Anatomy of an Anti-Tamil Pogrom: Thirty-fourth Anniversary of “Black July” 1983.

(This article was posted in 2013 to denote the 30th anniversary of Black July 83 and is reproduced here again with minor changes in view of the 34th anniversary of the anti- Tamil pogrom)


by

D.B.S. Jeyaraj

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Shops, Banks, Offices and Restaurants in the Capital’s crowded City Centre and Main Streets being burnt while the Police look on. Thousands of houses ransacked and burnt, sometimes with women and children inside. Goon squads battering passengers to death in trains and on station platforms and, without hindrance, publicly burning men and women to death on the streets! Remand prisoners and political detainees in the country’s top prison being massacred.The armed forces joining in and sometimes organizing this pogrom against members of Sri Lanka’s two Sri Lankan minority communities. The nation’s President and top ranking cabinet members publicly justifying the pogrom!” – (Introductory Paragraph from “Sri Lanka” The holocaust and After” by C.R. Hensman writing under the pseudonym L. Piyadasa)

The tragic history of post – independence Sri Lanka records that the Tamils of Sri Lanka have been subjected to mass –scale mob violence in the years 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983. The anti-Tamil violence of July 1983 was the most terrible and horrible of them all. It remains etched in memory even after 30 years.

Continue reading ‘Anatomy of an Anti-Tamil Pogrom: Thirty-fourth Anniversary of “Black July” 1983.’ »

“Govigama” Monopoly Of Presidents And Prime Ministers In Sri Lanka

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

71 Year old Lawyer Ram Nath Kovind has been elected on Thursday July 20th 2017 as the 14th President of India! An excerpt from Indian English daily “The Hindu” stated as follows –

“Ram Nath Kovind was on Thursday declared elected as India’s 14th President polling 65.6% of the vote defeating the Opposition’s joint candidate, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who secured 34% of the vote. Mr. Kovind will be the second Dalit President of India after late President K.R. Narayanan but, more significantly, the first from politically significant Uttar Pradesh and the first person from the BJP to hold the office of President since Independence”.

“Speaking to the press after returning officer for the poll, Anoop Mishra, declared him elected, Mr. Kovind said it was an “emotional moment” for him.“I never dreamed of this position nor was it a goal. My election to this post is a message to all those who discharge their duties with honesty and integrity,” he said, promising to uphold the Constitution of India and follow the policy of Sarve Bhavantu Sukheenaha or peace and prosperity to all”.

Presidents of Sri Lanka & President Ram Nath Kovind

The Indian Presidency is largely a ceremonial but symbolically significant post. The President is elected by members of the Indian Lower (Lok Sabha) and Upper (Rajya Sabha) houses of Parliament along with members of the various state legislatures (legislative assemblies). The votes are graded accordingly and allocated a particular value. In the current presidential poll the total number of MPs and MLAs who cast their votes was 4851, bearing a combined value of 1090300. However, with 77 votes being declared invalid — 21 from Parliament alone — the total number of valid votes was 4774, bearing a combined value of 1069358. Mr. Kovind nominated by the BJP led govt polled 2930 of these votes — bearing a value of 702044 — while the opposition candidate Ms. Kumar gained 1844 votes — with a value of 367314.

As a keen observer of the Indian political scene for many decades the election of an Indian President is an exercise I greatly admire. What I have been impressed most is the tradition followed by successive Indian Governments of electing presidents reflecting the mixed population of the country at large. India has through a deliberate process of selection ensured over the years that members of the regional, religious and linguistic minorities are rotated as Presidents of India. In recent times caste and gender too have become relevant factors.
Continue reading ‘“Govigama” Monopoly Of Presidents And Prime Ministers In Sri Lanka’ »

Manhunt Launched in North for Killer of Policeman in Jaffna Shooting Incident; Suspect Identified as 39 Year old Ex-Tiger Selvarasa Jeyanthan of Nallur.

Police have launched an intense manhunt in the Northern province to arrest the killer of Police Sgt Sarath Hemachandra (PS 24330) on Saturday July 22nd 2017 in Nallur,Jaffna. 51 year old Hemachandra hailing from Chilaw was on duty providing security escort on a motor cycle to Jaffna High court judge Manickavasagam Illancheliyan when he was shot at about 5 pm on Temple Road and sustained serious injuries in the stomach. He was rushed to the Jaffna teaching hospital and provided emergency treatment but succumbed to his injuries on Sunday July 23rd. Hemachandra was posthumously promted as sub – inspector of police by IGP Pujitha Jayasundara. He was the father of two children.

A widespread search operation is currently underway within the Jaffna peninsula and certain areas of the Northern mainland to arrest the suspected “cop killer” who has been identified as 39 year old Selvarasa Jeyanthan is currently a resident of Nallur though his permanent address is in the 4th ward of Pungudutheevu island.. Police have taken into custody the suspect’s brother and brother in law for questioning. Both Jeyanthan’s brother and brother in law were with him when the shooting incident occurred on Temple road. Both however were not involved in the shooting.

Continue reading ‘Manhunt Launched in North for Killer of Policeman in Jaffna Shooting Incident; Suspect Identified as 39 Year old Ex-Tiger Selvarasa Jeyanthan of Nallur.’ »

How the “Ceylon” Tamils From Sri Lanka Contributed to Singapore Over The Years


By
Ajit Kanagasundram

The world today is desperate to attract foreign talent. Thirty percent of Silicon Valley startups are by Indians, and the same percentage is true of Microsoft employees, NASA employees and US physicians. Canada and Australia have long had a point system to attract talent and the US and the UK are thinking of adopting a similar system in place of their current family re-union system. Even Germany has a special Visa quota for software professionals from India.

Singapore preceded all these countries by being open from the inception to foreign talent as it knew that they were required for it to meet its ambition to become a regional and then global hub for trade, manufacturing and finance.Lee Kwan Yew openly alluded to the fact that he depended on Jaffna Tamils as a resource to build up Singapore in the early years. This article will try and describe their significant and unique contributions spanning the five decades of Singapore’s existence as an independent nation.

The Jaffna Tamils hail from the arid North of Sri Lanka and the only advantages they had was their native intelligence and an excellent education system set up by American missionaries. The Jaffna Tamils valued education above all else and the education system the missionaries set up emphasized the English Language and mathematics.The British valued this education and The Jaffna Tamil propensity for hard work and recruited them for the minor government positions such as clerks and station master both in colonial Ceylon and in the Federated States of Malaysia and Singapore.

It was said that in the 1930s you could travel by train from Singapore to the Thailand border and every station master enroute would be a Jaffna Tamil! It was their descendants who were to play such a significant role in the history of Singapore as an independent nation. The contribution of the Ceylon Tamils were in four main areas – politics and government, law, medicine and sports and I will describe each separately.
Continue reading ‘How the “Ceylon” Tamils From Sri Lanka Contributed to Singapore Over The Years’ »

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Who Confronted UN’s Ben Emmerson gets “Tuition” in Diplomacy From Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe


By The “Sunday Times” Political Editor

President Maithripala Sirisena hurriedly interrupted the Cabinet meeting that was in progress last Tuesday. He rose from his chair and asked ministers whether they could feel something like a tremor that was causing vibration of the floor.

He said he could feel such a phenomenon where he sat — the podium in the onetime Well of the House of Parliament facing ministers seated behind rows of tables. Soon, members of his personal protection group were summoned and told to find out what was happening.
The men who left the chamber returned sometime later to tell Sirisena that the vibrations were caused by piling equipment being used in the Chinese funded Colombo Port City project. It was just across the road from the Presidential Secretariat. “Let’s hope that when the construction work finishes, the Presidential Secretariat will be intact,” he remarked half-jokingly.

The meeting continued. When discussions or decisions on some 49 items on the agenda were concluded, it was time for “any other business.”

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe rose to explain why he has been accused of abusing United Nations envoy Ben Emmerson QC, Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism. During a five-day visit to Sri Lanka, Emmerson met Rajapakshe at the Justice Ministry. Emmerson is retiring from the UN system later next week.

Continue reading ‘Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Who Confronted UN’s Ben Emmerson gets “Tuition” in Diplomacy From Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Unidentified Man Appearing to be Drunk , Seizes Pistol from High Court Judge Illanchelian’s Security Officer in Jaffna and Fires shots Injuring Police Sgt.

An unidentified man seized the pistol of a Police officer and opened fire at a vehicle carrying Jaffna High Court Judge M. Ilancheliyan, wounding his security officer. The incident occurred near the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil in Jaffna last evening. Judge Ilancheliyan, who was unhurt, told reporters he was the target of the assailant and there was “a serious threat to the judiciary.”

The pistol belonged to Mr. Ilancheliyan’s advance motorcycle outrider, a police sergeant. As a routine, he would patrol the routes taken by the judge, now sitting together with two other colleagues, at the trial-at- bar of the rape-and-murder of a 17-year-old schoolgirl.

Continue reading ‘Unidentified Man Appearing to be Drunk , Seizes Pistol from High Court Judge Illanchelian’s Security Officer in Jaffna and Fires shots Injuring Police Sgt.’ »

President Sirisena’s Political Journey is Coming to an End but he does not Seem to Realise it.

by C.A.Chandraprema

The brawl that everyone saw taking place within the North Central Provincial Council on TV news bulletins last week was the outward signs of a new political development with far reaching political implications. The mace that was broken in the melee just about symbolised the impact this event would have on the political fortunes of the incumbent powers in the NCP and their political masters at the centre. Even though there has been considerable turbulence in the North Central Provincial Council in recent weeks, with a full blown revolt among UPFA/SLFP members against the Sirisena loyalist Chief Minister Peshala Jayaratne, that was just a dispute within the ruling UPFA group. Even though we may not have seen anything as spectacular as this in a provincial council in the past, there have been plenty of disputes and even fisticuffs between members of ruling groups in PCs and local government institutions in the past as well.

There are 33 members in the North Central Province with the UPFA having 21 seats, while the UNP has 11 and the JVP one. Thus if it comes to a division within the Council, 17 members can form a majority. This crisis began when 18 members of the UPFA presented a no confidence motion against the chief minister with affidavits from all signatories. The full force of the executive presidency was brought into play to prevent power in the NCP from slipping out of the hands of Sirisena’s loyalists. The Governor was instructed not to accept the documents from the dissident group and using the time thus bought, two of the dissidents were bought over by giving them ministerial portfolios. There was a complete purge of the board of ministers of the NCP following this revolt.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Political Journey is Coming to an End but he does not Seem to Realise it.’ »

Why Was Ben Emmerson Allowed to Bully, Threaten and Blackmail Sri Lanka

By Tamara Kunanayakam,
– former Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva
and
Dr. PalithaKohona,
– former Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York

The Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s haughty statement at a media briefing in Colombo on 14 July,with the UN Resident Representative at his side not contradicting the special rapporteur in any way, and his official communiqué in Geneva on 18 July, is arbitrary, judgmental, arrogant, accusatory, threatening, interventionist,and insulting.

It reeks of the worst white supremacist holier than thou attitude with regard to the non white world. When a national of a country, which has persistently violated human rights standards, including in Sri Lanka during its colonial overlordship, adopts a profoundly objectionable judgmental attitude, one must dismiss it publicly with contempt.

Continue reading ‘Why Was Ben Emmerson Allowed to Bully, Threaten and Blackmail Sri Lanka’ »

Ben Emmerson’s Irascible Warning Conveys Dash of Icy Cold Reality to Govt.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

United Nations Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC’s warning to the Sri Lankan Government following last week’s mission visit to the country was certainly the most irascible that we have seen from a UN mandate holder in a while. After more than two years of the United Nations’ uncritically accepting sunshiny rhetoric from an administration that excelled in the art, aided and abetted by Colombo’s enthusiastic cheerleaders, this was a dash of icy cold reality.


Acknowledging faults at all levels

Unfortunately however, it has all the elements of bad parenting. A cossetted and pampered child used to getting its own way does not take kindly to an undiluted dose of sternness, which also has a tad unpleasant touch of hectoring to it. Instead of a measured and carefully nuanced engagement with this Government from the start, we have over-indulgence giving way to unexpected austerity. Certainly these are extremes that are not productive.

The Special Rapporteur’s preliminary media release on his visit has been greeted with glad cries by the Rajapaksa base and its fifth column supporters in the Government to support their argument that the country will not be ‘lectured to’ by outsiders.

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Three months after the Meethotamulla Disaster in Sri Lanka


By Vijith Samarasinghe

Last Friday marked three months since the catastrophic collapse of the Meethotamulla garbage dump in Colombo. Angry victims are blaming the government for the loss of lives and for evicting them from the area without providing proper housing or a means of income.

The official death toll of the Meethotamulla disaster is 32, with another eight people listed as missing. Residents, however, claim the real figure would be much higher, as the poorest victims, who were buried alive, did not appear in official records. The military-led rescue teams called off the search for bodies after several days. Around 146 houses have been damaged, affecting 198 families or around 1,000 people.
Unsafe open dumping in natural wetland in Meethotamulla began in 1987, and was continued by successive governments. It produced a huge garbage mountain covering 9 hectares and exceeding 60 metres in height (22 acres and 200 feet).

Local people held one protest after another against the health hazards and the danger that the massive pile could collapse and take lives. The governments of former President Mahinda Rajapakse and the current President Maithripala Sirisena deployed police to violently suppress the protests.

During the 2015 presidential election campaign, Sirisena sought to exploit the mounting anger by promising to “solve” the Meethotamulla problem. His government has now seized on the disaster to try to evict poor residents and take their land.

Continue reading ‘Three months after the Meethotamulla Disaster in Sri Lanka’ »

Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic character is deep rooted in history States National Co-existence Minister Mano Ganeshan


Against the worrying background of attempts by extremists to tear Sri Lanka apart on ethnic and religious grounds, the Minister of Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganeshan, has brought out an excellent book showing Sri Lanka as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious island – a vibrantly colorful mosaic which was known in ancient times, quite appropriately, as “Serendib” or the Golden Island.

“People generally think that there are only 3 to five communities in Sri Lanka, but there are 19 of them,” Ganeshan told select journalists here on Friday.

The 367 page tome, entitled People of Sri Lanka, published by the Ministry of Coexistence, delineates the history, culture and contributions of each one of these 19 communities with photographs and illustrations.

It was released at a function attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Leader of the Opposition, R.Sampanthan, and the Speaker of Parliament Karu Jaysuriya. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was represented by the former minister of National Languages Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Artistes from the various communities performed to the delight of the vast gathering at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall.

“It is noteworthy that the country’ top leaders were assembled at the function endorsing the need to build bridges across ethnic divides,” Ganeshan said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic character is deep rooted in history States National Co-existence Minister Mano Ganeshan’ »

Was Office of Missing Persons Gazetted by Govt Due to Visiting UN High Official Feltman Making Himself “Felt” in Sri Lanka?

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

A sudden announcement by the government that it has gazzetted the long awaited Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) came in without much ado and at a time when the UN under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffery Feltman was in town.

It’s obvious the high-powered official seemed to have held his ‘last round’ of serious talks to remind the government of its failure and lethargic attitude towards paying attention to the thousands of grieving parties who lost their loved ones on the battle field and beyond.

Hearing the OMP being established, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also congratulated the Sri Lankan Government for setting it up. It’s an important step for all Sri Lankans who are still looking for the truth about their loved ones.”

He also said that the UN stands ready to support this process and he looks forward to the OMP becoming operational as soon as possible, starting with the appointment of independent commissioners.”

Continue reading ‘Was Office of Missing Persons Gazetted by Govt Due to Visiting UN High Official Feltman Making Himself “Felt” in Sri Lanka?’ »

TNA Strongly Condemns Jaffna Shooting Incident Concerning High Court Judge M.Ilancheliyan.

(Text of a Statement issued by Tamil National Alliance Spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran M.P. on July 22nd 2017)

The Tamil National Alliance strongly condemns the attack on Jaffna High Court Judge Illanchelliyan. We pray for Judge Illancheliyan and for the speedy recovery of the Police officers injured in this incident.

We urge the Inspector General of Police to bring the perpetrators of this incident to justice and to investigate the conspiracies behind this incident.

Continue reading ‘TNA Strongly Condemns Jaffna Shooting Incident Concerning High Court Judge M.Ilancheliyan.’ »

National Co-existence Ministry Under Mano Ganesan Publishes BookTitled “People of Sri Lanka”About 19 Ethnic Groups Living in the Island.

The launching ceremony for a book titled ‘People of Sri Lanka’ published by the Ministry of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena at the BMICH this week.

The book, which contains the details of 19 ethnic groups living in Sri Lanka as well as their cultures and customs, written under the guidance of the Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganeshan.

The first copy of the book was presented to the President by the Minister Mano Ganeshan.
Continue reading ‘National Co-existence Ministry Under Mano Ganesan Publishes BookTitled “People of Sri Lanka”About 19 Ethnic Groups Living in the Island.’ »

TNA and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan Raises Concerns about Issues Affecting the Tamil People in Meeting With UN Under -Secy -Gen Jeffrey Feltman.

(Text of a Press Statement Issued Through the Media Office of the Tamil National Alliance)

A meeting was held between the Tamil National Alliance led by R. Sampanthan and visiting United Nations Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffery Feltman today at the UN office in Colombo.

Mr. Sampanthan raised concerns related to matters that affect the day to day life of the Tamil people living in the North and the East. He highlighted that lands belonging to people must be returned to people. “there is no justification for the Government not to release these lands even after 8 years since the war came to an end” he noted.

Speaking further on the land issues Mr. Sampanthan pointed out that the armed forces are engaged in cultivation activities in these lands that severely affects the livelihood of our people.

Speaking of the Missing persons Mr. Sampanthan noted that there had been over 20,000 people who went missing as per the submissions given to several commissions. And he further clarified not all of them belong to the armed group. People want to know the truth as to what happened to their loved ones, people are living in trauma, and this must come to an end he added. “The Office of the Missing Persons should be established soon to give some relief to these people” Mr. Sampanthan noted.

Continue reading ‘TNA and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan Raises Concerns about Issues Affecting the Tamil People in Meeting With UN Under -Secy -Gen Jeffrey Feltman.’ »

“UN Must Stop Interfering in Lanka’s Constitution Making Process” – Dinesh Gunawardena tells Jeffrey Feltman.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Joint Opposition (JO) parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena has called for an end to UN interference in on-going constitutional making process in accordance with Geneva Resolution 30/1 adopted in Oct 2015.

MP Gunawardena has said that the JO that represented a large segment of people strongly opposed to the current UN initiative that was inimical to Sri Lanka’s national interest.

The veteran politician was responding to Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman currently here on a three-day visit to ascertain the current status of the constitution making process.

Feltman, who had served successive US administrations, arrived in Sri Lanka last Wednesday (July 19).

Continue reading ‘“UN Must Stop Interfering in Lanka’s Constitution Making Process” – Dinesh Gunawardena tells Jeffrey Feltman.’ »

BJP Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind elected 14th President of India

Ram Nath Kovind was elected India’s new president Thursday, the second time since independence a head of state has been chosen from the bottom of the Hindu caste system. The first Dalit President was K.R.Narayanan, who as the 10th.President of India, served from 1997 to 2002.

Kovind won the largely ceremonial position with more than 65 per cent of the vote by members of India’s parliament and state assemblies, the election commission said.

The 71-year-old former lawyer and Governor of the State of Bihar, belonging to the marginalized Dalit community, was nominated for the post by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the candidate of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The opposition Congress Party also put forward a Dalit candidate, a former parliamentary speaker Meira Kumar.

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26 Year Old Indian Girl From Chennai Detained and Questioned in Sri Lanka for Wearing Dress With Buddha Print on it.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka police on Monday detained and questioned an Indian tourist who was wearing a dress with a print of the Buddha on it.

Wearing the image of the Buddha remains a sensitive matter in the island where a majority practise Buddhism. In 2014, a British tourist was deported for sporting a tattoo of the Buddha on her arm.

The 26-year-old tourist was on the island on a family holiday at a resort near Bentota, along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Before the group’s departure from Colombo on Monday, some of them were shopping at an upmarket mall in the capital.

“Just as we were about to make the payment at the counter, three cops came up to us and said they needed to arrest and take my niece. We were terrified,” said Deepam R., aunt of the young woman. The 26-year-old and the rest of the family apologised to the police and said they did not intend to offend Sri Lankans, she said.

Continue reading ‘26 Year Old Indian Girl From Chennai Detained and Questioned in Sri Lanka for Wearing Dress With Buddha Print on it.’ »

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Unravelled in Forthcomig Book Authored By Kusal Perera Titled “RAJAPAKSA”.

By

Taylor Dibbert


Well-known Sri Lankan Political analyst and journalist Kusal Perera has written a book about former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa titled “Rajapaksa”. Freelance Journalist Taylor Dibbert Interviews the author about “Rajapaksa” and related matters.

Excerpts-


Question: Your book “Rajapaksa” will be released soon. Would you tell us a bit about it?

Answer;

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Unravelled in Forthcomig Book Authored By Kusal Perera Titled “RAJAPAKSA”.’ »

Mahinda Was An Aberration But Maithripala Is An Authentic Leader Of the True SLFP.

By

Vishwamithra 1984


“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”

~ William Faulkner

Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), although purported to be following the Bandaranaike policies and principles, basically consists of socialized economic principles and hard nationalism bordering on extremism. Its fundamental appeal has been to Sinhalese Buddhists who it rightly assumed as marginalized and under-served by the then governing principals, a Colombo-based, English-speaking elite led by the United National Party (UNP). That is all post-Independence politics in Ceylon.

However, prior to Ceylon obtaining freedom from the British Raj, in both Councils, Legislative and State, amongst the dominating elements, the most striking was its composition that of a foreign cum English-educated, whiskey-drinking, impervious super-elite whose allegiance to and being arrogant towards the local culture of the average Haramanis. Haramanis was nurtured and nursed by the glorious tales of the Great Chronicle – Mahawansa. Living in the rural countryside, nourished by the soil of the land and its meagre fruits of rain-fed cultivations, the average Sinhalese Buddhist was literally kept in the dark. His wants and desires were not heard nor adhered to. His culture which boasts of thousands of years of monarchical rule by Kings and Queens was rooted in aggressively held beliefs and unforgiving faith in a religion that is sacred and universally accepted as a supreme philosophical teaching of life and living. They were proud of that faith and rightly so.

The then decision-makers who were mainly part and parcel of the establishment comprising of the colonial powers and Colombo-based elites executed their legislative callings with an exclusive mindset of arrogance on the one hand and a reprehensible sense of oblivion on the other. This mindset of the ruling elites was dictating the performance of its obligations without any substantial relationship to the great majority in the land whether they were Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim. But the appeal of the SLFP, as per historical records, is essentially a logical progression of the Sinhala Maha Sabha, ‘founded by SWRD Bandaranaike in 1934-35, in order to promote Sinhalese culture and community interests’. While retaining its fundamental nationalistic character, the SLFP also promulgated a message of vastly different economic policies- policies that later implemented as ‘socialist’ and ‘common man-friendly’- from the UNP’s capitalistic free-market-friendly approach.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Was An Aberration But Maithripala Is An Authentic Leader Of the True SLFP.’ »

Wimal Weerawansa’s NFF Pulls Out of Constitution Making Process While rest of Mahinda Rajapaksa Loyalists Continue to Remain


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Joint Opposition (JO) consisting of SLFP and UPFA dissidents loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa broke into two factions yesterday after one of its main partners, the National Freedom Front (NFF) opted to pull out of the new constitution making process.

NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa has informed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in writing that he and four other NFF MPs namely Weerakumara Dissanayake, Jayantha Samaraweera, Udayashantha Gunasekera and Niroshan Premaratne, would leave the Constituent Assembly (CA).

All NFF MPs, except Gunasekera, were present when party leader Weerawansa handed over the letter to the Speaker, according to sources.

The letter signed by all five NFF members said the party had decided to leave the CA for ten reasons.

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawansa’s NFF Pulls Out of Constitution Making Process While rest of Mahinda Rajapaksa Loyalists Continue to Remain’ »

“Govt Has No Issues With UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s Visit and Report on Sri Lanka says cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne


President Maithripala Sirisena sought clarification from his Cabinet of Ministers on the procedure through which Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson obtained clearance to meet detainees held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, Cabinet Co-spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne told the media yesterday.

However, he insisted that the Government had not found fault with the UN representative meeting the detainees.

“The President asked for clarification as there was no clearance obtained from the Defence Ministry. The meetings have been coordinated by the Foreign Ministry after consultations with the Prisons Commissioner. The procedure followed has been in practice during previous visits,” Senaratne said at the weekly Cabinet press briefing.

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If Federalism Is To Be Introduced Because It Is Good, Then Why Not Explain That To The People?


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

If you say one thing and do quite another, that’s deceit. If you stick one label on something but sell quite another, then that’s fraud – a criminal act. Going by what TNA’s MP M.A.Sumanthiran has said on the record, that’s exactly what the new Constitution is intended to do. The TNA MP says that the content of the Constitutional changes will be federal but the label will not say that. TV news showed Sumanthiran speaking in Jaffna, confirming that the Interim Report of the draft Constitution fulfils the two fundamental requirements of federalism though the term itself isn’t used. If confirmation were needed he is also quoted in the state-owned Sunday Observer saying “The new Constitution will be based on the federal system although it will not be indicated in such terms”.

In other words, the wrapper will say one thing but the content will contain another thing. The wrapper will say unitary or won’t say anything at all. The content will be federal. The Constitution will be a disguised or will be disguised: Federal masked as unitary.

What is the purpose of this despicable lie and who is the intended victim? Why not call something by its real and true name? If a Constitution is going to be, in effect, federal in content and character, that must be for a reason. The obvious reason is that the drafters think that federalism is good. Then why don’t they say it openly? Why unitary on the outside and federalism on the inside? Why this covert federalism? Why not just come out of the closet and go all Federalist Pride?

Continue reading ‘If Federalism Is To Be Introduced Because It Is Good, Then Why Not Explain That To The People?’ »

New Ministry of Human Rights Under Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Must Be Created To Deal With The UNHRC


By

Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

“They are commitments that Sri Lanka voluntarily undertook in the light of 70 years of experience of Transitional Justice since the Nuremberg trials…”

-Ben Emmerson QC, UN Special Rapporteur

One of the 2 resolutions adopted at the 5th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council on the 18th of June 2007 is Resolution A/HRC/RES/5/2 namely, the “Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council”. This resolution was adopted without a vote. Article 12 of the text says that Special Procedure should “In implementing their mandate, therefore, show restraint, moderation and discretion…”

In invoking the loaded “N” word –Nuremberg–to ascribe a motivation to the GoSL in co-signing the last two resolutions, I hardly think that UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC was exercising any of those recommended qualities. The danger is that when pronounced from the position of authority he holds as a Special Rapporteur of UNHRC, it won’t be long before Sri Lanka will, at least in global public opinion, be associated with the heinous crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis in 1939-1945. It was irresponsible on Emmerson’s part, to say the least. Making careless and extravagant statements also discredits the dignity of the UN Human Rights Council itself and brings into question the impartiality of the Report and its recommendations to be presented to the Council.

In addition, Emmerson’s remarks contain false information. Transitional Justice, according to the relevant UN Background Note, emerged in the 1980s and 1990s “mainly in response to political transitions that took place in Latin America and Eastern Europe…” and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Nuremberg Trials! Nuremberg tried the leaders of a war of aggression in which the crime of genocide was committed, better known as the “Holocaust”.

Continue reading ‘New Ministry of Human Rights Under Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Must Be Created To Deal With The UNHRC’ »

Full Statement by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, at the conclusion of his official visit

Full Statement by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, at the conclusion of his official visit

Preliminary findings of the visit to Sri Lanka

Colombo (14 July 2017),

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Mr. Ben Emmerson, visited Sri Lanka from 10 July to 14 July 2017. He thanks the Government of Sri Lanka for having extended an invitation to visit the country. The purpose of the visit was to assess the progress Sri Lanka has achieved in its law, policies and practice in the fight against terrorism since the end of its internal armed conflict, as measured against international human rights law, particularly since progress in these areas is key to its efforts in ensuring reconciliation, accountability and lasting peace in the country.

The Special Rapporteur commends the transparency and the largely courteous, constructive and co-operative way in which the Government initiated and facilitated this official visit, which allowed a frank and open dialogue. The Special Rapporteur is particularly grateful to the heads of all governmental institutions that he met and to the United Nations Country Team and its Resident Coordinator for the support extended during the visit. He had the opportunity for a constructive and informative exchange of views with the Prime Minister, the Secretary to the President, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development, the Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs. He also met, amongst others, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, the Commanders of the Navy, of the Army and of the Air Force, or their representatives, the Chief of National Intelligence, the Chairman of the National Police Commission, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of the Special Task Force Division, the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, the Chief of the Terrorist Investigation Division and the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation. He also met the Minister of Justice.

The Special Rapporteur and his team had discussions with the Attorney General, the Chief Justice, and High Court judges in Colombo, Anuradhapura and Vavuniya. He visited New Magazine Prison in Colombo and the prison in Anuradhapura, and was given an opportunity to meet privately with detainees accused under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, as well as to observe the impoverished conditions in which some of them were detained. He also met with their lawyers and with their families, as well as with other individuals affected by the operation of counter-terrorism legislation and policies in Sri Lanka. Finally, he met with the Chair and one of the Commissioners of the National Human Rights Commission, as well as representatives of civil society.

The Special Rapporteur is fully cognisant of Sri Lanka’s long and complex history of ethnic tensions, and the tremendous security challenges this has generated. For almost 26 years, Sri Lanka dealt with violent acts of terrorism committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamils Eelam (LTTE), including suicide bombings and political assassinations, which culminated in a prolonged armed conflict that came to an end only in 2009.

Continue reading ‘Full Statement by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, at the conclusion of his official visit’ »

Birth and Death of the Anti-Corruption Secretariat

By Kavindya Chris Thomas

Last Thursday (13) Co-Cabinet Spokesman, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, addressing the Cabinet media briefing, said that the Anti-Corruption Secretariat had not delivered on its promises. This was in response to a question which was raised regarding extending the Anti-Corruption Secretariat’s term which expired on 30 June. “The government spent Rs 65 million on the secretariat, but we have not seen it achieve much,” Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said. What exactly is this Anti-Corruption Secretariat and why was it shut down?

Birth

On 29 January 2015, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe put forward a Cabinet Paper, calling for an institution to crack down on large scale fraud and corruption that took place during the previous regime. The Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat was set up with the objective of collecting information from the general public (which would assist in cracking open cases) and relaying that information to the Bribery Commission or to the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID). When the Anti-Corruption Secretariat was formed after the 8 January revolution, it was approved by both the Constitutional Council and the Cabinet of Sri Lanka. The Secretariat which was led by the Prime Minister had a subcommittee and a rapid response committee. The secretariat also had its own short-term and long-term goals.

Following Cabinet approval on that same day, it functioned till Friday, 30 June thanks to extensions provided to its tenure, until Dr. Rajitha Senaratne stated that they have decided not to extend the term after its expiration.

Continue reading ‘Birth and Death of the Anti-Corruption Secretariat’ »

Five Policemen Accused of Killing Two Jaffna Undergrads Want Their Case Transferred Out of North and east.


By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeals on Monday granted another date for five police officers who had been arrested in connection with the shooting of two Jaffna University students to file a counter objection on 3 August in regard to their appeal.

The accused police officers are seeking the court to transfer their case out of Northern and Eastern provinces.

They are also seeking the court to issue an interim order restraining the continuation of their case in the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court until the final determination of their application.

Continue reading ‘Five Policemen Accused of Killing Two Jaffna Undergrads Want Their Case Transferred Out of North and east.’ »

Protesting Villagers Attack Police Post in North After Youth From Area Dies in Shooting by Police in Point Pedro region.

Hundreds of villagers protested near Pointpedro over the police shooting of a young worker. The town is situated on the northern-most point of the Jaffna Peninsula, where the Tamil residents were the victims of racist police violence and killings in 1984.

Yogarajah Thinesh, a 24-year-old man from Thunnalai village, was killed on Sunday evening while riding on the back of a lorry. He was sitting on a load of sand. According to reports, police opened fire with a T-56 assault rifle, hitting him in the chest and hip.

The police claimed the lorry was carrying illegally mined sand and they opened fire because the driver failed to heed orders to stop. The police admitted that two officers from a police post chased the vehicle by motorcycle and shot at it.

The vehicle driver and another person allegedly fled the scene and the police launched a search operation to apprehend them. Under normal police practices, officers are supposed to stop suspect vehicles and make arrests but they appear to have deliberately fired at Thinesh.

Continue reading ‘Protesting Villagers Attack Police Post in North After Youth From Area Dies in Shooting by Police in Point Pedro region.’ »

Sri Lanka should not shut itself to international scrutiny as Mr Rajapaksa did.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, who visited Colombo last week criticized Sri Lanka for the slow pace of the transitional justice process and warned that the international community was running out of patience. He demanded that the government repealed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but also insisted that the proposed counter terrorism legislation that was meant to replace the PTA should do away with admissibility of confessions to police as court evidence, which, by the way, is admissible in Britain, his home country.

Earlier another UN special rapporteur Mónica Pinto on the independence on judges and judiciary noted that the independence of courts had improved since the new government came to power, but then upon leaving the country, dropped a bombshell at the UN Human Rights Council, flaying the judiciary of many real and imaginary ills.

The problem with these folks is that they come here with preconceived notions and on their arrival, they meet a bunch of people who share the same beliefs: NGO captains, widows of dead LTTEers, lawyers appearing for hard-core terrorist suspects in detention, and in general lobbyists of fringe sections of Tamils. Thus this whole affair of UN visits is an incestuous cycle. Every UN rep after a few days in the country, proudly reaffirms his or her predisposed notions and rubs it on our faces very publicly. (Do that in Turkey or nowadays in Philippines, you get kicked out.)

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka should not shut itself to international scrutiny as Mr Rajapaksa did.’ »

Tamara Kunanayakam Receives “Inspirational Woman of the Year”Award.


By

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Tamara Kunanayakam was the recipient of ‘Inspirational Woman of the Year’Award in this year’s ‘Top 50 Professional and Career Women Awards’ organized by Women in Management, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group. The 50 winners from Sri Lanka and the Maldives received their awards at a glittering ceremony held at Hotel Taj Samudra on Friday. Ms. Kunanayakam, best known for her defence of Sri Lanka’s independence and sovereignty as Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva 2011-2012 when a resolution was brought against the country at the Human Rights Council, said “the fact that I won this award, for me is a recognition of the values and principles I stood for.” The Daily Mirror talked to her about the less-known aspects of her background and career.


Excerpts from the interview:

Question:

How do you feel about winning this award – were you surprised?

Answer:

It was a totally unexpected surprise. The award for ‘Inspirational Woman’ is not open for nomination,the recipient is selected by the panel of judges. Throughout my life I’ve been guided by values and principles of social justice, solidarity, equality – humanist values, freedom from exploitation, peace, independence and sovereignty. You don’t expect to be rewarded for doing things you believe in!

Continue reading ‘Tamara Kunanayakam Receives “Inspirational Woman of the Year”Award.’ »

UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson Q.C. Wants ” A New Order” in Sri Lanka


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, a British national, was newsworthy in the extreme. Firstly, it exposed the promise made by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to appoint a Special Prosecutor. This promise is stated in the official statement issued by Emmerson, which is posted on the UN website, and was also read out by him at the media conference and seen and heard by anyone who watched the TV news a few days back. The relevant portion of the statement reads as follows:

“The Special Rapporteur was given a personal assurance by the Prime Minister that…the Government would…set up an Office of the Special Prosecutor to bring criminal charges against those involved in the most serious atrocities committed on both sides of the conflict.” (Source: UN Sri Lanka, re-posted on Groundviews)

A great many pertinent questions arise here. Why a Special Prosecutor and who or what will he/she prosecute? The job description of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, as contained in Ben Emmerson’s written statement is “to bring criminal charges against those involved in the most serious atrocities committed on both sides of the conflict.” The wording of the written statement clearly presupposes that “serious atrocities” were committed by both sides, meaning by the Sri Lankan armed forces as well. As for “both sides”, since the Tigers are either dead, in self-exile, rehabilitated and released or (a handful) in jail, this means the only target that’s left standing is Sri Lankan military.

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Despite Difficulties UNP and SLFP Will Continue with National Govt Emphasises Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

By

Yohan Perera

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today stressed the need to continue the national government with the participation of the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) despite the difficulties.

He said this at the foundation-stone-laying-ceremony for the Viyathpura Green Professional City in Pannipitiya last morning.

Continue reading ‘Despite Difficulties UNP and SLFP Will Continue with National Govt Emphasises Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.’ »

Media and Political Strategist Krishantha Prasad Cooray Takes Over as Lake House Chairman.

Media and political strategist Krishantha Prasad Cooray has been appointed as the Chairman of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (Lake House), succeeding Kavan Ratnayaka. He will assume duties at Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd On Tuesday July 18th.

The new appointment is in addition to Cooray being the Chairman of Hotel Developers (Lanka) Plc, the owning company of Hilton Colombo.

Cooray, whose academic training has been in Political Science and Law, is a senior professional with many years of experience in the corporate sector.

Continue reading ‘Media and Political Strategist Krishantha Prasad Cooray Takes Over as Lake House Chairman.’ »

Top Professional Kavan Ratnayake Appointed Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

Top professional Kavan Ratnayaka has taken over as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), succeeding industry veteran Paddy Withana.

Ratnayaka was previously the Chairman Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (ANCL).

The SLTDA is the successor to the Sri Lanka Tourist Board. Formed as the apex body for Sri Lanka Tourism under Section 2 of the Tourism Act (No. 38 of 2005), SLTDA is committed towards transforming Sri Lanka to be Asia’s foremost tourism destination. The SLTDA will strive to develop diverse, unique and quality tourism services and products that would make Sri Lanka as a unique destination, globally.

Continue reading ‘Top Professional Kavan Ratnayake Appointed Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.’ »

Perennial Failure of Justice is Because of Politicised Investigations and Prosecutions.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

When disreputable elements engage in fear-mongering, one can only react with disdain. That said, this is a time where the line between the reputable and the disreputable runs very thin on the ground. Therefore it may be conceded that these are distinctions veritably without a difference.

Sensible rationale not reflected

Nonetheless, it is hard to remain quiet when former Minister of External Affairs and surely one of our most eagerly ambitious politicians, GL Peiris expounds with great gusto on the ill-wisdom of the Enforced Disappearances Bill. Listed for debate this week, the Bill was postponed by a wavering Government caught between the rock of its own swashbuckling commitments and the hard place of ultra-nationalistic sentiment before which it now wails, much like a petulant child.


This predicament is, of course, due in large part to its own failure in not engaging in a national effort to soberly explain to the people in this country why this legislation is needed in the first place. Enforced disappearances do not have sole application to the North or to citizens of Tamil ethnicity.

On the contrary, the South was the primary target of this tactic of state terror in the eighties. The Sinhala South therefore does not need to be taught as to why such a law is needed or why the State must legislate to ensure accountability to prevent future occurrences.

Continue reading ‘Perennial Failure of Justice is Because of Politicised Investigations and Prosecutions.’ »

Blatant Mahinda, Betraying Ranil, and Blame-master Maithri Comprise Vicious Political Triangle

by Rajan Philips

They are the three corners of Sri Lanka’s vicious political triangle. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family are nothing if they are not blatant about everything. They defeated the LTTE, so they can do no wrong. They will return to power, they insist, and rule for ever, no matter what. If and when they do, the blame or credit for it must surely land on the present government – for its betrayal of the common opposition promises in the landmark election of January 2015.

The handsome prince of betrayal is of course the cleverly honest Prime Minister. He keeps clean hands but allows other dirty hands at the table and under the table. Ranil Wickremesinghe made the greatest possible political sacrifice before the last presidential election, but has since undone it by betraying the straightforward promises he made at the same election: stop Port City; expose and end government corruption; and rescue the Central Bank and restore its purpose and dignity. There were plenty of other promises – ranging from constitutional overhaul to national reconciliation to sweeping good governance. Starts have been made on almost all of them, but no sense of accomplishment or steady progress in any of them. On balance, the dim lights of achievements are blinded by the glare of broken promises.

Continue reading ‘Blatant Mahinda, Betraying Ranil, and Blame-master Maithri Comprise Vicious Political Triangle’ »

When Current Crisis Explodes Rajapaksas Will Take Over the SLFP and Break Up the UNP.

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”Franklin Roosevelt (The State of the Union Address, 1944)

This is not fiddling while Rome burns. This is taking ‘selfies’ on the railway track ignoring the hurtling express train.

No government can remain eternally popular. Governments, like people, also face midlife crises. Some of the woes afflicting the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration are due to such natural factors. Not all of them, though, or even most of them. These heights of inefficiency, this unwillingness to stand up to the bullying of special-interest groups, this inability to understand its own peril – there is nothing normal about any of this.

After a mere thirty months in office, the government has become contemptuous of ‘even the most common rules of commonsense’ and is suffering from a ‘radical loss of self interest.’i The crisis is a self-made one. It didn’t have to happen. It was allowed to happen.

Chaos is not democracy. Drifting into disaster is not good governance.

Continue reading ‘When Current Crisis Explodes Rajapaksas Will Take Over the SLFP and Break Up the UNP.’ »

Sirisena Gets Cold Feet as Presidential Hot Seat Starts to Heat up , Rattle and Rumble

By

Don Manu

Well, as they say, better late than never. Especially when one realises that one’s 5 year tenure on the nation’s throne has reached the half way mark, giving rise to a mid life crisis as the leaves of one’s popularity start to fall with the coming of Autumn.

Last week’s President Sirisena’s cabinet outburst against his coalition partner the UNP had all the markings of regret of a misspent presidential spring and summer. But with all due kindness to him, his presidential birth had not been a natural one: not one born with the silver spoon of a united front but one laboured with the dubious assistance of many mid wives, some of whose motives were, and still are, suspect.

Yet, in that downcast hour, it contained all the promise of a great future. Both for him and his countrymen. Alas, down the line, the rainbow that appeared after the auspicious drizzle, vanished without trace and, today, the best laid plans of the new born king seem to lie disposed by the ring of foes who await to hear the death knell rung.

Unlike a Turk who never keeps a brother near the throne, Sirisena perforce had to keep a whole host of new found friends near his to protect him from getting stabbed in the back by his own kin. It was inevitable that the day would dawn when those who had supplied the props to keep his seat safe and steady would conspire to pull the scarlet rug under his feet and aspire to occupy the throne alone.

Last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting witnessed the president coming out of his silent shell and give vent to his ire at the UNP sitting, like Mother Goose, on surrogate corruption eggs, and not gander in earnest to crack them open and cook the Rajapaksa regime’s goose in the mega fat of their sleaze in open court.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena Gets Cold Feet as Presidential Hot Seat Starts to Heat up , Rattle and Rumble’ »

War Heroes or Criminals? Probing Alleged Corruption of Defence Services Top Brass.

By

C.A. Chandraprema

The former Navy Spokesman Commodore D.K.P.Dassanayake was arrested last week on charges of causing the disappearance of 11 persons in 2008. Dassanayake, a highly decorated Naval officer who played a major role in the war, is the latest high ranking armed forces officer to be arrested under the present government. After January 2015, a good cross section of the entire military high command that won the war against terrorism has either been investigated, questioned, arrested or remanded over some criminal investigation or the other. During the previous government, the then General Sarath Fonseka was arrested and jailed over two cases, one of which related to irregularities in Army procurements; the other being the white flag incident. The first case in which Fonseka was convicted by a military court was clearly a tit for tat political reprisal.

At the 2010 presidential elections, Fonseka pledged on every platform to put the Rajapaksas in jail and to make them wear ‘jumpers’. (‘jumper andanawa’ , ‘katu lewakanna denawa’). That venemous election campaign was one of the main reasons for Fonseka’s ignominious defeat. Tissa Attanayake the then general secretary of the UNP says in his memoirs that he had tried to caution Fonseka asking him at one point whether ‘such statements weren’t a bit too much?’ But Fonseka had brushed aside Attanayake’s concerns saying that was what brought ‘cheers’ from the crowds. It was only natural that if Fonseka contested that election to put his rivals in jail and make them wear jumpers, his opponents who emerged panting and palpitating but victorious from that election would repay him in the same coin.

Continue reading ‘War Heroes or Criminals? Probing Alleged Corruption of Defence Services Top Brass.’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa:The Man and his Vision

By Abdul Samad

As we approach the half-way point of the term with unity government, it is clear beyond any doubt that the administration has failed in all aspects including the foremost touted political and ethnic reconciliation process. A rotten capital market, uncontrollable inflation, and absolutely pathetic fiscal/economic policy, corrupt politicians and legislators, inefficient bloated ministries, civil/union unrests have been the highlights of this period.

Considering such a scenario, it is an ideal time to reflect who could lead our motherland out of this disastrous situation to say the least.

Presidency and premiership

After 2.5 years of the unity government, it has to be a foregone conclusion that the marriage of two mainstream political ideologies is not working.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s ascendancy to the presidency was touted as a victory against corruption, minority suppression, and nepotism. Two and a half years down the line none of these make absolutely any sense.

Corruption remains at the heart of every political move. The perpetrators of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Bond scam are still roaming free with the blessings of leading political figures. Ghost buildings have been leased out for astonishing amounts of public funds without any responsibility. Sri Lanka was ranked 95th out of 176 countries in corruption rankings according to Transparency International. Interestingly, the country has dropped 12 places when compared with 2015 measuring a lowly score of 35.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa:The Man and his Vision’ »

Champika Ranawaka and Jathika Hela Urumaya “Connected” to Gnanasara Thero and Bodu Bala Sena.

by C.A.Chandraprema

Even though police teams are supposedly scouring the country for him, the monk Galagodaatte Gnanasara has not been arrested as this goes to press. He is supposed to appear in courts tomorrow but it seems unlikely that he will. He has evaded two court appearances already and if he was going to make an appearance tomorrow, he may not have evaded courts on the previous two occasions. Rumours are rife that Gnanasara is being protected by a prominent minister, and the name mentioned in this regard is that of Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe. The reason why speculation swirls around Rajapakshe is probably because he had facilitated meetings between the President and some radical monks including Gnanasara to sort out some issues. However, hiding fugitives and that kind of thing would be out of character for Minister Rajapakshe and it is unlikely that he would get involved in any such thing as the Minister of Justice.

The surprising thing is that nobody has yet suggested the possibility that Gnanasara could be hiding in Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s house. During the previous government, everything that Gnanasara did was ascribed to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and that was one of the reasons why the Muslims voted en masse against the Rajapaksa government. Given the propensity of the present powers that be to blame everything on the Rajapaksas, it is surprising indeed that nobody has tried to lay the blame for Gnanasara’s latest antics on the Rajapaksas. Even though the Rajapaksas are not in power, you can always blame the supposed pro-Rajapaksa ‘deep state’ for protecting Gnanasara. Instead they seem to have fixated on a different Rajapakshe. Be that as it may, to have a proper understanding of who is actually behind the Bodu Bala Sena, you have to trace its history.

The BBS first made its appearance on the scene in 2012 with the anti-halal campaign. This a few months after several monks including Gnanasara returned from a trip to Norway where he met Erik Solheim among others. From that time onwards, every step of the way, the Jathika Hela Urumaya made common cause with everything that was done by the BBS. The street action was taken by the monks of the BBS led by Galagodaatte Gnanasara while the JHU held press conferences, defending or encouraging the action taken by the BBS. Whether it was the anti-halal campaign, the anti-cattle slaughter campaign, and even the Aluthgama riots, the JHU was behind the BBS fully. In the wake of the Aluthgama riots, Champika Ranawaka distributed aid to the Sinhala victims of the riots. What ignited the Aluthgama riots was the accusation that a Buddhist monk had been assaulted by Muslims. When President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to take action against the BBS, it was Ranawaka who had opposed any such move in cabinet and said that the monks should not be touched and if any monk is arrested he would bring the entire monkhood onto the streets.

Continue reading ‘Champika Ranawaka and Jathika Hela Urumaya “Connected” to Gnanasara Thero and Bodu Bala Sena.’ »

Govt Will Go Ahead With Counter -Terror Law Declares Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

By Chandani Kirinde

The Government will not take instructions from the United Nations on how the new Counter-Terrorism Bill is drafted and will go ahead with the bill approved by the Cabinet, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday.

“The laws have to be made here and they have to be approved by our Parliament. We cannot have others doing it for us,” Minister Rajapakshe said.

He was responding to comments made by Ben Emmerson, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the “promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”. Mr. Emmerson said on Friday that the Government wanted to engage in a process of constructive dialogue to improve the draft legislation before it was presented in Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Govt Will Go Ahead With Counter -Terror Law Declares Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.’ »

CID Completes Investigations in Many Cases But No Action Taken Due to Delays in Attorney-General’s Dept

In the case of investigations carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), a delay on the part of the Attorney General’s Department has been listed as the reason why no action has been taken.

According to a note prepared by the CID, those cases include the following:

• Date of complaint; January 14, 2015 – Investigations into alleged conspiracy at Temple Trees in the early hours of January 10, 2015. File referred to AG on January 27, 2015. File No: CR /108/2015,

• Date of complaint: February 4, 2015: Investigations into assets of former Chairman of the Port Authority Priyath Bandu Wickremamunige. File referred to AG: May 5 2015. File No: CR/1/271/15

• Date of complaint: January 14, 2015: Investigations into missing vehicles of Presidential Secretariat. Date file referred to AG: January 6, 2016. File referred to AG: June 1, 2016: File No: CR/1/1/16

Continue reading ‘CID Completes Investigations in Many Cases But No Action Taken Due to Delays in Attorney-General’s Dept’ »

Predatory Microfinance Loans With Exorbitant Interest Rates Make People of Batticaloa Fall Into Terrible Debt Trap.

By

Meera Srinivasan

(*Some names have been changed on request)

People in Batticaloa, one of the poorest districts in Sri Lanka, are badly hit by ‘predatory’ microfinance loans with exorbitant interest rates

“First, it was the tsunami that destroyed our community. Then came the war. Now, it’s microfinance.” That is how Jesudasan Rajitha describes the growing web of debt that is trapping people of this district on Sri Lanka’s east coast.

Ms. Rajitha is with the federation of women’s rural development societies, which focusses on economic concerns of women. “Not a day passes without someone telling me that they are struggling with a huge debt,” she says about the district’s now-famous “debt story”. The problem of rural debt pervades the country’s post-war north and east, but Batticaloa, one of the poorest districts with the lowest mean monthly household per capita income of LKR 6,270 (roughly ₹2,630) in the country, appears the worst-hit.

Continue reading ‘Predatory Microfinance Loans With Exorbitant Interest Rates Make People of Batticaloa Fall Into Terrible Debt Trap.’ »

18 SLFP Ministers and Deputy Ministers Ready to Quit Govt But President Asks them to Stay on Till Dec 31st.

By Niranjala Ariyawansha

The 18 dissident Sri Lanka Freedom Party Ministers, Deputy and State Ministers in the Unity Government, who have said they were considering whether they should remain in, or quit the Government, will within this week take their crucial ‘remain or exit ‘ decision.

One of the dissidents, Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations John Seneviratne, said they were continuing discussions on whether to quit the Government or not. Asked to comment on media reports of this imminent mass exodus from the Government, Seneviratne added that President Maithripala Sirisena had asked the 18 dissidents to stay on until the end of this year.

Continue reading ‘18 SLFP Ministers and Deputy Ministers Ready to Quit Govt But President Asks them to Stay on Till Dec 31st.’ »

Enactment of new Counter-Terror Law in a Country That Has Eradicated Terrorism Seems Ridiculous.

By M. M. Zuhair

(The writer is a President’s Counsel and a former Member of Parliament. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect on the positions presently or previously held by the writer)

For decades nations guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similar international human rights and humanitarian laws have been urging Sri Lanka to repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 (PTA). Today, at the insistence of some powerful countries Sri Lanka has chosen to replace the PTA, described then as an obnoxious piece of legislation impinging on international human rights standards but now, with a more draconian Counter Terrorism Law.

The move for the new law has already come up for wide criticism particularly from respected columnists in the media. The point is when Sri Lanka was struggling through the thirty- year war on terrorism, when the then governments felt the need for harsher laws, though considered by international experts as violating human rights and humanitarian legal standards, we were told to tear up the PTA. But when the country had successfully eradicated terrorism and the government is focused on peace, development, national integration and reconciliation, Sri Lanka is being compelled by the powerful members of the Security Council to enact more oppressive laws that will certainly restrict fundamental rights and freedoms of the people. Such laws have the potential of greater abuse at the hands of a reckless future government and its law and order agencies.

In a country which has no traces of terrorism any more, the enactment of a Counter Terrorism Law would seem ridiculous. It may also mean the raising of a false flag that Sri Lanka is no longer a safe country and will very likely affect the development strategies of the nation. One might argue that there is nothing wrong with being armed for future eventualities. But that argument is not tenable because laws currently in existence are more than adequate to deal with such eventualities. At its worst, laws restrictive of fundamental human rights can always be enacted if and when such laws become absolutely essential, without raising false flags or unduly empowering governments at the cost of the freedom of the people.

Continue reading ‘Enactment of new Counter-Terror Law in a Country That Has Eradicated Terrorism Seems Ridiculous.’ »

More Details About the Heated Argument Between Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Ben Emmerson.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, had a heated argument with Ben Emmerson, QC, Special Rapporteur at the onset of a meeting over latter leveling unsubstantiated allegations at law enforcement authorities and the judiciary.

Emmerson had a series of meetings over the past few days after his unexpected encounter with the Justice Minister early this week.

At his meeting with the Justice Minister Emmerson accused the Sri Lanka police of torturing most of the suspects; he placed the number of terrorist suspects in custody at 200. Government sources told The Island that Minister Rajapakse had inquired from Emmerson who had provided such inaccurate information.

The UN official attributed his information to reliable sources, prompting Minister Rajapakse to remind the visiting official that he was the Justice Minister and he spoke with responsibility.

Continue reading ‘More Details About the Heated Argument Between Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Ben Emmerson.’ »

UN Special Rapporteur Warns of “Dire Consequences” if UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka is Not Fully Implemented.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Alleging that ‘retrograde elements in the security establishment and their allies’ in the government were trying to undermine post-war reconciliation process, the UN yesterday warned Sri Lanka of dire consequences unless the government fully implemented Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration in Oct 2015.

The warning was given by Ben Emmerson, QC, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Addressing the media at UN compound in Colombo at the conclusion of a five-day visit undertaken on the invitation of the government, the British lawyer explained a range of measures available to the UN in case reneged its promises. Emmerson declined to speculate what their options would be but indicated that punitive measures could be taken.

Continue reading ‘UN Special Rapporteur Warns of “Dire Consequences” if UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka is Not Fully Implemented.’ »

Board of Investment(BOI)Chairman and Directors Resign Following Directive from President Sirisena.


The entire Board of Directors of the country’s main investment promotion agency resigned yesterday following a directive from President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sources said the move was to facilitate an overhaul including the appointment of a new Board of Directors.

The BOI Board comprised Chairman Upul Jayasuriya PC, Buddhi Keerthi Athauda, Manoj Cooray, M.A. Neeth Udesha and Dumindra Ratnayaka.

Chairman Jayasuriya said he had already decided to tender his resignation for personal reasons though he had come under flak for underperformance and other issues, including approval of projects by promoters whose backgrounds or intentions were questionable. However, Jayasuriya said he stands by all decisions made by him in the country’s best interests.

Continue reading ‘Board of Investment(BOI)Chairman and Directors Resign Following Directive from President Sirisena.’ »

Court Restrains Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera From Using Narahenpita Abhayaramaya For Political,Trade Union and Commercial Activities

By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Colombo District Court issued an Interim Injunction preventing Chief Incumbent Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera from utilising Narahenpita Abhayarama temple property for political, commercial and trade union activities, today.

This order will be effective until the final determination of this lawsuit.

Colombo District Court Judge Sujeewa Nissanka made this order consequent to a lawsuit filed by Ven. Pathberiye Wimala Gnana Thera of Kirulapana Purvaramaya.

Continue reading ‘Court Restrains Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera From Using Narahenpita Abhayaramaya For Political,Trade Union and Commercial Activities’ »

“Range of Consequences Could Befall Sri Lanka When International Community Reaches End of Its Patience”- Ben Emmerson


By Chathuri Dissanayake

Giving a damning report on Sri Lanka’s failure to take adequate action against human rights violations during the conflict and amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), United Nations Special Untitled-1Rapporteur on Human Rights and Countering Terrorism Ben Emmerson yesterday warned that the international community is running out of patience and called on the Government to fast-track its reconciliation measures.

“There will be a point that the international community reaches the end of its patience, and then a range of consequences could befall Sri Lanka,” Emmerson said at a media briefing to mark the end of his visit to Sri Lanka.

“The possible range of repercussions is a matter of international diplomacy and predictions, and depends on how far things go and how far along the path it is going. It depends on whether or not it enacts the counter terrorism legislation that meets international standards.”

Continue reading ‘“Range of Consequences Could Befall Sri Lanka When International Community Reaches End of Its Patience”- Ben Emmerson’ »

396 Women of North and East Call For Ending Impunity and Ensuring Non-Recurrence of Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in Sri Lanka

Women of North and East Call For Ending Impunity and Ensuring Non-Recurrence of Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in Sri Lanka


“W
e, as conflict affected women and victims, have searched for disappeared loved ones and witnessed thousands of others searching for their loved ones. Many have gone before numerous state initiatives including several commissions of inquiry appointed by successive governments with no answers given or effective steps taken to prevent future disappearances. After many years of empty promises, we were heartened by the Government of Sri Lanka’s ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in May 2016 and looked forward to domestic legislation being introduced to criminalise enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka and make it meaningful locally. In February 2017, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill was gazetted and we waited for Parliament to debate and thereby criminalise disappearances. On 5th July, we were disappointed to hear of the indefinite postponement of the debate without any reasons given. We believe the Bill is essential for reconciliation as it will prevent future disappearances, end impunity and ensure that no loved ones will have to experience the pain many have experienced for decades.

We are also aware that several actors are spreading false information of the proposed lawand attempting to prevent the Bill being taken up for debate. Such persons through their actions are effectively sending the message that no action should be taken on enforced and involuntary disappearances and thereby promoting the culture of impunity. We are indeed saddened by such irresponsible statements and action, as it shows that many are unaware of the pain and suffering caused by disappearances to families and communities and are encouraging a crime that has a devastating impact and perpetuates the suffering faced by thousands across Sri Lanka, in the north, south, east and west.

Continue reading ‘396 Women of North and East Call For Ending Impunity and Ensuring Non-Recurrence of Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in Sri Lanka’ »

TNA Will Meet Buddhist Maha Nayakes only After Interim Report of New Constitution is Released says Sumanthiran MP.

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the principal Tamil grouping in Sri Lanka, has denied media reports that it is planning to meet the Mahanayakes or the High Priests of Buddhism in Sri Lanka soon, to explain to them the need for a new Sri Lankan constitution to devolve power to the provinces so as to solve the Tamil question.

TNA’s spokesman and Jaffna district MP, M.A.Sumanthiran said on Wednesday that it makes no sense to discuss the constitution with the Mahanayakes or anybody at this point of time, since it has not been drafted yet.

“We have to have at the least, the Interim Report of the Steering Committee to know what could be in the constitution. The Interim Report is yet to be drafted. We may get the report by the end of July,” Sumanthiran said.

“We had said that we would meet various sections of the community, including religious leaders, to discuss the constitution. But this will be at the appropriate time, not now,” he clarified.

Continue reading ‘TNA Will Meet Buddhist Maha Nayakes only After Interim Report of New Constitution is Released says Sumanthiran MP.’ »

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Has Heated Argument With UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Ben Emmerson.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, had a heated argument with visiting UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter Terrorism Ben Emmerson, QC, over UN intervention here as regards promotion and protection of human rights.

Sri Lanka in December 2015 extended a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders.

Emmerson began a five-day official visit here on July 10 to gather first-hand information about what the UN described as post-war initiatives in the area of counter-terrorism and assess how they affect the people.

Minister Rajapaksa strongly questioned the UN official resulting in an unprecedented fiery argument early this week, well informed sources said, adding that the meeting took place at the Justice Ministry.

Continue reading ‘Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Has Heated Argument With UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Ben Emmerson.’ »

“Buddhists Should Protest Against Giving Foremost Place to Buddhism in Constitution” Says M.A. Sumanthiran MP in Interview.

By

Kelum Bandara

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP for the Jaffna District M.A. Sumanthiran, in an interview with the Daily Mirror stressed the point that the bill to give effect to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance should be enacted.

He said enforced disappearance of persons is a crime to be dealt with locally.


Excerpts:

Question :

This is seen as one of the most obnoxious piece of legislation by its critics. How do you look at its content?

Answer:

This is actually a convention which Sri Lanka acceded to and ratified. Once you ratify it, you have to give it effect in the local laws. The convention is against the disappearances. What should be obnoxious is the rejection of it, not taking action against disappearances. Sri Lanka should be ashamed that we have disappearances numbering more than 100,000 including 68,000 during the 88/89 period and 30,000 now. That is very, very high in the world. That should be a matter of shame.

Q : Then, it is said that the bill contains provisions providing for extradition of those with command responsibility to another country to be tried if requested on bare allegations. What is your response?

A:

That is false. There is no such thing in the convention. They have to be prosecuted. The State must take action.

Continue reading ‘“Buddhists Should Protest Against Giving Foremost Place to Buddhism in Constitution” Says M.A. Sumanthiran MP in Interview.’ »

Sumanthiran MP Personally Petitions Supreme Court Seeking Interim Order Against Mittal Pre-fab Housing Project in Sri Lanka

By

Meera Srinivasan

A Tamil parliamentarian on Thursday challenged a proposed housing project of steel maker ArcelorMittal in the Supreme Court, questioning both its suitability for the post-war region and the government’s tendering process.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP and lawyer M.A. Sumanthiran petitioned the court seeking an interim order against the project, which has been highly contested for more than a year now.

From the time the government roped in Indian-born billionaire Lakshmi Mittal’s company to build 65,000 houses in the Tamil-majority north and east, the project evoked sharp resistance. Engineering experts in Sri Lanka studied the proposed prefabricated housing model and said it was severely flawed in its design, compared to traditional brick-and-mortar homes that they recommended. They also deemed prefab homes unsuitable for the hot and humid climatic conditions in the north and east.

Continue reading ‘Sumanthiran MP Personally Petitions Supreme Court Seeking Interim Order Against Mittal Pre-fab Housing Project in Sri Lanka’ »

Rape Pornography Industry “invades” Sri Lanka with Gruesome Murder of Pungudutheevu Schoolgirl Vithya.

BY FAIZER SHAHEID

The gruesome rape and murder of Vithya Sivaloganathan in 2015 is hardly discussed anymore, even among the activists who laboured and campaigned vigorously to have the perpetrators arrested, at least, not outside of the North where the entire ordeal took place. However, the case filed in the Jaffna High Court has progressed steadily, and as if the details of the rape and murder were not already disturbing enough, investigations have unearthed information far more disturbing than originally anticipated.

Let me put it in perspective. Imagine that your wife, or daughter, or mother, or sister, or even a close female relative or friend was abducted, raped, and murdered in a gruesome manner. How would you deal with a situation like this? The information itself is bound to haunt you, if not cripple you, for the rest of your living days. Having to explain to the ever inquisitive gossip mongers itself is torture. Now, imagine having to relive those memories every single day of your life. What if the episode was captured on video and posted on the internet for all to see? What if time and again the video was shared with you? If you have encountered a nauseating emotion of extreme agony and revulsion, then imagine the plight of the family of Vithya Sivaloganathan.

Continue reading ‘Rape Pornography Industry “invades” Sri Lanka with Gruesome Murder of Pungudutheevu Schoolgirl Vithya.’ »

Faltering “Yahapalanaya”Govt Unable So Far To Deliver What it Promised.


Dr.Vickramabahu Karunaratne

President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to meet the Mahanayakes of the Buddhist Sangha in Kandy proved premature and it disturbed the continuity of discussions within the Constitutional Council: Because both the President and the Prime Minister denied that parties in the government have agreed on a framework for the Constitution. This was really the accusation of the Opposition and it may be the pivotal move in the anti-constitutional, sabotage process.


A week earlier a section of the Sangha had publicly announced in a joint statement that there was no need to bring in a new Constitution and that a new Constitution will create more conflicts in the country. Though the Buddhist clergy is very influential with the 70 percent who are Sinhala Buddhist especially on issues pertaining to identity, the division within the Sangha is very clear and educated and knowledgeable Theras have already come out strongly to support the government’s constitutional reform process. Whether it is in tackling the issues connected with providing a facilitative environment for economic development, taking action against corruption or dealing with fascistic war criminals, the government has been faltering. So far, Yahapalanaya was unable to deliver on what it has promised. This has enabled the Opposition to shout and scream and dominate the political debate.

Continue reading ‘Faltering “Yahapalanaya”Govt Unable So Far To Deliver What it Promised.’ »

How and why Mahinda Rajapaksa Lost the 2015 Presidential Elections

By

Gomin Dayasri

The UNP, written off as a party of the past, till the Badulla Provincial Council election showed it’s result; Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) rejoiced ruling the majority Sinhala voters, as he pleased. They standing firmly behind him. Results showed, in predominantly Sinhala electorates with a diminutive minority vote, where extreme Sinhala activists like Cyril Matthew and K.M.P. Rajaratne held sway: UNP was ahead and gaining ground. A singular crusade – unknown – was in motion – underground in the Sinhala electorates. Both major parties failed to crack the code.

MR called for early Presidential elections, with troubled economic times looming ahead; sought nodding astrologers to find auspicious dates to suit his timetable. His brother Gotabhaya wanted him to complete the term to display more work attended. His plea was rejected on the grounds “Gota did not understand politics”. Lesson Rajapakse had not learnt – expectation of winning a third term without an ongoing war? Can he win the fourth round with two fresh generations walking to the polling booths since 2005?

Teaching Government, J.R.P. Suriyapperuma splendidly predicted the existence of two power blocks in then Ceylon. Floating voters or the soft cadres of minor parties gravitate towards one or other major power blocks nearing election date – Example: immensely popular Sarath Muttetuwegama contesting in communist colours led opinion polls till a week before elections in backward Kolonne; made him a poor third on election night. So is it today – where soft JVP/JHU/Left voters switch votes on election eve to beat a common enemy irrespective of their leadership froth – forthcoming election will be a contest between the UNP and the Joint Opposition – Sirisena’s SLFP is treated a mere appendage of the UNP.

Continue reading ‘How and why Mahinda Rajapaksa Lost the 2015 Presidential Elections’ »

Banning the Maha Sangha From Politics is a Logical Necessity But Prevailing Conditions Wont Allow It.

By

VISHWAMITHRA 1984


“An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.”

-Mark Twain

Ivor Jennings, who was primarily responsible for drafting our Constitution upon gaining Independence from the British, handed us a secular constitution. Multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural as Ceylon was then and now is, the Jennings Constitution safeguarded certain rights of the country’s minorities in no uncertain fashion. It was commonly known as Soulbury Constitution and consisted of The Ceylon Independence Act, 1947 and The Ceylon (Constitution and Independence) Orders in Council 1947, Sri Lanka was then known as Ceylon. The Soulbury Constitution provided a parliamentary form of Government for Ceylon and for a Judicial Service Commission and a Public Service Commission.

Minority rights were safeguarded by Article 29 (2) of the Constitution which stated thus:

29. (1) – Subject to the provisions of this Order, Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Island.

29. (2) – No such law shall;

(a) prohibit or restrict the free exercise of any religion; or

(b) make persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other communities or religions are not made liable; or

(c) confer on persons of any community or religion any privilege or advantage which is not conferred on persons of other communities or religions, or

(d) alter the constitution of any religious body except with the consent of the governing authority of that body, so, however, that in any case where a religious body is incorporated by law, no such alteration shall be made except at the request of the governing authority of that body.

Continue reading ‘Banning the Maha Sangha From Politics is a Logical Necessity But Prevailing Conditions Wont Allow It.’ »

Sri Lankan Govt Adopts Policy of Appeasement Towards Buddhist Clergy Hierarchy.

By K. Ratnayake

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena met with the country’s chief Buddhist priests in Kandy last Friday to assure them no constitutional changes would be made without their consent. The top priests, from all the Buddhist groupings, had issued a series of demands last Tuesday aimed at whipping up Sinhala Buddhist supremacism.

Their demands included: a delay in submitting a bill to parliament on the “International Convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance;” no new changes to the country’s constitution except the electoral system; the protection of Buddhist cultural and archaeological sites in the north and east of the island; and a special committee to look into the grievances of Buddhists.

Sirisena’s meeting took place against the backdrop of an intensifying political crisis, stemming from the growing struggles of workers, farmers and youth against the government’s austerity program. The government itself is seeking to promote communalism to split the growing mass opposition.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Govt Adopts Policy of Appeasement Towards Buddhist Clergy Hierarchy.’ »

Angelo Mathews Tenders Resignation as Captain Following Lanka’s Defeat at the Hands of Zimbabwe.

By Champika Fernando

Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews has tendered his resignation as captain of the national side from all three formats.

Angelo Mathews-via: en.wikipedia.org

Mathews resignation comes in the wake of the recent defeat to Zimbabwe in the five-match limited over series, where the tourists recorded country’s first-ever series win against the Islanders, beating them 3-2.

Mathews met the national selectors led by Sanath Jayasuriya on Tuesday morning and conveyed his decision to step down from the captaincy.

Continue reading ‘Angelo Mathews Tenders Resignation as Captain Following Lanka’s Defeat at the Hands of Zimbabwe.’ »

Dambulla Cave Temple UNESCO World Heritage Site Closed to Local and Foreign Tourists Until Further Notice.

The Archeological Advisory Council, which met yesterday, decided to temporarily close the Dambulla Cave Temple complex to local and foreign tourists, until further notice.

“The Council held an in-depth discussion on the necessity to conserve the paintings and wooden statues of the Dambula Cave Temple. The Council also decided to seek the assistance of local and international experts. Thus, in a bid to conserve the five caves of the temple, it was decided to close these off to local and foreign tourists, until further notice,” the Ministry of Education said in a press release.

Continue reading ‘Dambulla Cave Temple UNESCO World Heritage Site Closed to Local and Foreign Tourists Until Further Notice.’ »

Bhutan Sandwiched Between China and India is Like a Yam Between Two Boulders.

by

Nirupama Rao

It is said of Bhutan that it walks between giants. Its geo-strategic situation makes it a hugely important country, however. Sandwiched between India and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, it has succeeded admirably in preserving its national identity, its rich cultural and spiritual heritage, and in advancing the development of its people. Till the latest confrontation involving Chinese and Indian troops in the Doklam plateau in western Bhutan, the country has also avoided being drawn into any differences between India and China.

Bhutan and India have always celebrated their ties of “beneficial bilateralism”. Bhutan is closely tied to India in many ways, for the logic of geography for most Himalayan states, which include Nepal and Bhutan, dictates a southward direction of gravity away from the Inner Asian heartland. Historically, Bhutan it is true, had close links with Tibet, the Drukpa Buddhism it practices has Tibetan connections, but it has been very conscious of preserving its independent stature. Since the 1970’s particularly, it has built for itself a global diplomatic profile. The terms of the 1949 Friendship Treaty with India were distinctly softened in the one that replaced it in 2007 and it has pursued a dialogue with China regarding its boundary with Tibet, having held 24 rounds of such discussions so far. It is blessed with a progressive leadership, and the father of the present monarch- the “great Fourth” as he is known – an iconic figure in his country, led the way to Bhutan becoming a constitutional monarchy a few years ago.

Since 1960 at least, when instability in Tibet and worrisome signs of a Chinese expansionist interest in the status of Bhutan were seen as threats to the wellbeing of the country, the kingdom began to tie itself more closely, economically and strategically, with India. The borders with Tibet were closed and trade ceased. Ties with India were unique because of the seamless friendship, understanding, and multi-faceted partnership that developed between the two countries, and particularly between the monarchy and the political leadership in New Delhi.

But China waited in the wings and Bhutan’s northern borders were a constant reminder of future uncertainties in determining how to deal with an increasingly powerful and giant country. By 1984, negotiations on the unsettled border between the two countries had commenced. The Chinese goal was to see them end in the establishment of diplomatic relations with Bhutan and not just a border settlement.

On the primary Chinese goal, Bhutan’s top leadership remained conflicted although they were not averse to reaching a boundary settlement. Till date neither question has been resolved. Largely stable ties between India and China through these years were helpful also to Bhutan in managing this outreach to China.

Continue reading ‘Bhutan Sandwiched Between China and India is Like a Yam Between Two Boulders.’ »

Core Philosophy That Animated President Premadasa’s Foreign Policy

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“How can legitimate governments, deriving their sovereignty from their people, accept fetters on their freedom from outside? We must be alert to the danger of a new colonialism, wrapped in spurious moral considerations, emanating from alien cultures.”
– ( President Premadasa, Address to the opening session of the 6th SAARC Summit, Colombo, 21st December 1991)

Ambassador Bandu de Silva has critically commented on President Premadasa’s policy towards Israel. His reconstruction (‘More on Sri Lanka’s Israeli connection’, The Island, July 10th 2017) is a speculative caricature, which is factually erroneous in some matters and incomplete in others. What is at stake here is an accurate understanding of both the Premadasa presidency as well Sri Lanka’s foreign policy and diplomatic history. This is all the more important today when Sri Lanka is suffering from a policy of supine sellout in international affairs, following a period of vast blunders and distortion in the postwar years and especially the second term of President Rajapaksa.

President Premadasa’s move on Israel, including the setting up of the Mossad Commission, was catalyzed by the publication of the book by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy, entitled ‘By Way of Deception’. An expose of Mossad’s duplicitous operations throughout the world, the book revealed that in the Sri Lankan war, the Israelis had been backing both sides, the Sri Lankan state as well as the Tamil Tigers. Premadasa was incensed by this duplicity against Sri Lanka. Though his rivals, headed by the pro-Israeli former Minister of National Security Lalith Athulathmudali, scoffed at the Ostrovsky book, and was echoed in this derisiveness by Colombo’s upper middle class (which took the same attitude towards President Premadasa as they later would towards President Mahinda Rajapaksa, approximately for the same reasons), serious students of Middle Eastern affairs and of Israel in particular, such as my father, Mervyn de Silva, knew better than to scoff.

Victor Ostrovsky was up until that time, the youngest ever recruit of the Mossad—he was that good. Much more importantly, his volume provoked the iconic founding father of Mossad, Isser Harel, to make a rare, perhaps unique television appearance, to denounce Ostrovsky’s whistle-blowing. If the contents of the book were a joke, Isser Harel would have hardly dignified it or demean himself by coming out of the shadows to denounce it.

Continue reading ‘Core Philosophy That Animated President Premadasa’s Foreign Policy’ »

If The Rajapaksas Are Brought To Book, Much Of The Current Protests Would Stop


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

During much of his political life, ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa was a shrewd street fighter. Recently he has also proved what an accomplished puppeteer he is too. In many recent incidents, ranging from the mini-riot in Hambantota over the proposed export zone, to SAITM and the recent ill-advised intervention by the Mahanayakas, Mr Rajapaksa has had a hand in exploiting minor grievances and escalating them into crisis proportions. Indeed, many of those recent problems stem from the decisions taken during the Rajapaksa presidency — though that does not mean they were all bad decisions.

What is disingenuous however is that Mr. Rajapaksa is now behaving as if he was born yesterday and is instigating the people against those very decisions. Poor souls who have now been taken for a ride by the born-again Mr Rajapaksa could well have been offered a free ride in a white van, had they chosen to challenge those decisions during the Rajapaksa presidency. Even the Mahanayakas were careful not to cross the red line with him. In 2010, after the arrest of General Sarath Fonkseka, the Mahanayakas planned to convene a Sanga convention to highlight their concerns over the mistreatment of the war-winning former army chief and the erosion of democracy in the country. After one ominous telephone call from Mr Rajapaksa, who allegedly threatened to split an existing Nikaya into two, Buddhist high priests abandoned all plans and went into a half decade of hibernation.

Recently, they appeared to have been woken up by a courier from the ex-president.

The Rajapaksas and their cronies ought to be in courtrooms defending themselves against the alleged deeds of fraud, corruption, nepotism, white-vanning and attacks on the media. Instead, they are ruling the streets. Their actions no longer resemble a desperate reaction by a disgruntled, marginalized lot who try to stay relevant. Theirs is a far more sinister plot to make the country ungovernable and ride to power in the ensuing anarchy. He and his cronies are exploiting the very freedoms that were guaranteed by the new government in an effort to discredit those freedoms and to make the people nostalgic about his authoritarian past.

Continue reading ‘If The Rajapaksas Are Brought To Book, Much Of The Current Protests Would Stop’ »

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Regime Is Suffering From Stress Induced Migraine

By Frances Bulathsinghala

The Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe regime in Sri Lanka is suffering from a stress induced migraine since its election in 2015, triggered by strikes from trade unions against foreign assisted development projects, strikes by doctors against a controversial private medical college, and the shadow of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, suffered yet another attack when the top most Buddhist High Prelates in the country, called “Mahanayakes” unanimously objected to rewriting or amending the constitution of the country.

The Mahanayakes of the three main Buddhist Orders called “Nikayas” in a hard hitting message demanded that the government drop its plan to write a new constitution for the country or even amend the existing constitution, two key promises made by the new regime prior to it being elected. The call by the Mahanayakas came after they convened a special meeting earlier this week in Kandy seen as the highest seat of Buddhism in the island. If necessary, only the election system may be amended, they decreed.

Analysts point out that the influence of the former President and his family members is seen in the decision by the Mahanayakas to make a public announcement concerning a key election promise by the current President and his government. Both Rajapaksa and his brothers, especially the powerful former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been spending much of their time since the political defeat of 2015, at temples of the country, meeting the Buddhist clergy, mainly the monks at the helm of the three Buddhist orders. However, the protest by the monks against a new constitution is shared with many Sinhala nationalists.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Regime Is Suffering From Stress Induced Migraine’ »

Rajapaksa Family Members to Face Indictments in Ten Selected “Strong” Cases of Alleged Corruption Within next Three Months.

BY GAGANI WEERAKOON

The most heated Cabinet meeting ever since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015 took place last Tuesday at the President’s Secretariat with the impatient President cracking the whip against his UNP coalition partners for inaction or rather lethargy shown in taking action against the former First Family.

As for the reasons he gave for his sudden anxiety over this wait for justice to be meted out against alleged corruption and other crimes which are said to have been committed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and members of his family, seemed to be more on personal grounds than in the interest of the country.

Yet, it is quite understandable that President Sirisena getting impatient over the matters as the time he has in hand is less than the time he has already spent.

“I risked my life and my family’s life in running for the election. It is true that the UNP worked for my victory, but it doesn’t mean that I have to tolerate everything. If the Rajapaksa regime is back, there will be no problem for UNP ministers. But the first people to be persecuted will be me and my family. Nothing will happen to the Prime Minister too,” was exactly what he told the Cabinet during his outburst, according to sources.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Family Members to Face Indictments in Ten Selected “Strong” Cases of Alleged Corruption Within next Three Months.’ »

A “Visibly Angry” Sirisena, An “Irritated” Wickremesinghe and “Fireworks” in Cabinet About Alleged UNP Nexus with Rajapaksas.


By The “Sunday Times” Political Editor

The first real sign that the two and half year old coalition — once dubbed harmoniously as the ‘National Unity Government’ — is cracking emerged last Tuesday.It surfaced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Secretariat. In a no-holds-barred speech, an angry President Maithripala Sirisena did not mince his words. He pointedly accused his partner in governance, the United National Party (UNP), of stalling investigations into allegations of bribery, corruption and other acts of fraud allegedly committed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his family members, close associates and top officials. Mama dannawa mewa patharawala pala wei kiyala. Ekata kamak nehe (I know this will appear in the newspapers. That does not matter), he asserted.

Sirisena, who is also leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), declared that if he were given the Police and the Attorney General’s Department, he would have produced results within three months (finding previous Government leaders who are guilty of bribery and corruption). Those remarks were clearly a lament that those two subjects were assigned to UNP ministers and he had no direct role. But that remark did raise many issues. Within hours of Sirisena’s admonishment, what he said became the talking point among both the SLFP and the UNP, particularly their respective parliamentarians. Apart from the bouquets and brickbats, questions were also being posed on whether Sirisena himself is under tremendous pressure or feels cornered under various mounting issues.

The occasion for his verbal assault on the UNP, almost putting it on notice, arose from a rather non-committal ‘Note to Cabinet’ which Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented. He sought “an appropriate decision” by his ministerial colleagues on the future of the Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat (ACCS) whose term ended on June 30. More on the ACCS later.
First to Premier Wickremesinghe’s note dated June 27, 2017.

Titled the “Continuation of the Anti-Corruption Secretariat,” the note said:

Continue reading ‘A “Visibly Angry” Sirisena, An “Irritated” Wickremesinghe and “Fireworks” in Cabinet About Alleged UNP Nexus with Rajapaksas.’ »

Solution to SAITM Crisis Seems Closer Than Ever Due to Supreme Court Intervention.

by C.A.Chandraprema

While the government seemed unable to come up with a solution for the SAITM crisis, a breakthrough in the impasse has come from an unexpected quarter – the Supreme Court. With the Supreme Court allowing the GMOA to become an intervenient petitioner in the appeal filed by the Sri Lanka Medical Council, a solution to the SAITM issue now seems closer than it ever was. Apart from the garbage issue, the standoff between the government on the one hand and the student unions and the GMOA plus a whole lot of other people over the SAITM issue was probably the most visible dissension against the government in the past several months. The main grouse of the GMOA was that they had never been allowed to present their side of the story to any court of law that had been hearing cases relating to SAITM.

The president of the GMOA, Dr Anuruddha Padeniya, is even facing contempt of court charges over comments made at an anti-SAITM meeting, saying among other things “…if the courts are unable to look at the two reports published by the GMOA and the five member committee appointed by the Health Minister, and they can look only at what is put before them by the Attorney General, what kind of justice can the people of this country expect?” In 2010, the GMOA had put out a 20 page document outlining the shortcomings in the medical course offered by SAITM. At the time this document was released, the Minister of Health was Maithripala Sirisena. The latter had seen the report and he had told the GMOA that he too agrees with the contents of that report and had asked what he should do about it as the Minister of Health.

The GMOA had suggested to him that since this was a report prepared by a trade union, he should appoint an official five member committee through the Health Ministry to go into the issues raised in that report. A five member committee made up of medical professionals, lawyers and administrators was duly constituted and the GMOA and other parties had made representations before this committee. The committee had put out their report in 2012 as the official view of the Ministry of Health and these had run parallel to the earlier report compiled by the GMOA. Padeniya’s complaint was that that the present Minister of Health and the AG who represented the government in the various court cases relating to SAITM, has not presented these two reports to any court of law. He stated that the reason why the GMOA has had to come on to the streets is because these two reports had not been taken into account in any case pertaining to SAITM.

Continue reading ‘Solution to SAITM Crisis Seems Closer Than Ever Due to Supreme Court Intervention.’ »

Ranil to Bring Clause in New Constitution Prohibiting Govt Intereference in Matters Concerning the Three Buddhist Nikayas.

By

Yohan Perera

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Saturday he would come up with a new proposal shortly to include provisions in the Constitution that would prohibit Governments from interfering with internal matters of three main Buddhist Chapters.

The Prime Minister said this at the opening of the Weli Maluwa at Ruwan Weliseya in Anuradhapura over the weekend.

“I will come up with proposal to include a clause in the Constitution that the Government cannot get involved in deciding on the matters relating to the three Nikayas, followed by Sri Lankan Buddhists.”

Continue reading ‘Ranil to Bring Clause in New Constitution Prohibiting Govt Intereference in Matters Concerning the Three Buddhist Nikayas.’ »

Mangala Slams Mahinda and Rajapaksa Loyalists for Misleading Public and Besmirching the Good Name of the armed Forces.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday criticised former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and backed the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances Bill, pointing out it would not be implemented with retrospective powers and would secure the rights of all Sri Lankan citizens in the future.

Recapping Sri Lanka becoming a signatory to the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in 2015 and the eventual development of the bill, the former Foreign Minister insisted that it would protect all Sri Lankans, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, from persecution.

“This legislation is of paramount importance. It is a human right of any person living in a free, fair and civilised society. It provides for the protection against unjust elements seeking to suppress dissenting views and demands. The main aim of this legislation is to provide every citizen protection against disappearances or kidnappings,” the statement said.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Slams Mahinda and Rajapaksa Loyalists for Misleading Public and Besmirching the Good Name of the armed Forces.’ »

Bringing Police and Attorney-General Under President Sirisena Amounts to Aggrandizement of Executive Presidency Powers.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

An ongoing war of words between President Maithripala Sirisena and prominent Ministers in the United National Party (UNP) sums up in a nutshell what’s wrong with the seeming ‘unity’ alliance. Perturbingly, the ‘unity’ part is looking increasingly tattered as we go along.


Public anger regarding dysfunctional law enforcement

In one sense, the President was both right and wrong in expressing his considerable annoyance this week. Conveying dissatisfaction with the work record of the Law and Order Ministry, as well as the Department of the Attorney General, he remarked that if he took those institutions under his control, many of the delayed and long pending corruption and murder cases implicating prominent politicians of the previous regime would be dealt with in record time.

And therein lies the rub. Certainly where the first claim is concerned, there would be overwhelming public support. Regardless of protests of Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake following the President’s remarks, there is little doubt that the dysfunction of the Ministry and the Department of the Police has been a primary focus of deep public anger.

Indeed, the Minister’s protestations contrast oddly with the fact that not so long ago, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) was captured on television cameras assuring the Minister that a ‘protected’ person of the former regime would not be arrested.

Continue reading ‘Bringing Police and Attorney-General Under President Sirisena Amounts to Aggrandizement of Executive Presidency Powers.’ »

Why are the Three Buddhist Nikayas Hailing as Sacrosanct the very Same JR Jayewardene Constitution They De-cried Earlier?

By

Don Manu

It was the Venerable Sobitha Thera’s battle cry for real change; and the joint opposition candidate Sirisena’s spring board to power to gain the presidency and then turn it into a eunuch to serve the needs of a parliamentary harem.

But the fondest hope of the noble monk to see Sirisena birth a new constitution that will do away with the executive presidential system in the country and Sirisena’s promise in his manifesto which was released on December 19, 2014 at the Viharamahadevi Park “to introduce a constitutional structure with an Executive that is allied to Parliament through the cabinet” suddenly seem to be at risk of being jettisoned in mid flight by a most powerful sector in Lanka’s body politic: Namely, the Buddhist monks.

Sirisena had gone to extraordinary lengths to spell out the how and explain the why. Why the nation needed a new chic garment to swing with the fashions of the times and how he would see it tailored according to the public’s specifications and deliver it bespoke to the nation’s wardrobe; and how he would marshal his forces from all sides of the political divide to keep his promise to the nation.

He had placed his hands on his political testament, his election manifesto, and sworn to usher in a new constitution that would be more in keeping with the changing times. And he had promised to do so within hundred days of assuming office as President.

Two and a half years — nearly a thousand days — have now passed but the public cannot even sniff a whiff of smoke in the air wafting from the cabinet galley. Though the government says it is still being sautéed and the Prime Minster Ranil assures all it will soon be served on the table for public delectation, a section of the luncheon guests have, it seems, begun to wonder whether Lanka’s bacon will drop from the frying pan into the fire and whether the chefs will end up getting their fingers burnt.

Continue reading ‘Why are the Three Buddhist Nikayas Hailing as Sacrosanct the very Same JR Jayewardene Constitution They De-cried Earlier?’ »

UNESCO World Heritage Committee Wants Report on Conservation of Dambulla Cave Temple Submitted By Sri Lanka Before Dec 1st 2017

BY GAGANI WEERAKOON

A fresh tug of war has erupted between State authorities and Bhikkhu hierarchies over the ownership of Golden Temple in Dambulla which is recognized as the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka with Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 m2) and 157 statues, being dropped off the list of World Heritages by the UNESCO.

Golden Temple of Dambulla-© OUR PLACE The World Heritage Collection
Author: Amos Chapple-UNESCO

The administration of Dambulla Temple has apparently not allowed the officials of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) who had been deployed for maintenance at the world heritage site to enter the premises.
The paintings of the Dambulla Cave Temple, thus in danger due to unnecessary involvement into the activities of the Archaeology Department, acting Director General of Archaeology Prof. P.B. Mandawala alleged.

He said the murals at the cave temple in Dambulla were peeling off; paintings had faded and were exposed to the mercy of Mother Nature, due to lack of proper programme to protect them. He also said the layer between the stones and plaster has become wet and is on the verge of collapse. The increased level of hydrogen and uncontrolled gathering of pilgrims inside the temple and high humidity had aggravated the situation. Plaster on the walls was falling and high voltage camera lights had endangered the paintings.
“The people who had been employed for the restoration work at the Dambulla cave temple have been withdrawn on the orders of the Temple authorities. The intervention of the Central Cultural Fund and the Archaeology Department was necessary to preserve this temple but all officials of the two public institutions have been withdrawn by now,” Prof. Mandawala said while warning legal action would be taken against those responsible if things get worsened.

Continue reading ‘UNESCO World Heritage Committee Wants Report on Conservation of Dambulla Cave Temple Submitted By Sri Lanka Before Dec 1st 2017’ »

Investigations are Being Conducted Into the Activities of Two Non – Governmental Organizations Discloses Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

The Government has decided to closely monitor all Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and has initiated measures to take action relating to activities of ‘certain civil society organizations’ which are acting against the State.

The Government has also decided to scrap the abbreviation ‘NGOs’ and replace it with CSOs , an abbreviation for Civil Society Organizations, and will establish CSO Councils in every district and secretariat division islandwide.

Speaking to Ceylon Today, National Co-existence Dialogue & Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan, under whom the subjects of NGOs anJustice Minister Wijeyedasa Rajapakshe’s statement that there was the possibility of certain civil society organizations acting against the interests of the State and manipulating with funds meant for community projects.


Minister Ganesan noted that his Ministry is now conducting two separate investigations into two such NGOs.

Continue reading ‘Investigations are Being Conducted Into the Activities of Two Non – Governmental Organizations Discloses Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan.’ »

Stern Action is Called for Against Those Spreading Ethno-religious Hatred Through Social Media.

By Dr. Prasanna Cooray

Enough is enough. This country has suffered a lot from a civil war fought on ethnic lines for nearly three decades. It left thousands dead including combatants and civilians caused irreparable damage to property, both private and public. The war cost us dear on the economic front as well. Furthermore, time and again, violence was unleashed against “minorities” (although I dislike this word, I use it here for want of a better alternative) by the majority.

In the not-so-distant past, anti-Tamil riots erupted in the country in 1977 and 1983 before the civil war erupted. Against Muslims and Sinhalese, an ethnic cleansing drive in the North and East was unleashed by the LTTE in the 1980s and 1990s, which left hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands were driven out of the Northern Province. Again, riots against the Muslims erupted in Mawanella in 2001 and in Kalutara in 2014. In April 2002, there was an incident of violence between two sects of Muslims in Beruwala and that claimed three lives. These are only some of the incidents I can recall.

Needless to say what we have experienced during the last two or three decades has tarnished the image of Sri Lanka and it has prompted Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama to appeal for the safety of Muslims here. His Holiness said so at the Himalayan city of Leh, almost three years ago, on 05 July 2014. (Most of our own Buddhist monks and other religious dignitaries have also denounced all forms of violence including attacks on the ethnic and religious minorities). Why this message is important to the majority communities in this country is because it is their responsibility to safeguard the rights of the minorities who live among them.

Continue reading ‘Stern Action is Called for Against Those Spreading Ethno-religious Hatred Through Social Media.’ »

Lawyer Lakshan Dias Ready to Coach Justice Minister Rajapakshe on Reconciliation and Transitional Justice

By Shaahidah Riza

Human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias asserted that he has factual evidence of churches being intimidated by hate groups and that he can, when necessary, produce evidence to support his claim. He went on to note that the mainstream media is biased and distorts facts, thus incidents of hate crimes are either under reported or distorted. Dias recently came under scrutiny when Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe accused him of concocting stories of attacks on places of worship and threatened to remove him from the legal profession. Since then Rajapakshe has come under fire from law makers and politicians alike for his statement which was deemed irresponsible and does not befit the position of a Justice Minister.

Excerpts of the interview with Lawyer Lakshan Dias:

Q; Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe has drawn a lot of criticism over his behaviour. Yet, the Government has not taken any action in this regard. What is your view? Did the minister apologise to you?

A: What the Minister is uttering is baseless and it’s all his own finding, whereas what I said was based on facts that were assimilated by the National Council of Evangelical Alliance in relation to their member churches and other churches that they work with. There are few more attacks that took place on non-NCEASL churches as well and I appear on behalf of some of those churches as well. So the numbers can be higher than what NCEASL reports indicated. Therefore, I stand by what I said and we have our own way of looking at the gravity of the attacks. If the Minister confuses Catholics with Evangelicals, it’s his problem.

Further his sinister campaign against me coupled with foul mouthed comments and threats cannot be accepted and the UNP must sack him from the party and the Cabinet as well. Some UNP leaders and Yahapalana leaders too are of the same view. The Minister is a disgrace to the UNP, and the Government as whole, he has been accused by many sectors, including two Government Ministers over his conduct and it is unfortunate that he still remains in his position. We all respect Buddhism, but it’s a disgrace that he holds such a Ministry. I strongly feel that the Minister must apologize to me immediately and I am not foolish to expect one within 24 hours. I will send a Letter of Demand and then also complain to the BASL over his attitude and reactions towards a lawyer. This needs to be inquired into as it is a violation of Professional ethics of Lawyers and he must be disbarred. I have already complained to BASL and sent another letter to them, after their 24th meeting, asking for action to be taken against the Minister. If this happens in a democratic country the minister has to resign but I am puzzled as to why Yahapalana Government still allows him to remain in his position.

Continue reading ‘Lawyer Lakshan Dias Ready to Coach Justice Minister Rajapakshe on Reconciliation and Transitional Justice’ »

Northern Mannar District to be Transformed Into Major Tourism Hub by Govt

Sri Lanka will transform a former war torn district in the north into a major tourism hub in the region, the Tourism Ministry said in a statement here Friday.

The Ministry said it had identified the Mannar District for major tourism infrastructure development projects and already over Rs. 40 million had been spent on making the beach areas tourist friendly.

Many other projects are also being planned to make the district the main hub for tourism in the region, the Ministry said.

“It was decided to position Mannar as the main hub for visiting key attractions in the region. The identified main attractions include the famed Madhu Church Shrine, Wilpattu National Park and a host of other sites which have been identified as having considerable tourism potential,” the statement said.

Continue reading ‘Northern Mannar District to be Transformed Into Major Tourism Hub by Govt’ »

Ex-LTTE Leader Ezhilan’s Wife Ananthy Sasitharan Becomes First Woman Northern Provincial Minister

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

45 year old Ananthy Sasitharan made history when she was sworn in before Northern province governor Reginald Cooray in Jaffna as Northern provincial minister of women’s affairs, rehabilitation, social services, food supply and distribution and industries on June 29th 2017. Ananthy who will celebrate her birthday on September 10th has set a record of sorts by becoming the first woman to be appointed as a Northern provincial minister. She was elected from the Jaffna district in the first Northern provincial election with the second highest number of preferential votes polling 87,770. ( Incidently her name is spelled in the media in different ways such as Anandhi, Ananthi, Ananty and Ananthy. The official Northern province council website spells her name as Ananthy. Therefore I am also using the same).

Ananthy Sasitharan: “First Woman Northern Provincial Minister”

It is a well known fact that Ananthy Sasitharan is the wife of Sinnathurai Sasitharan alias “ Major Ezhilan” who was a senior leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). She herself refers to him frequently in public. Ezhilan (also spelled as Ellilan) had reportedly surrendered – along with a number of fellow tiger leaders – to the armed forces in Mullaitheevu district in May 2009. There is no information about their fate and all of them including Ananthy’s husband are regarded as “missing” or “disappeared”.

Ananthy captured national and international attention by a determined campaign demanding information about her husband’s situation. This resulted in her receiving lots of sympathy and empathy from the long suffering Tamil people of Sri Lanka. The Tamil National Alliance(TNA) cashed in on this by fielding her as a candidate of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) in the September 2013 Northern provincial elections. She won handsomely with the second highest tally of preference votes in Jaffna.

After becoming a provincial councillor, Ananthy Sasitharan chartered an independent course in politics that often fell foul of the TNA hierarchy position. Later she was “suspended” from the ITAK on disciplinary grounds pending inquiry. This has not deterred the irrepressible Ananthy who continues with her particular brand of controversial politics.

In an earlier article about Ananthy Sasitharan, I described her as “vibrant” and wrote thus – “Ananthy Sasitharan’s political ambition is not a factor that can be dismissed lightly. Even her critics acknowledge that she is a tenacious woman who pursues her objectives with single minded determination”. Recent events have proven me correct. The woman achieved political success as an elected provincial councillor in 2013. Four years later she has reached a significant milepost in 2017 after being appointed provincial minister.

Continue reading ‘Ex-LTTE Leader Ezhilan’s Wife Ananthy Sasitharan Becomes First Woman Northern Provincial Minister’ »

Sirisena and Wickremesinghe Finding it Difficult to Implement Commitments on New Constitution and International Convention on Enforced Disappearances.


By

P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan government is in a bind over two important commitments it had solemnly made two years ago, one to the electorate of Sri Lanka, and the other to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

Maithipala Sirisena and Ranil Wickemesinghe became Sri Lanka’s President and Prime Minister respectively by promising a new democratic constitution, wherein, power will be vested in parliament and not in an Executive President, and wherein, the provinces will be given a sufficient amount of autonomy.

And to get out of the hook at the UNHRC, where there had been charges of war crimes against it, the government signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in December 2015, and promised to incorporate it in the country’ domestic law.

But in the two years since they assumed office, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe find themselves unable to fulfill these commitments.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena and Wickremesinghe Finding it Difficult to Implement Commitments on New Constitution and International Convention on Enforced Disappearances.’ »

Climate of Impunity Under Rajapaksa Regime is Alive and Kicking Under This Govt Too.


BY

WINSTON DE VALLIERE

On 13 June the Cabinet of Ministers issued a statement stating that the Government had directed law enforcement authorities and the Attorney General to take immediate action against instigators and perpetrators of violence and hate speech against religious and ethnic groups.

The nation is holding its breath waiting for that incredible day on which that will come to pass. As one gradually approaches the end of his eighth decade in life, one tends to have stopped being politically naïve. I will become a believer when we get people who do not act on telephone orders from some “Sir”, to desist from arresting someone charged with a crime and a Police force whose spokesman does not tell the media that it’s not an easy matter to arrest a Buddhist monk.

The Cabinet statement has clearly said that”We are deeply concerned by the recent incidents of violence targeting places of religious worship, shops and business enterprises, and houses. We denounce in the strongest terms, these acts of violence and hatred, including incidents of hate speech by certain individuals and groups aimed at inciting violence against the different ethnic and religious communities in our country.
We affirm that hate filled expressions and actions by individuals and groups with vested interests, resulting in demeaning and denigrating, and inciting violence against fellow citizens of various ethnic, religious backgrounds have no place in Sri Lankan society.

But Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Wednesday that these attacks on places of religious worship and business houses were mistakenly perceived as acts of ethnic/religious violence.

How is it that he subscribed to the Cabinet statement and yet says something radically different about it in Parliament?

Continue reading ‘Climate of Impunity Under Rajapaksa Regime is Alive and Kicking Under This Govt Too.’ »

“Fly me to the Moon”: Sri Lankas Aviation Fiasco and how Singapore Airlines Soared Under JYM Pillai of Jaffna

By
Ajit Kanagasundram

Our foray into aviation has been nothing short of disastrous except in the early years and getting worse with almost daily revelations of corruption and ineptitude. I have chosen the title “Fly me to the Moon” as a parody of Mrs Bandaranayake’s promise to bring rice from the moon and provide it free to the masses, and which promise and Sinhala chauvinism won he a landslide majority in the 1970 election.

facebook.com/
singaporeair/

The early years were uneventful – Ceylon was one of the first developing nations to have an airline and it was run by a distinguished Civil Servant called MFDS Jayaratne. Small, profitable and serving a few regional routes and London. We were the first in Asia to fly Lockheed Super Constellations and I vividly remember my first flight in 1958, when my father took up the post of High Commissioner in London, after he was removed from his job as the Chairman of the Gal Oya Board, despite having done an excellent job by all accounts, purely on Philip Gunawardane influencing SWRD Bandarayake to remove him because he was a Tamil. We made stops along the way at Karachi, Bahrain, Cairo and Rome – the flight took from Ratmalana two days and was super comfortable. Other airlines, Like Singapore Airlines were the flying World War II Dakotas. Anyone would have picked Air Ceylon to be the first successful Asia airline, especially as we had an agreement with KLM, the best airline in the world at that time, to provide engineering and logistical support. We have had subsequent partnership witha French airline UTA, SIA ,and Emirates all of which ended in tears over aircraft procurement. Today despite repeated calls partners there are no takers as our reputation is well known in the airline industry. The only offer was from a shadowy Texas investment outfit, with no known airline experience but with connections to our politicians through an equally shadowy “middle man”. Instead the credit for the first successful Asia airline was taken by Singapore International Airline – SIA- and I will its story first as it is a textbook case of how to do it right

In order to set up a fledgling airline In 1965, Lee Kuan Yew chose J Y M Pillay ( a Jaffna Tamil) , who had no background in aviation but was known to be an intelligent hardworking Civil Servant in his mid 30s. He was mandated to start SIA with the two Dakota aircraft that Singapore received when it broke up with Malaysia – the only scheduled flights were to KL and Penang…….

Continue reading ‘“Fly me to the Moon”: Sri Lankas Aviation Fiasco and how Singapore Airlines Soared Under JYM Pillai of Jaffna’ »

“Article 9 of Constitution Providing Foremost Place to Buddhism Wont be Amended”-Ranil Tells Parliament.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday assured the House that no steps will be taken to amend Article 9 of the Constitution, which has assured the foremost place and the duty of the State to protect and foster Buddha Sasana, while assuring the rights granted to all other religions by Article 10 and 14 (1) (e ) of the Constitution.

Rejecting the attempts to amend Article 9 in the new Constitution-making process which is now underway, the Prime Minister said: “What are available are summaries of different proposals that had been placed before the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee has not come up with any draft. As long as I hold the position of Chairman of the Steering Committee, Article 9 will not be amended.”

Continue reading ‘“Article 9 of Constitution Providing Foremost Place to Buddhism Wont be Amended”-Ranil Tells Parliament.’ »

Maha Sangha will be Consulted if and when New Constitution is Drafted Assures President Sirisena in Kandy.

By Cyril Wimalasurendre

President Maithripala Sirisena assured the Maha Sangha of the three Nikayas in Kandy on Thursday (06) afternoon that there was no draft constitution.

If a new Constitution was to be drafted it would be done only in consultation with the Maha Sanga and other stakeholders, President Maithripala Sirisena told a group of Nayake Theras at the Kandy President’s House.

The outcome of the discussion between the Sangha and the President was disclosed to the media by the Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Nayake Thera.

Continue reading ‘Maha Sangha will be Consulted if and when New Constitution is Drafted Assures President Sirisena in Kandy.’ »

MP from UNP Wants Govt to “Privatise” Universities of Peradeniya and Colombo and Turn Them Into Profit Making Institutions.

By Saman Indrajith

A government’s move to remove the Universities of Colombo and Peradeniya from the purview of University Grants Commission (UGC) and turn them into profit earning institutions was disclosed at a recent meeting of the parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), according to sources.

The proposal was discussed at the Higher Education Sub Committee of the Education Sectoral Oversight Committee sessions on May 12 and 19 at the parliamentary complex. At those meetings a UNP MP proposed the removal of the two universities from the UGC’s purview. The University of Colombo representatives present at those two meetings were agreeable to the proposal. None from the University of Peradeniya was present at the meetings attended by senior officials of the Higher Education Ministry’s Division on Private Institutions awarding university degrees, according to sources.

Continue reading ‘MP from UNP Wants Govt to “Privatise” Universities of Peradeniya and Colombo and Turn Them Into Profit Making Institutions.’ »

Central Bank Monetary Board Suspends Business Activities of Primary Dealer Perpetual Treasuries for Six Months.

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank yesterday suspended the business activities of controversial primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries for six months, effective immediately.

The Central Bank, releasing a statement, said it was acting in terms of the regulations made under the Registered Stocks and Securities Ordinance and the Local Treasury Bills Ordinance.

Continue reading ‘Central Bank Monetary Board Suspends Business Activities of Primary Dealer Perpetual Treasuries for Six Months.’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Faults Courts for Suspending Disposal of Garbage in Places like Karadiyana and Muthurajawela.

By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday that courts issuing orders banning garbage disposal would lead to further spread of disease such as dengue and deaths of patients.

Responding to a question raised by JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake, the Prime Minister said that there was no proper place to dump garbage collected in cities. That was the main cause of garbage problem. “We are planning to find a permanent solution to this problem. We are planning to dispose of garbage at the provincial level. We have taken steps to import nine machines to manufacture compost fertilizer and they will be distributed among nine provinces. We have also commenced 25 projects to recycle garbage. We are also planning to purchase 100 vehicles and obtain 150 more vehicles with Korean assistance, to transport garbage.

“The Rajapaksa regime left behind not only a mountain of loans but also a mountain of garbage. We will not run away from this problem unlike the Rajapaksa government. We will not leave the loan problem and the garbage problem to the next generation. Today, the garbage mountain is not there.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Faults Courts for Suspending Disposal of Garbage in Places like Karadiyana and Muthurajawela.’ »

Supreme Court Stops Dumping of Garbage Within Muthurajawela Bird Sanctuary till July 20th


By Chitra Weerarathne

The Supreme Court yesterday granted interim relief to 34 petitioners from Bopitiy by ordering that no garbage be dumped within the Muthurajawela bird sanctuary till July 20, the next date of calling of the fundamental rights violation petition against alleged pollution of the sanctuary.

The petitioners are Rev. Father Ananda Withana of St. Nicholas Church Bopitiya and 33 others.

They had complained that the Colombo Municipal Council dumped garbage within the sanctuary.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Stops Dumping of Garbage Within Muthurajawela Bird Sanctuary till July 20th’ »

Positive Initiatives Taken By Ordinary People to Repair Broken Jaffna Offer Change From Despair To Hope

By Devin Jayasundera

For the last three months, Kamalnath, 26, has been arriving to work in Chunnakam two hours late, leaving two hours early and spending his free time at a friend’s home in Nallur. He works at his family’s fancy goods store, retailing beauty accoutrements like bangles, hairpins and the latest fairness creams.
Chunnakam is second most populous town in the Jaffna district. Kamalnath’s father’s store averages revenue of Rs20,000 per day.

The store employs three people, including Kamalnath. But Kamalnath is not just any other helper. “I’m a second upper class graduate of business administration with specialization in accounting from the University of Jaffna,” he says.

Desperate for options Kamalnath, an under-employed management graduate from the University of Jaffna, lingers at his family’s fancy goods store, waiting for his dream job

When Kamalnath entered the University of Jaffna in 2010, his dream was to be a university lecturer. “If that didn’t work out, I wanted to get a man agement trainee position at a bank,” he says. As of now, both plans have not yet materialized in his favour. After graduating in 2015, as he could remember, he only applied for three jobs. The first is what he calls his dream job, the management trainee position at Bank of Ceylon. The second is another management trainee position at People’s Bank. The third is a government internal audit position for the Northern Province.
Continue reading ‘Positive Initiatives Taken By Ordinary People to Repair Broken Jaffna Offer Change From Despair To Hope’ »

In Defence of “The Lone Patriot” Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe


By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka


“A single spark can start a prairie fire.” (Mao)

“I am alone with the people.” (Mao)

Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe is the target of a fire-hose of criticism. What I find most interesting is where this criticism is coming from and the larger truth it obscures.

The criticism comes from a network of lobbies and caucuses comprised for the most part of those who never stood up for the country and its protection during the greatest test it faced in its contemporary history: the onslaught of the separatist, terrorist and fascist LTTE. It comes for the most part from those who never voiced opposition to the hypocrisy of the West’s interventionist human rights assault on Sri Lanka. It comes for the most part from those who have no word of criticism of the West for its military interventionism and aggression in many parts of the world, such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. It comes in the main from those whose discourse does not contain the concepts of national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and the people.

Those who have gone on the record attacking Wijedasa Rajapakshe belong to what Philip Gunawardena used to refer to as “rootless cosmopolitans” and LH Mettananda as a “microscopic minority”. Decades later, President Premadasa referred to this social strata or substrata derisively as “the swimming pool set”.

Continue reading ‘In Defence of “The Lone Patriot” Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’ »

President Sirisena Appoints New Army Chief, Defence Secy, Secretary to the President and Eastern Province Governor.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala has announced four major appointments mafe by him on July 3rd 2017.
President Sirisena revealed details of the new appointmets to the world at large through his twitter account.

The names of the new Army Commander, Defence Secretary, Secretary to the President and Eastern Province Governor were publicised by the President through tweets.

The new appointmets were –

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Appoints New Army Chief, Defence Secy, Secretary to the President and Eastern Province Governor.’ »

Fishing Harbour and 54 Acres in Myliddy in Jaffna Returned to the People By the Sri Lankan Army After 27 Years.

By

Meera Srinivasan

The Sri Lankan army on Monday returned 54 acres of land in the fishing village of Myliddy in Jaffna peninsula to its original residents, after occupying it for nearly three decades.

Pic: @tnamediaoffice

Consequently, about 200 families living in welfare centres for the war-affected and with friends and relatives returned to where they lived before the country’s civil war displaced them. Fisher folk from the coastal village, who have for long sought access to the Myliddy fishing harbour, also in the military’s high security zone and out of reach, can finally fish there after years of struggle.

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“Sinhala Mothers Must Produce More Children to Protect Buddhism and the Sinhala Race”- Western Chief Minister Devapriya

By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya yesterday called on Sinhala mothers to produce more children and ensure the protection of Buddhism and the Sinhala race.

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“Sri Lanka is Only Country in the World to Have Three Cabinet Spokesmen who Give Three Versions of same Issue” -Mahinda Rajapaksa

By Anura Balasuriya reporting from Trincomalee

The only thing the incumbent government did was to talk, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday. It was trying to cover up its failure by blaming others, he added.

Addressing a mammoth Joint Opposition (JO) rally at the Town Hall grounds in Trincomalee, the former President said not a single day passed without the government blaming him for something or other.

JO supporters converged on the Town Hall grounds, braving inclement weather.

Every sector, be it economic, political, or foreign affairs, was in utter chaos. The government is planning to introduce a new Constitution to do away with the unitary status of the country, said Rajapaksa. “All economic resources are being sold to foreigners. The entire national economy will be handed over to foreign powers through pacts such as the ETCA (Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement.”

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Mahanayake and Senior Mo nks of the Asgiriya Chapter Reject Proposed New Constitution

The Asgiriya Chapter of the Siyam sect on Saturday vehemently protested against the proposed new Constitution at a meeting the Mahanayake of the Chapter Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratne and other senior monks had with a group of Buddhasasana Task Force representatives at the Asgiriya temple.

The Asgiriya senior monks led by the Mahanayake declared that one of the objectives of the proposed new constitution was to make way for separatism and remove the foremost place given to Buddhism in the existing Constitution.

They said they would not hesitate to take to the streets to show their opposition to the constitution project.

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Sri Lanka Struggles to Face Twin Challenges of Garbage Disposal and Dengue Fever

By

Meera Srinivasan

For a long time, Sri Lanka was a leader in the region in two key areas – public health and civic conservancy. But over the last year, the country is facing a major challenge in both, the most visible manifestation being the recent dengue epidemic that has claimed over 200 lives.

One tragedy closely followed another. In April, a massive trash mountain in suburban Colombo collapsed, killing 32 people and crushing over 150 homes. Affected residents are still struggling to recover from the disaster, and civic authorities confronted an obvious problem. With the city’s key waste-yard now out of bounds, they had no place to dump residents’ trash every day. Consequently, municipal collection has been very irregular, with rotting piles of trash left unattended across the capital. Soon after, Sri Lanka faced one of the worst floods and landslips in recent years. At least 200 people died and several thousands were displaced.

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“Voting for Law Incorporating International Protocol Against Enforced Disappearances is a Betrayal of Our Country’-Mahinda Rajapaksa

The government is attempting to incorporate into the law of Sri Lanka the provisions of the ‘International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances’, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says.

“Countries like the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada, never even signed this Convention. Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and India signed it ten years ago in 2007, but never ratified it,” Rajapaksa said yesterday.

Many countries had kept away from this Convention altogether for the obvious reason that its provisions had the potential to violate the individual rights of citizens of the States that join it, he said.


Following is the text of former President Rajapaksa’s warning

A Bill has been gazetted to incorporate into the law of Sri Lanka, the provisions of the ‘International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances’ which was hurriedly signed and ratified by the present government. Clause 8 of this Bill enables foreign countries to seek the extradition of a Sri Lankan who is suspected, accused or convicted of having caused enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka. When such a request is made, the government of Sri Lanka is obliged to inform the foreign country of the measures it intends taking to prosecute or extradite that person. Clause 21 empowers the executive arm of the State to oversee the full implementation of this international convention in Sri Lanka and Clause 23 states that this new law is to override all other written law.

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“Bias Shown in the Lakshan Dias Affair is Due to Denial and not due to Ignorance”- Bishop Duleep de Chickera


By

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

The initial shock at the response of a high ranking minister to comments made by a citizen on a recent talk show, soon shifted to a realisation of its seriousness.

During the show Lakshan Dias, an attorney at law,presented some dataon violence against some Christians and their places of worship. He named the source that had documented these incidents; many of which were on record at police stations where complaints had been made.

Sensible governance-expected and prevented

One would have expected persons in authority, on hearing these remarks, to have demonstrated indignation and contrition that these incidents had taken place under their watch. Further information should have been sought from the IGP, and if found to be substantial, duly investigated with appropriate action taken, to protect those harassed and deal with the perpetrators. This is what good and sensible governance is all about; doing the right thing now,before too many wrong things pile up tomorrow.

If, on the other hand, the remarks were proven to be unfounded, Mr Dias should have been responded to in accordance with the law.

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GMOA, ,Health Minister and the SAITM Crisis: A Brief History

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has challenged Health Minister and co-cabinet spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne’s recent declaration that the SAITM (South Asian Institute of technology and Medicine), Malabe, won’t be nationalized under any circumstances.

Responding to Dr Senaratne, newly elected GMOA Secretary Harith Alutge emphasised that remedial measures taken to resolve SAITM crisis should lead to its nationalisation.

While Dr. Senaratne has declared that the government wouldn’t talk with the GMOA in this regard, the GMOA reiterated its unwavering commitment to a five-point joint proposal made by the Deans and teachers of the state medical faculties and the GMOA to resolve the crisis.

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Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat Under Prime Minister’s Office Closed Down on June30 Alleges Anti-Corruption Front

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Anti Corruption Front (ACF) has alleged the Secretariat tasked with examining public complaints and direct them to relevant institutions, including the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) or the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) was closed down on June 30.

Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon on behalf of the ACF told The Island that the closure of the outfit manned by professionals should be viewed against the backdrop of 30 complaints it received pertaining to corrupt activities of ministers and secretaries to various ministries of the present government.

A PM’s Office official told The Island that the period of operation of the Secretariat had been periodically extended. Although the term of the Secretariat had lapsed on June 30, the government would take up the matter soon. The official strongly denied claims that the government was making an attempt to suppress investigations. He didn’t rule out the possibility of it being revived.The issue is likely to be discussed at this week’s Cabinet meeting.

The Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat operates under the direct supervision of the PM’s Office.

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Supreme Court Unanimously Dismisses Fundamental Rights Application By Mosque President and “Madrassa” Principal in Panadura.

By Namini Wijedasa

The Supreme Court has dismissed a Fundamental Rights (FR) application by a mosque president and a principal of a madrassa in Panadura, arguing their right to proceed with building a religious school–which residents and Buddhist monks vehemently demonstrated against–was violated.

President of the Board of Trustees of the Wekada Jumma Mosque, M.J.M. Faril and Principal of Anas Ibnu Malik Hiflul Quran Madrassa, Moulavi M.B.M. Haris had not obtained the Religious Affairs Ministry’s approval to build the proposed educational institution, Justice Anil Gooneratne held, with Justices Sisira J. de Abrew and Vijith K. Malalgoda, P.C. agreeing, while dismissing the petition with costs.

“The material placed before court indicates that the real purpose of the petitioners seems to be to have a mosque, instead of a school,” the judgment held. “This seems to be the starting point for the dispute. The villagers, residents and Buddhist monks vehemently protested against any further construction for a different purpose.”

“Our country has suffered over the years as a result of communal violence,” it continued. “History repeats and, if one were to analyse as to what happened in the 1915 riots, though it was meaningless for the two communities to clash, lessons have not been learnt by a certain section of the community.

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US had a “Detailed Coordinated Plan” To Resue Trapped Civilians in Wanni Which Was Vetoed By Mahinda Govt Reveals Ex – US Envoy Robert Blake.


The United States had “a detailed coordinated plan” with the Indian and Sri Lanka Governments for its Navy to rescue trapped displaced persons in Puthukudiyiruppu during the final stages of the separatist war, according to Ambassador Robert Blake, then Washington’s envoy in Colombo.

However, the Sri Lankan Government killed the idea for fear that Erik Solheim (Norwegian peace broker) and I would be taken hostage by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he said last week in Washington DC.

Blake was speaking to the Serendipity Group, a body of US Ambassadors and diplomats who served in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Americans. Blake said he did not believe that Solheim and he would be taken hostage.

He said there were also perceptions that it was an effort to rescue LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. “Every person would have been transferred by US Navy boats to Sri Lankan custody,” he said.

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A Statement by Concerned Human Rights and Democratic Rights Activists and Organisations

Shrinking space for human rights voices and dissent, and concerns over the terms of engagement between government and civil society

A statement by concerned human rights and democratic rights
activists and organisations

27th June 2017,
Colombo

As individuals and organisations committed to human rights and democratic freedoms, and the rights of freedom of expression and dissent, we are deeply concerned about recent attempts to stiflevoices of human rights activists and silence dissent.

On 17th June,Minister for Justice and Buddha Sasana, WijeyadasaRajapakshe, publicly threatened to remove Mr. Lakshan Dias, Attorney-at-Law, and a well-known human rights activist, from the legal profession, in response to Mr. Dias raising the issues of attacks on Christian places of worship since 2015. The Minister prefaced this by virtually condemninghuman rights NGOs in general. He said, “In our country there are organisationswho claim to be protecting human rights, who are dependent on NGO funds, who are trying to destroy the peace between the peoples of our country and turn this country back into a heap of fire; there are a few individuals like that.”(Translated from Sinhala)

Minister Rajapakshehas since been reported reiterating his comments in an interview to Ceylon Today (22 June 2017), claiming that “NGO funded traitors” are fermenting unrest in the country. He also claimed that the NGOs misled the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, who, in her latest report, highlighted some serious shortcomings in Sri Lanka’s justice system.

It is as much a matter of great concern as it is revealing, that a senior cabinet minister presiding over the Ministry of Justice in the so-called Yahapalanayagovernment, resorts to vilifying, demonizing and threatening human rights activists and human rights NGOs.While hardly the first such instance, it is especially ironic that his comments come as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launcheda consultation process with human rights activists and NGOs on its draft report to the UN Human Rights Council as part of its Universal Period Review (UPR).

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Our Politicians Pontificate as if they are the Final Authorities on any Given Subject.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

However much they may genuflect to the concept of free speech, Sri Lanka’s politicians are quite unable to shake off a constitutional dislike of that theory in abrasive practice.

Remarkably clever traits of politicians

‘Yahapalanaya’ Ministers appear not to be different to their predecessors in office in that sense, excepting of course the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime (in its second term) which stood in a distinct and crude category of its own. But if one takes those aberrant years out of the equation, the current politicians are certainly as ridiculous in their fury as those of say, the Kumaratunga Government, for instance.

By itself, that is little surprise. Many familiar faces cling like limpets to political office through the years regardless of the change of guard in Colombo. Their ability to skillfully switch sides as soon as they get a whiff of the political winds of fortune changing is nothing short of remarkable. It appears to be the one thing that Sri Lankan politicians are really good at. This is true also of relatively new entrants to the political arena whose skills in learning the tricks of the trade from their disreputable elders are pronounced.

So our politicians strut and pontificate as if they are the final authorities on any given subject under the sun and woe betide anyone who challenges that authority. This disagreeable trait is evidenced across a range of portfolios, ranging from sports to justice.

Last week, this column ventured on a topic rather different to its usual theme, namely the Minister of Sports’ unseemly public outbursts that the paunches of Sri Lanka’s national cricketers were responsible for their poor performances at the game.

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ITAK Leader “Maavai” Senathirajah Returns to His Ancestral Home in Maaviddapuram After 27 Years of Displacement.

By Manekshaw

Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) leader and Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian Mavai S. Senathirajah became the first high profile Internally Displaced Person (IDP) to return last week to his house in Mavittapuram, in the Jaffna peninsula, after a lapse of 27 years.

Pic: facebook.com/mavaikandan

The ITAK, being the foremost Tamil political party founded by late S.J.V. Chelvanayagam seven decades ago, still remains a powerful political outfit winning the confidence of the majority of people in the North and East to fulfil their political aspirations.

As a youth front member of the ITAK, Mavai S. Senathirajah with several other young men, remained staunch supporters of the ITAK engaging in all types of political activities.

Senathirajah was one of the first young Tamil political activists to be arrested and put behind bars when the crackdown began in the early seventies in the North to curtail Tamil extremism.

Mavittapuram is the northern-most region in Valikamam North where the first internal displacements started following the escalation of the armed struggle.

The region is spiritually a very significant place with the holy Keerimalai tank where the Hindus in the North perform rituals for their dead.

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Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu Hands Over 16,000 Books From India to Jaffna Public Library

By

Meera Srinivasan

Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu handed over as many as 16,000 books to the iconic Jaffna public library on Thursday.

The collection will be kept at the ‘India Corner’ in the library, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated during his maiden visit in 2015. “The titles cover topics ranging from culture, literature, philosophy, politics to science,” Chief Librarian Suganthy Sadasivamoorthy told The Hindu on Friday.

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16 Anti- Muslim Incidents and 4 Anti-Christian Incidents Only Since Jan 8th 2015 Says Justice Minister Rajapakshe

By

Hafeel Farisz

Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe in an interview with the Daily News spoke on the recent controversy involving him and issues pertaining to minorities among others.

Excerpts:

Question: In a recent interview with the BBC, you said that there were “four minor incidents” (sulu siduweem) regarding attacks on Churches.

Answer: Not attacks. I meant incidents some of which were issues among themselves.

Q: But there is documented evidence that it is beyond that. For instance, 100 villagers attacked and destroyed the Kithusewana Church in Karuwalagaswewa on June 9th this year. A Church in Ingiriya was vandalized on May 29, 2016. The Assembly of Christ Church in Veyangoda was attacked on June 26. The Jeewanadiya Church in Moragahahena was attacked and the list goes on and on. There is so much of documented incidents of these types of attacks. How are you saying it is 4?

A: You can’t say it’s documented. There are no two Police services in Sri Lanka. Police are not maintained in Churches. We have only one Police Department in Sri Lanka. I am speaking of the relevant period that is after January 8, 2015. There are only 4 incidents in Police records. There is nothing more than these 4 incidents in Police records and I have shown in to the people.

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EXORCISING DEMONS IN PARADISE: Remarks on Jude Ratnam’s movie screened at Cannes

By

SANJA DE SILVA JAYATILLEKA

This evening at the ICES Colombo we saw a very powerful movie: DEMONS IN PARADISE, directed by Jude Ratnam. I am so very grateful that the director invited us to attend its first screening in Sri Lanka. I hope it gets shown and discussed everywhere.

Dayan Jayatilleka always said that the healing process and reconciliation will start not with accountability hearings a la Geneva, but with the arts.

This movie holds a mirror before us all. It forces one to look squarely at the violence that each of these island’s communities is capable of inflicting, supporting and enabling, not only on other communities but on each other, within one’s own community.

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Amendments to Prevention of Terrorism Act Does not Mean it will be Repealed or Replaced -Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe

By

Chaturanga Pradeep

Introducing amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), does not mean that the Act will be repealed or replaced by a new Act and there will be nor room left for the country’s security to be jeopardized, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.

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Human Rights Lawyer Lakshan Dias Who was Threatened by Justice Minister Rajapakshe Speaks Out in Exclusive Interview with “Daily Mirror”

By

Dhaneshi Yatawara

Following a statement made during a TV talk show highlighting attacks on a religious minority group, human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias faced allegations raised by the Justice Minister on the grounds of creating religious disharmony. Commenting on the situation Attorney-at-Law Dias said that his opinion was based on the facts of a recently published report as well as facts derived from similar court cases that he was appearing for. Dias still stands by his comment. Questioned as to why he was absent from the epicentre of events, he explained that, “When the hegemony is in action stirring up the public opinion it is better to be away from the epicentre….. and observe the situation.” In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mirror Lakshan Dias pointed out that he has to defend himself standing on an unequal ground.

Lakshan Dias

Excerpts:

Question:The comment you made during a recent discussion on a private TV channel show led to an intense public opinion. What did you exactly say during the show? What was the reason to make such a comment about attacks on other religious places?

Continue reading ‘Human Rights Lawyer Lakshan Dias Who was Threatened by Justice Minister Rajapakshe Speaks Out in Exclusive Interview with “Daily Mirror”’ »