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Sunday April 27th, 2008

Clandestine EU mission in Colombo
A covert European Union (EU) fact-finding mission in Colombo has warned that the government’s lukewarm response towards addressing substantial issues in the backdrop of a worsening human rights record... (See Inside)

US admonishes Sri Lanka on ‘new friends’
The United States Government has sent out a strong warning to Sri Lanka over the island’s rapidly growing close ties and diplomatic (See Inside)

Red alert (again)!
An island-wide security boost has been imposed following Friday’s bomb blast which killed 26 and injured more than 40, including women and children.
Special steps have been taken to boost security... (See Inside)


            Quiet desperation          

A distraught woman waits impatiently for the remains of a beloved family member at the Kalubowila Hospital Mortuary yesterday. Relatives and friends have been kept waiting for hours since Friday night but the hospital authorities have failed to release most bodies, causing sheer fury among the families of victims
                                  (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)



Opposition shuns May Day rallies
The country’s main two opposition parties, the United National Party (UNP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)... (See Inside)

SriLankan crisis solved?
The most-recent crisis at SriLankan Airlines, which erupted with some 18 pilots attached to the national carrier going on a sick... (See Inside)

Colombo in nuclear cover-up
In a desperate attempt to prevent a massive diplomatic row, the Sri Lankan Government took speedy action to camouflage... (See Inside)




Rice crisis escalates
Contrary to claims made by Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardene, traders have disclosed that there is a severe rice shortage in the market.
According to a Pettah trader, there has been a large reduction in the number of rice lorries arriving in Pettah.
“Usually we get around 30 lorries transporting rice per day but this week there were only a handful of lorries entering Pettah. We are worried that there might be a huge shortage of rice in the coming weeks,” he said.
He further noted that despite the Minister’s assurance, the mill owners were yet to release rice.
“The Minister told us that the mill owners would send rice but so far we have only received very few stocks from them. The Minister informed us that the mill owners would... (See Inside)

Opposition gangs up against government for misusing state resources
Leading opposition parties have alleged that the government is misusing state properties for the Eastern Provincial Council elections.
The main opposition United National Party (UNP) said that the government was exploiting state properties for the Eastern Provincial Council election. According to UNP Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake, the government had taken 12 vehicles from each state institution to be used for election propaganda.
“We have got to know that the government is using state vehicles and officers for its election propaganda. We are monitoring the situation and are hoping to take action against it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday said that it was hoping to make a complaint to Elections... (See Inside)

JVP booms against India again
India is conspiring to plunge Sri Lanka into chaos by unnecessarily interfering in the country’s internal affairs, charged Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) strongman Vijitha Herath.
He added that India has supported the LTTE both directly and indirectly in the past and is now conspiring with imperialistic forces.
“India, along with other international powers, is trying to destabilise Sri Lanka. Many countries in the region are being influenced by India. India does this especially through its economic might,” he asserted.
He added that neither India nor any other foreign power should get involved in solving the... (See Inside)

RSF condemns government’s ‘preventive censorship’ moves
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders organisation yesterday condemned moves to prevent the media obtaining information following violent clashes in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, which inflicted heavy casualties to both sides.
The media watchdog charged that the government was trying to win the news war by doing the utmost to keep journalists away from combat zones and medical facilities and that it was also trying to influence the editorial stance of both local and national newspapers.
“The clashes and the evident losses have pushed the military authorities into establishing ‘preventive censorship,’ such as preventing photographers and reporters from reaching hospitals and morgues to establish the death toll,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. (See Inside)

JVP changes letterhead to halt misuse
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has decided to change the format of its official party letterhead, following the use of its letterhead by a certain mysterious group to issue fake statements to the media.
JVP MP Vijitha Herath said that this decision was taken as a measure to stop such acts occurring in the future and to prevent any confusion among media organisations.
“There was an incident where our letterhead was misused by another group. Following that incident, our Secretary Tilvin Silva lodged a complaint,” JVP MP Vijitha Herath said.
“We have decided to change the format as a protective measure. We hope that this change of format will prevent such incidents happening in the future,” he added. (See Inside)

Dramatic malaria reduction fuels hopes of quick elimination
Sri Lanka has seen a drastic reduction in malaria cases over the last few years from a whopping 200,000 cases reported annually in 2000, to a mere 196 cases last year.
This was revealed at a seminar held to mark World Malaria Day organised by the Health Education Bureau on Friday.
The dramatic decline of Malaria during the last decade, especially during the last four to five years, has fuelled hopes for the Health Ministry that the debilitating disease which had wiped out thousands of lives in the past in Sri Lanka can be completely eliminated in the near future.
Speakers, who included a panel of malaria experts, described the reduction of the incidence of the disease as “remarkable.” (See Inside)




Politics littered with sinister fractioning!
The theatre of conflict in Sri Lanka is ever changing and not least because there are so many conflicts brewing. There is a war in the North, there are pitched political battles in the East and, as if for comic relief, there is a battle within the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in the South.
After the JVP captured the headlines for a couple of weeks, the eastern provincial elections regained its focus after a lull in campaigning during the New Year holidays. But last week, even the polls were eclipsed by news of fresh military offensives in the North resulting in significant casualties.
There have already been suggestions from opposition political parties that the timing of the military thrust in the North-weeks before the polls in the East-may be a political ploy of the government to sway the eastern voter. Whatever the motive, the battles are real... (See Inside)

IIGEP viewed as conspiring against the state
The government is once again caught up in a human rights web with the decision of the Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to quit Sri Lanka.
The decision to quit was announced on Tuesday after the Chairman of the IIGEP former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagawati addressed the media and said that the government had no political will to get to the bottom of the human rights violations in the country.
However, Justice Bhagawati’s claims were countered and contradicted by Attorney General C.R. De Silva, who claimed that the IIGEP members did not attend the Commission of Inquiry sessions properly and therefore were not in a position to make statements at regular intervals.
The attendance of the IIGEP members was on a 10% average and, in most cases, some members have not attended a single session.
The Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe also came out strongly against the IIGEP, stating that it would be ridiculous for them to issue statements when they have not attended the Commission of Inquiry sessions properly.
The government’s... (See Inside)


Tigers demonstrate military prowess at Muhamaalai
For many, many moons, the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been projecting an image that everything is going well for the security forces on the military front.
The people of this country have been the targets of a sustained propaganda barrage claiming that everything was hunky-dory for the regime in the ongoing war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
False propaganda
The scale of this propaganda has been so great that many people in the south have been taken in and believed that ‘victory’ over the Tigers was imminent.
This focus about winning the war instilled buoyancy in the public mood, which has helped the Rajapaksa regime to help contain resentment over the rising cost of living, inflation, economic decline, corruption, mismanagement, nepotism, economic decline, etc.
Many faults of the government are being tolerated to some extent because of the perception that the Rajapaksa regime is winning... (See Inside)

The cruel sceptre of death stalks again
There is a saying that natural phenomena corresponds with the events of the human world. Last Friday, along with the humidity and darkness that crept in before the usual time, the heavy rains and the cold winds also brought something deadly in their wake into an outskirt of Colombo; death…
Again, another bomb went off at Piliyandala, a predominantly Sinhala Buddhist area taking the lives of 26 innocent civilians and injuring 49. Images of bodies being carried away in bags, school children in blood soaked uniforms and people screaming and shouting flashed across televisions horrifying a nation.
The Nation visited the Piliyandala and Kalubowila hospitals and to our horror came across scenes of unimaginable chaos, loss and lamentation. (See Inside)



Rift in ICC: Malcolm Speed sacked
International Cricket Council’s chief Executive Malcolm Speed has been sent on paid leave till July following rumours of his reported rift with President Ray Mali.
Speed, whose contract ends on July 4, has been accused of not taking any major step against Zimbabwe following an independent forensic audit carried out by KPMG.
According to David Morgan, ICC’s President elect, “This ... is the result of a fundamental breakdown in the relationship between the CEO and a number of board members, including the President, over a variety of issues that include Zimbabwe.”
David Richardson, the ICC General Manager - Cricket, will now serve as interim CEO until Speed`s replacement.
Haroon Lorgat will assume the role of full time CEO at the ICC`s annual conference at the beginning of July.
Speed, who also shared a strained relationship with some of the top BCCI officials, had often been quite critical on some of the issues involving India.
He had recently criticised the track prepared for the third and final cricket Test between India and South Africa at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur and had sought an explanation from the BCCI. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Twenty20 a cash cow
Twenty20 is the name of the game today both universally and locally. While the Indian version of the shortest game of cricket is taking place in India with all its razzmatazz, Sri Lanka is conducting its own form of it at inter-provincial level. Where all this will end up is a matter of conjecture.
The saddest part of it is that such innovative competitions at international level have begun as revenge for not being given what a mogul wants. Take the Kerry Packer World Series for instance. The Australian business tycoon signed up the cream of cricketers from Australia, England, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies to play in a one-day format of the game devised by him which introduced night cricket, coloured clothing, white balls and black sightscreens. These are all today part of the one-day game.
Why Packer started his World Series which was in direct conflict to the traditional game was because the Australian Cricket Board did not give him the exclusive TV rights to Channel Nine. The ‘Packer Circus’ as it was dubbed by the English press was staged between 1977 and 1979.
After nearly 30 years a Packer-style war between a frustrated television mogul and the Indian Cricket Board has led to the introduction of the IPL (Indian Premier League) and the ICL (Indian Cricket League) in India.
The Indian Cricket Board initially excessively tardy in embracing the 20-over format swiftly formed the IPL in direct... (See Inside)


“TNA won’t campaign for any party in the east” — Sampanthan
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Secretary General and Parliamentarian R. Sampanthan has made clear his party’s position, as to why it was not contesting the May 10 Provincial Polls. He explained that participation in the polls would have justified the de – merger through a Supreme Court order, and further justified all the harm inflicted upon the Tamils by the present regime. Adding that the TNA will never view the forthcoming Provincial polls as a legal election, he said the election will not have any impact on the Indo – Lanka Agreement signed in 1989. “By unilaterally abrogating the CFA, the government has virtually renounced peace. And in this background it would be the duty of the government to explain how it proposes to commence a peace process,” he told The Nation in an interview.
Following are excerpts;
Q: The war in the north has intensified and many innocent civilians have been impoverished. How does the TNA view the present development?
A: It is a very sad situation. There are many persons dying on both sides, young people, soldiers and cadres. It is very tragic that they are being destroyed in this way. They are all persons who could have served the country in a much more constructive way. If the conflict had been resolved in a civilised way, through dialogue and accommodation, which was a distinct possibility over a long period of time, and which in my view is still possible, the ongoing tragedy could have been averted. Unarmed civilians, non combatants, men, women and children are also caught up in this conflict. They are being killed, and their assets destroyed. They have been displaced from their homes, deprived of their employment and become impoverished. Their children have been deprived of their education. Large sums of money are spent on the war which is bound to have a very adverse impact on the economy. The consequences... (See Inside)




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