homeland since 1972 in an ethnic conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Source: AHN

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Bomb detected on Kandy rail track

A bomb fixed to the rail track at Nawalayatenna on the Kandy-Matale line was detected and defused yesterday evening, Central Province Deputy Inspector General Kingsley Ekananyaka said.
He said the bomb, weighing 750 grams and containing C4 explosives, was found close to the place where a bomb exploded damaging the track last month.

Source: sundaytimes


The STF defused a 6kg claymore recovered by workers cleaning a cannal in Kettarama, Colombo this afternoon.


Saturday, 21 June 2008

28 Lankan fishermen held: India

Indian Coast Guard on Saturday caught 28 Sri Lankan fishermen for allegedly crossing into Indian waters and handed them over to the police here.

The fishermen were taken into custody by the Coastguard personnel of the vessel "Sagar" when they were fishing at 65 nautical miles from Kanyakumari in the exclusive economic zone of India around midnight last night, police said.

The Indian Coast Guard DIG Raghuvanshi ordered that the fishermen, who were fishing in six boats, be taken into custody, they said.

Police have arrested them, the sources said.

The boats were also handed over to police.

Source: Hindu

Air attack, 8 LTTE killed

Sri Lanka's military attacked Tamil Tiger rebel positions along the civil war's northern front lines by land and air Saturday, killing at least four guerrillas, the military said. Four other rebels were killed in clashes a day earlier, it said.

Air force helicopter gunships attacked a rebel gathering point in northern Mannar district to assist army troops fighting the rebels in the area, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.

Nanayakkara did not give details about damage or casualties, but said the pilots hit their target.

Heavy fighting has been reported in Mannar in recent weeks.

In other fighting Saturday, army troops fired rocket-propelled grenades at a rebel bunker in northern Vavuniya district, killing four rebels, the military said in a statement.

Four other guerrillas were killed Friday in separate clashes in Welioya and Vavuniya districts, the military said. Nine government soldiers were wounded in the battles, it said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment.

It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because journalists are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place. Each side commonly exaggerates its enemy's casualties while playing down its own.

Fighting has escalated along the war's northern front lines since the government withdrew from a long-ignored cease-fire in January.

The government has pledged to capture the rebels' de facto state in the north and crush them by the end of the year.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for minority Tamils, who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by majority Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed.

Source: iht

India against military solution to Tamil ethnic problem

Capping a closely-guarded visit by a high powered Indian delegation that met Sri Lankan Presiden Mahinda Rajapaksa, India today said it was not in favour of a military solution to the Tamil ethnic problem.

"India hopes that Sri Lanka can find a peaceful solution to the (ethnic) conflict within the framework of a united Sri Lanka that is acceptable to all the communities. We hope there is no military solution to the conflict," a senior Indian official said at the end of the two-day visit here of the delegation led by National Security Adviser M K Narayanan.

The team, which also included Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, met Rajapaksa and held detailed discussions for about an hour.

None of the visiting Indian officials met the press and a brief statement was read out to the Indian journalists.

There was intense speculation over the purpose of the visit especially with significance being attached to the presence of the Defence Secretary in the delegation.

The two sides are understood to have discussed security arrangements for the upcoming SAARC summit among other issues.

The meeting between Rajapaksa and the top Indian officials took place at the residence of the Sri Lankan President before the Indian team returned home.

According to sources, the Indian delegation yesterday met the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Senior Adviser to the President Basil Rajapaksa and some Tamil leaders among others.

The visit of the Indian officials comes two days after Sri Lanka indicated its willingness to hold talks with the LTTE following a two-year gap, saying the outfit does represent a "fair amount" of Tamils

Source: ptinews

Sri Lanka threatens to nationalise Indian Oil

Sri Lanka has threatened to nationalise the local unit of Indian oil unless it reduces the retail price of diesel, local officials said on Friday.

Petroleum Minister AHM Fowzie said the government will take over the 160 fuel retail depots operated by Lanka IOC, the local subsidiary of India’s state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), unless it makes the reductions. Diesel is commonly used by public transport. “Steps could be taken to re-vest the filling stations given to the IOC,” the minister was quoted as saying in the state-run Daily News.

Sri Lanka sold a third of its petroleum distribution network to the IOC in 2003 as part of a move to end the monopoly on retail sales. While the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) sells diesel at Rs110 (1.02 dollars) a litre, the IOC sells it at Rs130. The CPC diesel is subsidised by the state. The government argues more motorists are buying the subsidised diesel and as a result, increasing losses are incurred by the state.

Lanka IOC said they were not able to absorb losses by selling diesel at the same price as CPC. “The minister wrote to us, asking to reduce our diesel prices to the same (level) as CPC or face sanctions,” Lanka IOC MD said.

Source: thenews

Indian delegation led by NSA in Sri Lanka

A delegation of top Indian government officials including the National Security Advisor (NSA) MK Narayanan flew to Colombo in an apparently unscheduled visit on Friday, triggering speculation about the possible reasons behind it.

Accompanying Narayanan were Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh.While the High Commission of India said the visit was in connection with the upcoming SAARC summit beginning end-July, Sri Lankan officials said the trio was here to continue dialogue on issues of mutual interest. Neither Indian diplomats nor Lankan officials were ready to comment on the visit of the three most powerful bureaucrats in India.

But it was confirmed that they would be meeting President Mahinda Rajapakse on Saturday morning. It was also learnt that Narayanan, Menon and Singh met their counterparts in the Sri Lankan government on Friday evening.

The three, along with at least two other middle-level officials, arrived on a special flight from New Delhi around 11.30 a.m. An Indian High Commission official said: “They would carry out a detailed assessment of the agenda to be taken up during the SAARC summit. They will also discuss Indo-Sri Lankan relations. The visit has been undertaken because India attaches a lot of importance to Sri Lanka.”

Source: hindustantimes

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Chinese company gets contract for construction at Lanka port

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," the state-run Daily News reported.

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, the newspaper 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.

Source: newkerala

Lanka ready to revive talks with LTTE

In an apparent softening of its stand, Sri Lanka has offered to hold talks with the LTTE after a two-year gap, saying the outfit does represent a "fair amount" of Tamils but ruled out immediate revival of the ceasefire scrapped in January.

"The (Sri Lankan) President has already announced that he is ready to talk (with the LTTE)," Basil Rajapaksa, the powerful Special Advisor to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said.

On whether the President has specified that he will not talk unless the LTTE lays down arms, Basil merely said "those are conditions that have to be worked out".

"The government is always open to talks but the government needs to have a certain environment in which we can talk," Basil, an MP and brother of the Sri Lankan President, told the Daily Mirror newspaper.

On being asked whether the LTTE represented the Tamil people, the senior advisor said "yes, they represent the Tamil people but they are not the only ones. That has been proved.

"But this doesn't mean they don't have the strength or that they represent no Tamils," he said.

"They (the LTTE) do represent a fair amount of Tamil people. Unfortunately their way of doing it can't be approved. Otherwise the President is always willing to have negotiations and a settlement. The best scenario is where we negotiate and settle it with the LTTE," Basil said.

The two sides had six round of talks after the 2002 ceasefire but the rebels pulled out in 2006. The peace process received a crushing blow in January when the government scrapped the tattered ceasefire, a move that unleashed a fresh wave of violence as the military intensified its offencive against the Tamil Tigers in the north.

Source: pti

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Gun Battles Kill 25 Tamil Tiger Rebels, 7 Soldiers

Twenty-five Tamil rebels and seven soldiers were killed during gun battles in Sri Lanka's Northern Province, the Media Centre for National Security said.

Sri Lankan soldiers and members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam clashed in the regions of Mannar, Jaffna, Vavuniya and Welioya yesterday and early today, the government's Media Centre said in a statement on its Web site. Six soldiers and four rebels were injured in the battle, it said.

The military is staging almost daily attacks on the northern region, the only area controlled by the rebels since they were driven from Eastern Province in July. The LTTE has been fighting for a separate homeland since 1983 in an insurgency that has left more than 70,000 people dead. The rebels are designated a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and India.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has vowed to eradicate terrorism on the South Asian island while seeking a settlement with all Tamil groups. It ended a 2002 cease-fire with the LTTE in January, prompting the United Nations to call on the government and Tamil Tigers to prevent an escalation of violence against civilians.

A group of rebels ambushed an army post in Mannar, killing a soldier, the pro-rebel said in a statement on the Web site. Another soldier was seriously injured in the grenade attack, it said.

The Sri Lankan military killed 68 civilians, including seven children, during its offensive in May, the LTTE said in a statement on its Web site. Another 44 people ``disappeared,'' the group said.

Source: bloomberg

Malaysian Govt will crack down on Tiger link

The Home Ministry is investigating claims that Malaysians were working with Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger terrorists to carry out a bomb attack in Colombo.
This followed the arrest of six members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Saturday in Wattala, Sri Lanka where the authorities also seized 2.7kg of high-powered C4 explosives.

According to a Sri Lankan news report, 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 report, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the government would not hesitate to act against Malaysians linked to the LTTE.

He said his ministry would contact the Sri Lankan government to clarify the allegations and seek its assistance to obtain information on the Malaysians said to be involved.
"I have checked the report. Malaysia will never tolerate any type of terrorism. If it is true that Malaysians are involved, we will find them and take severe action.

"There have always been allegations that some Malaysians are involved with the LTTE," Syed Hamid said after the opening ceremony of the Eighth Asean Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (8th-SOMTC) here yesterday.

The report in the Sri Lankan online daily, The Daily Mirror, stated that six LTTE suspects, allegedly responsible for the recent bomb blasts in Colombo and its suburbs, were taken into custody by a special police team on Saturday.

Police investigations revealed these suspects, five men and a woman from Welikanda and Vavuniya, had been living in Wattala in a rented house for a long period.

It was also revealed this group had planned to explode a bomb in Colombo on Saturday but police foiled their plans.

The report also stated the suspects had been given directions to carry out attacks from Malaysia over the phone.

A senior police official was quoted as saying: "They were awaiting orders from Malaysia to carry out the attack on Saturday."

Meanwhile, a top LTTE operative, who masterminded an international LTTE credit card scam, was nabbed on the same day by police in Wellawatte.

At the time of arrest, the suspect had in his possession a large number of personal identification numbers (PIN) and bank receipts issued by both local and Malaysian banks.

Source: nst

Italian police arrest 28 Tamils on terror charges

Italian police arrested 28 Sri Lankan Tamils on Wednesday on charges of aiding and abetting the outlawed Tamil Tigers group fighting a separatist insurgency against the government in Colombo.

Some 200 police were involved in the operation which saw raids across the country from Naples in the south to Bologna in the north, and also on the island of Sicily, an official with the police counter-terrorism cell told AFP.

The 28 people arrested were suspected of membership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and of providing funding for the group, the official said.

The LTTE is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union.

The Tigers have been fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka since 1972. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict.

Source: AFP

UTStarcom wins SLT IPTV contract

UUTStarcom Inc. said Tuesday it has signed a new contract to supply its Internet protocol television equipment to Sri Lanka Telecom Public Ltd. Co.

The Alameda company's "multi-million dollar" agreement with Sri Lanka Telecom partner Just In Time Holdings Pvt. Ltd. will eventually support the delivery of voice, Internet, and television services to Sri Lanka Telecom's 1.3 million customers on the south Asian island.

The initial rollout of UTStarcom Inc. (NASDAQ: UTSI) equipment is designed to support about 100,000 subscribers over the next two years. It will also enable the company to provide video services to future subscribers over copper lines in the next three to four years, it said.

Source: bizjournals


Fortune 1000 company that specializes in IP-based networking products for telecommunications companies and service providers. Its core markets are multimedia communications and broadband, including IP communications and entertainment (IPTV), next generation broadband networks and optical network solutions. It also sells handsets and other consumer products including DSL modems and voice over IP terminal adapters. It has a large customer base in Asia, particularly in China, where it manufactures the majority of its products and where most of its employees are located. It also has business operations in the United States, India and Japan as well as research and design operations in the United States, China, Korea and India.

History of UTStarcom

The company was founded in 1991 by Lu, a China-born, US-educated entrepreneur, as Unitech Telecom. In its early years, the company was focused on the telecommunications markets in China. In 1995, Unitech merged with Starcom Networks to form UTStarcom. After several years of trying to build its business in China, UTStarcom launched the Personal Handy-phone System (PHS), also known as the Personal Access System. PHS is a scaled-down version of a cellular network and has 56 million subscribers in China. UTStarcom went public in March 2000. The IPO and a series of acquisitions helped the company expand its business and technology beyond its base in China to other emerging economies in Asia and Latin America as well as to Japan, the United States and Europe. Acquisitions Between 2002 and 2004, UTStarcom acquired several companies to expand its technology portfolio and market opportunities in areas such as handsets, CDMA technology, broadband and IP-based communications.



Stock is doing well this year

Stock up 100%

Note: i do not own UTStarcom(NASDAQ:UTSI) or SLT(COL:SLTL) shares

Monday, 16 June 2008

Norway to continue promoting peace in Sri Lanka

The Norwegian government said on Sunday that its policy towards Sri Lanka remains unchanged and it will continue promoting the peace in Sri Lanka, according to reports reaching here from Oslo.

"The policies guiding our engagement with Sri Lanka remain firm and will not change," Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway Raymond Johansen said in a statement.

Norway is committed to assisting Sri Lanka in finding a solution to the ethnic conflict while respecting the country's territorial integrity, he stressed.

Norway will support a negotiated solution that addresses the legitimate grievances of the Tamil speaking communities and is acceptable to all communities, the official added.

The Norwegians facilitated six rounds of direct talks between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) between September 2002 and March 2003. But its facilitation role in Sri Lanka had reached a dead end following the government decision in the beginning of this year to formally withdraw from the six-year-old ceasefire brokered by the Norwegians.

Source: xinhua

Sunday, 15 June 2008

20 killed in Lanka clashes, jets destroy LTTE facility

Sri Lankan Air Force jets destroyed a key LTTE combat logistic facility in a rebel stronghold today as fierce ground clashes killed 17 Tamil Tigers and two soldiers in the island's embattled north, the military said.

One civilian was shot dead in eastern Trincomalee by an unidentified assassin yesterday, the police said.

Giving details of the airstrike on the rebel stronghold, Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said the facility was used to maintain and service LTTE's combat vehicles.

"Sri Lankan Air Force fighter jets launched precision air sorties destroying a key LTTE combat-logistic facility located at Venavil in Mullaittiuvu district this morning," Air Force Spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said.

Large explosions were observed from the target site, Nanayakkara said quoting fighter pilots. He said the facility was used to convert, maintain and service LTTE's combat vehicles.

The spokesman said the workshop at this site was used to modify, maintain and service combat transport vehicles for the LTTE.

It is also believed to be a prime logistic and combat supply storage for the outfit militants, he said.

"According to latest information, the LTTE site is still burning following a series of explosions that were reported immediately after the air raid this morning," he said.

"This strategically important facility also consisted a large fuel dump," sources said.

In ground clashes, troops killed eight rebels in fierce clashes in Periyamadu tank in North-western Mannar yesterday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

Source: pti

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Dozens killed in fresh fighting across Sri Lanka: military

At least 13 Tamil Tiger rebels and sixgovernment troops have been killed in fresh fighting across Sri Lanka's embattled northern region, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

Friday's fighting, which was centred around the Mannar, Weli Oya, Vavuniya and Jaffna regions, also wounded 27 combatants on both sides, the military said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) made no comment on the government's statement.

Fighting is now concentrated in the island's north after government troops ejected the LTTE from its eastern stronghold last July.

Friday's fighting raises the number of rebels killed by security forces to 4,222 since January while 369 soldiers have died in combat during the same period, according to the defence ministry.

The ministry does not allow media and rights groups to travel to the frontlines, making its claims impossible to verify.

The LTTE has been fighting for a separate homeland for ethnic minority Tamils from the majority Sinhalese community in the island's north and east since 1972.

Tens of thousands of people have died in one of Asia's longest-running conflicts.

Source: AFP

Friday, 13 June 2008

Lankan Foreign Minister to visit India from Sunday

The situation in Sri Lanka, which has been witnessing a spurt in violence recently, will come up for discussion here next week when Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama undertakes a visit here.

The Indian side is expected to convey its worry over the situation in the island nation when Bogollagama holds talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday.

India has been closely watching the situation in Sri Lanka where violence and clashes between army and LTTE have marked a substantial increase.

The Sri Lankan army has said it has launched a major operation to capture LTTE chief V Prabhakaran "alive".

Commenting on the developments in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister said on Monday that the conflict in the neighbouring country "has given a lot of worries because many times it happens that when ethnic tensions increase, there is a tendency of increased inflow of refugees in our country".

It also creates "both domestic problems as well as foreign policy problems," he said.

Bogollagama will extend a formal invite to the Prime Minister for the 15th SAARC Summit to be held in Colombo in August.

The Summit was originally scheduled to be held in the Maldives but the venue was shifted to Sri Lanka after security concerns following a bomb attack in Male.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in December 1985 by heads of state or government of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal and Maldives. Afghanistan was inducted as the eighth member of SAARC last year.

Source: Hindu

Fighting in Sri Lanka kills 11 rebels, 4 soldiers

A wave of battles broke out between government forces and Tamil Tiger separatists in Sri Lanka's north and east, killing 11 rebels and four soldiers, the military said Friday.

Fighting erupted Friday in northern Vavuniya district when insurgents fired at a group of soldiers, killing two of them, the military said in a statement.

Several other clashes took place Thursday, with most centered along the front lines separating government troops from the rebels' de facto state in the north.

In Vavuniya, five rebels were killed in two battles, while in the Welioya area, five rebels and two soldiers were killed, the military said.

Meanwhile, police in Trincomalee killed a suspected rebel after he threw a grenade at them, the military said. Trincomalee is a town in eastern Sri Lanka, a region the government wrested from rebel control last year.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment.

The two sides routinely exaggerate their enemy's casualties while underreporting their own.

It was not possible to independently verify the claims because journalists are banned from the jungles where much of the fighting takes place.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent state for the island's ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Source: AP

Stop Tamil Tigers raising money in UK, says President Rajapaksa

Britain stands accused of applying double standards to its counter-terrorism policy because a banned Tamil militant group is being allowed to raise money among expatriates in London.

President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka said that supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were able to raise millions of pounds each year from the Tamil community in Britain, some of whom were coerced into donating the money.

“You can't have two different attitudes towards terrorism,” he told The Times this week during a visit to London for a Commonwealth meeting, where he raised the issue with Gordon Brown. “I don't agree that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists. There is only one kind of terrorist.”

There are about 150,000 Tamils living in Britain, mostly in North London. The Sri Lankans estimate that £70million is sent home every year.

“These are not voluntary contributions, the money is taken by force, usually a percentage of their income,” said Mr Rajapaksa, who attracted Tamil protesters during his stay. “The money is sent back to buy weapons. London is not the only place; money is also sent from Europe, Canada and other places.”

The Sri Lankan leader, who has earned a reputation as a hardliner, came to power nearly three years ago when a fragile ceasefire brokered by Norway was still in place. After a series of clashes — including suicide attacks against the head of the Army and Defence Minister, who is the President's brother — the simmering 25-year old conflict erupted into fresh violence.

Over the past two years government troops have been successful in retaking some rebel-held areas to the east and north of the island, but at a heavy cost. Several Sri Lankan sailors and Tamil guerrillas were killed yesterday when the “Sea Tigers”, the rebel naval wing, attacked a navy base on the island of Mannar. So far this year an estimated 4,000 Tamil Tigers and 357 government troops have been killed.

Many of the casualties are civilians and government troops have been accused of widespread human rights abuses and of allowing a pro-government paramilitary force to commit atrocities.

Mr Rajapaksa said that he was taking steps to protect human rights. He blamed his Government's poor international reputation on “clever propaganda” by the Tigers.

“We have failed in the propaganda fight,” he said.

Mr Rajapaksa insisted yesterday that in spite of the cost in lives and damage inflicted to Sri Lanka's tourist trade he would not resume peace talks with the Tamil Tigers until the organisation agreed to disarm.

“When they are weak they call on the international community to arrange a ceasefire. During this period they train and rearm and then fight back. This time if they want to talk, they should disarm first,” he said.

Even if the Tigers were to meet his preconditions it seems unlikely that he would ever be able to conclude a peace deal with Velupillai Prabhakaran, the charismatic rebel commander.

“This man and the three or four henchmen around him are blood-thirsty killers,” said Mr Rajapaksa. “They have no feelings. It is very difficult to deal with them.”

In another development, Sri Lanka has refused to let a team of Norwegian peace mediators visit rebel territory without a clear “road map” for a democratic solution, fearing a visit coud be used as propaganda. The military said yesterday that it was closing in on the Tamil Tigers' leader.

“The security forces are attacking Mullaittivu, Prabhakaran's hideout, from several directions. The army's aim is to capture Prabhakaran, who is holed up in a bunker, alive,” Lieutenant-General Sarath Fonseka said.

Source: times

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Sri Lanka says peace brokers can't visit rebel north

Sri Lanka has refused requests by Norwegian peace mediators to visit rebel territory, and said fresh peace talks hinged on Tamil Tiger guarantees to lay down arms and stick to a negotiation timetable. Nordic ceasefire monitors quit the country this year after the six-year Norway brokered truce disintegrated.
Earlier this week, Seewaratnam Puleedevan, secretary-general of the rebels' Peace Secretariat, said he wanted to meet directly with peace facilitators.
However, the government said the team headed by Norway's Special Peace Envoy John Hansen Baur, would, for now, not be allowed to visit the rebels' northern stronghold.
"We don't want -- Mr. Baur coming up, so that they can take photograph of him and say 'Mr. Baur has come to see the terrible sufferings inflicted on Tamil people of the Tamil Ealam'. It can't be propaganda," Rajiva Wijesinghe, the secretary general of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP), told Reuters on late Wednesday.
"Baur had wanted to go. But we have told him, we want a very clear idea of why you are going. It would mean a commitment of the LTTE and what they want Baur to come and talk about."
The government said it would only reconsider restarting the dead peace process when the rebels agreed to a clear road map to ending the 25-year civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.
The government's stance comes amid intensified fighting between the military and rebels who want an independent state in the north and east.

"What the Sri Lankan government wants is -- the Norwegians have to give us a clear road map," said Wijesinghe.
"Unless you have a clear road map that leads to a democratic political solution, I don't think you can take any LTTE claim to negotiate a deal.
"Part of that road map would be a ceasefire and commitment ... guaranteeing of laying down of arms. That road map should make very clear to us, there is a very genuine commitment to negotiate to a political solution."
If the Tigers want to pursue peace talks without laying down arms, they should at least guarantee de-commissioning of arms, Wijesinghe added.
Meanwhile, the military said they said on Thursday they were closing in on rebel leader Valupillai Prabhakan.
"The Security Forces are attacking Mullaittiuvu, Prabhakaran's hideout, from several directions. The army's aim is to capture Prabhakaran, who is holed up in a bunker, alive," army commander Lieutenant-General Sarath Fonseka said.
"Prabhakaran is believed to be living in an underground bunker in the area. Forces have already regained several hundred square kilometres where the Tigers held sway and they have to march forward another 21 miles to achieve the final goals."

Source: Reuters

EU puts Sri Lanka aid package on the line

The Europen Commission has serious concerns about Sri Lanka's human rights record and wilL withhold a 70 million-euro aid package unless it opens up, a top EU official said today.

The commission said the package was dependent on Sri Lanka removing barriers to humanitarian assistance, including resolving visa issues for Red Cross and UN workers in the country.

''We expressed our serious concerns with the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, as indicated by a range of sources including reports from United Nations rapporteurs,'' Deputy Director General for External Relations of the European Commission Joao Machado said in a statement.

''We emphasised -- there are increasing problems in delivering this aid in Sri Lanka that need to be resolved,'' said Machado after meeting with Sri Lankan government officials.

The government said the human rights situation had improved, but admitted there had been concerns about rights violations in the past.

''If you look at 2007, the situation of disappearances and other incidences are better than 2006,'' said Rajiva Wijesinghe, an official at the ministry of human rights.

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.

Source: deepikaglobal

Indian firm plans IT park in Lanka

City-based real estate developer PS Group is setting up an IT park in Sri Lanka with an investment of $80.4 million.
The company has entered into a joint venture with Sri Lanka Institute of Technology and Infinity Parks Ltd, another city-based real estate company, to develop this project.
“This is our first international project and we feel there are lots of such opportunities in neighbouring countries. This IT park project will provide direct and indirect employment to 20,000 and 80,000, respectively,” said Pradip Chopra, chairman and managing director of PS Group.
PS Group will be developing 1.6 million sq ft for the technology park for which the Sri Lanka Institute of Technology will provide 16 acres.
In the first phase, around 500 million sq ft will be developed for the project, which is expected to attract around 20 to 50 companies.
The company has also tied up with a US-based hedge fund, which will be investing in their future projects.
“We have also been approached by Sampath Bank Ltd, one of the largest Sri Lankan banks to help develop their properties through similar joint ventures,” said Chopra.
In Chennai, the PS Group is developing a 4 lakh sq ft residential project. It has also entered into joint ventures to develop 11.5 lakh sq ft of retail space in Coimbatore and nine lakh sq ft of residential complex in the same city.
An IT special economic zone (SEZ) of 2.5 million sq ft is also being planned in Chandigarh.
PS Group is involved in a service sector SEZ, which is being planned in collaboration with farmers at Hinjewadi, Pune. “We are doing this project in collaboration with the farmers who will be stakeholders in the project in various ways. It is very difficult to repeat that model in Bengal as the land holdings are fragmented and the urban and agricultural land ceiling act makes it very difficult to follow such a model,” said Chopra.

Source: telegraphindia

Sunday, 8 June 2008

LTTE wants India’s help to stop military ops

Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, engaged in fierce gun-battles with security forces in the island nation’s embattled north, want India to intervene to halt the clashes between the warring sides, a leading daily here has claimed.

“As the LTTE is currently facing a series of setbacks in the (rebel stronghold of) Wanni warfront with senior LTTE military leaders killed by the security forces, the LTTE is once again seeking India’s help to stop the ongoing military operations,” the Daily Mirror said. Besides, the paper claimed, “the Tigers’ political wing had initiated a campaign to pressurise the Indian central Government to take action in this regard.”

“In order to achieve this goal, the LTTE is using several channels for the purpose and mainly the pro-LTTE politicians in Tamil Nadu,” the report said, adding the pro-rebel MDMK leader Vaiko had made several statements to this effect. “Knowing that the Indian Government can put pressure on the Sri Lankan Government, it is learnt that the Tigers are expecting to use the opportunity to come into a Ceasefire Agreement,” the paper said in an editorial on Friday.

The daily recalled that the LTTE’s ‘Peace Secretary’ S Pulidevan had recently said the rebels would wait for the

Norwegian facilitators to be granted access to Kilinochchi to further discuss issues relating to negotiations.

The LTTE’s political head B Nadesan late last month had denounced Sri Lankan Government’s plan for power devolution under which local elections were held recently in the East, saying “Tamil sovereignty and the right to self-determination” were key issues for a negotiated settlement to the ethnic problem.

Under Sri Lanka’s policy of implementation of the 13th amendment, Provincial Council elections for the East took place on May 10, leading to anti-LTTE party TMVP leader Pillayan becoming its Chief Minister.

Source: indianexpress

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Sri Lanka issues media guidelines

Amid growing concern in the media over what is perceived as high-handedness of the Defence Ministry towards journalists critical of the current war in the nation, the Sri Lanka Defence Ministry has formulated new guidelines for the media.

The guidelines, in the form a lengthy advisory posted on the ministry’s website, come amid heated exchanges between the media and the Defence Ministry over the recent move by the Defence Secretary to summon representatives of the government-controlled media house to discuss matters related to coverage of defence matters.

In response to charges that the Defence Secretary’s move amounted to intimidation of the media, the ministry asserted the government has the right to summon journalists to discuss defence-related issues.
Rising tensions

For several weeks now, relations between sections of the media and the government have been strained on issues related to the war’s coverage. The recent abduction and subsequent release of a defence editor of an English weekly after severe beating further aggravated the situation.

The government denied any role in the abduction. However, the police’s failure to apprehend the culprits strengthened suspicions that the government was hiding something. Against this backdrop, the latest guidelines to the media have triggered a controversy. It has been issued under the heading, “Deriding the war heroes for a living — the ugly face of ‘defence analysts’ in Sri Lanka.” It reiterated what was termed as “its stance over the irresponsible defence reportage,” and said the ministry would take necessary measures to stop “this journalistic treachery.” The advisory said: “Thus, whoever attempts to reduce the public support to the military by making false allegations and directing baseless criticism at armed forces is supporting the terrorists who continuously murder citizens of Sri Lanka.”

The guidelines list criticism of military operations, promotion schemes, procurement and unethical methods to obtain sensitive information as issues of concern. Anybody breaching the norms would be considered as “traitors,” it said.

“Military operations are planned and conducted by the officers with 30-40 years of service… The ministry is of the view that it is no one other than the officers who are qualified to plan, conduct, and analyse military operations. Also, the Ministry does not consider those who call themselves ‘defence analysts’ in the media possess any military education or experience to make any serious defence analysis,” it said.

Further, the guidelines said: “Any journalist that lures a soldier to give away information he is not authorised to give is instigating him or her to breach the military discipline. Likewise, if such journalists lure the soldier by exploiting his/her personal grievances, weaknesses, ego, and personal disputes or even by bribery; the journalist is inflicting an irreparable damage to one of the most valuable national asset.”

Source: Hindu

US quits Human Rights Council

The news that the US has completely withdrawn from the Human Rights Council spread like wildfire Friday afternoon (June 6) through the corridors of the Palais des Nations in Geneva. There was general consternation amongst diplomats and NGOS. Reached by phone, the American mission in Geneva neither confirmed nor denied the report. Although unofficial, the news comes at a time of long opposition by the Bush administration to the reforms which created the Human Rights Council in June 2006. Washington announced from the beginning that the US would not be an active member but its observer status would mean that it could intervene during the sessions. To date even this has rarely happened.

“We don’t understand the reasons nor the timing of the decision”, said Sebastien Gillioz of Human Rights Watch. “There have even been some positive signs during this Council. For example Belarus was not re-elected as a member in 2007 nor Sri Lanka this year”.

The stupefaction was made greater by the fact the US actively took part in the universal Periodic Review (UPR) process where 32 countries were scrutinized by their peers in April and May. In particular a series of recommendations were made regarding Romania, Japan, Guatemala, Peru, Tunisia, Ukraine, Indonesia and others.

Diplomats are equally concerned. If the current president of the Council, Doru Costea, declined to comment, his predecessor, Luis Alfonso De Alba said that he didnt see any reason to justify such a decision. Several observers mentioned Washington’s growing discontentment with the influence of the Islamic and African countries in the Council.

“It is an aberration”, said Peter Splinter of Amnesty International. “It seems that the government has lost its mind. How could it believe it is going to improve human rights by running away? It is like those who say, ‘I don’t like the way this town is governed so I’m not going to vote’”.

For Human Rights Watch (HRW), the US has shown very little commitment to human rights in general. The working group against arbitrary detention gave up going to Guantanamo last month because Washington would not allow its members to have face to face meetings with detainees. For its part, the Rapporteur against racism, Doudou Diene, has fought for years to be able to pay a visit and only recently got permission.

But Eric Sottas, director of the International Organisation against Torture sees it as a a political gesture. “The US has always clearly shown its opposition to the Council. This is a slightly more public way of putting pressure on it in order to raise the stakes. What is more the Bush dynasty is coming to the end of its mandate,” he said. “It reminds me of the time when the Nixon administration, which backed Pinochet in Chile, chastized the UN for criticising the Chilean dictator. But when Carter was elected in 1977, the American government took the floor at the Human Rights Commission to ask forgiveness. After a presidency like that of Bush, you can expect some important changes in US policy on human right.”

HRW is still worried about the withdrawal. “The message is worrying”, says Sebastien Gillioz. “ Ever since September 11, 2001, the US has constantly interpreted international standards in an “ a la carte” manner that has eroded human rights. Its behaviour has served as an example to a stream of states, including Pakistan, Egypt and other, who are not embarrassed to review human rights standards on homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment. It is a step backwards.”


Friday, 6 June 2008

Sri Lanka Vows Secure SAARC Summit Despite Increasing Tamil Tiger Attacks

The 15th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is scheduled to be held in less than two months, in the Sri Lankan capital. The government there is reassuring member countries it can provide adequate security for the attending heads of government, despite increasing attacks by the Tamil Tigers in and around Colombo. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman, in our South Asian Bureau in New Delhi, has this report.

Leaders of eight South Asian nations are scheduled to meet in Sri Lanka at the end of next month for the annual summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. High-ranking envoys from several other observer nations will also attend the region's most significant diplomatic conference.

The host government is seeking to reassure nervous delegations that adequate security will be in place. In recent months, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have escalated bombing, in and around the capital, targeting trains, buses and government ministers.

Media reports quote Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa as informing SAARC Secretary General Sheel Kanta Sarma that all necessary security measures will be in place to protect the one thousand delegates and several hundred media personnel.

The executive director of the Colombo-based Regional Center for Security Studies, Syed Rifaat Hussain, says the capital is as secure as any place in the region to hold the summit.

"Of course, one can never rule out the possibility of a bombing attack. And, I'm sure, that the Sri Lanka government is cognizant of that," he said. "Colombo is really as dangerous or as safe a place as any place else in South Asia."

Maldives originally had been selected as the site for the 15th SAARC summit. When the island nation's officials said they would be unable to host, Sri Lanka stepped in and announced the summit would be held in the ancient hillside capital, Kandy. However, security concerns prompted another change of venue, to Colombo.

This year's summit is considered critical, as the region faces a growing crisis of over rising fuel and food prices, which have the potential to trigger civil unrest.

Hussain, at the Regional Center for Security Studies, expects these will be major issues for the eight-day summit, which begins July 27.

"Energy and the impending food crisis will be the focus of discussion," he said. "Even though we have not seen the agenda. But, I think, this will be definitely part of the informal consultations, if not the formal deliberations."

SAARC has been criticized for achieving little, despite its high-profile annual meetings and lofty declarations. But analysts note that, in the last couple of years, the association appears to be gaining traction - especially in terms of regional counter-terrorism cooperation and creation of social programs.

SAARC is composed of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Also expected to attend this year, as official observers, are: China, the European Union, Iran, Japan and the United States.

Source: VOA

ICC announces umpires and referees for Asia Cup

The International Cricket Council Thursday appointed Mike Procter and Alan Hurst of the Emirates Elite Panel as match referee for the Asia Cup cricket in Pakistan from June 24.

"Procter will oversee the matches staged in Lahore while Alan Hurst will supervise the matches to be played in Karachi," an ICC statement said.

Simon Taufel, Brian Jerling, Ian Gould and Tony Hill have been appointed as umpires for the series.

Asia Cup - Match referees: Mike Procter (Lahore) and Alan Hurst (Karachi)

24 June -- Bangladesh vs UAE, Lahore (Simon Taufel, Ian Gould); Pakistan v Hong Kong, Karachi (Tony Hill and Brian Jerling)

25 June - Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Lahore (Simon Taufel, Ian Gould); India v Hong Kong, Karachi (ODI) (Tony Hill and Brian Jerling)

26 June - Sri Lanka v UAE, Lahore (ODI) (Simon Taufel, Ian Gould); Pakistan v India, Karachi (ODI) (Tony Hill and Brian Jerling).

Source: newkerala

Lanka's largest IT Park to be set up in Malabe

Sri Lanka's largest Information Technology Park is to be set up at Malabe by two Indian companies, Infinite Infotec Park Company and G.S. Group.
The Sri Lanka Information Technology Institute and India's Ernst and Young Company will assist the BoI in the implementation of this project involving an Investment of US $ 80 million, the Department of Government Information said yesterday quoting BoI Chairman Dhammika Perera.
The BoI handed over the approval letters to the two Indian companies. They are due to sign the agreements with the BoI within 45 days and construction work would begin early next year, Perera said.
The new Information Technology Park is part of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama's mission of setting up a national IT industry.
The IT Park to be set up in a 15-acre block adjoining the IT University at Malabe will have uninterrupted electricity and water facilities and a vehicle park.
It is expected to generate 20,000 direct employment opportunities and indirect employment to nearly 80,000 others.

Source: dailynews

Lanka flash flood kills 24

At least 24 people have been killed and as many as 3.62 lakh affected in Sri Lanka’s flash floods even as water started receding in some of the affected areas following respite from rains. The flood situation is vastly improving since Wednesday after a drastic decline in rainfall all over the country during the last two days, an official said.
As many as 93,000 families in nine districts were affected by the floods in the island country, according to official figures.
The government has announced Rs 15,000 each as funeral expenses for those who perished in the flash floods following heavy rains.
As many as 24 people were killed and 3.62 lakh people affected by the disaster, officials said.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities were trying to coop with the widespread damage caused by the floods.
Steps were also being taken to prevent any outbreak of diseases due to the animal carcasses lying around the huge stretch of marshy land across Sri Lanka following heavy unabated rains. A sum of Rs five crore has been allotted for immediate relief and rehabilitation measures

Source: howrah

Lankan oil exploring license given to Indian comapny

Sri Lanka has granted a license to explore oil to India’s Cairn Energy PLC in an offshore block off the country’s North West Mannar basin. The Indian Oil Company is promoted by Cairn Energy PLC, a crude oil and natural gas exploration and production firm listed in the market of London stock exchange. Cairn Energy PLC currently holds 69% interest in Cairn India.
The company said Sri Lanka granted them Block SL 2007-01-001 is offshore North West Sri Lanka and covers approximately 3,400 Km2 in water depths of 200 metres to 1800 metres.
As soon as the license was granted shares of the company gained Rs. 1.85 or 0.71%to settle at 263.95 Thompson Financial Agency reported.
The energy company announced that the petroleum resources agreement between the company and the government will be signed very soon.
Cairn India currently operates 11 offshore platforms, approximately 200 KM of sub-sea pipelines, and two processing plants.
Company sources revealed Cairn India is at present focused on exploration and production in India, where it has a working interest in 14 blocks, two of which are producing gas and oil. The company made major oil discovery (Mangala) in Rajasthan at the beginning of 2004. More than 20 discoveries have been made in Rajasthan block RJ-ON-90/1.

Source: asiantribune

Thursday, 5 June 2008

39 LTTE cadres killed in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, 39 Tamil Tigers cadres have been killed and 36 others wounded since Wednesday, as the Government forces claimed to have captured a 'heavily fortified ' LTTE trench line at Adampan in Mannar . On the other hand, one soldier was killed while seven others were injured, the defence sources confirmed in Colombo on Thursday.
Military spokesman disclosed that most intense fighting of the day was in the north-central district of Vavuniya, where 24 cadres of the Tamil outfit were gunned down. Official reports suggest that hostilities were quite fierce in Koolankulam, Vilathikulam, Periyamadu, and Navavi areas of Vavuniya.
11 cadres of the Tamil outfit were killed in the north-western district of Mannar. Sporadic fighting was reported from Kattakkulam, Kurukandal and Nadunkandal and Adampan regions in the district. A spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security told AIR that army succeeded in capturing LTTE's main trench line located north of Adampan in Mannar.
Three Tamil Tigers were killed in Weli-Oya while one was gunned down in Jaffna, thus taking the LTTE toll to 36.
Military said that one soldier each was killed in Jaffna.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Air Force on Thursday, destroyed an LTTE position as it pounded a 'strong-hold area' of the Tamil outfit at Periyamadu in Mannar. Air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said that the aerial bombing was carried out in support of advancing ground troops.

Source: newsonair

Monday, 2 June 2008

Sri Lanka flash floods kill 9, displace thousands

Floods triggered by torrential rain have killed at least nine and forced thousands of people from their homes in Sri Lanka, with some taking shelter in schools and temples, officials said on Monday.

Flooding, often fueled by monsoon rains, and ensuing mass displacement are common in Sri Lanka.

(AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

"Nine people have been killed and a total of 83,433 people have been affected due to the heavy rains," said Keerthi Ekanayake, national coordinator at the National Disaster Management Centre.

The Meteorology Department forecast continued rainfall in coming days with the start of the southwestern monsoon.

"Of those (affected) about 520 families are in 14 IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps," Ekanayake added.

He said most of the displaced were living with friends and relatives.

Heavy torrential rains struck the Indian Ocean nation's Western districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kaluthara, the southern districts of Galle and Mathara, and the Gem mining district of Rathnapura.

(AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

In March more than 7,000 people were displaced from their homes in eastern Sri Lanka, included families living in basic camps who had already been forced to move there by renewed war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

In January, more than 30,000 people were displaced in the east by monsoon flooding, while in December 175,000 people took refuge in welfare centres and temples in the eastern and central parts of the country following flash floods.

The infrastructure of Sri Lanka, with a population of 20 million, has long been neglected because of a protracted war between the state and Tamil Tigers, which has killed more than 70,000 people since 1983.

Flooding and drought are cyclical in Sri Lanka, where a southern monsoon batters the island between May and September, and a northeastern monsoon runs from December to February.

Source: Reuters