How Gun – toting State Minister Lohan Ratwatte Terrified and Humiliated Tamil Prisoners at the Anuradhapura Jail.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Lohan Evindra Ratwatte is a Sri Lankan politician who is often under the media spotlight for the wrong reasons. The 53 year old Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna(SLPP) Kandy district MP- known generally as Lohan – received a great deal of negative publicity last week over an incident in which he reportedly humiliated and terrified a group of Tamil youths incarcerated at the Anuradhapura jail. The Gotabaya Rajapaksa Government’s State Minister for Gem & Jewellery related Industries and State Minister of Prison Management & Prisoners’ Rehabilitation brandishing a pistol had forced the prisoners to kneel before him and had even placed his gun thrice to the head of a detained person. The incident caused shock waves nationally and internationally. Subsequently Lohan Ratwatte resigned from the prison management and prisoners rehabilitation minister post but continues to remain the State minister for Gem and Jewellery related industries.

Efforts made to communicate with the State minister Lohan Ratwatte or senior officials of the Prisons dept and ministry for the purpose of writing this article were unsuccessful. However with details gathered from a cross section of informed sources, it was possible to piece together the basics of what had happened in the Anuradhapura prison.

Continue reading ‘How Gun – toting State Minister Lohan Ratwatte Terrified and Humiliated Tamil Prisoners at the Anuradhapura Jail.’ »

Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama: Unforgettable Symbol of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tragedy

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This article was first published seven years ago to commemorate the 25th death anniversary of Dr.Rajini.It is re-posted here without any changes to denote her 32nd death anniversary)

It was 25 years ago on September 21st 1989 that Dr. Rajini Thiranagama nee Rajasingham was killed in Jaffna. She was 35 years old at the time of her death.The 25th anniversary of her death is to be commemorated through a series of events next week in the northern capital. This is the first time that such a commemoration of Rajini’s memorable legacy is to be held in Jaffna, since the one held in 1989, a month after her death.

Dr. Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama

Dr. Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama (February 23, 1954 – September 21, 1989)

A Commemoration Meeting is to be held at the Medical Faculty, University of Jaffna on September 20th at 9.30 a.m. On the same day at 2 p.m a procession for peace, democracy and social justice will start at the Medical Faculty, University of Jaffna and end at the Veerasingham Hall with a short meeting.On September 21st a seminar will be held at 9 am on the theme “A more just and democratic society”.The venue is the Kailasapathy Hall, University of Jaffna.

Rajini was a contemporary of mine at Jaffna Collge,Vaddukkoddai where I completed my GCE- Advanced Level. Her father Mr.A. Rajasingham was the vice –principal during my time. Rajini born on February 23rd 1954 studied at Jaffna College(JC) from grade one till entering varsity except for a short period at Chundikkuli Girls College in Jaffna town. All of her sisters Nirmala,Sumathy and Vasuki were at JC too. In school she was known as Rajini but later on her name was spelled as Rajani .Yet we the old students of JC continue to refer to her as Rajini and I too am doing so while writing this article.

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St. James Church graveyard, Nallur-in January, 2012-pic by Saba Thambi

It is hard to believe that twenty-five years have passed since Rajini was brutally gunned down at Thirunelvely, Jaffna on September 21st 1989 while cycling back home from the Jaffna University. She was Professor of Anatomy at the Jaffna Varsity medical faculty. The 35 year old mother of two daughters –Narmada and Sharika- was also a human rights activist, feminist, critic of narrow nationalism and opponent of irresponsible militarism.

Continue reading ‘Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama: Unforgettable Symbol of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tragedy’ »

Justin Trudeau, who called a snap election in hopes of gaining a majority in the House of Commons, will instead continue to lead a minority government; Ordinary Canadians, though, have given Trudeau a grudging endorsement.

BY CANADIAN STANDARDS the election campaign was the ugliest in many years. Protests dogged the candidates of the main parties. Loutishness went “beyond the typical uptick” for federal elections, said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It came especially from anti-vaccine activists. This month someone threw gravel at Justin Trudeau, the Liberal prime minister, who says that vaccinations should be mandatory for federal employees and on aeroplanes and trains.

Yet the melodrama changed almost nothing. The early results of the vote held on September 20th suggest that Mr Trudeau, who had called a snap election in hopes of gaining a majority in the House of Commons, will instead continue to lead a minority government. The arithmetic in the 338-seat Parliament is expected to change little . Mr Trudeau will continue to depend on smaller parties, especially the left-leaning New Democrats (NDP), to enact his programme. The opposition Conservatives, which had 121 seats in the outgoing Parliament, are thought to have won roughly the same number in the incoming one.

None of Canada’s main political leaders will come out of the election with his standing much enhanced. Mr Trudeau, who strikes some voters as too privileged and excessively woke, has no good answer to the question of why it was necessary to hold an election during a fourth wave of the pandemic. The Liberals’ lacklustre performance may prompt speculation that this week’s election will be the prime minister’s last. The NDP’s leader, Jagmeet Singh, failed to establish his party as the rising challenger to the Liberals for the votes of left-leaning Canadians. He will try to nudge Mr Trudeau’s government to the left, but may find himself supporting much of what the prime minister proposes.

Continue reading ‘Justin Trudeau, who called a snap election in hopes of gaining a majority in the House of Commons, will instead continue to lead a minority government; Ordinary Canadians, though, have given Trudeau a grudging endorsement.’ »

“March 12 Movement”(M12M) Advocating a Clean Political Culture in Sri Lanka Calls for an independent committee Comprising members respected by society be appointed to investigate the two Incidents at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons Concerning State Minister Lohan Ratwatte

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Claiming the ongoing investigations into recent incidents involving the former Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation State Minister Lohan Ratwatte are not at a satisfactory level, the March 12 Movement (M12M), which advocates for a clean political culture, has requested that an independent committee with a membership respected by society be appointed to investigate the matter.

In a media statement, M12M Convener Rohana Hettiarachchi said that there would not be much public confidence in the ongoing investigation into the incidents led by a Commissioner of the Prisons Department, which is one of the parties associated with the incidents.

In the statement, the M12M claimed that Ratwatte’s resignation from the post of Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation State Minister clearly shows that the latter was involved in the incidents at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons.

Continue reading ‘“March 12 Movement”(M12M) Advocating a Clean Political Culture in Sri Lanka Calls for an independent committee Comprising members respected by society be appointed to investigate the two Incidents at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons Concerning State Minister Lohan Ratwatte’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells U.N. Secry-Gen Antonio Guterres in New York that the internal issues of Sri Lanka would be resolved through an internal mechanism and that the Tamil Diaspora would be invited for discussions in this regard.


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

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that the UN will provide its full support to Sri Lanka in moving forward to promote unity among different communities.

The UN Secretary-General made these remarks during the meeting he held with the President at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, yesterday (19).

Mr. Guterres, warmly welcomed President Rajapaksa when he arrived at the United Nations Headquarters, reminisced about his visits to Sri Lanka in 1978 representing the Inter-Parliamentary Union and his visits to Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells U.N. Secry-Gen Antonio Guterres in New York that the internal issues of Sri Lanka would be resolved through an internal mechanism and that the Tamil Diaspora would be invited for discussions in this regard.’ »

Legendary Muslim Congress “Thalaiver” MHM Ashraff and the Tamils of Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Legendary Muslim Congress Leader MHM Ashraff was killed on September 16th 2000 in a Helicopter crash.This article was written last year for the “Political Pulse” column in the “Daily Financial Times” to Commemorate his 20th death anniversary. It is being re-posted here without any changes to denote the 21st death anniversary of “Marhoom”MM Ashraff)

Today (16 September) is the 20th death anniversary of Mohammad Hussein Muhammad Ashraff, the legendary leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC). He was the Cabinet Minister in charge of Shipping, Ports, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in the Government of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the time of his death. He, along with 14 others, was killed in an air crash on 16 September 2000.

M.H.M. Ashraff had on that fateful morning boarded a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Mi-17 helicopter at the Police grounds in Bambalapitiya at about 9:30 am. Nine SLMC party officials and three bodyguards accompanied Ashraff. There were also two crew members from the SLAF. The flight destination was Ampara/Amparai.

Forty-five minutes later Air Traffic controllers lost radio contact with the helicopter being flown by squadron leader Shiran Perera. It was later discovered that the chopper had crashed over the Urakanda mountain range in the Aranayaka area in Kegalle District of Sabaragamuwa Province. Fifteen charred bodies were recovered from the burning wreckage. Ashraff’s funeral was held late night on the same day at Colombo’s Jawatte Muslim burial ground. He had earlier told family members that he should be buried within hours of his death.
Continue reading ‘Legendary Muslim Congress “Thalaiver” MHM Ashraff and the Tamils of Sri Lanka’ »

Tamil Prisoners in Anuradhapura Jail who Were Ordered at Gun Point to Kneel Down Before him by Lohan Ratwatte Request Transfer to Jaffna Because They Fear For Their Safety

By Azzam Ameen

Following the alleged incident where former State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte entered the Anuradhapura Prison and attempted to degrade and punish Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suspects by ordering them at gunpoint to kneel down in front of him, The Morning learns that the detainees affected Ratwatte’s behaviour have requested to be transferred to other prisons.

Speaking to The Morning, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Kavinda Jayawardhana who visited the prison along with SJB MPs Mano Ganesan and Rohana Bandara yesterday (18), said that the detainees have asked to be transferred to the Jaffna prison as they fear for their safety.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Prisoners in Anuradhapura Jail who Were Ordered at Gun Point to Kneel Down Before him by Lohan Ratwatte Request Transfer to Jaffna Because They Fear For Their Safety’ »

Gotabaya Govt signed agreement with New Fortress Energy Inc. past midnight at 12.06 am on Sep 17 transferring the Treasury’s 40% stake in the Yugadanavi Power Station in Kerawalapitiya to the US-based energy company Alleges JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake


By Pamodi Waravita

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader and National People’s Power (NPP) Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday (19) claimed that the Government of Sri Lanka had signed an agreement with US-based energy company New Fortress Energy Inc. past midnight on Friday (17), transferring the Treasury’s 40% stake in the Yugadanavi Power Station in Kerawalapitiya to the company.

“An agreement of national importance was signed at 12:06 past midnight. After that the foreigner who came for the signing went back to America on a flight at 2.00 a.m.,” he claimed at a media briefing held yesterday (19).

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Govt signed agreement with New Fortress Energy Inc. past midnight at 12.06 am on Sep 17 transferring the Treasury’s 40% stake in the Yugadanavi Power Station in Kerawalapitiya to the US-based energy company Alleges JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake’ »

No CCTV Footage Available of Controversial Incidents Concerning State Minister Lohan Ratwatte at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons Because CCTV Cameras are Not Installed in Both Jails Says Prisons Dept Official

By

Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya

Installation of CCTV cameras in the Welikada prison is currently underway and only three prisons in the country are equipped with CCTV camera system, the Prisons Department said .

In the wake of recent incidents at Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons involving State Minister Lohan Ratwatte, concerns were raised whether the controversial incidents captured in the CCTV systems at those prisons.

Continue reading ‘No CCTV Footage Available of Controversial Incidents Concerning State Minister Lohan Ratwatte at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons Because CCTV Cameras are Not Installed in Both Jails Says Prisons Dept Official’ »

Lawyer -Columnist Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena Nominated by Bar Association of Sri Lanka to Right To Information Commission


By

Azzam Ameen

As the five-year term of the first Right to Information (RTI) Commission will be coming to an end this month, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has exercised the right given to it under and in terms of Section 12(1) (a) of the Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016 and nominated Ms. Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena to the RTI Commission.

“The name of Ms. Pinto Jayawardena, who is a sitting Member of the RTI Commission having been previously appointed upon the nomination by the organizations of publishers, editors and media persons, was unanimously approved by both the Executive Committee and the Bar Council of the BASL and has been communicated to His Excellency the President; the Honorable Speaker the and the Members of the Parliamentary Council,” a statement from the BASL detailed.

Continue reading ‘Lawyer -Columnist Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena Nominated by Bar Association of Sri Lanka to Right To Information Commission’ »

When Lohan Ratwatte Gets Promoted as Cabinet Minister will he be known as the “Muthu-menik Lohan Amathi, Sir”? The true Gem of Pohottuva Politics and Governance!


By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

What a gem of a minister he is!

Who?

Who else, State Minister Lohan Ratwatte, the gem and jewel of today.

Why?

He resigned from his Prison Portfolio, not having done anything wrong, as he says it. He has gone beyond the stuff of any politician. He truly deserves to be given the highest regard by the Saubhagya Strategists. Just think of any politician of today, especially from the Pohottuva Team, who will resign from a portfolio for not having done anything wrong, when those who have done so many blatant wrongs, keep glued to their portfolios?

What do you think should follow?

Surely, it is so simple. Get promoted to the Cabinet. Take the “State” off his ministerial title and swear him in as the Minister of Prison Reforms, etc,, and Gem and Jewellery Industry.

Do you think that is the strategy of the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour of the Gotabaya Politics?

Why not? Promotion, elevation or unearned freedom is the very stuff of today’s Rajapaksa governance. We don’t forget the pardoning of former Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake, convicted with death sentence, for the murder of eight Tamil civilians inlcuding three children, affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Continue reading ‘When Lohan Ratwatte Gets Promoted as Cabinet Minister will he be known as the “Muthu-menik Lohan Amathi, Sir”? The true Gem of Pohottuva Politics and Governance!’ »

Writing Three Letters to Michele Bachelet Causes Turmoil Within the Tamil National Alliance

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Tamil National Alliance(TNA) is currently in a state of turmoil. The current TNA crisis is linked up with the United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) in Geneva. The issue is that of writing letters to the UN Human Rights Commissioner Ms. Michele Bachelet.

Writing Three Letters to Michele Bachelet Causes Turmoil Within the Tamil National Alliance ~ by D.B.S.JEYARAJ

As is well-known the TNA is the premier political configuration representing the Tamils of the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. The TNA comprising the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK), Tamil Eelam Liberation Orgnization (TELO) and the Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam(PLOTE) has ten MP’s from all the five North Eastern electoral districts in the current Parliament. Six of the ten MP’s are from the ITAK while the TELO and PLOTE have three and one each respectively.The TNA contests elections under the House symbol of the ITAK.

TNA/ITAK symbol

Currently the TNA is experiencing turmoil between the constituent parties on the one hand and within the chief constituent on the other. There is inter-tension among the three constituents with the TELO and PLOTE ganging up against the ITAK. There is also intra-tension within the ITAK where a group of dissidents are rebelling against the official line of the party. Complicating matters further is the conduct of ITAK president Somasundaram Senathirajah -known as “Maavai” Senathirajah – who is allegedly playing a double game by playing footsie with elements hostile to the ITAK.
Continue reading ‘Writing Three Letters to Michele Bachelet Causes Turmoil Within the Tamil National Alliance’ »

“As a minister, I can walk into any prison at any time. I do not need anyone’s permission.Over the weekend I went to the Anuradhapura Prison only to check as I did with the other prisons. I never broke in and I never threatened any prisoner” Says State Minister Lohan Ratwatte in Interview With “Daily Mirror”

By
Jamil Husain

State Minister of Gem and Jewelry Related Industries Lohan Ratwatte who has pushed the government into a hot soup over allegations that he threatened a group of Tamil prisoners over the weekend, yesterday denied all accusations leveled against him saying he was ‘not stupid’ to resort to such action.

Breaking his silence for the first time since being forced to resign as the State Minister of Prison Reforms and Prisoners Rehabilitation, Ratwatte told Daily Mirror that he had not threatened the prisoners at the Anuradhapura Prison and had in fact visited the prison on a routine check only.

Continue reading ‘“As a minister, I can walk into any prison at any time. I do not need anyone’s permission.Over the weekend I went to the Anuradhapura Prison only to check as I did with the other prisons. I never broke in and I never threatened any prisoner” Says State Minister Lohan Ratwatte in Interview With “Daily Mirror”’ »

Wimal Weerawana Praises Lohan Ratwatte for Resigning his Portfolio when he found he had done something wrong and for Acknowledging his Wrongdoing and Taking Responsibility for wht he had done

By

Sheain Fernandopulle

Referring to the recent incident transpired in the Anuradhapura Prison involving State Minister Lohan Ratwatte, Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa said Lohan set an example for political culture by resigning from the post following the incident.

He told reporters that it was obvious for people to make mistakes, but what is important is to admit their mistakes and make sure that they would not do the same in future.

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawana Praises Lohan Ratwatte for Resigning his Portfolio when he found he had done something wrong and for Acknowledging his Wrongdoing and Taking Responsibility for wht he had done’ »

Three Separate Investigations Commence Into the Antics of State Minister Lohan Ratwatte at Welikade and Anuradhapura by the Prisons Dept, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the CID’PM’s Media Secy Welivita Denies Mahinda Rajapaksa From Italy was Involved in any Telephone Conversation with Lohan

BY Dinitha Rathnayake

The Prisons Department and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) have commenced investigations into incidents at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons which involve former Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation State Minister Lohan Ratwatte, while the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is likely to begin its own investigation on the matter today (17).

Speaking to The Morning, HRCSL Commissioner Dr. Nimal Karunasiri said that as the initial stage of this investigation, statements would be recorded from prisoners and jailors, in addition to Ratwatte, as well as others who were involved in the incidents.

“We expect to release a report soon, which will be handed over to the respective officials for further investigations,” he added.

The Prisons Department has also commenced an investigation related to both the incidents where the recording of statements has already begun, according to Prisons Department Media Spokesman and Commissioner of Prisons Chandana Ekanayake. Speaking to The Morning, he said that Prisons Commissioner S. Kodithuwakku would lead the investigation on behalf of the Prisons Department.

Continue reading ‘Three Separate Investigations Commence Into the Antics of State Minister Lohan Ratwatte at Welikade and Anuradhapura by the Prisons Dept, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the CID’PM’s Media Secy Welivita Denies Mahinda Rajapaksa From Italy was Involved in any Telephone Conversation with Lohan’ »

Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners Chairman Senaka Perera alleges at press conference that attempts have been made to delete CCTV footage regarding Lohan Ratwatte’s Unruly Conduct at the Anuradhapura Prison.

By

Ruwani Fonseka

Attempts have been made to delete CCTV footage at the Anuradhapura Prison, Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners Chairman Attorney at Law Senaka Perera alleged at a press conference held on SEp 15.

He made such statements with regard to Former State Minister of Prisons and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte’s alleged offences committed inside the prison.

Continue reading ‘Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners Chairman Senaka Perera alleges at press conference that attempts have been made to delete CCTV footage regarding Lohan Ratwatte’s Unruly Conduct at the Anuradhapura Prison.’ »

Detenues at Anurdhapura Prison Tesify to Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Representatives the Details of the Incident Concerning Lohan Ratwatte but Jailguards Say they only Provided Security to the State Minister and did not see any such incident

By

Ruwani Fonseka

The Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka (HRCSL) visited the Anuradhapura prison on Sep 15 following the incident that took place last Sunday in which Former State Minister of Prisons and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte was allegedly involved, The Morning learnt.

During this visit, the HRCSL was able to the speak to the prisoners and the jailers at the Anuradhapura Prison Complex.

“The prisoners and jailers had two different things to say.

Continue reading ‘Detenues at Anurdhapura Prison Tesify to Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Representatives the Details of the Incident Concerning Lohan Ratwatte but Jailguards Say they only Provided Security to the State Minister and did not see any such incident’ »

TNA Spokesman MA Sumanthiran Calls for the Arrest of State Minister Lohan Ratwatte Regarding the Anurdhapura Jail Incident and the Launching of a Full-scale Inquiry;”he (Lohan) and all responsible must be prosecuted”says Jaffna MP

By

Meer Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s prisons minister resigned on Wednesday, following allegations that he asked Tamil prisoners to kneel, threatening them at gunpoint.

A statement from the Presidential Media Division said: “Lohan Ratwatte, State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation has tendered his resignation, acknowledging his responsibility for the incidents”. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accepted his resignation, it said.

Meanwhile, official sources told The Hindu that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, currently on a visit to Italy, telephoned the Minister accused of threatening prisoners, to immediately resign, pending investigation.

Continue reading ‘TNA Spokesman MA Sumanthiran Calls for the Arrest of State Minister Lohan Ratwatte Regarding the Anurdhapura Jail Incident and the Launching of a Full-scale Inquiry;”he (Lohan) and all responsible must be prosecuted”says Jaffna MP’ »

PM Mahinda Rajapaksa Telephones Lohan Ratwatte From Italy and Tells him to Step Down Pending Inquiry; Mahinda Talks to Gotabaya Also;Lohan Takes Responsibility and Submits Resignation Letter which is Accepted by President.

By
JAMILA HUSAIN

State Minister of Prison Management, Lohan Ratwatta has resigned from his portfolio a short while ago. He has sent his resignation letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The President’s Media Division in a statement said Ratwatta had tendered his resignation acknowledging his responsibility for the incidents that took place at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prison premises.

Ratwatte informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa regarding his decision today and the President accepted his resignation, the PMD said.

Continue reading ‘PM Mahinda Rajapaksa Telephones Lohan Ratwatte From Italy and Tells him to Step Down Pending Inquiry; Mahinda Talks to Gotabaya Also;Lohan Takes Responsibility and Submits Resignation Letter which is Accepted by President.’ »

“Lohan Ratwatte’s alleged conduct further undermines the government’s piecemeal efforts made to address the conditions of PTA prisoners, which is labelled as reconciliation.” -Amnesty International

Responding to reports that Sri Lanka’s State Minister for Prison Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation, Lohan Ratwatte, forcibly entered a state prison in Anuradhapura on 12 September and held Tamil prison inmates incarcerated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) at gunpoint and threatened to kill them, Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director said:

“These dumbfounding reports go to show that our ongoing concerns regarding Sri Lanka’s treatment of prisoners, especially the authorities’ torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment of PTA detainees are all too valid. They also demonstrate the level of impunity for criminal behaviour that is indulged at the highest levels of government. There must be a prompt, impartial and effective inquiry and the Minister must be held to account for his actions.

Continue reading ‘“Lohan Ratwatte’s alleged conduct further undermines the government’s piecemeal efforts made to address the conditions of PTA prisoners, which is labelled as reconciliation.” -Amnesty International’ »

Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) calls for the immediate resignation of State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte; CPA wants authorities to initiate a credible investigation into the alleged incidents, and take action without fear or favour.

By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) today called for the immediate resignation of State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte for the authorities to initiate a credible investigation into the alleged incidents, and action taken without fear or favour.

In a statement, the CPA stated that it was deeply disturbed by media reports of two incidents this week where the State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte is alleged to have abused his position by entering two prisons inebriated, and attempted to assault remand prisoners.

On Sunday 12 September, the State Minister is reported to have entered the Welikada Prison with a group of friends. Subsequently he is reported to have travelled by helicopter to Anuradhapura where he had entered the Anuradhapura Prison and ordered two suspects at gunpoint to kneel down in front of him.

Continue reading ‘Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) calls for the immediate resignation of State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte; CPA wants authorities to initiate a credible investigation into the alleged incidents, and take action without fear or favour.’ »

Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the UK are deeply concerned about current human rights developments in Sri Lanka and call upon Govt to cooperate fully with the UN High Commissioner while remaining ready to support the Government on the implementation of resolution 46/1.

(Text of Statement Delivered by UK’s Ambassador to the UN and WTO in Geneva, Simon Manley on behalf of the Core Group of Sri Lanka at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on September 14th 2021)

Thank you Madam President

This statement is by the Core Group on Sri Lanka comprising Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the UK.

We thank the High Commissioner for her update on Sri Lanka and call for OHCHR to be granted the resources needed to implement resolution 46/1.

We recognise the challenges Sri Lanka is facing due to the COVID 19 pandemic and express our condolences to the people of Sri Lanka for the many lives that have been lost.

We continue to stress the importance of a comprehensive reconciliation and accountability process. We note Sri Lanka’s declared intent to promote reconciliation and to ensure the continuity of the work of the Office of Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations.

Continue reading ‘Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the UK are deeply concerned about current human rights developments in Sri Lanka and call upon Govt to cooperate fully with the UN High Commissioner while remaining ready to support the Government on the implementation of resolution 46/1.’ »

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris reiterates Sri Lanka’s strong and continued cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council while rejecting the proposal for any external initiatives purportedly established by Resolution 46/1 because domestic processes are vigorously addressing the relevant matters

(Text of Statement by Prof G.L.Peiris Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka at the 48th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 14 September 2021)

< strong>Madam President,

Let me begin by reiterating our strong and continued cooperation with this Council and the United Nations mandated human rights system, in keeping with our Constitution and our international obligations voluntarily undertaken.

Twelve years ago, Sri Lanka eradicated LTTE terrorism on its soil. We have restored peace, security and stability for the benefit of our people. We held firm to our democratic traditions and elections were held at regular intervals with high levels of voter participation – most recently at the 2019 Presidential and 2020 Parliamentary polls. The Government is committed to holding the Provincial Council elections at the earliest.

We are dealing with post-conflict recovery from the perspective of healing. Most recently, 16 LTTE cadres convicted of serious terrorist crimes were granted Presidential pardons. The success of post conflict demining, reconstruction and resettlement programs has contributed immensely to national reconciliation.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris reiterates Sri Lanka’s strong and continued cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council while rejecting the proposal for any external initiatives purportedly established by Resolution 46/1 because domestic processes are vigorously addressing the relevant matters’ »

UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet takes note of President Gotbaya Rajapaksa’s statement in June that the Sri Lankan Govt is “committed to work with the UN to ensure accountability” and will implement “necessary institutional reforms.” And Says “I look forward to seeing concrete actions to this effect”

(Oral Update on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, 13 September 2021)


Distinguished President,

Excellencies,

I am pleased to update the Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka and the trends and issues identified in my last report.

I acknowledge the inputs sent by the Government in preparation for this update, and I note the President’s statement in June that the Government is “committed to work with the UN to ensure accountability” and will implement “necessary institutional reforms.”

I look forward to seeing concrete actions to this effect – in line with the recommendations that have been made in our reports and by various human rights mechanisms – and my Office stands ready to engage.

I also encourage the swift and public release of the reports of the national Commission of Inquiry that was appointed in January 2021, which I understand will complete its mandate by the end of this year, so that its work and recommendations can be assessed.
The current social, economic and governance challenges faced by Sri Lanka indicate the corrosive impact that militarisation and the lack of accountability continue to have on fundamental rights, civic space, democratic institutions, social cohesion and sustainable development.

A new state of emergency was declared in Sri Lanka on 30 August, with the stated aim of ensuring food security and price controls, amid deepening recession. The emergency regulations are very broad and may further expand the role of the military in civilian functions. The Office will be closely monitoring their application.

Continue reading ‘UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet takes note of President Gotbaya Rajapaksa’s statement in June that the Sri Lankan Govt is “committed to work with the UN to ensure accountability” and will implement “necessary institutional reforms.” And Says “I look forward to seeing concrete actions to this effect”’ »

Jacqueline Fernandez; Sri Lankan Jewel in Indian Hindi Filmdom Crown

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka’s Jacqueline Fernandez who has made a name for herself in India as a successful film actress was very much in the news last week for reasons unconnected to her cinematic career. The luminous star of Sri Lanka who has been illuminating the Hindi cinematic firmament for several years was summoned by India’s Directorate of Enforcement Division to give evidence in an investigation into an alleged racket involving fraud, extortion and money laundering amounting to of over Two Billion Indian rupeers. The Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency probing suspected financial crimes. The Enforcement directorate is under the Department of Revenue within the purview of the Indian Finance Ministry.

Pics via: https://www.facebook.com/AsliJacquelineFernandez

The suspected mastermind behind the alleged racket being investigated is an ace confidence trickster named Sukesh Chndrasekhar who is in jail. Jacqueline herself was an unwitting victim who had been enticed by Sukesh’s girlfriend and suspected partner in crime, Leena Maria Paul. Leena who is a film actress had befriended Jacqueline and lured her into the trap. She has also been arrested. Jacqueline appeared before the Enforcement Division on Aug 30 and was questioned by officials for over five hours. According to Indian media reports Jacqueline had provided crucial details to the officials.

The Indian media both electronic and print gave much exposure to Jacqueline’s appearance before the Directorate of Evidence. It also got much coverage in social media. This was hardly surprising because Jacqueline Fernandez is today a popular, successful actress in Hindi cinema. In a media environment dominated by COVID, Lockdowns, Afghanistan and political play, the news about Jacqueline may very well have been refreshingly welcome.

Continue reading ‘Jacqueline Fernandez; Sri Lankan Jewel in Indian Hindi Filmdom Crown’ »

Defence Secretary Gen.Kamal Gunaratne says there is irrefutable evidence regarding detained Lawyer Hejaz Hizbullah’s involvement in the Easter carnage


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne says certain interested parties are propagating lies that the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks had been carried out to influence the electorate at the 2019 presidential election.

Gen. Gunaratne says attempts are being made to drag President Gotabaya Rajapaksa into the controversy.

The former General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the elite 53 Division said so at a media briefing at the Defence Complex in Akuregoda, Battaramulla on Thursday (9).

SLPP presidential candidate comfortably won the election. It was followed by the SLPP triumph at the general election in 2020.

Continue reading ‘Defence Secretary Gen.Kamal Gunaratne says there is irrefutable evidence regarding detained Lawyer Hejaz Hizbullah’s involvement in the Easter carnage’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa never sought an audience with Pope Francis during his visit to Italy States foreign ministry after Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said the visit was an attempt to mislead the Vatican about the 2019 Easter attack probe.

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa never sought an audience with Pope Francis during his visit to the Vatican, the foreign ministry said after the head of the country’s Catholic church Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith claimed the visit was an attempt to mislead the Vatican about the 2019 Easter attack probe.

“At no stage has the Prime Minister requested nor received an invitation to visit the Vatican for an audience with His Holiness the Pope,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday (08).

The ministry said both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister will visit Bologna, Italy, to take part in an international event which is to be attended by the Prime Minister of Italy and other dignitaries from Italy and other European countries.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa never sought an audience with Pope Francis during his visit to Italy States foreign ministry after Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said the visit was an attempt to mislead the Vatican about the 2019 Easter attack probe.’ »

Prime Miniser Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister GL Peiris are Trying to Mislead the Pope Over the Easter Sunday Bombings Investigation During their Italy Visit Alleges Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith

By

Yohan Perera

Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, today alleged there were moves by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to mislead the Pope and international community over the Easter Sunday investigations during the Prime Minister’s visit to Italy which will begin tomorrow.

Opposing the move by the government to brief the Vatican about the investigations on Easter Sunday attacks, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said the Sri Lankan Catholic Church had already briefed the Holy See about the situation.

He said the Vatican is expected to refer the issue to UNHRC in Geneva shortly.

Continue reading ‘Prime Miniser Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister GL Peiris are Trying to Mislead the Pope Over the Easter Sunday Bombings Investigation During their Italy Visit Alleges Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’ »

What is the Emerging ‘food emergency’ in Sri Lanka?

By
Meera Srinivasan

On August 30, 2021, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, using powers vested in the country’s Public Security Ordinance, declared Emergency regulations pertaining to the distribution of essential food items.

The regulations sought to empower authorities to provide essential food items at a “concessionary rate” to the public by purchasing stocks of essential food items, including paddy, rice and sugar, at government-guaranteed prices, and prevent market irregularities and hoarding.

President Rajapaksa has appointed Major General N.D.S.P. Niwunhella as the Commissioner General of Essential Services to coordinate and ensure that people have access to essential supplies, a statement from the Presidential Media Division said.

Continue reading ‘What is the Emerging ‘food emergency’ in Sri Lanka?’ »

” We don’t expect to overcome a crisis of this magnitude on our own but hope well-wishers and the Opposition will cooperate to solve this crisis,” Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa

Basil Rajapaksa yesterday, in his first speech in Parliament as Finance Minister, painted a bleak picture of the economy and said that, amid the foreign exchange crisis, the country had lost around Rs. 1.6 trillion in Government revenue due to the COVID pandemic.

“The country is facing a serious foreign exchange crisis. Similarly, revenue has come down drastically. We don’t expect to overcome a crisis of this magnitude on our own but hope well-wishers and the Opposition will cooperate to solve this crisis,” Rajapaksa said.

Speaking during the debate on several finance Bills, Rajapaksa said that while the COVID-19 pandemic had aggravated the country’s economic woes, it was the poor economic management over previous decades which had led to this situation.

Continue reading ‘” We don’t expect to overcome a crisis of this magnitude on our own but hope well-wishers and the Opposition will cooperate to solve this crisis,” Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa’ »

Along with his band The Gypsies, Sunil Perera wrote and performed songs with catchy tunes and clever words, often about Sri Lankan life and politics.

By Ranga Sirilal and Ayeshea Perera

Sunil Perera, one of the stalwarts of Sri Lanka’s baila genre – a memento of Portuguese colonisation – died on Monday aged 68, his family said.

He is believed to have died of Covid-related complications.
Along with his band The Gypsies, Sunil wrote and performed songs with catchy tunes and clever lyrics, often about Sri Lankan life and politics.

His song Uncle Johnson from 1987 related a hilarious tale of a ruined wedding anniversary party, while Signore focused on the laments of a defeated politician berating his ungrateful voters. Saima Cut Vela gave advice to a hysterical young woman convinced her husband was fatally ill when in fact he was just drunk.

Continue reading ‘Along with his band The Gypsies, Sunil Perera wrote and performed songs with catchy tunes and clever words, often about Sri Lankan life and politics.’ »

Saumiyamoorthy Thondaman was the Masterful Strategist and Shrewdest Tactician Among Tamil Political Leaders

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Saumiyamoorthy (spelled sometimes as Saumyamoorthy or Saumiamoorthy) Thondaman was the legendary co-founder and long-time leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC). Thonda, as he was widely known, played a prominent role in the country’s post-independence politics for many decades.

Saumiyamoorthy Thondaman (30 August 1913 – 30 October 1999;)

His political life was intertwined with the vicissitudes of the Indian Tamil people of Sri Lanka, who still form the most deprived section of Sri Lankan society. He was a latter-day Moses whose goal was to emancipate his people from the wretched plight they were in owing to the historical injustice of being de-citizenised and disenfranchised. Although he could not fully realise these aspirations during his lifetime, it cannot be denied that the pragmatic leadership of Thondaman helped the people he represented to better their circumstances from the dire position they were in after the dawn of Sri Lanka’s independence.

Continue reading ‘Saumiyamoorthy Thondaman was the Masterful Strategist and Shrewdest Tactician Among Tamil Political Leaders’ »

Sri Lanka’s “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”:President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Declares State of Emergency Through Public Security Ordinance to Make Rice, Dhal and Sugar Available to the Public at Reasonable Prices


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

In decades of the dreaded Public Security Ordinance (PSO) in Sri Lanka, this is perhaps the first time that the use of this law has been justified by the Office of the President as necessary to ensure the availability of staples such as rice, dhal and sugar to the populace at reasonable prices.

Does it need the PSO to rein in robbers?’

What an extraordinary fall for the mighty PSO, one might well chuckle. Even as the Government’s lawyers employ the full strength of their (palpably unconvincing) lungs to emphasize the awful consequences of the deployment of the PSO and the terrible fates that will befall crooked hoarders of essential supplies, the truth lies elsewhere. Furious citizens on the street, traipsing from store to store to buy what earlier used to be freely available, vent their outrage in no uncertain terms. ‘Does it need the PSO to rein in robbers who are hoarding rice?’ one enraged man asked.

‘If so, what is the point of declaring maximum retail prices of food items through gazettes and what is the use of the Consumer Affairs Authority?’ he bellowed. ‘This shows how they have reduced the gazette to a joke’ someone else said. They may well have added that not only the gazette but the PSO itself has been reduced to the state of a grinning cheshire cat. Indeed, the framers of the PSO (1947) may have been forgiven for not anticipating this extraordinary eventuality when they drew up a ferociously harsh law meant to deal with threats aimed at the existence of the State.

Ensuring rice, dhal and sugar to citizens would have been the furthest from their minds, we hazard reasonably enough to guess. Of course from one standpoint, the implications of this week’s Proclamation by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa declaring a state of emergency and consequently bringing Part Two of the PSO into operation forthwith, is serious enough. The Opposition is shouting itself hoarse, warning that this is one more step towards authoritarianism. Certainly the Government’s stated reason for doing so, namely to catch rogue traders wears very thin indeed.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”:President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Declares State of Emergency Through Public Security Ordinance to Make Rice, Dhal and Sugar Available to the Public at Reasonable Prices’ »

Sri Lankan National Who was Shot Dead by New Zealand Police After Injuring 7 Persons in Knife Attack at an Auckland Supermarket Officially Identified as 32 Year Old Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen from Kattankudy in Batticaloa District


The Sri Lankan national shot dead inside a shopping mall in Auckland on Friday after he attacked several locals has been identified as Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen, a 32-year-old from the Eastern town of Kattankudy.

He went to New Zealand on a student visa in 2011 and then asked for political asylum claiming he and his father were experiencing problems in Sri Lanka with the authorities.
Sri Lankan Police yesterday launched an investigation into the man’s family and have already traced his mother.

New Zealand Police were being hampered in their investigations until a High Court suppression order preventing details about his identity and background being made public lapsed.

Samsudeen had applied for refugee status soon after arriving in New Zealand on a student visa in October 2011. His refugee status was granted on December 20, 2013 after a tribunal found he had a well-founded fear of facing harm if he returned to Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan National Who was Shot Dead by New Zealand Police After Injuring 7 Persons in Knife Attack at an Auckland Supermarket Officially Identified as 32 Year Old Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen from Kattankudy in Batticaloa District’ »

Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry Submits 13 Page Document to UN and Diplomatic Missions Outlining “substantial progress on human rights issues through domestic processes and mechanisms” Prior to Commencement of UNHRC 48th Session in Geneva

Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris this week handed over to UN Head in Sri Lanka Haana Singer-Hamdy the first copy of a 13-page response to obviate criticism over non-implementation of key elements in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution passed early this year.

The 13-page note prepared on the eve of the forthcoming UNHRC sessions points out that some of the main undertakings are either being implemented or nearing completion. Copies have also been delivered to Colombo-based diplomatic community via courier and to those based in Geneva.

Among such areas are the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP), the Office of Reparation (OR), developing a comprehensive transitional justice strategy, accountability and repealing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). “Notwithstanding the pandemic, Sri Lanka is determined and has made substantial progress on human rights issues through domestic processes and mechanisms,” the note says.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry Submits 13 Page Document to UN and Diplomatic Missions Outlining “substantial progress on human rights issues through domestic processes and mechanisms” Prior to Commencement of UNHRC 48th Session in Geneva’ »

Remembering Comrade Bala Tampoe the Legendary Trade Union Leader on his Seventh Death Anniversary

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Veteran Trade Union Leader Philips Balendra Tampoe passed away at the age of 92 on September 1st 2014.Comrade Bala Tampoe as he was generally known created Trade union history by being the general secretary of the Ceylon Mercantile Union for an unbroken period of sixty – six years.To denote the seventh death anniversary of Comrade Bala Tampoe I am re-posting an article I wrote about him in May 2015 to mark his 93rd birth anniversary on May 23rd………………DBSJ)


Remembering Comrade Bala Tampoe the Legendary Trade Union Leader on his 93rd Birth Anniversary -May 23

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark” is perhaps an apt description of how the International Workers Day was observed in Sri Lanka on May 1st. Instead of being given pride of place on May Day, the workers and their trade union leaders were virtually ignored by the political parties conducting rallies and processions on workers day. The May day event has been transfigured or disfigured into a Political Tamasha by major political parties.

(null)

The pathetically fractured trade union movement and hopelessly debilitated working classes of Sri Lanka have either been unable or unwilling to check or counter this increasing politicisation and consequent diminution of the trade union sphere over the years. The transformation of May day into a political event where the workers were treated as children of a lesser god is only symptomatic of a malady that has afflicted this country for many decades. The sea of red that this writer witnessed on May day during his childhood slowly began changing colour to seas of green and blue over the years. With the presence of artistes and actors from India on stage, the meaning of May day got distorted as a cultural show.

Continue reading ‘Remembering Comrade Bala Tampoe the Legendary Trade Union Leader on his Seventh Death Anniversary’ »

The man who stabbed six innocent supermarket shoppers in a terrorist attack – before being shot dead by police – was an “ISIS-inspired known threat” who was under constant police surveillance, says New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.


A man has been fatally shot by police officers and six shoppers have been injured – including three critically – in horrific scenes at a West Auckland supermarket this afternoon.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a terrorist attack carried out by a known threat, who was under constant police surveillance.

“What happened today was despicable. It was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity but an individual person who is gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone in the community,” Ardern said.

Continue reading ‘The man who stabbed six innocent supermarket shoppers in a terrorist attack – before being shot dead by police – was an “ISIS-inspired known threat” who was under constant police surveillance, says New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.’ »

Sri Lankan National Supporter of Islamic State(IS) Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great)Injures 6 Persons of whom 3 are Critical and one Serious in Knife Attack at Auckland Supermarket and is Shot Dead by New Zealand Police.

Police in New Zealand shot and killed a “violent extremist” after he stabbed and wounded at least six people in an Auckland supermarket.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident was a “terrorist attack” carried out by a Sri Lankan national who was under police surveillance.

The man, who has not been officially named, was a supporter of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, she said.

Police killed the man within 60 seconds of the attack on Friday.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan National Supporter of Islamic State(IS) Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great)Injures 6 Persons of whom 3 are Critical and one Serious in Knife Attack at Auckland Supermarket and is Shot Dead by New Zealand Police.’ »

32 Year old “Lone Wolf” Attacker arrived in New Zealand in October 2011, became a person of national security interest in 2016 and was recently sentenced to one year of supervision for possessing IS propaganda.-BBC

What do we know about the New Zealand attacker?

The man, whose identity cannot be revealed due to court suppression orders, arrived in New Zealand in October 2011. He became a person of national security interest in 2016.

He had been under round-the-clock monitoring and heavy surveillance due to concerns about his ideology. He was known to multiple agencies, and was also on a terror watchlist.

Continue reading ‘32 Year old “Lone Wolf” Attacker arrived in New Zealand in October 2011, became a person of national security interest in 2016 and was recently sentenced to one year of supervision for possessing IS propaganda.-BBC’ »

Extremism rears its head again in New Zealand -An Analysis

by Phil Mercer, BBC News

This callous act in Auckland will stir painful memories of the deadly mosque attacks in Christchurch in 2019.

In that attack, a lone gunman – a self-confessed white supremacist – murdered 51 worshippers. Once again, New Zealand’s geographic isolation and peaceful reputation have proved to be no defence against extremism.

The assailant had, for years, been identified as a threat to national security and was under 24-hour surveillance.
Continue reading ‘Extremism rears its head again in New Zealand -An Analysis’ »

India’s National Investigation Agency Probe into Seizure of Heroin and Arms Off Kerala Coast Leads to Suspicion of international drug running and weapon trading racket aimed at reviving the LTTE; Arrested Sri Lankan Tamil “Mastermind” Suresh Rajan and Associate Soundararajan Were Allegedly Working Closely with Known LTTE Sympathisers


By

Arun Janardhanan

An ongoing National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the seizure of 300 kg heroin, five AK-47 rifles and 1,000 live rounds of 9mm ammunition off the coast of Vizhinjam near Thiruvananthapuram has led to speculation that an international drug running and weapon trading racket is aimed at reviving the Sri Lankan Tamil separatist group LTTE.

The case relates to the March 18 interception of a boat with the contraband by the Coast Guard following an intelligence input. The mastermind behind the operation was Sri Lankan Tamil Suresh Rajan, a resident of Colombo who had been living at Kundrathur, a Chennai suburb, for some time.

Continue reading ‘India’s National Investigation Agency Probe into Seizure of Heroin and Arms Off Kerala Coast Leads to Suspicion of international drug running and weapon trading racket aimed at reviving the LTTE; Arrested Sri Lankan Tamil “Mastermind” Suresh Rajan and Associate Soundararajan Were Allegedly Working Closely with Known LTTE Sympathisers’ »

If the lockdown is extended to 2 October, $ 2.2 billion would be lost, but 6,300 lives can be saved. 6,300 lives hang in balance. Whether they live or die depends on what the Rajapaksas prioritise – money or lives.

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Our Hero who works, loving motherland forever If anyone is protecting the country, that noble man is you”
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidential campaign theme song

The warnings were clear. Churches will be attacked on Easter Sunday. Authorities turned a deaf ear. The massacre happened. 269 innocent lives were lost.

Three days later Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived from the US declaring his candidacy. He vowed to protect the good and punish the bad and rode the patriotic horse to a landslide win.

Now he and his family’s Government are being forewarned by a team of medical experts. In the report, Epidemiological and Economic Projections of Mitigation Measures for the COVID-19 Pandemic in Sri Lanka’s Roadmap, the warnings are as specific as those preceding the Easter Sunday massacre. If the lockdown is extended to 18 September, $ 1.67 billion would be lost; but 2,988 lives can be saved. If the lockdown is extended to 2 October, $ 2.2 billion would be lost, but 6,300 lives can be saved.

After the Easter Sunday massacre, Gotabaya Rajapaksa accused the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration of de-prioritising national security. “They did not give priority to national security… They were talking about ethnic reconciliation, then they were talking about human rights issues, they were talking about individual freedoms.”

His words fell on a soil made fertile by the blood of innocents. 6.9 million Lankans, the absolute majority of them Sinhalese and Buddhists, voted him into power, choosing safety over ethnic reconciliation, human rights and individual freedoms.

Today the safety of all Lankans is imperilled as never before. If the lockdown is not extended by another month, 6,300 lives will be lost – that is 23.4 times as many as the lives lost in the Easter Sunday massacre. Lankans of every ethnicity and religion, parents and children, spouses and siblings, lovers, relations and friends, 6,300 lives hang in balance. Whether they live or die depends on what the Rajapaksas prioritise – money or lives.

Continue reading ‘If the lockdown is extended to 2 October, $ 2.2 billion would be lost, but 6,300 lives can be saved. 6,300 lives hang in balance. Whether they live or die depends on what the Rajapaksas prioritise – money or lives.’ »

How much higher will the price of sugar rise to keep the “Rajavasala” Family happy?

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

This lockdown is not as tough as it was expected to be. There is plenty of traffic on the roads, and very little stopping by the Police. People are also moving about, and most of those who called for a lockdown see it as a play of presidential politics: giving what you asked for, but not the way you wanted it.

During the last few. ‘lockdown’ days the figures of those infected with Covid-19 has gone up considerably, and the numbers, dead too. Those infections would have been before the lockdown began. So let’s keep watching the infection numbers and the death toll, in the coming weeks and months. Are we not sure of the deadly figures given by the Washington University some months ago, or the WHO and Medical Experts more recently?

Who cares? We have a Minister of Health who sees this as the task of the gods.

Now that the Cabinet Ministers have been shaken up, and the Delta variant of Corona has its own play, let’s all raise our hands and call for the help of the gods, with the Minister of Health Rambukwelle, doing a special dance at his favourite Devale.

By the way, do we have enough coconuts, or can we obtain them at a special reduced Covid pooja price, to get all the nuts needed to smash at every devale?

We will have to do without sugar for all the syrups that will be made at different devales to please the deities -at Seenigama, too.

Continue reading ‘How much higher will the price of sugar rise to keep the “Rajavasala” Family happy?’ »

Lessons From My Mangala Mamma:How a Fashion Designer Can Become a Finance Minister.

By

Chanchala Gunewardena

Mammi had many achievements in the telecom sector. My favorite of these was the installment of dial-up in my parents’ home, a personal windfall. When I was old enough to access a search engine I browsed my way through the good, bad, and mean spirited about my family. From both back in the day, but also iterated throughout his career despite mounting accomplishments, was the intriguing failure of many to compute how someone trained in one area, particularly in the apparently frivolous and effeminized inclination for fashion, could have the capacity for roles which were at least then considered the territory of the somber and the acceptably qualified few.

I concluded that the imagination gap that produces this question reflects the asker’s personal limitations and/or broader cultural, and educational constraints. And I contrast that with the great fortune that my family had in that my Khema Atthamma, born in 1929 Ceylon, married to the original Samaraweera politico (and anti-death penalty fighter), then widowed young to raise 3 children on a Lake House secretary’s salary, somehow shirked off fears and pragmatic pressures to bravely nurture a successful architect, designer, and travel agent (and the many other things they did beyond these titles).

Continue reading ‘Lessons From My Mangala Mamma:How a Fashion Designer Can Become a Finance Minister.’ »

“Do we really need an Army Commander with his unform emblazoned with medals to solemnly inform us that a country wide ‘lockdown’ will continue for another week?Is this not a cheapening of the military role of and by itself?


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawrdene

As much this millennium’s devastating global pandemic has brought deaths, destruction of livelihoods and mindless misery to millions across borders, there is a harsh mirror that it holds up to us. Political braggadocio and military might does not stop this virus; sensible public health leadership does. It is as simple as that.

Heedless and needless ruin

But Sri Lanka’s politicians are yet to learn that lesson, it seems. The result is catastrophically high human cost of not only the covid stricken and desperately vulnerable ‘hoi polloi’ crowding our hospitals and overflowing to open spaces but finally, the implacable reaching of virus tentacles into the high echelons of the Government, establishment, political and corporate elites One by one, each is struck down by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the political and economic consequences of this colossal failure of Sri Lanka’s preferred military policy in dealing with the pandemic is inevitable.

Continue reading ‘“Do we really need an Army Commander with his unform emblazoned with medals to solemnly inform us that a country wide ‘lockdown’ will continue for another week?Is this not a cheapening of the military role of and by itself?’ »

“Tamil is the Language I Speak, so why not put Tamil Words into the Songs I Create?asks Swiss Tamil Pop Singer of Sri Lankan Origin – Priya Ragu

By
Alim Kheraj

When Priya Ragu signed her record deal, her parents told her not to give up her day job. “I thought: ‘I can work and do the music at the same time,’” says Ragu. The problem was that she was employed as a technical purchaser buying aircraft parts – hardly the sort of job you can do on autopilot.

For months, she balanced the two until the burden got too much. “I realised that mistakes were happening, and my boss was like: ‘Are you sure you want to carry on doing this?’ That’s when I decided to quit.”

That was only two months ago, and Ragu still hasn’t told her parents that she quit – although once they read this interview, her secret will be out. But given the trajectory of her career, they shouldn’t be surprised.

Since her breakout hit, the buoyant Good Love 2.0, the 35-year-old Swiss-Sri Lankan star has carved out a space for herself with a sound that blends the slinky R&B of Kehlani or Summer Walker with folk music from the Tamil population of south Asia and samples from Tamil-language “Kollywood” films. It’s a fusion filled with reverence for Ragu’s heritage and which has picked up praise from Vogue and Radio 1.

Continue reading ‘“Tamil is the Language I Speak, so why not put Tamil Words into the Songs I Create?asks Swiss Tamil Pop Singer of Sri Lankan Origin – Priya Ragu’ »

Remembering the Days When My Friend Mangala Samaraweera was Famously “Labelled” as Mangala Innocence.


By

Chandri Peris

When one hears a single bell toll, the message become clear. Someone within your community has passed. In the last few weeks, we have been hearing the bell toll over and over again with increasing rapidity until it reached a deafening crescendo this morning, Mangala is no more!

“Stop all the clocks – cut off the telephone – pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

Many in Sri Lanka looked up to him and referred to him as a “True Patriot”. They pinned their hopes on him, eager to see him lead a country they all love to a better future. Those hopes now lie in shreds, like the smithereens of a coconut that has been dashed to appease a god who remains – just stone.

The Mangala I knew was a friend devoid of politics. He entered that hell the year that I left the hell that is Sri Lanka now! I knew him when he lived in a tiny government owned flat in Dehiwala. Fresh from his days at Central St. Martin’s School of Fashion, London, it was here that we spent many a day and night planning his first fashion show “The Post Nuclear Floor Show,” which I choreographed and presented.I have many memories of and with him; Kinross beach for midday swims when he used to pretend to be a crocodile, lunch packets of rice and curry from the shop around the corner bought just so as to flirt with the shop keeper, and wild nights that started at the Art Centre Club which rolled on and on (with Jagath, Ranjith, Feroze, Prasad, Boodhi, Vasantha, Kukka et al). He had this unforgettable sewing shop in Favela in Colpetty, where film stars from the silver screen used to come and get measured while we hid behind bales of tartan cloth and giggled. We both made shirts out of Batticaloa sarongs and thought we looked rather dashing! He had a wonderful sense of colour which I did my best to learn from and even copied. We laughed a lot in those days when none of us had any money. It was indeed the age of innocence!

Continue reading ‘Remembering the Days When My Friend Mangala Samaraweera was Famously “Labelled” as Mangala Innocence.’ »

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin Announces Indian Rupees 3170 Million Package to Benefit Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in State’Proposed Measures Include Housing Reconstruction, Enhancing Education and Employment Opportunities,Raising Living Standards and Increasing Food Subsidies


Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday, August 27, announced a welfare package of Rs 317 crore, which includes rebuilding houses, for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in the state. A committee would be set up soon for their welfare, which shall, among other things, work towards long term solutions on matters like citizenship and making arrangements for those returning to Sri Lanka, he said.

Making a statement in the Assembly, the Chief Minister said Rs 261.54 crore would be allocated for improving infrastructure including reconstruction of houses for those living in camps, Rs 12.25 crore towards ensuring education and job opportunities and Rs 43.61 crore for raising their living standards.

Till date, 3,04,269 Lankan Tamils have arrived in Tamil Nadu since 1983. Of them, 58,822 people belonging to 18,944 families are housed in 108 camps spread across 29 districts and 34,087 people are living elsewhere after due registration, he said.
Assuring a dignified living for Tamil refugees, Stalin said

7,469 dilapidated tenements in camps would be rebuilt at a cost of Rs 231.54 crore and Rs 108.81 crore would be earmarked in the current fiscal year for construction of 3,510 new houses in the first phase. For improving basic amenities like drinking water, Rs 30 crore will be allotted and every year Rs 5 crore shall be set apart for developing such facilities. On the education front, CM Stalin said the government would bear the tuition and hostel fees of 55 students, who are children of refugees. Fifty students in engineering and five others in agriculture and agriculture-engineering streams would get the assistance based on marks secured.

Also, the government will remit the tuition and hostel fee of all post graduate students living in camps and Rs 1 crore would be allotted for the purpose, the CM said. Announcing a hike in scholarship, he said the assistance for those studying polytechnic courses would now be Rs 10,000 from Rs 2,500. For graduate studies in arts and science streams, the scholarship shall be increased to Rs 12,000 from Rs 3,000. For graduate level vocational courses, the scholarship would be increased to Rs 20,000 from Rs 5,000 and Rs 1.25 crore shall be set apart for the initiative.

For the every 300 Self Help Groups in camps, Rs 1.25 lakh would be provided as revolving and community investment fund and Rs 75,000 shall be given to 321 groups selected last year over and above the Rs 50,000 provided earlier.

In total, Rs 6.16 crore would be allotted for the purpose in the current financial year. Also, Rs 10 crore would be allotted to provide skill development training to 5,000 youngsters. The cash assistance to family heads would be increased to Rs 1,500 per month from Rs 1,000. The cash support shall be increased to Rs 1,000 from Rs 750 for adults and for children aged 12 and below, it would be Rs 500 from the present Rs 400. The increase would cost the exchequer an additional Rs 21.49 crore.

Free of cost cooking gas connection and stove would be provided to camp inmates at a one-time cost of Rs 7 crore and a subsidy of Rs 400 would be provided for five gas cylinders and Rs 3.80 crore shall be earmarked every year for this purpose.

The CM also announced that the rice provided to them over and above the 20 kilo entitlement shall also be provided free of cost. Presently, they get a subsidy of 57 paisa per kilo for rice above the 20-kg slab. “The government will bear the additional expenditure of Rs 19 lakh.” Stalin also announced enhanced support in other welfare schemes including those aimed at providing clothing and cooking utensils.

The Chief Minister said the proposed committee would be for providing appropriate support to refugees living in camps and outside. It would also look into enhancing basic amenities for them.

Courtesy;The News Minute

Only a Single Suicide Bomber Was Responsible for Explosive Attack on People Waiting at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 26; At Least 95 Persons Comprising Afghan Civilians and 13 US Defence Personnel Killed;Over 150 Injured- Latest BBC Report


A powerful bomb blast struck the perimeter of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday, as civilians continued to seek to escape on flights from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

At least 95 people were killed and 150 others wounded.

The Pentagon confirmed 13 US service personnel were among those killed.

The bombing came hours after Western governments had warned their citizens to stay away from the airport, because of an imminent threat of an attack by IS-K, the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State group.

Here is what we know about what happened.

Continue reading ‘Only a Single Suicide Bomber Was Responsible for Explosive Attack on People Waiting at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 26; At Least 95 Persons Comprising Afghan Civilians and 13 US Defence Personnel Killed;Over 150 Injured- Latest BBC Report’ »

Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP)Launches Twin Suicide Bomber Attacks on Abbey Gate of Kabul Airport and Afghan Refugee Claim Processing Centre at Baron Hotel; Gunmen Open Fire After Explosions; At Least 12 US Defence Personnel and Over 60 Afghan Civilians Killed According to Preliminary Estimates.

AS THE AUGUST 31st deadline to conclude the evacuation of Afghanistan loomed, the drumbeat of warnings grew louder. On August 24th President Joe Biden warned of an “acute and growing risk” of a terrorist attack, by the local branch of Islamic State (IS), against Kabul’s airport, thronged by thousands of Afghans desperate to escape the Taliban’s rule. On August 25th several governments told their nationals to keep away from the airport. On August 26th a British minister warned that intelligence pointed to “a very imminent, highly lethal attack”. Alas, it came later that afternoon.

At least 12 American troops—thought to be 11 marines and one navy medic—and at least 60 Afghans were killed in two suicide-bombings, which the Pentagon described as a “heinous” and “complex” attack. General Kenneth McKenzie, head of America’s Central Command, which has responsibility for Afghanistan, said that the Pentagon was “still working to calculate the total loss”. One attack targeted the Abbey gate into Kabul airport, where many would-be refugees had gathered in a sewage canal (see map). The other struck the Baron hotel, 200 metres away, where British officials had been processing Afghan claims. Gunmen opened fire after both incidents.

Continue reading ‘Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP)Launches Twin Suicide Bomber Attacks on Abbey Gate of Kabul Airport and Afghan Refugee Claim Processing Centre at Baron Hotel; Gunmen Open Fire After Explosions; At Least 12 US Defence Personnel and Over 60 Afghan Civilians Killed According to Preliminary Estimates.’ »

Yoshita Rajapaksa Denies Social Media Reports that he slapped Iraj Weeraratne Thereby Causing the Well-known Musician to Resign Post of National Youth Services Council Director

By

JAMILA HUSAIN

Yoshita Rajapaksa ,Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has denied rumors that he slapped musician and song writer Iraj Weeraratne, which is why Iraj submitted his resignation as director of the National Youth Services Council (NYSC).

Yoshitha told Daily Mirror that such rumors being circulated on social media were baseless and he had no association to Weeraratne.

Continue reading ‘Yoshita Rajapaksa Denies Social Media Reports that he slapped Iraj Weeraratne Thereby Causing the Well-known Musician to Resign Post of National Youth Services Council Director’ »

“The US has torn itself apart in its counterinsurgent efforts because of its inability to define attainable goals and to link them in a way that is sustainable by the American political process.”- Dr.Henry Kissinger

By
Henry Kissinger

THE TALIBAN takeover of Afghanistan focuses the immediate concern on the extrication of tens of thousands of Americans, allies and Afghans stranded all over the country.

Their rescue needs to be our urgent priority. The more fundamental concern, however, is how America found itself moved to withdraw in a decision taken without much warning or consultation with allies or the people most directly involved in 20 years of sacrifice. And why the basic challenge in Afghanistan has been conceived and presented to the public as a choice between full control of Afghanistan or complete withdrawal.

An underlying issue has dogged our counterinsurgency efforts from Vietnam to Iraq for over a generation. When the United States risks the lives of its military, stakes its prestige and involves other countries, it must do so on the basis of a combination of strategic and political objectives. Strategic, to make clear the circumstances for which we fight; political, to define the governing framework to sustain the outcome both within the country concerned and internationally.

Continue reading ‘“The US has torn itself apart in its counterinsurgent efforts because of its inability to define attainable goals and to link them in a way that is sustainable by the American political process.”- Dr.Henry Kissinger’ »

Mangala, my dear, loyal and trusted friend, Rest peacefully. Your vision will be fulfilled. We will finish the job. We will never let you down

By

Krishantha Prasad Cooray

The loss of Mangala Samaraweera is a devastating blow to statesmanship in Sri Lanka. In the words of theologian James Freeman Clarke, “the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.”

In that way, Mangala always put the truth and his moral convictions, his principles, before any election. Despite being a master political tactician instrumental in bringing three of the last four presidents into office, Mangala always thought first about the people of Sri Lanka, and second about politics and how to win elections.

He was never afraid to admit when he was wrong, nor was he shy to voice an opinion that may have been unpopular or politically courageous. Just weeks before he died, he told the public that as bad a state as the country is in today, he personally accepts responsibility for his own mistakes that contributed to our country’s plight. That calibre of sincere introspection is unheard of in Sri Lankan politics.

Continue reading ‘Mangala, my dear, loyal and trusted friend, Rest peacefully. Your vision will be fulfilled. We will finish the job. We will never let you down’ »

Mangala gave us hope of a more enlightened, kinder Sri Lanka. What will we do with that hope? Will we let it turn to despair?


By

Prof. Rohan Samarajiva

A big tree has fallen. What are the consequences?

Mangala went out on a high. A month ago, on 25 July, he had that news conference at Freedom Hub, surrounded by young people. On that day and in the subsequent media interviews, he said what he believed and felt, without compromise.

Back in 2020, when he was contemplating withdrawing from the contesting the General Election, I recall telling him the cameras will not be there for one who is not in politics. He disagreed, saying that he would be in politics, just not electoral politics. The media attention that he drew following the launch of the Radical Centre proved he was right, and I was wrong.

I worked closely with him on telecom reforms and on managing the civil conflict back in 1998-’99. Politics is the art of the possible. He was a practical politician. A doer.

As a liberal, he was in the minority in all the Cabinets served in and in all the political parties he worked in. That required compromise. But his compromises went only so far. Beyond a point, he did not yield. In these last months he spoke freely, without worrying about how the President or Prime Minister or the majority of the party leadership would perceive his comments. That would have been liberating.

Continue reading ‘Mangala gave us hope of a more enlightened, kinder Sri Lanka. What will we do with that hope? Will we let it turn to despair?’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Regarded the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Samagi Jana Balawegaya as “two sides of the same coin” and stated Sri Lanka is “desperately gasping for a total U-turn” in policy direction.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera passed away on Tuesday at a private hospital here due to COVID-19 related complications. File | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka was under treatment for COVID-19.

Mangala Samaraweera, a former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka and a notable advocate of liberalism from the country’s dominant Sinhala-Buddhist polity, passed away at a private hospital in Colombo after treatment for COVID-19-related complications failed. He was 65.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Regarded the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Samagi Jana Balawegaya as “two sides of the same coin” and stated Sri Lanka is “desperately gasping for a total U-turn” in policy direction.’ »

“You have not died, Mangala. Your exceptional Vision for Lanka and the world lives on.Dearest Mangala, you will live with every battle waged to build a better Sri Lanka.”-Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

(TEXT Of MESSAGE FROM FORMER PRESIDEN CHANDRIKA BANDARAAIKE KUMARATUNGAON THE PASSING AWAY OF FORMER MINISTER MR. MANGALA SAMARAWEERA)

Mangala, my dearest friend, brother, comrade-in-arms.

On this dark day, you have lost your battle for life.

Your family and friends fought with you, cried and prayed to keep you alive. We too lost this battle.

But you have not died, Mangala. Your exceptional Vision for Lanka and the world lives on. The battle we fought side by side, will live forever.

Dearest Mangala, you will live with every battle waged to build a better Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘“You have not died, Mangala. Your exceptional Vision for Lanka and the world lives on.Dearest Mangala, you will live with every battle waged to build a better Sri Lanka.”-Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’ »

Tamil National Alliance expresses deep sorrow at the untimely passing away of former Minister Mr. Mangala Samaraweera who remained a truthful friend of the Tamil People.

(Text of a Media Release Issued by the Tamil National Alliance)

Tamil National Alliance express our deep sorrow at the untimely passing away of Mr. Magala Samaraweera, former minister and truthful friend of the Tamil People.

Mr. Samaraweera entered politics in 1989, and became a minister in 1994 in the government of President Chandrika Bandaranayeka Kumarasthunga and lead the “Sudu Nelum” movement campaigning for a political solution to the Tamil National Question.

He continued with his Anti – communalist stand right until his death.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance expresses deep sorrow at the untimely passing away of former Minister Mr. Mangala Samaraweera who remained a truthful friend of the Tamil People.’ »

Visionary Leader Mangala Samaraweera Afflicted with COVID Passes Away at Private Hospital in Colombo; Outspoken Politician From Matara was a True Patriot and Radical Centrist

Sri Lanka’s former finance minister Mangala Samaraweera passed away Tuesday ( Aug 24) in hospital where he was being treated for Coronavirus, a coordinator for the former minister said.

The 65-year-old Samaraweera contracted the virus earlier this month and was receiving intensive care unit (ICU) treatment at the Lanka Hospital, despite being fully vaccinated.

When unconfirmed reports surfaced last week that Samaraweera passed, sources close to him said he was in fact on the mend and was responding well to treatment.

Continue reading ‘Visionary Leader Mangala Samaraweera Afflicted with COVID Passes Away at Private Hospital in Colombo; Outspoken Politician From Matara was a True Patriot and Radical Centrist’ »

Mangala Samaraweera is firm in his conviction that he should move away from the extremely rotten old political culture and commit himself to the cause of building a new mass political movement aimed at rescuing the country.

By

Victor Ivan

The decision reached by Mangala Samaraweera who is considered a colourful, controversial, daring and creative political figure in the old or the traditional political landscape of Sri Lanka, which is currently on the verge of decay and death, to abandon the course of traditional politics and choose to tread on an alternative path can be seen as a silver line in the pitch darkness.

Despite the serious cardiac condition suffered a few days ago, I am bound to produce this brief note analysing the factors that led to Mangala Samaraweera’s sudden change of political course to tread on a new path.

He had several rounds of discussions with me before he chose this new path. He was aware that I was an activist of the Punarudaya movement when he had discussions with me. We both had longstanding acquaintances, and there were occasions when we had even entered into heated arguments in public debates on various issues of public importance. For some time we did not have close contact, which resumed during the latter part of the regime of the previous Government.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera is firm in his conviction that he should move away from the extremely rotten old political culture and commit himself to the cause of building a new mass political movement aimed at rescuing the country.’ »

Mangala Samaraweera – What Our Nation Almost Lost!

By Sharmini Nagahawatte Serasinghe

It took Mangala Samaraweera to stare death in the face, for many to realise what the nation was about to lose.

Mangala has quit parliamentary politics for good, and nothing and no one can make him change his mind. Hence there is no necessity for any politician, be they in Government, Opposition or any other political party to feel threatened by him.

When I last spoke to Mangala, shortly before he came down with the Delta variant of COVID -19, despite receiving both Pfizer vaccines, I asked him if he would consider contesting the next Presidential election. He looked me directly in the eye and said firmly, “NO”!

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera – What Our Nation Almost Lost!’ »

Was the Failure to Procure Indian Vaccine Early at Cheaper Cost due to Hidden Pressures to Obtain Larger Quantities of More Expensive Chinese Vaccine ?


By

Dr.Gehan Gunatilleke

Vaccines play a vital role in the battle against COVID-19. Countries that have vaccinated a majority of their population are doing better compared to their situation prior to vaccination. The rationale for swiftly and efficiently vaccinating a population seems self-evident.

Sri Lanka’s recent rise in COVID-related deaths would hopefully fall as the number of people fully vaccinated rise. That’s the prevailing theory: if a country vaccinates its population, the death toll will begin to fall. In this context, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has quite rightly called for the prioritisation of vaccination in the country.

According to a dashboard maintained by the Presidential Secretariat (as of 18 August 2021), the population over 30 years is 11,496,906, and ‘100%’ of these people have received at least one dose. The Dashboard also confirms that only 43% of persons over 30 years of age have been fully vaccinated.

What can this data mean? On the one hand, it is possible that the ‘100%’ figure depicted in the Dashboard is somewhat misleading, as some people over 30 years are still in the process of receiving their first dose. In truth, what the Dashboard states is that 11,963,739 people have received one dose. A vast majority of these people are likely to be over 30 years, but some persons (including frontline workers and students traveling overseas) are likely to be under 30 years.

On the other hand, this data, when read alongside data on COVID-related deaths, signals that delays in vaccinating people are costing Sri Lankan lives. Those who received just one dose are still dying, because one dose is not good enough to ward off the Delta variant of COVID-19. Data released by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health this week actually confirmed that during the week ending 13 August 2021, 215 people who died of COVID had actually received the first dose of a vaccine.1 That figure amounted to 25% of the total number of deaths.

So we now know for certain that vaccines save lives. But we also learn that one dose of a vaccine is not always adequate. So a delay in fully vaccinating the population can cost lives.

Continue reading ‘Was the Failure to Procure Indian Vaccine Early at Cheaper Cost due to Hidden Pressures to Obtain Larger Quantities of More Expensive Chinese Vaccine ?’ »

The Cardinal may be advised to wear sackcloth and ashes to atone for the reprehensible part he played in ushering in a two-thirds majority for this Govt which appears to have lost all sense and reason.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The black flags that the head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church has requested his flock to hoist this Saturday in silent protest against the Government’s inaction to secure justice for hundreds of innocents killed in jihadist attacks on Sri Lankans (2019), should be fluttering aloft the houses of all people, Buddhists, Catholics, Christians, Hindus and Muslims.


A cross on each door

That should be in protest, for not only what this Government has done but also for what all Governments have done, in laying waste this beautiful and bountiful land. This is not limited to the Easter Sunday barbarities, we must reiterate. In medieval times, when the bubonic plague swept across Europe, killing tens of millions, the houses of those who were struck by the curse of the Black Death were marked by a large cross, painted in either red or black. It is time that we followed this practice, to mark the Black Death of a political plague that is as potent as any natural born killer in destroying lives.

Perhaps this is what the Roman Catholic Cardinal should have called upon the populace to mark. The good Cardinal too himself may be advised, in classic Bibilical traditions, to wear sackcloth and ashes to atone for the reprehensible part he played in ushering in a two-thirds majority for this Government which appears to have lost all sense and reason. This is nothing remarkable. It was entirely predictable that any of our political regimes, given half a chance, would lose its head if conferred with extraordinary power.

Continue reading ‘The Cardinal may be advised to wear sackcloth and ashes to atone for the reprehensible part he played in ushering in a two-thirds majority for this Govt which appears to have lost all sense and reason.’ »

When the Tamil Catholic Priest Fr.Jim Brown was made to “Disappear” in Jaffna Fifteen Years Ago.

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is a modified version of an article written for “The Sunday Leader” on September 3rd 2006. It is being reproduced here to denote the 15th anniversary of the “disappearance”of Tamil Catholic Priest Fr.Jim Brown who went “missing”in Jaffna on August 20th 2006)

Members of the Catholic faith in Jaffna were greatly agitated in the last week of August 2006 when it became known that the Diocesan hierarchy was actively considering the recalling of priests from parishes in problematic, insecure areas. If the decision was implemented Catholic priests from the Northern Islands, Vadamaratchy East and some parts of Thenmaratchy would have left their churches and taken up residence temporarily at Colombothurai in Jaffna. The “shepherds” would have been absent when their respective “flocks” were undergoing great harship and fear.

Fr. Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown

Naturally the Catholic laity of those areas were agitated and upset. So too were other parishioners in other areas of Jaffna. There was much anguish and tears. “Do not desert us at our time of peril and need” many sobbed and wailed. Emotional appeals were made to Jaffna Caholic Bishop Rt. Rev Dr.Thomas Soundranayagam. The prelate took the feelings of his flock into consideration and changed his mind. The endangered flocks got their shepherds back.

What made Bishop Soundranayagam contemplate such a drastic measure in the first place? It was out of a sense of concern and anxiety over the safety of Catholic clergymen in Jaffna. Given the uncertain and unsafe conditions prevalent in Jaffna the Bishop felt that his priests should not be exposed to danger unnecessarily. He was particularly worried about the younger priests and those in charge of churches facing insecurity and security force related problems in unsafe areas.
Continue reading ‘When the Tamil Catholic Priest Fr.Jim Brown was made to “Disappear” in Jaffna Fifteen Years Ago.’ »

Over 60 Killed and More than 200 Injured in Aerial Attack by Sri Lankan Airforce on Tamil Civilians in Vallipunam 15 Years ago

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj


(At least 60 were killed and 155 seriously injured on August 14th 2006 when the Sri Lankan airforce launched an aeial attack on Tamil civilians in the Vallipunam area of Mullaitheevu district. This article was written by me about the incident then for “The Sunday Leader” newspaper edited by the late Lasantha Wickrematunge. It is being reproduced here without any changes to mark the 15th anniversary of the massacre on August 14th 2015…………………DBSJ)

Aerial Terror results in massacre of innocents

August 19th, 2006


by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

It was 6.40 – 45 am on Monday August 14th 2006.

Four Israeli built K-fir bombers appeared suddenly on the skies above a place called “Vallipunam” in Mullaitheevu district in the North – Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. It is believed that the planes had started out from Trincomalee and flown north over the sea and turned westwards towards Mullaitheevu .

The air craft were spot on. Instead of hovering in the air for a while as most bombers do before releasing their deadly cargo these planes set about their murderous task quickly and precisely. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse these agents of death and destruction dropped their bombs below.

With each K- fir dropping four bombs a total of sixteen was dropped in a matter of minutes. There was a cluster of small buildings and a large number of human beings on the ground. Some of the bombs hit the groups of humans with pin point precision while others hit buildings and clumps of trees. People apparently were the prize target while buildings and trees “collateral damage”.

Except for one which failed to explode the other fifteen wreaked havoc. The human targets most of them teen – aged girls ran in fear seeking refuge as aerial terror rained on them. Frenzied pandemonium reigned.The planes that dropped the bombs were also visually recording the desperate scene below with their sophisticated visual recording equipment.The four planes then turned back after accomplishing their mission of aerial terror.

Continue reading ‘Over 60 Killed and More than 200 Injured in Aerial Attack by Sri Lankan Airforce on Tamil Civilians in Vallipunam 15 Years ago’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith States at Press Conference that the Directorate of Military Intelligence had had dealings with Zaharan Hashim’s outfit and Wonders What Those Dealings Were

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church, has demanded an explanation on an alleged attempt to pin the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Speaking to reporters in Colombo on Friday (13), the cardinal claimed that a military intelligence officer referred to as ‘Sonic’ had used one ‘Zaharan of Matale’ to call an unspecified person in Indonesia to “force” ISIS to claim responsibility for the attack.

“Why was that? We don’t know if it was an attempt to prevent the discovery of who was actually behind the attack. Why was there that much interest in putting it on the shoulder of ISIS?” said Ranjith.

“That means someone here tried to hide it,” he added.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith States at Press Conference that the Directorate of Military Intelligence had had dealings with Zaharan Hashim’s outfit and Wonders What Those Dealings Were’ »

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Urges Gotabaya Govt Not to Recognize the Taliban led Administration in Afghanistan;Close Down Diplomatic Mission in Kabul and Relocate it Elsewhere in the Region Suggests Former PM

By

Yohan Perera

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today urged the government not to recognise the Taliban administration and to shut down the Sri Lankan mission in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Continue reading ‘UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Urges Gotabaya Govt Not to Recognize the Taliban led Administration in Afghanistan;Close Down Diplomatic Mission in Kabul and Relocate it Elsewhere in the Region Suggests Former PM’ »

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is a humiliation for India and a Costly victory for Pakistan- The Economist


It was only a question of time before Kabul fell, says A.S. Dulat, a former head of India’s top spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, speaking from Delhi. The only surprise was the speed of the Taliban’s advance, concurs the ex-boss of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence, or isi, Asad Durrani, speaking from Islamabad.

The two old warriors nod in unison. Despite lifetimes spent jousting in the shadow war between India and Pakistan, the former foes seem happy to agree on the inevitability of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. What they do not tell their Indian interviewer is how sharply different the implications of the change are for each of the South Asian rivals.

For India, the house-of-cards collapse of the 20-year-old Afghan democracy represents a strategic setback and a stinging humiliation. Since 2001 India has spent a non-trivial $3bn or so to bolster the American-installed regime. It built roads, dams, power lines, clinics and schools across the country. It trained Afghan officers, including women, in its military academies. It gave scholarships to thousands. India even presented a fancy new parliament, complete with fountains and a giant bronze dome. Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, himself inaugurated it in 2015.

Besides losing all its investment in a secular, democratic Afghanistan, India has also lost strategic leverage.

Continue reading ‘The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is a humiliation for India and a Costly victory for Pakistan- The Economist’ »

Sri Lanka Faces Danger of Losing GSP+Facility as well as Export Market to Europe Warns Colombo’s Ambassador to the European Union Grace Asirwatham

By Charumini de Silva

In a critical evaluation of Sri Lanka›s trade to the European Union (EU), a top diplomat last week said exports to the region were in an unfavourable position and warned that Sri Lanka would not only lose its GSP+ facility, but also the market, as a result of their non-compliance of international conventions.

Senior career diplomat Grace Asirwatham, who is the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the EU, pulled no punches while delivering the keynote address at a webinar titled ‘GSP+: Past, Present, Future’ last week. It was organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and the Colombo Chamber of Commerce.

“The GSP+ mechanism doesn’t apply automatically, rather the countries need to apply to benefit from the trade preferences. To be eligible, countries need to fulfil certain criteria. Failing to comply with 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, environmental protection standards, international standards, good governance, and sustainable development will not only cost GSP+ but also trade to the region,” Asirwatham said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Faces Danger of Losing GSP+Facility as well as Export Market to Europe Warns Colombo’s Ambassador to the European Union Grace Asirwatham’ »

“I hereby inform your Excellency, that whenever Your Excellency so decides, we will meet with Your Excellency.” – TNA Leader R.Sampanthan in Letter to President Rajapaksa


(Text of Letter Sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the Tamil National Alliance Leader Rajavarothyam Sampanthan on August 14th 2021)

R Sampanthan
Member of Parliament
B12, Mahagamasegara Mawatha,
Colombo 7

14th August 2021

His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
The Presidential Secretariat,
Colombo 1.

Your Excellency,< /em>

The New Constitution

By letter dated 07/06/2021 I was informed that your Excellency and the Tamil National Alliance would meet on 16th of June 2021 at 4pm at the Presidential Secretariat. On the 15th evening I was informed by telephone that the meeting was postponed and that an early date would be given for the meeting soon, this was confirmed by a further telephone call the next morning. I have subsequently

received two letters informing me that the said meeting would be soon re-fixed for an early date. I have received no further communication. I hereby inform your Excellency, that whenever Your Excellency so decides, we will meet with Your Excellency.

May I state that the following, our country since its independence has thus far had three different Constitutions.

1). The Constitution framed before independence by the Government in the United Kingdom based on their own constitutional practices.

This has now changed substantially. Wide powers have been devolved to both Scotland and Northern Ireland, both of which are historically inhabited by Scottish and Irish people with their own independent identities. Each of these territories now have their own independent legislatures and Executives Chief Minister and Cabinet of Ministers. They are governed within the frame work of the United Kingdom as per the democratic verdicts of their respective people delivered at regular democratic processes. This is what the Tamil people with their own independent identity have claimed in their areas of historical habitation within a united undivided Sri Lanka through their democratic verdicts for over the past six decades.

Continue reading ‘“I hereby inform your Excellency, that whenever Your Excellency so decides, we will meet with Your Excellency.” – TNA Leader R.Sampanthan in Letter to President Rajapaksa’ »

Afghanistan’s Proud History of Militarily Resisting and Defeating Invasions By Major Powers Such as Britain, Soviet Union and the USA.

By P.K.Balachandran

Through sheer grit and a fierce commitment to their tribal and Islamic values, the Afghans have frustrated a series of imperialistic attempts to dominate them. Between 1842 and 2021, the British, Tsarist Russia, Soviet Russia and the US had tried occupying Afghanistan to derive benefits from its strategic location in South and Central Asia. But their attempts had failed miserably.


British Blunder

The first major foreign debacle was in the first half of the 19th.Century. In 1839, the British, afraid of Tsarist Russia’s bid to take over Afghanistan, invaded the latter, deposed the pro-Russian King, Dost Mohamad, and put their proxy, Shuja Shah Durrani, in power. Thereafter, the majority of troops returned to India leaving about 16,000 to mop up resistance by Afghan tribesmen. By 1841, the British felt that they could not afford the campaign and stopped payments to local warlords, their henchmen. The cheated warlords promptly joined the insurgency led by Dost Mohammad’s son, Mohamad Akbar Khan.

In November 1841, the British political agent, Sir Alexander Burns, and his staff were killed by a mob in Kabul. Another senior diplomat, Sir William Hay Macnaghten, and three aides were killed while trying to negotiate safe passage for British imperial forces to India. The commander of the Kabul garrison, the elderly Maj.Gen. Lord Elphinstone eventually negotiated an agreement on January 1, 1842 with Akbar Khan. Khan guaranteed safe passage for the British-Indian force. Elphinstone agreed to leave most of his gunpowder reserves, the majority of his canons and a large number of muskets behind.

Continue reading ‘Afghanistan’s Proud History of Militarily Resisting and Defeating Invasions By Major Powers Such as Britain, Soviet Union and the USA.’ »

The Sri Lankan Govt response to Covid-19 has been so unenlightened that it’s clear it has come from a militarist regime which is led by a military mind.

By Rajpal Abeynayake

The vaccine has been mandated in this country for all intents and purposes, with the Army Commander stating that a vaccine certificate would be required for any person to visit a public place from 15 September. The futility of vaccine mandates and their odious nature was written about in this space last week, but here is more about the subject now that a mandate has been imposed.

Even in India, vaccine mandates have been frowned upon and Courts have intervened and stopped such odious practices. There is a judgement issued by the High Court of Meghalaya at Shillong, which among other things states: “Article 21 encompasses within its fold, right to health, as a fundamental right. By that same analogy, the right to healthcare, which includes vaccination, is a fundamental right.

However, vaccination by force or being made mandatory by adopting coercive methods, vitiates the very fundamental purpose of the welfare attached to it. It impinges on the fundamental right(s) as such, especially when it affects the right to means of livelihood which makes it possible for a person to live.”

This judgement handed down in a High Court in India makes clear that coercive methods of vaccinating people is a violation of basic rights. Yes, vaccinations are the need of the hour, but when the Army Commander of this country announces a clear mandate for vaccines, we are in dictatorship territory.

Continue reading ‘The Sri Lankan Govt response to Covid-19 has been so unenlightened that it’s clear it has come from a militarist regime which is led by a military mind.’ »

Trade Unions Collectively warn authorities that if the Government does not lockdown the country by Friday (20), the TU alliance will declare a unilateral lockdown from Monday (23).

By

Azzam Ameen

The broad Trade Union (TU) alliance covering public, private and estate sectors have warned authorities that if the Government does not lockdown the country by Friday (20), the TU alliance will declare a unilateral lockdown from Monday (23).

At a press conference held this evening, the TU alliance stated that all unions are ready for this effort as they do not want to allow for citizens who are not fully vaccinated to get unnecessarily exposed to the Covid-19 virus which will in turn result in the creation of another locally mutated variant.

A ten point plan has been proposed by the TU alliance, which the Government has been urged to follow so that a scientific and successful lockdown can be implemented.

Continue reading ‘Trade Unions Collectively warn authorities that if the Government does not lockdown the country by Friday (20), the TU alliance will declare a unilateral lockdown from Monday (23).’ »

President Rajapaksa Reshuffles Portfolios Among Cabinet Ministers GL, Dinesh, Keheliya,Pavithra,Dullas and Lokuge;Namal Gets Additional Ministry of Development coordination observation

By

Jamila Husain

Seven Ministers were handed new portfolios today in a cabinet reshuffle which got underway at the Presidential Secretariat a short while ago.

One of the notable changes was that of the Health Minister. Pavithra Wanniarachchi was sworn in as the Transport Minister while Keheliya Rambukwella was sworn in as the new Health Minister.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Reshuffles Portfolios Among Cabinet Ministers GL, Dinesh, Keheliya,Pavithra,Dullas and Lokuge;Namal Gets Additional Ministry of Development coordination observation’ »

It is this President and this Government alone that is responsible for avoidable deaths of Sri Lankans and for worse calamities that will inexorably follow.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Confounding its claim to an ancient and painfully established legal heritage of some note in South Asia, Sri Lanka is degenerating to a primordial nation-state, where the very meaning of ‘law’ is reduced to a farce.

Letters cannot restrict constitutional rights

Ad hoc statements of officials, from the Army Commander to the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) are fast replacing legal standards and even constitutional protections. Take the recent holding, quite correctly, by a magistrate’s court that a letter sent by the DGHS to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) cannot restrict the constitutional right to peaceful assembly of citizens. This was in response to the police using the letter by the DGHS to ask for a prohibition against activists protesting against salary injustices of teachers and principals.

Refusing, the court pointed to the constitutional right to assembly and association (Article 14 (1)(b) and (c)) which are limited only through legal restrictions. These have to ‘be prescribed by law’ in the interests of ‘public health,’ (Article 15 (7). Thus, ‘a letter by the DGHS’ does not amount to a legal restriction, the court reminded. In the wake of this ruling, the question that arises is simple. Did it really need the court to say this? Is this not a self obvious fact, evident to the police and indeed, to the DGHS who should have intervened far earlier?

Continue reading ‘It is this President and this Government alone that is responsible for avoidable deaths of Sri Lankans and for worse calamities that will inexorably follow.’ »

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekra Unaware of Training of Sri Lankan Police by Scotland Police Being Suspended Due to Alleged Human Rights Abuses by Lankan Cops

Scottish Police are reported to have put on hold an ongoing scheme to train Sri Lankan Police officers but is yet to officially inform the authorities in Colombo.

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara said yesterday that he was unaware of reports that Police Scotland had put the long-running programme to train Sri Lankan police officers on hold.
The training programme was renewed again for two more years in January this year and was set to go on until 2023.

Continue reading ‘Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekra Unaware of Training of Sri Lankan Police by Scotland Police Being Suspended Due to Alleged Human Rights Abuses by Lankan Cops’ »

Remembering Ketheeswaran “Ketheesh” Loganathan on His 15th Death Anniversary

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Last week saw this column focusing on former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on 12 August 2005.

This week will see this column focusing on well-known political activist Ketheeswaran Loganathan who was killed exactly one year after Kadirgamar’s death. Ketheeswaran Loganathan known as “Ketheesh” was shot dead by a Tiger assassin in Dehiwala on 12 August 2006. This article therefore will commemorate the 15th death anniversary of Ketheesh Loganathan.

Continue reading ‘Remembering Ketheeswaran “Ketheesh” Loganathan on His 15th Death Anniversary’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says the president’s office has not answered questions he raised in a letter last month over allegations that officials in state intelligence agencies knew and met with the Easter Sunday Suicide Bomb attackers.

By Krishan FrancisThe Associated Press

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church said Friday that 25 people charged this week in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed 269 people could be “smaller fish,” and accused the government of still not taking steps to identify the true conspirators.

The head of the archdiocese of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said the president’s office has not answered questions he raised in a letter last month over allegations that officials in state intelligence agencies knew and met with the attackers.
He asked Catholics to raise black flags at their homes and on their vehicles as a mark of protest.

On Tuesday, the attorney general filed 23,270 charges against 25 people under the country’s anti-terrorism law. The charges include conspiring to murder, aiding and abetting, collecting arms and ammunition and attempted murder.

The attorney general also asked the chief justice to appoint a special three-member high court bench to hear the cases speedily.

“We don’t want to say the 25 persons are innocent, but we have a question whether this is an attempt to net the smaller fish and let the sharks go,” Ranjith said.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says the president’s office has not answered questions he raised in a letter last month over allegations that officials in state intelligence agencies knew and met with the Easter Sunday Suicide Bomb attackers.’ »

Shelton Ranaraja Was Loved and Respected by the Tamil People

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Shelton Ranaraja known to many as “Shelly Aiya” passed away on August 11, 2011. Shelton or Shelly Aiya was a politician for whom I have the greatest respect. The lawyer who represented the Senkadagala constituency in the Sri Lankan Parliament for more than fifteen years was arguably the conscience – keeper of the Nation in his own modest way.

Shelton Ranaraja Was Loved and Respected by the Tamil People – by D.B.S.JEYARAJ

My regard and admiration for Shelton Ranaraja is mainly due to the fact that the former Deputy Minister of Justice was a courageous politician with enlightened principles. It was my privilege in 1981 to witness what was perhaps the finest moment in the life of Shelton Ranaraja when he voted against the no-confidence motion brought against the then opposition leader Appapillai Amirthalingam. It was an inspiring display of principled courage.

It is indeed a rare politician who is prepared to stand up against the majority of his or her political party for what one believes to be right. Shelton Ranaraja was such a person. This article is intended to honour and pay tribute to his memory on the occasion of his tenth death anniversary.

Punchi Banda Ranaraja

Shelton Ranaraja was born on November 3, 1926, at Ranwala in Kegalle. Shelton’s father, Punchi Banda Ranaraja was a land owner who took to politics and the law. Shelton’s father PB Ranaraja contested the State Council elections from the Galagedara constituency during British rule. He first contested the 1931 elections challenging the formidable PB Nugawela Dissawe. PB Ranaraja lost the election by 1,055 votes.

At the by-election held for Galagedara in 1934, PB Ranaraja was successful and won with a majority of 2,199. He was however defeated again at the 1936 State Council elections. EA Nugawela with 13,574 votes was the winner with a huge majority of 8,515. PB Ranaraja got only 5,959 votes.

PB Ranaraja tried his hand at electoral politics again after Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon gained independence from the British. He contested on the UNP ticket from Dambulla at the 1952 elections. He lost, getting only 2,897 votes. Thereafter he gave up electoral politics but served two terms as a UNP nominated Senator in the upper house.

Shelton Ranaraja (Nov 3, 1926 – Aug 11, 2011)

Interestingly PB Ranaraja took up legal studies late in life and qualified as a lawyer. In what is perhaps a unique record both Punchi Banda Ranaraja and his son Shelton Ranaraja took their oaths as lawyers together in 1949. In those pre-Attorney-at-law days the father practiced as an advocate while the son was a proctor.

Outstnding Sportsman

Shelton Ranaraja was a distinguished alumnus of Trinity College, Kandy and St.Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia (with a stint at STC Gurutalawa also I believe). He was an outstanding sportsman and won colours in Athletics, Cricket, Boxing and Swimming. Shelton played in the 1945 Royal-Thomian encounter. He also came first in the 400 metres event known as the 440-yard race in those days at the public schools sports meet.

Shelton continued to play cricket when he entered Law College and captained the team. He was a stylish batsman but was capable of wielding the willow like a cudgel when necessary. In short a “polladiya”. He continued to play cricket for a long time while at Kandy. He played in the local tournaments even when he was in his fifties. Once he scored a century after notching up half a century in years.

Ranaraja was the captain of the Kandy lawyers’ cricket eleven for many, many years. He also held the posts of Central Province Cricket Association president and Kandy District Cricket Association president for several years. In later life he turned to Golf from Cricket. During the twilight years of his life he kept fit by walking around the picturesque Kandy lake.

One of Kandy’s landmarks is the Bogambara stadium. There was a time when the rise of crass commercialism threatened its future as an arena for sports. It was Shelton Ranaraja who saved the stadium for sports by opposing it being used for carnivals and tamashas. Preventing the “carnivalisation” of Bogambara enabled it to be developed as a full fledged sports stadium.

After passing out from Law College, Shelton Ranaraja established a successful legal practice in Kandy. Shelton Ranaraja was well-known for his sartorial elegance. He was regarded as the most smartly dressed lawyer in Kandy. Shelton’s faithful office clerk or “Liyanamahathaya” Simon was a familiar figure in Kandy. He was called “Kota Simon” on account of his height and was like Shelton’s shadow.

Senkadagala constituency.

Shelton’s foray into parliamentary politics came in 1960 when he was elected MP of the newly carved out Senkadagala constituency. Although his family circle was staunchly UNP, Shelton contested on the Sri Lnka Freedom Party(SLFP) ticket in the July 1960 elections thus incurring the displeasure of several relatives. Noel Wimalasena of the UNP had won the March 1960 poll. The July 1960 election was a straight fight between Wimalasena of the UNP and Ranaraja of the SLFP. Initially Ranaraja squeaked through with 30 votes. Subsequently a challenge was mounted leading to a recount of votes. Shelton continued to retain his seat after the recount but his tally had decreased by five from 30 to 25.

A liberal democrat to the core, Shelton Ranaraja was most unhappy with the SLFP–LSSP government’s attempt to muzzle the press by taking over Lake House in December, 1964. CP de Silva crossed over with a group of 14 SLFP MP’s to the opposition and voted against the bill. Shelton was not among these 14 MP’s.Instead of planning beforehand and crossing over to the other side, Shelton Ranaraja dropped a bombshell by remaining on the treasury benches and voting against the bill. The bill was defeated by one vote leading to dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections in 1965. Shelton Ranaraja along with the other MP’s who voted against were expelled from the SLFP.

Shelton did not contest the March 1965 poll. Noel Wimalasena of the UNP was elected Senkadagala MP. Ranaraja then bade “au revoir” to active politics for a while and concentrated on his legal practice. But when JR Jayewardene took over the party in 1973 after the death of Dudley Senanayake, an invitation was extended to Shelton to return to politics and work in the UNP. He accepted and was appointed organizer for Senkadagala.In the 1977 elections Shelton Ranaraja’s formidable rival from the SLFP was Anuruddha Ratwatte, kinsman of the Bandaranaikes. Ranaraja obtained 17,972 (57.53%) to Ratwatte’s 12,381(39.63%).

The UNP led by Junius Richard Jayewardene swept the polls in July 1977 winning 141 of 168 seats. With the SLFP being reduced to eight seats, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) having 18 seats became the chief opposition party. Shelton Ranaraja was appointed deputy minister of justice, first under KW Devanayagam as minister and later under Nissanka Wijeratne. Though Shelton Ranaraja was of Cabinet-minister material, it is suspected that JR Jayewardene was wary of including him as a government minister because the Senkadagala MP was an uncontrollable maverick who only listened to the call of his conscienceShelton however served as Acting Justice Minister on several occasions.

No-Confidence Motion

Shelton Ranaraja’s fierce independence and political courage came to the fore in 1981 when he voted against the no-confidence motion brought in July 1981 against the then opposition leader Appapillai Amirthalingam of TULF by Govt MP’s. The TULF had given notice in Parliament of a vote of no-confidence against the government. The UNP regime retaliated by giving notice of a vote of no-confidence against the leader of the opposition. The proposal mooted by the then Panadura MP Dr. Neville Fernando was signed by 36 UNP parliamentarians. It was widely believed and subsequently confirmed by Dr. Fernando that the no-confidence motion project had the approval of President Jayewardene himself.

President Jayewardene was regarded as all powerful then. Although there were many decent,learned persons in the UNP parliamentary group none dared to defy the “almighty” JR. Hence the UNP to its eternal shame went along with what was perhaps an all-time low in parliamentary annals.The no-confidence motion by members of the Government against the leader of the opposition was taken up in Parliament on July 23 and 24, 1981.

At the outset, Amirthalingam wanted to explain his position and rose to his feet. Pandemonium erupted. Dr.Neville Fernando objected to Amirthalingam making a personal statement saying that he could do so only with the indulgence of the House. The Speaker Bakeer Markar upheld Dr. Fernando’s objection and refused to let Amirthalingam speak. At this point the TULF walked out in protest.

Thereafter SLFP deputy leader and Medawachchiya MP Maitripala Senanayake raised a point of order and submitted three reasons for the Speaker to rule the no-confidence motion out of order. “Firstly, the vote of no confidence on the leader of the opposition did not fall within the powers of parliament. It had not happened anywhere in the world.Secondly, the leader of the opposition held his office in accordance to parliamentary convention and he enjoyed the confidence of the members of the opposition. He need not enjoy the confidence of parliament or that of the government members. Thirdly, the motion, even if passed, would not bring any result. Amirthalingam would continue to be the leader of the opposition even after the passage of the motion.”

The Speaker Bakeer Markar evaded the issue and said Senanayake’s point of order had been raised too late. Therefore he could not stop the no-confidence motion being debated he said. The lone Communist party MP from Kalawana, Sarath Muttetuwegama chided the speaker saying that he was letting the Government MP’s run Parliament. The SLFP and CP members also walked out in protest.Thus Sri Lanka witnessed the bizarre event of the Government conducting a solo performance of debating a no-confidence motion against the Leader of the opposition while the entire opposition had walked out in protest.

Then followed a disgusting relay of speeches by UNP parliamentarians uttering dire threats of punishment to Amirthalingam and other TULF traitor-MP’s. No minister or deputy minister from the UNP spoke but the backbenchers had a field day.

The only minister who spoke during that debate was Saumiyamoorthy Thondaman, the minister of rural industrial development in the JRJ regime. Thondaman speaking in his capacity as leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) was very critical of the no-confidence motion. He also uttered a prophetic warning that undermining Amirthalingam would pave the way for an extremist type of Tamil politics to emerge.

Finally it was voting time on July 24. Thondaman abstained. There were 121 votes supporting the no-confidence motion with one solitary vote against the motion. The man who voted against the UNP motion was none other than the honourable member for Senkadagala, Shelton Ranaraja. By doing so he not only demonstrated that he was an honourable person but also helped salvage a little bit of honour at least for his party.

Shelton “Nadaraja”.

The “ginger group” of UNP backbenchers was annoyed and angry. All sorts of remarks like traitor and Tamil lover were made. One that still lingers in memory was the cheap pun on his name. There were shouts of Shelton “Nadaraja”. The first four letters of his surname were being replaced by four others to make his name sound Tamil as “Nadaraja” instead of the Sinhala “Ranaraja”.

Shelton Ranaraja’s principled stance on that fateful day was a quiet display of courageous defiance. Earlier when the UNP parliamentary group meeting was held before the debate, only Shelton Ranaraja had opposed the no-confidence motion against the opposition leader. Describing it as a travesty of democracy, Ranaraja said it should be abandoned. Otherwise he would have no other choice but to vote against it, he said.

President Jayewardene would have none of it. JR said that Shelton could either keep away at voting time or abstain from voting but must not go against the party by voting against it. Even Thondaman would abstain after speaking out against the motion, Jayewardene informed Ranaraja.

The Senkadagala MP kept quiet during the course of the debate on the no-confidence motion while Thondaman made a hard-hitting speech. When voting time came, the loquacious Thondaman abstained but the hitherto silent Ranaraja – who was also expected to abstain — did the unexpected. He voted against the motion openly defying President Jayewardene and the UNP parliamentarians. When JR questioned him about it later, Shelton replied that he had voted according to his conscience. Knowing Shelton’s brand of principled politics, JR Jayewardene let it go at that.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

This was not the first time that Shelton Ranaraja had dared to go against Junius Richard Jayewardene. It was in 1980 that the UNP government passed legislation depriving former Prime Minister and SLFP leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights. Shelton (though a deputy minister) was present at the Cabinet meeting that preceded the move in his capacity as acting minister of Justice. He opposed the taking away of Sirima’s civic rights at the cabinet conclave.

A seemingly bemused JR smiled wryly at Shelton and quipped, “you seem to be very fond of the lady.” Shelton replied “ I am not fond of any personalities. I care only for my conscience”. Later on JR told Shelton to keep away at voting time if his conscience troubled him. Shelton did so in 1980. However in the case of the no-confidence motion, Shelton went against JR’s wishes boldly and voted against it.

The stature and image of Shelton Ranaraja went up in the eyes of all decent people in Sri Lanka after the NCM episode. The Tamils in particular were elated. To the end of his days, Shelton Ranaraja always enjoyed wide popularity among the Tamil people. Ranaraja also entertained many visitors from the North at his Kandy residence after this vote.

The infamous referendum was held by JR in 1982. Ranaraja was opposed to it in principle as he felt an extension of Parliament by another term without elections was anti-democratic. He refrained from personally participating in propaganda meetings espousing the “lamp” symbol. Though he did not canvass for or against, Shelton told people who approached him to vote according to their conscience.

Anti-Tamil Violence

When the July 1983 anti-Tamil violence erupted Ranaraja acted with forethought and got all the thugs and hoodlums in Kandy locked up by the Police. Kandy enjoyed some tranquility initially even as Colombo was burning. Sadly Ranaraja’s orders were countermanded by the then powerful minister of Industries and Scientific affairs, Cyril Mathew who got all those locked up by Ranaraja released. Within hours Kandy too started burning. A distraught Ranaraja lamented on this situation to journalists later blaming Mathew.

The twin massacres of 52 Tamil political detainees at Welikada — 35 on July 25 and 17 on July 27 — concerned the Justice Ministry directly as the prisons department was under its purview. When efforts were underway by the defence establishment to do away with the bodies, the Justice Ministry intervened and enabled judicial inquests to be held. Deputy Justice Minister Shelton Ranaraja and Justice Ministry Secretary Mervyn Wijesinghe were greatly instrumental in this.

Shelton Ranaraja ~ Early years

The LTTE attack on the sacred Bo Tree and the massacre of civilians in Anuradhapura on May 14, 1985 resulted in widespread anger and fear in many parts of the country. A delegation of Sinhala citizens went to Shelton Ranaraja and urged that the Tamils in Kandy be expelled as a precaution. Shelton refused point blank and candidly told them that their duty was to protect the Tamil minority living in their midst instead of driving them away.

Goodwill Mission to North

The 1987 Indo-Lanka accord and the ushering in of “peace” was welcomed by Shelton Ranaraja. A lull in violence prevailed between July 29 to October 10, 1987. Shelton Ranaraja despite being a member of the government got involved in a mission of goodwill to the North from the South. A group of Sinhalese mainly consisting of medical personnel undertook a peace and reconciliation mission to Jaffna in September 1987. Among those in this mission were Dr. Sunil Ratnapriya of the GMOA, Fr. Yohan Devananda of “Devasarana” in Ibbagamuwe and of course Deputy Justice Minister Shelton Ranaraja in his private capacity.

“Permission” to visit Jaffna was sought and obtained from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) then ruling the roost in the peninsula. This Sinhala goodwill delegation comprised people who recognized the tragic plight of the Tamil people and supported the justice of the Tamil cause. Their mission to the North was to establish better understanding and amity with the Tamil people. Yet they had a nasty experience in Jaffna.

After travelling extensively throughout the Jaffna Peninsula and meeting people from different orgnizations, the Southern delegation returned to Colombo in two vehicles. They passed through several LTTE posts along the Jaffna–Kandy road or A-9 highway. An LTTE vehicle kept following them at a distance. The LTTE vehicle overtook them shortly after they passed Pallai.

When the Southern group reached Iyakkachchi about four miles away from Elephant Pass they found the Tiger vehicle parked by the side of the road. About six LTTE cadres with firearms and grenades stopped them. The passengers were ordered to get out with a few being pulled out roughly. Then the Tigers took over both vehicles with things inside and turned back towards Jaffna. The Southern goodwill mission people had to walk two miles on the road towards Elephant pass. Then a south bound bus stopped and they got in and reached the Elephant Pass army camp safely.

Declined North -East Governor Offer

Shelton Ranaraja was deeply affected by this incident. When I spoke to him about this he appeared to be very sad but not very angry or embittered. But his impression of the LTTE as a disciplined movement fighting for freedom had been shattered. He was also deeply disillusioned about the prospects for a lasting peace. It was this perhaps which led to his declining an offer to be the first governor of the temporarily merged North-Eastern province under the Indo-Lanka accord. A. Amirthalingam and R. Sampanthan of the TULF had recommended him to President Jayewardene who consented to the suggestion. But when JR wanted to designate Shelton s Governor, he refused the offer.

Furthermore Ranaraja also demanded after 1988 July that President Jayewardene should dissolve the “long”Parliament of 11 years (1977-88) and hold fresh electioms to the legislature. After arguing strongly for speedy dissolution he resigned his acting minister of Justice Post. This move by Shelton was hailed by many and increasd pressure on the UNP government.

The presidency of JR Jayewardene came to an end in 1988. He was succeeded by Ranasinghe Premadasa. Parliamentary elections under the new proportional representation scheme were scheduled for early 1989. The UNP hierarchy insisted that those seeking nomination on the party ticket should send in applications to be appointed as organizers of an electoral division. Shelton Ranaraja protested saying it was degrading and an insult for an incumbent MP to do so. Premadasa contacted Ranaraja and asked him to apply like all the other sitting MP’s. Shelton however refused to relent. As a result he did not contest the 1989 polls.

Ranaraja retired from an active political life thereafter. He devoted his time to his family of wife and five daughters and to law, cricket and social service. He gave much of his time for social work and free legal aid. In 2001, Shelton served in the panel of the Human Rights Commission in Kandy without receiving any payment. He inquired into over 100 complaints within a period of eight months but when he discovered that recommendations made after the inquiry were not being implemented, he resigned from this panel.

Chandra Ranaraja nee Mahadiulwewa

Wedding Day ~ Shelton & Chandra Ranaraja

Shelton Ranaraja took a backseat and began supporting his wife Chandra in playing a pivotal role in Kandy politics. Chandra Ranaraja nee Mahadiulwewa hailed from Mahadiulwewa in the Anuradhapura district. She came from a UNP family. Her father SH Mahadiulwewa contested the Kalawewa electorate on the UNP ticket and was elected MP in 1947 and 1952. Chandra Mahadiulwewa entered the Peradeniya University and graduated in 1961. She was teaching at Holy Cross in Anuradhapura when she married Shelton Ranaraja. He was then the SLFP Senkadagala MP. After marriage she relocated to Kandy and taught at the Kandy Girls High school.

Five “Golden Flowers”

Chandra Ranaraja gave up teaching after the birth of their five children. The Ranarajas had five daughters — Premila, Aruni, Siromi, Shamila and Anjali. Siromi and Shamila were twins. The “fair and lovely” Ranaraja girls were the toast of Kandy in their youth. Young bucks dubbed them the, “five golden flowers”. Shelton and Chandra doted on their daughters.

Chandra who actively canvassed for her husband in the 1977 hustings began to get involved in Kandy municipal politics after their children grew up. She served as municipal councillor, Deputy Mayor and then finally became Kandy’s first woman Mayor. Chandra Ranaraja was also a member of the UNP working committee. Shelly was strongly supportive of his wife in her political career. She passed away in March 2016.

Loved His Hometown Kandy

Shelton RanarajaHe retired as a lawyer in 1999 after practising for 50 years at the Bar. He devoted his life to social service in Kandy thereafter. Shelton Ranaraja loved his hometown, Kandy. He was fond of sitting on the balcony at his home and to gaze upon the panoramic view of the town with its lake and the Temple of the Tooth. In the evenings he would walk with the aid of a walking stick around the Kandy lake clad in a pair of boxer shorts, tee-shirt and a hat. He also sported a pony-tail.

Chandra Ranaraja & Shelton Ranaraja ~ During a travel abroad

As the years progressed, Shelton Ranaraja’s health too regressed. He was afflicted with cancer which affected him steadily. There came a stage when he would lament, “I won the 440 yards race those days but now I cant walk even 10 yards.”

Even as death drew nearer all members of his family – daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren gathered at his residence. They were all by his bedside in a private hospital as Shelton spoke to each one. Finally he called out to his wife Chandra, held her hand and whispered softly, “Amma, I need to go”. Those were the last words of Shelton Ranaraja. He passed away on August 11, 2011 at the age of 85.

“Shelly Aiya”

Shelton Ranaraja’s earthly remains were kept at his residence in Rajapihilla Mawatte, Kandy for people to pay their respects to their beloved “Shelly Aiya”.. The cremation took place on August 13 at Mahaiyawa. Large crowds gathered to bid a final farewell to this upright man of the people.

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

This is an enhanced version of an article written for the “DBS Jeyaraj Column” in the “Daily Mirror” of August 7th 2021.It can be accessed here

https://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/Shelly-Aiya-Courageous-Politician-with-Enlightened-Principles/231-217752

The finding of Buddhist places in the Jaffna peninsula creates tension because Sinhalese Equate Buddhism as Being Exclusively Sinhala While ​forgetting that the majority of Tamils were Buddhists at one tim

By P.K.Balachandran

Unsustainable claims put forward by the Sinhalese and the Tamils on language, religion and ethnicity, have muddied Sri Lankan politics in the post-independence era.

The Sinhalese loudly proclaim that Buddhism is quintessentially and exclusively, a “Sinhala” religion. The Tamils, on the other hand, claim with equal vehemence, that they have always been unalloyed Hindus, who had never ever had anything to do with Buddhism, which they identify with “Sinhala hegemony.”

Sinhala-Buddhist radicals claim that Buddhist archaeological sites in the Tamil-dominated Northern and Eastern Provinces are relics of a Sinhala-Buddhist past over there, and therefore, the Sinhala’s ownership of those lands should be retrieved.

The Tamils, on the other hand, feel that these archaeological findings will go against their claim on the lands in question as they too identify Buddhist relics with the Sinhalese and see the discovery of such relics as a threat to their existence.

In some cases they have reportedly destroyed the relics forcing the government to think of ways of protecting them. In May 2020, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa formed a Presidential Task Force under the Defense Secretary to conduct a comprehensive survey of archaeological sites in the East and to take measures to protect them as several parties had voiced their concern regarding the destruction of historical monuments. Significantly, the Task Force was wholly Sinhala- Buddhist.

Continue reading ‘The finding of Buddhist places in the Jaffna peninsula creates tension because Sinhalese Equate Buddhism as Being Exclusively Sinhala While ​forgetting that the majority of Tamils were Buddhists at one tim’ »

Vijaya and Chandrika Kumaratung’s only Son Vimukthi States Clearly that he has”no intention whatsoever of engaging in Sri Lankan Politics”; requests Sri Lankan media and public to respect his privacy.

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunge’s son Vimukthi Kumaratunge said he had no intention whatsoever of engaging in Sri Lankan Politics and refuted recent media reports of him entering the local political arena.

He said in a statement that he appealed to everyone to disregard any statement alleging his aspirations to become a Sri Lankan politician.

Continue reading ‘Vijaya and Chandrika Kumaratung’s only Son Vimukthi States Clearly that he has”no intention whatsoever of engaging in Sri Lankan Politics”; requests Sri Lankan media and public to respect his privacy.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa likely to reshuffle Cabinet with Key changes to Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Tourism, Education, Media, and Power.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to reshuffle the Cabinet with changes likely to key Ministries, including Foreign Affairs and Health.

The others set to undergo portfolio changes include Education, Tourism, Power, and Media, the Daily FT learns.

Education Minister G.L. Peiris is slated to be the new Foreign Minister while Dinesh Gunawardena, who currently holds the post, is tipped to be made the Minister of Higher Education.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa likely to reshuffle Cabinet with Key changes to Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Tourism, Education, Media, and Power.’ »

Attorney-General Files Indictments Against 25 Persons for Alleged Involvement in the Easter Sunday Bombings Conspiracy; Seeks Trial at bar Proceedings to be instituted by the Chief Justice to go into the 23,270 Charges filed

By

Azzam Ameen

Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam has sent indictments to Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya this afternoon (10) seeking the appointment of a Trial-at-Bar against 25 suspects indicted for conspiracy over the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

According to reliable sources, The Morning learns that the suspects are to be tried before Court for 23,270 charges consisting of 9 volumes.

Continue reading ‘Attorney-General Files Indictments Against 25 Persons for Alleged Involvement in the Easter Sunday Bombings Conspiracy; Seeks Trial at bar Proceedings to be instituted by the Chief Justice to go into the 23,270 Charges filed’ »

Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who was Detained Under the PTA for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Easter Sunday Terror Bombings is Remanded Until August 17th by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage

By

Shavini Madhara

Former Minister Rishard Bathiudeen who was arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act was remanded till August 17 by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage yesterday.

The investigators had conducted a comprehensive probe into funding of the Easter Sunday suicide bombers and a range of financial transactions that had taken place in the run up to the 2019 attacks.

Continue reading ‘Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who was Detained Under the PTA for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Easter Sunday Terror Bombings is Remanded Until August 17th by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage’ »

How Lakshman Kadirgamar Became a National List MP and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Minister

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated in Colombo by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on 12 August 2005. This column intends focusing on the man regarded as Sri Lanka’s finest foreign minister this week even as his 16th death anniversary draws near.

I have written extensively about Lakshman Kadirgamar over the years, so much so that his only daughter Ajita has stated in her book about her father that “D.B.S. Jeyaraj has written about LK possibly more than any other journalist.”

Ajita Kadirgamar’s eminently readable book about Lakshman Kadirgamar titled ‘THE CAKE THAT WAS BAKED AT HOME’ has 78 references to lines and passages from my articles. She even says on one page that she ‘would almost term me as “LK’s unofficial biographer”’.

Continue reading ‘How Lakshman Kadirgamar Became a National List MP and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Minister’ »

Memories of Leonine Tamil Leader Murugesu Sivasithamaparam

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Very little is known or remembered by the younger generation of Sri Lankans about the nature of the non – violent Tamil political struggle for equal rights that preceded the violent armed struggle. Indeed for many the history of Tamil political resistance to what was perceived as majoritarian hegemony commences only from “Black July” 1983. To many youths on either side of the ethnic divide , Veluppillai Prabhakaran personifies the beginning, middle and end of the Tamil struggle. The course and content of Tamil politics prior to the advent of the birth and growth of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is conveniently forgotten or not taken into account at all. Yet the fact remains that the Tamil quest to achieve equality in the Island was basically non – violent prior to 1983.

Murugesu Sivasithamparam (20 July 1923 – 5 June 2002)

A prominent Tamil political leader of this period of non-violent politics was Murugesu Sivasithamparam whose 98th birth anniversary fell on 20 July. He is the focus of this column this week. I have written about M. Sivasithamparam in the past. This article however will be a modified version based on some of those writings, with pride of place being given to personal recollections.

Continue reading ‘Memories of Leonine Tamil Leader Murugesu Sivasithamaparam’ »

Neelan Tiruchelvam the Foremost Intellectual of Contemporary Tamil Politics

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Dr.Neelan Tiruchelvam was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of tamil eelam(LTTE)22 years ago on July 29th 1999. This article was originally written to commemorate the 70th birth anniversary of Dr. Tiruchelvam on January 31st 2014. It is being re-posted here without any changes to denote Neelan’s 22nd death anniversary)

Neelan Tiruchelvam (January 31, 1944 – July 29, 1999) – Portrait held during a Memorial Lecture in his honour - pic by: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Neelan Tiruchelvam (January 31, 1944 – July 29, 1999) – Portrait held during a Memorial Lecture in his honour – pic by: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

January 31st is the birthday of eminent Constitution lawyer, academic and politician Dr.Neelakandan Tiruchelvam. Neelan as he was popularly known would have completed the biblical life span of three score years and ten had he been among the living today. Born on January 31st 1944,Neelan Tiruchelvam, was brutally assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)on July 29th 1999.He was 55 at the time of his death.

I had a close personal relationship with Neelan. He was my friend, philosopher and guide. He was greatly instrumental in moulding my career. He was in a sense my political mentor. It was as a journalist on the Tamil daily “Virakesari” that I first began interacting with Neelan Tiruchelvam. My relationship with him grew over the years as I moved into English journalism via ‘‘The Island ‘’and ‘‘The Hindu ‘’.

Continue reading ‘Neelan Tiruchelvam the Foremost Intellectual of Contemporary Tamil Politics’ »

Sivaji Ganesan Made Many Tamils Appreciate Their Vibrant Language More

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sivaji Ganesan, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) and Gemini Ganesan comprised the triumvirate that dominated Tamil cinema in India from the fifties to the seventies of the 20th century. The most senior of the trio was M.G.Ramachandran who was born in 1917. MGR passed away in 1987. Gemini Ganesan born in 1920 breathed his last in 2005. The youngest of the three was Sivaji Ganesan born in 1928. He died in 2001.Though Sivaji, MGR and Gemini were hailed as the ‘Moovaenthar’ (Three Kings) of Tamil cinema, it was widely acknowledged that Sivaji Ganesan was the finest actor among the three. He was called “Nadigar Thilagham,” meaning ‘Doyen of Actors’. It was the Tamil film journal” Paesum Padam” which bestowed upon him the honorific.

Sivaji Ganesan, (1 October 1928 – 21 July 2001

“Nadigar Thilagham” Sivaji Ganesan passed away peacefully at a Chennai hospital on 21 July 2001. His 20th death anniversary was commemorated ten days ago. This column therefore will focus this week – with the aid of earlier writings – on the life and times of Sivaji Ganesan and his worthwhile contribution to Tamil cinema.

Sivaji Ganesn’s acting career, which began at the age of eight, could be divided into three phases -1936 to 1952, when he acted only on stage; 1952 to 1974, when he acted for the big screen and also gave stage performances; and 1974 to 1999, when he acted only in films.

Continue reading ‘Sivaji Ganesan Made Many Tamils Appreciate Their Vibrant Language More’ »

JR Jayewardene, the Kanatte Mass Funeral and the July 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

July 24th 1983 was the day on which a destructive spree of anti-Tamil violence commenced in Jaffna in the early hours of the morning and began spreading to Colombo in the later hours of the evening on the same day. It continued to other parts of the Island in the following days. The 38th anniversary of those dark days – etched in history as “Black July” revives bad memories among most Tamils who lived in Sri Lanka during July 1983.

JR Jayewardene , the Kanatte Mass Funeral and the July 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom – by D.B.S.JEYARAJ

The week long spree of anti-Tamil violence saw over 4,000 Tamils and some Muslims – mistaken for Tamils – being killed. Thousands were injured. Some of the injured were killed in hospitals. There were close upon 300,000 displaced persons as a result. Around 130,000 of these were housed in makeshift refugee camps. More than 2,500 business enterprises ranging from factories to petty boutiques were damaged or destroyed. The number of houses and dwellings and vehicles damaged or destroyed has not been correctly estimated yet.

Continue reading ‘JR Jayewardene, the Kanatte Mass Funeral and the July 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom’ »

“Medamulana Rajapaksa Dynasty”: Four Sons and Three Grandsons of Don Alvin Rajapaksa

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Basil Rohana Rajapaksa was sworn in as Finance minister in the Government of Sri Lanka by his brother President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on July 8th 2021. The appointment was hailed by Basil’s supporers who project the new Finance minister as the “saviour” who would liberate Sri Lanka from the economic morass into which the country is sinking. It is being said that the less dogmatic, more pragmatic Basil with the reputation of being “the man who gets things done” is the right choice to helm financial affairs at this point of time.The anti- Rajapaksa camp “Pooh-poohs” this claim saying Basil is only a visible symptom of the prevailing crisis and not the solution. They also point out that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a “failed state” and that Basil’s appointment as a remedy to the malady, demonstrates the failure of his brother the President to deliver.

“Medamulana Dynasty”: Four Sons and Three Grandsons of Don Alvin Rajapaksa 🌷by D.B,S. Jeyaraj

If these were the two broad contrasting positions on the appointment of the new Finance minister in politically polarized Sri Lanka , Basil’s elevation evoked a somewhat amusing global response in sections of the world’s influential media. It was seen as an illustrative example of a single family enjoying a monopoly of political power in a democratic country. “In Sri Lanka, the Government Looks Increasingly Like a Family Firm” was the heading of the article in the prestigious “New York Times”. by its South Asia Correspondent Mushib Mashal An article in the much-respected “The Hindu” by its Colombo Correspondent Meera Srinivsan had the heading “The Rajapaksas | Four brothers in one government”.

Continue reading ‘“Medamulana Rajapaksa Dynasty”: Four Sons and Three Grandsons of Don Alvin Rajapaksa’ »

“No Govt Permission to Import Chemical Fertilizer for Local Agriculture”: Decision Taken By President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Use Only Organic Fertilier for Local Agriculture Remains and Will Not Be Changed in the Future says President’s Media Centre Statement.


The President’s Office yesterday insisted that there was no U-turn in the Government’s policy on promoting organic fertiliser and that the latest gazette only aims to facilitate the importation of “specialised fertilisers”.

“The Government has not granted permission to import chemical fertilisers for local agricultural purposes, neither has it made any changes to the decision taken by the President to use only organic fertilisers for local agriculture. And there will be no changes to this decision in the future either,” a statement from the President’s Media Centre said.

The statement added that Cabinet had granted approval to the proposal made by the Minister of Agriculture on 31 May, to import plant nutrients – which included natural chelated minerals and micro matter. While these natural chelated minerals and micro matter were already being imported under the HS Code, it was prohibited by the gazette notification No. 2226/48. Therefore, in order to grant Cabinet approval to the aforesaid Cabinet paper submitted by the Minister of Agriculture, the gazette notification No. 2226/48 was amended.

Continue reading ‘“No Govt Permission to Import Chemical Fertilizer for Local Agriculture”: Decision Taken By President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Use Only Organic Fertilier for Local Agriculture Remains and Will Not Be Changed in the Future says President’s Media Centre Statement.’ »

If the Kotelawala Defence University Bill is Passed ,future members of civilian bureaucracy would be trained to honour and obey Rajapaksa orders as if they are divine truths; It will be ‘Yes, Sir, No, Sir, Three bags full, Sir.”

By Tisaranee Gunasekara


“If mankind commits suicide, it will be because people will obey…the archaic passions of fear, hate, and greed…”
– Erich Fromm (On Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying “No” to Power)

Sri Lanka is in transition into becoming the Pearl of the Silk Route politically. But America still haunts the imitation dreams of her rulers.

President Gotabaya’s latest toy is a press briefing room that seems to be a replica of the one in the White House. But Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s press room will be American in form only; in content, it will be pure Chinese. The media would not be permitted to contradict spokespersons and argue with presidents as they do in the James Brady Press Briefing Room. Instead their role would be to accept official truths uncritically and amplify them to reach every corner of society. A fitting symbol of the country the Rajapaksas are trying to create – familial autocracy in a democratic shell.

The Kotelawala Defence University Bill is a key component of this project of transforming Sri Lanka into a suitable politico-psychological space for Rajapaksa rule.

According to the Bill, the Kotelawala Defence University will have the power “to establish campuses, colleges, faculties, departments, centres, academic institutions, and other such specialised institutes, schools, and divisions as maybe required by the university”. This would create a parallel system of education and higher education in accordance with Rajapaksa needs and interests.

The KDU’s Board of Governors will be appointed by the Defence Minister, and according to the Rajapaksa game plan, that post will always be held by the family. This is militarisation of education, but militarisation led and controlled by the Family and aimed at promoting the familial agenda of dynastic power for the next half century. The KDU bill seeks to make good the promise the royal astrologer made to President Mahinda in 2009, a Rajapaksa era lasting for 50 years.

Continue reading ‘If the Kotelawala Defence University Bill is Passed ,future members of civilian bureaucracy would be trained to honour and obey Rajapaksa orders as if they are divine truths; It will be ‘Yes, Sir, No, Sir, Three bags full, Sir.”’ »

Sri Lanka is heading for its worst health disaster in the coming weeks due to risk of the Delta variant spreading beyond control; leading medical experts say hospitals across the Western Province re full with 2/3rd of the patients being oxygen-dependent.

By

Jamila Husain

Sri Lanka is heading for its worst medical tsunami in the coming weeks as there is a risk that the Delta variant is spreading beyond control, leading medical experts told Daily Mirror yesterday.

Senior physicians at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic said that hospitals across the Western Province were filled to its brim and more than 2/3rd of the patients presently were oxygen-dependent.

At the Colombo General Hospital alone, all medical wards had been taken to treat COVID-19 patients and till last morning alone, there were 610 COVID positive patients at the National Hospital.

Initially per ward was equipped with four oxygen-equipped beds, which was later tripled to 12 beds per ward. However, with the influx of patients in recent weeks, these beds are also falling short.

“We are struggling to give these patients oxygen not because we lack oxygen, but because we did not expect this much of patients. We were ready with oxygen beds, but this is beyond imagination,” a doctor said.

“I foresee in near future we will have more patients who need oxygen and we will not be able to provide them with oxygen,” the doctor added.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka is heading for its worst health disaster in the coming weeks due to risk of the Delta variant spreading beyond control; leading medical experts say hospitals across the Western Province re full with 2/3rd of the patients being oxygen-dependent.’ »

Harsha De Silva MP Calls Govt Reversal of Fertilizer Ban a Farce Saying “they have removed chemical and mineral fertiliser from the banned list and included them in the licensed list. So we are going back to what it originally was.”

By Aazam Ameen

The gazette published on 06 May which detailed the ban of imports of chemical fertiliser was fundamentally flawed, The Morning learnt.

Speaking exclusively to The Morning on the matter, Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Dr. Harsha De Silva explained that the gazette contained a mistake where both chemical fertliser and mineral fertiliser were categorised into the same HS code and banned.
“They wanted to bring in nitrogen and other supplements to complement the use of organic fertiliser, but how were they planning on doing so when they had banned both through this gazette notification as they were categorised under the same HS code?” the MP questioned.

Further, De Silva explained that this was never a law to begin with.

Continue reading ‘Harsha De Silva MP Calls Govt Reversal of Fertilizer Ban a Farce Saying “they have removed chemical and mineral fertiliser from the banned list and included them in the licensed list. So we are going back to what it originally was.”’ »

Finance Ministry through gazette notification 2238/45 of 31 July 2021 relaxes regulations on the import of chelated (a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) minerals and micronutrients for the purpose of producing fertiliser.

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Finance Ministry, through the gazette notification number 2238/45 of 31 July 2021, has relaxed regulations on the import of chelated (a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) minerals and micronutrients for the purpose of producing fertiliser.

Accordingly, nitrogen (N) fertiliser, phosphate (PO₄³⁻) fertiliser, potassium (K) fertiliser, fertilisers containing such minerals and chemical fertilisers containing a combination of fertilising elements, that were previously banned from import, have been brought under the import control licence (ICL) by the aforesaid gazette notification.

The Imports and Exports Control Department Controller General (CG), T.V.D. Damayanthi S. Karunarathne, in a letter dated 2 August 2021, has informed the Customs Director General and the chief executive officers (CEOs) of all commercial banks of the said decision. In the letter, Karunarathne has pointed out that the commercial banks should not proceed with any payments in respect of these items without a valid ICL from 31 July 2021. It is also stated in the letter that the Customs should not release the stocks of these items without a valid ICL from 31 July.

Continue reading ‘Finance Ministry through gazette notification 2238/45 of 31 July 2021 relaxes regulations on the import of chelated (a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) minerals and micronutrients for the purpose of producing fertiliser.’ »

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa Removes Ban on Import of Chemical and Mineral Fertilizer; bn relaxaion likely to be a temporary measure to help ffeced Farmers During Maha Paddy Cultivation Season

New Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has lifted the ban imposed on chemical fertilisers import.

The relaxation has been published via Gazette No. 2238/45 of 31 July. The move is following recommendations of the Agriculture Department and the Fertiliser Secretariat and will be a big boon for farmers during the upcoming Maha paddy cultivation season, officials said.

Items that could be imported include nitrogenous, phosphatic, potassic mineral or chemical fertilisers, mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers; as well as goods of this chapter (HS Heading 31.05) in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight not exceeding 10 kg.

Continue reading ‘Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa Removes Ban on Import of Chemical and Mineral Fertilizer; bn relaxaion likely to be a temporary measure to help ffeced Farmers During Maha Paddy Cultivation Season’ »

Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe Sends Letter of Demand for Rs 2 Billion to Nissanka Senadhipathy Following Administrative Appeals Tribunal Ruling that the Avant Garde Chairman had “Doctored” the Telephone Conversation Tape on the Basis of Which the Former Solicitor -General ws Interdicted

By Ranjith Padmasiri

The tape recording of a telephone conversation between former Solicitor General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe and Avant Garde Chairman Nissanka Senadipathi which resulted in the interdiction of the senior state prosecutor had been edited and doctored, an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has established.

Ms. Wickramasinghe was interdicted and sent on compulsory leave by the Public Service Commission (PSC) following the alleged conversation being uploaded on Youtube and broadcast over sections of the media in September, 2019.

The tribunal has directed the PSC to revoke its order and to allow Ms. Wickramasinghe to resume duties in the post of Solicitor General with immediate effect. However, Ms. Wickramasinghe was due to retire last Friday (July 30) on reaching her retirement age.
Three experts reports including a report from the Moratuwa University confirmed that the alleged recording had been substantially edited, doctored and fundamentally distorted.
Meanwhile, Assistant Government Analyst W.G.D.L. Gunathilaka told an inquiry into the allegations against Ms. Wickramasinghe that the impugned tape recording had been subjected to editing at 10 places.

The AAT ruling has noted that Mr Senadipathi himself had admitted in a statement during the preliminary investigation that the purported tape recording had been subjected to editing by him. Though he had given an undertaking to produce an unedited tape, he had failed to do so.

Continue reading ‘Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe Sends Letter of Demand for Rs 2 Billion to Nissanka Senadhipathy Following Administrative Appeals Tribunal Ruling that the Avant Garde Chairman had “Doctored” the Telephone Conversation Tape on the Basis of Which the Former Solicitor -General ws Interdicted’ »

Amendments to Sri Lanka’s Code of Criminal Procedure Act (1979) and Convention against Torture (CAT) Act (1994) are an insult to the victims bloodied and battered by torture at the hands of law enforcement agents.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Amendments certified on the 15th of July 2021 to Sri Lanka’s Code of Criminal Procedure Act (1979) and to the Convention against Torture (CAT) Act (1994) are, to put it baldly, an insult to the hundreds if not thousands of victims bloodied and battered by torture at the hands of law enforcement agents.

Core changes in the CCP Act and CAT Act

These amendments could not be reflected upon at the time that they were brought by the Government before the House in these column spaces due to other pressing matters of public concern at the time. The core change brought about by the amendments is that firstly, magistrates are enjoined to Magistrate to visit police stations to ensure that suspects in custody are ‘protected’ as provided for in terms of the CAT Act. In so doing, the magistrate is called upon to personally see the suspect, check the suspect’s well being and conditions of detention as well as record his or her observations and any complaints lodged by the suspect.

If there is any suspicion of torture, the magistrate ‘may’ (note, the statutory language is not mandatory) require that the suspect be produced before a judicial medical officer (JMO) or a government medical officer with a report to be submitted thereafter to the magistrate. If it is found that torture has been committed, the magistrate may issue ‘appropriate order’ including directions to provide necessary medical treatment and to change the place of custody if that is so required.

Moreover, the Inspector General of Police ‘shall’ (here, the language is mandatory) be directed to commence an investigation into the alleged torture in order to enable the Attorney-General to institute criminal proceedings against the alleged perpetrator/s. Where the amendment to the CAT Act is concerned, this provides for an increased fine, from ten thousand as the minimum with fifty thousand as the maximum to fifty thousand as the minimum and two hundred thousand as the maximum.

Continue reading ‘Amendments to Sri Lanka’s Code of Criminal Procedure Act (1979) and Convention against Torture (CAT) Act (1994) are an insult to the victims bloodied and battered by torture at the hands of law enforcement agents.’ »

Is Gotabaya Raajapaksa aiming at creating a hybrid structure of administration — part military and part civilian — like an electric-fossil fuel powered automobile?


By Gamini Weerakoon

A raging debate on ‘militarisation of academia’ has been sweeping through the ‘Paradise Island’ for weeks. Paradoxically, indications of ‘militarisation’ of government for over a year and half, since former Lt. Col. Gotabaya Rajapaksa (Retd.) was elected the president, appear not to have been taken as seriously as the move — as alleged — that may militarise universities.

We have lost count of the number of highly decorated retired military officials taking the seats once occupied by powerful civilians in government service since Gotabaya Rajapaksa took over as the president. It is a move unprecedented in the country’s 73-year post-Independence history.

But not even a whimper of protest has been heard from the associations of administrative services officers or even the usually garrulous clerical services unions and those of lower ranks. More so the general public that has been so vociferous in the criticism of this Rajapaksa government on other issues developed a chronic ‘locked Jaw’ on this issue of militarisation of the public service.

Continue reading ‘Is Gotabaya Raajapaksa aiming at creating a hybrid structure of administration — part military and part civilian — like an electric-fossil fuel powered automobile?’ »

UN Human Rights Council Ready to Crack Down on Sri Lanka at the September Session in Geneva with the UN Human Rights Commissioners Office Getting $ 2.8 Million to Set Up 13 Member Special Secretariat to Monitor Human Rights Abuses in the Island and Collect Evidence to Facilitate Accountability Mechanisms

(Excerpts from the “Sunday Times”Political Column of August 1st 2021)

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is set to crack the whip on Sri Lanka at its 48th sessions just six weeks ahead.

It is not only on issues arising from the March sessions of the damning Resolution on Sri Lanka caused by dismal diplomatic failures and a confrontational posture, particularly with western nations. Added to it is a part of the Resolution which empowered the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence.” This is for “future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial proceedings in Member States with competent jurisdiction.”

Continue reading ‘UN Human Rights Council Ready to Crack Down on Sri Lanka at the September Session in Geneva with the UN Human Rights Commissioners Office Getting $ 2.8 Million to Set Up 13 Member Special Secretariat to Monitor Human Rights Abuses in the Island and Collect Evidence to Facilitate Accountability Mechanisms’ »

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Designate to India,Milinda Moragoda,to Assume Stint in New Delhi After One Year Delay With “Integrated Country Strategy” Blueprint to Establish Better Relations Between Both Counries by Building Bridges of Connectivity on Multiple Fronts

By

Suhasini Haidar and Meera Srinivasan

After months of strain over a number of issues including the cancelled port project in Colombo , Sri Lanka is preparing to send its High Commissioner designate to Delhi, along with a ‘roadmap’ to restore ties that includes resolving fishermen’s issues, building connectivity, trade and investment, as well as promoting religious links, Buddhist exchanges and handing over a sacred “Sita temple stone” from Sri Lanka for the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya.

According to a formal proposal presented to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which The Hindu has seen, the roadmap will help bridge the “growing trust deficit”.

In February, the Modi government expressed its unhappiness over Sri Lanka’s decision to scrap the East Container Terminal project signed in 2019, amidst other signs that China was gaining the upper hand in infrastructure deals in the country. The Rajapaksa government has been disappointed over the lack of movement on requests it made for India for assistance including a debt repayment waiver for three years and a separate currency swap for $1 billion, to help with economic crisis, which were made by President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to Mr. Modi.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Designate to India,Milinda Moragoda,to Assume Stint in New Delhi After One Year Delay With “Integrated Country Strategy” Blueprint to Establish Better Relations Between Both Counries by Building Bridges of Connectivity on Multiple Fronts’ »

“The Tragedy is that it is Becoming Harder in 1983 for Sinhala Christians to Acknowledge that what was done is a Moral Crime than in 1958.:- Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe

(Text of the final Pastoral letter written by the Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala , Rt. Rev. L Wickremasinghe, in September 1983 after the July 1983 Violence.Bishop Lakshmn passed away some weeks after this on October 23rd 1983.)

Dear Church Members and Citizens assembled in Council

We are in the midst of our worst national crisis since the regaining of our independence. Attitudes have hardened among the Tamils and the Sinhalese. There is still an uneasy calm. We do not know what will be the consequences of this escalating violence, bitterness and fear.

Various persons and organisations have been engaged in protecting victims, providing relief and supporting rehabilitation. It is a matter of deep gratitude and pride that a number of Sinhalese and others have engaged in humane action at much risk to themselves, in the midst of inhuman brutality and destruction. I quote some words from the Sansoni Commission about such people who so acted in 1977:

“These splendid persons proved that courage and charity can survive – when most needed. There is no law which compels a person to defy a howling mob, or to hide a neighbour or even an unknown man fleeing like some poor animal from a crowd bent on killing him. Yet, they understood and practiced the duty of the unenforceable, which is the test of civilization in any country.”
We must acknowledge whatever is good at this time both for its own sake and to overcome our sense of despair. But such action is not enough. To courage and compassion we must add insight. We need a further kind of action based on a deeper awareness of what has happened. In the words of Thomas Merton: “Contemplation is the spring, action is the stream.”

Reflections On Our Present Situation- Personal Comments

I was not present in the island when the violence erupted at the end of July 1983. But I have been present and witnessed similar violence in 1958 and 1977. I also experienced the other period of violence in April 1971 when there was an armed insurrection by Sinhala youth. But during July 1983 and afterwards I was able to follow closely the events that took place from abroad. A friend had collected all the news and comments in the English press from July to August, and gave the documents for me to read. Since I returned a local friend gave me a similar file of documents from the Sri Lankan press from early July till the end of August. I was able to visit the damaged areas, talk with various people and also meet people in the Jaffna peninsula. Our own Tamil church-members within this diocese had their stories to tell. In short, the comments I will make on the situation we face are based on much reflection. They also express twenty five years of experience in seeking to find a solution to our ethnic conflict. I am among those who have tried hard and failed. But I know and trust in God, who is ever creative in bringing good out of evil.

Continue reading ‘“The Tragedy is that it is Becoming Harder in 1983 for Sinhala Christians to Acknowledge that what was done is a Moral Crime than in 1958.:- Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe’ »

Rajendran Rajamahendran, Rabindranath Tagore and Robert Frost

By K.Thirukumaran

Rajendran Rajamahendran passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 25. He was born on May 19, 1943.

Who is he? Some outside of Sri Lanka may ponder, especially in all the outpouring tributes he comes across as a remarkable icon, perhaps as a global one for that matter of these times.

Why?
Continue reading ‘Rajendran Rajamahendran, Rabindranath Tagore and Robert Frost’ »

Unabashedly Unbowed and Unfailingly Unafraid, “Killi”Rajamahendran was a “Maharaja” from head to toe in the truest sense of the word


By
Krishantha Prasad Cooray

It was early 2005, a few months after I had been made the CEO of Rivira Media Corporation. I had been warned that the media industry was a cutthroat one, and to expect little help for a fledgling newspaper like Rivira. Still I decided to reach out to the heads of some electronic media organisations to see if we could work together.

Amongst those I emailed was the Chairman of MTN Networks, Raj Rajamahendran, better known as Killi Maharaja. I introduced myself and the newspaper and asked if I could meet him at his convenience.

“Killi” Rajamahendran (19 May, 1943-25 July, 2021)

Having sent the email, I took a moment to scoff at my own hubris. Mr. Rajamahendran, was not just the head of the country’s largest private broadcasting empire. He also chaired dozens of companies in areas as diverse as manufacturing and infrastructure development. There was no chance he would have time to spare for a young upstart trying to start a newspaper.

I soon discovered how wrong I was. He was exactly that kind of man.

Within hours, Mr. Rajamahendran had personally replied to my email. He congratulated me on starting the newspaper and gave me an appointment to meet him the very next day. I was stunned, honoured and extremely impressed.

When I went to his office on Dawson Street the next day, he met me on time, greeted me warmly and extended his full support.

Continue reading ‘Unabashedly Unbowed and Unfailingly Unafraid, “Killi”Rajamahendran was a “Maharaja” from head to toe in the truest sense of the word’ »

The ghastly tale of the killing of Tamil prisoners at Welikada in 1983;Witnesses told the Commission that soldiers were heard shouting ‘Jayawewa’ when news broke of the killings of the Tamil prisoners


By Chandani Kirinde

All stories have their heroes and villains. During the Welikada Prison massacre of July 1983 in which 53 Tamil prisoners lost their lives, there were few prison officials who put their lives on the line to protect the Tamil inmates while there were the others, who by their complicity, encouraged the attackers and failed in their duties by not taking timely measures to protect them.

The killings inside the prison took place on two days with 35 inmates killed on 25 July and 18 others on 27 July. That week, 38 years ago, mayhem was unfolding outside the prison walls too with senseless killings, looting and arson attacks taking place against Tamils, in a month that has since come to be known as ‘Black July.’

The Presidential Truth Commission on Ethnic Violence (1981-1984) appointed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 2001 said the murder of the Tamil prisoners within the well-secured precincts of the Welikada Prison and the traumatic experience of those who escaped death would ‘constitute the most agonising moments of challenge to the collective conscience of our Nation.’ In this case, like with many similar extra judicial killings that have taken place in the country since, no one was held accountable, none prosecuted, and the case closed with the State settling the civil lawsuits filed by relatives of some of the victims by paying compensation without admitting liability.

The Commission recorded evidence from survivors of the massacre, prison officials, human rights and civil rights activists and other witnesses to piece together the terrifying atmosphere within the prison during the dark days in July 1983 and how apathy by the Government and some prison officials led to the massacres which would have been averted had they acted on time.

Continue reading ‘The ghastly tale of the killing of Tamil prisoners at Welikada in 1983;Witnesses told the Commission that soldiers were heard shouting ‘Jayawewa’ when news broke of the killings of the Tamil prisoners’ »

Mangala Samaraweera spearheads launch of an apolitical movement called ‘Radical Centre’ by a group of multifaceted multi-ethnic youth based on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and justice as the four pillared-foundation for a just, caring and prosperous society.

Former Minister and Parliamentarian Mangala Samara-weera yesterday spearheaded the launch of an apolitical movement called ‘Radical Centre’ by a group of multifaceted multi-ethnic youth calling themselves as true patriots.

The middle path or ‘Radical Centre’ is based on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and justice as the four pillared-foundation for a just, caring and prosperous society. It draws inspiration from liberal democratic principles.

Radical Centre is a platform of moderation providing the silent majority to oppose and fight authoritarianism, racism and all other forms of extremism actively and vigorously.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera spearheads launch of an apolitical movement called ‘Radical Centre’ by a group of multifaceted multi-ethnic youth based on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and justice as the four pillared-foundation for a just, caring and prosperous society.’ »

Sri Lanka yesterday completed the groundwork towards the settlement of $ 1 billion worth of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) maturing today states Nivard Cabral; State Minister for Money, Capital Market and Public Enterprises Reform Says SRi Lanka “has proved all the doomsayers and sceptics both globally and locally wrong”

By Nisthar Cassim

Against widespread fears and claims of default sans multilateral donor help, Sri Lanka yesterday completed the groundwork towards the settlement of $ 1 billion worth of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) maturing today.

The move, according to Money, Capital Market and Public Enterprises Reform State Minister Nivard Cabraal, has proved all the doomsayers and sceptics, both globally and locally, wrong.

“Right along we have been consistently saying Sri Lanka will pay despite some reckless rating agencies and analysts regularly being sceptical and unreasonably irrational. The settlement also cements the fact Sri Lanka continues its unblemished reputation of honouring its debt,” Cabraal said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka yesterday completed the groundwork towards the settlement of $ 1 billion worth of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) maturing today states Nivard Cabral; State Minister for Money, Capital Market and Public Enterprises Reform Says SRi Lanka “has proved all the doomsayers and sceptics both globally and locally wrong”’ »

Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu files Petition in Supreme Court (SC SD 28/2021) challenging the proposed Finance Bill Providing amnesty from tax, penalty or interest, or from any investigation or prosecution for ” Special foreign currency deposits”

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu yesterday filed a Petition in the Supreme Court (SC SD 28/2021) challenging the proposed Finance Bill, which was placed on the order paper of Parliament on 20 July.

The bill seeks to provide an amnesty from tax, penalty or interest, or from any investigation or prosecution, to anyone who has not disclosed any taxable supply, income or asset which was required to be disclosed by law, provided that they invest an equivalent amount in the manner specified in the Bill.

CPA’s action follows main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne and JVP former parliamentarian Sunil Hadunneththi filing separate petitions in the Supreme Court against the Finance Bill.

CPA said its position is that several clauses in the bill are inconsistent with the Constitution, including several entrench provisions, and thus cannot be passed into law except if approved by the people at a referendum in addition to a two-thirds vote of the whole number of the Members of Parliament in favour as required by Article 83 (a) of the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu files Petition in Supreme Court (SC SD 28/2021) challenging the proposed Finance Bill Providing amnesty from tax, penalty or interest, or from any investigation or prosecution for ” Special foreign currency deposits”’ »

“For how long should citizens of this country pay for the grievous sins of their political rulers?And when will we ever learn from our tortuous history?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

To a protesting (Sinhalese) Stalin, (or for that matter, a Marx or Lenin), who is released along with comrades following public outrage and street anger after unjustifiable detention by the police using Sri Lanka’s covid-19 health protocols, there are a hundred others who languish in squalid detention under the country’s savagely inhumane anti-terrorism laws.

Health protocols used to deprive rights

We know of two cases perhaps, one a lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah and the other, Ahnaf Jazeem a poet, both of Muslim ethnicity, both accused of hate speech and put behind bars without proper charges for unconscionable lengths of time. But let me repeat, there are many more in similar if not worse plights who are forgotten in the public eye, some dying without charges being filed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA, 1979). Why is public conscience so insensibly moved in the first instance but not in the other?

For the danger in both in this covid afflicted state is equally acute, let us be clear. More and more, health protocols are being used to deprive citizens of due process rights, oftentimes worse than during even the most intensified period of active conflict in Sri Lanka. Detainees are not brought before judges and not allowed to present allegations of torture and illtreatment. The principle of open hearings, where the public and the media are allowed to document and witness injustice, sometimes to the extent of preventing deaths in custody, is being departed from on the basis of covid rules.

Continue reading ‘“For how long should citizens of this country pay for the grievous sins of their political rulers?And when will we ever learn from our tortuous history?’ »

Sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka this week may be an “early signal” of what to expect from other parts of the country.

By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

A sharp rise has been seen in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) this week and many warned that it may be an “early signal” of what to expect from other parts of the country.

This week, the NHSL saw more than 200 COVID-19 patients seeking treatment daily, said an NHSL source, pointing out that it may be an indication of a spike in illness in the Colombo district as well as the Western Province.
Analysing the numbers over the past few months, the source said that in late May and early June when the country was in the grip of the third wave due to Alpha (the United Kingdom variant), the numbers rose to about 180 per day.

Continue reading ‘Sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka this week may be an “early signal” of what to expect from other parts of the country.’ »

Sri Lanka has no immediate plan to seek financing from the International Monetary Fund says Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera; “The IMF coming won’t bring tourism here. The IMF coming won’t bring exports back.”


By Namini Wijedasa

Sri Lanka has no immediate plan to seek financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera has said.

“Right now, it is not a question of whether we want the IMF or not,” the former Finance Ministry Secretary explained in an interview.

“The IMF coming won’t bring tourism here. The IMF coming won’t bring exports back.”

Any borrowing, including an IMF programme, was “good if you have prospects to improve quickly and if you have hope that, in the next six months, tourism will bring US$ 2bn and domestic activity or something else will happen”.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka has no immediate plan to seek financing from the International Monetary Fund says Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera; “The IMF coming won’t bring tourism here. The IMF coming won’t bring exports back.”’ »

President Premadasa Backed Off From Taking on the IPKF When Its Chief Gen.Kalkat Indicated That The Indian Army Would Retaliate by Seizing Anuradhapura in Phase One and Possibly Move to Colombo in Phase Two

By
Lt Gen A.S. Kalkat (Retd)

I was on a sabbatical in London, United Kingdom for a fellowship with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) when I received a message from Brigadier (now Lt Gen) Satish Nambiar, the Military Attaché in London to call the Army Headquarters. I did so from his office and was informed by the Military Secretary that the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen K. Sundarji wanted to speak to me. I was put through to the COAS who asked as to how much longer my fellowship was, as he needed me. When I asked as to when he needed me, typically he responded, “like yesterday”. I told him that I would terminate my fellowship with immediate effect and return, which I did. That was the beginning of my odyssey with the IPKF and Sri Lanka.

At the time, the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka was staffed by some of India’s “best and the brightest”. The High Commissioner, M.N. Dixit was to become the NSA later, Political Consular Head Hardip Singh Puri is now a Union Minister, and the First Secretary, Dr. S. Jaishankar is now the Foreign Minister.

INDO-SRI LANKA ACCORD 1987

With a 74 percent Sinhalese population, Sri Lanka had by the mid-1980s effectively become a Sinhala Buddhist state. The 18 percent Tamil minority, which was the dominant community in the Northern and Eastern provinces were getting politically marginalised and suppressed. The Government of India, then headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was facing political pressure to intervene.

India coerced the Government of Sri Lanka headed by President Junius Richard Jayewardene into signing the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord literally at gunpoint. The Air Force’s “Op Poomalai” of dropping humanitarian aid over Jaffna was an effective power projection.

Continue reading ‘President Premadasa Backed Off From Taking on the IPKF When Its Chief Gen.Kalkat Indicated That The Indian Army Would Retaliate by Seizing Anuradhapura in Phase One and Possibly Move to Colombo in Phase Two’ »