Coronavirus Pandemic, Postponed Elections and the Tamil National Alliance

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The deadline for the 2020 Parliamentary elections nominations scheduled for April 25 ended at Noon on Thursday March 19th. Two hours later Sri Lanka’s Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya announced that elections would be indefinitely postponed due to the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 Virus Pandemic in the Island. Mahinda Deshapriya explained to the media the legal position that the Commission could not announce the decision to put off the poll until nominations had closed.

R Sampanthan & Mavai Senathiraja

According to media reports, Mahinda Deshapria had explained that the spread of the virus has prevented government employees from carrying out their duties as required and therefore the essential preparations for the poll have not been made.“ Even If the World Health Organisation says everything is clear today we cannot hold the elections on the 25th.It is not logistically possible.” Deshapriya reportedly said. Speaking further Deshapriya said he hoped the Presidential Task Force dealing with the virus would be able to bring it under control, but could not provide specific dates..” “Only COVID19 itself can decide when we can hold the elections,” quipped Deshapriya
Continue reading ‘Coronavirus Pandemic, Postponed Elections and the Tamil National Alliance’ »

Are these Viyath Maga ‘Technocrats’ Advising the ‘Technocratic’ Presidency of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa On Tackling the Covid-19 Pandemic Living in a Parallel Universe?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

When Sri Lanka’s acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) instructed all police officers to ‘take legal action against those who publish posts on social media criticising government officials and obstructing their duties’ as reported on 1st April 2020, one might have been forgiven for speculating that this was grim humor befitting the day of all fools in question.

Losing our liberties along with covid-19?

But that fleeting impression was soon dispelled with. It appeared that the police was deadly serious. And so, in midst of the unprecedented covid-19 health emergency gripping the nation, it seems as if we are fairly and squarely on the path of losing our liberties as well, in the process. Of course, this advice by the acting IGP flies in the face of established judicial precedents for the past three decades or more. Even at the worst of conflict which plagued this country, such casual and vague directions ‘not to criticise’ were abstained from by state officers.

There was good reason for doing so. As the Supreme Court has warned umpteen times, ‘ Freedom of speech and expression includes the right to fairly and within reasonable limits criticise a Government. This has been widely recognised in civilized jurisdictions as a natural right inherent in the status of a free citizen. The people have a right to be informed of public issues through sources outside and independent of the Government’ (Mohottige and others v Gunatilleke and others, 1992).

The Court, in this case, as well as several others which are immediately familiar to constitutional law practitioners, however cautioned that this freedom ‘can be restrained where its exercise is intended to or has a tendency to undermine the security of the state or public order, or incite feelings of disaffection or ill will against the State or bring the Government into hatred or ridicule, etc.’ Put in another way, as was observed in the popularly known Jana Ghosha case (1993), “the right to support or to criticize Governments and political parties, policies and programmes is fundamental to the democratic way of life, and…cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all civil and political institutions.”

Continue reading ‘Are these Viyath Maga ‘Technocrats’ Advising the ‘Technocratic’ Presidency of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa On Tackling the Covid-19 Pandemic Living in a Parallel Universe?’ »

“I Have Temporarily Closed my Political Office and Suspended my Political Activities. Now, as The President’s Special Envoy and Head of the Presidential task Force, I act as a Non-political Person” – Basil Rajapaksa

By

Uditha Kumarasinghe

The Head of the Special Presidential Task Force on Essential Services, Basil Rajapaksa said that today we are at the most critical and decisive juncture compared to the challenges we faced in the past. If we don’t successfully launch our battle to combat the coronavirus, we would have to face serious repercussions.

Rajapaksa in a recent interview with the Derana360 program said that at this juncture, the great challenge before us is to protect the senior citizens and the children. He said when we look at history, we have been able to overcome various challenges faced by us from time to time.

However, the present challenge is different from all those past challenges. The Task Force Head said he believes the President, Prime Minister and the Government in collaboration with the people and all sectors would be able to accomplish this task.

“Even I got the opportunity to participate in this program due to the sacrifice and joint effort made by all those who have engaged in the health sector, the tri-forces and the Police to combat the coronavirus pandemic. When even world super powers have failed to combat this disease, I would like to extend my gratitude to the health sector and the tri- forces in their immense sacrifice. That is why the President set up the Presidential Task Force and appointed me as the Head to coordinate these activities.”

Earlier, the tri-forces, Police and the Civil Defence Force launched a humanitarian operation to rescue the country from the clutches of terrorism.

As a result, several issues arose. For example, when the A9 Road was closed and no permission granted to transport goods via sea, the people in the Jaffna peninsula were trapped there. At that time too, special intervention was made by us to reduce the pressure exerted on the security forces.

Continue reading ‘“I Have Temporarily Closed my Political Office and Suspended my Political Activities. Now, as The President’s Special Envoy and Head of the Presidential task Force, I act as a Non-political Person” – Basil Rajapaksa’ »

“There are Trucks Going Around with some Supplies but most Estate Worker Families Don’t have cash to buy Essentials”

By
Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka has been under curfew for over a fortnight. The near-total lockdown and the over 10,000 violators that police have arrested have ensured that almost everyone stays indoors.

Depending on the cash left in hand or their bank balance — in case of those making card payments — and social networks, some have been managing — either by buying from the trucks sporadically selling essentials in different neighbourhoods, or placing online orders, or tapping friends with curfew passes.

For many of them, especially families with children, older people and pets, the insecurity about diminishing supplies is real. As is their general anxiety about a once-distant virus now having become a threat right outside their doorsteps. The risk is here and now.

Continue reading ‘“There are Trucks Going Around with some Supplies but most Estate Worker Families Don’t have cash to buy Essentials”’ »

Ensuring Availability and Accessibility to Minimum Food Requirements During Economic Lockdown and Prolonged Curfew is of the Utmost Importance

By

Nimal Sanderatne

There are increasing concerns in food security during this prolonged period of an economic shutdown and island-wide curfew. Ensuring the availability and accessibility of at least minimum food requirements is of utmost importance during these days of battling the coronavirus.


Formidable task

To the credit of the Government, many efforts are being made to ensure people’s basic food requirements. Nevertheless, a proportion of the population would not have had adequate minimum food owing to the curfew, panic buying, demand for food exceeding the available food stocks and inadequate income to obtain food. Meeting the necessary food requirements is a formidable task during the current economic disruption and shutdown and prolonged island-wide curfew.

Food security

Ensuring the availability and accessibility of at least the minimum food requirements of people is crucial during this period. Inevitably, the current economic conditions and the continuation of the curfew are increasing food security concerns. Increasing unemployment, low income and the inaccessibility to available food supplies could increase the number of people with inadequate basic food requirements.

Continue reading ‘Ensuring Availability and Accessibility to Minimum Food Requirements During Economic Lockdown and Prolonged Curfew is of the Utmost Importance’ »

“Raja Thun Kattiya” Consisting of Mahinda,Gotabaya and Basil Fast Making Progress During the Coronavirus Pandemic Phase as the “Corona Bala Kattiya” Combatting Covid-19 Threat

By Lucien Rajakarunanayake

From history, literature, nursery rhymes, and religious tales we are used to various trios who have brought good memories.

The Three Musketeers is an unforgettable cinematic tale. We also know of the Three Stooges, the Three Amigos and the Three Blind Mice. When Christmas draws near we are reminded of the ‘Raja Thun Kattiya’ the three kings who came to worship the Child Jesus in Bethlehem.

There is a new trio in Sri Lanka that has all the promise of standing out in the political saga that will be written once this epidemic crisis is over. This is the ‘Corona Bala Kattiya’ that is born amidst the fight against the coronavirus.

Continue reading ‘“Raja Thun Kattiya” Consisting of Mahinda,Gotabaya and Basil Fast Making Progress During the Coronavirus Pandemic Phase as the “Corona Bala Kattiya” Combatting Covid-19 Threat’ »

A Single Virus and a Humble Animal Send the Whole World Into Lockdown

By

Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

The world has been attacked by the most widely spread pandemic the world has ever experienced. It has had seismic effects on the entire world – almost no country has been spared from its terrifying repercussions.

Via: Facebook/Discovery

We humans prided ourselves that we had conquered Mother Nature. We indiscriminately destroyed her bountiful forests, thereby destroying large numbers of wildlife or creating unnatural conditions in which humans were called upon to live in close proximity with wild animals. We heartlessly polluted her rivers. Lakes and seas and the air that we breathe in the name of increased GDP and economic growth rates, regardless of the long-term dangers of all living beings.

We now find that we are knocked senseless by one single virus carried to us by a humble bat. The entire world has been forced into lockdown. We are only beginning to comprehend the possible outcome of this global viral attack on the national and global economy. Not only would we have to re-think the whole paradigm of development, our concept of life and how we live it will change radically.

Continue reading ‘A Single Virus and a Humble Animal Send the Whole World Into Lockdown’ »

What Gotabaya Rajapaksa Proposes, Coronavirus Pandemic Disposes

By

Col R Hariharan

The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s carefully crafted plan to hold the parliamentary elections on April 25 to win two-thirds majority in parliament elections to repeal 19th Amendment (19A) to the Constitution which curbed presidential powers. In the face of the pandemic threat, the Election Commission (EC) was left with no other option but to indefinitely postpone the election, though it took the decision only on March 19 after deadline for filing nominations ended. The government which had ordered the closure of the schools a week earlier, considered it politically expedient to go ahead with the election and did not agree to postpone it.

The President and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had repeatedly vowed to do away with the 19A. After President Gotabaya’s victory, the chances of the SLPP and its allies winning two-thirds majority brightened after power struggle between the main opposition United National Party (UNP)-leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Deputy leader Sajith Premadasa wrecked the UNP-led coalition. After peace parleys failed, Premadasa broke ranks and filed his nomination on the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) front ticket. He is supported by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, All Ceylon Makkal Congress, Jathika Hela Urumaya and the National Democratic Front.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has grown into a major existential threat has played havoc with the peoples’ normal life. So fighting the pandemic has become the urgent national priority for the President. The virus threat has skewed President Gotabaya’s political pitch. Moreover, its fall out has become a major challenge for him. The voters are more likely to judge President Gotabaya and SLPP upon how effectively the government handles the virus threat, rather than the past record of Rajapaksas in eliminating the LTTE threat.

Continue reading ‘What Gotabaya Rajapaksa Proposes, Coronavirus Pandemic Disposes’ »

An Individual owes no Conceivable Duty to Others to Refrain from Criticising a Government During this “Corona” Crisis Even if such Criticism Undermines Confidence in the Government.

By

Gehan Gunatilleke

Sri Lanka’s police has just announced that it would arrest those who disseminate false or disparaging statements about government officials.
Why is this announcement incredibly dangerous?

In the midst of the current Covid19 crisis, governments will ask individuals to make great sacrifices to prevent, detect, contain, and cure the deadly virus. While the crisis continues, and the threat of a truly catastrophic pandemic increases with each day, the temptation and pressure to surrender more of our freedom in exchange for protection, stability and care is inevitable. But where this exchange may leave liberal democratic societies in the aftermath of the crisis may not be fully grasped as yet.

The post-Covid19 world we inherit may be profoundly different in many ways, including in the way it views and values liberty. In this short reflection, I focus on the conceptual features of individual liberty, and the risk this pandemic poses to it.

I propose that in order to avoid governmental overreach, the current negotiation between individuals and their governments must carefully differentiate between the types of liberties that may be limited and those that may not.

Continue reading ‘An Individual owes no Conceivable Duty to Others to Refrain from Criticising a Government During this “Corona” Crisis Even if such Criticism Undermines Confidence in the Government.’ »

What could possibly exonerate or extenuate the quite deliberate cutting of the throat of a five-year-old child? If there is to remain even the most basic sense of right and wrong, good and evil, in State, society and leadership, should the Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict have been overthrown?

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

This space is named the ‘Lanka Guardian column’. The title Lanka Guardian is from the two-decades-defunct magazine of which my father was Founder-Editor. I was Assistant Editor, Associate Editor and (for two years) Editor of that once-celebrated fortnightly journal.

I realised that the conjuncture in which I was commencing this new column in February 2020 upon (collective) recall from Moscow where I served as Ambassador, is rather reminiscent of that in which Mervyn de Silva chose to launch the Lanka Guardian on 1 May 1978, and especially evocative of what Kumari Jayawardena judged “the best…the first ten years of the LG” (as it was dubbed by readers).

Last week, an Army Staff Sergeant found guilty by the Colombo High Court and the Supreme Court (in a unanimous verdict by a five-judge bench headed by the CJ), of the evil atrocity of murdering unarmed civilians in captivity including three boys aged 15, 13, and most cruel of all, five, by slitting their throats after torture (some bodies were dismembered), was pardoned by the President in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown. The move was hailed by those including a religious figure (on video) who had long campaigned for his release as a “war hero”.

In a colourful set of slides dated 30 March 2020, Gevindu Cumaratunga, longstanding Alt-Right ideologue, Chairman of the Yuthukama national organisation, Editor, ‘Yuthukama’, and SLPP National List nominee whose allegedly vanguard, catalytic ideological contribution to the MR Movement’s speedy revival in 2015 was publicly felicitated by the SLPP chairperson recently, poses the questions:

“Mass murderers? Barbaric child killers? Mass murder by the courts?” and follows up with “Barbaric child slayers? When little children are used for war, intelligence gathering and covering up intelligence gathering and are slain as a result, who are the real child-slayers?… Mass murder by the courts? Who can say that the court verdicts of the past five years were not political ones? Who can say that these verdicts saying our Army committed war crimes were not delivered in accordance with the Geneva betrayal? Were the honourable courts a weapon of mass murderers?… Who can say that the previous wicked government did not tempt the honourable judges into becoming mass murderers?” (www.yuthukama.com, 30 March 2020)

Continue reading ‘What could possibly exonerate or extenuate the quite deliberate cutting of the throat of a five-year-old child? If there is to remain even the most basic sense of right and wrong, good and evil, in State, society and leadership, should the Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict have been overthrown?’ »

Nation-wide Shutdown and Curfew For Three Weeks Announced Sudenly By Indian Premier Narendra Modi Causes Immense Hardship to Millions of Urban Workers, Rural Toilers, Migrants and Poorer Sections of Society


By Wasantha Rupasinghe

The sudden, disorganized nationwide three-week shutdown announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting at midnight March 24 is causing immense hardship, especially for hundreds of millions of workers and rural toilers, manifestly undermining efforts to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

For weeks, Indian authorities, including Modi himself, had boasted that India had the coronavirus pandemic firmly under control. They based this claim on the relatively small number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, blithely ignoring medical experts who warned that the small infection rate was in all likelihood a function of the tiny number of tests administered.

Then last Tuesday evening, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government abruptly shifted gears. Having wasted two precious months, during which they had focused India’s anti-coronavirus efforts almost entirely on bans on entrants from foreign countries, Modi announced an unprecedented shutdown.

Continue reading ‘Nation-wide Shutdown and Curfew For Three Weeks Announced Sudenly By Indian Premier Narendra Modi Causes Immense Hardship to Millions of Urban Workers, Rural Toilers, Migrants and Poorer Sections of Society’ »

United National Party Leaders and key Ministers of the Govt led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Hold cordial discussions on measures taken to counter the COVID-19 crisis

The United National Party (UNP) and key Officials of the Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had cordial discussions on measures taken to counter the COVID-19 crisis yesterday, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said in a statement.

The meeting, which lasted about two hours, was held at the Presidential Secretariat and was presided over by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The President had explained extensively the steps the Government had taken to identify COVID-19 patients, and expressed optimism that the situation had been kept under control due to the bulk of those diagnosed being Sri Lankans who had returned from a different country and had been sent to quarantine centres, or who had been identified as having close contact with those diagnosed and promptly isolated.

During the discussion, Presidential Task Force on Continuous Supply, Operation and Coordination of Essential Services head Basil Rajapaksa had explained in detail the multiple steps taken by the Government to counter COVID-19 and provide support to the public. The need to keep disruption to everyday life to a minimum was touched upon by him. Basil Rajapaksa spoke of steps taken to provide assistance to Samurdhi beneficiaries and public servants, as well as other vulnerable communities, the statement said.

Continue reading ‘United National Party Leaders and key Ministers of the Govt led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Hold cordial discussions on measures taken to counter the COVID-19 crisis’ »

“Granting of a presidential pardon to a person convicted of such a heinous offence and whose conviction was upheld unanimously by the Supreme Court sends a negative message that reinforces allegations of impunity and lack of justice for victims of violations in Sri Lanka”- Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

(Text of a Letter Sent by the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa)

H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa
President of the Republic of Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1

Your Excellency,

Granting of a Presidential Pardon to Former Army Corporal Sunil Ratnayake

The Human Rights Commissions of Sri Lanka expresses its deep concern on the reported grant of a Presidential Pardon to Corporal Sunil Ratnayake who was convicted of eight counts of murder by a Trialat-Bar and which conviction was subsequently confirmed by a unanimous judgment of a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on 24 April 2019 (SC TAB 1/2016).

We are deeply concerned due both to the serious nature of the charges brought by the Hon. Attorney – General against Mr. Ratnayaka, which included the killing of three children, and the strength of the Supreme Court judgment which upheld the conviction.

Continue reading ‘“Granting of a presidential pardon to a person convicted of such a heinous offence and whose conviction was upheld unanimously by the Supreme Court sends a negative message that reinforces allegations of impunity and lack of justice for victims of violations in Sri Lanka”- Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka’ »

Transparency International of Sri Lanka Wants Presidential Secretariat to Disclose the TrialJudge Report, Attorney -General Advice and Justice Ministry Recommendation Pertaining to the Presidential Pardon Afforded to The Mirusuvil Massacre Convict


Transparency International Sri Lanka has called upon the government to make public the following documents as regards the presidential pardon granted to the convict in the case of the Mirusuvil massacre.

Presidential Secretariat must make the following documents public –

Report of the Trial Judge
Advice of the Attorney General
Recommendation of the Justice Minister

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) calls on the Presidential Secretariat to publicly disclose all relevant documents in the case of the presidential pardon afforded to the convict in the case of the Mirusuvil Massacre of December 2000.

Continue reading ‘Transparency International of Sri Lanka Wants Presidential Secretariat to Disclose the TrialJudge Report, Attorney -General Advice and Justice Ministry Recommendation Pertaining to the Presidential Pardon Afforded to The Mirusuvil Massacre Convict’ »

Ex-Western Province Governor Azath Salley Writes to President Rajapaksa Urging Inquiry Into Incident Where Muslim Victim of Covid-19 Was Cremated Instead of Burial Accirding to Islamic Religious Sentiments


Former Western Province Governor and leader of the National Unity Alliance, Azath S Salley, has requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to inquire into the circumstances under which a Muslim victim of coronavirus was cremated,contrary to specific instructions issued by the government.

The following is the text of Salley’s letter to the President:

“The second death in Sri Lanka, from Covid-19, was a Sri Lanka Muslim patient. According to the circular that was amended and approved by the President of Sri Lanka, with the recommendation of WHO and other health organizations, it was recommended that in-line with the religious and cultural sentiments of the Muslim people, any victim who adheres to such a belief will be provided with the right of burial, instead of cremation; with certain guidelines.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Western Province Governor Azath Salley Writes to President Rajapaksa Urging Inquiry Into Incident Where Muslim Victim of Covid-19 Was Cremated Instead of Burial Accirding to Islamic Religious Sentiments’ »

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya was Adamant That Elections Should be Held on April 25th Without Being Put Off Because He Seemed Afraid to Disagree With President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

By

S.Ratnajeevan H.Hoole

The President on March 2, 2020 by Gazette Extraordinary No. 2165/8 legitimately dissolved Parliament from midnight and fixed April 25, 2020 as the date for the General Election.

While the proclamation was legal, it was poorly thought out because it was made well after the COVID-19 outbreak had begun. Passengers at many international airports like Kuwait were being tested for fever before letting them enter, but our government seemed hell-bent on holding elections.

Our Senior Regional Management Staff met the Commission at our Secretariat on March 11 and told us that April 25 was just too soon. There was insufficient slack time to recover from problems. They said that while our staff would come, other government staff cannot be prevented from taking leave during the local New Year and Vesak. They pleaded with us to advise the government to move the election date back. But Chairman Deshapriya, who has many conversations with the government in the absence of the other two members, was adamant.

On March 16 our Senior Staff returned. Many people whose services are usually commandeered by us for election work had not turned up on Monday (March 16) after the government declared it a holiday because of COVID-19. They pleaded with us to tell the government to move the dates back. Commission Member Nalin Abeysekere and I agreed, but Member/Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya refused. He argued that if we postponed elections the people would panic just as they had panicked when that day, Monday, had been declared a holiday for COVID-19.

After much argument on March 16, it was agreed that April 25 for the poll was impossible, but that the Commission had no power to postpone nominations. Only the President could do that by cancelling his own gazette announcement, but Mr. Deshapriya was insisting that April 25 is possible. It seemed that he was afraid to disagree with the President.

Continue reading ‘Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya was Adamant That Elections Should be Held on April 25th Without Being Put Off Because He Seemed Afraid to Disagree With President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’ »

Public finance in times of crisis: The constitutional functions of President and Parliament

By Asanga Welikala and Suren Fernando

The potentially major economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic the world over reminds us that, even in more normal times, the raising and spending of public money is a matter that has serious constitutional implications in democracies. Every constitutional democracy recognises that the Executive leads in a time of crisis, but every constitutional democracy also steadfastly holds that it is the Legislature that controls public money.

There are two central principles that ensure the accountability at the heart of the democratic ideal. The first is that the Executive cannot raise or spend a cent of public money without the prior approval of the Legislature. Thus, both the policies of the Government that involve the expenditure of public funds, and the plans and laws for imposing the taxes through which those moneys are raised, must first be approved by Parliament.

Parliamentary approval is usually signified by the annual Appropriation Act, although other legislation and procedures also provide a legal basis for Government expenditure. The second principle, which flows from the first, is that the Legislature must have the power to oversee public spending, and to ensure that the Executive adheres to the taxing and spending plans that the Legislature has approved.

Both these critical principles are clearly reflected in the Constitution of Sri Lanka (see Articles 148-152), underpinning the whole framework of the relationship between the Executive and Parliament in ensuring our system of democratic accountability. There are, however, limited exceptions.

Continue reading ‘Public finance in times of crisis: The constitutional functions of President and Parliament’ »

Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) to Challenge in the Supreme Court the Arbitrary Decision by President Gotabaya to Release Convicted Murderer Sunil Ratnayake by way of a Presidential Pardon


The Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) yesterday said it would challenge the President’s decision to release a convicted murderer by way of a Presidential pardon in the Supreme Court and said such actions called into question the manner in which 34 (1) of the Constitution was being used by an individual arbitrarily without proper review.

CPRP Chairman Attorney-at- Law Senaka Perera said the ad hoc manner in which Presidential pardons were granted in the country without any form of transparency undermined the Judiciary as well as people’s faith in the judicial system.

Former Army Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake, who was sentenced to death for the murder of eight Tamil Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in December 2000, was granted a Presidential pardon on Thursday.

Continue reading ‘Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) to Challenge in the Supreme Court the Arbitrary Decision by President Gotabaya to Release Convicted Murderer Sunil Ratnayake by way of a Presidential Pardon’ »

The COVID -19 Crisis Will Not Be Over Soon: Sri Lankan Political Leaders Need to Explain This to Our People and Prepare Every One For the Long Haul.


By Dr Ravi P. Rannan-Eliya

The current lock-down – not only here but affecting two billion people around the world – should make it clear to everyone how serious COVID-19 is. What many still do not appreciate is that closing our ports and even a one month lockdown will not make the problem go away.

Let me be clear first about the good news – we appear on track to control the current surge in cases. So far almost all cases are linked to foreign arrivals, and there is little or no community transmission in Sri Lanka.

When we get through this lockdown, life will not return to normal for at least the next 12 months. Our political leaders need to explain this, to prepare everyone for a long slog. To adapt the words of Winston Churchill at a similar moment, defeating the current surge would not be the end. It would not even be the beginning of the end. But it might be, perhaps, the end of the beginning. In the absence of any effort to trust the public with what the long term strategy is, I provide an expert assessment of prospects.

There are five key facts you need to know to understand the future.

Continue reading ‘The COVID -19 Crisis Will Not Be Over Soon: Sri Lankan Political Leaders Need to Explain This to Our People and Prepare Every One For the Long Haul.’ »

Text of statement signed by 22 organisations across the country, condemning the release of convicted death row prisoner and mass murderer, former Army Staff Sergeant R. M. Sunil Rathnayake, by way of a Presidential Pardon.

(Text of statement signed by 22 organisations across the country, condemning the release of convicted death row prisoner and mass murderer, former Army Staff Sergeant R. M. Sunil Rathnayake, by way of a Presidential Pardon)

On March 26, 2020, President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa granted a presidential pardon and released convicted death row prisoner and mass murderer, former Army Staff Sergeant R. M. Sunil Rathnayake. While the country is on lockdown due to COVID-19, the President has seized this opportunity to deal a lethal blow to the rule of law to show that military perpetrators of heinous crimes will be given cover at the highest level despite the rulings of the Supreme Court the highest court in our land. In pardoning Ratnayake, the President has given his blessing to a cold-blooded killer who murdered a five-year-old child and seven other innocent civilians.

The story of the civilian murders in Mirusuvil goes back to twenty years – on December 19 2000, nine Tamils civilians – including three teenagers and a five-year old child – travelled from Udipiddy to Mirusuvil, a village 16 miles from Jaffna town, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. These persons were among those displaced from Mirusuvil due to the civil war who were resettled in a camp at Udupitty. Displaced family members used to obtain permission from the Sri Lankan Army to visit their homes. But on this day, those who visited their village never returned. It soon emerged that eight of the nine were killed by the Sri Lankan Army.

Continue reading ‘Text of statement signed by 22 organisations across the country, condemning the release of convicted death row prisoner and mass murderer, former Army Staff Sergeant R. M. Sunil Rathnayake, by way of a Presidential Pardon.’ »

Sri Lankan Author Sunila Galappati Launches an Online Journal to Collate Stories about Life During the “Coronavirus” Lockdown; Over 30 Entries so Far From Many Countries Including U.K., India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Portugal, Germany, Sri Lanka and Australia.

By

Meera Srinivasan

“How did you Kashmiris survive the lockdown for six months?” Almost everyone who met or called Nurat Maqbool after the ‘Janata Curfew’ last Sunday asked her, according to an account she wrote in the ‘Lockdown Journal’, an online platform launched by a Colombo-based editor-writer to record stories of the lockdown worldwide in the time of the COVID-19 crisis.

Kashmiris have seen lockdowns “every other week for the last three decades”. But this one, which she experienced in Bengaluru, was not the same. “The lockdown was there [in Kashmir] but it was for a small area and the rest of the world was happy and thriving. Sometimes all of that gives you hope that things will be better for you as well. But in the lockdown of the world, there is no escape,” she wrote on March 22 in the journal.

The journal [lockdownjournal.com], launched by Sunila Galappatti, went live on March 20, and has over 30 entries so far, including from the U.K., India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Portugal, Germany, Sri Lanka and Australia.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Author Sunila Galappati Launches an Online Journal to Collate Stories about Life During the “Coronavirus” Lockdown; Over 30 Entries so Far From Many Countries Including U.K., India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Portugal, Germany, Sri Lanka and Australia.’ »

“Freeing a soldier convicted for massacre dashes hopes for accountability in Sri Lanka” – The Hindu

(Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Hindu” of March 30 2020 Under the Heading “Political pardon: On Sri Lankan soldier’s release”)

The grant of presidential pardon, on Thursday, to a Sri Lankan soldier on death row for murdering eight Tamil villagers has sparked justified outrage among those who have been demanding justice from the state for past crimes.

Far from helping the cause of accountability for war-time atrocities, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has gone the other way to nullify a rare instance of justice being ensured by Sri Lanka’s judicial system.

Continue reading ‘“Freeing a soldier convicted for massacre dashes hopes for accountability in Sri Lanka” – The Hindu’ »

Sri Lanka’s First Coronavirus Victim’s Body Cremated at Kotikawatte Crematorium Under Supervision of Judicial Medical Officer and Public Health Inspectors in Accordance with International Health Requirements


The body of Sri Lanka’s first coronavirus victim, Elangampedige Dharmasiri Janananda, was cremated at the Kotikawatta crematorium yesterday afternoon. The 60-year-old man was a resident of Marawila. He was undergoing treatment at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, at the time of his death.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s First Coronavirus Victim’s Body Cremated at Kotikawatte Crematorium Under Supervision of Judicial Medical Officer and Public Health Inspectors in Accordance with International Health Requirements’ »

Covid-19 does not recognize party color, ethnicity, race, ideology, age, gender, sexual preferences or religious faith.Covid-19 is our COMMON ENEMY.

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

Nations are best tested in times of crisis. This is when our humanity should rise over self-interest and when all differences should be put aside. This is when intellect, indefatigable energy, absolute resoluteness and the courage and conviction to stand up and be counted all come together. This is when populations are united into nations. This is when an aggregate of individuals become a community. This is the moment of the team.

In other words, Covid-19 has created a crisis which has to be dealt with collectively or not at all. When an infected person conceals the fact, it is criminal. When individuals act on their own steam, even with the best of intentions, it can make matters worse. Needless to say when anyone tries to make capital out of a crisis it is absolutely disgraceful, whether it is someone trying to exploit vulnerability to make a quick buck or a politician trying to get an edge over rivals.

At times like this it is tempting for the Opposition to complain that what needs to be done is not being done, go into a prescriptive mode and even rant and rave. But this is not the time to quibble over trivialities. There’s a difference between politically motivated tirades and constructive criticism. The opposition needs to remain supportive of the government until the crisis has passed.

Continue reading ‘Covid-19 does not recognize party color, ethnicity, race, ideology, age, gender, sexual preferences or religious faith.Covid-19 is our COMMON ENEMY.’ »

After Corona and Curfew: A Soft Landing, ‘Herd Immunity’ and an Easter Memorial


By

Darini Rajasingham Senanayake

Them belly full but we hungry
A hungry mob is an angry mob
A rain a-fall but the dirt, it tough
A pot a-cook but the food no ‘nough

— Bob Marley and the Wailers


T
he Government of Sri Lanka has yet to respond effectively, rationally, and in a manner that balances the physical and mental well-being of citizens, their livelihoods, and the economy, as well as, democratic rights such as to information, with available in-country data on Covid 19.

An indefinite and economically crippling curfew, now in its 8th day, has been imposed on the entire country and citizenry, indiscriminately, with little information provided and less logic, if the data and numbers of Covid 19 cases in the island nation are an indication.

In a country of 22 million, there have been 109 cases with many recoveries and NO deaths – so far – due to the superb efforts of frontline health workers. Many of the Covid 19 cases in Sri Lanka were tourists and those returned from abroad. Yet unlike in badly Covid 19 hit UK or the US where despite the crisis, food and grocery stores were open and people encouraged and able to go out for daily exercise, Sri Lankan citizens are under continuous curfew.

The softer notion of “social distance” is less used. Those who venture out for food or exercise – which may also boost their immune systems to withstand the virus- risk arrest and/ or their vehicles being confiscated in Sri Lanka. Super markets and corner shops where people may buy food have been shut indefinitely, with many unsure where their next meal may come from. Only the State Pharmacies, Osu Salas, are open at this time, although transmission of the Covid 19 virus appears relatively low and the illness appears to mutate to relatively mild in hot and humid Sri Lanka, similar to data from other tropical regions of the world. Those who may have colds and coughs meanwhile fear stigma

Continue reading ‘After Corona and Curfew: A Soft Landing, ‘Herd Immunity’ and an Easter Memorial’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Who is Himself Accused of Ordering Alleged War Crimes Instructs Justice Ministry To Release Soldier Convicted Over Murder of Eight Tamil Civilians

By Maria Abi-Habib and Dharisha Bastians

Sri Lanka’s president has pardoned a soldier who was sentenced to death for killing eight civilians during the country’s civil war, leading to accusations that the government was taking advantage of the chaos from the coronavirus pandemic to free a wartime ally accused of atrocities.

The pardon reverses one of the very few convictions from the 26-year civil war, during which dozens of militants and military officers were accused of war crimes. The pardoned soldier, former Staff Sgt. Sunil Ratnayake, was sentenced in 2015 for blindfolding eight civilians from the Tamil ethnic group, slitting their throats and dumping their bodies into a sewer in 2000. Three of the victims were children.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Who is Himself Accused of Ordering Alleged War Crimes Instructs Justice Ministry To Release Soldier Convicted Over Murder of Eight Tamil Civilians’ »

Government persistence to downplay the severity of the Coronavirus crisis to presidential pardons of those convicted for cold blooded murder.does not bode well for the future

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

A global health pandemic is not the time for political upmanship. It is also the worst time to engage in fragrant violations of justice in the exploitative belief that the uproar therein would be muted when the citizenry is in survivalist mode. At any point, this would be abhorrent but to do so during a pandemic speaks to a special kind of contempt towards the Rule of Law.

Classic examples of criminal foolishness

On both these counts, this Presidency and this Government needs to be held to account by the nation even as Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented public health emergency. In fact, on the first count, there are uncanny similarities between the United States’s bellicose President Donald Trump bellowing abuse at beleagured Governors requesting urgent federal support for hospitals and hospital staff under siege by the surging number of covid-19 cases and our own Ministers whose trumpted claims that Sri Lanka is poised to be a role model for tackling this pandemic is a classic example of criminal foolishness.

Let us be clear about this. If election priorities had not dominated the mindset of this Government earlier in the month, preventative measures would have been taken much earlier. This is amply borne out by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s proclaimation during the recent teleconference with SAARC leaders, that there will be no postponement of the national polls from its due date (25th April) which position was then reversed scarcely a week later by the Elections Commission as the covid-19 virus took its hold on the population.

Continue reading ‘Government persistence to downplay the severity of the Coronavirus crisis to presidential pardons of those convicted for cold blooded murder.does not bode well for the future’ »

First Death From COVID -19 Reported in Sri Lanka as 60 Year Old Male From Marawila Placed Under Ventilator at NIID in Angoda Passes Away on Mar 28; Another 59 Year Old Male From Punkudutheevu Succumbs to Corona Virus in Switzerland on Mar 25

By Kumudini Hettiarachchi, Ruqyyaha Deane & Meleeza Rathnayake

Sri Lanka reported its first death from COVID-19 at around 8 p.m. yesterday Mar 28), the victim being a 60-year-old male who had other complications.

The patient from Marawila was among three who were on ventilators at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), Angoda, and Health Services Director-General Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that this patient who had undergone a kidney transplant a few years ago, was also suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Continue reading ‘First Death From COVID -19 Reported in Sri Lanka as 60 Year Old Male From Marawila Placed Under Ventilator at NIID in Angoda Passes Away on Mar 28; Another 59 Year Old Male From Punkudutheevu Succumbs to Corona Virus in Switzerland on Mar 25’ »

Sri Lanka’s Presidential pardon of former Army officer for killing of Tamil civilians is unacceptable -International Commission of Jurists

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pardoned Former Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake who was convicted in 2015 for the murder of eight Tamil civilians, including three children, in Mirusuvil in April 2000. The conviction and death sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 2019.

The International Commission of Jurists(ICJ) said that the pardon cast serious doubt upon the Government’s commitment to accountability and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.

While the ICJ welcomes the lifting of the death sentence, the full pardon and extinguishment of serious punishment constitutes a blow to the victims of these violations.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Presidential pardon of former Army officer for killing of Tamil civilians is unacceptable -International Commission of Jurists’ »

Sri Lankan Returnees From Italy Pose Huge Problems For Authorities Battling to Combat COVID -19 Pandemic Threat

By P.K.Balachandran

Italy has been identified as the predominant source of COVID-19 infection in Sri Lanka. No wonder then that the Lankan government has imposed an indefinite curfew in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara where most returnees from Italy reside.
🇮🇹 🇱🇰
Italy is one of three countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 24, Italy reported 602 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,077 with the tally of cases rising to 63,928.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Italy has been home to a large number of immigrants from Sri Lanka, both legal and illegal, since the 1980s. Many of the returnees in recent weeks could be illegal migrants on whom the State does not have adequate records. Identifying them, tracing them and examining them for the symptoms of the virus and treating or quarantining them pose a major challenge to the authorities.

On Wednesday the police sought public support to identify at least 12 persons who had failed to undergo quarantine on their arrival from Italy recently. There are reasons to suspect that the arrivals who have played truant are illegal migrants who had come back.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Returnees From Italy Pose Huge Problems For Authorities Battling to Combat COVID -19 Pandemic Threat’ »

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Troubled by reports that the convicted perpetrator of the Mirusuvil massacre, in Sri Lanka, has received a Presidential Pardon and was released from jail this week.

Press briefing note on Sri Lanka

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville

Location: Geneva

Date: 27 March 2020

Subject: Sri Lanka

We are troubled by reports that the convicted perpetrator of the Mirusuvil massacre, in Sri Lanka, has received a Presidential Pardon and was released from jail this week.

Former Army sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was sentenced in 2015 for the murder in 2000 of eight civilians, including a five-year-old child, after more than a decade long trial. Five defendants were brought to trial but only Sgt Ratnayake was convicted. The conviction was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in May 2019.

Continue reading ‘UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Troubled by reports that the convicted perpetrator of the Mirusuvil massacre, in Sri Lanka, has received a Presidential Pardon and was released from jail this week.’ »

Govt Must Consider Enforcing a Lockdown Without a Curfew Where People Can Go Out Of Their Homes For Essential Services and to Purchase Basic Necessities Observing Strict Health Guidelines and Social Distancing

By

Aneetha Warusavitarana

On 12 March the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the new coronavirus, COVID-19, to be a pandemic. With cases in Sri Lanka reaching over 100, the Government of Sri Lanka has taken several measures to prevent the spread of this disease. One such measure was enforcing an island-wide curfew.

The risks posed by COVID-19 to the health and safety of our population is considerable, and measures to prevent the congregation of people and the spread of the disease are commendable. A lockdown may certainly be warranted, yet a highly restrictive and prolonged curfew may prove to be counterproductive.

As witnessed on Tuesday 24 March, the short window given for basic necessities such as groceries, medicine, and other supplies proved to be not only inadequate but counterproductive to the objective of imposing a curfew in the first place.

Continue reading ‘Govt Must Consider Enforcing a Lockdown Without a Curfew Where People Can Go Out Of Their Homes For Essential Services and to Purchase Basic Necessities Observing Strict Health Guidelines and Social Distancing’ »

UNP Colombo District Candidate Oshala Herath Files Writ Petition in Supreme Court Seeking Interim Order Against Sajith Pemadasa and Ranjith Maddumabandara Telling General Public That They are the Chairman and Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking an Interim Order preventing former Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and Ranjith Maddumabandara from holding out to the general public that they are the Chairman and Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya party.

Oshala Herath who is contesting in the upcoming General Election under the UNP ticket (Colombo District) has filed this writ petition through Attorney-at-law Manjula Balasuriya.

Continue reading ‘UNP Colombo District Candidate Oshala Herath Files Writ Petition in Supreme Court Seeking Interim Order Against Sajith Pemadasa and Ranjith Maddumabandara Telling General Public That They are the Chairman and Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya’ »

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Arbitrary Act Conveys “Extremely worrying Message that military Perpetrators of Horrific Crimes, Even if Convicted Through a Court of Law, Will be Pardoned and Released” Says Amnesty International


Where accountability is so rare for serious human rights violations in Sri Lanka, the government’s arbitrary decision to release Sergeant Rathnayaka sends an extremely worrying message said Amnesty International’s Regional Director for South Asia, Biraj Patnaik,Responding to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to release Sergeant Sunil Rathnayaka.

The pardon comes at a time when there are public calls to ease prison crowding by releasing prisoners held for, amongst others, petty crimes and those who are unable to meet bail conditions, to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Sgt. Sunil Rathnayaka

Amnesty International is also concerned by any further decisions along the same lines as pledged by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his election campaign.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Arbitrary Act Conveys “Extremely worrying Message that military Perpetrators of Horrific Crimes, Even if Convicted Through a Court of Law, Will be Pardoned and Released” Says Amnesty International’ »

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Pardons and Releases Soldier On Death Row for Killing Eight Tamil Civilians Including a Child and Two Teen-agers while Justice,Human Rights and Legal Reforms Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva says “Constitutionally Mandated Procedure for Pardon was Followed”.


By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday pardoned and released an Army man who was on death row for killing eight Tamil civilians, including a five-year-old and two teenagers, in 2000 during the civil war.

“The President has instructed the Ministry of Justice to release Sgt Ratnayake from prison,” a spokeswoman at the Presidential Media Division said.

In 2015, Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was convicted for the killings in Mirusuvil, Jaffna Peninsula, and sentenced to death.

In 2019, the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence.

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Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance condemns pardon of murder convict

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka’s main party representing Tamils of the north and east, condemned President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to pardon and release an Army officer who was on death row for killing eight Tamil civilians — including a 5-year-old and two teenagers— in 2000 during the civil war.

“If true, we condemn the opportunistic action of Prez @GotabayaR under guise of dealing with the issue of prisoners at a time like this. This is one case in which a person was actually convicted. Other cases weren’t even prosecuted or were acquitted,” the TNA tweeted.

Sri Lanka has been on a near-total lockdown and enforced curfew for a week now, with a total of 104 COVID-19 patients reported so far.

In 2015, Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was tried before a three-member bench at the Colombo High Court. He was convicted for the murder in Mirusuvil, Jaffna Peninsula, and sentenced to death. In 2019, the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and the sentence.


Rare instance

The case is widely cited as a rare instance of accountability, amid lingering concerns over impunity for war-crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war.

Issuing a statement, rights watchdog Amnesty International said using the pandemic as an opportunity to release those convicted for heinous crimes is reprehensible. “Victims have a right to justice, and Sri Lanka has an obligation to ensure that justice is done.

Semblance of justice

After many long years, the victims of the Mirusuvil massacre from 2000 finally got a semblance of justice in 2015. It is despicable to have that justice reversed through an arbitrary executive decision,” Amnesty regional director Biraj Patnaik said.

Asked to comment on the Presidential pardon, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Legal Reforms, said a report had been called from his Ministry. “The final decision is with the President. He can overrule anything. He has the absolute power to grant pardon, no one can question him,” he told The Hindu, adding that the constitutionally mandated procedure for the pardon was followed.

M.A. Sumanthiran, former Jaffna MP and a senior lawyer, said the executive pardon in the “rarest of rare cases” that ended in a conviction confirms that the Sri Lankan state “will never” exercise accountability for war-time atrocities.

“All the institutions of the state will eventually conspire together and let the offenders go free,” he told The Hindu.

Courtesy:The Hindu

TNA Spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran Strongly Condemns the Presidential Pardon Given to Ex-Army Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake Who was Sentenced to Death for Killing in Cold Blood Eight Tamil Civilians Including a Child at Mirusuvil in the Northern Province

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesperson and former MP, M.A.Sumanthiran, has reacted sharply to the Presidential pardon given on Thursday to Sri Lankan Army Sergeant R M Sunil Rathnayake, who was sentenced to death for killing in cold blood, eight Tamil captives including a child at Mirusuvil in Tamil-speaking North Lanka in 2000.

Sumanthiran pointed out that it was only in May 2017 that a five-member bench of the Supreme Court had confirmed the death sentence passed against Rathnayake by a three-member bench of the Colombo High Court in 2015.

MA Sumanthiran

“If there had been no case against Rathnayake two courts of such strength would not have passed the death sentence against him,” Sumanthiran pointed out. “It was a clear case of cold-blooded murder,” he asserted.

However, the pardon was expected, Sumanthiran said.

Continue reading ‘TNA Spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran Strongly Condemns the Presidential Pardon Given to Ex-Army Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake Who was Sentenced to Death for Killing in Cold Blood Eight Tamil Civilians Including a Child at Mirusuvil in the Northern Province’ »

Ex – Army Staff Sgt Sunil Ratnayake Who was Sentenced to Death for Murdering Eight Tamil Civilians in Mirusuvil in 2000 and Whose Conviction was Upheld by the Supreme Court is Released From Prison on Presidential Clemency Issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Former Army Staff Sergeant R.M. Sunil Ratnayake who was convicted and sentenced to death for the Mirusuvil murder case of 2000 has been released from Welikada Prison after he received a Presidential Clemency.

R.M. Sunil Ratnayake, a staff sergeant attached to Sri Lanka Army was sentenced to death by Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar bench on June 25, 2015 after he was found guilty of murdering eight civilians at Mirusuvil in Jaffna on December 19, 2000.

Continue reading ‘Ex – Army Staff Sgt Sunil Ratnayake Who was Sentenced to Death for Murdering Eight Tamil Civilians in Mirusuvil in 2000 and Whose Conviction was Upheld by the Supreme Court is Released From Prison on Presidential Clemency Issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’ »

Farmers to be Encouraged to cultivate vegetables as well as paddy, maize, undu, green gram, cowpea and kurakkan in a bid to Boost Stable Food Production

(Text of Press Release Issued by the President’s Media Division)

In order to prevent uncontrolled gathering of people at market places amidst effort to combat COVID – 19, a special mechanism has been established to deliver essential food items to homes. This will be implemented through a local system in collaboration with Cooperative Societies and super market chains, Head of the Presidential Task on Continuous Supply, Operation and Coordination of Services that are essential to maintain the day to day life in the battle against COVID- 19, Basil Rajapaksa said.

The entire process should be in line with the Corona control initiatives carried out by the health sector. It is imperative to maintain the day to day life of the public. Steps have been taken to distribute food items while protecting domestic farmers and the national economy.

Continue reading ‘Farmers to be Encouraged to cultivate vegetables as well as paddy, maize, undu, green gram, cowpea and kurakkan in a bid to Boost Stable Food Production’ »

Former Minister Mangala Samataweera Issues Hard-hitting Statement Flaying President Gotabaya and Rajapaksa Govt for Delaying Postponement of Elections Until After the Nomination Process was Over and For Not Re-convening Parliament

In a statement issued yesterday, former Parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera criticised President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the present Government for failing to postpone the upcoming General Election until after nominations had been submitted, calling the nominations process and associated activity “a great public health hazard” that went ahead despite the rest of the nation being advised to stay at home. He also took the present administration to task for failing to reconvene Parliament, terming this “the gravest error of all.”

The full text of Samaraweera’s statement is reproduced below:

Sri Lankans have lived through countless crises. Civil wars, insurgencies, constitutional coups droughts and famines are but a few examples. Yet, even for the most seasoned among us, these are testing times. The entire nation – now in lockdown – is anxious. We are worried for our loved ones. We stress that our provisions will not last till the next time curfew is lifted. We fear that we will contract the virus when we set out. Day-earners, in particular, dread that their money will run out before the crisis ends.

Continue reading ‘Former Minister Mangala Samataweera Issues Hard-hitting Statement Flaying President Gotabaya and Rajapaksa Govt for Delaying Postponement of Elections Until After the Nomination Process was Over and For Not Re-convening Parliament’ »

Rajapaksa Govt Sets Up Special Task Force Headed by Basil Rajapaksa to Coordinate and Supervise Scheme to Deliver Essential Consumer Items Directly to Households in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara Districts

(Text of a Press Release Issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa”s Media Division)

Districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kaluthara have been identified as high risk zones in view of the spread of COVID-19.

Large crowds in shops had been observed after curfew was lifted this morning in three districts. Health officials fear that this in turn could lead to a wider and faster spread of the virus.

Therefore, the Government has directed wholesale dealers to deliver essential consumer goods to the doorstep of each household until the situation is brought under control.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Govt Sets Up Special Task Force Headed by Basil Rajapaksa to Coordinate and Supervise Scheme to Deliver Essential Consumer Items Directly to Households in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara Districts’ »

Influx of Coronavirus Disrupts SLPP Plans to Secure a Two-thirds Majority in 2020 Parliamentary Elections But Divided UNP Wont Be Able to Benefit Either

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Coronavirus aka Covid-19 has delivered a deadly blow to the high profile Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s (SLPP) bid to secure a parliamentary majority required to repeal the controversial 19th Amendment or bring in far reaching amendments to it. Throughout the 2019 presidential campaign and after, the SLPP, and those aligned with it, repeatedly vowed to either do away or amend the 19th Amendment.

The SLPP needs a staggering two-thirds majority, at the next parliamentary poll, to achieve its primary objective.

The UNP enacted the 19th Amendment, with the overwhelming backing of the SLFP, in early 2015. Addressing constitutional problems caused by the 19th Amendment had been the SLPP’s top priority though its members voted for it at the behest of the then President Maithripala Sirisena. But, the postponement of the parliamentary election appeared to have caused quite a setback.

Election Commission (EC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, on Thursday, March 19, blamed Covid-19 for indefinite postponement of the parliamentary election, originally scheduled for April 25th.

Continue reading ‘Influx of Coronavirus Disrupts SLPP Plans to Secure a Two-thirds Majority in 2020 Parliamentary Elections But Divided UNP Wont Be Able to Benefit Either’ »

Callous and Irresponsible Attitude of the Rajapaksa Government was Reflected in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s National Address on the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Saman Gunadasa and K.Ratnayake

Two prisoners were killed and six more injured on Saturday when guards opened fire during unrest at Anuradhapura Prison in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province. One of those shot died at the prison, which is about 200 kilometres from Colombo, while the other died in hospital.

Citing the coronavirus threat, Sri Lankan prison authorities imposed a ban on all visitors on March 18. Committee for the Protection of Prisoners President Senaka Perera told the media that the Anuradhapura prisoners were angry over the poor-quality food supplied by the authorities since the bans.

Perera said that Sri Lankan prisons are so congested that, in some cases, 5,000 inmates are crammed into facilities meant to accommodate 800 people.

According to brief media reports, tensions also rose last week inside Kegalle jail after rumours spread that a coronavirus-infected individual had been brought to the prison.

Anuradhapura prisoners began protesting on Saturday morning after they heard that four inmates had been infected with coronavirus. Authorities claimed they opened fire when some prisoners tried to escape. It is not yet clear whether prison guards or Special Task Force police fired on the unarmed inmates. Army personnel have been deployed near the prison since Saturday night.

Continue reading ‘Callous and Irresponsible Attitude of the Rajapaksa Government was Reflected in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s National Address on the COVID-19 Pandemic’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Sets Up Special Fund to Strengthen Efforts in Combatting the Coronavirus Threat Under the Name “COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund” With Bank of Ceylon Acct No 85737373.

(Text of Press Release Issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Media Division Under the Heading “Special Fund to combat COVID – 19 established by President”)

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had set up a special fund to strengthen the mitigation activities aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country and related social welfare programmes.

The Fund is named “COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund”.
President Rajapaksa has instructed to donate Rs. 100 million from the President’s Fund for this purpose.

A special account had been opened at the Corporate Branch of the Bank of Ceylon under the account number of 85737373.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Sets Up Special Fund to Strengthen Efforts in Combatting the Coronavirus Threat Under the Name “COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund” With Bank of Ceylon Acct No 85737373.’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa of Trying to Sabotage the Campaign Against Spread of Coronavirus by Raising Legal Arguments Aimed at Blocking Fund Allocations by Govt

(Text of a Media Release Issued by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Under the Heading ” A dastardly attempt to use legal arguments to block government finances and sabotage the anti-Coronavirus campaign”)

On the day that a countrywide curfew was declared to prevent the spread of Coronavirus – Friday the 20th March 2020 – UNP Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe issued a media release stating that the previous government led by him had not passed a Budget for 2020 but that they had passed only a Vote on Account which would last till the 30th April 2020. He contends that therefore, after the 30th of April 2020, the present government would not have the legal right to allocate funds for any purpose whatsoever. Former opposition leader Sajith Premadasa has also been repeatedly making the same assertion via the social media.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa of Trying to Sabotage the Campaign Against Spread of Coronavirus by Raising Legal Arguments Aimed at Blocking Fund Allocations by Govt’ »

From the Depths of Despair to Heady Heights of Happiness: Uphill Struggle of Popular Singer Jothipala

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sinhala cinema’s super star Gamini Fonseka once described H.R. Jothipala as a playback singer “who sang to joy, emotion and grief, the three essential areas in film songs”. In an excerpted interview published in these columns a fortnight ago, Gamini stated forthrightly: “Of all singers, H.R. Jothipala is exclusive. He has come to stay. As long as the island – Sri Lanka – exists in the world map, Jothipala will never die.”

The full impact of Gamini Fonseka’s assessment about the immortality of Jothipala the singer and his songs hit me over the past few weeks after I had written the first part of the article on Jothi for ‘Spotlight’.

HR Jothipala

During the first week, I received several mails from people thanking me for the article. Some said they were looking forward to the second part. When the article did not appear last week, I got a second lot of mails querying as to why the second part did not appear. Several people requested that the article on Jothi should be continued.
Continue reading ‘From the Depths of Despair to Heady Heights of Happiness: Uphill Struggle of Popular Singer Jothipala’ »

HR Jothipala Like TM Soundararajan Modulated His Singing To Suit The Actors he Sang For On Screen

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Poruthukeesi Karaya, Ratawal Allanna Sooraya,” the lilting Baila song from ‘Sandesaya’ was the first Sinhala film song that I became immensely fond of as a little boy.

HR Jothipala and TM Soundararajan

I did not see the film ‘Sandesaya’ when it was first released in 1960 but I memorised the words by listening to the song and sang it with gusto those days. It was only some years later that I saw the film made by Maestro Lester James Peries in a cinema theatre and relished the ‘Poruthukeesi Karaya’ song and dance on screen. Sadly the film ‘Sandesaya’ is lost forever but some song sequences including ‘Poruthukeesi Karaya’ are available on YouTube and still provide much pleasure.

‘Poruthukeesi Karaya’

The words of ‘Poruthukeesi Karaya’ were written by Arisen Ahubudu who was a teacher at S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia. He was known by the name of Ariyasena Arsuboda when I was a student at the school by the sea. The melody was composed by the renowned musical genius Sunil Santha. The orchestra was conducted by the legendary R. Muttusamy known as “Muttusamy Master” who modified Sunil Santha’s original tune slightly. The main singer H.R. Jothipala was accompanied by Sydney Artigala. Some of the lines were sung alternately by both. Singers Mohideen Baig, Ivor Dennis and a few others joined in the chorus.
Continue reading ‘HR Jothipala Like TM Soundararajan Modulated His Singing To Suit The Actors he Sang For On Screen’ »

Corona Virus Threat Spreads to Northern Sri Lanka Due to Visit by COVID 19 Infected Pastor From Switzerland:Govt Imposes Curfew on All Five Districts in Province To Trace Persons Who Face Potential Health Risk Due to Interaction with Swiss Pastor

The Sri Lankan government is looking for persons in the Northern Province who may have interacted with a coronavirus infected pastor who had come from Switzerland and toured the province.

Until everyone who had interacted with the said pastor has been identified and tested, people from the districts of Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Jaffna will not be allowed to leave their districts, the Presidential Media Division said in a press release on Sunday.

Continue reading ‘Corona Virus Threat Spreads to Northern Sri Lanka Due to Visit by COVID 19 Infected Pastor From Switzerland:Govt Imposes Curfew on All Five Districts in Province To Trace Persons Who Face Potential Health Risk Due to Interaction with Swiss Pastor’ »

The Ten Commandments (Beginning With “P”) For Tackling The COVID-19 Pandemic

By Prof. Ajantha Dharmasiri

Overview

It is a clarion call for all communities to collaborate in the name of humanity. It is needless to stress the mature adult response we need to demonstrate in taking care of ourselves and others with sound hygienic practices. We need to be socially conscious about the dire economic downturn globally, regionally and locally. Let us endeavour to empathise with suffering thousands around the globe and energise ourselves to sustain our spirit during a challenging era of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity). Perhaps, as Bill George suggests, it’s high time we embraced VUCA 2.0 (Vision, Understanding, Compassion and Agility).

A commandment can be viewed as an authoritative direction or instruction to do something. In the context of COVID-19, this direction may come from leaders of an organisation or a nation. Also, in a broader sense, it can be viewed as a set of guidelines for effectively tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. In essence, it is a managerial perspective with regard to leadership actions much needed to ensure solid performance towards protecting the masses. Let’s look at what they possibly are.

One: Thou Shalt Be Positive

The biggest causality in the face of a pandemic is the positivity. Fear engulfs human hearts and minds. Instead of being fearful, what is needed is to be faithful to our valued spiritual traditions. As Spenser Johnson says in his much famous fable, ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’, when you go through and overcome fear, you feel free. Being positive does not mean that you undermine the dangers of a disastrous pandemic. It is to have a determined mindset seeing the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Being positive invites us to be purposeful. Committing ourselves cheerfully what needs to be done even in the face of a gruesome disaster is what it requires. There is a whole heap of knowledge available in the area of positive psychology. It is not a pleasurable life that we strive to have but a purposeful life. Aristotle affirmed it in stating that what we need to focus should be on eudaimonia (flourishing) rather than hedonia (pleasure).

Continue reading ‘The Ten Commandments (Beginning With “P”) For Tackling The COVID-19 Pandemic’ »

Popular Tamil Film Actor, Script Writer, Director and TV Talk Show Host MR Viswanathan Known as Visu Passes Away age of 75 in Chennai

Visu ~ (Jul 1, 1945 – March 22, 2020)

Tamil actor, writer, and director Meenakshisundaram Ramasamy Viswanathan, popularly known as Visu, passed away in Chennai on Sunday. He was 75. The actor had reportedly been suffering from age-related health issues.

Visu started his career on the stage, working with theatre artiste YG Parathasarathy’s drama troupe. He began writing scripts for stage, before shifting to the film industry as an assistant director to K Balachandar. Visu wrote scripts and dialogues for the director’s films. This period of collaboration saw Visu writing the script for the Rajinikanth-starrer Thillu Mullu, in which he also has a cameo.

Meenakshisundaram Ramasamy Viswanathanl – Visu

Continue reading ‘Popular Tamil Film Actor, Script Writer, Director and TV Talk Show Host MR Viswanathan Known as Visu Passes Away age of 75 in Chennai’ »

Two Killed and Several Injured in Firing by Police Special Task Force Riot Control Unit on Inmates of Anuradhapura Jail as Protest by Prisoners Allegedky Spirals Out of Control Leading to Attempted Escape

By Skandha Gunasekara

Two inmates were killed and several others hospitalised after Police opened fire to control a riot within the Anuradhapura Prison yesterday (21), with unconfirmed reports indicating that the prisoners were protesting the housing of an inmate who was infected with Covid-19.

Police Spokesman SP Jaliya Seneratne told The Sunday Morning that inmates had staged a riot by starting a fire within the prison.

He said that as the situation had spiralled out of control, authorities had been compelled to open fire to regain control.

“The inmates were wreaking havoc within the prison to the point they attempted to escape. Prison officers were forced to shoot and there was one casualty,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Two Killed and Several Injured in Firing by Police Special Task Force Riot Control Unit on Inmates of Anuradhapura Jail as Protest by Prisoners Allegedky Spirals Out of Control Leading to Attempted Escape’ »

Coping With Worry and Anxiety Over the Threat Posed by the Spread of The Coronavirus

By

Carol Goonaratne

You must be experiencing intense emotions of anxiety over the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Don’t overestimate the dangers or underestimate your ability to protect yourself. People of all ages are concerned about the spread and the younger generation is especially feeling anxious about it.

Here are some things you can do:

Normalise anxiety

Anxiety can be healthy, but not all of us know that it can act as a useful and protective emotion. Most kids sometimes fear their heightened nerves signal. They become worried about the fact that they are worried. Being anxious, it alerts us to potential threats and helps us move towards safety. If you are feeling some anxiety due to the virus, you are having the right reaction. What is important is putting that discomfort into useful action. Learning about the virus and following the recommended guidelines is an apt way to start.

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Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s SLPP govt’s Success at the Postponed Parliamentary Election Hinges on its Ability to Overcome Coronavirus Threat to Country

by

Vishvanath

What was being speculated, in political circles, for two weeks or so, has come to pass. The general election, scheduled for 25 April, 2020, has been put off indefinitely, on account of the spread of COVID-19, and the attendant problems.

It is a supreme irony that the SLPP, which used to flay the UNP-led yahapalana government for postponing local government and Provincial Council elections, has had to put of a general election, albeit under different circumstances. It was the UNP-led Opposition that asked for the polls postponement in question, but the irony of it may not be lost on the discerning public.

Legal opinion was divided on the powers of the Election Commission (EC) as regards polls postponements. There were three schools of thought about postponing parliamentary polls. One was that the dissolved Parliament had to be re-convened to resolve that the general election be postponed until the COVID-19 threat was over. A prominent proponent of this view was former Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa, PC, who said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa could facilitate a polls postponement by causing Parliament to meet again by invoking constitutional provisions in respect of Public Security. It was only Parliament that could decide to put off a scheduled general election, he argued.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s SLPP govt’s Success at the Postponed Parliamentary Election Hinges on its Ability to Overcome Coronavirus Threat to Country’ »

Indian PM Narendra Modi’s “Concern” Over Regional Cooperation to Fight Coronavirus, as Pandemic Spreads Across South Asia

By Wasantha Rupasingha

At the urging of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the heads of government of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held a video-conference Sunday with the ostensible aim of developing a “joint strategy” for “combating COVID-19.”

The video-conference, the first time the SAARC leaders have met since 2014, was a sham, a sham made all the more deplorable because the poverty and squalor to which capitalism has condemned the vast majority of South Asia’s 1.9 billion people makes the region exceptionally vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Modi and his BJP government had two main goals at Sunday’s hastily organized video-conference: to use the pandemic to assert the Indian ruling elite’s claim to “regional leadership,” and second, and even more importantly, to distract attention away from their manifest failure to fund and mount a systematic nationwide effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Continue reading ‘Indian PM Narendra Modi’s “Concern” Over Regional Cooperation to Fight Coronavirus, as Pandemic Spreads Across South Asia’ »

Sajith’s Father Ranasinghe Premadasa’s “Citizens Front” Revolt Against UNP Leader Dudley Senanayake

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Gedara Hitiya Rosa Kekula Rosa, Rosa” was the opening line of a lilting Baila song in Sinhala that was hugely popular in the seventies of the last century. The toe-tapping number which became known as the “Rosa ,Rosa” song was from the film “Lasanda” released in 1974.”Lasanda” was based on a story written by former minister T.B.Illangaratne and directed by K.A.W.Perera. The tune of “Rosa,Rosa” was composed by music director Premasiri Khemadasa . The rollicking song-dance sequence was picturized on Dommie Jayawardana, Piyadasa Kulatunga and D.R.Nanayakkara.It was sung by the popular H.R.Jothipala – M.S.Fernando duo. The lyricist was Dharmasiri Gamage.

President Ranasinghe Premadasa

“Rosa, Rosa” had many imitations and adaptations. Some Sri Lankans, possessing a peculiar brand of caustic humour parodied the song to target prominent political personalities.One such person was former Parliamentarian, Cabinet minister, Prime Minister and President Ranasinghe Premadasa.
Continue reading ‘Sajith’s Father Ranasinghe Premadasa’s “Citizens Front” Revolt Against UNP Leader Dudley Senanayake’ »

Sri Lankan government responds to COVID-19 by mobilising the military and helping the financial elite

By Saman Gunadasa

As Sri Lanka’s confirmed coronavirus cases rapidly increase, anxiety is growing amongst the population about the lack of proper healthcare and the impact on jobs and livelihoods.

On Monday evening, government authorities announced that 43 people have been identified as coronavirus infected. Some 212 are currently under observation at several hospitals and more than 4,000 are in quarantine.

Sri Lanka now confronts a situation similar to a partial lock-down. The government of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse announced a four-day holiday this week, beginning Monday, throughout the public sector, with the exception of health and state administrative services. It called on private sector businesses to follow suit. All education institutions will also be closed for more than a month.

A ban was imposed on all in-bound flights yesterday, expanding an earlier decision to cancel flights from 13 European countries and some Asian countries, including South Korea. About 80 short-distance train services have been stopped and yesterday the Colombo Municipal Council closed parks, clinics, sports grounds and libraries for two weeks.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan government responds to COVID-19 by mobilising the military and helping the financial elite’ »

China Extends $ 500 Million Financial Assistance to Sri Lanka For Combatting COVID 19 Threat ; Sri Lankan Finance Ministry and China Development Bank Sign Agreement with “big concessional terms on both interest and tenure” at “Temple Trees”.

By

Meera Srinivasan

China will extend financial assistance amounting to $500 million to Sri Lanka to help the island nation combat COVID19 that has affected 50 persons so far. One patient has recovered, authorities said.

According to a press statement from the Chinese Embassy here, the Finance Ministry of Sri Lanka and the China Development Bank (CDB) on Wednesday signed the agreement, with “big concessional terms on both interest and tenure”, at Temple Trees, the official residence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘China Extends $ 500 Million Financial Assistance to Sri Lanka For Combatting COVID 19 Threat ; Sri Lankan Finance Ministry and China Development Bank Sign Agreement with “big concessional terms on both interest and tenure” at “Temple Trees”.’ »

Parliamentary Elections Should Be Postponed Instead Of Being Held In Five weeks Amidst The On Going Fight Against The COVID -19 Pandemic

By Chandani Kirinde

Handing over of nominations for the Parliamentary Poll closes at noon today(Mar 19) and the country is preparing to hold an election in five weeks despite the unpredictability and scale of the public health crisis the country could be faced with in the coming days.

When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved Parliament on 3 March, there was no warning that COVID-19 would become a global pandemic, but less than three weeks later, it is clear that Sri Lanka’s in the fight against an unlikely enemy for the long run along with the rest of the world.

Except for the ruling party, most other parties are questioning the rationale behind holding an election at a time when medical experts and others in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 have warned large gatherings of people is the one thing that has to be avoided if the spread of the virus is to be curtailed.

We have already seen that it is politicians who have broken this rule the most so far, because without their supporters surrounding them and cheering them on, politicians become insecure. So, unless all campaigning is strictly restricted, only to be done through social media, newspapers, radio or television, there is little that would dissuade politicians and their supporters from gathering in large numbers.

Continue reading ‘Parliamentary Elections Should Be Postponed Instead Of Being Held In Five weeks Amidst The On Going Fight Against The COVID -19 Pandemic’ »

Parliamentary Elections Held Under Current Conditions Would not only Pose a Himalayan Scale National Health Hazard. But Would also be a Travesty in Electoral Democracy.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

It does not take much persuasion to convince someone that holding a countrywide snap parliamentary polls on the eve of a global Coronavirus pandemic is a dangerous idea. More so when the local health officials advocate social distancing. Public gatherings are discouraged. Schools are closed and unnerved public are panic buying. And if the global trend of the rapid spread of the virus is anything, Sri Lanka, now with 18 proven cases (as of yesterday noon) and 1723 returnees from abroad in quarantine is bound for a leap in the patients and a looming health emergency.

Given the current circumstances, avoiding the internal/communal transmission of the virus and plan and implement policies to that end is the best that the government could do to avert a major outbreak. However, the government seems to be distracted by other competing priorities. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that the elections will go ahead as planned. Fittingly, he said so in a video conference with fellow South Asian leaders on the regional preparedness to coronavirus.

To understand how fatalistic this decision could turn out to be, have a glance at Sri Lanka’s current status in the epidemic. There are 18 cases in hospitals, all but one have contracted the virus from a foreign source, and most of them while abroad. The overwhelming majority are Sri Lankans who recently returned from Italy and were sent to a military administered quarantine facility, two others are also from Europe. There is also a local tour guide who contracted the virus from an Italian tour group. A colleague caught the bug.

In other words, Sri Lanka’s coronavirus cases are imported. Except, in the instances of the two tour guides, there are no known cases of internal transmission. That is the silver line in the dark cloud. If the country manages to send Sri Lankan returnees and a dwindling number of foreign visitors to mandatory quarantine, Sri Lanka has quite an opportunity to avoid the communal spread of the virus.

However, there are reservations whether the quarantine of returnees was implemented too late. There are also concerns that some of the returnees might have evaded the quarantine process. These problems are understood. Sri Lanka cannot replicate an aggressive and at times thuggish forced measures akin to China, without triggering a much larger upheaval. Protests at the airport early this week are proof.

Continue reading ‘Parliamentary Elections Held Under Current Conditions Would not only Pose a Himalayan Scale National Health Hazard. But Would also be a Travesty in Electoral Democracy.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Outlines Steps Taken by Govt to Combat Spread of Covid-19 Virus in the Country in his Address to the Nation.

(Text of Address to the Nation Delivered on March 17th 2020 by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa)

Salutations to the Most Revered Prelates of the Maha Sangha

Salutations to Religious Leaders of Hindu, Catholic and Islam Faiths

Dear Mothers, Fathers, children

Today, I am addressing you to explain the the steps we have taken and the current status regarding the Coronaviruas, also known as CORVID-19.

This January, while the world was just getting to know about the Coronavirus, I took the decision to bring back the 34 Sri Lankan students who were studying in the Wuhan Province in China. At the time, there was not a single infected case reported from within Sri Lanka. Yet, to face a possible detrimental situation that could arise in the future, on 26 January we established a special National Task Force Committee.

On 27 January, a Chinese lady who had come to Sri Lanka as a tourist was identified to be the first infected case in the Island. She was immediately admitted to the IDH hospital and treated. On 19 February, after recovering fully, she left the country.

A special aircraft flew in the Sri Lankan students from Wuhan to the Matthala Airport, where they were quarantined and then taken to a quarantine center in Diyatalawa that was specially set up for this purpose. They were quarantined for two weeks in this camp and sent home on 14 February. At the same time, the necessary instructions were given to the airport authorities to take steps to conduct a preliminary examination of the health of all those who are arriving via the Airport to Sri Lanka.

After the first case was detected with the infected Chinese lady, for up to about a month, no other case was found. Yet, as there was a danger of this virus being spread to countries apart from China, it was decided to quarantine all arrivals from Italy, South Korea and Iran for 14-days. This decision was taken on 10 March. Accordingly, directing travelers to the Kandakadu Qurantine Center in Batticaloa began. When this process first started, some of the travelers who came from Italy and South Korea vehemently protested against it and some even tried to escape en route to the quarantine center.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Outlines Steps Taken by Govt to Combat Spread of Covid-19 Virus in the Country in his Address to the Nation.’ »

Tamil National Alliance Requests Govt to Postpone General Elections Scheduled for April 25th Because of Paramount Concern for Public Safety Due to COVID19 Threat and Urges Govt to Take All steps to check Possible Spread of Corona Virus

(Text of a press release issued by the TNA Media Office)

This statement is being issued consequent to all party leaders of the Tamil National Alliance consulting together:

The Tamil National Alliance is concerned about the threat posed to the people by the possible spread of the COVID19 virus in the country. The safety of the public is our paramount concern.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Requests Govt to Postpone General Elections Scheduled for April 25th Because of Paramount Concern for Public Safety Due to COVID19 Threat and Urges Govt to Take All steps to check Possible Spread of Corona Virus’ »

How and Why Twelve LTTE Suspects Were Arrested and Released in Malaysia

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

In October last year, twelve Malaysian Nationals of Tamil origin were arrested by the Malaysian Police over suspected links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and alleged involvement in terrorist activity. The head of Malaysian Police Special Branch Counter-Terrorism division Deputy Commissioner Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay went to town with claims of a huge terrorist conspiracy and network being uncovered. He also said investigations were continuing and that more details of terrorist financing and a plot to attack the Sri Lankan High Commission in Kuala Lumpur would be available soon.

Attorney – General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas

All twelve were arrested and detained under the Malaysian Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, known as SOSMA. However they were charged in courts for several offences relating to terrorism under the Malaysian Penal Code.Yet five months later in February this year when the trial date grew close, the Malaysian Attorney – General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas announced that he was dropping all charges against the dozen.

Subsequently all were discharged by courts in what amounted to an acquittal.What began with an exultant bang had ended in a pathetic whimper.
Continue reading ‘How and Why Twelve LTTE Suspects Were Arrested and Released in Malaysia’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Alleges Spread of Corona Virus is the Work of a Rich and Powerful Nation and Wants the UN to Initiate an International Investigation Into the Origin og Covid -19 and Punish Those Responsible for “Genocide”Under International Law

The head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church Sunday alleged that the highly contagious Coronavirus may be man-made and wanted those responsible prosecuted for “genocide.”

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith addressing the faithful during a closed-door Sunday mass said the United Nations should initiate an international investigation into the origin of COVID-19 which he said was causing death and destruction.

He said a “rich and powerful nation” was behind the virus, but stopped short of naming names. However, his remarks, both in Sinhala and English, were on the lines of the Chinese foreign ministry claim on Friday that the US military was behind it.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Alleges Spread of Corona Virus is the Work of a Rich and Powerful Nation and Wants the UN to Initiate an International Investigation Into the Origin og Covid -19 and Punish Those Responsible for “Genocide”Under International Law’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Proposes to leaders of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) the need to formulate a collective response to combat COVID – 19-Corona Virus

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today (15) proposed to leaders of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to formulate a collective response to combat COVID – 19. He further called for SAARC Ministerial Meeting to discuss measures to overcome this deadly health threat.

President Rajapaksa made these proposals participating in a video conference with all SAARC leaders under the theme of “SAARC Leader on Combating COVID – 19, Setting an Example to the World”. This was an initiative by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa noted that presently there are 11 confirmed cases in Sri Lanka. The first identified was a Chinese tourist. She was successfully treated at the specialized Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) and has since returned back to china. The second case was a Sri Lankan tourist guide, but the tourists he was with who he had obviously contracted the virus from had already returned to their home country. Sri Lanka too has not reported any deaths due to the virus.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Proposes to leaders of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) the need to formulate a collective response to combat COVID – 19-Corona Virus’ »

Several firm decisions have been taken under the guidance of President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda to combat COVID -19 in the country.

*Visa for Europeans suspended for 2 weeks

*Two-week quarantine period for Sri Lankans arriving from Europe
Measures to disinfect public transport

*Case studies on China’s success

*Directives to minimize public gatherings

*Utilize internet for educational and service purposes

Several firm decisions have been taken under the guidance of President and Prime Minister to combat COVID -19 in the country. Measures initiated by the Government since January have been instrumental in preventing the disease coming into the country. Sri Lanka is in the forefront among the few countries that established a task force to tackle this global health threat.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed officials to take every necessary action to develop and maintain this positive trend and to safeguard the well-being of the people in the country during a meeting on preventing the spread of COVID – 19 held at the Presidential Secretariat today (13).

Continue reading ‘Several firm decisions have been taken under the guidance of President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda to combat COVID -19 in the country.’ »

Much like the Covid-19 virus, Sri Lanka is being invaded by an anti-democracy virus which tells us a strong man is needed to rule with a rod of iron, that civil liberties do not matter and that constitutional amendments that fetter the powers of rulers are a nuisance.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Much like the covid-19 virus which attacks the respiratory systems of victims with lethal force and has brought the global North virtually to its knees, Sri Lanka is being invaded by an anti-democracy virus. We are told that, democracy leads to bickering, that a strong man is needed to rule with a rod of iron, that civil liberties do not matter and that constitutional amendments that fetter the powers of rulers are a nuisance.

A deadly familiar cry

That chant is drummed into our ears as Parliamentary elections approach in a backdrop of undermining whatever little democratic checks and balances left. Re-installing authoritarianism cloaked in the thin garb of decisive rule to benefit the country has reached feverpitch. The Pohottuwa cry to give us a two-thirds majority in the Parliament so that we can repeal the 19th Amendment and restore stability to the country is disingenuous if not contemptible for that very reason.

Indeed, this cry would be amusing if it was not so deadly familiar. This is exactly how politicians commandeered the country for their ruinous purposes in the past. This ranged from leftist politicians who dismantled Sri Lanka’s judiciary and the public service to become subservient handmaids of the political establishment in the early seventies to the Jayewardene installing of a monarchic Executive Presidency. The Rajapaksa decade of enthroning one-family rule underlined by brute thuggery and overt racism for political gain was an organic development in that background.

Continue reading ‘Much like the Covid-19 virus, Sri Lanka is being invaded by an anti-democracy virus which tells us a strong man is needed to rule with a rod of iron, that civil liberties do not matter and that constitutional amendments that fetter the powers of rulers are a nuisance.’ »

President Gotabhaya Rajapakse is Rapidly Militarising State Administration By Appointing Retired Officers From the Armed Forces to Key Posts in Preparation for a Confrontation With the Working Class


By Vijith Samarasinghe

Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapakse is rapidly militarising the state administration through the appointment of retired armed forces officers to key posts. Promoted into the higher ranks during the final stage of the communal war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), these senior officers are close associates of the president.

Rajapakse’s new appointments are in preparation for a confrontation with the working class. This was spelled out by Sri Lanka’s new defence secretary, retired Major General Kamal Gunaratne, at recent meeting of the so-called Social Media Professional Forum.

The main challenges facing the new government, Gunaratne declared, were “radicalisation, the re-emergence of terrorism, separatism, religious extremism, organised crime, drug-trafficking, and internal disturbances, such as strikes.”

Continue reading ‘President Gotabhaya Rajapakse is Rapidly Militarising State Administration By Appointing Retired Officers From the Armed Forces to Key Posts in Preparation for a Confrontation With the Working Class’ »

US-Sri Lanka Relations are in for a hard time in 2020-2021 as Sri Lanka’s concerns over its sovereignty and independence clash with the geo-political interests of the US.

By P.K.Balachandran

The relations between Sri Lanka and the United States are in for a hard time in 2020-2021 as Sri Lanka’s concerns over its sovereignty and independence clash with the geo-political interests of the US.

Though couched in the language of goodwill for Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans in the short and the long term, America’s interest in the island nation is essentially, if not exclusively, in preventing it from going into the waiting arms of China, the regional and global rival. The bitter pill of geo-political interest is sweetened by economic offers.

If the bid to make Sri Lanka sign the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), reflects America’s geo-political game plan, the offer of US$ 480 million as grant under the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCC) is meant to sweeten the bitter pill.

Since the Rajapaksas (President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa) took charge of the country following Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s good showing in the November 16, 2019 Presidential election, Sri Lanka has asserted its sovereignty in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by opting out of the co-sponsorship of resolution 30/1 of 2015, which had required it to solve the problem of post-war ethnic relations in ways which are politically unsustainable and constitutionally untenable.

Continue reading ‘US-Sri Lanka Relations are in for a hard time in 2020-2021 as Sri Lanka’s concerns over its sovereignty and independence clash with the geo-political interests of the US.’ »

Using Offensive Language and Intimidation to Drive Away a Leader like Ranil for Sajith to take over the Party Lock Stock and Barrel Seems Uncivilised and Unethical to people

By

Chandra Amerasekare

The supporters of Sajith Premadasa seem to attribute his defeat at the Presidential Election to Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP group supporting him. It is publicly implied that Ranil Wickremesinghe delayed the process of naming Sajith Premadasa deliberately as the presidential candidate of the UNP, with the intension of sabotaging the campaign by not giving them sufficient time to organise it.

After the election, they held media conferences and accused the Sirikotha faction of the UNP of withholding funds and forcing the campaign managers to downsize the campaign. Some seem to think that Ranil’s reply to the media that he will be the PM in the event the UNP wins the Presidential Election was an act of sabotage. The fact remains that Ranil was the Prime Minister at the time and in the event of Sajith becoming the President he still remains as PM until the General Election. Even after winning the General Elections, Ranil would continue to be PM as long as he is the Leader of the Party.

The analysis of the causes of Sajith’s defeat does not hold water if one looks at things rationally. A more realistic analysis not driven by hatred and self-interest, could be more useful for Sajith’s political future and help the UNP to plan a more effective campaign to win the General Election.


Were there fundamental weaknesses in Sajith’s campaign?

Many disagree with the analysis of Sajith’s supporters regarding the reasons for his defeat. Some see it as an attempt by his supporters to cover up their failure. Some feel that Sajith was misled by some of his over-enthusiastic supporters who misread the political picture and who hated Ranil for various reasons and had their own agenda. Whether this is true or not, it is the difference between the UNP campaign and the SLPP campaign that finally mattered.

Continue reading ‘Using Offensive Language and Intimidation to Drive Away a Leader like Ranil for Sajith to take over the Party Lock Stock and Barrel Seems Uncivilised and Unethical to people’ »

It is Doubtful Whether Sajith Premadasa has the Ability to ‘Hollow out’ the UNP the way Mahinda Rajapaksa Hollowed out the SLFP by Contesting Separately

by C.A.Chandraprema

The present state of the UNP after the presidential election of November 16, 2019 is in many ways reminiscent of the state the SLFP was in the wake of the defeat of 1977, when the latter experienced declining public support and disunity within its ranks. As we pen these words, the UNP is on the verge of a major split, with the possibility that the Ranil Wickremasinghe faction will contest under the elephant symbol and the Sajith faction under a different symbol. This is reminiscent of the way the SLFP split after the 1982 presidential election. Things are now moving with a momentum of its own. The Parliamentary election has already been declared. Applications have already been called for postal voting. The Elections Commission is to begin accepting nominations on Thursday this week (12 March) to close on 19 March. If the political parties are to hand in nominations before the closing date they will have all of ten days between now and that deadline to finalize their lists – which is arguably the most difficult part at any parliamentary, PC or local government election.

During the ten days that remain until nominations close, the two warring factions of the UNP will have to decide who will be on the national list and who will contest in the districts. Once the lists are finalized, they cannot be changed without more conflict. Hence the coming days will be crucial for both factions of the UNP and particularly for the Sajith Premadasa faction which is the breakaway group. The UNP under Ranil Wickremasinghe is at a slight advantage because they represent the established political party with the party symbol, the party headquarters and the party branch organizations or what is left of them. The Sajith Premadasa faction will face the additional challenge of having to build a political party from scratch on the eve of a parliamentary election. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya which the Sajith faction has set up has a name and a symbol and a significant group of UNP parliamentarians supporting it. But they don’t have any grassroots party organizations.

Continue reading ‘It is Doubtful Whether Sajith Premadasa has the Ability to ‘Hollow out’ the UNP the way Mahinda Rajapaksa Hollowed out the SLFP by Contesting Separately’ »

First Sri Lankan to be Infected with Covid-19(Corona Virus) Being Treated at IDH Hospital: 52 Year old Male Tour Operator had Moved Around With Italian Tourist Group Confirm Health Authorities

Sri Lanka Presidents office confirms the first Sri Lankan within Sri Lanka infected with Covid – 19 (Coronavirus), a 52 year old male from the tourism sector, found & now being treated at IDH Hospital.

Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera noted that initial tests have confirmed that the patient had contracted Covid-19.

Inspections have been launched to identify the individuals that this patient has had contacts with and the places where the tourist group accompanied by him had travelled to.

Continue reading ‘First Sri Lankan to be Infected with Covid-19(Corona Virus) Being Treated at IDH Hospital: 52 Year old Male Tour Operator had Moved Around With Italian Tourist Group Confirm Health Authorities’ »

If Sajith Premadasa Does not want to lose Big Time in Elections, he should turn his guns at the Pohottuwa and their Rajapaksa Handlers Instead of the UNP party leader and his Loyalists.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Things cannot get any more ludicrous than this. As the Sri Lankan voters go to vote for a new Parliament on April 25, in little more than six weeks from now, the United National Party is feuding over who will own the party’s symbol.
This should not have been a problem at all. The aged old elephant is both familiar and invokes a sense of nostalgia of its glorious past.

However, Sajith Premadasa, the deputy leader and his loyalists who are indulging in a self-destructive fratricidal battle bemoan that though the elephant is dear to them, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the party leader who has the final say over the party affairs cannot be trusted.

A bitter internecine war that is being waged right now is more likely to damage both factions and hand over the election on a platter to the formidable Pohottuwa.

Earlier, Mr Wickremesinghe survived the calls to hand over the UNP leadership to Mr Premadasa. As a concession, the latter was made the opposition leader.
The UNP working committee also appointed him as the prime ministerial candidate, the leader of the new alliance and the chairman of the election nomination committee for the General Election. However, they also decided that the new alliance contests under the official regalia of the UNP, the elephant.

Continue reading ‘If Sajith Premadasa Does not want to lose Big Time in Elections, he should turn his guns at the Pohottuwa and their Rajapaksa Handlers Instead of the UNP party leader and his Loyalists.’ »

Court of Appeal Takes up Writ Petitions Filed by Ex-Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Arjun Aloysius of Perpetual Treasuries and two others contesting the warrant of arrest issued on them in respect of the Treasury bond auction scam.

By S. S. Selvanayagam

Court of Appeal will today take up the Writ petitions filed by former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Arjun Aloysius as well as two others contesting the warrant of arrest issued on them in respect of the Treasury bond auction scam.

The Bench comprised Justices A.H.M.D. Nawaz (President/CA) and Arjuna Obeyesekere.

Faisz Musthapha PC with Rienzie Arsecularatne PC, Shavendra Fernando PC, Senani Dayaratne, Faiza Markar, Riad Ameen instructed by Gowry Shangary Thavarasha appeared for Ravi Karunanayake.

Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal Takes up Writ Petitions Filed by Ex-Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Arjun Aloysius of Perpetual Treasuries and two others contesting the warrant of arrest issued on them in respect of the Treasury bond auction scam.’ »

UNP Gen-Secy Akila Viraj Kariyawasam Informs Elections Commissioner that Party Would be Contesting all 22 Electoral Districts for April 25 Elections; :If agreement cant be reached with Sajith faction the UNP will contest separately Under Elephant Symbol says ohn Ameratunga

by Zacki Jabbar

The United National Party (UNP) yesterday informed the Elections Commissioner that it would be contesting all 22 electoral districts, at the parliamentary polls fixed for April 25.

Confirmation was made in writing by the General Secretary of the party, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.

The official announcement comes amidst the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), formed by UNP Deputy leader Sajith Premadasa saying that the SJB and UNP should contest the General Election as an alliance under the ‘Telephone’ symbol.

Continue reading ‘UNP Gen-Secy Akila Viraj Kariyawasam Informs Elections Commissioner that Party Would be Contesting all 22 Electoral Districts for April 25 Elections; :If agreement cant be reached with Sajith faction the UNP will contest separately Under Elephant Symbol says ohn Ameratunga’ »

Over 25 CID Teams Deployed to Arrest Nine Persons Including Ravi Karunanayake and Arjuna Mahendran On Whom Arrest Warrants Were Issued by Fort Magistrate Reportedly Searching Still; Only Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Director Muthurajah Surendran Arrested so far

Criminal Investigations Department (CID) sleuths yesterday carried out searches for former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and eight suspects wanted in connection with the case related to the Central Bank bond scam, but failed to find them, a senior CID officer said.

He said several locations where they believed Mr Karunanayake would be taking shelter were searched within the day, but the CID could not locate him.

Journalists and photographers who gathered outside Mr Karunanayake’s residence, off the Parliament drive, in Sri Jayawardenepura-Kotte were told by his aides that the former MP might surrender on Tuesday. However, there was no confirmation.

The CID officer said about 25 teams had been deployed to search for the suspects, in line with the arrest warrant and search operations would continue until they were found or they surrendered.

The CID’s Airport detectives have also been alerted about the arrest warrant issued on the suspects.

Continue reading ‘Over 25 CID Teams Deployed to Arrest Nine Persons Including Ravi Karunanayake and Arjuna Mahendran On Whom Arrest Warrants Were Issued by Fort Magistrate Reportedly Searching Still; Only Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Director Muthurajah Surendran Arrested so far’ »

Any Attempt to Reactivate the Conversions Bill must be Resisted Because it will push Sri Lanka into new Quicksands of Religious Intolerance and Precipitate Existing Hatreds to an even Higher Level.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Ever the consummately expedient political strategist, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, (and former President), Mahinda Rajapaksa wishes to rejuvenate the controversial anti-Conversions Bill that was discarded more than one and a half decades ago following enormous public concern and an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court.

Factors behind this move

This wish, expressed in the Rajapaksa ‘comfort zone’ of a recent gathering of the All Ceylon Buddhist Council, attended by the adoring faithful, had been articulated with charm and a wink, as the media informs us. The Rajapaksa articulation has been to the effect that, if this Bill is re-activated, it must have unanimous support ‘across the board’ as otherwise, it will rebound negatively on his Government.

Probably, an objective assessment would conclude that no time would be better for the bringing back of this Bill if not now. Helped largely by the culpable blindness of the previous Government and their equally blind ‘civil society’ supporters who closed their eyes to viciously creeping jihadism in the country, the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels last year will soon be somberely marked as its one year anniversary comes up next month. One direct consequence of this unforgivable failure was the pan-Sinhala vote that propelled Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to the Presidency last November.

A receptive environment has thus been fashioned for the hardening of religious sentiment across the board. Never mind that a ‘non-mainstream’ church targeted in Batticaloa by the jihadists suffered unprecedented loss with forty children being killed while frolicking after prayers. Such distinctions were lost in the nationalist religious hysteria that deepened since that attack. However, the poisonous germination of this disease was long before. It started menacingly a decade ago, as communities which had co-existed despite religious differences, fractured as Sinhala Buddhist majoritarianism grew and religious minorities withdrew into frightened corners.

Continue reading ‘Any Attempt to Reactivate the Conversions Bill must be Resisted Because it will push Sri Lanka into new Quicksands of Religious Intolerance and Precipitate Existing Hatreds to an even Higher Level.’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa States Openly That His Govt is Focused on Obtaining a Two-Thirds Majority at the Parliamentary Elections to Abolish the 19th Constitutional Amendment and Formulate a New Constitution

By Uditha Jayasinghe

Provincial Council Elections are likely to follow hot on the heels of the General Election, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday, paving the way for the Government to move forward with plans to introduce a new Constitution.

Rajapaksa, speaking to senior media personnel at Temple Trees, insisted that the Government remained focused on removing the 19th Amendment, insisting it creates administrative issues that undermine governance. He argued that the 19th Amendment had created confusion and imbalances of power that impinged on the public, and commissions established under the Constitutional Council failed to be as independent as promised.

The meeting at Temple Trees was also attended by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman Prof. G.L Peiris, Senior Advisor on Economic Affairs to the Prime Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal, and Ports and Shipping Minister Johnston Fernando and Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa States Openly That His Govt is Focused on Obtaining a Two-Thirds Majority at the Parliamentary Elections to Abolish the 19th Constitutional Amendment and Formulate a New Constitution’ »

Military Intelligence and TID Officials Uncover Plot to Assassinate Prominent Tamil Politician in North After Arrest of Six Ex-LTTE Cadres Including German Passport Holder and Seizure of Communication Equipment and Explosives in Raid on Northern Safe House

By

Sunil Jayasiri

Security in North and East has been tightened since last Thursday following the arrest of six prominent former LTTE cadres on charges of planning to assassinate a prominent Tamil politician in the North, informed sources said.

They said earlier this week, Military intelligence and Terrorist Investigations Department jointly raided a safe house in the North and found some latest communication equipment and a stock of powerful explosives.

Continue reading ‘Military Intelligence and TID Officials Uncover Plot to Assassinate Prominent Tamil Politician in North After Arrest of Six Ex-LTTE Cadres Including German Passport Holder and Seizure of Communication Equipment and Explosives in Raid on Northern Safe House’ »

Display of Independence and Dignity by Attorney-General Dappula de Livera, High Court Judge Champa Janaki Rajaratne and Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake Shows Hopeful Signs for Judiciary’s Future in Sri Lanka

By

Victor Ivan

It is evident that the Podu Peramuna Government led by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new President, wants desperately to withdraw the cases filed during the Yahapalana regime against corruption and criminal acts alleged to have committed during the previous regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, in the absence of the support of the Judiciary, it appears clearly that a cold war situation has arisen between the Government and the Judiciary.

Some of them involved in those lawsuits publicly supported Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Election while presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa also defended them vigorously on election platforms.

The new President, soon after assuming office, appointed a three-member Presidential Commission to look into the alleged political reprisals during the Yahapalana regime. Perhaps he might have thought that it would be an easy way to rescue all those involved in litigation.

The Presidential Commission, in response to a complaint made by Wasantha Karannagoda, a former Navy Commander and D.P.K. Dissanayake, a former Navy Spokesman, issued a directive to the Attorney General to suspend the case relating to the abduction and disappearance of 11 youths until the Commission completes its investigation. The Commission may have believed that the Attorney General would disregard the law and accept the directive issued by them on behalf of the new Government which had assumed office after a huge electoral victory.

But the Attorney General refused to accept the order issued by the Commission and informed it that it is only a Commission of Inquiry, and as such the Commission had no power to issue such an order to the Attorney General who is empowered by the Constitution to pursue the case; moreover, the Attorney General informed the Commission that his department had filed the case merely on the basis of evidence presented at the inquiry and not on any other grounds. The Commission could not challenge the Attorney General’s position. This can be considered the first conflict the new Government has created with the Judiciary.

Continue reading ‘Display of Independence and Dignity by Attorney-General Dappula de Livera, High Court Judge Champa Janaki Rajaratne and Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake Shows Hopeful Signs for Judiciary’s Future in Sri Lanka’ »

“One (Presidential) Term is Enough for me but I must be Able to Deliver in that term and the Constitution must Allow it,” Says President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

By Nisthar Cassim

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday said in the first 100 days of his rule much was achieved, but opined that he was not satisfied with the progress as per his standards.

“Yes we did a lot in the first 100 days. But as per my standards, I am not satisfied,” Rajapaksa said during a luncheon meeting with editors.

Rajapaksa pointed to the lack of a two-thirds majority in Parliament, and partly blamed the 19th Amendment of the Constitution, for the failure of a more progressive and successful first 100 days of Presidency.

As an example, he noted that the Amendment to the Vote on Account had to be withdrawn, since the Opposition was wary. The Government sought Rs. 367 billion to settle overdue payments, and to increase limit on borrowing to Rs. 1088 billion, but the UNP opposed the increase. Rajapaksa said that as a result, a few of the pledges made in his election campaign could not be completed.

The President insisted that securing a two-thirds majority at next month’s General Election was critical to more effective and smoother governance, including the amendment of the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘“One (Presidential) Term is Enough for me but I must be Able to Deliver in that term and the Constitution must Allow it,” Says President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’ »

Korean Film Maker Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” Makes Oscar History 🇰🇷🎬🌏

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Cinematic history was made on 9 February at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles where the 92nd awards ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was held. For the first time in its ‘nonagenarian’ lifetime, the Academy award known as Oscar was presented to a non-English film in the prestigious Best Picture category.

Bong Joon Ho, Best Picture, Best Directing, Best International Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay for “Parasite” 📽️ Pic via: Facebook/TheAcademy

The recipient of this singular honour was the TheKorean film ‘Gisaengchung’ known to the world at large in English as ‘Parasite’. In addition to the Best Picture award, ‘Parasite’ also won Oscars in the Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film categories. “Parasite” was directed by South Korean Film maker Bong Joon -ho who also co-authored the film’s screenplay.
Continue reading ‘Korean Film Maker Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” Makes Oscar History 🇰🇷🎬🌏’ »

Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake Imposes Travel Ban on Ex-Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Ten Others Including All Directors of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Following Submissions Made by Attorney -Generals Dept; Will Rule Tomorrow On Issuance of Arrest Warrants for the 11 Suspects as Sought by A-G Dept

By Chandani Kirinde

Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday imposed a travel ban on former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and 10 others, including all the Directors of Perpetual Treasuries who are facing charges of criminal misappropriation, market manipulation, cheating and insider dealing in relation to two bond auctions held in March 2016.

The Magistrate also said he would rule tomorrow on whether to issue arrest warrants for the suspects after the Attorney General’s Department made submissions seeking a court order to arrest the 11 suspects who face charges under the Penal Code, Offences against Public Property Act and the Registered Stock and Securities Ordinance in connection with two bond auctions held on 29 and 31 March 2016.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake Imposes Travel Ban on Ex-Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Ten Others Including All Directors of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Following Submissions Made by Attorney -Generals Dept; Will Rule Tomorrow On Issuance of Arrest Warrants for the 11 Suspects as Sought by A-G Dept’ »

Mar 1st Deadline for Estate Worker Rs 1000 Daily Wage Announced by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Passes Without Implementation with Plantation Companies Stalemating Govt and Trade Unions Through Three Alternatives Counter Proposal


The estate sector wage hike remains stuck in a stalemate, with plantation companies awaiting a decision from the Government and trade unions.

“We have not heard a decision from the Government yet although we have submitted three alternatives,” Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) told the Daily FT.

RPCs proposed three models, including out-grower, productivity-based incentives and revenue sharing.

“We have done our part and it is now the Government’s responsibility,” the RPCs added.

An Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) spokesperson also noted that it had not been informed of a decision on the estate wage hike thus far.

The hike, starting from this month, was proposed by the Government. Despite multiple attempts, Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana or Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle were not available for comment.

Continue reading ‘Mar 1st Deadline for Estate Worker Rs 1000 Daily Wage Announced by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Passes Without Implementation with Plantation Companies Stalemating Govt and Trade Unions Through Three Alternatives Counter Proposal’ »

It Would be Problematic if Sri Lankan Foreign Policy and Diplomacy are to be Guided by an (Ethno) Cultural or (Religio ) Civilisational Redefinition and Recasting of the State and State policy Instead of a Secular Notion of the National Interest


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The day after the Government’s declaration in Geneva of withdrawal from the co-sponsorship of the 2015 Resolution and its successors, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, tendered her observations on the human rights situation and trends worldwide, with reports on an array of countries including Sri Lanka.

Michelle Bachelet is a two-time President of Chile, who won with 53% of the vote the first time (2006) and 62% in her comeback (2013). She was a Socialist leader, a former defence minister, the daughter of an Air Force General, and a victim of torture – as were her parents, one of whom died of the experience—under a rightwing military dictatorship.

I’ve had to respond pointedly to two of Bachelet’s predecessors as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour and Navi Pillay, resisting on behalf of fair play for Sri Lanka. Regrettably I never had the privilege of facing Zaid al Hussein. Resolution 30/1 of 2015 which then Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Samaraweera co-sponsored, explicitly rested upon and flowed from his selective, imbalanced and highly subjective if not downright biased OISL tome on Sri Lanka.

Michelle Bachelet is very different from all three former UN High Commissioners of Human Rights.

Continue reading ‘It Would be Problematic if Sri Lankan Foreign Policy and Diplomacy are to be Guided by an (Ethno) Cultural or (Religio ) Civilisational Redefinition and Recasting of the State and State policy Instead of a Secular Notion of the National Interest’ »

Sri Lankan Security Agencies are Stepping up Surveillance, Harassment, and Threats against Human Rights Activists and Journalists Reveals Human Rights Watch;“Since the return of the Rajapaksas to power, a state of fear is being re-established in Sri Lanka,” Says Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW, South Asia director.

(Text of a News Release Posted on the Human Rights Watch website on March 3rd 2020)

Sri Lanka: Security Agencies Shutting Down Civic Space
Rights Activists, Journalists Facing Surveillance, Threats

(New York) Sri Lankan security agencies are stepping up surveillance, harassment, and threats against human rights activists and journalists, Human Rights Watch said today.

Since November 2019, when the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into office, there has been a rapid closing of civic space and freedom of expression.

In interviews with 15 Sri Lankan human rights defenders working in different locations around the country, Human Rights Watch heard consistent accounts of increased surveillance and pressure from security agencies.

Several said that intelligence officials had asked activists and victims about their advocacy plans ahead of the current United Nations Human Rights Council session, which began on February 24, 2020 in Geneva. “We fear that international lobbying and travel to Geneva may not happen in future because of this situation,” one activist said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Security Agencies are Stepping up Surveillance, Harassment, and Threats against Human Rights Activists and Journalists Reveals Human Rights Watch;“Since the return of the Rajapaksas to power, a state of fear is being re-established in Sri Lanka,” Says Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW, South Asia director.’ »

Nine Key CIABOC Officials Probing Alleged Bribery and Corruption Offences Under Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration Transferred out by Acting IGP Chsrges Former UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Senewiratne

By Akitha Perera

Nine key officers of the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) had been transferred suddenly, former MP Lakshman Senewiratne told media.

Continue reading ‘Nine Key CIABOC Officials Probing Alleged Bribery and Corruption Offences Under Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration Transferred out by Acting IGP Chsrges Former UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Senewiratne’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Prepared to Revive Controversial Anti-Conversion Bill if There Is Unanimous Support: Says in speech he wants to Prevent conversion of “traditional Buddhist families to other religions.”

By

Arjuna Ranawana

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is driving the governing party’s Parliamentary Election campaign and at the outset has taken a hard right turn.

He has also revived the discussion over the controversial anti-conversion Bill.

In the week preceding the dissolution of Parliament which happened at mid-night Monday, Rajapaksa has been seen with dozens of leading Buddhist Monks, offering them gifts and alms and on occasion appointments and honors.

Rajapaksa has been and is the undisputed political leader for the Right-wing Sinhala Buddhist community in the island and this opening period of the campaign is being spent shoring up that base.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Prepared to Revive Controversial Anti-Conversion Bill if There Is Unanimous Support: Says in speech he wants to Prevent conversion of “traditional Buddhist families to other religions.”’ »

“Is the Gotabaya Government all set to sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact with the US?”

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the Public Opinion Committee on March 3rd 2020 Under the Heading “Is the Government all set to sign the MCCC?)

A high-profile member of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCCC) review committee has revealed that the report submitted by them to the President was not prepared according to established process.

A Presidential Committee was appointed to conduct a ‘Comprehensive study on the Millennium Challenge Corporation Project’ and submit recommendations to the Government in mid-February this year. Neither the review Committee’s mandate nor its terms of reference were made public.

Head of the four-member MCCC Committee, Professor Lalithsiri Gunaruwan has disclosed that the Committee did not follow due process, followed an anti-scientific approach ‘going backwards’ from recommendations / conclusions to methodology and implied that only information reinforcing their initial postulate was taken into account, continuing the charade of respecting the views of ordinary people.

Was the MCCC review committee part of a pre-determined agenda? If so, whose? These are legitimate questions that the MCC review committee’s admission poses.

Continue reading ‘“Is the Gotabaya Government all set to sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact with the US?”’ »

Parliament Dissolved on March 2nd by President President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Under Article 70 of Constitution: General Elections with 16,263,885 Eligible Voters Scheduled for April 25th:Nomination Papers to be Filed From March 12th to March 19th. New Parliament will Meet on May 14th

By Chandani Kirinde

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday (Mar 2) dissolved the Parliament and fixed 25 April for the next General Election, fuelling concerns Sinhala-Tamil New Year month will be effectively unproductive.

The President also fixed the date for the new Parliament to meet for 14 May and the period between 12 and 19 March as the nomination period, during which nomination papers will be received by the Returning Officers for candidates contesting the election.

The Gazette notification dissolving the House was issued by the President hours after the current Parliament completed four-and-half-years of its five-year term under powers vested in him under by Article 70 of the Constitution and under the provisions of the Parliamentary Elections Act No. 1 of 1981. The President is empowered to dissolve Parliament only after the completion of four-and-a-half years after the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Parliament Dissolved on March 2nd by President President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Under Article 70 of Constitution: General Elections with 16,263,885 Eligible Voters Scheduled for April 25th:Nomination Papers to be Filed From March 12th to March 19th. New Parliament will Meet on May 14th’ »

UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa Launches Samagi Jana Balawegaya Alliance at Nelum Pokuna Theatre with Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP Stalwarts Including Gen – Secy Akila Viraj Kariyawasam Boycotting the Event

By Akitha Perera

Having failed to reach a consensus with the group headed by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on the forthcoming general election, UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, yesterday (02) launched Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and several other Wickremesinghe loyalists boycotted the event.

Continue reading ‘UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa Launches Samagi Jana Balawegaya Alliance at Nelum Pokuna Theatre with Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP Stalwarts Including Gen – Secy Akila Viraj Kariyawasam Boycotting the Event’ »

Samagi Jana Balawegaya(SJB) Alliance Launched at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre Under the Leadership of Sajith Premadasa with Twelve Political Parties and Civil Society Groups Signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) alliance launched yesterday with its leader Sajith Premadasa insisting that it will be a long-term effort to build a new political culture beyond the Parliamentary Elections but the decision over the alliance symbol remains in doubt.

The SJB, a largely United National Party (UNP) creation, will be led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa. It was launched with the participation of a number of UNP parliamentarians, minority party politicians and civil society supporters at a function held at Nelum Pokuna Theatre.

The launch saw the 12 political parties and civil society groups sign a MoU, formally joining the SJB alliance. Addressing the gathering, SJB Leader MP Sajith Premadasa said that the launch signified a democratic, progressive people’s revolution targeted at the Parliamentary Elections. Addressing the gathered, SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said that 95% of UNP electoral organisers and parliamentarians were present at the launch.

Continue reading ‘Samagi Jana Balawegaya(SJB) Alliance Launched at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre Under the Leadership of Sajith Premadasa with Twelve Political Parties and Civil Society Groups Signing a Memorandum of Understanding.’ »

Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa’s Request to vacate the lower court’s ruling that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is entitled to common law foreign official immunity for acts committed while he was Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka Granted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: Decision clears the way for future litigation against Rajapaksa once he no longer enjoys immunity as a head of state.

(Text of a Media Advisory Issued in San Francisco by the Center for Justice and Accountability on March 2nd 2020)

San Francisco, March 2, 2020: Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s request to vacate the lower court’s ruling that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is entitled to common law foreign official immunity for acts committed while he was Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka. Ahimsa’s lawsuit, filed last April, sought to hold Rajapaksa – now the president of Sri Lanka – responsible for his alleged involvement in the assassination of her father, famed journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, and in the widespread and systematic targeting of journalists perceived to critical of the government. Ahimsa is represented by the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also granted Ahimsa’s request to dismiss her case without prejudice, as Rajapaksa’s accession to the presidency of Sri Lanka last November gave him immunity from suits in US courts for so long as he remains president. The Ninth Circuit’s decision clears the way for future litigation against Rajapaksa once he no longer enjoys immunity as a head of state.

Continue reading ‘Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa’s Request to vacate the lower court’s ruling that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is entitled to common law foreign official immunity for acts committed while he was Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka Granted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: Decision clears the way for future litigation against Rajapaksa once he no longer enjoys immunity as a head of state.’ »

Was Recent US Action Against Army Chief Shavendra Silva Due to Sri Lanka’s Problematic Chinese “Connection”?

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“May you live in interesting times.” is a saying that is believed to be an ancient Chinese curse. Many writers and speakers often use this expression or phrase and attribute Chinese origins to it. In spite of the widely held belief about Chinese links, recent studies by Etymologist scholars and linguistic researchers have revealed that there is no evidence of this saying having a Chinese origin. Fred R.Shapiro the editor of “The Yale Book of Quotations” has stated “No authentic Chinese saying to this effect has ever been found”. Furthermore Ralph Keyes has noted in “The Quote Verifier” that “nobody has ever been able to confirm the Chinese origin claim”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – pic via: @SecPompeo

Despite these doubts about the Chinese origins of this saying how did this expression and belief first enter the English language realm? It was Sir Austen Chamberlain the brother of former British Prime minister Neville Chamberlain who reportedly alluded to this so called “Chinese curse” first. As is well -known Neville Chamberlain with all good intentions entered into a concessionary agreement with Adolf Hitler in Munich and returned to London triumphantly proclaiming “Peace in our lifetime”. Hitler did not honour the accord and World War two broke out. The umbrella carrying Chamberlain had to quit as PM carrying the disgrace of trying to “appease” Hitler.
Continue reading ‘Was Recent US Action Against Army Chief Shavendra Silva Due to Sri Lanka’s Problematic Chinese “Connection”?’ »

Vijaya Kumaratunga: Charismatic Actor-Politician May Have Changed Nation’s Destiny

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The political landscape of Sri Lanka seems gloomy and desolate. Most of the actors who strut about the political stage posing as visionaries and leaders are in actuality empty vessels devoid of substance. Proverbial wisdom tells us that empty vessels make most sound. This is most apparent in the cacophony of voices currently prevalent in the polity. In the words of William Butler Yeats “ The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.” The positive dream of Sri Lanka evolving into an inclusive, plural nation is slowly turning into a numerical majoritarian hegemonic nightmare.

Vijaya Kumaratunga in Jaffna

One of the many reasons for this dearth of truly visionary, genuinely dedicated, leaders has been the political violence of the tragic past. The secessionary war spearheaded by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE), the anti-state insurgencies led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP) and the repressive, no holds barred counter -violence unleashed by the state to combat the LTTE and JVP insurrections at different times have cumulatively resulted in the lives of many brilliant, benevolent leaders being snuffed out abruptly. This violence and counter-violence also brought to the forefront of politics many parochial personalities without depth of wisdom. Sri Lanka suffers!
Continue reading ‘Vijaya Kumaratunga: Charismatic Actor-Politician May Have Changed Nation’s Destiny’ »

“Backtracking on the resolution sends a very clear message to the people of our country and the world that Sri Lanka does not care for reconciliation, accountability or even democracy” Says Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera MP


Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said that the decision to co-sponsor Geneva Resolution 30/1 was taken by the yahapalana government under the leadership of then President Maithripala Sirisena.


Samaraweera, in a statement issued on withdrawal from Resolution 30/1 and subsequent resolutions extending its mandate in the UN Human Rights Council, has said:

“At a time when Sri Lanka was in dire straits, the government changed in January 2015, and the Government of the day, under the leadership of President Sirisena decided, based on the 100-Day Programme, to bring all these issues back home from the international arena, by taking local ownership and taking charge of all processes through Resolution 30/1. This was a reassertion of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and regaining Sri Lanka’s lost respect and dignity among the international community once again. It was also an opportunity for Sri Lanka to prove that Sri Lankan justice is fully capable of ensuring credible accountability. Resolution 30/1 gives Sri Lanka and NOT the international community or an international court that responsibility.

Sri Lanka co-sponsored the resolution on Oct -1, 2015.

Continue reading ‘“Backtracking on the resolution sends a very clear message to the people of our country and the world that Sri Lanka does not care for reconciliation, accountability or even democracy” Says Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera MP’ »

Three hearty cheers Sri Lanka – for withdrawing from co-sponsorship of a resolution that will remain with no change in the agenda of the UNHRC!

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has said at least one thing that rings true in the minds of most Sri Lankan people. It is the lack of belief in the appointment of another Commission of Inquiry by the Government.

Her concern was about addressing impunity for past violations of human rights. Our objection is much wider. We seem to be the country with the world record for Presidential Commissions of Inquiry with the more important aspect of Commissions that achieve nothing; the reports of which are often kept secret. Commissions that have become a political joke in a country, where political humour is the stuff of the vulgar!

The current political mood, the mood of political power, is one of great joy and triumph; rejoicing at Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from co-sponsoring the UN Resolution 30/1 that related to the postwar situation in this country, and especially the situation of the victims of the war, that of missing persons, and the wider postwar issues that relate to democracy and human rights.

Whatever thinking Foreign Affairs Minister Dinesh Gunawardena may have had when talking of a new Commission of Inquiry (CoI) headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court, to review previous Sri Lankan CoIs on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, his mind may have had a block about the wider Sri Lankan attitude to such commissions, whether headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court or not.

Michelle Bachelet says the Sri Lankan State should work for “all its people and the needs of all communities, particularly the minorities”. Come on. She must know the political history of this oldest democracy in Asia. We are a majority-led nation. That has been the growing tradition from the time we obtained freedom or independence from colonial rule. We are today the proudest advocates of Sinhala-Buddhist dominance and power in our country. They are the majority voters, and how can one have true democracy, without the satisfaction of the majority?

Continue reading ‘Three hearty cheers Sri Lanka – for withdrawing from co-sponsorship of a resolution that will remain with no change in the agenda of the UNHRC!’ »

Articulation of Dreadfully Fractured Logic by Govt at UNHRC While Announcing Withdrawal From Resolution 30/1 Has Disastrous Consequences for the Country

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

There is a dreadfully fractured logic in what the Government of Sri Lanka articulated before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as it withdrew from UNHRC Resolution 30/1 this week. This is playing to the nationalist gallery with an eye to the impending General Elections. It has disastrous consequences for the country, make no mistake.

The hoopla surrounding the Resolution

Let me be clear. This is not about Sri Lanka agreeing to co-sponsor this Resolution of much fame in 2015. It is not even about whether, as some would cogently argue, that the Resolution, despite all its hoopla, only brought about cosmetic changes while leaving intact, the gigantic apparatus of security sector impunity. Though if we are to dwell a moment here, one does not have to go very far to validate that logic.

For the past five years, parents of Sri Lanka’s ‘disappeared’ have been camped out on the roads of the North, asking for justice even as they die, one by one, as the relentless pressure takes its toll. Indeed, as the Resolution’s key sponsors within the ‘yahapalanaya’ Government bragged many a time, this was a ‘device’ to free the country from being called to order in the halls of the Council.

True, legislation was enacted to criminalise enforced disappearances. But what good is that when the two primary arms of the State tasked with law enforcement and prosecution remained so pitifully vulnerable to political pressure without clear institutional reforms being pushed through? We see that result now as the criminal law enforcement machinery breaks down leaving even Courts helpless when the police refuse to adhere to a direction of the Attorney General and evade serving summons on military personnel. We will return to that matter later.

Continue reading ‘Articulation of Dreadfully Fractured Logic by Govt at UNHRC While Announcing Withdrawal From Resolution 30/1 Has Disastrous Consequences for the Country’ »

Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Complains to CIABOC About CID Director SSP Thilakaratne Allegedly Colluding with CID Officials to Help Ex- Envoy to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga EXtricate Himself From Charges Regarding the MIG Aircraft Deal


Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of slain journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, has lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) alleging that CID Director Senior Superintendent of Police W. Thilakaratne and other officers in the Department are colluding with the intent to confer a wrongful and unlawful benefit, favour, or advantage on Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, who is facing charges under the Public Property Act in connection with the MiG aircraft purchase deal.

In a letter sent to the Commission last week, Ahimsa cited the transfer of CID officers who had been investigating the case for nearly ten years by CID Director Thilakaratne, so as to stifle the investigations and take the case forward.

Continue reading ‘Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Complains to CIABOC About CID Director SSP Thilakaratne Allegedly Colluding with CID Officials to Help Ex- Envoy to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga EXtricate Himself From Charges Regarding the MIG Aircraft Deal’ »

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena Assures UNHRC in Geneva That Govt Will Continue With Appropriate Adaptation the Existing Reconciliation Mechanisms Like Office of Missing Persons and Office of Reparation

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has assured Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the existing reconciliation mechanisms established by an Act of Parliament such as the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) and the Office of Reparations (OR) would be continued, with appropriate adaptation in line with the Government policy framework. With regard to the issues on missing persons, steps would be taken, after necessary investigations, to issue death certificates or certificates of absence, while also providing livelihood and other assistance to affected families, the minister said, in his second statement in Geneva on Feb 27.

The first statement was made on Feb 26.

Minister Gunawardena’s statementis as follows –

“Notwithstanding withdrawing from co-sponsorship of this Resolution, we emphasised our commitment to achieving accountability and human rights within the framework of our Constitution, towards sustainable peace and reconciliation – through the appointment of a domestic Commission of Inquiry, by implementing policies rooted in the Government’s commitments to operationalise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and by continuing to work with the assistance of the UN and its agencies.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena Assures UNHRC in Geneva That Govt Will Continue With Appropriate Adaptation the Existing Reconciliation Mechanisms Like Office of Missing Persons and Office of Reparation’ »

Govt Will Not Sign Agreement With US in its Present Form but is Ready to Negotiate Further Says Bandula Gunawardena; When Asked About SOFA and ACSA, Cabinet Spokesman Says Govt Wont Overturn Signed Agreements

By Chandani Kirinde

The Government has decided not sign the $ 480 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement, taking into consideration the recommendations of a four-member Committee that studied it and found some of its features threaten national security and social and economic welfare of Sri Lanka, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena said yesterday.

The four-member committee headed by Professor Lalithasiri Gunaruwan, which submitted its interim report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week, pointed out there were clauses and conditions in the agreement that would negatively affect national goals and objectives, sovereignty, and national security, and were inconsistent with the legal framework and Constitution of the country, the Minister said. The report was presented to the Cabinet by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday, and a decision was taken not to sign the agreement, he said.

Continue reading ‘Govt Will Not Sign Agreement With US in its Present Form but is Ready to Negotiate Further Says Bandula Gunawardena; When Asked About SOFA and ACSA, Cabinet Spokesman Says Govt Wont Overturn Signed Agreements’ »

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expresses regret over Sri Lankan Government announcing Withdrawal from Co-sponsorship of UNHRC Resolutions and warns that this “risks setting back efforts to advance reconciliation, accountability and human rights.”


United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet yesterday expressed regret over Sri Lankan Government announcing a very different approach to the commitments previously made in UNHRC resolutions, and warned that this “risks setting back efforts to advance reconciliation, accountability and human rights.”

In her oral updates to the 43rd session of the UNHRC, Bachelet said the State must work for all its people, and the needs of all communities, particularly the minorities, must be acknowledged and addressed.

“I urge the Government to preserve and build upon the gains which have been made over the last few years. In particular, I encourage the Government to ensure the Office on Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations are provided with political and resource support. The families of missing persons from all communities deserve justice and redress,” she said.

Continue reading ‘United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expresses regret over Sri Lankan Government announcing Withdrawal from Co-sponsorship of UNHRC Resolutions and warns that this “risks setting back efforts to advance reconciliation, accountability and human rights.”’ »

“Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past and I am not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda” Says UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michele Bachelet at UNHRC in Geneva


United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, yesterday told the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council that she didn’t believe that appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry by the Sri Lankan government would address impunity for past violations.

On Wednesday Minister of Foreign Affairs Dinesh Gunawardena said that the government would appoint a Commission of Inquiry (COI) headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court, to review the reports of previous Sri Lankan COIs, which investigated alleged violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL), to assess the status of implementation of their recommendations and to propose deliverable measures to implement them keeping in line with the new Government’s policy

Continue reading ‘“Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past and I am not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda” Says UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michele Bachelet at UNHRC in Geneva’ »

Dirty Money Trail Connected to Airbus Bribe Scandal Reveals Culpability of Sri Lankan Airlines Directors and Links to Key Persons in the Nimal Perera Network

By Namini Wijedasa

In his open-necked purple shirt, Nishantha Wickremesinghe is chuffed to be seen with his arm around a long-time friend. Businessman Nimal Perera is feting his sixtieth birthday at the Colombo Hilton and the former SriLankan Airlines Chairman is a guest.

The party was just weeks ago. On Wednesday, the Fort Magistrate banned Wannakawattawaduge Don Nimal Hemasiri Perera from overseas travel. This was after hearing that an account held by one of his companies in a Singapore bank received a chunk of the monies Airbus had funnelled into an entity owned by Priyanka Neomali Wijenayake, the wife of former SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer Kapila Chandrasena.

Happy Birthday: Nishantha Wickremesinghe, former Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, birthday boy Nimal Perera, owner of–among other things–NP Capital, and Sumal Perera, Founder and Chairman of the Access Group of Companies

England’s High Court last month fined Airbus a record £3bn in penalties for paying huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to land contracts in 20 countries. One is Sri Lanka and involves the purchase of six A330 and four A350 airbuses and the lease of four other planes in deals agreed to between 2012 and 2013.

Airbus SE had hired Ms Wijenayake as a business partner through a dummy company she registered in Brunei. It then paid into this entity’s account in the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in Singapore a sum of US$ 2mn (Rs 362mn) out of a total US$ 16.84mn (Rs 3bn) promised in return for ensuring that SriLankan bought aircraft from Airbus.


Culpability of all SriLankan Directors

Continue reading ‘Dirty Money Trail Connected to Airbus Bribe Scandal Reveals Culpability of Sri Lankan Airlines Directors and Links to Key Persons in the Nimal Perera Network’ »

Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake Refuses Bail and Re-remands Sri Lanka’s Former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga Until 11 March, After Police Filed Certificate Confirming Offence Committed was Valued More than Rs. 25,000.

By Chandani Kirinde

Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday refused bail and re-remanded Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga until 11 March, after Police filed a certificate in Court confirming the offence committed by the latter is of a value of more than Rs. 25,000.

Counsel for Weeratunga sought bail for him on grounds that the certificate had not been filed on the first day of the hearing, and urged that the Magistrate decline to consider it.

However, the Magistrate said there was no requirement under the provisions relating to the granting of bail under the Offences Against Public Property Act to file such a certificate on the first day.

He said that once a gazetted officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) certifies that the value of the offence committed exceeds Rs. 25,000, such a person can be kept on remand until the conclusion of the trial.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake Refuses Bail and Re-remands Sri Lanka’s Former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga Until 11 March, After Police Filed Certificate Confirming Offence Committed was Valued More than Rs. 25,000.’ »

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena Formally Announces Sri Lanka’s Withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 and others adopted after 2015 but Assures UNHRC of Govt Commitment to “comprehensive Reconciliation” Delivered Through a Domestic Mechanism.


Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday formally announced Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 30/1 and others adopted after 2015, but assured members the Government is committed to “comprehensive reconciliation”, delivered through a domestic mechanism.

Delivering his address to the UNHRC in Geneva, the Minister emphasised that the decision to withdraw was made according to the wishes of the people of Sri Lanka, while following a non-aligned, neutral foreign policy.

“Our Government is committed to examining issues afresh, to forge ahead with its agenda for ‘prosperity through security and development’, and to find home-grown solutions to overcome contemporary challenges in the best interest of all Sri Lankans,” he told the Council. “It is in this context that I wish to place on record Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, which also incorporates and builds on preceding Resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017.”

Continue reading ‘Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena Formally Announces Sri Lanka’s Withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 and others adopted after 2015 but Assures UNHRC of Govt Commitment to “comprehensive Reconciliation” Delivered Through a Domestic Mechanism.’ »

Dinesh Gunawardena Informs UNHRC That Govt is Withdrawing From Co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1:Foreign Relations Minister Says Commitments Made to UNHRC Has Weakened National Security in Country and May Have Resulted in the Easter Sunday Attacks in April 2019


Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday’, while informing the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that Sri Lanka was withdrawing from co-sponsorship of UNHRC Resolutions pertaining to the country, explained that the commitments made by the previous government had contributed to the lapses that resulted in the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019.


The dictated changes in the country pursuant to Resolution 30/1, undermined the national interest and compromised national security, including weakening national intelligence operations and related safeguards, which are deemed to have contributed to the lapses that resulted in the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019, which targeted churches and hotels, resulting in loss of life, including those of foreign nationals, which poses challenges to our government to restore national security.

Given below is the full text of the speech:

It was over a decade ago, on 18 May 2009 that Sri Lanka defeated LTTE terrorism militarily, bringing to an end three decades of conflict and suffering. The end of the brutal conflict advanced, secured and protected one of the fundamental human rights – the ‘right to life’ for all Sri Lankans- Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslims and others. I would like to state with pride that since May 2009, not a bullet has been fired in the name of separatist terrorism in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka never had any illusion that the end of the conflict against the LTTE terrorists, will overnight convert to a lasting peace. Although Sri Lanka was not a case of nation building, like many conflict situations that this Council is dealing with, we were mindful that Sri Lanka needed certain reviews and strengthening of existing structures, as part of a sustainable peace and reconciliation programme.

The government led by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, of which the current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, initiated a sustainable reconciliation process in Sri Lanka to bring about ‘healing and peace building’, taking due cognizance of the ground realities at that time. This was viewed as an incremental and inclusive process, as it had taken even better-resourced countries several decades to address and achieve.

Continue reading ‘Dinesh Gunawardena Informs UNHRC That Govt is Withdrawing From Co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1:Foreign Relations Minister Says Commitments Made to UNHRC Has Weakened National Security in Country and May Have Resulted in the Easter Sunday Attacks in April 2019’ »

By Unilaterally Withdrawing from the Treacherous Co-sponsorship of the Ghastly Geneva 2015 Resolution, is Sri Lanka Extricating Itself from a Quagmire or Sinking Deeper into a Larger One?

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The Geneva 2015 resolution is a hidden tripwire linked to a maze of claymore mines, some buried, some planted in ditches, others nested in trees. When this article appears, Sri Lanka may have nudged that tripwire. There was another, smarter, safer way.

The Geneva 2015 resolution was explicitly based on and legitimised the utterly tendentious Zaid al Hussein report with its outrageous, unfounded allegation of “system crimes” and its hostile recommendations.

One error cannot be corrected by another, nor one extreme by another, which is why the Buddha urged the Middle Path, and Aristotle, the Golden Mean. By a precipitate unilateral withdrawal from the criminally treacherous co-sponsorship of the ghastly Geneva 2015 resolution, is Sri Lanka extricating itself from a quagmire or sinking deeper into a larger one?

We could have calibrated our moves better. We could have used the negative factor of our co-sponsorship to good effect and flipped it, pointing out that it is precisely as co-sponsors that we wish to constructively propose a raft of corrective

amendments—an argument that would be difficult for the Western co-sponsors, the actual drivers of the resolution, to be seen to reject outright without apprehension of unmasking and exposure. We could have used our misplaced co-sponsorship as a handle; leveraged our status of ‘share-holders’. To quote Mao Zedong, we had the chance to “turn bad into good” – or colloquially, lemons into lemonade.

Continue reading ‘By Unilaterally Withdrawing from the Treacherous Co-sponsorship of the Ghastly Geneva 2015 Resolution, is Sri Lanka Extricating Itself from a Quagmire or Sinking Deeper into a Larger One?’ »

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to Announce Sri Lankan Govt withdrawal from Resolutions Passed by UN Human Rights Council in his Address to UNHRC on Wednesday; Will Brief UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet on Friday About Govts Future Course of Action

By Chandani Kirinde

All eyes will be on Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena as he addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council today(Feb 26), in a statement expected to announce Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from Resolution 30/1 and others presented after 2015, as well as outline the path ahead on engagement with the UN and other agencies to promote reconciliation and address accountability concerns.

Minister Gunawardena, who is leading Sri Lanka’s delegation to the 43rd session of the UNHRC, left for Geneva on Monday. He will address the UNHRC session today, where he will announce Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 of March 2019, which also incorporates and builds on preceding resolutions 30/1, of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2014.

Minister Gunawardena will also meet with UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on Friday to brief her on Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship of the UNHRC Resolution on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka, official sources said yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to Announce Sri Lankan Govt withdrawal from Resolutions Passed by UN Human Rights Council in his Address to UNHRC on Wednesday; Will Brief UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet on Friday About Govts Future Course of Action’ »

Former Army Commander Daya Ratnayake Commends Govt for Protecting the Image of the Sri Lankan Army in the International Arena by Taking a Very Strong Stand Face to Face With the US Govt Over the Army Commander Shavendra Silva Matter

By

Jamila Husain

Former Army Commander and now Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Daya Ratnayake has criticized the former government for failing to protect the image of the Sri Lanka military in the international arena within the past 5 years which led to Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva and his family from being banned to enter the US.

Ratnayake also questioned the timing of the ban, stating that some people were trying to create instability in the country just before an election.

Continue reading ‘Former Army Commander Daya Ratnayake Commends Govt for Protecting the Image of the Sri Lankan Army in the International Arena by Taking a Very Strong Stand Face to Face With the US Govt Over the Army Commander Shavendra Silva Matter’ »

Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters sans Frontiers Send Joint Letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Urging Sri Lankan Govt to Create Safe and Enabling Environment For Journalists and workers in Media

Amnesty International yesterday wrote to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, requesting that he and the Government take concrete steps to create a safe and enabling environment for journalists and other media workers.

The letter, which is also signed by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, calls on the Government to create and environment where journalists can carry out their vital work freely and without fear. T

hey also request the Government to carry out an effective and independent investigations into all alleged incidents of attacks, threats and intimidation of journalists, and to hold perpetrators to account with a view of preventing such incidents in the future.

Continue reading ‘Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters sans Frontiers Send Joint Letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Urging Sri Lankan Govt to Create Safe and Enabling Environment For Journalists and workers in Media’ »

Ranil Wickremesinghe Proposes an ‘Economic Integration Road Map” Conceptualising a “sub-region” Consisting of the five South Indian states and Sri Lanka to Tap the Total Population of 300 Million People and a Combined GDP of Over $500 Billion.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Successful regional integration — both economic and security — depends on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming fully functional at the highest levels, Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Emphasising the need for countries in the region to link up both strategically and economically, Mr. Wickremesinghe said the postponement of the Kathmandu SAARC Summit in 2017 due to heightened tensions between India and Pakistan had brought the regional grouping “to a standstill”.

Urging the neighbours to iron out differences — including on cross-border terrorism — he said, “Otherwise you may find outsiders coming and telling [you] sort it out…not us in South Asia.”

“SAARC is deadlocked. While BIMSTEC is not a substitute for SAARC, it is, nevertheless a starting point for integration,” he said, in his keynote address at The Huddle, a two-day thought conclave organised by The Hindu in Bengaluru.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe Proposes an ‘Economic Integration Road Map” Conceptualising a “sub-region” Consisting of the five South Indian states and Sri Lanka to Tap the Total Population of 300 Million People and a Combined GDP of Over $500 Billion.’ »

Eran Wickramaratne MP Lambastes Govt Over CID Witchhunt Against Ex-CID Director Shani Abeysekara, “New York Times” Journalist Dharisha Bastians and Former Lake House Chairman Krishantha Cooray By Trying to Implicate Them Falsely in Swiss Employee Fictitious Abduction Case


By Chandani Kirinde

UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne has accused the Government of engaging in a witch hunt against professionals – including lawyers, journalists and Police officers – and expressed fears that judicial officials standing up for what is right could be next in line.

Speaking during the debate on the Airbus bribery scandal in Parliament on Thursday (20 February), Wickramaratne also expressed dismay at the lack of support from the peers of those who are being unfairly targeted by the Government for doing their job.

“We passed the 19th Amendment to bring rigor to key public sector appointments and gave the Opposition a voice in the selection of senior judges and civil servants. Even as a member of the Opposition, I was hopeful that this Government would look forward and not backward, but what we have seen instead is a witch hunt of unprecedented proportions,” the UNP MP said. Wickramaratne said that as someone with a long track record in the private sector, many raised concerns when he decided to enter politics because of the risk in reprisals.

“Professionals, lawyers, doctors, journalists, Police officers, accounts, bankers, businesspeople, career diplomats and other civil servants should not be penalised by political opponents when governments change. That is the only way to redeem our country,” Wickramaratne said

Continue reading ‘Eran Wickramaratne MP Lambastes Govt Over CID Witchhunt Against Ex-CID Director Shani Abeysekara, “New York Times” Journalist Dharisha Bastians and Former Lake House Chairman Krishantha Cooray By Trying to Implicate Them Falsely in Swiss Employee Fictitious Abduction Case’ »