Assaulted Uthayan editor remains defiant

Speaking to Groundviews, Gnanasundaram Kuganathan, the editor of the Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna who was severely injured in a beating by pro-government paramilitaries, vowed to continue reporting on 'activities against humanity'. “It’s a miracle that I survived. I was beaten almost to death. Many attempts have been made to kill me, so that my writing will come to an end! I did not think that, I will survive. The God has saved me to serve the people through journalism. I am slowly recovering. Today, I am blessed to be alive. I have highlighted many issues in my writing. I want to continue to...

‘We won’t be rushed!’

Sri Lanka’s much vaunted Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) said Thursday it won’t be rushed by anyone into submitting its report. The magnum opus is due on November 15. Amid growing international outrage over war crimes and crimes against humanity in the final stage of Sri Lanka’s conflict, the LLRC’s report has strangely emerged as a central device. The LLRC was set up by Colombo as a delaying tactic to fend off international pressure for both a domestic investigation into the atrocities and a meaningful reconciliation process i.e. a political solution. Unsurprisingly, the...

Why is Sri Lanka buying more military transport helicopters?

Russia’s state-run arms exporter said today Sri Lanka is to purchase 14 military transport helicopters. The money comes from a Russian credit line offered in 2010 for arms purchases. But spokesmen for Sri Lanka’s defense ministry and air force both told Reuters they were unaware of the deal for the Mi-171s. See Reuters’ report here . But the air force spokesman Group Captain Andrew Wijesuriya had an explanation for why the air force, which already has a large fleet of transport helicopters, might be buying more: the military was aiming to expand its foray into civilian tourism. “We are...

Foreigners still net sellers of Sri Lanka stocks

Sri Lanka’s main stock index rose 3% on Thursday – as foreigner investors sold a net $2 million worth. See Reuters’ report here . Sri Lanka’s stock market has soared since the end of the island’s war, driven by proxy government buying through state-owned funds. At the same time, there has been a net foreign outflow. Whilst foreigners buy tactically, especially when stocks fall, they sell when the market rises. Thus far in 2011, foreigners have net sold over $9 million – having sold a record $240 million in 2010. Despite the war ending that year, 2009 ended with a net foreign outflow of $103...

Diaspora assistance and the Tamil homeland

“ The Tamil Diaspora will only remit funds through channels which ensure [these] are not financing the decimation of their own land, heritage and culture. The Diaspora is not going to send its money to an outfit run by the Sri Lankan military , which would use this money to sustain and develop its own infrastructure in the Tamil region, further subjugating the Tamils. “ The Diaspora will continue to work with international and local agencies to reach their kith and kin, despite the obstacles thrown at them by the Sinhala state. ” - British Tamil Forum (BTF) . See further comments on Sri Lanka...

Speculations as drilling begins in Mannar

Cairn Lanka, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cairn India, has begun drilling in one of eight blocks in the Mannar Basin off the island’s north-western coast. Sri Lanka’s government claims that seismic data shows potential for more than 1 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mannar. By way of comparison, Sudan’s proven oil reserves of 6 billion barrels (0.5% of world reserves). Of the eight blocks, two have been granted to China and India. Russia’s largest oil company, Gazprom, has also indicated an interest, as has Malaysia’s Petronas. Economic development minister Basil Rajapakse says that if oil is found, Sri Lanka would no longer be dependent on imports from other countries. Bizarrely, he also warned that some western countries may pose a threat to Sri Lanka, like they have done in the Middle East, if Sri Lanka is successful. Perhaps he’s forgotten that Cairn Energy, which owns half of spin off Cairn India, is a British company, which has been trying for over year to off load Cairn India to the Indian company metals and mining giant Vendanta . Both Cairn Energy and Vendata are in the FTSE-100 index of the London Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Cairn Lanka has been exempted from taxes and import duties until 2016. The decision was introduced by Basil Rajapakse and passed in parliament with 58 votes against four. Exemptions on taxes include all capital goods imported by Cairn Lanka and its sub-contractors, including equipment, machinery and required supplies and consumables. Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader Anura Dissanayake claims that the exceptions mean that if oil is found, Sri Lanka would only receive 10% of the profit, compared to the 38% without the concessions.

Too much, even for The Hindu

Long supportive of Sri Lanka’s war against the Liberation Tigers, The Hindu newspaper has rarely been critical of Colombo governments. Not even when Colombo repeatedly, and pointedly, ignored Delhi’s explicit, if softly phrased, requests such as for a political settlement with the Tamils, or to implement the Indian-brokered 13th amendment (in 2006 President Mahinda Rajapaksa rescinded the 1987 merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces. See the justification here and India's plea here ). Indeed, President Rajapaksa, an ultra Sinhala nationalist whose regime has been accused of widespread...

Chinese firm to develop Colombo port amid sweeteners for Hambantota

Sri Lanka has signed a 35 year build-operate-transfer deal with a joint venture between a Chinese state-run firm (which owns 55%) and a local partner. The deal was signed during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to China last week. See LBO’s report here , and China Daily's here . Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) is a venture between China Merchants Holdings International, the Hong Kong listed Chinese state-run firm, and local firm Aitken Spence (which owns 30%). The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) owns 15%. “The project will further anchor the Port of Colombo’s position as a...

TYO-UK remembers 5th anniversary of Sencholai bombings

TYO-UK remembers the 5th anniversary of the attack on Sencholai orphanage and the children who lost their lives in the air raid. On the 14th of August 2006, sixteen bombs were dropped by Sri Lankan Air Force jets killing 53 female students and injuring many more. The students had been attending a first aid course in an orphanage. Only a short-while before the bombings, the coordinates of the orphanage had been given to the ICRC who in turn had informed the Sri Lankan state. Though the Sri Lankan government predictably accused the young girls of being LTTE cadres and the orphanage of being a...

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