NFF to rally parties against 13th Amendement

The National Freedom Front (NFF) has written to several parties across Sri Lanka, calling on them to rally together and form an alliance against the implementation of the 13th Amendment. The party, which is a member of the ruling alliance, has written to 11 political parties, including Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), United National Party (UNP) Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP), JVP splinter party Frontline Progressive Party, Jathika Hela Urumaya, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna and other leftist parties in the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition. The Tamil National...

Iran offers Sri Lanka an avenue to bypass sanctions

The Iranian government has offered Sri Lanka the opportunity to purchase crude oil without opening Letters of Credit as a means of bypassing American sanctions on Iran, reported the Island . Quoting the Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mohammed Nabi Hassanipour, it was reported that the arrangement was part of a package proposed to Sri Lanka to overcome the embargoes imposed by "insensitive global policemen". The Ambassador reportedly stated that the Ceylon Petroleum Company could write directly to the Iranian Embassy in Colombo with their purchase requirements, who would then forward the...

Church and mosque vandalised and burnt

A church in Trincomalee was vandalised and mosque in Anuradhapura were both damaged and vandalised by unidentified persons on Friday and Satruday night respectively, reported TamilNet. A statue at the church, located in Paazhaiyoottu in the Trincomalee district, was defaced with its hands destroyed and lights decorating the statue removed on Friday night. A mosque in Anuradhapura was set alight, in a case of arson, forcing the Muslim clergy to shift prayers for the Hajji festival to a nearby house. See the report from TamilNet here .

US asked to 'compensate' SL

Minister Keheliya Rambukwella has said that the US should "compensate" Sri Lanka, due to the adverse effects its sanctions on Iran are having on Sri Lanka, reported the Daily Mirror . Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayant said that the US sanctions on Iran had cost Sri Lanka an extra $1.2 billion, for importing crude and refined oil from other countries. Premjayant added that Sri Lanka's oil bill had now reached a total of $5 billion.

Gota visits Indian counterpart

The Sri Lankan defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, met with the Indian Defence minister AK Anthony, after being invited to India by the country's National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon. According to the Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, the pair discusses military relations, and agreed that joint military training would continue away from the southern states.

US coast guard trains SL coast guard in Trinco

The US Coast Guard conducted training exercises for the Sri Lankan Coast Guard in Trincomalee recently, reports Colombo Page. The training initiative, said to strengthen maritime security, was part of the Export Control and Related Border Security Program. Addressing the closing ceremony the US ambassador to Colombo, Michele J Sison, said, "It draws on expertise from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Commerce, Energy, and Defence in order to provide a range of legal, licensing, and enforcement training and equipment for countries around the globe. We are pleased to be conducting...

Sri Lanka looks to India and China to address troubled economy

Sri Lanka’s Minister for Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiyutheen, said the country is taking measures to minimise the impact of the global financial crisis and will look towards India and China to increase their export market, reported ColomboPage . The country’s exports to its traditional markets in the West have been declining recently and the minister said the government would take efforts to open Asian markets for their products. "We are not going to remain passive at a time when our export markets around the world turn more challenging due to the decline in leading segments and the...

How meaningful is Sri Lanka's UPR?

As the 14th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session gets under way at the UN Human Rights Council this week, the spotlight will once again fall on Sri Lanka and its human rights record - but just how meaningful a process will it be? Last time Sri Lanka faced a review at the Council was in 2008, when Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had been elected on a tidal wave of popular Sinhala support for a renewed war effort, was intensifying his military offensive against the LTTE. Whilst the reports of paramilitaries, torture, abductions, killings, and the targeting of human rights defenders, journalists and humanitarian workers were acknowledged in the recommendations, the scale of human rights abuses, war crimes and genocide that Sri Lanka unleashed less than a year later, made a mockery of the entire process. Re-visiting the 2008 recommendations, in light of what has happened and continues to take place, should be a sobering read to any within the UPR Working Group.

Minister laments Iran sanctions’ impact

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Mass Media and Information, Keheliya Rambukwella, said the government will discuss the effects of sanctions on Iran with the US government, reported the Sunday Times . The Sapugaskanda oil refinery is due to close on Friday, as the supply of Iranian crude runs out. The minister said the US sanctions on Iran caused complications for Sri Lanka and alternate sources like Oman and Saudi Arabia are being looked in to.

13A saga continues

Just after the defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa warned the 13th Amendment in the constitution was a "time bomb", the Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesperson, Keheliya Rambukwella, told the media that the government had not decided about the 13th Amendment, and that the President had reiterated the government's intention to implement the 13th plus. Rambukwella said, "by the reference of 'Plus' it is envisaged to converge all minority groups in the provinces in a Senate." Responding to questions about the recent calls to abolish the amendment, the Colombo Page quoted the minister as saying...