The Lanka Academic

MARCH 18, 2008 EST, USA
VOL. 8, NO. 347


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EU warns Sri Lanka rights abuses threaten trade concessions
afp, March 18. COLOMBO) - The European Union threatened on Tuesday to withhold trade concessions from Sri Lanka due to the island's worsening human rights record.

Colombo has come under fire for its rights record, with Human Rights Watch saying recently at least 1,500 people "disappeared" between 2006 and 2007 -- mostly ethnic Tamils living in the island's restive north and east.

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Published: Tue Mar 18 21:18:05 EDT 2008

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Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90 in Sri Lanka , aide says
Associated Press, Tue March 18, 2008 18:07 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday in his adopted home of Sri Lanka, an aide said. He was 90. Clarke moved to Sri Lanka in 1956, lured by his interest in marine diving which he said was as close as he could get to the weightless feeling of space.

``I'm perfectly operational underwater,'' he once said.

He was the co-author with Stanley Kubrick of Kubrick's film ``2001: A Space Odyssey,'' but he was regarded as far more than a science fiction writer.

He was credited with the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality. Geosynchronous orbits, which keep satellites in a fixed position relative to the ground, are called Clarke orbits.

He joined American broadcaster Walter Cronkite as commentator on the U.S. Apollo moonshots in the late 1960s.

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The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation: http://www.clarkefoundation.orgDiscuss this story
Published: Tue Mar 18 18:24:47 EDT 2008 Back to the top

Fear grips Sri Lanka's state television after wave of mysterious attacks
Associated Press, Tue March 18, 2008 08:34 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Workers at Sri Lanka's state television channel fear they are being hunted. In the past two months, staff members have been stabbed, threatened and beaten by unknown assailants.

The violence has grown so bad that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had to give employees at the station, Rupavahini Corp., a personal promise of protection to prevent a walkout that would have likely forced it off the air.

The attacks, which employees say may be connected to a feud with a powerful government minister, are part of a wave of intimidation against journalists that has grown as a civil war between government forces and ethnic Tamil rebels has escalated sharply over the past two years, local and international media watchdog groups said.

Senior government officials publicly criticize journalists as unpatriotic, police repeatedly detain and arrest reporters, and senior military officials bar reporters from the conflict zone and call for strict censorship of all war reporting.

``It's very clear, the government wants to control the media and journalists,'' said Sunanda Deshapriya of the Free Media Movement.

Rajapaksa spokesman Chandrapala Liyanage denied the allegation.

``We have not imposed any censorship, and we don't want to control the media,'' he said.

The incidents were largely ignored until Labor Minister Mervyn Silva and his bodyguards walked into Rupavahini's offices Dec. 27 and reportedly attacked news director T.M.G. Chandrasekara for not covering one of Silva's speeches.

In a ruckus broadcast live on TV stations across the nation, the staff fought back, trapping Silva and his bodyguards in an office until police brokered their release in a deal that included a humiliating apology from the minister. As the men were led out under police escort, the angry employees hooted and jeered Silva and stoned his car.

A month later, a wave of attacks began against employees of the state television station, which is seen as more of a government mouthpiece than a critic.

Reporter Lal Hemantha Mawalage was attacked by two men on a motorbike as he headed home from work late Jan. 25. Four days later, two armed men broke into another employee's house in search of the man and threatened his mother, according to watchdog groups and station employees.

A group of men tried to stab journalist Priyal Ranjith Perera on Feb. 27, and the TV station's librarian, Ranjani Aluthge, was repeatedly slashed with a razor blade as she took a bus home from work March 5.

On Friday, two men attacked station official Arunasiri Hettige with a metal pipe at a bus stop, beating him so badly he had to be hospitalized.

Police are investigating the attacks, but no one has been charged, police spokesman N.K. Ilangakoon said.

Employees of the station fear for their lives, said one staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he worried about retribution for speaking.

Reporters at other television stations who covered the Dec. 27 incident said they had been threatened and attacked as well. Susil Kindelpitiya, director of news at the private Sirasa television station, said he was chased as he drove through the streets of Colombo and has seen suspicious people with guns lurking around his house.

``I believe that those threats are linked to what happened at Rupavahini,'' said Kindelpitiya, who supervised his station's live coverage of the incident.

``Definitely, all the attacks started after the Dec. 27 incident,'' said Kanchana Marasinghe, a Rupavahini employee and union activist.

Silva, who has been accused of repeatedly threatening journalists, denied any connection with the violence. ``I also condemn these attacks. No one has a right to assault or threaten others,'' he said.

The climate of fear grew so strong at the station that President Rajapaksa called an emergency meeting Monday with station officials, Silva and his top police and military officials to address the problem.

Rajapaksa ordered his security team to protect the employees and quickly complete investigations into the attacks, said Liyanage, his spokesman.

Marasinghe said he was hopeful things would improve, ``but you can't say what will happen in the future. We are waiting to see what's next.''Discuss this story
Published: Tue Mar 18 09:45:28 EDT 2008 Back to the top

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Bail granted to man charged in B.C. for allegedly raising funds for terrorists
cbc, March 18. The Toronto man who is the first person in Canada to be charged with helping finance terrorists was granted bail in a British Columbia court Tuesday... Back to the top

India Should End Military Aid to Sri Lanka, Tamil Party Says, March 18, 2008. March 19 (Bloomberg) -- India should stop its military aid to Sri Lanka and mediate in the conflict with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a Tamil party in India's coalition government said... Back to the top

Floods displace thousands in east Sri Lanka, Mar 18. COLOMBO, March 18 (Reuters) - Floods triggered by torrential rain have forced more than 7,000 people from their homes in eastern Sri Lanka, with some taking shelter in schools and mosques, officials said on Tuesday... Back to the top

Emirati police arrest hundreds of south Asian workers to end violent strike over low wages
Associated Press, Tue March 18, 2008 17:55 EDT . BARBARA SURK - Associated Press Writer - It wasn't clear where the workers were from, but a building boom in the oil-rich Arab nations of the Gulf is being carried out by hundreds of thousands of low-paid laborers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka - and Bangladesh... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Economic Growth Probably Eased as Rates Curb Spending
bloomberg, March 18. March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's economic growth probably slowed for the first time in a year in the fourth quarter as the highest interest rates since 2002 curbed spending... Back to the top

Tamils are slaves in India: LTTE leader
com, 18 March . Colombo: A leader of the Tamil Tigers has alleged that Tamils in India are not a free people but are slaves of the Indian state, according to a media report Tuesday... Back to the top

Sri Lankan government says 12 Tamil rebels, three soldiers killed in new fighting
Associated Press, Tue March 18, 2008 01:53 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Fighting across the dense jungles of northern Sri Lanka - has killed 12 Tamil Tiger rebels and three government soldiers, the military said Tuesday... Back to the top

Canadian raised funds for Tamil Tigers, RCMP alleges, March 17, 2008. The RCMP says an Ontario man who was scheduled to appear in a Vancouver courtroom this morning to face Canada's first terrorism financing charge was collecting money for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers... Back to the top

Swamy concerned about LTTE camps in Kerala
chennaionline, march 17. Chennai,March 17 Janata Party President Dr Subramanian Swamy today said it was a matter of serious concern that the LTTE has established camps in Kerala... Back to the top

Employees of Sri Lanka's state television shut out of station
DPA, March 17. Colombo - Employees of Sri Lanka's state-run television station were shut out from work Monday by the police after a threat by the employees to stage a strike in the wake of a series attacks on them, a spokesman for the television trade unions said... Back to the top

LTTE links being monitored
TimesNow.TV, March 17, 2008, 09:44EDT. National Security Advisior MK Narayanan has once again reiterated his belief, that Kerala and Tamil Nadu have pockets of people, who are lending help to the LTTE... Back to the top

Sri Lanka's recurring fever - Editorial
Boston Globe, March 17. ALL TOO many regions of the contemporary world are afflicted with recurring outbreaks of warfare between nation-states and ethnic or sectarian minorities... Back to the top

Sri Lanka military says 27 Tamil rebels, 3 soldiers killed in new fighting
Associated Press, Mon March 17, 2008 02:45 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A new wave of fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels across Sri Lanka - 's embattled northern region has killed 27 rebels and three soldiers, the military said Monday... Back to the top

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