7/30/2010

(July 30, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityIndian Supreme Court has rejected the plea for release of four key conspirators in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who had claimed that the investigation was flawed as the alleged role of tantrik Chandraswami and 21 others were not probed.

A Bench of justices VS Sirpurkar and Mukundakam Sharma refused to interfere with the Madras high court judgement which had on April 28, 2009, dismissed the petition with a fine of Rs one lakh on the petitioner E Veluchamy, claiming to be a Congress worker.

The petitioner sought release of Nalini, Santhan, Murugan and Arivu on the ground that their conviction was erroneous as the designated court and the Supreme Court did not consider the inquiry and findings of the Justice M C Jain Commission which had recommended further probe into three "crucial aspects" in the conspiracy.

According to counsel K Karuppan, the Jain Commission had in its final recommendations submitted on March 7, 1998, sought further investigations into the alleged role of tantrik Chandraswami, the suspected involvement of foreign intelligence agencies like CIA and Mossad, besides the role of 21 other suspects.

One of the suspects needed for the investigation is former head of head of LTTE procurement section Kumaran Pathmanathan alias K.P. who is now in Sri Lanka government protection supporting to dismantle the international network of his organization.

Without taking Gandhi’s name, Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP told a Sri Lankan Tamil in Tamil Nadu in November 1990 that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would soon target the “Indian leadership”.

KP - as he is widely known - made the explosive revelation over telephone from a foreign country six months before a LTTE woman suicide bomber finally killed Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai May 21, 1991.

But KP, in contrast to a section of media reports, is not an accused in the Gandhi case and is not directly linked to the killing. He is merely a suspect in the eyes of the Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Authority (MDMA), which is still probing the larger conspiracy angle related to Gandhi’s killing.

More at : LTTE chief KP knew Rajiv Gandhi was to be killed 

The first interview of K.P. following his surrender to the Sri Lanka government has been published in Sinhala nationalist Sri Lankan newspaper The Island since government is in extreme care in handling this sensitive issue.

However, the cabinet spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said on Thursday that K.P. might be granted a 'general' amnesty and might be made a state witness.

Will it be the same in the case regarding Rajiv Gandhi murder?

Following are the part one of the excerpts of K.P's interview.

Q: Are you confident that the Tamil Diaspora could work with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government?

A: President Rajapaksa is genuine in his efforts to settle differences among communities and help re-build war devastated regions in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Within a year of the conclusion of the war, the majority of the people displaced by the conflict are back at their villages and ex-combatants of the LTTE are undergoing rehabilitation and the international community, too, is supportive of Sri Lanka’s efforts. None of these would have been possible without the political leadership given by President Rajapaksa.

KP said it was essential for the Tamil Diaspora to realise the ground reality in a post-LTTE era and review its strategy to meet the new challenges. He said he had stepped in as he felt there was a leadership vacuum to be filled. Emphasising his determination to go ahead with what he called a tangible action plan, the LTTE veteran said everybody should have come forward and assist in the rebuilding efforts without trying to live in the past. The media should play a positive role in the post-LTTE period and strengthen the ongoing reconciliation efforts. Nothing could be as bad as negative reporting, though no one would dispute the right of the media to cover any issue the way it deemed fit, KP said. However, he said their focus should be on development and peace building efforts such as rebuilding, speedy resettlement of the war displaced and rehabilitation of ex-combatants.

Q: You recently set up an NGO to collect money from the Tamil Diaspora to help the re-building process. Would the Diaspora respond to your move as there were others who claimed to represent the interests of the LTTE?

A: The North-East Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (NERDO) is ready to play a key role in the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement processes. With its main office situated at No 10, 1st Lane, Kathiresu Road, Vairavaputiyankulam, Vavuniya, NERDO is engaged in various activities in support of the Tami speaking people. We are only concerned about the welfare of the people, particularly children, though some seek fresh funding to cause mayhem. People are fed up with war and every effort should be made to alleviate the suffering of the people without playing politics with a purely humanitarian issue. We are appealing for funds - -$1 from each Tamil living abroad on a monthly basis. To facilitate fund raising activity, we recently opened an account at the Vavuniya branch of the Commercial Bank bearing 1610046482 (Code CCEYLKLX). Our e-mail is info@nerdo.lk/www.nerdo.lk.

Q: What was the turning point in the eelam war IV?

A: Multi-pronged Al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on the US changed it all. Within 24 hours, the international community led by Western powers moved against all armed groups causing immense damage to our operations. There are many other factors, but the primary reason is nothing but the rapid rise of Al-Qaeda, which prompted the West to change its attitude. This brought about a drastic change in the attitude of political leaders in the other parts of the world. Circumstances made propagation of separatist sentiments extremely difficult in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, an influential section of the LTTE, including its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran did not realize the urgent need to change its strategy. Had he done that the situation would have been different today. There is a New World Order today, which does not tolerate armed campaigns and that is the hard reality.

Q: Are you satisfied with the progress in resettlement and reconstruction following the conclusion of war in May last year?

A: The situation is much better than I expected. Although, there is lot to be done by way of confidence building, we should appreciate what the government has done since the conclusion of the war. The Tamil community should not solely depend on the government, UN agencies and NGOs for their needs. We have a duty by the people to act swiftly and decisively to bring immediate relief to war affected people. During a recent visit to the North, we had an opportunity to provide immediate assistance to several hundreds of GCE (Advanced Level) students sitting for the forthcoming examination. No one would have believed a common programme involving the Tamil Diaspora and the government was possible, but today we are cooperating with the government and working for the people. We are already receiving requests for assistance from the Tamil community, a case in point being that two school principals recently obtained financial assistance for students who needed to pay for examination papers at term tests.

Now that the war is over, we can go flat out to implement development programmes. Recently, we donated Rs. 500,000 for the provision of buns and tea for the Advanced Level students at the Sundaralingham Tamil Maha Vidyalaya, Vavuniya, sitting for examination in August.

Q: When did you first hear of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s death on the Vanni front? Where were you at the time of the final battle?

A: I was abroad when I first heard of Prabhakaran’s death on May 19. The international press reported the final confrontation, though some continued to dispute the fact. I was Prabhakaran’s best friend and felt sad about the loss of his life. Had he listened to me and reached an agreement with the government before it was too late, the final battle could have been avoided. The LTTE suffered a massive setback on May 10 on the Vanni (east) front, where some 400 experienced cadres perished while trying to break the army lines. Following that tragedy, I discussed with the then political chief Nadesan a way out of the quagmire. But unfortunately they believed the army could be somehow forced to stop the offensive and a deal worked out through a third party. We also talked to various people and organizations, including the UN in a bid to work out some arrangement but nothing happened due to the failure on the part of Prabhakaran to make his move earlier.

Q: When did you first leave Sri Lanka? When did you last visit Sri Lanka before being taken in abroad shortly after the end of war?

A: I fled to India with Prabhakaran in 1980. The military searched for me and arrested me forcing me to think of my future. Intensified military activity demoralized the community. When the pressure was mounting, we took a boat from Valvettiturai and sought refuge in India. At that time crossing the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary was no problem. The then TULF leader A. Amirthalingham introduced me to Prabhakaran in mid 70s, most probably in 1976 and since then we worked together. At that time TELO and the LTTE were the dominant militant groups and they worked with the Jaffna-based political leadership for the eelam project. I studied at Mahajana College, Jaffna but gave up University education to fight for our rights, which we believed were violated by successive governments. But today we are in a unique position to bring about a permanent peace in not only Northern and Eastern Provinces but the entire country.

Following the then Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah’s killing by Prabhakaran, the decision makers of the politico-militant movement at that time had removed Prabhakaran from the outfit. When he came to me, I was just an Advanced Level student, though I had to accommodate him in my room. There had been moves to kill him by some individuals, including the then TELO leader Thangadurai.


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7/28/2010

(July 28, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityVelupillai Balakumar or Balakumaran was the one time leader of Ealam Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS). He was also a member of Sri Lanka parliament for a brief period.

In late 1980s or early 1990s, he split the EROS and joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) with a number of his associates.

He is believed an influential adviser to the leader of the LTTE Velupillai Prabakaran. The importance of this man is that he is famous as a Marxist. If he is alive like the former LTTE chief of international relations, he may speak one day how his Marxist ideas influenced the Tiger leader.

Asked by The Island today whether among the detained terrorists were Yogiratnam Yogi, one-time LTTE negotiator and Balakumaran of the EROS, who threw his weight behind Velupillai Prabhakaran, Rehabilitation Commissioner Brig. Ranasinghe said that he did not have them.

A controversial media report posted in state-owned Sinhala daily The Dinamina on June 11, 2009 said that Balakumar was arrested while hiding in a refugee camp in Vavuniya.

On May 31, 2009, Lankafirst.com website quoting Government Information Department sources, reported that some top Tiger leaders who were in the military hand, were going through series of serious investigation by the security forces.

“Former eastern province political wing leader and subsequently in charge of the economic division Karikalan, former spokesman of the LTTE Yogaratnam Yogi , former EROS MP turned advisor to the LTTE V. Balakumar , a former spokesman of the LTTE Lawrence Tilagar, former Deputy political section leader Thangan , former head of the political section for Jaffna district Ilamparithi , former Trincomalee political wing leader Elilan, former head of the LTTE sports division Papa , former head of the administrative division of the LTTE Puvannan and deputy international head Gnanam are in custody,” it said.

A report by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) also said December last year that Balakumar and his son teenaged Sooriyatheepan surrendered to the 53 army Division near Irattaivaykkal, along the Nanthikadal lagoon on May 16.

“Like Balakumar, many top LTTE leaders reportedly surrendered in the last three days of the war, between May 16 and 19 (2009)”.

The UTHR-J report mentioned the following top leaders as having surrendered: Karikalan (former eastern province political wing leader and subsequently in charge of the economic disivion), Yogaratnam Yogi (former spokesman of the LTTE), Lawrence Tilagar (a former spokesman of the LTTE, a one time head of LTTE office in Paris and later in charge of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation), Thangan (former Deputy political section leader), Ilamparithi (former head of the political section for Jaffna district), Elilan (former Trincomalee political wing leader), Papa (former head of the LTTE sports division), Puvannan (former head of the administrative division of the LTTE), Gnanam (deputy international head) and Tamilini head of the Women’s political wing.

However, bn January 29, 2009 it was reported that Balakumaran was critically wounded.

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7/23/2010

(July 23, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityDonald Perera saw the blood-soaked stretcher carrying the body of Velupillai Prabhakaran being transported through the jungle, but he was not calm. Air Chief Marshal Perera, the Sri Lankan chief of staff at the time, had been chasing after the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels who had terrorized his country for over 30 years. He wanted to make certain that the lifeless body in front of him was indeed that of his long-time adversary.

"I asked to see his personal gun," recalls Perera. "I knew precisely what type of gun he was carrying, as well as its serial number. Only when I saw the number 001 did I realize that he had finally been taken out. I drove home, took off my uniform and told myself that now I can retire."

Perera, 60, has since been appointed Sri Lanka's ambassador to Israel. His wife, a military dentist, and his daughter, a university student, remained in Sri Lanka.

"I was familiar with Israel before coming here," he tells the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. "In the framework of my previous positions as air force commander and chief of staff, I had a great relationship with your military industries and with Israel Aerospace Industries.

"For years Israel has aided our war on terror through the exchange of information and the sale of military technology and equipment," says Perera.

"Our air force fleet includes 17 Kfir warplanes, and we also have Dabur patrol boats. Our pilots were trained in Israel, and we have received billions of dollars in aid over the past few years. This is why I asked to be assigned to Israel – a country I consider a partner in the war against terror. Many Sri Lankans admire Israel," says Perera, a native of the capital Colombo.

As chief of staff, Perera commanded over 240,000 soldiers. His greatest challenge was to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers, who since 1976 had fought to establish an independent Tamil homeland.

Guerilla forces led by rebel leader Prabhakaran eventually took over east as well as north Sri Lanka.


'Price will be heavy.' Perera at his Tel Aviv office (Photo: Avigail Uzi)

The Tamil Tigers was one of the first organizations to resort to suicide bombings. "They carried out attacks against soldiers, civilians, army officers, ministers, army bases, public buildings, planes and trains. Over the years they became more advanced and formed a naval and aerial force as well. At the height of its power, the organization's guerilla force numbered some 35,000 fighters," according to Perera.

Some of Perera's close associates were killed in these attacks, others were left handicapped. Perera was also targeted by the rebels. "I was supposed to fly a cargo plane from one of the air force bases. The plane was carrying dozens of military personnel. During take off I suddenly felt a strong thump. I brought the plane to a halt, and when I got off to see what had happened I found an RPG launcher that was used to fire a rocket at the aircraft. Luckily, it passed right by me," Perera says.

Since the incident, Perera changed his daily routine. "My army-issued vehicle would be part of a military convoy while I was driving my private car, wearing civilian clothes over my army fatigues," he says.

The Tamil terror became more and more extreme, culminating with assassination of Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Perera was appointed chief of staff in 2006, just as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa decided to eradicate Tamil terrorism once and for all.

"We purchased military equipment from Pakistan, China, the US, Russia and of course Israel. The president told the nation we were headed for an uncompromising war. He explained that the price will be heavy, but called on the citizens to be patient and rally around the army. Then we got the green light to move with full force against the rebels," the ambassador recalls.


Sri Lankan soldiers (Archive photo: AP)

After rebel forces attempted to take over an important port in east Sri Lanka, Perera gave the order, and large army forces began pouring into the region while pushing the rebels northward. Some 7,000 people, including many army personnel, were killed during 11 months of fighting, he says.

"The victim's families understood we were fighting for an important cause – the future of their country," Perera says during the interview, conducted at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Tel Aviv. "The opposition tried to persuade the citizens not to enlist in the army or support it, but it convinced no one. Everyone knew this struggle was important and that it would exact a heavy price, but after so many years of terror they were willing to pay the price."

Prabhakaran was killed on May 16, and a day later the LTTE announced its surrender. The 30-year battle against the Tamil Tigers claimed the lives of some 70,000 Sri Lankan citizens.

After noting the similarities between the Tamil Tigers and Hamas, Perera says Sri Lanka is a staunch supporter of Israel's fight against terror. "No one wants bloodshed. The other side should be offered direct negotiations, without preconditions, to determine its level of seriousness. These talks should focus on trying to reach a compromise that would allow both sides to sign an agreement," he says.

"In case the other side shows it is not interested in a compromise, (Israel) must move on to the military phase with full force. (The government) will have to explain to the citizens that (Israel) is headed for a long and difficult struggle that will exact a heavy price, but at the end of this struggle the country's situation will be much better," says the ambassador.

"Once you have the public's support, you should fight relentlessly until all of the terror hubs are destroyed. There is no going back."

Addressing the deadly May 31 commando raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship, Perera says, "As a military man I can understand that Israel had to protect itself. Due to Sri Lanka's vast experience in fighting terror, I can say that it will always support countries that also oppose (terror)."

Despite its warm relations with Israel, Sri Lanka has also managed to maintain close ties with the Jewish state's biggest threat – Iran. "Sri Lanka is a developing nation in need of assistance. Iran helps us in the civilian realm," he says. "As to the sanctions imposed on (Tehran), these things should be discussed in the different forums. The Sri Lankan government is in favor of imposing military – not civilian – sanctions."

Perera, who has already visited Jerusalem, Eilat, Haifa, Netanya and Jaffa, says life in Israel suits him just fine. "The people here are very warm, open and easy-going, but on the other hand they are successful in many fields, such as technology, agriculture and education.

Some 5,000 Sri Lankan nationals are currently working in Israel. "We rarely receive any complaints from them," says the ambassador. "They like working here."

Perera's wife and daughter are expected to join him in Israel in the coming months. "When they arrive, we will travel throughout the entire country. In the meantime, I recommend that Israelis visit Sri Lanka. We'll accept you with open arms."

David Regev
Published: 07.21.10, 19:10 / Israel News


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7/22/2010

(July 22, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka government led by the majority community Sinhalese and all the other major ethnic communities may like to have negligible minority Vedda People in this country. Vedda people never have posed a threat to any other community in the post-independence Sri Lanka. On the other hand, they have primitive living conditions with no heritage of owning private property like in so called modern societies. After all, Vedda people are a pride to Sri Lanka since we can boast about a heritage of indigenous people and they are a very good show piece in tourism market.

But, the modernized communities lack at least one thing the Vedda people still have whilst losing many other things. That is the leadership. Vedda leadership had no match in the leading figures of the other communities. Late Uruwarige Thisahami had the courage to tell the one time powerful Minister of Mahaweli Development Gamini Disanayaka who wanted the Vedda Chieftain to come to meet him that the big townsman's law is not valid in Vedda homeland. Disanayaka eventually went on foot to meet Thisahami.

Uruwarige Wanniayaleththo, the present Vedda leader is a very intelligent personality unlike many of the leaders of the so called civilized communities. He definitely needs to be a wise man who can apprehend the subtlety and the complexity of the internal and external conflicts related to the needs to safeguard cultural heritage without losing the pace of social development with the other communities.

The Chieftain of Sri Lanka's aborigine Vedda community Uruwarige Wanniyalaththo demands state recognition for the Vedda language. Vedda language is a unique lingual unit with its own characteristics like being only a verbal language without scripts.

He also requests the national recognition of the aborigine community so that they can use 'Vedda' as their nationality. This is a very progressive demand in the present context of Sri Lanka in which all minority identities should have due respect in the Lankan nation building process.

He submitted a list of 20 demands at a special discussion that was held this week in the Ministry of National Heritages and Cultural Affairs aiming to have an ordinary symbolic celebration to mark the World Indigenous People's Day that falls on August 09. The unexpected and probably unwelcome demands included issues such as water, sanitation, food security, housing, land, priority for Vedda community in employments related to forests, education, health and heritage centers as well.

The Minister of National Heritages and Cultural Affairs Pavithra Wanniarachchi promised the aboriginal Chief to establish a Vedda Secretariat and a Committee of Scholars to advise on the issues of the Vedda community.

Vedda community has a complex struggle to define and achieve the rights of the people. They need a wise leadership in this regard. The leader should be able to lead his community to struggle through accord. A very important struggle to win rights and not to lose any they already have. First and foremost, the Vedda community needs to maintain the unity of their people especially before a ruling regime that is so ill-famous for creating divisions among peoples.

Read: The Vanishing Aborigines: Sri Lanka's Veddas in Transition (I C E S Sri Lanka Studies Series)

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7/20/2010

(July 20, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityThe second phase of the Presidential initiative on English as a Life Skill programme was launched yesterday at a ceremony held in the President’s official residence Temple Trees.

The programme promotes English Language Skills, especially speaking and communication skills across the country with the guidance and support of the Presidential Task Force on English and IT headed by Sunimal Fernando. The Ministry of Education and the Provincial Ministries of Education facilitate the task force to conduct the programme.

On July 19, 2009, the President launched the National Road Map to promote Spoken/ Communicative English skills in Sri Lanka. Under the first phase of the programme, a cadre of 80 master trainers and 320 assistant trainers in Spoken English from all nine Provinces were trained at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad. Sixty percent of the 22,500 English teachers of the country were trained to teach spoken English through an accelerated programme says the Presidential Task Force.

The training was given in 10-day workshops that are being held regionally in which the participants are paid Rs. 200 per day. The teachers are taught many language games and they are provided with opportunity to speak English through numerous activities such as debates and presentations. It can be considered a rare opportunity for many teachers of the schools in remote areas to brush up their knowledge and skills.

A teacher guide for spoken English was produced, used and revised by the Master Trainers during the 1st phase,says the Presidential Task Force. Actually, the teachers' guide, a collection of materials from many other sources needed thorough revision.

The preparation of a Teacher Guide on ‘Sri Lankan English Standards’ is also underway by an Academic Committee and their work will be completed in August 2010, says the Presidential Task Force.

The President's initiative appears to base on an assumption that the long lasted mechanisms of the country have failed to achieve the objectives in regard of teaching English. This is quite true. But the same problem remains in teaching vernaculars as well. Has the education system of Sri Lanka been able to maintain good standards in communication in Sinhala and Tamil languages? What about mathematics in the context more than half of the students fail the subject at the G.C.E. Ordinary Level? Are we going to have Presidential Task Forces for all these essential subjects as well?

Anyway, we have one for English and IT. So what can it do? Definitely, the President can use his powers to provide guidance to the existing mechanisms of teaching English which are massive in extent and deep rooted compared to the miniature Presidential Task Force on English.

Presidential Task Force on English should not be a body that try to outsmart the existing state institutes of teaching English. It should be a leader providing guidance to them enabling them to raise their productivity.

But, we are sorry to say that the present Presidential Task Force on English has failed even to define its role. It is a powerful, but small and incapable body that is trying to rise above all the other institutes taking control everything from teaching speech to school students to preparing a corpus for Sri Lankan English.

Already, the Presidential Task Force on English has created too many divisions in the education structure. One example is that the existing master teachers or the In-service Advisers of English of the Education Departments were neglected and a new breed of 'speech masters' were trained under this programme. The intelligent readers may understand the situation in school education environs with such a move.

The propaganda that surrounds the Presidential Task Force on English and the silence of the 'wait and see' professionals that are in fear of the Presidential powers set the scene of the fiesta of some newly-bred 'miraculous' personalities. 

We have no any kind of grudge with the Presidential initiative on English as a Life Skill programme. But we think we need to have a bottom line evaluation on this since we as citizen have a right for the best outcome of public spending. It is a good point to start a dialogue on English education of Sri Lanka. 

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7/19/2010

(July 19, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityA mysterious primate driven to the brink of extinction by Britain's taste for tea has been photographed for the first time. The Horton Plains slender loris, found only in Sri Lanka, was for more than 60 years believed to be extinct.

Then one was spotted fleetingly in 2002 when a light shone in its eyes and was reflected. Researchers have now managed to get the world's first pictures of the animal.

More than 1,000 night surveys were carried out in 120 forested regions by Sri Lankan researchers working in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The loris was found in half a dozen regions and researchers managed to capture three live specimens long enough to measure them.

The prime reason for the animal's rarity is the loss of its natural forest habitat, which has been largely destroyed by the drive to create tea plantations. The loss of land to other crops also contributed.

Estimates suggest there are just 100 left, putting it among the world's top five most threatened primates. But so little is known about the animal that numbers could be below 60 – which would make it the rarest species.

Dr Craig Turner of ZSL said: "There's been a lot of loss of habitat historically. Forest covered much of the south-west area of Sri Lanka, but it's been cleared for agriculture and tea estates.

"More recently they've been cleared for firewood collection. We are now left with a very few islands of forest that aren't connected.

"Because they [lorises] are so rare and because for many years they were thought to be extinct, virtually nothing is known about them."
-www.guardian.co.uk/

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7/18/2010

Barbarian Reef
(July 18, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka Industrial Technology Institute has discovered a herbal drug that can cure sub-fertility of males.

This drug can make the slow moving sperm move fast.

A research team of the herbal plants division of the Industrial Technology Institute has conducted experiments in regard of a red algae found in the coastal areas of Beruwala in the Kaluthara district.

Gelidiella, the algae, grows naturally in the Barbarian Reef of Moragalla, Beruwala, a coral reef that is situated very close to beach in an area surrounded by tourist hotels.

The significant drug extracted from the herb is named as S-Act-2 and it is proved able to move even the still living sperm of males, says the chief of the herbal plants division of the Industrial Technology Dr. Sirimal Premakumara.

Dr. Premakumara says that the drug is clinically tested and proved of hazard free. However, the drug is not given orally and it needs to be used clinically in intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilisation (IVF) .
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7/17/2010

(July 17, 2010, Colombo - Lanka Polity)A dialogue is underway between the President and the major opposition United National Party (UNP) regarding the constitutional reforms.

This dialogue can at least have an impact on the President Mahinda Rajapaksa's possible backward moves to guarantee a royal future for his son Namal Rajapaksa as his uncontested successor.

Opposition can push the President for more democratic reforms even in the context the President may try to achieve his ulterior goals. The President's plans to remove the two-term limit of Presidential terms have been challenged indirectly by his party stalwarts as well as his family. He cannot push Namal into the throne so easily in this backdrop.

Now, the President indicates that he is ready to extend this dialogue even to get the National Democratic Alliance (DNA) that comprises of his arch rival ex-Army Comander and defeated Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka and the Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP) involved in it.

But still there are no indications that he is going to have a proper dialogue with the representatives of the minority communities of Sri Lanka at least regarding electoral reforms.

In the Presidential campaigns of both opposition and government candidates in the election 2010, both candidates promised to abolish the executive presidency. Mahinda Rajapaksa promised in 2005 to abolish this draconian power within his first tenure itself. Still he has time until November in which he has planned to swear in for the second term.

Ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has a long history of promising to abolish executive Presidency. In 1994, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga promised to do so but remained clinging in the power for two terms and passed the hat to the next President.

The proportional representation system has also come under severe criticism in the majority Sinhala community. They try to project their need for change as a common need of the entire polity undermining contradictory views or reservations of the minority communities.

After all, while all were in a verbal war regarding the constitutional reforms, the Tamils in Northern and Eastern Provinces fought a bitter battle for state reforms. They experimented in state formation as well through the Tamil Tigers' state within the state.

Therefore, they are the people that should be consulted somehow if the government really want a sustainable peace through whatever the reforms they are going to propose. But the moves in this regard must be beyond simple electoral reforms. Their demand for a state reform is still valid although the Tamil Tigers' armed struggle was defeated. Tamil struggle has not ended although their armed fight has been defeated.

Meanwhile, the minorities living among the majority community are in fear of losing whatever representation they now enjoy through the electoral reforms.

'The issue of electoral reforms are very fundamental for the Tamil and Muslim minorities live in the southern districts than their counterparts in the northern and eastern provinces. President and leader of opposition should take the Tamil speaking minorities into confidence when dealing with this issue,' said Democratic People's Front (DPF) leader Mano Ganesan in a release issued by the DPF media office.

Ganesan says further in the release, "The national consensus today is for a mixed electoral system encompassing positive features of both first past the post (FPP) and Proportional representation (PR) systems. We endorse this consensus and subsequent national search for an appropriate system. The established apprehension along the line of search is that complete doing away with the PR system would cut down the representations of the minorities inappropriately.

"It should be understood that if any unfair system is implemented, the numerical minority Tamils and Muslims living in the southern districts will be the most affected than their counterparts in the northern and eastern provinces. This is being one of the major core issues being debated over the years in respect of the electoral reforms subject. The fear of the numerical minorities should not be under estimated."

We would like to highlight the following part that clearly portrays the danger of the electoral reforms that does not parallel with state reforms. "Even the mixed system, which is being projected is also has sent an impression of distrust amidst the minority political parties representing the Tamil speaking people live in the southern districts outside north and east. It is essential that all possible avenues must be tried to arrive at the most suitable electoral system. The suitability is to ensure fair minority representation while accommodating positives features of both PR and FPP systems. Disfranchisement and violent denials of voting rights of the Tamil people to elect their democratic representatives have led to turmoil in the past. DPF calls upon the president and leader of opposition to take the minorities into confidence by being mindful of the fear."

This enfranchisement of minority communities in certain districts has already taken place. For instance, the Muslims of Kaluthara district have lost their long lasted parliamentary representation that was guaranteed before the PR system was introduced via Beruwala muti-seat electorate. The sizable community of Indian-origin Tamils that live in this district do not have representation at least in the Western Provincial Council.

These are only two examples. We have just come out of a bloody ethnic war and what now we are in dire need is the reconciliation. among ethnic communities For that, the minority communities are needed to be empowered politically so that they can use their franchise for the development of their community.

For this, we need a state reform plus electoral reforms. These two are like the two wheels of a bullock cart. If one is oversize or under-sized we will not go forward. Instead we will come to the same place after some time.

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7/15/2010

(July 15, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa held a meeting of his cabinet in Kilinochchi in the heart of the former rebel-held territory sitting comfortably in Kilinochchi headquarters of the security forces in close proximity to Iranawila reservoir on which late Tiger theoretician Anton Balasingham landed the sea plane he was travelling from Maldives. The venue of the meeting was also the headquarters of the Tamil Tigers' proud air wing that one time was a nightmare to Colombo dwellers. .

In the recent past several cabinet meetings were held outside Colombo in most of the occasions when the President was in election propaganda.

The cabinet meeting of Kilinochchi is not one like that. It is a show of power, supremacy and also Sinhala nationalist domination over the subjugation of Tamil nationalist struggle. Therefore. it is worth to the President and to the Sinhala nationalists, despite whatever the cost of this show to the taxpayer.

On the other hand, this show may alienate Tamils further from the Sri Lanka government. No wonder if they despise this act that mock at the resettled people that struggle to build up their lives with several tin roofing sheets and wooden poles. They are in short of very basic amenities. Around 40,000 more IDPs are still to be resettled.

The message delivered by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet is that the central government is in Kilinochchi as well and no power devolution arrangements will come to effect.

Diaspora Tamils may deny to accept what is offered by the Sri Lanka government. But, is there any other alternative for the Tamils living in this land?

What we lack in this kind of politics is what we need most. It is an honest approach for reconciliation.

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7/13/2010

(July 13, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka's Sinhala daily The Divaina newspaper reported today that 1073 dengue patients were diagnosed island wide during the week from July 02 to 09 and four of them died. The number of deaths caused by dengue so far this year is 140.

The Ministry of Health seems totally incapable to arrest the outbreak. The only practical programme they appear to have is the door-to-door visits of the public health officials that warn or punish the public for not keeping their environment clean.

But their power ends near the nose tip of the local government bodies and other state institutes that are responsible for many a case of spreading mosquito-borne diseases. The government has entirely failed to provide basic services such as proper garbage disposal and drainage etc. efficiently to the tax payers.

On the other hand, the public health officials are helpless in giving instructions to prevent mosquito breeding in water stagnating places like fallen dried banana leaves and the inner edge of pineapple leaves.

Meanwhile, Industrial Technology Institute says the BTI (bacteria) produced locally by the institute will be released to the market by the end of July. The news came as the dengue outbreak has caused increase of deaths in the mosquito-borne disease.

The Pesticides Registration Bureau granted permission to the bacteria last week.

Bio Power Lanka company that was contracted to produce the bacteria by the Industrial Technology Institute will release 10,000 to 15,000 liters to the market at the initial stage. The company has capacity to produce the same amount annually, the Industrial Technology Institute says.

The bacteria is in 50, 100 and 200 ml bottles at a concessionary price, the Industrial Technology Institute says.

Bio Power Lanka is licensed to produce the bacteria for five years. We found in Likedin that a person called Kumar.V Deivanayagam the owner of Bio Power Lanka.

The website of Biopower Lanka says, 'Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis variety israelensis) is a bacterial toxin that infects and kills mosquito larvae. It is safe and environmentally sound because it is highly selective, killing mosquitoes and black flies. Bti contains no poisonous chemicals and is completely harmless to other living things!

Compared to harmful synthetic insecticides, Bti kills larvae quickly and efficiently. A moderate to heavy dose has been shown to reduce the mosquito population by one half in 15 minutes and the rest within one hour.
The major advantage is that Bt is essentially nontoxic to people, pets and wildlife. This high margin of safety recommends its use in sensitive sites where pesticide use can cause adverse effects.'

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7/12/2010

(July 12, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityFollowing is the report regarding press freedom in the month of June in Sri Lanka issued by a media organization and we believe this report is sent to international organizations to base on these facts in lobbying for freedom of expression. Although there are no killings, abductions, arrests and assaults, the report is full of other incidents.


Monthly report No 06; period covered June  2010


Killings:
1.     June 2010                      No killings of media personal reported

Abductions:
2.     June 2010                     - No abductions of media personal reported
     
Arrests:
3.     June 2010                     - No arrests of media personal reported

Assaults:
4.     June  2010                    - No assaults of media personal reported

Threats:
5.     28 June 2010      - Political witch hunt launched against CEO of Lankaenews
State media launched a political which hunt against CEO ofwww.lankanewsweb.com  Chandima Withanaarachchi. The web site publishes critical content has been banned by Government of Sri Lanka for past year.

6.     27 June 2010      - TU leader forced to resign
Trade union leader Sanjeewa Samarasinghe of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited resigned form his job due to threats coming form higher authorities. Sanjeewa Samarasinghe is the secretary of Jathika SevakaSangamaya, a trade union affiliated to main opposing party UNP.

7.     25 June 2010      - Rivira Editor becomes victim and loses job and salary
Rivira Editor, Upali Tennekoon, who fled to the US with his wife following a brutal attack on him it to be sacked from his job by the new administration at the newspaper organization.

8.     24 June 2010      - A mad slinging journalist gang against Sri Lanka – state media
It has been reported that ten media personal, who have left the country on many pretexts and applied for political asylum are engaged in a conspiracy against Sri Lanka.These persons are in close contact with INGOs which are trying to instigate UN against war crimes in Sri Lanka. They have received many privileges because of these contacts.

9.     22 June 2010      - Sinhalese with LTTE leader photo further remanded
Puththa’lam Magistrate Monday ordered further remand till June 30 for a Sinhalese civilian Amarasingha Chandana when he was produced from prison on a charge that he was carrying a photograph of LTTE leader VelupillaiPirapaharan.

10. 19 June 2010      - Screen of the film hall torched
On 19th  an unidentified group torched the giant screen at the Shanthicinema, a day before the Tamil version of the movie Raavan (Raavanan) was screened. The movie’s main stars Abishek BachchanAishwarya Rai and its director Mani Ratnam were among those who did not attend the IIFA ceremony in Colombo.

11. 08 June 2010      Eknaligoda’s colleague under threat
A group of unidentified men had broken in to the residence of a colleague of missing Lankaenews journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who was involved in media and propaganda activities with him, Disnendra Perera on the 31st. The group had broken in to the house with the intention of abducting Perera.

12. 06 June 2010      - Threats to lankaenews
          The threats on the Lankaenews website have recommenced with the government       now receiving the cooperation of the landlord of the office premises rented out by the      website. http://www.lankanewsweb.com/news/EN_2010_06_09_006.html

Censorships:

13. 26.June .2010     - Church demolished
About 100 police officers who had arrived at a Christian church in Rajagiriyaalong with officials from Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Urban Development Authority (UDA) and had demolished the church yesterday (25).

14. 20 June 2010      - Call to ban Tamil Nadu films
An unidentified group has called on theatre owners in Batticaloa to refrain from screening movies produced in Tamil Nadu in a move to hit back at Indian film stars who boycotted the recent IIFA awards ceremony in Colombo.

Exiled:

15. June 2010            - Two more journalist left the country
A Programme producer of state controlled TV station left the country because of  death threats. He has been receiving continuous threats since January.
A Tamil newspaper cartoonist form Jaffna left the country for  safetyreasons.
Both of them reached their destinations safely.


Releases:

16. 21 June 2010      - Safe Passage for Tissainayagam Just One Step Toward Free Media in Sri Lanka - IFJ
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is relieved that J.S.Tissainayagam is safe, following more than two years of an ordeal in which the Sri Lankan Tamil journalist was accused, charged and tried for terrorism for his journalistic reporting on human rights issues.http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/safe-passage-for-tissainayagam-just-one-step-toward-free-media-in-sri-lanka

17. 19 June 2010      - Freed Sri Lankan journalist Tissainayagamarrives in U.S.- CPJ
          The Committee to Protect Journalist welcomes the arrival in the United States of Sri   Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, who arrived at Washington’s Dulles   International Airport on Saturday morning.

18. 16 June 2010      - Journalist Escapes Abduction, Unidentified assailants tried to abduct - IFJ
Mawbima reporter Disnendra Perera at his Colombo home in Sri Lanka on May 31, according to local news reports. Perera, a close colleague of missing Lanka-e-News journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, reported receiving death threats from unknown people demanding he give them a file of documents they claimed Eknaligoda had given him. http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/colleague-of-missing-journalist-under-threat-in-sri-lanka


Protests:

19. June 2010            No media protest were reported during the month of June.

Notable developments:

20. 30 June 2010      - Visa's of Non Violence Peace Force staff terminated
On 26th June 2010 Controller of immigration  ordered the country director and coordinator of Non Violence Peace Force (NVPF) Colombo office to leave the country by 30th June 2010. No reasons were given for the termination of their visas. In recent past  NVPF played a vital role in providing in country safety for human rights defenders including journalists. Both of them were given one week more to hand over their responsibilities and both of them left the country on 7th July 2010. Newspapers reported that both of them have been declared persona non grata by  government of Sri Lanka.

21. 24  June 2010     - POLICE OFFICER APOLOGISES TO MP ROSY SENANAYAKE IN SC-( Right to protest)
A chief police inspector apologized to the UNP parliamentarian Rosy Senanayake in the Supreme Court today.He was the first respondent named in a petition filed by Ms. Senanayake claiming that her fundamental rights had been violated.The petition stated that when Ms. Senanayake was gtakinpart in a protest campaign ‘Jana Bala Kahala Nadaya’, organized by the United National Party on June 03, 2008 against the escalating prices of goods, the police officer had insulted her in foul language.

22. 14 June 2010 `- NGO Secretariat under Defence Ministry now
The NGO Secretariat which was previously operated under the Social Services Ministry and thereafter the Internal Affairs Ministry now comes under the purview of the Defence Ministry, following the new Parliament taking office.
23. 13 June 2010      - SUSIL KINDELPITIYA RELEASED ON SURETY BAIL
The Colombo High Court today ordered that journalist Susil Kindelpitiya be released on surety bail in Rs. 50,000.High Court Judge Deepali Wijesunderamade this order after taking into consideration the submissions forwarded by attorney at law Shanaka Ranasinghe, appearing for Mr. Kindelpitiya and the state counsels.( Susil Kindelpitiya is former news director of MTV/Sirasa TV channel)


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