Free landing offered at Mahinda’s airport

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa has offered free landing and parking for all airlines during the first year of operations at the new international airport being constructed in his hometown of Hambantota. In addition, authorities have granted 50% off handling fees as they attempt to entice airlines to the new airport, currently projected to cost US$209 million. Originally scheduled to have been completed in June 2013, the construction has been rushed forward to November 18th 2012, reportedly to celebrate President Rajapaksa’s birthday and anniversary of his 3rd year in office. The...

US grants request and gives SL oil concession

The United States has allowed Sri Lanka time to scale down its import of Iranian oil after Sri Lankan pleaded with US officials for concessions. Petroleum Industries Minister, Susil Premajayantha said that Sri Lanka now had to cut down its import of oil from Iran by 15% for the current year, managing to evade a total ban that comes into force in June of this year. Speaking on Saturday he commented , “The concession to reduce crude oil imports only by 15 per cent was a result of the appeal made to the US earlier.” Earlier, Sri Lankan newspapers reported that Sri Lanka newspapers reported...

Rupee slide no boon for exporters - official

Source Central Bank, published in The Island Textiles exporters hoping the fall of Sri Lanka's rupee would drive a boom this year are set to be disappointed as a resulting rise in costs of imported materials undermines margins, Reuters quoted the state-run Export Development Board (EDB) as saying Wednesday. The rupee hit a record low of 131.60 per dollar last Monday, a drop of 14 per cent since the central bank last month opted out of an intervention method that cost it $2.7 billion in the second half of 2011. Firms have been calling for years for a weaker currency to help them compete with...

TNA welcomes adoption of UNHRC resolution

The Tamil National Alliance has welcomed the passing of the US-sponsored resolution at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Full text follows: "We believe that the Resolution will benefit all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity. We sincerely hope that the Resolution and the clear collective will of the Council will encourage the government to face the future with fortitude and move decisively to protect human rights and take tangible action to advance genuine reconciliation, "The need for substantial progress in human rights protection, genuine and meaningful reconciliation and...

England cricket fans fume over “foreigner” ticket prices

English cricket fans have been outraged by a decision taken by the cash-strapped Sri Lankan Cricket board to charge “foreigners” higher prices for tickets than for locals, with prices up to ten times higher than those charged to Australian fans, just seven months ago. Representatives from England’s Barmy Army, the unofficial supporters group of the English Cricket team, were livid at the controversial two-tier policy and began drawing up petitions as well as meeting with Sri Lankan Cricket officials. Some have also commented that they feel “exploited” , after having personally donated to Sri...

Reconciliation and accountability necessary for peace - Clinton

Welcoming the UN resolution passed at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, the US Secretary of State, Hiliary Clinton said, "The United States, together with the international community, sent a strong signal that Sri Lanka will only achieve lasting peace through real reconciliation and accountability ," "And the international community stands ready to help," "Implement the constructive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and take the necessary measures to address accountability ," "We are committed to working with the...

Sri Lanka remains stubbornly defiant after UN resolution

State backed media and government politicians have rallied together to condemn a resolution passed at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, vowing to remain defiant. Labelling the resolution “misconceived, unwarranted and ill-timed”, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who led the Sri Lankan delegation in Geneva, slammed the resolution, and called out the United States, declaring , “Those who live in glass houses are best advised to exercise caution before throwing stones”. The President's brother and Minister Basil Rajapakse stated earlier that the country was unfazed by the resolution and was...

The Hindu, on Geneva and India …

Extracts from the editorial Friday of The Hindu , which has hisotircally been a vocal supporter of President Rajapaksa’s regime and its predecessors: “The wording of the resolution was tweaked by India to say the implementation assistance the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights will provide must be with Sri Lanka's 'concurrence'. “ Yet, Colombo must not misread this concession . “ Thursday's resolution is the first real sign that the world will no more let itself be guided solely by Sri Lankan claims that it has the will to carry out its own probe. “ It also means that gentle...

HRW hails ‘important first step’, calls for close monitoring

Comments by Juliette De Rivero, advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, on the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution on Sri Lanka on Thursday: “The Human Rights Council's vote demonstrates broad international dissatisfaction with Sri Lanka's accountability efforts in the three years since the end of the war. “Many countries have recognized that this resolution is an important first step toward serious action to investigate the many abuses by both sides during the conflict. “In its failed efforts to block the council resolution, the Sri Lankan government saw fit to put its own citizens at risk...

“I will break your limbs in public!” – Minister threat to human rights activists

Sri Lankan Minister Mervyn Silva has threatened human rights activists who attended the 19th UN Human Rights Council Session in Geneva, where a resolution about Sri Lanka was adopted yesterday. Speaking at a protest against the resolution on Friday, Silva singled out activists Sunila Abeysekara, Nimalka Fernando and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and journalists Sunanda Deshapriya and Poddala Jayantha for betraying Sri Lanka and threatened them with violence. “I am the one who chased Poddala Jayantha from Sri Lanka,” he said, referring to the journalist who fled the country due to threats...

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