Ranil offers to mediate government-TNA talks

Ranil and Sampanthan at May Day rally The leader of the opposition, Ranil Wickremasinghe offered to mediate talks between the government and the TNA at a meeting with Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday. Discuss the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) the UNP leader said that the PSC "would not be meaningful" without the TNA and gave his assurance that he would bring the TNA to the PSC discussions if the government was willing to implement the LLRC recommendations. The meeting comes shortly after Sumanthiran of the TNA slammed the government for its failure to make meaningful progress on...

State banks write off billions of rupees of debt

Two state-run banks have written of billions of rupees of debt, after years of loans granted by the state not being repaid. It was announced in the Sri Lankan Parliament on Friday that the Bank of Ceylon has written off Rs.116.5 billion whilst the People's Bank has written off Rs.85.7 billion. It was further stated that in 2011 the People's Bank had written off Rs.788 million; Rs.316 million in 2010; Rs.157 million in 2009 and Rs.787 million in 2008. A letter sent by the Additional General Manager Bank of Ceylon also noted that the Bank of Ceylon had written off Rs. 11.3 billion in 2011,...

Sri Lanka promises to comply with fishing rules after UK complaint

Sri Lanka managed to avoid a ban on exporting its fish to the European Union, after pledging to comply with industry regulations, following complaints from the United Kingdom reported the Sunday Times . At the 16th session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held in Australia, the British Indian Overseas Territory complained that Sri Lankan fishermen were involved in illegal poaching. The complaint was also put forward by the UK, who according to Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, attempted to “ban our entire fleet of fisheries vessels for fishing in international waters”. They went on to...

Sumanthiran slams government, reiterates need for international investigation

Tamil National Alliance MP M A Sumanthiran has hit out at the government’s insincerity in addressing accountability issues. In a speech to the Sri Lankan parliament on Friday, Mr Sumanthiran said that only an independent international investigation can break the cycle of impunity and prevent the return of violence. “You talk so much about reconciliation. If you’re serious about reconciliation, your concern will be that of the victims. If victims are to recover from their trauma, justice and accountability are a necessary part of that. That is so, because to bring closure to a collective and...

Military does public health

The Sri Lankan military deployed to the North-East are to be trained in public health surveillance and disease prevention, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday. According to the ministry spokesperson, the soldiers will be trained by the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry and will by the end of their training have the same knowledge as a public health inspector in dengue fever prevention, and conduct all inspection activities in the North-East. The Defence Minister, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, was thanked by the Health Minister Maithripapa Sirisena, for the defence ministry's contribution to the public health initiative. See related articles: Army to form construction company (19 Jan 2012) Army opens yet another holiday resort in Jaffna (11 Jan 2012)

Italian Tamil youth celebrate diversity

Italian Tamil youth joined other young Italians in celebration of the diversity and multi-culturalism that surrounds them, at Castelnovo Sotto on 6th May 2012. They were joined by communities from India, Ghana, Albania, Russia, Madagascar and the Arab Maghreb Union. Sharing traditional culinary favourites, members of a Tamil youth organisation - Giovanni Tamil, also shared their memories and thoughts of the struggle faced by their nation in the North-East of the island of Sri Lanka. Saddened and shocked by the events of Mullivaikal, the guests joined members of Giovanni Tamil in wearing black...

Sri Lanka should ban tea imports – Finance Secretary

Finance Secretary Dr P B Jayasundera has said tea imports into Sri Lanka should be banned in order to protect the integrity and image of Sri Lankan tea. The Tea Exporters Association, which represents around 75% of Sri Lankan tea exporters, has recently made a proposal to allow the importing and blending of foreign tea with Sri Lankan blends for export. Speaking at a Dilmah conference, Dr Jayasundera rejected the proposals. “Sri Lanka should not permit our product to be used in that manner.” “One product we should uncompromisingly preserve and protect is Sri Lankan tea. Dilmah has shown that...

Right to Information bill blocked by SL government

The Right to Information Act proposed by the UNP has been blocked by the government, according to UNP MP Karu Jayasuriya. Speaking to The Sunday Leader , Jayasuriya said that he was informed the bill could not be presented as it had already been defeated in 2010. “After the Bill was defeated in June 2010, I worked alongside members of the civil service to amend it and bring it more in line with modern versions seen in countries such as India,” he said. “There are 90 countries worldwide which have passed similar legislation. Out of the SAARC countries only Bhutan and Sri Lanka do not have a...

Canada urges investigation into Tamil man’s murder

Canada has urged Sri Lanka to conduct a full investigation into the murder of Canadian Tamil businessman Anthonypillai Mahendrarajah . Mr Mahendrarajah was murdered while he was visiting his native town of Kilinochchi to reclaim property occupied by Sri Lankan businesses, which brought him into conflict with the military. The Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Bruce Levy, told the BBC a formal note was sent to the government, saying a full investigation into the murder was needed and Canada will be tracking its progress. Embassy officials examined the murder site and the residence of...

Mobile phone messages used by government to spread UN petition

The Sri Lankan government has been sending notifications to mobile phone users in the country, urging them to sign a petition addressed to the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to reports. Both bloggers and twitter users have been reporting that every time a text was sent or a call made, and the balance was displayed on pre-paid networks, a message appeared stating, "Pledge support for SL by signing the petition at www.peacepetition4lk.org" . The petition, hosted by change.org, stated, “Free sovereign independent Sri Lanka does not need anyone to set timetables...

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