The Lanka Academic

VOL. 10, NO. 277


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Sri Lanka rejects UN execution video report
HT, Jan 8. Sri Lanka on Friday rejected as inconsistent the findings of a trio of UN-appointed investigators who said they doubted a video showing apparent executions by Sri Lankan soldiers was a fake.

The reaction came after Philip Alston, UN special reporter on extrajudicial executions, on Thursday urged an independent probe after a forensic pathologist, a forensic video analyst and a firearms expert concluded the video was likely real.

Britain's Channel 4 television aired a video last year that it said shows government troops killing unarmed, naked, bound and blindfolded men during the army's final assault to smash the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The government immediately rejected it as a fraud perpetrated by Tamil Tiger supporters angry the separatist group had been defeated, and said its own investigation, using Sri Lankan civilian and military experts, had found it was doctored.

"We reject these allegations," Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said. "In light of those continued contradictory findings, we can't accept it." More...Discuss this story
Published: Fri Jan 8 09:33:46 EST 2010

A Sri Lankan Underdog Battles Global Tea Giants
NYT, Jan 9. COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Merrill J. Fernando’s eyes lit up one recent morning when his son Dilhan handed him a box of Twinings Pure White Tea. He quickly ripped open a tea bag and spilled its contents onto a piece of paper.

Then he asked for some green tea, which Dilhan delivered on another piece of paper. Fernando beamed as he put the samples side by side. They looked similar but were starkly different from the silvery white tea produced by his company, Dilmah, which is sold in supermarkets for nearly four times the price of Twinings.

“All the brands without exception sell as white tea either 99 percent black tea or green tea with one piece of white tea,” Fernando, 79, said ruefully. “This is what we are up against. This is what the consumer is up against. But this is part of normal trade, and I have begun to accept it.”

Twinings said it used a Chinese white tea variety known as Bai Mudan in its tea bags and the more exclusive silver needle variety, which is similar to Dilmah’s white tea, in its loose leaf tea. More...Discuss this story
Published: Fri Jan 8 21:36:20 EST 2010 Back to the top

Probe sought in Sri Lankan-Tamil war
UPI, Jan. 7. COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A video of alleged executions by Sri Lankan soldiers that aired last summer merits a war crimes probe, a U.N. human rights expert said Thursday.

Philip Alston, an independent expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said his investigation into possible war crimes committed during the conflict with Tamil rebels, indicated the government report wasn't thorough or impartial, the United Nations said in a release.

"The conclusion clearly is that the video is authentic," Alston said "I have therefore called on the government of Sri Lanka to respond to these allegations."

The government has denied the allegations raised by the video, which purportedly shows extrajudicial execution of two Tamil men by the Sri Lankan military as well as claimed prior executions. More...Discuss this story
Published: Thu Jan 7 21:56:29 EST 2010 Back to the top

Sri Lankan execution video authentic: UN envoy
afp, Jan 8. UNITED NATIONS -Independent experts have concluded that video footage allegedly showing Sri Lankan troops executing prisoners during the final phase of their battle against Tamil Tiger rebels last year was authentic, a UN envoy said Thursday... Back to the top

Shock and anger continue one year after Lasantha Wickrematunge’s unpunished murder
RSF, Jan 8. “A year has gone by without any progress in the investigation into his murder,” Lal Wickrematunge said today to Reporters Without Borders, on the eve of the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of his brother, Lasantha Wickrematunge, the Colombo-based Sunday Leader’s well-known managing editor... Back to the top

Sri Lanka's former army chief unveils platform
AP, Jan 7. COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka's former army chief said Thursday he would work to strengthen democracy, curb corruption and safeguard media freedom in this Indian Ocean island nation if he is elected president... Back to the top

Prabhakaran's father dies in military custody
NewKerala, Jan 7. Colombo, Jan 7: The father of slain Tamil rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, who led a failed 26-year armed campaign for a separate state for Sri Lanka's Tamil ethnic minority, died Thursday while in military custody, an army spokesman said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka general guns for economy in presidential run
Reuters, Jan 7. COLOMBO, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan presidential contender General Sarath Fonseka on Thursday laid out a platform to fight corruption and cut the cost of living, both of which he said had risen sharply under incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa's rule... Back to the top

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