10:40 PM

2 killed, 9 injured in Wellawatha Bomb

According to the latest report received said that 2 civilians were killed while another 9 suffered injuries exploding a hand grenade shot while ago in Wellawatta today.

9:34 PM

Hand grenade explosion in Wellawatta

A hand grenade explosion was reported from Colombo suburb, Wellawatta, area short while ago, May 31. According to the Police, three civilians were suffered injuries due to the explosion occurred in densely populated area along the Colombo- Galle road. Victims were rushed to the Kalubowila teaching hospital, one person seriusly injured.

9:19 PM

Bomb Blast @ wellawatha

Bomb Blast @ wellawatha area short while ago.

6:18 PM

Anti-Lanka actions will stoke conflict

Sri Lanka called on Western powers to be wary of imposing sanctions for alleged human rights violations, warning that the action could worsen the conflict.

"It is necessary to have sympathy for and understanding of the problems of a developing country grappling with terrorism," International Trade Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said in Washington. "And to cut off resources, to threaten to withdraw trade benefits and GSP (General System of Preference) are unhelpful as that will only mean the dissemination of poverty, deprivation and adversity," he told AFP.

Minister Peiris said under such sanctions and other pressures on "a democratic Government pitted against terrorism, you can't possibly prevail." The Minister was in Washington for talks with US officials and to woo US investors to set up business in the Eastern Province.

The US State Department said Thursday that there was no military solution to the ethnic conflict, and emphasized the need for a political settlement. "We have said repeatedly that there is no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka and there needs to be a political solution," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan Feigenbaum. AFP

4:16 PM

Sri Lanka Cabinet Minister leads ‘Death to America’ Demonstration

When a senior Cabinet Minister of Sri Lanka Government leads a demonstration calling for the demise of the United States in front of the American Embassy in Colombo the U.S. State Department, the foreign policy and foreign relations arm of the U.S. Government, seriously considers it an expression of the Sri Lanka government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The report of the demonstration received here in the State Department describes the organization Sri Lanka Palestinian Solidarity Association as a group that has been associated with Rajapaksa for more than thirty years.

In fact, the Colombo American Embassy will not fail to report that the organization is headed by Mr. Rajapaksa who is currently the country’s president. 'Death to America' protest rally recently held in Colombo'Death to America' protest rally recently held in Colombo

If the American Mission reports that the Cabinet Minister attended and led the demonstration with the concurrence of President Rajapaksa, it is a total misinterpretation but such interpretations cannot be avoided.

On the other hand, if the demonstration was not given patronage by a Rajapaksa government minister the State Department here wouldn’t have taken it very serious.

The minister who participated and led the ‘Death to America” demonstration was Labor Minister Athauda Seneviratne.

The American Embassy report of the demonstration calling for the demise of the United States arrives at Washington State Department at a time another senior minister of Sri Lanka Prof. G.L.Peiris is here, as the emissary of Rajapaksa, to engage in negotiations with American officials to maintain and extend the concessions of GSP when he told the AFP news service "and to cut off resources, to threaten to withdraw trade benefits, GSP (General System of Preference) and so on -- all of that is unhelpful because that will only mean the dissemination of poverty, deprivation and adversity.”

2:14 PM

Reggie Ranatunga, MP passed away

Reggie Ranatunga, MP for Gampaha (United People's Freedom Alliance), passed away at a private hospital in Colombo, a short while ago in a private hospital. He was ailing for some time.

A staunch SLFPer and he held important posts in the party and the Government. The former Governor of Sabaragamuwa Province last entered Parliament after fellow parliamentarian from Gampaha, Sripathi Sooriyarachchi died in a car accident a few months ago. Ranatunga is the father of Sri Lanka's legendary cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga, at present Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, who is also a Member of Parliament representing the Colombo District.

9:45 AM

Civil Defence Force averts possible disaster

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

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

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

8:44 AM

Five suicide jackets found

Police acting on an information received from intelligence sources found 5 jackets designed for the LTTE suicide bombers from Maina Doopatha (an islet) in the Chilaw area this evening (May 30). According to the police sources, only four out of the five jackets were filled with high explosives.

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

9:42 PM

21 terrorists killed

Finalized military reports received form the warfronts in the North for yesterday (May 29) indicate that 21 terrorists were killed and 11 others wounded in counter terrorist operations conducted in the Jaffna and the Wanni theaters of battle. Further, 15 others were reportedly killed or suffered serious injuries, according to the reports.

In the Jaffna theatre of battle, troops confronted with the terrorists in the Elathumadduwal area last morning. A soldier suffered injuries in this confrontation. No details on terror casualties were available. Meanwhile, another soldier suffered injuries due to an anti personal (AP) mine explosion earlier on the same day morning.

6:31 AM

Security News

Troops engaged in offensive operation in Wanni front have captured LTTE main supply and administration base known as "Munnagam Base" located in general area north of Janakapura this morning, May 29.

LTTE terrorists have triggered off a claymore mine targeting police vehicles in the Vavuniya area this morning, May 29.

World Tamil Movement (WTM) was so powerful and influential in Canada that even it helped host Canadian Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin and International Cooperation Minister Maria Minna both of the Liberal Party to a dinner to raise funds, May 6 2000.

A journalist, the Jaffna area correspondent for Sirasa, MTV and Shakthi Tv, who had done a comprehensive coverage for the Jaffna Re-awakening trade fair and his friend were hacked to death by unidentified assassins alleged to be LTTE terrorists last evening, May 28.

6:24 AM

6 civilians killed, 20 injured in Jaffna

6 civilians were reported killed, another 20 including a pregnant mother injured in LTTE launched indiscriminate artillery attacks towards the densely populated Jaffna , Sri Lanka mainland this morning (May 29).

The cowardly attack targeting innocent civilians comes within hours after Army and Navy troops successfully repulsed a pre-dawn LTTE infiltration bid at the Chiraththivu islet located along the Jaffna- Mandathivu causeway.According to military report, 20 rounds of heavy artillery shells have fallen into the densely populated Kolombuthurai, Gurunagar and Pasiuura areas causing sheer tension among the civilians who are majority Tamil.

Many civilian properties including vehicles and residences were also destroyed in this attack. A Catholic priest, children and elderly civilians were also among the victims suffered injuries. The injured were rushed to the Jaffna teaching hospital immediately.

12:30 AM

interim injunction on UNP - Mangala agreement

The Colombo District Court has issued a standing interim injunction informing the suspension of the implementation of the agreement signed by MP Mangala Samaraweera with the United National Party.

This order was given at the interim verdict of the petition filed by former UNP parliamentarian Anura Bastian and Western provincial councilor Anil Kumara Wijesinghe.

This order is effective till a verdict is made on a hearing into the case. The petitioners stated that the agreement is contrary to the constitution of the UNP and has not been approved by the working committee of the party.

8:17 AM

Bomb explosion in Dehiwala

Police spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara says 9 persons have been killed in the blast that occurred on a train travelling from Fort to Panadura yesterday evening.

Acting director of the Colombo South General Hospital Dr. Wilfred Kumarasiri said 73 injured persons have been admitted to the hospital. He said six bodies also lie at the hospital.The blast occurred at around 5.00 this evening just as the train was leaving the Dehiwala Railway Station. Police say the bomb was in the hood rack of the 5th compartment of the train.

Many of the victims were office workers headed home at the end of the workday and the victims who suffered injuries were rushed to the Kalubowila teaching hospital and National hospital Colombo. Meanwhile the Government Railway said that Train services along the coastal line resumed a few minutes ago but will be limited to two way traffic on a single line resulting in delays.

8:10 AM

Emergency aid to the People of Myanmar.

Emergency aid from the People of Sri Lanka to People of Myanmar has been air dashed to Myanmar. Ministry of Health helped for the transportation of the consignment up to Katunayake and Mountain Hawk Express Ltd, Licensees for FedEx international Courier Service helped with the logistic service for the Myanmar relief.

Earlier all three chapters of Maha Sangha have appealed for urgent assistance from the public to help people of Myanmar affected by the recent cyclone and community and Business sector given good respond on the Maha Sangha's request.

Subsequently, Minister Milinda Moragoda, Minister Laksman Yapa Abeywardana and Chief justice Mr. Sarath N Silva called a meeting and established a special committee including Aggamahapanditha Kotugoda Dammawasa anunayaka, Ittapana Dammalankara, Brahmanawatte Sivalee, Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana, Maduluwawe Sobitha, Muruttetuwe Anannda, Daranagama Kusaladamma and Thiniyawala Palitha theros to coordinate with relevant authorities on this event.

Sri Lanka Tea board, Maliban Company, Joint apparel Exporters forum and John keels joined with the Minister of Tourism took action to organize a relief consignment to Myanmar cyclone affected countrymen as a gesture of goodwill. In fact the Cultural and Buddhist Religious Relations between Sri Lanka and Myanmar date back to several centuries in the history. The relief project initiated by the Ministry of Tourism was actively supported by the High Buddhist Priests, Catholic Church and several statutory bodies and several business establishments.

Minister of Tourism requested the Government of Norway through Ambassador in Colombo Tore Hattrem for financial support for the air lifting of the consignment to Myanmar. The request made was swiftly acknowledged by the Government of Norway and it was announced that would the cover the cost of carriage up to U. S. $ 90,000/-.

Further in response to a special request, the Norwegian Government consented additionally to meet the cost of air passage to the 10 member delegation headed by Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Trade, Marketing Development, Co-operatives & Consumer Services, accompanying the relief consignment to Myanmar.

12:20 AM

Video surveillance cameras in private buses

Installation ofo surveillance cameras in private buses to detect un-disciplinary activities and financial frauds has commenced.

Two such cameras were installed in two private buses plying between Colombo and Badulla. The cameras record all visual and audio information from the start to the end of the journey.

President of the Inter-provincial Bus Owners’ Association and Basnayake Nilame of the Sri Saman Devalaya in Mahiyanganaya, Ranjith Amarasinghe in whose buses the cameras were installed said the cameras also records the persons who place parcels in the buses and the exact time of such placements.

He adds that it would be possible to find out that bus crew who treat the passengers in a harmful manner and buses which are overcrowded. Mr. Amarasinghe said all buses belonging to the Sri Lanka Inter-provincial Private Bus Owners’ Association will be provided such cameras in future.

8:15 PM

LTTE expert in explosive devices killed

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

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

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

6:08 PM

Death toll rises to Seven People

At least 7 civilians were killed and more than 50 wounded in a bomb blast around 4.45 p.m. Monday at Dehiwela in Colombo inside a packed compartment of a train bound from Maradana to Panandura, according to initial reports. Police said a parcel bomb had went off inside the 5th compartment of the train.

6:00 PM

At least 4 civilians were killed in Dehiwala Bomb

A bomb explosion occurred in side the Colombo-Panadura train while it reaching to the Dehiwala railway station around 4.45 p.m. sources said around four persons were killed and another 27 were injured. Monday at Dehiwela in Colombo inside a packed compartment of a train bound from Maradana to Panandura, according to initial reports. Police said a parcel bomb had went off inside the 5th compartment of the train.

5:45 PM

Bomb Blast Update

Four Person killed in casualty details so far-mil spokesman. Bomb blast in Panadura bound train, at 4.45pm.

"A loud explosion shook a suburban railway station in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Monday, a police officer said."-Reuters

5:20 PM

explosion occurred in Train

Bomb blast in Panadura bound train, a short while ago. The blast occurred at the Dehiwala Railway station. Many causalities, said the sources.


According to the available information the explosion took place around 4.55 p.m and the victims were being rushed to the hospitals.

5:00 PM

Bomb @ train

Sound of explosion head from Train in Dehiwala.

5:02 AM

Chief Ministership to be rotated

Eastern Provincial Council Chief Ministership is to be rotated amongst the three community leaders elected recently at the provincial council election.

Just after the elections to the Provincial Council, United Peoples Freedom Alliance which emerged victorious with 18+ 2 bonus = 20 seats out of the total of 37, appointed Chanthirakanthan Sivanesathurai, the Tamil candidate from the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal as Chief Minister of the East.

After a period of two years, he is to be succeeded by Minister M.L.A.M Hisbullah, a Muslim community candidate for the next two years. After Hisbullah, a Sinhalese elected from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party within the UPFA is to be given the Chief Ministership for the balance period of one year.

The issue of Chief Ministership was considererd in the midst of the UPFA as a contentious issue and earlier, Hisbullah demanded that he should be made the Chief Minister as Muslims have won 8 out of the 18 UPFA elected seats.

5:01 AM

Tamil Tigers report the killing of 16 civilians inside Vanni

Tamil Tigers report the killing of 16 civilians inside Vanni, but Sri Lanka Army denies of any involvement. Tigers have continuously blamed the Deep Penetration Unit of the Sri Lanka Military as responsible for numerous such roadside bomb attacks inside areas controlled by them, which however now raises the credibility of such allegations. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam alleged 16 civilians were killed in a roadside claymore attack at 2.00 pm yesterday, at Akkarayan – Murukandy Road in Kilinochchi – (Pix LTTE Peace Secretariat )Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam alleged 16 civilians were killed in a roadside claymore attack at 2.00 pm yesterday, at Akkarayan – Murukandy Road in Kilinochchi – (Pix LTTE Peace Secretariat )

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam a separatist outfit alleged that 16 civilians were killed in a roadside claymore attack by the Deep Penetration Unit of the Sri Lanka military at 2.00 pm yesterday, at Akkarayan – Murukandy Road in Kilinochchi, an area coming under their control within the Vanni region, located in the Northern province of Sri Lanka.

4:58 AM

Senior U.S. Human Rights Official Visits Sri Lanka

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

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

9:32 PM

Bomb @ Moratuwa

Bomb with 3.2kg explosive found on bus in Moratuwa, Rawathawatha and Safely defused.

More information Follows.

5:41 PM

Bomb attack at civilians averted

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

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

9:19 AM

Tamil Tigers in Paris commemorate Balraj

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) put up posters urging the Tamil community to defy the ban on LTTE activities and participate in the meeting to commemorate the late military leader self styled ‘Brigadier’ Balraj. While the LTTE activists pasted posters in Tamil owned shops at La Chapelle in the French Capital, the police did not take any action as the traders were too scared to lodge complaints with the police.

Some moderate Tamils said that although, the police prevented the pasting of posters of EPDP social worker Ms Maheswary Velautham who was killed by the LTTE earlier this month, there was no action against the posters of Balraj.

According to legal sources, the police could not intervene without a complaint from the shop owners. When the posters of Ms Velauthan were displayed at public places in La Chapelle, pro-LTTE traders complained to the police, following which police ordered the EPDP activists not to display posters at public places without prior permission from the municipality.

8:56 AM

21 Terrorists killed

Troops engaged in offensive march in Wanni and Jaffna theatres killed 21 terrorists and injured 21 in yesterday's (22 May) clashes. More 12 terrorists were reportedly killed or wounded as the report reached from the warfront stated.

On Wanni front, in Vavuniya front, troops attacked fortified LTTE defences in general area Periyamadu killing 5 terrorists and injuring 3 others during day hours yesterday. 2 soldiers also suffered injuries due to LTTE's retaliation. Meanwhile, troops ambushed an LTTE movement in general area Mundimurippu. Intercepting terror transmission it is leant that 4 terrorists were killed while 7 others injured. An army soldier also suffered injuries and he was rushed to Ampara hospital.

1:17 PM

Jets pound on terror command centre

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

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

12:14 PM

Security News 23/05/2008

An army soldier was killed due to a claymore explosion carried out by the LTTE terrorists in general area Bakmitiyawa in Ampara this morning, May 23.

A member of the Tamil political group Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party (EPDP), was shot and injured by alleged LTTE gunmen at the Mannar Town area around 5.35p.m., yesterday (May 22).

Troops while acting on civilian information received, have uncovered few warlike items alleged smuggled by LTTE operatives at Karaveddy in Point Pedro, yesterday (May 22) at around 8.55 p.m.

A Tamil civilian was shot dead by an alleged LTTE gunman in Manipura-Ganeshapur area at Nelukkulama around 12.30a.m., today (May 23), Vavuniya Police said.

6:10 PM

Prabakaran paying his last respect to the demised Balraj

LTTE Peace secretariat released photographs showing reclusive leader of the outfit Velupillai Prabakaran paying his last respect to the demised Balraj at an undisclosed hideout in Vanni.
Details of where and when Prabakaran, the leader of the terrorists outfit paid his last respect to self styled Brigadier Balaraj who died of a heart attack on last 20 May in Vanni, were not disclosed.
Pro-LTTE news websites revealed that Balraj (Balasegaram Kandiah, born on 27 November, 1965), hails from Kokkuththoduvai in Mullaiththeevu district, has commanded the Charles Antony Brigade between 1991-1993 and between 1995-1997. He was an expert on different forms of warfare, including psychological operations, and deployed different tactics during the planning and the conduct of the operations.
According another pro LTTE website, along with LTTE leader Prabakaran - Several commanders of the outfit: Masal - Commander , Keerthi - Special Commander of Batticaloa, Vasanthan – Special Commander for Trincomalee, Sasikumar – Special Commander of the Inteligence Unit, Thinesh – Senior Military Trainer, Pukalenthi – Senior leader of the outfit, Kapilan – Officer in Charge of domestic intelligence, P.Nadesan – Head of the Political Division, Manivannan - Commander Kittu Artillery Brigade, Goapal - Commander Kuttisri Mortar Brigade, Gopith – Commander Charles Antony Special Brigade, Colonel Aathavan – Officer in Charge of army training school, Pavanithi – Commander Kuttisri Mortar Women Brigade, Rathinam – Commandar Military Intelligence, Maran –in charge of the medical unit, Commander Jerry, Commander Vikkies and Commander Lawrence and several other officials of the armed groups participated in the ceremony.

5:07 PM

Two TMVP cadres shot dead

Two TMVP cadres including an area commander were shot dead around 11.15 am this morning at the Kathankudi bus stand. One of them was identified as Shanthan, a top official of the outfit and the other is identified as Tharsan.
According to a police report the two paramilitary cadres were shot and killed while they were riding in a motorcycle.
Yesterday night, there was a clash reported between the TMVP cadres and the EPDP cadres. In the clash 4 EPDP cadres were reported to have sustained injuries. This attack has taken place inside the compound of the Kathankudi Pentecost Church compound.
It is reported that armed cadres claiming themselves as belonging to TMVP are roaming in the Kathankudi, a predominantly Muslim populated area.

3:06 PM

Hisbullah takes oaths as Health minister in EPC

Colombo, 22 May, (Asiantribune.com): M.L.A.M. Hisbullah took oaths this morning at the Temple Trees as the Eastern Provincial Council Minister of Health, Youth and Women's Affairs before President Mahinda Rajapakse.
However, Mr.Hisbullah said yesterday he agreed to abandon their protest if the government adds education to the ministerial portfolio offered to Hisbulla in addition to Health and Muslim Affairs.
The majority of the people in the Eastern Province, he said, were Tamil speaking and the subject of education should be assigned to a minister who was conversant with their problems and needs.

8:55 AM

Two more LTTE cadres arrested in Paris

French police detained two leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 13. These two had evaded arrest last year when the police closed in on them during the major round up of top Tamil Tigers operating in Paris. The French Police arrested two leading LTTE activist Subramanium Muhundan and Yogarasa Sivarasan in Paris after painstaking investigating lasting several months.

Muhundan and Sivarasan were heavily involved in fund raising and money laundering for the LTTE since the arrest of 19 LTTE cadres including top most leaders of all the divisions of the terrorist organization April 01, 2007. After preliminary investigations, 5 of them were released but the top 14 leaders were remanded without bail. The detained include LTTE’s French leader Nadaraja Mathinatharan alias Parithi and the Political Leader Aravindan Thuraiswamy alias Metha.

At that time, several LTTE cadres including Muhundan and Sivarasan who crossed over to neighboring countries though the open border points.

After the arrest of the top leaders, the LTTE appointed Stalin Sarvarimuthu alias Ranjan to the top post. Ravi Manikkam alias Utha Ravi was appointed as ‘enforcer’ to intimidate the Tamil community. But within months, the Sous Directorate Anti Terrorism (SDAT) arrested them together with three others taking the total LTTE detainees to 19.

Although the lawyers submitted several appeals for release, the Magistrates of Paris refused bail for 19 LTTE leaders.

The French police produced the detainees before the judge and their bail applications were rejected and their custody period was extended by another four months. The Court was informed that the suspects would be tried in April 2008 for several criminal activities including extortion, intimidation, forceful fund collection, money laundering and fraudulent finance dealings.

The sources in Paris said that another detainee, Thuraisamy Jayamurthy alias Sinna Jeya was in-charge of finance and money laundering.

Ranjan and four others were apprehended after questioning the first group pf 14 who were arrested in April. Though Ranjan was keeping a low profile, French police were monitoring the activities of the LTTE’s second rung, after nabbing the top leaders.

French police officers informed the courts that they had uncovered large number of documents from several LTTE offices and other front organizations and it would take several months to examine all the evidence. It is also known that if the suspects were released on bail it would hamper investigations and it would be difficult to get witnesses as the LTTE is well known for intimidation of hostile witnesses.

8:42 AM

UNHRC: Lanka gains 101 votes

UN: Sri Lanka yesterday obtained an absolute majority at the vote for the UN Human Rights Council, gaining 101 out of 192 votes on offer.

Out of the six countries which vied for four slots on offer for Asia, Japan, South Korea, Bahrain and Pakistan secured seats leaving behind Sri Lanka and East Timor. Candidates for the council are chosen by regional groups, and the 192-member General Assembly votes by region by secret ballot.

Analysts said yesterday that 101 countries expressing confidence in Sri Lanka, enabling it to obtaining an absolute majority was in itself was a victory despite an anti-Sri Lanka campaign by some individuals and organisations.

Any such criticism regarding Sri Lanka's human rights record should only be levelled after a careful study of the whole picture, in addition to giving due consideration to the views of all parties, said Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe on the eve of the vote yesterday.

The Minister said that comments by former US President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and some other groups to this effect were ill timed, and that they had never given the Government a chance to answer the allegations beforehand.

He also alleged that some local groups and individuals with vested interests too were behind this campaign to prevent Sri Lanka's continued presence at the Council. The report of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka was unanimously adopted on Monday at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Minister said that Sri Lanka's National report, which was presented at the UPR had come in for high praise at the working group, as a comprehensive and detailed document that was forthright and candid about the situation facing Sri Lanka.

Commenting on the report the Minister said that it presented a descriptive and accurate picture of the prevailing human rights situation and identified national priorities and capacity building needs.

He also said that the report highlighted strengths and identified challenges Sri Lanka faces as a nation in its efforts to promote and protect human rights. As a founder member of the Council formed in 2006, Sri Lanka has played a constructive role to develop mechanisms such as the UPR and also to engage in institution building of the Council he said.

He also noted that as a former coordinator of the 13 member Asian regional grouping within the Council and as the holder of the Vice-presidency since 2007, Sri Lanka has helped to build consensus and has cooperated with fellow member states to uplift human rights promotion and protection in the globe.

For two seats in the group of Western states, France received 123 votes and Britain 120 votes - just one vote more than Spain which got 119 votes. The other contested race was for two seats in the Eastern European group. Slovakia and Ukraine defeated Serbia and the Czech Republic.

Courtesy: Daily News

6:04 PM

Security News

LTTE terrorist yesterday (May 18) made an abortive attempt to halt the army advance on the Mannar front by attacking the Nadunkandal army deployments. According to military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara the terrorist launched heavy mortar fire around 1.40 pm. One soldier was killed in this incident. Later, the terrorists attacked the army defence around 3 pm. Troops gave an effective retaliation killing 11 terrorists and forcing the others to withdraw, he said. 4 soldiers suffered injuries in this incident, he added.

Troops forced into terrorist defences in the Vavuniya front yesterday (May 18) as sporadic clashes were reported between troops and LTTE in Periyamadu, Palampiddi, Palamoddai and Mundimurippu general areas , security sources said. Eight LTTE terrorists were killed in addition to 5 soldiers who have laid their lives during the confrontations, on Sunday. Four soldiers were also reported wounded including two due to an AP mine explosion in general area Palampiddi.

5:44 PM

Obama Reaching Winning Delegate Count

Senator Barrack Obama is only 23 short of the required 2,025 pledged delegate votes as Oregon and Kentucky go to polls today. He is also ahead in super delegates by 15. He would be heading to Iowa where he took his first "Primary baby steps" months ago prior to triggering a stampede winning 14 states in a row, and then to a much needed rest in Florida.

Senator Hillary Clinton is expected to win Kentucky handily even though the result would be immaterial at this stage, she cannot overtake Obama. George Bush’s “appeasing the enemy” speech before Israel Knesset received a thumping reprisal immediately from Democratic presidential front-runner Barrack Obama last week. Republican presumptive nominee John McCain joined in the fray and traded furious barbs.

7:11 AM

Sri Lanka President wishes tranquility on Vesak Day

The President of Sri Lanka issuing a Vesak Day message said his government’s hope is to bequeath a prosperous country by ridding the country, torn by terrorism, of robbers and turn it into a land of tranquility.

“Our resolve on this Vesak Day is to work with a correct vision in keeping with the Dhamma. This will see the fruition of our actions to build a new Sri Lanka,” he said in the message issued to commemorate the birth, attaining Buddha hood and passing away of Siddhartha Gauthama, more than 2550 years ago.

The following is the full text of the message:

“The Buddha showed us that advancement in this world and the next could be achieved by appreciating what is good. The policy of the government is to steer the country to the correct path by adhering to the Dharma. In doing so our responsibility is to tolerate other opinions and act with loving kindness.

“As the Buddha has taught: “Be alert; do not idle. Follow the law of virtue. He who is virtuous lives happily both in this world and the next” – Dhammapada. Ch.13 v 168.

“Let us stop being indifferent and speaking ill of the past. We should brook no delay in working to build a virtuous land.

“Our hope is to bequeath a prosperous country that is without armaments and fear of enemies and robbers, a country in which all could live in tranquillity. Our resolve on this Vesak Day is to work with a correct vision in keeping with the Dharma. This will see the fruition of our actions to build a new Sri Lanka.

“Let us resolve make this Vesak Festival meaningful by seeking refuge in the serene path of Buddha.

“May you all obtain refugee in the Buddha!”

7:10 AM

Chandrakanthan says he will work for the betterment of all ethnic groups

Chief Minister of Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan says that he is committed to work for the betterment of all ethnic groups in the province.

At a special interview with the SLBC today, he said that the first task of his agenda is to develop the province. The people of the area have been suffering for over 20 years due to lack of proper administration.However the avenues are now open to focus lights of development towards the gloomy areas in the province. The areas which the priority should be given have already been identified.

Accordingly the fields of health, education and self employment will be developed soon. The new Chief Minister added that it was blessing for him to worship the temple of the tooth in Kandy and to get the blessings of Mahanayaka Theras.

The Chief Minister also met the Maha Nayake Theras of Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters. The theras invoked blessings to him for his future career. He visited the Museum of the Temple and focused special attention to the photographs which show the damages inflicted to the temple by the LTTE attack in the past.

The Chief Minister also visited Ganga Rama temple in Hunupitiya, Colombo and took part in religious activities.

Meanwhile Minister Dr. Rajitha Senarathne says President Mahinda Rajapakse is the 1st leader in the country who bravely stood against racism in order to consolidate peace and harmony in the country. The president’s genuineness is apparent by the appointment of Mr.Sivanesathurei Chandrakanthan as the 1st chief minister of the Eastern Provincial Council.

The president has corrected the ills committed by the former leaders through this act. It has been proven that the president is a leader who is dedicated to establish peace in the country.

Mr Sivanesathurei Chandrakanthan gained the maximum preferential votes of 41,936 out of all candidates. Minister Senarathne therefore points out, appointing him as the chief minister is implementing public mandate, but not on communal basis.

7:10 AM

What is next step of the JVP?

Rumours are spreading on JVP’s behavior on inaugural Eastern Provincial Council meeting .At present both the UPFA and the UNP are waiting the JVP’s act on this issue. The JVP said it could now play a crucial role because the UPFA and other opposition parties were tied at 17-seats each.

Leading JVP front-liner said the party believed the newly-elected council was in crisis even before it started functioning but he did not indicate the JVP would respond.

The JVP has one seat at the EPC and M.L.A.M.Hisbullah and his two followers who got seats of the EPC decided to act as independently at the EPC.On Sunday Mr. Hisbullah said another member of the UPFA agreed to support Hisbullah faction.

However JVP says it would not assist the political parties which help for separatism. Issuing a press statement the JVP Politburo told they have experience on major parties move during the EPC campaign. However during the polls Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) recorded a dismal performance in terms of the percentage of votes the party polled.

Political analysts say ex- rebel leader Mr.Pillayan has wide experience to administer the EPC and assists public to develop the region. However they said the JVP and Tamil Democratic National Alliance which have two seats at the EPC would be the key deciding factor to protect the present EPC administration. A Spokesman of the Tamil Democratic National Alliance said they would help UPFA in the eastern Provincial Council.

According to the reliable sources some leading UNPers plans to defeat UPFA administration using Hisbullah faction at the first council meeting.

The UNP, SLMC and the three member group led by Hizbullah charged that Friday’s appointment of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan as chief minister for the Eastern Province was unconstitutional since he did not command a majority in the council and that the possibility of defeating the UPFA at the first council meeting was under active consideration. However UNP Secretary General Tissa Attanayake said the UNP has so far not decided to obtain Hizbullah’s support to defeat the present administration of the EPC.

5:10 PM

Looser go to Parliment

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem is likely to return to Parliament later next month, when sittings resume after a month long prorogation.

Hakeem, SLMC Chairman Basheer Segu Dawood and Party General Secretary M.T. Hassan Ali resigned from their Parliamentary seats to contest last Saturday’s Eastern Provincial Council election.

It is learnt that Hakeem and Dawood might take oaths before Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara. However, no final decision has been taken yet.

The SLMC Leader told The Nation that he had not taken any final decision on the matter and noted that a decision would be taken only after consulting the people.

“I have not made any such decision, and in any event Parliament is prorogued now. I will be consulting the masses of people who gave me their overwhelming support during the election and then decide on my future course,” he added.

4:09 PM

Security News

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

Sri Lanka Air Force MI-24 helicopter gun ships raided an LTTE tactical operation centre located in general area Andankulam in Mannar front last night, May 17.

ecurity forces have taken necessary steps to keep the Omanthei Entry/Exit point in Vavuniya opened for northward passage Sunday (18) from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

4:06 PM

Ranil to fish in the troubled waters

The issue of the Chief Ministership of the East is still not over, though President Mahinda Rajapakse has sworn-in Sivanesathurai Chanthirakanthan. UNP and Ranil Wickremasinghe still keep the issue alive. According to the latest report, Ranil Wickremasinghe is trying his best to fish in the troubled waters by a promise to make M.L.A.M Hisbullah the Chief Minister. M.L.A.M Hisbullah has not swallowed the bait of Ranil. M.L.A.M Hisbullah has not swallowed the bait of Ranil.

With the view to turn the tide in favor of the UNP, Ranil Wickremasinghe, the opposition leader has thrown in bait with an assurance of making Hisbullah, the Chief Minister.

According to the advance made by Ranil Wickremasinghe, UNP has planned to ditch his sparring partner Rauff Hakeem and entice Hisbullah with the offer of Chief Ministership of the east.

It is reliably learnt that Ranil Wickremasinghe has contacted Hisbullah with the view to woo him and his two supporters to his fold to land a ‘knock out’ punch on President Mahinda Rajapakse in the East provincial council challenge as the bout still seems to be wide open.

According to available reports, the UNP leader has told that he is prepared to hand over 15 affidavits signed by the newly elected UNP provincial council members, as well as that of the lone JVP member, assuring their support in case he is prepared to cross over to UNP with his supporters.

But News-Lanka learnt that Hisbullah has not swallowed the bait of Ranil Wickremasinghe. It seems he has told that it was an issue with the UPFA leadership. He has told, it seems that he will settle his issue with UPFA leaders soon and thanked Ranil for his kind concern.

3:09 PM

Tilvin, Wimal pooh-pooh each other

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday declared that Wimal Weerawansa’s new party, the National Freedom Party (NFP), would have absolutely no impact on the JVP in any manner.

JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva told The Nation that the new party formed by 11 former JVP MPs along with former JVP strongman Wimal Weerawansa would have no impact on the JVP at all.

“We have nothing to comment about their party. They can form whatever party they want, but our party will continue to go forward, as before. The NFP has no effect on the JVP at all, and it will have no effect on us in the future as well,” Silva said.
He also said that the party would soon arrive at a decision about the posts Weerawansa held during his membership in the JVP while he was an active member of the party.

“At our next politburo meeting we will name someone else in the JVP to hold the positions of propaganda secretary and the JVP Parliamentary group leader, which were positions held by Weerawansa,” Silva said.

Meanwhile, NFP Chairman Wimal Weerawansa told The Nation that they did not consider the JVP as their main political opponent. He added that the NFF was formulating plans to become the alternative to the UNP and the SLFP.

“The JVP, under the present leadership, is not a threat to us or the two main political parties. Our battle will be against the two main political parties and we will become the alternative to them,” he said.

According to Weerawansa, the JVP had missed the opportunity to become a real challenge to the UNP and the SLFP and emerge as a powerful political force after the 2005 elections.

“The JVP leadership made several strategic errors, which were similar to the errors made by traditional leftist parties like the LSSP and the Communist Party,” Weerawansa pointed out.

“The JVP was established as an alternative to the traditional left. We were successful. The second challenge was to defeat the two main parties and we have failed. The party has failed to place itself as the alternative, which has become more obvious in the recent past, and we will fill that vacuum,” the NFP Chairman added.

9:29 AM

Security News

An LTTE terrorist was reported killed by SL Army snipers deployed ahead of enemy defences in general area Alanakulama, Mannar yesterday(May 16), security sources said.

Eight LTTE terrorists were reported killed during intermittent clashes erupted between troops and LTTE ahead of the Wanni and Northern battle fronts on Thursday (May 15), security sources report. On the Jaffna theater of battle, a terrorist was reported killed sniped in general area Muhamalai. A soldier was also injured due to an AP mine explosion in the same area, in addition to another who sustained injuries in a similar explosion at Kilaly.

The Sri Lankan Air Force fighter craft made precision air sorties at the Iranamadu runway yesterday evening in Mullaittiuvu, Air Force sources said.

9:28 AM

Child soldier turned Chief Minister to build harmonious relationship with Muslims and Sinhalese

“All necessary measures will be taken to bring about peace and harmony in the East. I will take all required steps to embrace Muslims and Sinhalese living in the East and ensure their security. As a first step, I will be making arrangements to meet the Muslim leaders of the East to dispel if and any doubts that loom in their hearts and minds about my genuine love and brotherly affection towards them, especially of those in the East, said Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, the just sworn-in Chief Minister for the Eastern Province.

The child soldier turned provincial Chief Minister was speaking to News-Lanka just after he was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council. Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, 33 years old youngest Chief Minister, was earlier a child soldier, abducted at his tender age of 14 years and given arms training by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and trained as another killing machine.

In 2004 March, he along with V. Muralitharan, also known as Col. Karuna left the LTTE and was one of the founder members of TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal. Later the outfit got rid of the word ‘Eelam’ and renamed it as Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal.

Chanthirakanthan led many successful battles against the LTTE in the Eastern Province and fought standing shoulder to shoulder with the Sri Lankan security forces to liberate the East.

He took over the leadership of the TMVP after Muralitharan left the country. As a first step he registered TMVP as a political party and successfully contested in the Local Government elections held in the Batticaloa district. Subsequently under Chanthirakanthan’s leadership, TMVP entered as one of the coalition partners with the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance and contested East Provincial Council election.

After swearing in as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council, he spoke with News-Lanka.

He said, I want to bring about a good and sustainable relationship between the Tamils and the Muslims. To do that, he added, I have decided to meet the Muslim leaders and dispel their suspicion about the East Tamils and build cordial and brotherly relationship with them.

Therefore as a first step, I wish to meet these Muslim leaders. Almost all Muslim leaders are Ministers and if one of the leaders arranges a meeting in their Ministry office, inviting other Muslim leaders also for a discussion, I am prepared to participate and listen to them and to assure that I care to work with them.

Chanthirakanthan said as far as TMVP is concerned, we have already handed over all the underage children who were with us. As far as I am aware, there are no more underage children with us. If anyone points out as we have still underage children with us, then I am prepared to investigate and do the needful.

I want to provide opportunities for unemployed youths of the province to find for themselves suitable livelihood arrangements, Chanthirakanthan said.

Also he said that still there are thousands of Internally Displaced Persons in our midst. We will try our best to see that they are resettled in their respective villages and they have roof over their heads.

Chanthirakanthan said that he is thankful to President Mahinda Rajapakse and other Government leaders for the confidence they had on him by making him the Chief Minister of the East. He assured, I will try my best to live up to their expectations by dedicating fully and working for the well-being of the people of the East.

He said, my appointment as the Chief Minister is an eye opener for our Tamils brothers in the North. I think by now it will dawn on them that to undertake their day today business with the Government they have an option available for them. They have to come up to openly resist the Vanni Tigers and live peacefully. Eastern brothers are always there to assist them in their battle for freedom against the ruthless Prabakaran and his killing machinery.

He thanked the Buddhist clergies and the leaders of the Jathika Heela Urumiya for the support and the trust they had on him and for openly supporting him in his bid for the Chief Ministership.

Chanthirakanthan said that he was very sad to hear of the Colombo bomb blast and the death and injury of Police personnel and civilians. He said that he wishes to convey his condolence to the bereaved families and assured he will work with the Sri Lankan security forces and ensure the security of the Easterners.

The newly sworn in Chief Minister reiterated that with the help of the people of the East, he was able to defeat the Vanni Tigers democratically. He further said that he along with TMVP has entered the mainstream of politics and there is no turning back from the democratic mainstream.

When asked about MLAM Hisbullah’s statements before and after his swearing in as Chief Minister, Chanthirakanthan said he is not prepared to response to the accusations made by Hisbullah. He said Hisbullah is a person and not an organization and he is not the voice of the Muslims of the East. He said, there are many respected and well trusted Muslim leaders in the East. He also said I wanted to live peacefully and harmoniously with my Muslim brothers of the East and by responding to the unsubstantiated allegations, it would definitely create a provocative situation in the east. This is what Rauff Hakeem and UNP wanted and longing for. I can only appeal to Hisbullah not to fall into the trap of Rauff Hakeem and UNP and not to be provocative with communal speeches.

6:51 PM

New CM of the EastPillaiyan:

New CM of the EastChandrakanthan alias Pilleyan,Leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Eastern Provincial Council, before President Mahinda Rajapakse today (26th) evening.

1:53 PM

Colombo bomb blast: 8 killed and 90 injured

Nine Police personnel were killed and over 90 casualties reported, following the LTTE suicide bomb attack near Lake House at around 12noon, today (May 16).

According to the available information, a motor bike riding LTTE suicide bomber fitted with a bomb rammed into a bus carrying Riot Control Police, opposite the Sambodiya Temple, located in the Lotus Road, killing at least 6 riot police personnel, 3 civilians and injuring around 90 people.

The police personnel were on their way to provide additional security as the swearing-in ceremony of the Eastern Province Chief Minister, which is to take place as scheduled today at 4:00 p.m.

According to the Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, Director of National Hiopital the bodies of killed 8 person are now lying the Colombo National Hospital mortuary and about 90 persons were injured. He added that a total of 17 police personnel were injured.The Director National Hospital, out of the injured persons, 20 are in a critical stage.

According to our reporter the causality figures continues to rise.

1:32 PM

Bomb Blast Photo

According to the available information, a motor bike riding LTTE suicide bomber had rammed into a bus carrying Police personnel at the Ceramic Junction, near Sambuddhaloka temple.

1:11 PM

8 killed -90 injured

A bomb exploded near Lake House at around 12noon, today (May 16). According to the available information, a motor bike riding LTTE suicide bomber had rammed into a bus carrying Police personnel at the Ceramic Junction, near Lake House. Six Police personnel and three civilian were killed and over 90 casualties reported, following the LTTE suicide bomb attack near Lake House at around 12noon, today

Director General National Hospital Dr. Hector Weerasinghe exclusively speaking to Media said that, over 90 people have been already admitted to the National hospital. Many civilians are among the casualties reported.

12:34 PM

Suicide bomb explosion near Lake House

A bomb exploded near Lake House at around 12noon, today (May 16). According to the available information, a motor bike riding LTTE suicide bomber had rammed into a bus carrying Police personnel at the Ceramic Junction, near Lake House.


Over 90 casualties were reported following the LTTE suicide bomb attack near Lake House at around 12noon, today (May 16).

7:29 AM

New East Provincial Council CM to be sworn in at 4 PM today

The latest reports reveal that the new Chief Minister of the Eastern Province will be sworn in today at 4 PM Sri Lanka time. At present President Mahinda Rajapakse is meeting all the 18 newly elected UPFA members of the East Provincial Council.

The meeting is said to be a formal one for the newly elected members to get acquainted with the leadership of the UPFA as well as each others who are elected from different groups which are allied with the UPFA.

Furthermore it is learnt that UPFA leaders have not finalized the appointment of the two bonus seats in the Provincial council. News-Lanka learns that one seat will be given to TMVP to nominate someone from Trincomalee and another seat might go for a Sinhalese from Batticaloa.

When the Muslim leaders met the President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday, it is learnt that they have put forward their proposals and President and the other UPFA leaders have agreed to consider today their proposals favorably.

The Muslim leaders who participated in the meeting were, A. L. M. Athaullah, Abdul Risath Bathiyutheen, Ameer Ali Sihabdeen, M. N. Abdul Majeed, M. M. Musthapha, K. Abdul Baiz, Faizer Mustapha, Hussein Bhaila, S. Nijamudeen, M.H. Mohomed, and A. H. M. Fowzie

On the Government side along with President Mahinda Rajapakse, his senior advisor Basil Rajapakse, Maithripala Srisena, Susil Premajayantha, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Champika Ranawaka, John Seneviratne, Rajitha Senaratne, Dallas Alahapperuma, Presidential Advisor A.H.M. Azwar also participated in the meeting.

News-Lanka learns that President Mahinda Rajapakse is expected to anounce the Chief Minister designate by 3 PM today (Sri Lanka time) and the new Chief Minister would be sworn in at the Temple trees by 4 PM today.

2:20 PM

National Freedom Front of Wimal Weerawansa inaugurated

The inaugural general meeting of the representatives of National Freedom Front is now being held at the BMICH under its President Wimal Weerawansa.

The founding members of the Front, intellectuals, artistes and senior leaders representing patriotic forces are participating in the meeting.Addressing the meeting, Mr. Wimal Weerawansa said the front could be introduced as a new political movement needed for the present society. This movement crops up to provide solutions to challenges facing the country at present.

He further said it is important for the front to respond to the accusations raised by some forces.Chief Secretary of the Front Nandana Gunatilleke, said the political parties which are not ready fulfill the aspirations of the people will be defeated.

12:22 PM

Air Force bombs key terror training facility

Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets bombed a key LTTE training facility located at Kollanvillu, 4 Km South of Mulankavil in the Kilinochchi district this morning (May 14).

According to the Air Force sources, few air sorties were carried out between 7.15 - 7.30 am targeting the LTTE camp. The sources said that the target has been registered by the defence intelligence authorities after thorough ground surveillance. The target was effectively acquired, the sources added.

7:17 AM

Tamil Chief Minister for East, Just and Fair Decision

The Chief Ministership stakes are now being fought in the East. To any impartial observer, it is crystal clear that any attempt to bypass a Tamil for the post of Chief Minister would be a travesty of justice. What is of paramount importance is that the government must not give the impression that the support it got from the Tamil voters who were earlier in the clutches of the LTTE, were not taken for granted. Pillaiyan received the highest number of preferential votes far more than that of HisbullahPillaiyan received the highest number of preferential votes far more than that of Hisbullah

Tamils boycotted the 2005 Presidential election under life threatening orders from Prabhakaran. Now they have rallied to the President’s call for unity. They must not be denied their due. Muslims who also threw in their lot with the government could wait a little longer.

How much the TMVP vote meant for the future of the East is a major consideration. More importantly the battle in the North where the armed forces are winning a fiercely fought war will ultimately be an indication that they can look with great satisfaction at the elections results in the East. Already a top level Presidential Committee headed by Minister Devananda is planning to get the people to participate in a democratic process very much like what the East did. It is imperative that the Chief Minister has to be a Tamil in the East.

It was obvious that the East was won with the massive support that the TMVP gave to the UPFA coalition. Of the 308,886 votes that were received by the UPFA, more than half or 160,000 came from the TMVP supporters. It would be a historical blunder to ignore the contribution of the TMVP to the liberation of the East from the LTTE as well a democratic revival in the region. They joined the Muslims and the Sinhalese to show the world that the Sri Lanka Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa had the interest of all ethnic groups at heart. They wanted to defeat terrorism and bring about national unity in the country. The sense of togetherness was tremendous. To forget that fact is a colossal rejection of the ground realities that emerged in the East. M L A Hisbullah can afford to wait in the interest of Tamil Muslim unityM L A Hisbullah can afford to wait in the interest of Tamil Muslim unity

The TMVP worked with the Muslims and Sinhalese during the elections. The Muslim members of Parliament from the region are holding key positions in the government. Almost all the Muslim parliamentarians from this region are holding ministerial posts. There is adequate representative for this group. The Tamils in the East do not have that luxury.

In the 2005 Presidential elections the Tamils did not participate fully due to the LTTE forcing a boycott on them. The situation has changed today. In Batticaloa 48 percent of the people voted for the UPFA at the Provincial Council elections. The actual votes were as follows: Pillaiyan 38,718, J S Mohammed 34,782 and M L A M Hisbullah 34,581.

To deny the Chief Ministership to a Tamil due to the proposition that the Muslim candidates number 8 versus the TMVP’s 6 is a fallacy. It is a denial of what is a just demand by the TMVP that their contribution to bring about a change in the dynamics of the eastern politics be recognized.

Muslims have key representation with Mrs. Ferial Ash raff, ALM Athauulolah, A R Risath Bathiyutheen and M N Andul Majeed holding ministerial posts in the government. M.L.A.M Hisbullah, who crossed over from the SLMC just one day before the Eastern Province nominations can be asked to wait a little longer, to serve the people of the East before he gets into higher gear.

The President announced that the East answered his call for unity and gave the UPFA a good victory. The time is ripe to show the world that the Chief Ministership should be given to a Tamil as they fully deserve this honor.

6:15 AM

Mahinda Rajapakse at Oxford Union

Calling it the plain truth President Mahinda Rajapaksa said if Sri Lanka failed in her war against the LTTE the world will fail in its fight against terrorism and democracy will be victim addressing the Oxford University Student Union.

“The LTTE is the most brutal terror outfit the world has ever seen and defeating them requires global support. What Sri Lanka is doing is fighting the terror outfit single handed to ensure that democracy and respect for human life prevail in the world,” the President said.

Calling the LTTE the main obstacle to development in Sri Lanka the President said, it is time the world raising its united voice express its utter revulsion of the barbaric practice of suicide bombings and that form of political expression, if it could be described as such is utterly unacceptable in the civilized world.

Speaking to a packed house of Britishers and expatriate Sri Lankans the President pointed out at the Oxonians like the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike whose wife was the first woman Prime Minister of the world and the late Laxman Kadirgamar who was brutally assassinated by the LTTE.

Sri Lankan Society President Dilan Fernando and his members were joined by Pakistani, Palestine, Indian Society members in felicitating the President. Thai Society also sent their delegation to the audience.

The following is the unedited full text of the President’s speech:

It is with much pleasure that I address you in these hallowed surroundings tonight. I must thank the Oxford Union and Mr Dilan Fernando for this opportunity. Many renowned speakers have addressed you from here before me. I do not seek to match them in their eloquence but I do wish to speak to you on a subject of much interest to my country at the present time.

That is the empowerment of rural economy a central theme of my development strategy for Sri Lanka. Our development strategy towards empowering the rural economy of our country where majority of our people live has now become relevant to the global economy itself in the context of emerging world food crisis and environmental challenges to our own survival. We have an additional burden. We are threatened by the challenge of terrorism and the need to protect the rights of our fellow beings.

Sri Lanka where I was born and bred is a country where our culture is firmly rooted in rural tradition. The Sri Lankan culture has been essentially conditioned by the great religion of Buddhism but later influenced by Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The concepts of loving kindness, compassion and tolerance are at the heart of our psychological make up. They nourish and sustain us through the uncertainties of life. Our traditional greeting ‘Ayubowan’ means – May you live long.

It is not surprising then that in a world where rulers constructed massive castles and grand palaces to demonstrate their power and wealth our kings constructed huge reservoirs Tanks, as we call them to provide water to sustain food production and ensure sustainable livelihood to the people. The great legacy left behind by our ancient rulers and which is in use even today scattered across three vast Provinces of my island home is the massive irrigation network.

This unique hydraulic civilization which sustained an essentially prosperous rural society was based on a philosophy which has much to offer the modern world. Buddhism taught us that we have no absolute ownership of the forests the rivers the oceans and the atmosphere that sustain life; that every generation holds the environment in trust so that abuse is prevented; and that our duty was to hand down the environment to future generations without harm.

Even today over 77 percent of our people still live in rural areas because of a wide range of attractions in our rural home base. I myself hail from the deep South from an agrarian village with a beautiful natural environment. I am extremely proud of that fact. The attraction in our villages is not only the economic resources and greenery but also the traditional culture arts religion and bio-diversity which are incentives to keep our people away from migrating into urban townships. The horrors of poverty and suffering that have engulfed many booming Asian cities have not affected Sri Lanka.

Strengthened by the caring attitude inherited from our ancient rulers we were able to adapt to modern democracy with great ease. It was in 1931 while still under the British that Sri Lanka was granted universal franchise. You will recall that Britain achieved this status only in 1926. Since then we have continued to develop and strengthen democratic institutions in Sri Lanka. Political pluralism has always been fundamental to our democracy. We have parties of different political views represented in our parliament. This diversity uniquely enriches Sri Lanka's political canvass.

The government although elected by a Sinhala Buddhist majority represents a coalition of Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim communities and all the religious groups in the country. You will be hard pressed to find a similarly representative government in any of the other democracies of the world. I am proud of our vibrant parliamentary system the strong judicial establishment and the independent press. “Not a day passes without an attack on me, I must say totally without foundation from some parts of the media. We have not hesitated to adopt global standards collaborate with international organizations such as the UN, ILO, and the Commonwealth and participate in efforts to consolidate institutions designed to protect the rights of our fellow humans.

Sri Lanka has contributed with vigor and creativity to the development of the principals incorporated in international conventions through their work in international organizations and through the international Court of Justice. We have always played our part in global efforts to establish higher standards and to make our earth a better place for all because we fundamentally feel that this is the correct thing to do. This is a reflection of our cultural traditions. Sri Lanka’s conformity to global environmental standards has been commended time and time again.

Women in Sri Lanka enjoy equal opportunities with men. Over 60 percent of our medical practitioners are women. Over 80 percent of our teachers are women. The nursing profession is dominated by women. The legal profession too is increasingly dominated by women! Women have also entered sections of the work force previously monopolized by men such as, academia, engineering, computing, quantity surveying and architecture. I recall with great delight that Sri Lanka produced world’s first elected woman Prime Minister in 1960. Her husband, SWRD Bandaranaike’s photograph hangs over there.

Ladies and gentlemen, for decades we have invested in education and health. My country enjoys one of the highest literacy standards in the world while still being categorized as a middle income developing country. 97 percent of our children are enrolled at school. Our infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate at child birth is on par with that of many developed countries. The country provides free healthcare to all. Education is free and universal from childhood to university. During the primary and secondary school life of every child the government provides free text books and uniforms. One of my long-lasting joys is the sight of thousands of children in crispy white uniforms heading for school each morning. This is probably a sight that one can not witness in many other places of the world.

Children are precious to us. I believe they are our future. We have ensured a massive investment in our children. My government firmly believes that no child must be deprived of his or her childhood. We have created a separate ministry to look after the welfare of our children. We do not employ any children in our labor force and no one below the age of eighteen is recruited to our armed forces unlike the LTTE which engages thousands in its baby brigades. These children are robbed of their childhood and brutality is ingrained into their character making them life long misfits for society.

Sri Lanka has achieved a very high standard in the United Nations Human Development Index and we have already to a large extent achieved the Millennium Development Goals. It was only last month that a UN Report commended Sri Lanka for being well on its way to eliminating malaria. We have a very low rate of HIV AIDS infection. I point these things out to you only because of the intense campaign that is being conducted internationally to describe my country as one that does not care about our fellow human beings and human needs. Facts demonstrate that this is far from the truth.

There are no signs of obvious starvation in any part of the country. In fact for over 25 years since the beginning of the LTTE’s violent challenge to our very existence to our sovereignty the government has been sending food, medicine and educational material to the two districts dominated by the LTTE. Every single teacher, nurse, doctor, hospital and government official in the so called LTTE controlled areas is appointed and paid by the government in Colombo. Very few countries grappling with terrorism have been so accommodating. This itself illustrates the caring nature of our society.

These noteworthy achievements have been possible because of a holistic view of human development to which we have always been firmly committed. We believe that development becomes meaningful to the vast mass of the people only when its fruits are capable of being enjoyed by all segments of the people. That is why we have constantly tried not only to achieve growth and expansion of our national wealth but to ensure that the resources generated by our efforts are distributed among the people especially, in the rural hinterland on an equitable basis.

Our development model as presented in my election manifesto Mahinda Chintana signifies the empowerment of the rural economy. The centre piece of this new strategy will be the development of modern infrastructure throughout the country to provide a basis for development of agriculture Industry Construction Tourism SMEs and transport services that will bring about new opportunities to our people in the rural economy. Our strategy has enhanced the public investments over 6 percent of GDP to support ‘Randora’ – meaning golden Gate – our infrastructure development initiative to develop new ports power generation and distribution network irrigation and water supply schemes expressway and road network and integrated townships to link rural economy to the global economy and create new space for growth. We have integrated strategies to promote insurance shipping aviation trade logistic industries and petroleum explorations and above all skills and knowledge to position Sri Lanka as an emerging economic hub in south Asia.

Empowering people at grassroots level is equally important in this whole development process. ‘Gama Naguma’ meaning revival of the village is an initiative to empower communities adopting bottom up programmes originating from people reflecting their needs. A series of rural development initiatives have been implemented permitting the community to prioritize their needs and objectives. These initiatives are monitored by community leaders to ensure that a larger volume of resources are productively used for the betterment of the rural community.

The main thrust of this programme is to retain people in rural environments rather than encouraging them to move into urban areas which have been the pattern in many developing economies. Why should people move into urban areas and live in slums or sub standard housing when they can live in very healthy environments in villages and enjoy clean air water and pure and good food. It is my belief that rural people are much healthier than those who live in urban cities.

Our approach to development takes into consideration the dangers of destroying the green environment. Every project that is implemented under Gama Naguma recognizes the value of green belts and the preservation of the forest cover. The environmental protection programmes that are implemented throughout the island make a serious attempt to ensure that rivers are kept clean water ways are not dirtied and trees are not destroyed. The bed rock of our development is maintaining and preserving the environment.

Consolidating our achievements in human resource development we are now working towards a knowledge economy based on productivity, skills, knowledge and technology. Therefore education and health is being undertaken at grassroots level through multi-faceted government programmes. In particular I am very keen to ensure that our children are able to become global citizens through the use of information technology in a very novel programme called ‘Nenasala’a network of 500 rural tele-centers that have already been established. I have set a target to increase this up to 1,000 by next year. Three years ago Sri Lanka’s IT literacy stood at a little over 5 percent. Today I feel accomplished that we have been able to enhance this to percent which means that more and more people will be able to enter the lucrative IT job market. All this is being done to enhance the employability of rural youth.

The essence of our rural empowerment programme is to ensure that rural infrastructure development takes place at a rapid rate. So far neglected rural roads are being paved today with concrete to make them last monsoon rains that are common in our part of the world. Rural electricity programmes community water supply schemes minor irrigation projects housing and market facilities are included in our rural infrastructure development drive. In essence our strategy is to level the playing field between the ‘urban, organized minority’ and the ‘rural, unorganized majority’ in the national development process. I am encouraged that our development strategy - Mahinda Chinthana – Vision towards a New Sri Lanka sustained a near 7 percent economic growth during the last three years and reached US dollars 1,600 per capita incomes in 2007. Except in one district people below the poverty line have declined drastically in 2007.

Unfortunately we are being challenged by “the most brutal terrorist group in the world” as the LTTE has been described by the FBI. Suicide killings using even women and children have become their hallmark. It is this terror group that invented the deadly suicide vest for the suicide killer. Having pioneered the suicide vest they have freely given this technology to other terror groups in the world. This has now become a global menace.

There have been hundreds of innocents civilians returning home after work children going to school and young mothers going to their weekly clinics being maimed or killed by indiscriminately exploded bombs in crowded centres or being targeted by brain washed suicide bombers. You need to see the havoc caused by shattered limbs and burning human flesh to understand the sheer brutality that motivates this group of terrorists. They killed Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India and Ranasinghe Premadasa, the former President of Sri Lanka. Most recently a senior Minister of my government a Tamil speaking Catholic was brutally murdered by a suicide killer along with a former Olympic athlete among many others participating in a sporting event.

They also killed our former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, a scholar of distinction a legal luminary who once occupied this seat as the President of the Oxford Union with distinction.

Ladies and gentlemen it has become incumbent upon us to confront this group to the extent of our ability deploying all the resources of the State to protect the people of Sri Lanka and their democratic way of life. I must add that what I am doing is in no way different to what other democracies have done before and continue to do in the face of terrorism. However I must state that the LTTE is the most brutal terror outfit the world has ever seen and defeating them requires global support. What Sri Lanka is doing in my opinion is fighting this terror outfit single handed to ensure that democracy and respect for human life prevail in the world. If we fail in our war against the LTTE the world will fail in its fight against terrorism and democracy will be the victim. This is the plain truth.

Our development thrust unfortunately has had its own obstacles the main being the brutal terrorist threat that makes us a developing country to take a heavy toll. It is time that the world raising its united voice expressed its utter revulsion of the barbaric practice of suicide bombings. It must be made absolutely clear that this form of political expression if it could be described as such is utterly unacceptable in the civilized world.

There is a considerable challenge to the security forces of my country whose goal is simply to protect the innocents and their simple way of life. We need to understand that our security forces do not go out of their way to harass innocents or to discriminate against a minority. They take great personal risks constantly. The fear psychosis created by the LTTE terror may cause some lapses in judgment but by and large independent observers have always commended the efficiency politeness and courtesy of the men in uniform.

We must remember that there are no methods or solutions which are universally applicable to situations of this nature. It is the principal duty of a government to assure the public of security of life and limb. It is the terrorist group that decides when to strike: They decide the time the place and the opportunity. They are in no way constrained by the values and procedures which rightly control the responses of democratic governments. These realities must be taken into account as the basis of a fair and objective assessment of Sri Lanka’s situation.

Although many have said that the LTTE is invincible we have freed our Eastern Province of their terror. Within one year we have restored democracy there after nearly two decades. Only last week we conducted free and fair elections to the first ever Eastern Provincial Council contested by several political parties.

As our forces seek to defeat and disarm the LTTE we are firm in our resolve to have a negotiated solution to the crisis in Sri Lanka. I do not believe in a military solution. We have attempted talks with the LTTE on several occasions – thrice since my election as the President – but they have not reciprocated. They have always left the talks with lame excuses. We are still ready to talk once we are certain of their genuine intent for a political solution and their readiness to give up arms.

As young leaders you will take on increasing responsibilities in later life. Destiny will place you in circumstances where you will be called upon to lead and defend your countries. As someone who has been nurtured and strengthened by an ethical and caring culture I want to leave with you with some thoughts.

You and I are privileged to be what we are today but, there are millions of our fellow beings who are not that fortunate and who need our guidance leadership and caring. Leadership to these masses of people will have to be given by you. Your leadership must be one that reflects your cultural and religious values a sense of integrity dedication to the cause of eliminating human suffering and a sense of generosity.

In conclusion, let me say that our chosen path to development of my country especially the rural areas continues to be a challenge for all of us particularly with threats that are both internal and external. Ladies and gentlemen, the protection and advancement of human rights continues to be a challenge for all of us not only in Sri Lanka but globally. I only seek to encourage you to think of Sri Lanka as a country that has achieved considerable success in caring for its people in the face of a most brutal challenge thrown at us by terrorists. We will continue to comply with the highest standards in keeping with values and traditions we hold to be sacrosanct.

May the Noble Triple Gem Bless you all !

11:14 PM

Tamil political and HR activist assassinated by LTTE gunmen

LTTE gunmen shot dead Ms. Maheshwari Velayudan, public relations coordinator and adviser of Minister Douglas Devanada in general area Karaweddi, Nelliaddy this evening (May 13) at around 7.50.

According to available information Ms. Maheshwari, 53, was visiting her mother when she was assassinated, by gunmen who were clearly identified as LTTE attempting to guise as military, sources close to Ms. Velayudan said.

Ms. Maheshwari has directly arrived from Colombo to see her mother who was said to be a cancer patient. Three gunmen had stormed into the house, directed several pistol gunshots at Ms. Maheswari claiming her life and fled immediate amidst the tensed atmosphere, informed sources said. Several other close relatives of Ms . Maheshwari were also said present during the tragic incident. "Three individuals in military similar attire but in slippers rushed into the house, asked for our identity cards and deliberately spoke in influent Tamil. We realised that some thing was fishy and in seconds Maheshwari was lying in the floor with head shot injuries. It was terrible and hardly we could react as we were traumatized by the incident" a close relative of Ms. Mahewari was quoted as saying.

Ms. Maheshwari was a renowned Human Rights activist and loved among many as a representative and a figurehead of the Jaffna Tamil community; a member of the EPDP central committee and a lawyer by profession. She was also a competitive and a competent spokesperson of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP), a mainstream Tamil political organisation who are constantly opposing the ruthless dictatorship of the LTTE for suppressing the legitimate rights of the majority Tamils over decades.

The LTTE has assassinated over a dozen EPDP members and other main stream Tamil politicians and academics during its spree of three decade long violence.

Minister Douglas Devananda and other EPDP members have been on the LTTE’s hit-list. On 28th November 2007, Minister Devananda escaped an assassination attempt by an LTTE suicide bomber; it was the 11th attempt on his life.

7:28 AM

Pillaiyan thanks Tamils for helping him to defeat for the first time Vanni Tigers democratically

Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan popularly known as Pillaiyan told Asian Tribune that he wanted to convey his thanks to the Tamils who are in fact 48 percent of the total population in the East, for helping him and his party to defeat the Vanni Tigers for the first time democratically. He added, I bow my head to the people in the East for helping us to grow democratically to this height. Pillaiyan said that by taking over the Provincial Council, we will be able to fulfill the political aspirations of the people of the East.

When News-Lanka asked about his chances of becoming the Chief Minister, he said that the majority of the people in this province are Tamils and everybody knows that a Tamil has to be the Chief Minister of this Province. There are no two words about this.

Secondly in this election UPFA polled 308, 886 votes which includes the votes of Tamils, Muslims, Sinhalese other communities in the Province. Out of this total votes, TMVP candidates received more than 160,000 votes. Therefore, the UPFA has to consider a TMVP candidate for the position as the Chief Minister.

He added that he is personally not demanding that the Chief Ministership should be given to him as the leader of the TMVP. He said in case I fail to obtain the Chief Ministership that is due to a Tamil from the Tamil community and then it would be considered a historical blunder and would be recorded in the history of this province.

Pillaiyan said that we the TMVP came forward to join the Government to bring about sense of togetherness in the country. We joined the UPFA to show the world that we are with the Sri Lanka Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa and wanted to defeat terrorism and bring about a national unity in this country.

“In this noble effort of ours, more than 300 of our cadres martyred. We joined hands with President to show to the international community that Tamils oppose Prabakaran and the Vanni Tigers and the terrorism unleashed by them. We have now shown that Prabakaran and Vanni Tigers are not the sole representatives of the Tamils. We shattered this myth of Prabakaran and his so called Tamil nationalism,” TMVP Leader said.

TMVP Leader further said-

“We led our Tamil community in the East and became equal partners of the Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa.
‘We could have easily contested the East Provincial Council election under our own party banner, but for the sake of the unity of Sri Lanka we decided to coalesce with the UPFA and contested the election.
“Furthermore, as far as the Muslims in the East are concerned they are my brothers and we wanted to embrace them and wishes to live with peace and harmony with them. We wanted to solve their problems, mainly their land issue.
“When you look at the Muslims, one can notice that almost all the Muslim parliamentarian from this region is holding ministerial positions. That alone is enough for the Muslims in this province to get the maximum support and help.
“But look at the plight of the Tamils in this region. There is not a single Tamil minister to look after the affairs of the people in the region.
“In the earlier days we have to take to arms to force the successive governments to yield to the aspirations of the Tamils. Later by 2004, we thought that separation and arms struggle are not the right choices to meet the political aspirations of our people and we decided to join the mainstream politics of the country and joined democratic mainstream.
“We contested to serve our people by democratic means. Rest is history and the country knows it well.”
Pillaiyan added, “Chief Ministership is something that belongs to us. There are no two words about it. “
He said in case if our rights are not meted out, then we may have to resort to democratic action which might have severe repercussions.

7:27 AM

President to address Oxford Union

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is due to address the Oxford Union today(13), on the invitation of the Oxford Union and the Sri Lanka Society of Oxford University.

The topic of his address will be 'Strategy towards empowering the rural economy in Sri Lanka'.
President Rajapaksa will be the first Sri Lankan Head of State and Sri Lankan statesman who has not previously held office in the Oxford Union to address it as a guest speaker. The last distinguished Sri Lankan to address the Union was former Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar.

3:25 AM

Tamil Democratic Alliance backs Pillaiyan for CM

The chances of TMVP chief Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan became stronger with the unqualified support extended to him by the lone council member belonging to the Tamil National Democratic Alliance (TNDA) in addition to the six Tamil members elected on UPFA ticket.
Rasaiyah Thurairatnam, National Organiser of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (Vartharaja Group) who won a seat in the East Provincial Council on the TNDA list insisted that the Chief Minister for the East has to be a Tamil and no one else. In an exclusive interview with News-Lanka, he declared that he would support a Tamil becoming the Chief Minister of the East Provincial Council.

Rasaiyah Thurairatnam, the national organiser of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (Vartharaja Group) is one of the few alternative voices in the Tamil community. In 2000, he, with Varatharaja Perumal led a group of party activists to set up EPRLF (Varatharaja Group) when a group led by Suresh Premachandran decided to join the LTTE proxy Tamil National Alliance.

Thurairatnam said that the 13th Amendment brought under the Indo-Lanka Peace accord offered solutions to many a grievance of the Tamil people. “We, having agreed with the Provincial Council system, entered the main- stream of politics to find a peaceful solution to the issues confronting the Tamils of Sri Lanka in particular and the country in general. Therefore the recent Provincial Council election was an attempt to find a solution to the Tamil separatist issues and nothing else,” he said. “Hence the three political parties namely EPRLF, TULF, and PLOTE decided to participate in the Provincial Council Election”.

He pointed out that 74% of the population in the Batticaloa district s is Tamil and of the balance 24 % are Muslims. “The most ridiculous things in this election are that because of Tamil political parties joining hands with the chauvinist political parties and working openly with the intention to subterfuge. However 6 Tamil members to represent the Tamils (break down – 3 Tamil members from UPFA, 2 Tamil members from UNP and 1 from EPRLF) were elected. The Muslims who represents only 24% of the population got 5 seats (3 Muslims from UPFA and 3 from UNP). This is planned strategy to destroy our Tamil region in the East,” he said.
“What those who have joined hands with the Chauvinists have done was that they have seen to end of Tamils’ representation according to the proportion of Tamil population in the area. However, beyond all these things the Provincial Council is meant to bring about the devolution of powers to the Tamils,” Thurairatnam said.