The shame of being honoured by Douglas

The prominent South Indian Carnatic and Kollywood singer P Unni Krishnan has apologised to his Tamil fans, for being honoured by Douglas Devananda in Jaffna during a music concert last month, reports Uthayan. Unni Krishnan said he was deeply ashamed of the incident, in which Devananda marked the singer with the traditional honour of being draped in a silk cloth or ‘ponnaadai’ during a performance at Nallur Kanthasamy temple in Jaffna on 18th August 2012. Describing the incident as a "black mark" in his musical journey, the singer apologised for hurting Tamil sentiments worldwide. Speaking in an interview, Unni Krishnan said (translated text follows): “I was invited to perform at a musical concert during the Nallur Kanthasamy Temple Festival (Thiruvizha) in Jaffna. Having earned a place in the hearts of Eelam Tamils through songs on liberation, I agreed to go to Jaffna to meet and perform for them.”

Sri Lanka gives itself a pat on the back

Having submitted to its National Report for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council, the new ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, told the 21st session that Sri Lanka was looking forward to the process. Claiming that the government the military was "no longer involved in civil administration in the Northern and the Eastern provinces", and "the Security Forces presence in the Jaffna peninsula has been reduced from 50,000 at the height of the conflict, to 15,000 at present", Aryasinha also claimed that "Sri Lanka's democratic credentials were yet again re-asserted 2 days ago with the successful conduct of Provincial Council elections, including in the previously conflict affected Eastern Province." Civil society groups and rights groups on the island, within the Tamil diaspora and internationally, sumitted rather different reports however.

Prime Minister praises 'answer to international conspiracies'

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister D M Jayaratna has praised the government's recent victory at the Eastern Provincial Council elections, stating that the government had now negated "hostile attempts... against the motherland". Sri Lanka's state-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation reported Jayaratna as having said the victory was "an obvious answer for the international conspiracies against the country." He was also reported to have said, "Some conspiratory elements have attempted to discredit the government at the UN Human Rights Council and at the international arena. This victory has annulled...

Army camp construction jeopardises basic needs of locals

The locals of Karainagar have expressed concern of the inconveniences they will face due to the construction of an expansive army camp in Sambalodai area. Sambalodai holds the most fresh water resources in the Karainagar area as well as being a significant location for carrying out funeral rites. Uthayan reports that locals have expressed concern that the camp would cut them off from water supplies and restrict access to the areas many crematoriums. Chairman of the Karainagar regional council S. Thurgeswaran said, “The construction of the Sambalodai army camp will cut off the basic needs of...

US wants to boost trade with SL

The American Chamber of Commerce in Colombo has said it is keen to boost investment and trade in Sri Lanka. "The US has expressed its desire to increase more FDI (foreign direct investment) flows to Sri Lanka and also see an increase in Sri Lankan exports to the US," Vijaya Ratnayake, president of AMCHAM Sri Lanka said, according to LBO . The AMCHAM is planning to hold a trade show in Colombo on September 16 to promote trade and investment between the two countries. "This event provides an excellent opportunity for those who are interested in doing business with USA whether it is imports,...

South Africa to make US $122 million investment

The South African High Commissioner to Colombo, Geoff Doidge has announced that his country will make an initial investment of US$ 122 million, whilst speaking at a dinner hosted by the Export Development Board of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce for a South African business delegation. “The Progressive Business Forum, which is visiting Sri Lanka has realised the potentials in the resurgent Sri Lankan economy as a result of the committed leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. “We are confident that this bold and far-sighted initiative will expand existing opportunities for the South...

UPFA wins most seats in controversial Eastern Provincial Council elections

Sri Lanka’s ruling UPFA coalition has won 14 seats in the Eastern Provincial Council elections to the TNA’s 11, in an election mired with controversy. The margin and manner of victory has been hotly contested, with the loss of a seat for the Tamil National Alliance during a reported “power cut”, whilst votes were being counted in Batticaloa (See report from TamilNet here ). The UPFA also managed to gain two ‘bonus seats’ through the Provincial Councils Elections Act (see here ) despite having an overall winning margin of less than 7,000, according to government figures . If the TNA had won the ‘bonus seats’, they would have come first in the elections. Furthermore, low voter turnout and reports of threats and intimidation along with a massive Army and Police presence, marred the elections. Nonetheless, the Tamil National Alliance emerged as the single largest party in both Trincomalee and Batticaloa, only losing to the UPFA in the Amparai district. The TNA also saw a marked increase in votes from the 2010 Parliamentary elections in both Trincomalee and Batticaloa. In 2010, the TNA gained 33,268 and 66,235 votes in both districts respectively, but now obtained 44,396 and 104,682 votes in the district. The Eastern province has seen a flurry of colonisation and Sinhalisation, with the ICG reporting earlier this year that this was part of a strategy to ""change the facts of the ground", as has already happened in the east, and make it impossible to claim the north as a Tamil-majority area deserving of self-governance." Almost 100 civil society leaders earlier wrote to the Tamil National Alliance urging them to reject the provincial council system and the demerging of the North and East, as they prepare to contest in the upcoming Eastern Provincial Council Elections. See here . The Tamil National Alliance boycotted provincial council elections in the east in 2008, claiming the environment was not safe to operate in due to the activity of paramilitary groups.

Mannar Church attacked with stones

Kappalenthi Mary’s Church in Karusal, Mannar was attacked by a group throwing stones, reports Uthayan . Stones were thrown into the Church during evening prayers on Friday and fire crackers were reportedly lit in an attempt to further disrupt worship. The bishop delivering mass is believed to have sustained minor injuries from the attack. Two young worshippers who went outside to check on the commotion were also assaulted by the attackers. TNA MP for Vanni S Adaikalanathan said of the incident, “Because there are Tamils and Muslims living in this area, this attack carried out by thugs had the...

Elections over but security forces remain

Despite the end of the Eastern Provincial Council elections, Sri Lanka’s police force have declared that they will remain out in full force in five areas across the province. Colombo Page reported that the police will remain in Akkaraipattu, Pothuvil, Thirukkovil, Sammanthurai and Kalmunai where there were reportedly high levels of election violence. This comes after over 21,000 police officers, including 300 motorcycles for patrol units, were deployed in the east, and the army increased its operations in the area.

Low turnout at Provincial council polls in the east

The Eastern Province elections saw low turnout by Muslims reported TamilNet . The polls, held on Saturday, saw around 60% of registered voters casting their vote. TamilNet said that turnout was low, especially in Muslim areas, thought to be due to an “internecine fight between Muslim political parties”. There were also reports of threats and intimidation in Trincomalee and Amparai . More than ten ministers of the ruling UPFA, including Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senarathne, are reported to have threatened voters and local officials in Trincomalee to vote for the UPFA candidates. TNA member...