Navy replace medical staff in North-East

The Sri Lankan Navy are reported to be running 'medical and dental camps' in Allappidi, Nagadeepa, Pungudutheevu Island, Mandatheevu Island, Keeramalai and Delft Island. Navy personnel were seen to be controlling the dispensation of medicines to civilians, carrying out investigate tests and overseeing specialist referrals to Jaffna teaching hospital. See related articles: Tamils protest against navy confiscation of land (06 Dec 2011) Sri Lankan Navy pelts Tamil fishermen with stones (06 Nov 2011) Growing calls for prosecution of Sri Lankan envoy to Australia (17 Oct 2011)

Bell Pottinger's 'dark arts' revealed

A secret video , taken by undercover reporters at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, reveals senior executives at Bell Pottinger boasting of their influence and access to senior members of the UK government, including the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Prime Minister, David Cameron. Posing as agents for the government of Uzbekistan - heavily criticised for its brutal, dictatorial state and flagrant human rights violations - reporters inquired how the UK based PR firm would be able to alter Uzbekistan's negative online comments. In response, senior executive, Tim Collins, said...

Court case against Sri Lanka’s ban on websites

The Free Media Movement, a local organisation campaigning for press freedom, has filed a court case against the government’s ban on websites that carried material that was deemed insulting to the government. A fundamental rights application was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, saying the blockade breaches people’s rights to information and freedom of expression. The government blocked websites critical of Sri Lanka from being accessed last month, after calling on all news websites to register with the media ministry. The websites that are currently blocked include Lankawaynews, the...

Former Chinese hotel land given to Indian company

The Sri Lankan government have approved a deal to lease out a block of land, previously sold to the China Aviation Technology Import Export Corporation (CATIC), to Imperial Tobacco Company Ltd. of India. The land will be given on a 99-year lease for $US73.5 million, allowing the Indian company, a franchisee for the US based Sheraton Group, to construct a hotel and development project estimated to be worth around US$300 million. After receiving cabinet approval, the government announced that the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka will enter in to a MoU with the Indian company, allowing the deal...

Tamils protest against navy confiscation of land

Photograph Tamilnet Tamils from Maathakal, a coastal village in Jaffna, protested on Monday, against the Sri Lankan Navy occupation of their land, reports Tamilnet. Protesters descended upon the civic body headquarters in Manipay, despite attempts by the Sri Lankan military and police to hinder their journey. Despite being surrounded by army officers, protesters remained unperturbed and called for the TNA to intervene. Having confiscated the Tamil villagers' lands, Sri Lankan armed forces have built an extensive naval base in Maathakal and begun issuing written notice of the transfer of land to the navy. Photograph Tamilnet See here for full article on Tamilnet. Further Tamil protests were reported to have taken place in Colombo on Tuesday according to the Tamil language newspaper, the Virakesari .

Prison attack victims investigated for 'attempt to tarnish image of Sri Lanka'

The Terrorist Investigation Division of Sri Lanka is to investigate the victims of an attack by prison guards in Anuradhapura prison, for what the Daily Mirror described as “ an attempt by LTTE cadres in detention to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka internationally. ” The victims under investigation are 65 Tamil men, who were all left with injuries after being assaulted by the prison guards, with 5 being admitted to hosital. The investigation was ordered by Colombo Chief Magistrate Rashmi Singappuli after detectives claimed the victims of the attack had “ injured themselves and photographed the...

Sri Lanka to build 35 five star hotels

Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapakse has revealed the government approved the setting up of 25 five star hotels across the island. Rajapakse told media on Sunday, the government is to invite international hotel chains to invest and build the hotels on designated sites. The minister also said 11 of the luxury hotels will be built in Colombo, 7 in Batticaloa, 7 in Trincomalee and 2 in Jaffna.

Trinco IDP’s not allowed to return

The Sri Lankan Government has confirmed that internally displaced people from Sampur will not be allowed to return to their homes, BBC Sandeshaya reports. Trincomalle Government Agent Major General TTR de Silva told journalists on Sunday, that the Tamil inhabitants of the town cannot go back to the city, which is the site of a planned thermal plant. Sampur was one of the first LTTE strongholds to be captured by the Sri Lankan Army after the breakdown if the ceasefire.

British PR firm wrote Rajapaksa's UN speech

According to the UK newspaper, Independent , Bell Pottinger wrote Mahinda Rajapaksa's key address to the UN in 2010, after the original draft, written by Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry was ditched. Speaking to undercover reporters, chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Relations, David Wilson, said, "We had a team working in the President's office. " " We wrote the President's speech to the UN last year which was very well received... it went a long way to taking the country where it needed to go ." The Independent reports that part of Bell Pottinger's remit was to specifically " influence the foreign media in favour of the Sri Lankan government ". During the speech to the UN, Rajapaksa described the military's treatment of the captured LTTE cadres as a "humanitarian" operation and promoted the LLRC as an enquiry where the "full expression to the principles of accountability" had been given. Wilson however, allegedly criticised the LLRC when speaking to the undercover reporters, arguing that the LLRC had a "fundamental flaw in its remit in investigating what has gone on in the past, to try to bury the past".

Catholic Church to boycott all SL government functions

The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has said he will boycott all government functions over the Christmas period, in protest over the arrest of a nun over child trafficking allegations. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said last week’s police raid on a children’s home, founded by Mother Theresa, was carried out without proof. "Our response to this is to stay away from any state functions or state-organised event in the month of December," the cardinal told reporters in Colombo. "They (police) are now trying to fabricate a story." Cardinal Ranjith denied allegations the home was being used to...

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