7:20 AM

27 politicos got money from the LTTE

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy claimed he had ‘official evidences’ that 27 political leaders belonging to various parties in Tamil Nadu received money from the LTTE.

Speaking to reporters in India, he said he would go to the court with the evidence if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to take action against ‘those leaders’.

‘I have received official and authentic evidences from Sri Lanka that 27 political leaders in the State received money from the Tigers. I am ready to unveil the details in the court if the Prime Minister of India failed to initiate action against them,’ he said.

Swamy also named some leaders, including some popular ones, and alleged all of them were paid by the LTTE seeking their support.

7:15 AM

‘Four hundred babies born at Menik Farm every month’

‘Four hundred babies are born every month in IDP tents at Menik Farm, Vavuniya, and they are in need of considerable assistance and care’, Sarvodaya leader Dr A.T. Ariyaratne said yesterday while making a commemorative address in honour of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, at the SEDEC centre, Colombo.

Ariyaratne said that at the request of the health authorities at the Farm, Sarvodaya was able to put together and supply some 800 cots for the infants in a short period of time, although the initial requirement was 400 cots. ‘If Mother Theresa were alive today, she would have rushed to the IDP tents in Sri Lanka, to help the inmates there’, he quipped.

Stressing that Mother Theresa served the poorest of the poor in India, irrespective of communal and religious differences, Ariyaratne explained that the Mother mostly served Hindus and Muslims and that she ‘wanted them to practise their religions better.’ She never sought to convert them to Christianity, he pointed out. ‘This notorious act of converting people by giving them handouts or all kinds of favours is a shame and has led to many religious conflicts and violence in many countries. We should oppose and do away with this evil practice and help people to practise their religion better’, he explained.

In an informal exchange with this journalist, the Sarvodaya chief said that the situation of the Northern IDPs had improved over the months, although conditions were difficult when they rushed to the camps at the closing stages of the military conflict. Sarvodaya is helping out in the camps at present, he said.

7:13 AM

30,000 IDPs to be resettled

All arrangements are in place to resettle 30,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in 35 villages in the Vavuniya District, Northern Province Governor G.A Chandrasiri said.
The Governor, who was on an inspection tour in those villages pointed out that, 7,795 families will be resettled in 35 villages on the directions of the Chairman of the Uthuru Vasanthaya Task Force, Senior Presidential Advisor MP Basil Rajapaksa.

The Governor inspected the Grama Niladari divisions in Maruthankulam, Norochchchimodei, Pranddikal, Salampaikulam, Pampemadu and Salampaikulam village and addressed the officials on the needs of the people.

Meanwhile, the government has taken steps to clean up these villages and provide water, electricity and roads. These villages have been affected by the LTTE for nearly 20 years.

Major General Chandrasiri also said the resettlement programme will be completed within the next few weeks and expressed his gratitude for the officials and the security forces for their cooperation.

Brigadier Priyantha Napagoda, SLFP Chief Organiser in Vavuniya, Premarathna Sumathipala, Vavuniya DIG and relevant government and security forces officials participated in this event.

7:05 AM

Visa-less passenger had won UK court ruling against eviction

The British High Commission last week explained the circumstances under which Ms. A. Krishnapillai had been assisted by its staff to travel to the UK without a visa.

She had won a UK court ruling about her previous eviction from that country under its immigration procedures and the (UK) Court of Appeal ruling in her favour had asked the UK Border Agency to reconsider the case.

This agency instructed that Krishnapillai be returned to the UK. She traveled without a visa because there was no category of visa that could be issued to her and the high commission had facilitated her return through the BIA with the full authority of Sri Lankan immigration officials to whose satisfaction the matter had been explained.

The high commission said that there is discretion within UK legislation to allow the visa requirements to Sri Lankan nationals to be waived in certain cases and this was one of those.

1:31 PM

Sri Lanka sends full report to EU on Tissanayagam case

Sri Lanka yesterday said that it has sent a full report to the European Union on the judgment and the circumstances that led to the conviction of journalist T.S. Tissanayagam following some local and foreign elements were on a mischievous attempt to intimidate the independence of Sri Lanka’s judiciary.

"Nobody had the right to question the independence and rationale of the judgment by a court in a democratic country," Cabinet spokesman Information and Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said.

Similar judgments have been delivered on such charges against journalists in the US and UK and many other democracies but those judgments have never been an issue for protests or controversies, he charged.

He also said that the government has not in any way influenced the judiciary and the judgment was an independent decision of the court.

The EU Thursday said that it is troubled by the severe sentence given to Tissanayagam, who was found guilty under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of Sri Lanka, of abetting terrorism and supporting the terrorist organization LTTE.

Sri Lankan government has stressed that the verdict has been reached by the judicial process following the due process and does not pose any restrictions on the media freedom.

1:27 PM

TNA to meet President

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa next Monday.
The President who is currently on tour in Libya will be meeting the TNA delegation headed by TNA Leader R. Sambandan on September 7 to discuss several key issues according to party member P. Ariyanendra.

“There are two key issues they we wish to discuss with the President. One is the situation of the internally displaced people and about their resettlement in the north, which we feel is happening without due process and legal purview. The second point of discussion will be the issue of a political discussion that has been under consideration for a long time but has seen little of concrete importance emerge,” he said.

1:26 PM

US disturbed by Channel 4 video

The video footage allegedly showing Sri Lankan Government soldiers executing Tamil rebels aired on Britain’s Channel 4 is ‘very disturbing’, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said yesterday.
Speaking at a press briefing of the UN Security Council she said that the US would like more information as they formulate their own national response. “These reports are disturbing and they are of grave concern,” she said.

Channel 4 News aired the unauthenticated video after obtaining it from a group of exiled journalists called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka has declared the video as fake.

Rice, who holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council during the month of September, said it was not yet clear whether the council would take up the issue.
"I'm not aware of a council member proposing that this be discussed on the council agenda but obviously these reports are very fresh and that could change," she said.

The UN on Tuesday had said it has always taken reports and information on human rights violations, including those related to war crimes seriously and the Channel 4 video is no exception.

However, the UN is not in a position to ascertain the authenticity of the video in question and has noted its rejection by the Sri Lankan authorities, the UN said.

1:25 PM

Media Minister orders ITN and Rupavahini Chairmen to take custody of video tapes amidst Channel 4 controversy

The Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa had ordered the Chairmen of ITN and Rupavahini that all video tapes on the war scenes in the North during the final phase be immediately taken into the custody of the Chairmen.

Incidentally , it was only the ITN and the Rupavahini the only two State Institutions which were permitted to cover these war scenes.

This urgent order by the Minister to take into custody all tapes both telecast and not telecast has raised queries as to whether this action of the Minister has any connection with the airing of human executions in SL by men in military uniform by Channel 4 in Britain.

1:25 PM

U.S. voices "grave concern" about Sri Lanka video

The United States voiced grave concern on Wednesday about video footage that a Sri Lankan group says shows government soldiers summarily executing Tamil rebels in violation of international law.

"These reports are very disturbing, they are of grave concern," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters. "We'd like more information as we formulate our own national response."

Rice was reacting to video footage aired last week on British television which, according to a Sri Lankan advocacy group, shows government forces executing unarmed, naked, bound and blindfolded Tamils during the army's final assault to smash Tamil Tiger rebels earlier this year.

The Sri Lankan government has dismissed the video as fake.

Rice, who holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council during the month of September, said it was not yet clear whether the council would take up the issue.

"I'm not aware of a council member proposing that this be discussed on the council agenda but obviously these reports are very fresh and that could change," she said.

Previous attempts to formally raise the issue of Sri Lanka's conduct during the final months of its 25-year war against the Tamil Tiger rebels met resistance from Russia and China, who opposed official council discussion of an issue they said was an internal matter for the Sri Lankan government.

Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said on Tuesday he hoped the United Nations would launch an investigation to determine whether Sri Lankan soldiers did in fact summarily execute Tamils, which would be a violation of international law.

Alston acknowledged there was no certainty the video was authentic. Britain's Channel 4 television said it got the footage from advocacy group Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka.

"There's nothing on the surface to indicate that it is not authentic and, if that's the case, it would raise very grave concerns," Alston told Reuters in an interview.


A spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations took all reports of serious human rights violations and war crimes with the "utmost concern" and that the Channel 4 video was "no exception".

Sri Lanka's government has repeatedly denied that its forces were guilty of war crimes or human rights breaches during the last months of its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whom it defeated in May.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes has said several thousand civilians were killed during the final phase of Sri Lanka's war against the LTTE, when the rebels retreated to a narrow strip of coast in northeastern Sri Lanka.

The rebels brought hundreds of thousands of Tamils with them, whom U.N. officials said were used as human shields.

U.N. and Western officials accused Sri Lanka of using heavy artillery to shell areas that it knew were heavily populated with civilians, killing many of them in the process. Colombo denied the allegation.

By: By Louis Charbonneau
(Editing by Phil Stewart)

1:23 PM

Lanka News Journalists not produced before Court

he Police who took into custody three Journalists of the ‘Lanka News’ on the charge of attempting to trespass on a garden in Deniyaya, Matara had been handed over to the Colombo crime Division , Lanka News reports.

The three Journalists were to be produced before the Morawaka Magistrate today (03) , and their lawyers had also gone to the Morawaka courts this afternoon. Later however with the intervention of the DIG Anura Dissanayake of the CCD ,they were to be entrusted to the custody of the Colombo Police crime Division , the Lanka news had added.