The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

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