Sri Lanka let India win - Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa fetes the Sri Lankan team at his home on April 4. Photos Sudath Silva Sri Lanka let India win the Cricket World Cup, President Mahinda Rajapaksa suggested to a reception welcoming back the team, echoing wild allegations that the players had deliberately performed below par. "I like to tell my Indian friends that 20 million from our small country, took a step back to allow 1.2 billion Indian people to enjoy some happiness, for the second time since 1983," he told attendees. See NDTV’s report here . Rajapaksa’s comments nearly caused a diplomatic storm across the Palk Straits - see Emirates 24/7’s report here on another development since India’s victory: Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister has ordered eleven Sri Lankan cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) to return to prepare for the national team’s tour of England next month. This is despite their prior agreement with Sri Lanka cricket (SLC) that the players would complete their IPL contracts before joining the national team in Britain. (The IPL league concludes end May, the England tour begins mid-May). The IPL contracts are lucrative for both the players and SLC. As such, the Minister’s directive makes clear Sri Lanka’s players have to put the country before their professional careers. That the Sri Lankan team are seen as ambassadors of the country is underscored by the lavish reception in his home that President Rajapaksa gave the team. Flanked by his wife Shiranthi, Rajapaksa presented players with a 5,000 rupee gold coin and a pair of gold cufflinks encrusted with colourful stones. “You have done us proud,” Rajapaksa, a staunch Sinhala nationalist, told the players. See more pictures (by Sudath Silva) of the reception:

Sign of the Times

Why has Sri Lanka inaugurated an official timekeeping website? Because the site "will make it easier for people to follow astrological advice and do things at the correct auspicious time," Trade Ministry spokesman Nipuna Ekanayake said. The launch of was hardly auspicious, however. No sooner had President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s launched the site on Monday, when unexpected stormy weather caused it to crash. "Too many hits and lightning affected our server and the website went down," a spokesman for the site told AFP. See the report here .

US: Cooperation hampered by human rights record

Below is an extract from the testimony of Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. The full text of his prepared speech can be found here . Sri Lanka stands poised to be a capable and willing partner to effectively combat violent extremism, trafficking and piracy, and thereby help to ensure the maritime security of the region. But the Government’s worrisome record on human rights, weakening of democratic institutions and practices, and the way in which it...

Which nation’s team?

It is no accident that Sri Lanka’s cricket team has long been made up mainly of Sinhalese. Ahead of the World Cup final Saturday, Mel Gunasekera writes for AFP : While [world record wicket-taker Muttiah] Muralitharan is the only Tamil in Sri Lanka’s team, the Muslim minority is partially represented by opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan. Dilshan, who has a Muslim father and Sinhalese mother, was born Tuwan Mohamed Dilshan but converted from Islam to Buddhism and changed his name. His manager, Roshan Abeysinghe, said he did it "for personal reasons," adding that Dilshan "wanted a Sinhala...

Indian engines no longer ‘spurious imports’

On March 14 Sri Lanka abruptly suspended acceptance of Indian-manufactured train power sets. Each reportedly costs $3.5m, the engines are manufactured by Indian state-owned firm RITES Ltd. The reason given by Sri Lanka for the suspension was that one of three already delivered had ‘stopped’ on a run on March 11 due to unspecified defects. An electrical short was later reported. Minister of Transport Kumar Welgama told reporters that defects had been identified and reported to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. “We have already initiated an investigation into the suitability of these Indian...

Why is it perplexing?

Two months after what has been described as Sri Lanka’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami, the lives of those in the most affected districts of Batticoloa, Amparai and Trincomalee remain devastated. The state’s much hyped rhetoric of aid has not materialized into tangible relief. Quite the reverse. In a predictable repeat of the post-tsunami situation, the state’s efforts to hamper flood relief for Tamil areas are part of a wider determination to block re-development there.

TYO extends 'Boycott Sri Lanka' to cricket

Using as context the quarter final of the Cricket World Cup between co-hosts Sri Lanka and England, the TYO-UK (Tamil Youth Organisation) on Saturday conducted an awareness campaign on Sri Lanka in London, on a day marked by huge protest by the TUC (Trade Union Congress) against public spending cuts.

True to Sri Lankan form ...

As ever in Sri Lanka, after the initial blaze of publicity … the state ensures that nothing that might benefit Tamils can proceed. Last June, the Indian government’s declared intention to build 50,000 houses in the war shattered Northeast sparked much media interest, hope (in the Northeast), and controversy (in South). Then nothing happened. A foundation stone was finally laid in November. But then Sri Lanka suddenly announced that most of the houses would not be new builds, but repairs. India rebutted this promptly. Now, three months later, it’s clear Sri Lanka has again managed to stall the...

Fishy relations

With Tamil Nadu due to go to the polls within weeks, the issue of Indian fishermen being attacked in the waters between India and Sri Lanka has once again made the news. The oceanic border between India and Sri Lanka has no visible demarcations and fishermen often find themselves on the wrong side. While Sinhala fishermen (often seeking tuna) have been arrested in Indian waters and later released, there has also long been a history of the Sri Lankan navy attacking and killing Indian fishermen.

Truth, impunity and future security

" A people’s knowledge of the history of its oppression is part of its heritage. Knowing the truth allows victims and relatives to gain a sense of closure, some restoration of dignity and receive acknowledgement of their suffering. " The truth is a tool to combat impunity. It is a tool for justice. And it is a vital step in preventing a recurrence of the events that led to the violations. " - Navi Pillay , UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. See her full statement here .