Mysore Cafe owner
Abductions on the rise again says Mano
By Arthur Wamanan and Shezna Shums
The fear psychosis among the Tamils in
Colombo and its suburbs is on the rise again
following the recent incidents of
abductions, Civil Monitoring Commission
(CMC) Convener, Parliamentarian Mano Ganesan
told The Sunday Leader.
He said that the recent incidents of
businessmen being abducted were not rumours,
and added that complaints to the CMC are on
the rise again.
"I have noted that the abductions in and
around Colombo has increased the fear among
the Tamils again. I wish to question the
police and the state as to what action they
are going to take on this issue," he said.
Ganesan further said the recommencement of
abductions would result in small timers also
abducting persons for ransom.
"So far there have been complaints of three
abductions. But, many have complained to us
of threatening calls," Ganesan added.
Meanwhile the owner of the Mysore Cafe who
was abducted earlier in the week was
released Friday night after he was grilled
for two days over a recent visit to the
Five to six armed men in police and STF
uniform had abducted Sinniah Selliah, the
manager of Mysore Caf in Wellawatte on
A complaint was lodged at the Wellawatte
police by his brother in law following the
abduction and was asked to be present at the
Colombo Crimes Division to go through the
file of photographs to identify possible
"Everything happened in a very short time
and we hardly saw the faces of the people
who abducted Selliah," witnesses said.
According to the brother in law of Selliah,
T. Sashikumar, he (Selliah) had not received
threats beforehand nor had the family
received any calls regarding ransom money
for his release.
Workers who witnessed the incident explained
to The Sunday Leader that the abductors were
dressed in military uniform and had arrived
in a small white van (254-7853).
The abductors although in uniform had not
showed any identification or given any
reason why they were taking Selliah away.
The abduction had taken place at about 9.30
last Wednesday night, and the abductors had
only said that they were from the (Galkissa)
Mt Lavinia police.
OIC, Mt Lavinia, Mahesh Perera told The
Sunday Leader that there was no one by the
name of Sinniah Selliah in police custody
nor a person arrested from the Mysore Caf.
Killed journalist was a paid military
informant - CID
Sampath Lakmal de Silva, a freelance
journalist and television reporter who was
found shot dead in Dehiwela in July 2006 was
a paid military informant, according to CID
Head, DIG H.W. Prathapasinghe.
DIG Prathapasinghe told The Sunday Leader on
Friday that Lakmal was paid by the army for
providing information, and that he had close
contacts with military intelligence. Asked
about the status of the investigation, the
DIG said that no conclusion has been
reached, and the case is still open.
Sampath Lakmal was shot three times in the
head and once in the chest in the early
hours of July 2, 2006, and his body was
found on Jayawardena Place, Dehiwela. Police
recovered four empty 9mm bullet casings in
the vicinity of the body. He was 24 years
old at the time of his killing.
The journalist had received calls from two
Army Corporals, Warnakumara and Wijeyakumara,
prompting him to leave his home at 10:30 pm
the previous night, The Sunday Leader
The Sunday Leader learns the two army
intelligence operatives' statements were
recorded by the CID with investigations also
carried out on their telephone records.
Media reports a month after the killing
pointed out that police had recovered a log
of SMS messages between Sampath Lakmal and
his assassin, and that an arrest was
imminent. No arrests have been made to date,
although two second lieutenants of the
Army's 112 Brigade, named Kuruppu and
Niroshan Anthony were initially suspected of
the murder, according to well informed
sources. Both officers have since been
promoted to the rank of captain.
Despite verifying that statements were
recorded from "several military officers,"
the CID Chief was hesitant to name any of
the officers by name. He did not confirm
specifically whether statements were
recorded from suspects Kuruppu and Niroshan
Anthony, and declined to verify the names of
any suspects, stating that this might impede
The DIG said that he believes the killing
was linked to Sampath Lakmal being an army
informant, but refused to go so far as
pointing a finger at the LTTE, stating that
"there are other angles also to consider."
He did not elaborate further.
challenges Govt. to allow human rights
The Amnesty International has called on the
Government to make human rights the priority
by allowing the organisation into the
country to make an impartial assessment of
its and the LTTE's human rights record.
The AI challenge came following allegations
by Defence Spokesman, Minister Keheliya
Rambukwella that the organisation was biased
against the Government.
" Amnesty International's role is to monitor
and report on human rights abuses by all
parties to the conflict. The organisation
has repeatedly requested that the Government
should facilitate this role by allowing us
access to the country", Irene Khan, the AI
Secretary General has said.
Rejecting Rambukwella's claim that the AI
had failed 'to utter a single word' against
recent bomb attacks, the organisation has
pointed out that in the last month alone
several statements were made condemning the
targeting of civilians including one on
"The situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated
and both the Government and the LTTE stand
accused of serious human rights abuses. All
parties should stop targeting civilians and
uphold their commitment to international
human rights law," Khan has also said.
The AI has further charged that the rule of
law continues to be undermined while the
culture of impunity persists.
Mervyn for CC Sangaree
President Mahinda Rajapakse is expected to
appoint TULF President V Anandasangaree as a
UPFA national list MP following the
impending resignation of Labour Minister
Minister Silva announced yesterday that he
would be resigning from Parliament shortly
to take up the nomination to the
President Mahinda Rajapakse's nomination to
the Constitutional Council is still pending
and Silva hinted to the media he would be
the President's nominee.
Informed sources said the President is
expected to appoint Anandasangaree to the
national list vacancy Silva's resignation
will create to build up a Tamil base and
counter the TNA in Parliament.
The President had earlier offered him the
post of Northern Province Governor.
Anandasangaree told the President at the
last meeting he had with APRC
representatives that the proposed 13th
Amendment formula to resolve the ethnic
conflict was an attempt to treat a cancer
with medicine meant for a headache.
However Anandasangaree who is locked in a
bitter battle with the LTTE and TNA has
backed the President's attempts to crush the
He has strongly criticised the LTTE's human
rights track record and not accused the
Government of any human rights abuse in the
Army, Church trade
charges over LTTE attack
By Arthur Wamanan
The army on Friday insisted that there was a
request by the Catholic priest to clean the
Mannar church premises, following a denial
by the priests that they had made any such
The Parish Priest of St. Sebastian's
Cathedral, Mannar, Fr. S.K. Devarajah on
Thursday denied military statements that the
priests had requested the soldiers to do
shramadana work at the church.
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara told The Sunday Leader that the
soldiers were in fact at the church premises
for shramadana work.
"Otherwise, there was no requirement for
them to be cleaning the church premises," he
Fr. Devarajah stated that the army had
occupied the church premises following the
CFA abrogation and added that the priests
had gone to the shrine to get permission
from the officers at the church to have the
He stated that they did not make any request
for help in cleaning the church from the
"In fact, we noticed that the place was very
clean and fit for the divine services.
However, it appears that our visit had been
maliciously reported in some of the media as
exposing the service personnel to danger by
making them undertake shramadana work," he
The church came under artillery fire from
the Tigers and its front portico area was
damaged. The military said that six soldiers
who were engaging in the clean up work were
killed and 10 others injured in the attack.
Twenty five soldiers were engaged in the
clean up, the military said.
student victimised due to race
By Shezna Shums
Questions have been raised as to why a Tamil
student who passed the year five scholarship
exam with 192 marks was not allowed to enter
Yogendra Nethmi passed the year five
scholarship examination with 192 marks,
making her the second highest in the Colombo
The cut off mark for the admission of
students to Visakha College is 181.
However her choice of entering Visakha
Vidylaya was not entertained by an order
given by the Ministry of Education.
The Sunday Leader learns that the student is
still without a school due to the decision
taken by the Education Ministry.
The Sunday Leader asked the Minister of
Education, Susil Premajayanth what he
intends to do regarding this issue, and he
said that "similar situations have arisen in
other schools as well,"
The year five scholarships open the door for
children from rural schools to gain access
to reputed schools in Colombo and other
"We will try to solve this problem,"
promised the Minister.
WFP aid curtailed
Relief items sent to the IDPs in
Killinochchi have not been sent beyond the
Medawachchiya check point, Kilinochchi
Government Agent N. Vedhanayagam told The
He stated that the relief items were sent by
the World Food Programme (WFP) via UN
trucks. The relief items are to be
distributed among the IDPs who were
displaced after 2006 in Kilinochchi,
He stated that the relief items for January
had not arrived due to transportation issues
from Medawachchiya. Transportation of items
to several parts in the north was restricted
following restrictions in Medawachchiya.
"The vehicles are not allowed to go beyond
Medawachchiya," he added.
President ok's medical reps to visit
President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday
directed that Medical Representatives be
permitted to visit Govt. Health
The President gave this directive to the
Secretary of the Health Ministry Dr. H.A.P.
Kahandaliyanage, on an appeal made by the
Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical
Industry (SLCPI), states a communique issued
by the organisation.
This directive the SLCPT states comes in
the wake of the undertaking given by the
Chamber to implement a Code of Conduct for
Medical Representatives under the advice of
the Minister of Healthcare & Nutrition Nimal
Siripala de Silva.
Previously there was a Health Ministry
directive issued preventing medical
representatives from entering government
President Mahinda Rajapakse's directive was
made at a meeting held at Temple Trees with
officials from both the Ministry of
Healthcare & Nutrition and SLCPI present.
The Ministry was represented by Secretary
Dr. H.A.P. Kahandaliyanage, The Director
General of Health Services - Dr. U.A Mendis,
Prof. of Pharmacology - Faculty of Medicine
Colombo Prof. Lal Jayakody, Director Medical
Supplies Division and Dr. Hemantha
Beneragama, whilst the chamber officials
consisted of the President - Adrian
Basnayake, Vice President - Ananda
Samarasinghe, Past President Nimal Dias
Jayasinghe, Dr. Lucian Jayasuriya and Dr.
The President also directed officials to
take necessary measures to ensure that
monopolistic situations are avoided when
registering new drugs and to maintain good
competition in the pharmaceutical market as
this has made it possible for Sri Lankans to
enjoy some of the lowest prices for
pharmaceuticals in the world as per studies
done by WHO/Health Action International, the
Animals die in attempt to escape Deyata
By Risidra Mendis
Environmentalists have criticised
authorities at the National Zoological
Gardens for the death of six spotted deer at
The six deer paid with their lives when zoo
officials allegedly tried to catch and take
them to the Deyata Kirula exhibition that
concluded on February 11 at the BMICH.
According to zoo officials many animals were
injured when zoo keepers tried to capture
them prior to the exhibition. "Four animals
died on February 7 and another two of the
injured died on February 8.
Environmentalists have accused zoo keepers
of negligence when capturing the animals and
questioned zoo authorities as to why the
carcasses were burnt without a proper post
mortem been conducted.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader President,
Sathva Mithra, Sargarica Rajakarunanayake
said she had read a news item where three
deer died when they were been noosed to be
taken to the Deyata Kirula exhibition.
According to this news item zoo authorities
say they were not aware of the incident. If
permission was granted for the release of
these animals for the Deyata Kirula
exhibition how can zoo authorities say they
were not aware of the incident," Sargarica
She added that is it bad enough that these
innocent animals are confined to cages and
criticised zoo authorities for giving
permission for the animals to be taken for
Low level of violence in eastern polls so
The low level of violence in the run up to
the March 10 local government elections in
the Batticaloa District is in itself not a
guarantee of a free and fair poll or that
violence would not spike nearer to polling
day, a fact finding mission by the Centre
for Policy Alternatives (CPA) said.
"The low-level of violence is a positive
development, reported in both the Tamil
majority and Muslim majority areas," the
report said but warned that the district was
"The local government elections in
Batticaloa are not free from violence. It
also is clear that election-related
incidents of violence by themselves are not
an effective measure of how free and fair an
election is. There is a need to take into
account the overall context of threat and
intimidation, fear and insecurity.
Unfortunately, due to the deteriorating
security situation there are limited numbers
of violations reported to the authorities,
and even less investigated," it said.
"The reasons for this low-level of violence
are not clear. One reason reported to CPA
was that the main armed factions operating
in government-controlled areas are
themselves constrained by the security
situation," the CPA report said.
It said that the TMVP was wary of factional
fighting between cadres loyal to Pillayan
and those stilled aligned with Karuna. "This
is especially relevant for the various TMVP
cadres, who due to the Karuna-Pillayan
factional struggle are wary of moving
The report also said that cases of child
recruitment had fallen to three in January
from 14 in December.
The report said that low level of violence
was also due to under reporting and that
high levels of intimidation was reported
prior to nominations. "The various incidents
reported to CPA suggest that this is by no
means an election that is free of violence.
The process of nomination itself involved
intimidation and violence."
WFP US $ 54 mn short to feed IDPs
By Amantha Perera
The World Food Programme (WFP) is facing a
critical shortfall of US $ 54 million in
funds for its relief operations that assist
one million people in the country including
400,000 newly displaced and affected by the
conflict, the UN agency said last week.
"To date, the operation has suffered from
the slow arrival of donor funds, with a
critical shortage of cash contributions that
can be used for local procurement," it said
and added that it was urgently in need of US
$ 11 million to pre-position stocks in
Vavuniya and Jaffna as contingency measures.
"WFP is facing a shortfall of US$54 million
for its relief and recovery operation for
the period until the end of December 2008 in
line with the Common Humanitarian Action
Plan (CHAP). WFP requires US$11 million
immediately to pre-position food in the
north - Vavuniya and Jaffna - and to build
buffer stocks as a contingency measure," WFP
Germany last week donated rice stocks worth
of US $ 1.1 million to be distributed in the
northern Jaffna Peninsula to meet critical
food assistance needs.
"We are extremely grateful for this German
contribution. This has come at a truly
appropriate time when humanitarian needs for
basic food rations are particularly urgent,
as that is the primary source of livelihood
for the civilian population which is
experiencing increased suffering due to the
recent upsurge of the conflict in the
northern districts," WFP Country Director
Mohamed Saleheen said at the handing over
The hand-over of the 2000 metric tonnes of
rice was made by German Ambassador Jrgen
Weerth, to W.K.K. Kumarasiri, Secretary of
the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate
Infrastructure Development in Colombo on
Last month the WFP was accused of
transporting high protein biscuits to
Kilinochchi to be used by the Tigers. The
stock, detained by the Medawachciiya police
at the Medawachchiya check point later
turned out be a stock provided by UNICEF to
be used in a feeding programme under the
aegis of the Health Ministry.
IFJ backs journos' freedom march
The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) has strongly supported the thousand
strong protest march for press freedom in
Colombo on February 14 and has urged the
Government of Sri Lanka to hear their
Organised by the Movement Against Media
Suppression, hundreds of journalists were
joined on the march by a cross section of
Sri Lankan society including many from the
trade union movement, human rights
activists, civil society and the women's
The Movement against Media Suppression is
convened by IFJ affiliates the Free Media
Movement, the Working Journalists
Association and the Media Employees Trade
Union together with other media rights
In the strongest show of solidarity for
media freedom in recent times, media groups
and civil society pledged to work together
to defend and promote freedom of expression;
Protesters demanded a quick and transparent
investigation into killings and attacks
against journalists, an end to intimidation
and harassment of media, a termination of
unofficial censorship, and the right for the
media to report the conflict between the Sri
Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from all sides.
This protest comes after an escalation of
violence and threats towards journalists and
continued restrictions on reporting the war.
On January 25, the producer in the news
division of the state controlled Sri Lanka,
Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), Lal Hemantha
Mawalage, was the victim of a knife attack,
while on his way home in Athurugiriya.
In a similar incident, the Free Media
Movement (FMM) reported that five intruders
forced entry into the home of another
journalist working for state-controlled
Thinakaran, Suhaib M. Kasim, on January 28
and stabbed him.
So far in 2008, there have been eight
reported cases of violence and threats
towards journalists in Sri Lanka. In 2007,
seven journalists and media workers were
killed, making Sri Lanka one of the most
dangerous countries for journalists in the
"These protests show a deep desire among Sri
Lankans to safeguard their right to access
reliable and timely information both on the
conflict and matters generally. We hope the
Government of Sri Lanka will hear these
demands and understand that freedom of
expression is the key to democracy," said
IFJ Asia Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park.
The IFJ strongly urges Sri Lanka's
Government to enforce the United Nations
Security Council Resolution to Protect
Journalists Reporting in War Zones and
Crisis Areas, adopted by the UN Security
Council in 2006.
The resolution stipulates "that all parties
to an armed conflict comply fully with the
obligations applicable to them under
international law related to the protection
of civilians in armed conflict, including
journalists, media professionals and
CPA condemns civilian killings
By Kshanika Argent
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has
condemned the recent attacks on civilians.
In a statement issued Friday the CPA said
that innocent civilians throughout the
island, including infants, women and school
children have been made the victims of armed
attacks in the ethnic conflict.
It went on to say that attacks on helpless
civilians have increased following the
intensification of hostilities in the new
year and after the abrogation of the Cease
Fire Agreement (CFA) and the removal of the
presence on the ground of the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission (SLMM), in particular.
The statement further said that the most
recent examples of the violence are the
explosions in the Perriyamadu area of
Mannnar and the Fort Railway Station, in
which the lives of school children were
brutally snuffed out.
The CPA statement echo's the sentiments of
the International Committee of the Red Cross
which recently stated that Sri Lanka's
civilian casualties in the conflict with the
LTTE have reached 'appalling levels' with
180 people killed since January.
The ICRC statement read, 'The ICRC strongly
condemns any attacks on civilians and
urgently calls on all concerned to put a
stop to violence against civilians,' and
added 'Many of the victims have been
children on their way to and from school.'
The statement also mentioned that the deaths
have occurred in a six week period since the
start of the year in attacks on buses,
railway stations and individuals, with as
many as 270 people injured.'
Meanwhile the CPA has called for the
recognition by both sides of the overarching
importance of minimising civilian tragedy
and suffering in the context of the conflict
and in its conduct and stressed that it is
incumbent on all combatants to respect the
principles and standards of international
humanitarian and human rights laws and norms
pertaining to the situation of civilians
caught up in armed conflict and called upon
them to publicly pledge that they will not
target civilians as well as agree to the
designation and protection of peace zones as
places of civilian refuge.
Tobacco sales up in smoke
By Kshanika Argent
The newest victim of the high cost of living
in Sri Lanka is the tobacco industry, which
has seen a 20 to 40% decline in sales
according to recent reports.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader Ceylon Tobacco
Company (CTC) sources stated that the figure
is total of the three major tobacco
industries, which are CTC, Beedi and white
cigarettes, and is not a total decline in
sales of the CTC brand.
However, CTC sources added that the company
has seen a decline in sales in the recent
past and attributed this to the regulations
which were implemented in December 2006,
that included a ban on public smoking. CTC
sources also stated that the cost of living
factor plays a major role in the sales drop.
One CTC source said, "With the rise in cost
of living so has the prices in cigarettes so
people have changed their lifestyles."
Despite this, profits have not suffered much
according to CTC sources.