Monday, October 19, 2009

True or False?

An explosive report on the much disputed video showing footage of ethnic Tamils allegedly being murdered by men attired in Sri Lankan military uniform has been handed over to the US State Department.

In a controversial turn of events, a United States company specialising in forensic services has in a preliminary report maintained that no tampering or editing was carried out in either the video or audio portions of the controversial Channel 4 video clip which showed a man in Sri Lankan military uniform executing civilians.

The Sunday Leader has obtained exclusive access to the preliminary report issued by this company, whose services were sought by the US based Tamils Against Genocide organisation.

The preliminary report issued on October 8, ruled that, “the video in question appears to be consistent with a video that was recorded on a camera cell phone.”

“The video and audio of the events depicted in the video, were continuous without any evidence of start/stops, insertions, deletions, over recordings, editing or tampering of any kind,” the preliminary conclusions said.

Until the final report is released The Sunday Leader has been asked to refrain from naming the company.

It was also disclosed in the report that, the audio delay with respect to both gun shots’ audio compared with each corresponding rifle recoil is consistent for some, if not most, camera cell phones that are capable of video recording.

The report also disclosed that the preliminary field test with a typical camera cell phone of similar audio qualities (per header information in Exhibit “A”), was able to record a MAK-90 (AK variant w/16” barrel) gun shot w/7.62x39mm ammo, with the camera cell phone being positioned in a similar camera field of view of the 2nd gun shot, or 12 feet away from the muzzle, without any distortion of the audio.

Meanwhile, Government’s defence spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella shot down this latest development claiming there were some INGOs and members of a diaspora working overnight with the terrorist organisation hell bent on discrediting the country.

“We have put forward clear scientific evidence to Channel 4, challenging their video clip, and they have not come back to us, this is what matters to us. We do not take notice of those who issue reports from various countries and borders,” Rambukwella added.

© The Sunday Leader

Related Links:
Forensic analysis confirms execution-video authentic, says US-group - Tamil Net

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Sri Lanka post-war re-construction draws US firms

American companies are keen to invest in Sri Lanka with the end of the ethnic war to help rebuild the economy and contribute to national reconciliation, government officials from both countries said.

Export Development and International Trade Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris said some of America’s biggest companies had sent representatives to visit the island and scout for investment opportunities this week.

These include General Electric, Coca Cola, Ford Motors, Marriot, Hilton, and Caterpillar.

"They came here because of the confidence they have; the investment climate is now suitable," Peiris said at the end of talks in Colombo on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the two countries.

The talks are aimed at improving economic cooperation between the two trading partners.

"The US government is giving its fullest support to strengthen the economy, especially in employment generation and to increase earnings," Peiris told a news conference.

"Not only the US government, but the biggest American companies came here and showed interest in making big investments here."

The US business delegation also travelled to Trincomalee in the east where they got a first hand impression of the development taking place now the conflict is over, Peiris said.

"During the last 15 years whatever we tried to do, whether in tourism or investment, there was a point beyond which we could not proceed because of terrorism," Peiris said.

Now, he said, the investment climate has changed with the end of the war and the "vigorous involvement" of the US private sector was expected.

Michael Delaney, assistant US Trade Representative for South Asia, said the US government is particularly interested in promoting private sector- pubic partnerships.

American investments were "the best thing we could do to contribute to economic reconstruction and national reconciliation," Delaney told the news conference.

"We had over 40 US companies including several Fortune 500 companies that came to Sri Lanka. We think there’s tremendous upside potential now that the war is behind you.

"We think the economic boost from the end of the war is much greater than commonly believed."

US firms aim to focus on employment generation especially in areas affected by the war, Delaney said.

Government forces defeated the Tamil Tiger separatists in May, ending 30 years of war.

Among the major areas of co-operation between Sri Lank and the US discussed at the talks was the packaging industry.

"We’re trying to revive agriculture, particularly in parts of the country affected by war," Peiris said.

"Investments by American firms will "enable us to earn very much more foreign exchange and equally importantly it will result in employment generation."

Peiris said the government aims to resettle thousands of people displaced by the war.

"To live with dignity in their natural habitat means they must have stable levels of income."

© Lanka Business Online

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Looming humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka camps

The UN and human rights groups have warned that the imminent arrival of monsoon rains could see tents in state-run camps being flooded with sewage, and lead to outbreaks of disease.

But officials argue that enough drainage ditches have been dug to cope with excess water at the camps, where some 250,000 Tamil civilians are currently held.

The government says it is detaining Tamils in camps so that they can be screened for former Tamil Tiger fighters.

Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay reports.

© Al Jazeera

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Monday, October 19, 2009

‘Lanka’ newspaper Editor protests against CID questioning him

By Supun Dias - Chief Editor of the ‘Lanka’ newspaper Chandana Sirimalwatta, who was questioned by the CID over recent news reports, yesterday, protested against using of CID for questioning him and also called the authorities to investigate into the reports published by media instead of inquiring against the media.

In a statement Mr. Sirimalwatta said that officers from the CID came to the newspaper office on Friday and asked him to come to the CID on Saturday to record a statement. He however had informed the CID that he was unable to come during the weekend and would come to the CID on Monday the earliest.

“However, the CID officers took me without prior notice on Saturday to the CID office, where they questioned me for over three hours,” Sirimalwatta said, adding that “they questioned how I gained information to publish articles related to the so called rift between the government and General Sarath Fonseka.” I told the officers that I could not reveal any sources, he added.

Meanwhile, condemning the arrest and questioning the Editor and a reporter of the ‘Lanka’ newspaper, the country’s main five media rights groups yesterday urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa not to block the rights of the people to get information through the media.

“This was clearly another move to suppress the media freedom of the country,” a statement issued by the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association (SLWJA), Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU), Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF) and Free Media Movement (FMM) said.

They also said that the government issued a statement on October 16 regarding various propaganda, revealing a rift between the CDS Gen. Sarath Fonseka and the government of Sri Lanka. Through that the government warned it would take legal action against such reports in the future. “This shows the government intention to cover up the government’s information from the public,” the statement said.

The Editor of the privately owned ‘Lanka’ newspaper, Chandana Sirimalwatta was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on Saturday evening over a news item regarding General Sarath Fonseka .

© Daily Mirror

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Sri Lanka may get US$ 700mn FDI in 2009: official

Sri Lanka is in line to receive 600 to 700 million US dollars in foreign direct investment in 2009 and fresh applications are pouring in after the end of a 30-year civil war, officials said.

In the first six months of the year, about 297 million US dollars had flowed into the country as foreign direct investment.

A war with Tamil Tiger separatists ended in May brightening prospects for the country.

"We expect 600 to 700 million US dollars of investment in 2009," Dhammika Perera chairman of the Board of Investment (BOI), the state investment promotion office, told reporters.

"Now we get so many inquiries that we have to deal with, that this week we were not able to go to an opening ceremony at a ceramic factory."

Investment promotion minister Anura Yapa said among the firms that made inquiries were the Indian arm of the US beverage firm Coca-Cola and Caterpillar, a US heavy machinery firm.

Perera said the BOI has made the process easy for foreign investors and had been ranked the best investment facilitation office in South Asia by a World Bank and International Finance Corporation survey.

The Global Investment Promotion Benchmarking 2009 had said Sri Lanka had improved its score by 29 points in 2008 and had an informative website. The BOI had scored 64 out of a possible 100 marks.

"We have had discussions with the World Bank officials to see how we can score even higher," Perera said.

"We had reduced the application to one page from 14. Earlier companies had to hire consultants to fill the form."

Perera said the quantum of foreign direct investment coming into the country had increased in recent years.

From 2006 to date, he said, 2.8 billion US dollars of FDI had come to the country, compared to 2.7 billion US dollars from the inception of the agency in 1978 to 2006.

© Lanka Business Online

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Canadian police seizes vessel carrying 76 Sri Lankans

Canadian authorities are dealing with a shipload of would-be migrants claiming to be from Sri Lanka.

Police and the Canadian Navy boarded and took control of the vessel off the coast of British Columbia.

An intelligence tip-off that a vessel had entered Canadian waters off Vancouver Island led to the two-day police and military operation.

Seventy-six men, who told police they wanted to go to Canada, were taken off the ship and are being held in a detention centre.

The men are reported to be in good health and the ship, the Ocean Lady, is described as being seaworthy.

Canada's public safety minister Peter Van Loan says early indications are that the ship originated in Sri Lanka but that cannot be confirmed.

Officials in Ottawa say they will determine what to do with the group in the coming days.

The country's conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, has been accused of bringing in tougher new immigration policies, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the processing queue.

© ABC News

Related Links:
RCMP seizes vessel carrying 76 off B.C. coast - CBC News
Canadians intercept migrant ship - BBC

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Monday, October 19, 2009

S.Lanka asylum seekers end boat hunger strike

A group of more than 250 Sri Lankan asylum seekers whose boat was stopped in Indonesian waters en route to Australia ended their two-day hunger strike on Saturday, officials said.

The group -- among which it was the 150 men who were on hunger strike -- had accepted food late afternoon after a meeting with Indonesian officials, local immigration chief Harry Purwanto told AFP.

"They have started to eat and drink. Alex said the group apologised for launching the hunger strike. He said it was a wrong move," he said, referring to the group's unofficial spokesman.

"Alex also said the hunger strike was not a protest against Indonesia but an appeal to the international community to find a solution for them," he added.

Indonesian authorities were trying to negotiate with the migrants, who were intercepted in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java islands on October 11 as they headed to Australia in a wooden cargo boat.

Purwanto said two shelters around the port have been readied for the 255 men, women and children "but the migrants wouldn't move there (from their boat) until they meet someone from UNHCR", referring to the UN refugee agency.

That will be on Wednesday, the official said.

"Today we'll stop the hunger strike but we'll continue to stay on the boat," Alex told reporters.

Earlier, Alex told AFP they were ending the hunger strike because "there were 100,000 deaths of Tamils due to the civil war in Sri Lanka and we want to prevent further deaths".

The estimated 150 men had refused food since Thursday and at least two had been taken to hospital apparently suffering dehydration, officials said.

The stand-off has fuelled Australia's debate about illegal immigration, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd under mounting pressure from the conservative opposition to stiffen border security.

Alex has told reporters the asylum seekers are in danger in Sri Lanka in the wake of the government's defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels, although he denies they are rebel separatists.

The situation has also highlighted Indonesia's failure to crack down on people-smuggling networks that use the country's permissive legal environment to profit from the desperation of some migrants.


Related Links:
Tamils flee genocide — refugees should be welcomed!- Green Left Weekly
UN warns Australia against off-shore detention - Radio Australia

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