Sri Lanka taxes wheelchair donation for Tamils

The Sri Lankan government has taxed a charity for importing wheelchairs for Tamil war victims. 322 wheelchairs and other mobility equipment destined for the north of the island were taxed $8,000 by Sri Lankan customs. The head of the Yorkshire based charity, PhysioNet, has condemned the move by the government. Peter Thompson said the shipment took over 3 months to clear customs. "This is a record for the longest time one of our shipments has languished on the docks of a recipient country - and that includes some of the most corrupt and inefficient countries in Africa." he told the BBC. Mr...

Proposed Sampur power plant inspected, by Sampanthan

Photograph www.sundaytimes.lk Escorted by Sri Lankan military commander for the Eastern province, Major Gen. Lal Perara and the Commander of the 22nd Division, Brig. Dharshana Hettiaarachchi, the leader of the TNA, Sampanthan, reviewed the proposed Sampur coal power project on Thursday. The proposed project, a joint venture by the governments of Sri Lanka and India, will include the arbitary aquisition of private lands belonging to Tamils who have been refused the right of return and effectively forced into indefinite displacement. Less than a fortnight ago, the displaced families, living in...

'Sri Lanka-China relationship not a threat to India'

Sri Lanka's ruling party, the UPFA, have said that the country's close ties with China should not be seen as a threat to India. According to Rohitha Bogollagama, member of the UPFA, Sri Lanka's relationship with India is unique and cannot be replaced. "China's relationship with us is special because they were with us and supported us in countering terrorism. They also supported us in the international arena. The Chinese also assisted the economic drive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa without placing conditions during and after the war," Bogollagama told Xinhua. "We couldn't just take...

TNA's demands 'impossible' - Mahinda Rajapaksa

In an interview with Bhagwan Singh, published in the Deccan Chronicle, Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa slammed calls for a war crimes inquiry as "baseless issues" contrived by the Tamil diaspora, and dismissed the TNA's demands as "impossible". See here for interview in full. Extracts of Rajapaksa's responses reproduced below: On calls for a war crimes investigation "The LTTE remnants in these Western countries are bringing pressure on political leaders there to raise baseless issues against Sri Lanka." "After the 1880 uprising in Ceylon’s Uva (in the south), the British rulers killed every male aged above 14, and destroyed all water reservoirs to force the people into starvation. They took away land. They did that in India, too. And they talk of human rights now. The West wants me to be their lackey and I refuse to be that." On relationships with India " For me, India is first, and others come only after India . As soon as I came to power, I went to India and got their support; after that, I did not have to bother about the UN, UK, US, and so on." On TNA and devolution "They (TNA) have the same attitude as the LTTE. "They demand impossible things — merger of the north and the east, land policy and police . See what happened in your country [India] when Rahul Gandhi was travelling in Uttar Pradesh. Chief minister Mayawati tried to get him arrested. Do you think I want to get arrested by these people (by giving the Tamils a police force)?

Investigation of British tourist's murder under scrutiny

An anonymous letter addressed to the Inspector General of Police has alleged that attempts are being made to undermine the investigation of the murder of former Red Cross worker holidaying in Tangalle . Sampath Chandrapushpa, the chairman of the local Pradeshiya Sabha, who was detained after handing himself in, is under the " patronage of a powerful politician " who has " vested interested to undermine the investigation " the letter alleges. Accusing Chandrapushpa of a catalogue of previous crimes in Tangalle, the letter adds that attempts are being made to tamper evidence. The letter,...

Russia praises LLRC report

Russia has welcomed the release of the LLRC report and the ‘great contribution’ it would make to reconciliation, ignoring widespread criticism of it. A statement, released by Alexander Lukashevich, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, ignores the serious flaws in the report, highlighted by many human rights organisation and various governments . Full text of statement: “The final report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has been revealed in Colombo. The Commission made serious work on all aspects of the longstanding conflict...

India 'incorrect' on Sri Lanka's intentions - JHU legal advisor

The JHU's (Jathika Hela Urumaya) legal advisor, MP Udaya Gammanpila, criticised India's statement , made 25th December on the LLRC report, as "incorrect", reasserting the Sri Lankan government's refusal to devolve land and police powers to the North-East. Gammanpila said , “it is incorrect to say that the Sri Lankan government has assured India that it will fully implement the 13th amendment” “the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa clearly stated that it is against devolving police and land powers to the provincial councils as well as the unification of the north and eastern provinces...

LLRC report through the eyes of the JHU

Slamming the LLRC report as "one-sided", the secretary of the JHU, MP Patali Champika Ranawaka condemned the report for only recommending investigations in the Sri Lankan army and navy, whilst criticising the report for going "beyond its mandate". Ranawaka reportedly said, “There are no recommendations to conduct investigations against the LTTE atrocities but the army and navy”. “The report discusses political matters beyond its mandate”. Perhaps Ranawaka, the ruling UPFA's Power and Energy Minister, would be wise to liaise with his pals in the external affairs ministry before making such...

As foreigners sell, rupee defended

As foreign investors sold their shares in the Colombo Stock Exchange Tuesday, the Central Bank stepped in to preserve the value of the rupee. By selling SLR 788 million in stock, foreign investors were heavy net sellers as Sri Lanka’s stock exchange resumed trading Tuesday after the Christmas holidays. Despite the foreign disinvestment, the main All Share Price Index gained 0.54 percent (32.51 points) to 6,015.09 as local investors (mainly government institutions) stepped in to buy . Nearly 80% of the day’s turnover was in shares of the Commercial Bank, as international investors sold their...

Rajapakse associate arrested for murder and rape of tourists

A close associate of the Rajapakse clan has been arrested in connection with the murder of a British tourist and the suspected rape of his Russian girlfriend. Kuram Shaikah Zaman, who was 27 years old was killed on Christmas eve after intervening in a dispute between locals in Tangalle.

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