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The government has withdrawn over Rs 560 million worth of funds ear marked for development in the TNA controlled Northern Province, reports the Sunday Times.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.

Turkey wishes to 'learn from Sri Lanka'

Turkey's first ever ambassador to Sri Lanka has stated that his country will have a lot to learn from Colombo on how to combat "terrorism", stating that Sri Lanka is "far ahead" of Turkey on the issue. With the opening of the Turkish Embassy in Sri Lanka this month, ambassador Iskender Okyay stated in an interview , “Both countries have a lot of common issues. First of all is the fight against terrorism. I have to say that Sri Lanka is far ahead in the terrorism issue compared to Turkey. This is quite important. We would like to learn from their experience.” “Although both countries don't...

GSP+ withdrawal has hit Sri Lanka factories - Daily Mirror

A number of factories in Sri Lanka have closed down after the withdrawal of the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+) mechanism, which made export to EU members cheaper for Sri Lanka. The Organising Secretary of the Inter Company Employees Union B.I. Abdeen told the Daily Mirror that 2000 jobs of direct employment had been lost due to the closure of two factories on January 2, 2013 alone. “Crystal Sweater Lanka Pvt. Ltd is one such company that ceased its operations on January 2, after a public announcement in newspapers. “The company has cited the inability to compete with countries...

Sri Lankan General barred from US military training

The United States has refused an application for military training of Sri Lankan Army General, prompting the country's Defence Secretary to slam the decision as "wrong". Major-General Sudantha Ranasinghe was refused entry into the US for military training, with speculation that it may be on grounds that Ranasinghe is suspected of overseeing human rights violations. The Island reported Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as having said the decision was due to "him being the war-time General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 53 Division" and that this "wasn’t an isolated case". Gotabaya was also...

Army probes into TNPF members' wherabouts

The Sri Lankan Army appeared at the house of TNPF member Selvarajah Kajendran's house in Jaffna and proceeded to enquire about his wherabouts earlier this week. Publishing from his personal Twitter account on the 24th of January, Kajendran said, "#lanka army personnel in uniform had gone to my house in #jaffna & inquired my whereabouts around 3:00pm." See further incidents of state intimidation of TNPF activists in the past month alone below: Terrorism Investigation Division summons TNPF leader (27 December 2012) TNPF member threatened by security forces and paramilitary over protest (17...

Gota says no civilians went missing

The Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse has claimed that no civilians at all went missing during the final phase of the armed conflict and that ICRC records tallied with those of the army, reported the Daily Mirror . “This is another factor that many people have forgotten. Take the large number of people who were coming by sea. Where did they go first? They went to the Indian hospital; it was manned by the Indian Army. They reported to them first and from there only did they come to the welfare camps. And the ICRC was present whenever they surrendered. “There was a procedure...

Bilingual anthem is against constitution - JHU

Buddhist monks within the government's coalition party - the JHU, said that the inclusion of Tamil verses in the national anthem would violate the country's constitution. Speaking to the media, the JHU Deputy General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila said that the national anthem should only be sung in Sinhala during national ceremonies as Sinhala is the native language of Sri Lanka. A Tamil anthem could be sung at regional ceremonies he suggested.

Army advises govt to make its own rules of war

In its report on implementations of the LLRC, the Army's Board of Officers has advised the government to the create its own rules when dealing with 'internal war situations'. In its report, the Board of Officers said : “The Board observes that at present, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) principles, applicable to internal war situations have not adequately addressed various complex issues and the existing rules are seemingly applied to state actors only. Further, there are no specific guidelines with regard to the role of international humanitarian agencies in internal war situations. Hence, the Board recommends to formulate new domestic rules, covering internal war situations.” “With regard to the presence of Military bases in the North and East, the Board observes that the Government has an absolute right to maintain its armed forces anywhere in the Island, according to the country’s strategic and security needs. "