Singh pressed Rajapakse on Tamil rights at Rio20+

The Indian Prime Minister Manohan Singh stressed the importance for a political solution in Sri Lanka during talks held with President Mahinda Rajapkse in Rio de Janeiro at the climate conference. The prime minister stressed “the great importance we attach in India to the ability of the Tamil people to lead a life of dignity and as equal citizens of that country”, according to a press statement , released by the Indian High Commission in Colombo on Saturday. He is also reported to have pledged continued assistance for economic programmes and a housing project. "In terms of the overall...

Puttalam mangroves destroyed by Minister's salterns

The Deputy External Affairs Minister, Neomal Perara, has been accused of illegally aquiring land along Puttalam lagoon in order to create salterns, reports The Sunday Leader. The Divisional Secretary of Kalpitiya, Ranga Fernando, said, “The mangrove was completely bulldozed last year without taking any approval from the Forest Department. We got to know that Perera’s men were bulldozing the mangrove on a Sunday morning and immediately took an injunction order by the same evening. Hence we were able to stop further destruction to the mangrove." "Later we found out that they have started illicit mangrove destruction from Friday evening – after all government departments closed for the weekend. We still cannot determine as to what the extent of this bulldozed area is since it is a large extent. I assume it could be several acres. We have to carry out a new survey now to demarcate the boundaries,” During Chandrika Kumaratunge presidency, Perara reportedly aquired 150 acres around the Puttalam lagoon for a saltern on a lease agreement with the support of Gamini Jayawickrema Perara - who was the then chief minister of the North Western province. However, a forest ranger in Puttalam, S.M.K.W. Kotuwegedara alleges that on two occasions Perera has ordered the illegal destruction of mangroves and has illegally aquired land to extend his salterns. Kotuwegedara said, “Perera, little by little he got the saltern extended illegally. As a result we have filed two cases against his company –St. Ann’s Salt (Pvt) Ltd in the Puttalam District Court,”

Government denies land grab accusations

Government officials have denied allegations of land seizures by security forces, after protests by the TNA and other Tamil political groups in the North-East. The Government Agent of Kilinochchi, Roopavathi Ketheeswaran said there was no truth in the allegations. “There are no such things happening here. Most of such claimed lands were earlier occupied by the LTTE and the military has a safety assurance process. Those will be handed back to the rightful owners shortly,” she told The Nation . The TNA is currently collecting details and statistics of lands that have been forcibly taken from...

SL Navy accused of attacking Indian fishermen

The Sri Lankan Navy has been accused of attacking four Indian fishermen and threatening them with life imprisonment, as they were fishing off the coast Katchathivu. The fishermen were allegedly beaten with nylon ropes at gunpoint and had their fish confiscated after Navy patrol boats surrounded their vessels. The fishermen also stated that their catch was confiscated by the Sri Lankans and threatened to jail them for life if they strayed into Sri Lankan territory. The alleged attack occurred as 9 fishermen were released and allowed to return home, after they were arrested and claimed to be...

Navy forcibly evicts resettled families in Mannar

At least 15 families were forcibly evicted from their homes overnight, just 2 weeks after being ‘resettled’ back in their native village. According to Journalists for Democracy, 10-15 heavily armed Navy personnel marched into the Vetriman Housing Scheme, located between Pesalai and Thalaimannar in the Mannar district, late Friday evening and demanded the villagers vacate their homes before midnight. The families, including those with children and the elderly, were then left at night to seek shelter at the Catholic Church in Pesalai almost 5km away. The Vetriman Housing Scheme was funded by...

Sri Lanka and Iran seek new world order

Sri Lankan and Iranian presidents embrace at Rio+20 sidelines. Photograph DailyMirror.lk Meeting at the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development on Friday, President Rajapaksa and Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the need for a "new order" in the world. “Cooperation among independent states is essential for their progress forward; the justice-seeking nations should cooperate to design a new global order; those who are behind today problems do not deserve designing the new order.” “Independent states are under great pressures from hegemonic powers but they should...

Over 90 feared dead in boat tragedy

109 people have been rescued from a capsized boat north-west of Christmas Island according to the latest reports, but hope is fading for an estimated 90 asylum seekers still lost at sea. The boat was thought to have been carrying over 200 men, with 109 having been rescued so far, including a 13-year-old boy. Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare stated that the chances of finding further survivors were "increasingly grim". As rescue efforts by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) continue, SLBC Australia’s Sri Lankan High Commissioner Rear admiral Thisara Samarasinghe stated that no...

Indo-SL ties will not shatter – Rajapakse to Manmohan Singh

Mahinda Rajapakse has emphasised his commitment to the historical relationship between India and Sri Lanka to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The leaders spoke on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit in Brazil and discussed issues such as the power plant in Sampur and the project to build 50,000 houses. Rajapakse stressed that he would never let the relationship disintegrate, while both leaders agreed that during crucial periods, the countries should arrive at solutions through negotiations. No space to shatter Indo-Lanka relations - News.lk (22 May 2012)

Government accuses media rights group of fraud

The Sri Lankan government announced it will be launching a fraud investigation into the media rights groups, Free Media Movement (FMM), reports Colombo Page. Citing an apparent police complaint from a foreign country accusing the organisation of 'massive fraud', the government has alleged misappropriation of millions of rupees by the leaders of the organisation. The FFM have been critical of the Sri Lankan government over recent months, particularly over the government's censorship of news websites . In January, the Department of Government Information accused the FFM of running a campaign...

Scores feared dead as refugee boat from Sri Lanka capsizes

A boat carrying about 200 refugees from the island of Sri Lanka has capsized off Australia’s Christmas Islands on Thursday. The spokesperson for Indonesia's search and rescue service which is coordinating the searcha at present, Gagah Prakoso, said the boat " coming from Sri Lanka and going to Christmas Island ". The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has confirmed 110 people have been rescued from the sea. Western Australia police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan told reporters: "Some of the very early reports suggest that up to 75 people may have drowned, but I do stress that they are...

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