Sri Lanka - 'We are expecting the Queen'

The Sri Lankan government has stated that they ex pect the Q ueen to be present at this year's Common wealth Heads O f Government Meeting, schedu led to be held in Sri Lanka , shrugging off any concerns of a boycott. Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, K Amunugama, was qu oted by Ceylon T oday as saying, "We are expecting the Queen to be present, but it depends on her health, and how favourable the conditions are for her to be present. If she is unable to be present, a member of the Royal family – Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, or her son Charles, the Prince of Wales or one...

Govt dismisses US call for progress

Responding to the prospect of another resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Sri Lankan government said that they had already made "substantial progress". The country's Foreign Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama said on Tuesday: "The US is entitled to its views but Sri Lanka is ready to respond to the resolution. We have made substantial progress on the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report and we have briefed the diplomatic community and media about this,"

SL accuses US diplomats of being spies

A Sri Lankan government Minister has accused the visiting United States State Department Deputy Assistant Secretaries, of being spies. Addressing an event in the Southern town of Mawathagama, the Housing and Construction Minister, Wimal Weerawasa, said that the US officials were trying to gather information that would indicate to the international community that the law and order situation in the country is facing a breakdown. Weerawasa's remarks come as the alleged spy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore, addressing press in Colombo, highlighted the need for accountability in...

4,000 armed personnel to be deployed in Trinco

Over 4,000 police and army person nel will be deployed in Trincomalee for Sri Lanka's Independence day celeb rations, due to be held in the city. The celebrations, set f or the 4th of February, mark the 65th year independence from Britain. Held in the Tamil city of Trincomale, this year's theme is (in Singhalese) 'Asirimath Mawubimak - Isurumath Heta Dinak', or 'A Glorious Motherland - A Flourishing Tomorrow'. Approximately 1,800 police officers will be present, with the remaining numbers being made up by members of the army, navy and air force. See our earlier post: Independence day...

Seized African ivory tusks gifted to Buddhist temples

359 ivory tusks from African elephants wor th millions of dollars , which were seized by Sri Lankan authorities last year, have been gifted to Buddhist temples . The tusks were seized by customs officials last year, but following a request from the Presidential Secretariat, they have now been handed over to Buddhist temples. The Daily Mirror reported that the iv ory was valued at a staggering 400 million rup ees ( over U S $3.1 million ) , coming from hundreds of A frican elephants. The trade of African elep hant ivory was outlaw ed in 1989, except for a few very rare circumstances .

Ministers galore

Adding to an already burgeoning Cabinet, five new ministers were sworn in before President Mahinda Rajapaksa this morning at the Cabinet reshuffle. (See here ). The grand total now stands at 67 Cabinet ministers, and 97 ministers within a 225 member parliament. Innovative entries into the Cabinet include: two 'Project Ministers' for Ports and Highways, co-deputy ministers, Minister of Sugar Industries and Minister of Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation. Working arrangements between the Minister of Productivity Promotion and Minister of Investment Promotion, as well as that between the...

US to sponsor UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka

US officials have confirmed that it will move a new resolution on Sri Lanka at the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council. "The US has decided to sponsor a procedural resolution at the March 2013 sessions of the UNHRC," James R Moore, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, told reporters in Colombo. Moore said that Sri Lanka had made “some progress”, but more needed doing on human rights accountability and reconciliation. "The US and the other 23 members of the UNHRC who voted for that resolution in 2012 believe that the government of Sri Lanka needs to fulfil its commitments made...

Govt withdraws funding in Northern Province

The government has withdrawn over Rs 560 million worth of funds ear marked for development in the TNA controlled Northern Province, reports the Sunday Times. According to Jaffna's Local Government Assistant Commissioner S Jeyaharan, the directive to withdraw the funds came from the Ministry of Local Government. M K Sivajilingam said : “They do not want us to spend these funds for development work because they fear we will win votes at the Provincial Council elections. Whatever happens, the people know we represent them,” He went on to point out that councils controlled by the government's...

Sri Lankan Air Force helicopters to be used for oil exploration

The Sri Lankan Air Force’s commercial wing, Heli Tours, has been chosen as the official ‘Air Logistics Operations’ provider for Cairn Sri Lanka’s oil exploration off the coast of Mannar. The company will start its second phase of exploration in the Mannar Basin from next week and transport for the entire operation will now be provided by Heli Tours, reported ColomboPage .

Arrests made over 'Buddha Bar' meal

Sri Lankan police have arrested two hotel managers after they arran ged a dinner for French tourists at their premises , which played music from the 'Buddha Bar' collection and was described as a 'nirvana-style' buffet. The two men are being held in custody until Monday for 'causing offence to Buddhists' said Police Spokesperson Prisantha Jayakody. The arrests follow the hotel premises being raided by the Buddhist group 'Bodu Bala Sena' (Buddhist P ower Force) , accusing the hoteliers of insulting Buddhism. The organisation's leader Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero, allegedly told members of the media that his group would shut down the event if needed, as their menu was named 'nirvana'. The 'Buddha Bar' is an international chain of restaurants in locations across the world including London, New York, Beirut and Egypt. The Paris-based chain also released its own lounge music collection, having sold over a million copies worldwide (See the link on Amazon here ) . However, the music has been slapped with a ban by Sri Lanka, where the albums are illegal. It is alleged the hoteliers were playing music from the forbidden albums. Sri Lanka's constitution states that Buddhism has "the foremost place" on the island and it is the "duty of the state to protect and foster the Buddh a Sasa na" , which the island's Buddh ist commun ity has been increasingly aggres si ve in doing.