The Lanka Academic

VOL. 10, NO. 326


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Sri Lanka: ambitious plan to rebuild 'ground zero' in war with Tamil Tigers
Christian Science Monitor, Feb 27, 2009. Jaffna, Sri Lanka

In chartered buses and private cars, Sri Lankans pour into this war-ravaged city, finally rejoined to the rest of the country.

Some are ethnic Tamils coming home to see relatives after decades living elsewhere. Others are Sinhalese tourists from the south, curious to see a long-denied corner of their island.

Jaffna served as ground zero in Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war, which ended last May with the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The city remains run-down, hollowed out by war, occupation, and isolation.

But nine months of peace has opened up road links, pared down the number of military checkpoints, and ended a nighttime curfew in Jaffna. Ambitious postwar plans call for the rebuilding of its cratered downtown, though it will take more than money to undo the damage of a bitter, ethnic-based conflict over land and power.

"It will take many, many years," says S K Sirtrampalam, a retired historian More...Discuss this story
Published: Fri Feb 26 20:44:25 EST 2010

Sri Lanka's dissenting voices 'silenced'
bbc, feb 27. When Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected president of Sri Lanka in January, media organisations and human rights groups said they hoped the suppression of dissenting voices would end.But those hopes have not materialised.The recent arrest of defeated presidential candidate, Gen Sarath Fonseka, is seen by some as the latest example of intimidation of Mr Rajapaksa's opponents.Analysts say the general has joined a growing list of people and organisations that have been targeted.During the presidential campaign they noticed a dramatic increase in threats to journalists and activists - especially those deemed to have supported Gen Fonseka. More...Discuss this story
Published: Fri Feb 26 21:52:11 EST 2010 Back to the top

Sri Lanka's human-rights and free-speech problems need international attention
The Seattle Times, Feb 27, 2008. In post-civil war Sri Lanka, where democratic institutions are more imperiled than ever, the international press has a vital role to play — even more important than the diplomatic efforts of our governments — in forcing greater transparency and accountability.

I just spent two weeks in Sri Lanka and whenever I sat down with someone in Colombo to ask their opinion of the country's political situation, they'd scan the room, lean in close, and ask if we could talk off the record. When I called opposition journalists they demurred, and suggested that we meet in person. They wouldn't say it out loud, but my driver did: "The phones are all tapped," he explained with refreshing bluntness.

I asked if he thought my phone at the Hilton might be bugged. He bobbled his head vaguely, hesitating, and said, "Well ... "

This was an example of what Kesara Abeywardena, a journalist from The Daily Mirror — the closest thing there is to an independent newspaper on the island — referred to as Sri Lanka's "culture of self-censorship." Abeywardena used to write a political column, but More...Discuss this story
Published: Fri Feb 26 20:38:22 EST 2010 Back to the top

S.Lanka stx at record, foreigners continue to exit
Reuters, Feb 27, 2010. COLOMBO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares hit a record high on Friday on retail buying, but foreigners stuck to the exit trajectory after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delayed the third tranche of a $2.6 billion loan to the island nation... Back to the top

General Sarath Fonseka to fight in Sri Lanka parliamentary elections
Times Online, Feb 27, 2010. General Sarath Fonseka, the former Sri Lankan army chief, who was arrested this month on coup charges, filed nomination papers yesterday to contest parliamentary elections on April 8 as the leader of an opposition alliance... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Inflation Rate Rises, Leaving Less Room to Hold Rates
Bloomberg, Feb. 26. Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka’s inflation accelerated to a 12-month high in February, giving the central bank less room to keep benchmark interest rates unchanged to bolster the economy’s recovery. Consumer prices in the capital, Colombo, rose 6.9 percent from a year earlier after gaining 6.5 percent in January, the statistics agency said on its Web site today... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Says General Fonseka to Face Civil Charges
Bloomberg, Feb. 26. Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka said General Sarath Fonseka, the defeated opposition candidate in January’s presidential election being detained for violating military law, will face additional charges in a civilian court. Charges will be filed “within the next two weeks” under the country’s penal code, the government said on its Web site... Back to the top

Fonseka supporters further detained
bbc, feb 27. A court in Sri Lanka has allowed the police to further detain six Sri Lanka army (SLA) officers arrested on suspicion of conspiring to overthrow the government... Back to the top

IMF May Alter Sri Lanka Loan Program as Deficit Exceeds Target
Bloomberg, Feb 25. Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The International Monetary Fund said it may consider changing a $2.6 billion loan package to Sri Lanka after the country’s 2009 budget deficit exceeded the lender’s target under the aid program. “Sluggish” revenue growth and government spending to rebuild after the end of the island’s 26-year civil war caused the fiscal deficit to overshoot the IMF’s target, the Washington-based lender said today... Back to the top

Sri Lankan government voices anger as UK MPs address Tamil group
Guardian, Feb 27. The diplomatic rift between London and Colombo has widened after Gordon Brown and David Miliband met delegates from a new worldwide Tamil union despite "strong protests" from the Sri Lankan government... Back to the top

Sri Lanka relations with West sour over rights abuses
National, Feb 26. COLOMBO // Amid tension between Sri Lanka and western countries over Colombo’s treatment of defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka – following much western censure over the government’s war with Tamil Tiger rebels – questions are being asked in Sri Lanka about the country’s relations with the West... Back to the top

Detained ex-army chief to contest Sri Lanka vote
AP, Feb 25. COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka's ex-army chief who was detained on accusations of sedition after losing presidential elections is set to lead a new opposition coalition in an April parliamentary vote, a party official said Thursday... Back to the top

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