Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sultanate, Sri Lanka take part in annual cyclone meeting

Thu, 28 February 2013
Colombo — The Sultanate, represented by Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources and the National Committee for Civil Defence, participates in the annual meeting of the committee of tropical cyclones over the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal which is being held in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.
The 5-day meeting discusses ways of co-operation among committee members in the areas of forecasting tropical cyclones, the exchange of experience and information, the latest techniques and methods used in monitoring programmes of the effects of tropical cyclones and the measures to reduce the risk of cyclones and floods.
Meanwhile, representatives from a number of relevant regional and international organisations and the Member States participate in the meeting.
The Sultanate was selected yesterday by the meeting of the annual tropical cyclones over the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal currently being held in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo to chair a working group on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) arising from the tropical cyclone Committee for the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. ONA

Sri Lankan gov't renews invitation to main Tamil party for talks   2013-02-28 20:31:53
COLOMBO, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government renewed a call for the main Tamil party to join a parliamentary select committee to discuss minority issues on Thursday amid the island' s human rights record being criticized at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions.
"We have invited the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to participate in a Parliamentary Select Committee comprised of all political parties belonging to different ethnicities to discuss an inclusive power sharing mechanism but they have so far refused to do so. We are prepared for discussions so all we can do is ask them to participate again," said government spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.
The call comes as the United States prepares to pass a second resolution on Sri Lanka at the on-going UNHRC sessions in Geneva.
The main reason given by the United States is that the government has not done enough to promote human rights and foster reconciliation with the Tamil minority.
Rambukwella rejected criticism voiced by United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay on Monday in Geneva that the government had not pushed ahead with finding a political solution despite the end of a three decade war in 2009.
He also vehemently rejected a Human Rights Watch report accusing the military of using sexual violence against the Tamil minority.
In a 141-page report titled "We Will Teach You a Lesson: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces," the New york-based Human Rights Watch details the personal accounts of 75 alleged cases of rapes and assaults occurred since 2006.
The report says the politically motivated violence occurred in both official and secret detention centres throughout country with the participation of police, army and paramilitary groups.
"This is a blatant lie. We have asked Human Rights Watch to release evidence to prove these allegations but they have refused to do so. The government is attempting to do the responsible thing to clear its reputation but we are not being allowed to do so. Therefore we completely reject these unsubstantiated allegations."
Editor: Fu Peng

100 Chinese tour agents to visit Sri Lanka in 2013   2013-02-28 19:57:12
COLOMBO, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Over a hundred Chinese tour agents will visit Sri Lanka in 2013 to promote the tropical island as a tourist destination for the world's fastest growing economy, a top official said here on Thursday.
Sri Lanka's Cabinet has given approval for the Economic Development Ministry to sponsor over 100 Chinese tour agents to visit Sri Lanka this year as part of its plan to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
"As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, Sri Lanka had the problem within the country, that's the war. After the war when we worked out our economic strategies tourism sector comes as number one. And we also have plans to reach the numbers to 2.5 million which I would say in a large and even ambitious target," Cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told journalists.
Since the end of the three decade war in 2009, Sri Lanka's tourism market has boomed with over a million arrivals recorded in 2012.
Buoyed by the industry's success the Sri Lankan government is focusing more on China to attract up market tourists.
"As far as China is concerned, they also have the finances but we are not as close culturally with Chinese or the Gulf so therefore we need additional promotional work. For that the minister has set out a plan and the Cabinet has approved it to ensure that we reach our target of 2.5 million tourists as well as look at emerging markets and up market clients."
Last year revenues from tourism skipped the one billion U.S. dollar mark for the first time in history.
Multinational hotel companies including Hyatt, Shangri-la and Sheraton have also inked agreements to open resorts in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government also hopes to create employment for 500,000 people within the industry. 
Editor: Deng Shasha

Riyadh clarifies envoy’s ‘recall’ from Colombo

Thursday 28 February 2013
Last Update 28 February 2013 2:49 pm
Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials said yesterday the “recall” of Saudi Ambassador to Sri Lanka Abdulaziz Bin Abdurrahman Al-Jammaz was a summons for consultation.
“The Saudi ambassador has not been recalled permanently, but asked to come to Riyadh for consultations,” said Alauddin A. Alaskary, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs, here yesterday.
“There is a difference between an invitation for consultations and a recall … Al-Jammaz has not been recalled, he is still the ambassador to Sri Lanka,” he added.
He was commenting on several reports published in Sri Lankan media recently that said that Riyadh has recalled its ambassador from Colombo amid tensions after a Sri Lankan nanny convicted of murder was beheaded in the Kingdom early this year.
Asked about the return date of the Saudi envoy to Colombo, Alaskary said that, “it is yet to be decided by the foreign ministry.” But, Al-Jammaz, who is Saudi ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, will be going back soon, he added.
D. S. Gammanpila, charge d’affaires at Sri Lankan Embassy, said that the relations between Riyadh and Colombo are normal.
“Even the Sri Lankan workers are being recruited for the Kingdom,’ said the Sri Lankan diplomat. The bilateral relations, which were strained after the execution of Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek, who was charged with smothering a four-month-old baby in 2005; are normal now.
Gammanpila said that Sri Lankan workers are being recruited and deployed in the Kingdom regularly.
“There are no problems,” said the diplomat, when asked to clarify a report about Colombo suspending the recruitment of Sri Lankan workers including maids. The report was based on the a statement released by an association of foreign employment agents in Sri Lanka, which said that the Sri Lankan government has suspended sending housemaids to Saudi Arabia.
The report released by the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA) said that the Sri Lankan government has suspended sending workers and maids to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi authorities provide a proper insurance scheme to the Sri Lankan employees. Saudi Arabia currently is home for about 500,000 Sri Lankan workers. Most workers are maids employed by Saudi families, schools and a few of them in expatriates’ houses.
Asked about the arrival of the new Sri Lankan ambassador to Saudi Arabia, whose name was announced by the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry last week; Gammanpila said that “the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh has not been informed about the date of the arrival of ambassador-designate Vadivel Krishnamoorthy. Sri Lankan government nominated senior diplomat Vadivel just two weeks after his predecessor Ambassador Ahmed A. Jawad returned to Colombo.

‘Let Sri Lankan pilgrims visit Velankanni'

28th February 2013 08:25 AM
Rev Dr Savundaranayagam said that pilgrims “should not be stopped at all”. | EPS
Rt Rev Dr Thomas Savundaranayagam, the Bishop of Jaffna, has categorically opposed attempts by several Tamil nationalist groups in Tamil Nadu to prevent Sri Lankan pilgrims from visiting Catholic shrines in that State.
Asked to comment on the incident last Sunday when the Tamil Nadu police turned back 70 Lankan pilgrims even before they reached the Annai Velankanni shrine fearing violence by Tamil nationalist groups, Dr Savundaranayagam said that pilgrims “should not be stopped at all”.
“Lankan Catholics, whether Tamil or Sinhalese, are very much devoted to Annai Velankanni. They make vows to the deity. They should not be prevented from fulfilling their vows,” he told Express on Wednesday.
Violation of Rights
Fr Cyril Gamini, spokesman of the acting Bishop of Colombo, Fr Emmanuel Fernando, said that stopping pilgrims from going to a place of worship was an “undemocratic act and a violation of a human right”.
“One of the yardsticks for judging the state of democracy and human rights in a country is the existence or non-existence of the freedom of worship for all communities,” he explained.
“While we do not believe that the government of Tamil Nadu is behind these acts of violence, it is responsible for giving protection to pilgrims. After all, pilgrims do not go to Tamil Nadu for any purpose other than offering worship at its shrines,” Fr Gamini said.
Asked if such incidents would prevent Lankans from visiting shrines in Tamil Nadu, he said that they would not. “The incidents have been sporadic. Our people have been going despite past incidents of violence and will continue to go,” he affirmed.