Blockade of Social Media in Sri Lanka: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

BY

Kelsey Ables

ON APRIL 21, Easter Sunday, a series of coordinated bombings killed hundreds in Sri Lanka. In the tense hours following the attacks, a social media blackout left much of the country barred from major communication channels—Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp—in the interest of “national security.” The ISIS-supported attack marks the most violence the country has faced since its brutal, 25-year civil war came to a close in 2009— during which suicide bombings at banks, bus stations, and other public spaces were common. The ban on major social networks—instituted by the Sri Lankan government to curb misinformation and hate speech—is is now on its eighth day and continues to interrupt communication, blocking access to family and friends. It’s also a burden to journalists trying to keep up with sources and follow what is an ongoing terrorist threat.

Hearing of the ban, I couldn’t help but think of how much I relied on these platforms when I was living in Sri Lanka during last year’s constitutional crisis. When a sudden shift in power in the highest branch of government was overlooked by international media and local coverage became politically motivated, I looked to reporter friends on Facebook who were posting regular updates, journalist messaging groups on WhatsApp, and Twitter lists curated by Groundviews, a local media organization. And when, ultimately, the political party leading the coup seized the Sri Lankan newspaper I had been working at and forced out one of my editors when she refused to cede editorial control, I found out through social media.

For Western journalists who are physically distant from Sri Lanka, it is easy to use this violence and the ban that followed as another data point in their ongoing battle against Facebook. Kara Swisher wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times that her first reaction when she heard the site had been blocked was, “Good.” “When you traffic in outrage, you get death,” she wrote. “Stop the Facebook/YouTube/Twitter world—we want to get off.” Turning off Facebook and other social media, Swisher argues, is one of the only ways to protect against further violence. Sure, users do traffic in outrage on these platforms, but vital information also circulates—information that can only flow outside the political constraints of mainstream Sri Lankan media. And while there is a case to be made that Sri Lanka’s history of ethnic tension makes it particularly susceptible to flare-ups in violence, journalists and people seeking information will be hurt by the ban.

Continue reading ‘Blockade of Social Media in Sri Lanka: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.’ »

Senior Police DIG Nilantha Jayawardena the State Intelligence Chief Warned President Sirisena Thrice of Impending Terrorist Attacks on April 11th, 16th and 20th But No Action Was Taken by Sri Lanka’s Head of Government Holding Defence and Law and Order Portfolios.

Questions are being raised about how much President Maithripala Sirisena knew about warnings provided by foreign intelligence agencies ahead of the Easter Sunday bombings that left at least 253 people dead and injured more than 450.

State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Nilantha Jayawardena provided detailed reports to the President on at least three occasions, authoritative and multiple sources with close knowledge of the inner workings of the Defence establishment confirmed to Daily FT.

One of those briefings took place ahead of the New Year holidays on 11 April, the sources confirmed.

A second briefing by the SIS head took place about five days later the sources added.

The Ministry of Defence was given an eleventh hour report that an attack was imminent on the evening of 20 April, Daily FT learns. The 20 April report was once again relayed by foreign intelligence agencies and specifically from India.

Continue reading ‘Senior Police DIG Nilantha Jayawardena the State Intelligence Chief Warned President Sirisena Thrice of Impending Terrorist Attacks on April 11th, 16th and 20th But No Action Was Taken by Sri Lanka’s Head of Government Holding Defence and Law and Order Portfolios.’ »

“We Must Never Allow Evil to Become an Excuse for Revenge and Hate” – A Response to the Easter Sunday Attacks by a Group of Christians Comprising Catholics,Protestants and Evangelicals.

Responding to the Easter Sunday Attacks

We write today as a group of Sri Lankan Catholics and Christians, deeply saddened by the attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. We grieve with the families of all victims – whether they are Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or non-religious. We cannot understand what could motivate such acts of violence against innocent men, women and children. We call on the authorities to ensure that all those who planned, resourced, enabled and executed these attacks are held responsible and that no further violence takes place.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. We are deeply troubled that a small group of Muslims in our country became so radicalized that they were willing to carry out such violence against their fellow citizens. But we are also deeply dismayed by attempts to blame these attacks on the entire Muslim community – many of whom are horrified by what has happened. We cannot and must not blame an entire community for the acts of a few.

Continue reading ‘“We Must Never Allow Evil to Become an Excuse for Revenge and Hate” – A Response to the Easter Sunday Attacks by a Group of Christians Comprising Catholics,Protestants and Evangelicals.’ »

Easter Day Explosive Attack Ring Leader Mohomed Zahran Hashim’s Wife Hadiya and Child Hospitalised Due to Injuries Sustained At Rented House in Saainthamarudhu Where Gun Battle and Three Explosions Took Place.

(Reuters): The wife and daughter of Mohamad Zahran Hashim, the suicide bomber cum mastermind of the serial bombings in Colombo and two other cities on April 21, were injured in the explosion in the Islamic State safe house at Sainthamarudu in Eastern Sri Lanka on Friday night.

The shootout at a safe house erupted as police hunted for people linked to Mohamed Zahran Hashim who has been named as the ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings.

Continue reading ‘Easter Day Explosive Attack Ring Leader Mohomed Zahran Hashim’s Wife Hadiya and Child Hospitalised Due to Injuries Sustained At Rented House in Saainthamarudhu Where Gun Battle and Three Explosions Took Place.’ »

Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency Claims IS Responsibility for Saainthamarudhu Gun Battle by Saying Three IS Fighters”clashed with them (Sri Lankan police) with automatic weapons, and after exhausting their ammunition, detonated on them their explosive belts.”

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for three men who blew themselves up in clashes with Sri Lankan police, the militant group said in a statement.

The men set off explosives after an hour-long gun battle with police Saturday, inside what was believed to be a jihadist hideout near the eastern town of Kalmunai, in the latest fallout from the Easter attacks.

Continue reading ‘Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency Claims IS Responsibility for Saainthamarudhu Gun Battle by Saying Three IS Fighters”clashed with them (Sri Lankan police) with automatic weapons, and after exhausting their ammunition, detonated on them their explosive belts.”’ »

Muslim Neighbors and Cleric in Charge of Local Mosque Tipped off Security Forces About Safe House Rented Out By Islamic State Followers in Saainthamarudhu Where Fifteen Bodies Were Found After Shoot out and Explosions.


By P.K.Balachandran

Muslim neighbours and the cleric in charge of the local mosque had tipped off the Security Forces about the existence of a safe house taken on rent by the followers of the Islamic State in the Muslim-majority town of Sainthamarudu in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, locals said.

In a gun battle between the Security Forces and terrorists holed up in a van and the safe house, and following three explosions triggered by the holed-up terrorists on Friday night, 15 people including six men, six women and three children, were killed, police said.

Two suspected terrorists, believed to be suicide bombers have decamped and a hunt is on for them, police said.

Islamic State Safe House

The safe house in question was taken on rent by the followers of a Tawheed Jamaat- led by Moulvi Mohamad Zahran Hashim, who was influenced by the Islamic State (IS), indoctrinated as he was by the Jamaat ul Mujahideen India (JMI), which is an affiliate of the IS.

Continue reading ‘Muslim Neighbors and Cleric in Charge of Local Mosque Tipped off Security Forces About Safe House Rented Out By Islamic State Followers in Saainthamarudhu Where Fifteen Bodies Were Found After Shoot out and Explosions.’ »

Ex-Def Secy Gotabaya Rajapaksa Seeks 30 Day Extension to Respond to Civil Lawsuit Filed by Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa in the US: New Due Date Changed From April 29 to May 28 .

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is facing a civil lawsuit alleging extra-judicial murder and crimes against humanity in the United States for the killing of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, has requested a 30-day extension to respond to the charges.

The filing by his lawyers in the US District Court of Central California, seen by Sunday Observer is also first official confirmation that the former Sri Lankan Defence Secretary and US citizen had been served notice on April 7, 2019, despite stoic denials by his loyalists that he received any such notice.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Def Secy Gotabaya Rajapaksa Seeks 30 Day Extension to Respond to Civil Lawsuit Filed by Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa in the US: New Due Date Changed From April 29 to May 28 .’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Lodges Complaint With Police Against UPFA Kalutara District MP Piyal Nishantja de Silva For Making False Statement over TV That 11 Security Forces Had Been Killed in the Kalmunai-Saainthamarudhu Clashes

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday in a complaint to the CID requested them to conduct an investigation and take immediate legal actions regarding a false statement made by UPFA Kalutara District MP Piyal Nishantha de Silva during a live TV program on a local television channel.

During the interview, the MP had claimed that 11 security force personnel had died during the confrontation on Friday night in Kalmunai-Saindamarudu area between the Security Forces and a terrorist group.

The MP who participated in the live TV program also said that he would take the full responsibility of the statement that he made.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Lodges Complaint With Police Against UPFA Kalutara District MP Piyal Nishantja de Silva For Making False Statement over TV That 11 Security Forces Had Been Killed in the Kalmunai-Saainthamarudhu Clashes’ »

President Sirisena to Ban Under Emergency Laws the National Thawheed Jamath and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim Radical Muslim Organizations Allegedly Involved in the Ester Day Suicide Bomb Attacks

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena had decided to ban two Muslim organizations linked to Easter Sunday bombings which killed more than 500 people, his office said.

National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI) will be banned using newly invoked emergency laws.

Members of NTJ and JMI carried out Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo authorities said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena to Ban Under Emergency Laws the National Thawheed Jamath and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim Radical Muslim Organizations Allegedly Involved in the Ester Day Suicide Bomb Attacks’ »

Weapons of Two Policemen Killed at Checkpoint in Vavunatheevu in Batticaloa on Nov 29 Lat Year Recovered From Three Members of Radical Islamic Organization Arrested in the East.

By

Hafeel Farisz

Three suspects allegedly radical Islamist extremists and two weapons of the two Policemen killed at a checkpoint in Vavunathiwu on November 29, 2018 were recovered by officers of the Criminal Investigations Department today.

Sources confirmed that the three suspects were arrested and the weapons were recovered.

” They were members of the radical Islamist Organisation” a high ranking source told the Daily Mirror.

Continue reading ‘Weapons of Two Policemen Killed at Checkpoint in Vavunatheevu in Batticaloa on Nov 29 Lat Year Recovered From Three Members of Radical Islamic Organization Arrested in the East.’ »

Suicide Bomber Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed Who Did Post-Graduate Studies in Technology at Swinbourne Univesity in Melbourne From 2009 to 2013 Had Been Investgated By Australian Authorities for Suspected Terrorism.

By

Paul Maley and Primrose Riordan

The Sri Lankan suicide bomber who studied at a Melbourne university was one of the subjects of a ­terrorism investigation by Australian security authorities after ­intelligence emerged linking him to ­Islamic State operative Neil Prakash.

The Australian can reveal that Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, one of nine suicide bombers ­responsible for a string of attacks across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, was investigated by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team in 2014.

Continue reading ‘Suicide Bomber Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed Who Did Post-Graduate Studies in Technology at Swinbourne Univesity in Melbourne From 2009 to 2013 Had Been Investgated By Australian Authorities for Suspected Terrorism.’ »

SLPP MP Piyal Nishantha de Silva Appearing on “Swarnavahini”TV Claims 11 Security Force Personnel Were Killed in Kalmunia Shoot -out but Senior Defence Ministry Official Refutes It


A senior officer in the Defence Ministry says that a statement made by SLPP MP – Piyal Nishantha de Silva during a live TV programme yesterday (26) is false.

Appearing on the ‘Swarnawahini’ TV channel, the MP had claimed that 11 security force personnel had died during last night’s confrontation in Kalmunai-Saindamarudu area between the extremists and the security forces.

Continue reading ‘SLPP MP Piyal Nishantha de Silva Appearing on “Swarnavahini”TV Claims 11 Security Force Personnel Were Killed in Kalmunia Shoot -out but Senior Defence Ministry Official Refutes It’ »

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Says He Will Contest Presidential Elections and if he won his Immediate Focus Would be to Tackle the Threat from Radical Islam and to Rebuild the Security Set-up.

Reuters: < em>Sri Lanka’s former wartime Defence Chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said on Friday he would run for president in elections this year and would stop the spread of Islamist extremism by rebuilding the intelligence service and surveilling citizens.

Gotabaya, as he is popularly known, is the younger brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the two led the country to a crushing defeat of separatist Tamil rebels a decade ago after a 26-year civil war.

More than 250 people were killed in bomb attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that the government has blamed on Islamist militants and that Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.

Gotabaya said the attacks could have been prevented if the island’s current Government had not dismantled the intelligence network and extensive surveillance capabilities that he built up during the war and later on.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa Says He Will Contest Presidential Elections and if he won his Immediate Focus Would be to Tackle the Threat from Radical Islam and to Rebuild the Security Set-up.’ »

Fifteen Bodies Comprising Six Men, Three Women and Six Children Recovered From House in Saainthamarudhu After Prolonged Shoot -out Between Two Gunmen and Security Forces

The bodies of 15 people, including six children, were discovered from the site of a severe overnight gun battle on the east coast of Sri Lanka on Saturday, the military said, six days after suicide bombers killed 253 people and injured over 500.

The gun battle between troops and terrorists suspected to be affiliated to a Islamic terrorist organization broke out on Friday evening when troops attempted to raid a safe house, sheltering the terrorists in Sainthamaruthu in Amparai.

Continue reading ‘Fifteen Bodies Comprising Six Men, Three Women and Six Children Recovered From House in Saainthamarudhu After Prolonged Shoot -out Between Two Gunmen and Security Forces’ »

Bodies of Three Men, Six Women and Six Children Recovered From House Shattered by Explosion After Shoot -Out in Saainthamaruthu Between Armed Men and Security Forces Comprising Army Police and STF:One Woman and Child Hospitalised.

Combined Army, Special Task Force and Police teams are continuing search operations in the Kalmunai area where 15 people including 6 six children were killed in a confrontation between troops and suspected terrorists last night (26).

There are no dead or injured among the security forces.

One woman and a child were admitted to hospital by police.

The Sri Lanka Army said this morning that on information received from local residents a search operation was started in the general area of Kalmunai.

Continue reading ‘Bodies of Three Men, Six Women and Six Children Recovered From House Shattered by Explosion After Shoot -Out in Saainthamaruthu Between Armed Men and Security Forces Comprising Army Police and STF:One Woman and Child Hospitalised.’ »

Drones, Suicide Vests, Islamic State Flags and Clothing Along With Huge Quantity of Explosives Seized by Security Forces From “Safe House” At Sammanthurai in the Amparai District of Eastern Province.

The Army and the Police found a massive haul of explosives when they raided a safe house in Samanthurai in the Eastern province the Police Media Spokesman said.

Continue reading ‘Drones, Suicide Vests, Islamic State Flags and Clothing Along With Huge Quantity of Explosives Seized by Security Forces From “Safe House” At Sammanthurai in the Amparai District of Eastern Province.’ »

Well-Known Businessman in Spice Trade Mohammed Ibrahim In Custody After Two of his Sons Were Identified As Suicide Bombers Who Attacked Two Hotels and Daughter in Law Set Off Explosion at Dematagoda Residence.

By Chathuri Dissanayake and Uditha Jayasinghe

The Government yesterday said a new splinter group of the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) had been identified as having links to the Easter Sunday attacks, as the number of arrested grew to 60 and the death toll rose to 359, with the country’s security remaining on high alert.

The number of arrested rose to 60 on Wednesday with 32 of them in Criminal Investigation Department (CID) custody. Investigations were mainly being conducted by the CID and it has confirmed that nine suicide cadres were involved in the bomb blasts. Out of the nine, the CID has identified eight of them, said Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera. Four suspects were also detained by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID).

Continue reading ‘Well-Known Businessman in Spice Trade Mohammed Ibrahim In Custody After Two of his Sons Were Identified As Suicide Bombers Who Attacked Two Hotels and Daughter in Law Set Off Explosion at Dematagoda Residence.’ »

MA Sumanthiran MP Wants Eastern Province Governor MLAM Hisbullah’s Alleged Connections to National Thowheed Jamath to Be Investigated Along With Terrorist Group’s Suspected Links to Other Politicians and Past Defence Officials.

By

Camelia Nathaniel, Amali Mallawarachchi and Lahiru Fernando

TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran yesterday demanded that Eastern Province Governor M. L.A. M. Hisbullah’s alleged connections to National Thowheed Jamaath must be investigated. Sumanthiran also said that all connections this terrorist group has had with various other politicians and previous defence officials must be investigated as well.

“There are many serious questions that are being asked about the Governor and his connections to National Thowheed Jamaath.This must be investigated,” Sumanthiran pointed out.

Continue reading ‘MA Sumanthiran MP Wants Eastern Province Governor MLAM Hisbullah’s Alleged Connections to National Thowheed Jamath to Be Investigated Along With Terrorist Group’s Suspected Links to Other Politicians and Past Defence Officials.’ »

Sarath Fonseka Lashes Out at Sirisena for Not Returning From Singapore to Lanka Immediately After The Easter Blasts and Flays Ranil and Ruwan for Not Informing Parliament That They Were Denied Entry to National Security Council Meetings.

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Taking no prisoners, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka yesterday slammed top Government members for crippling national security in post-war Sri Lanka by failing to support intelligence agencies and take prompt action when warnings were received and for making political appointments to key positions.

Proposing that lawmakers from both sides should join hands if they have any honest intentions of saving the country from the new threat, UNP MP Fonseka listed the mistakes that led to the death of 359 people in the Easter Sunday attacks.

According to Fonseka, the country’s national security was neglected soon after the war ended allowing room for growth of different types of terrorism.

“Politicians may not like to hear this. I believe we took the wrong route after the war ended. The country became a carnival after 32 years at war. It is not wrong to have a carnival life, but the issue is the politicians joined the carnival mood and took time off from their paid roles of protecting the nation,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka Lashes Out at Sirisena for Not Returning From Singapore to Lanka Immediately After The Easter Blasts and Flays Ranil and Ruwan for Not Informing Parliament That They Were Denied Entry to National Security Council Meetings.’ »

Explaining Sri Lanka’s New Emergency Regulations on “Control of Publications” and ‘Publication’


By

Gehan Gunatilleke

Sri Lanka’s president issued a new set of Emergency Regulations on 22 April 2019. This note explains the contents of Emergency Regulation 15, which concerns the ‘control of publications’, and certain other regulations relevant to publication.

There are four features in Regulation 15 worth discussing. Before explaining these features, we should note that a ‘competent authority’ is defined in Emergency Regulation 2 as ‘any person appointed by name, or by office, by the President to be a competent authority’.

Regulation 15 does not provide any specific definition for a ‘competent authority’, so we can presume this general definition applies to Regulation 15.

Continue reading ‘Explaining Sri Lanka’s New Emergency Regulations on “Control of Publications” and ‘Publication’’ »

By Unlawfully Holding on to the Law and Order Portfolio the President has now Become the First Person who Should take Responsibility for these Attacks that Could have been Prevented – MA Sumanthiran MP in Parliament

(Text of Speech Made in Parliament by Jaffna District Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran MP on April 24th 2019)

Hon Presiding Member,

I rise with a heavy heart to say a few words at this time. Firstly, I wish to convey our deepest condolences to all the relatives and friends of those who were killed on Easter Sunday and we also pray for speedy recovery of those who were injured.

I am a Christian and I share in the sorrow of the Christian church in Sri Lanka at this time. We believe in Jesus Christ, who came into this world, suffered as we do and took the worst of evil onto himself and was crucified unjustly. But he defeated all evil through self-sacrificial love, which is what we celebrate on Easter – Resurrection day. We are grieving – but yet we will not allow hate and revenge to overtake us. I can only quote Rev Fr Jude Fernando, who was celebrating the Easter Mass at Kochchikade St Anthony’s Church when the explosion took place. I quote:

“We love peace. We forgive. Our God is a God of peace, he is not a God of revenge. We love each other, we forgive.”

This does not mean that those who are responsible for this carnage can go scot free. It does however, mean that we do not respond to perpetrators, who acted out of hate, with hatred ourselves. The objective should not be revenge, but seeking truth, accountability and justice. It is the duty of the State to vigorously pursue them and bring them to justice in accordance with the law.

Very serious questions have arisen as to the why preventive action was not taken when information was available. Those responsible for this – from the very top – must at the very least resign.

Continue reading ‘By Unlawfully Holding on to the Law and Order Portfolio the President has now Become the First Person who Should take Responsibility for these Attacks that Could have been Prevented – MA Sumanthiran MP in Parliament’ »

Palm Sunday Mob Attack on “Aadara Sevana” Methodist Centre in Anuradhapura and Its Aftermath

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The “Aadara Sevana” (Abode of Love) in Anuradhapura is a social service cum prayer centre run by the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka. It is located a few km away from Anuradhapura town at a place called Kundichchaankulama in Sinhala and Kundichchaankulam in Tamil. The relatively unknown Methodist Centre in the North Central Province has been in the news lately for extremely troubling reasons. The “Aadara Sevana” centre was the target of a mob attack on Sunday April 14th celebrated worldwide by Christians as Palm Sunday. The mob comprising 20 to 25 youths had issued death threats, pelted stones and thrown fire crackers. The youths later locked the gates and held a tiny congregation of fifteen laity and two clergymen as virtual hostages for nearly two hours until Police were summoned to rescue them.

In Anuradhapura-pic via: DailyFT

It later became known that the Methodist Centre had been stoned earlier also. A mob had attacked the place with stones a fortnight ago on March 31st. The mobs have been demanding that prayer services should not be conducted at the centre and that Christians from other areas should not be allowed to worship at this place. The Methodist Church has announced an hour long “Silent Vigil” from 2 to 3 pm on Galle Road opposite the Kollupitiya Methodist Church on Good Friday (April 19) to emphasise the right to religious freedom of Christians in Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Palm Sunday Mob Attack on “Aadara Sevana” Methodist Centre in Anuradhapura and Its Aftermath’ »

Death Toll in Easter Day Suicide Bomb Attacks in Sri Lanka Rises From 321 to 359: Number of Arrested Suspects Goes Up From 40 to 58.

Police say the death toll in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said on Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58. The Prime Minister warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.

Continue reading ‘Death Toll in Easter Day Suicide Bomb Attacks in Sri Lanka Rises From 321 to 359: Number of Arrested Suspects Goes Up From 40 to 58.’ »

Foreign Intelligence Service Informed Colombo that National Thawheed Jamath (NTJ) Leader Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran alias Zahran and his Followers Were Planning Suicide Attacks in Sri Lanka

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

On December 26 last year, scores of Buddhist statues in Mawanella were vandalized. A Criminal Investigation Department (CID)investigation led to the arrest of seven suspects, including one who was caught by the locals, allegedly while undertaking the act of vandalism. Suspects were accused of being members of a radical Islamic group. They were charged under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, produced before the Mawanella Magistrate and were remanded.

Interrogation of suspects led to an 80 acre-coconut cultivation in Wanathawillu in Puttalam, where CID sleuths uncovered a large cache of explosives buried in the plantation. The cache included 100kg of C4 explosives, 75 kg ammonium nitrate and potassium chloride and 6 cans of 20 litre nitrate acid, which investigators believed was meant to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Four individuals were arrested, however, the key suspects who were not in the plantation at the time, remained at large.

The arrests and seizure of explosives raised serious concerns within intelligence circles of an active network of Islamist cells. Concerns centred on a minority of Muslim fanatics who were indoctrinated by Salafi preachers and plotting attacks on followers of other faiths. At least two Muslim political bigwigs were blamed on maintaining contacts with these extremist groups, probably unaware of the evil they had been courting. One had offered to the Police to facilitate the surrender of an extremist preacher who was in hiding in return for an assurance.

In a shocking revelation, Minister Kabir Hashim has now told a media conference that one or two persons who were arrested at Wanathawillu were released due to political pressure. One of the released suspects was now being identified as Easter Sunday suicide bomber, he said.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Intelligence Service Informed Colombo that National Thawheed Jamath (NTJ) Leader Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran alias Zahran and his Followers Were Planning Suicide Attacks in Sri Lanka’ »

Easter Explosions Death Toll Rises to 321: Of More Than 500 Injured 211 Are Yet Hospitalised With 37 Getting ICU Treatment; 22 Foreigners Injured and 45 Dead But only 31 Identified: Bodies of 35 Locals and 14 Foreigners Still Unidentified.


By

Nadira Gunatilleke

The death toll after the series of suicide bomb explosions that took place in eight places including three churches and three leading hotels on Easter Sunday, reached 321 by yesterday. Over 500 people were also injured. As of noon yesterday, 211 were receiving treatment at five state hospitals and 85 percent of the bodies had been handed over to the families.

According to the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) sources, the total number of admissions to the NHSL from Sunday morning (21) to Monday (23) morning, was 267, of which 111 are still receiving treatment at the hospital. A total of 25 are still in Intensive Care Units (ICU) and the total number of deaths at the hospital was 53.

According to the Negombo Hospital sources, a total of 91 patients were admitted to the hospital and 20 are still receiving medical treatment. There were 104 deaths reported at the hospital.

Continue reading ‘Easter Explosions Death Toll Rises to 321: Of More Than 500 Injured 211 Are Yet Hospitalised With 37 Getting ICU Treatment; 22 Foreigners Injured and 45 Dead But only 31 Identified: Bodies of 35 Locals and 14 Foreigners Still Unidentified.’ »

Both Islamic State and Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania Claim Responsibility for Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka:Reuters Quotes Islamic State’s AMAQ News Agency About ISIS Claim While TASS quotes Al-Arabiya TV channel About Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania’s Claim

By P.K.Balachandran

The Islamic State and the Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania group have both claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks carried out in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Reuters quoted the Islamic State’s AMAQ news agency to say that the organization has claimed responsibility for the multiple suicide bombings which took the lives of more than 300 people including 38 foreign nationals.

Earlier, Rita Katz, Director of the respected terror monitoring SITE Intelligence Group, said that Islamic State (IS) supporters have been applauding the attacks on social media, and “celebrating the casualties”.

Katz said that the IS media channels are ‘posting rampantly’ about the blasts and praying ‘may Allah accept’ the suicide bombers.

She claimed that the online praise indicated that the group may be preparing to take responsibility for the attacks.

The Russian news agency TASS quoted the Al-Arabiya TV channel to say that Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania, a little known group, has claimed responsibility. The channel had given no details about the organization.

Continue reading ‘Both Islamic State and Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania Claim Responsibility for Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka:Reuters Quotes Islamic State’s AMAQ News Agency About ISIS Claim While TASS quotes Al-Arabiya TV channel About Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Watania’s Claim’ »

“Latest Bombings in Sri Lanka Suggest That Religious Sites in All Countries Have Become Fair Game for Jihadists” -The Economist

TWO DECADES ago al-Qaeda made its name by mounting a succession of bombings against America across the world. These included the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; an American destroyer moored in Yemen in 2000; and, most bloodily of all, the attacks of September 11th 2001 on American soil.

Though Osama bin Laden, the group’s founder, had long railed against “Jews and Crusaders”, so giving a religious sectarian dimension to his global jihad, his central target was clear: “kill the Americans and their allies”.

Twenty years on, jihadists have changed their focus, particularly under the new generation of extremists affiliated with Islamic State (IS). The Easter Sunday bombing of three churches as well as hotels in Sri Lanka—claimed by IS, albeit without clear proof—constituted the largest co-ordinated terrorist attacks in Asia in recent times, taking the lives of more than 300 people.

Continue reading ‘“Latest Bombings in Sri Lanka Suggest That Religious Sites in All Countries Have Become Fair Game for Jihadists” -The Economist’ »

“This Bloody day is our Reward to you”: ISIS Says Easter Day Attacks in Sri Lanka Were in Retaliation for Firing Spree by White Australian on Two Christchurch Mosques in New Zealand

Claiming responsibility for the Sri Lanka Easter Day bombings via its Amaq news portal, ISIS said the blasts were in retaliation to the recent firing at two mosques in New Zealand which led to the death of 50 Muslims. The gunman was a White Australian.

The message was aired on Amaq’s channel on Telegram app, reports News.com.

The video, which is suspected to be from Al Guraba Media, relayed the following message from ISIS: “This bloody day is our reward to you.”

The Sri Lankan government had first placed the blame on local religious group National Thowheed Jamaath. However, intelligence officials felt that the group, which could not completely deface a Buddhist statue, would not be able to carry out a mission on such a large scale. According to TOI, they felt that the NJT would have done this with external help.

Continue reading ‘“This Bloody day is our Reward to you”: ISIS Says Easter Day Attacks in Sri Lanka Were in Retaliation for Firing Spree by White Australian on Two Christchurch Mosques in New Zealand’ »

“Let us Unite and Rise up From the Ashes of Destruction” -Statement Issued by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)

It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the devastating attacks on Easter Sunday targeting churches and leading hotels in Sri Lanka. According to media reports, the attacks have killed 321 and injured more than 500 people.

While standing in solidarity with the victims of these mindless acts, we call upon all community leaders including religious leaders to come together at various levels to defuse tensions and strengthen bonds between communities.

We also condemn vehemently all forms of violence and extremism and denounce any attempts to create further tensions through reprisal attacks on communities.

Continue reading ‘“Let us Unite and Rise up From the Ashes of Destruction” -Statement Issued by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka’ »

World Is Preoccupied with “Islamaphobia” ‘xenophobia’, “Homophobia” and ‘anti Semitism’ but Indifferent to the Global Epidemic of Rampant “CHRISTOPHOBIA”.

By

Prof A.N.I. Ekanayaka

The monstrous Easter Sunday massacre of Christian worshippers in Sri Lanka which killed nearly 300 needs to be seen in the broader context of the worldwide persecution of Christians in our day and age. It then becomes apparent that other incidents like the massacre inside two mosques in New Zealand last March bear no comparison in scale to the brutal persecution of Christians that is currently taking place and escalating across many countries throughout the world. Depending on the location such harassment is said to emanate from a wide variety of sources including extremist Hinduism, Buddhist nationalism, Communist authoritarianism, militant secularism, as well as non-state actors like paramilitaries and drug cartels in parts of Latin America.

However by far the most ruthless persecution is attributed to the pernicious influence of radical Islam, where Christians are being forced to flee Arab countries on a scale where according to the 3rd International Christian Forum which convened in Moscow in 2017, during the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80% prompting warnings that Christianity could entirely vanish from the Middle East the land of its birth by 2025.

It is fitting that the world should focus on this issue at this time when we remember that 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the gruesome murder of Graham Stains and his two little sons aged 6 and 10 who were burnt alive in their vehicle by marauding Hindu fanatics in 1999 in Orissa. Stains was a Christian Missionary who with his wife had been engaged in a labour of love working amongst lepers and other destitutes in India for 34 years. The anniversary of their martyrdom if nothing else should serve to concentrate the mind on the plain facts pertaining to the raging phenomenon now identified as “Christophobia”.


The facts speak for themselves although they hardly receive the media publicity they deserve in a secular atheistic anti Christian post modern world that is preoccupied with “Islamaphobia” ‘xenophobia’, ‘anti Semitism’ and “homophobia” but indifferent to the global epidemic of rampant “Christophobia”.

Continue reading ‘World Is Preoccupied with “Islamaphobia” ‘xenophobia’, “Homophobia” and ‘anti Semitism’ but Indifferent to the Global Epidemic of Rampant “CHRISTOPHOBIA”.’ »

“Having Received Information That an Attack Could Take Place, all that the Government did was to Ensure That They Themselves Were Safe” – Speech by Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament

(Text of English Translation of the statement made by Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament on 23 April 2019 regarding the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks)

Hon Speaker,

We are gathered here today, to discuss the future of our country following the bomb attacks that took place on Easter Sunday. More than 300 people were killed and more than 500 people were injured in those attacks. I wish to take this opportunity to once again convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives and to wish those injured a speedy recovery.

After we ended the 30 year war on 19 May 2009, we all thought we had seen the last of such attacks. We were to mark the 10th anniversary of the ending of terrorism next month. Even during that 30 year war, no single attack carried out by the terrorists targeting civilians ever resulted in as much carnage as the Easter Sunday attacks. The LTTE also carried out co-ordinated simultaneous attacks on multiple targets but even they were not able to wreak the same amount of destruction. The Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka is said to be the biggest single terrorist attack targeting civilians ever to take place in South Asia. So many people did not lose their lives even in the Mumbai attacks of 2008.

This House has to look into the circumstances that enabled terrorism to once again raise its head in this country with such virulence. In November 2005, when I became President for the first time, there was a nominal ceasefire in operation. But the LTTE was carrying out attacks on a daily basis and killing two or three armed forces personnel in each attack. During that period a bomb attack on a bus resulted in a large number of civilian deaths. When I went to St Anthony’s Church last Sunday following the attacks, I was reminded of the Kebithogollewa incident. The people of that area expressed a great deal resentment at our government over the Kebithogollewa incident.

The people have no use for a government that cannot assure them of the safety of their lives. In July 2006, we recommenced the war because the LTTE closed the Mavilaru anicut and blocked the water supply to a large number of villages in that area. It is the duty of the government to at the very minimum, to uphold the right of the people to live and to create an environment where they will be able to go about their day to day lives. That is why we never looked back after recommencing the war following the Mavilaru incident.

In January 2015, I handed over a completely secure and peaceful country to the new President. We had strengthened the intelligence services so that there would be absolutely no threat to the national security of the country. Our intelligence services worked closely with other intelligence services of neighbouring countries and other international intelligence services to ensure the security of the country. Whenever we got wind of a threat to national security, we acted on it. The Easter Sunday attacks would never have taken place under our government.

Continue reading ‘“Having Received Information That an Attack Could Take Place, all that the Government did was to Ensure That They Themselves Were Safe” – Speech by Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament’ »

Govt Officially Names Organization Known as “National Thowheed Jamath” as Being Responsible for Easter Sunday Attacks by Suicide Bombers:Death Toll Rises to 290, Injuries 450, Arrests 26: Island Wide Emergency Declared

By Uditha Jayasinghe, Charumini de Silva and Nuwan Senaratne

The Government and the Opposition yesterday traded accusations over intelligence failures following Easter Sunday’s deadly attacks that left nearly 300 dead.

Government Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne acknowledged security lapses despite warnings from both international and local intelligence agencies. However, he insisted that the Government was doing all it could to enforce the law and increase security in the wake of eight bomb blasts that have left the nation in a state of shock and triggered outpourings of grief and solidarity worldwide.

He admitted a colossal lapse in defence intelligence units with multiple warnings issued by foreign intelligence agencies ignored or neglected leading to terror attacks that killed over 300 people and injured nearly 500 on Easter Sunday. “International intelligence agencies had alerted the Government about threats on possible suicide bombing by Islamic extremists on 4 April. We have found that there had been many lapses, weaknesses, negligence and lack of action in securing the targeted locations,” Spokesman for the Government and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told journalists at a special media briefing held at Temple Trees.

Continue reading ‘Govt Officially Names Organization Known as “National Thowheed Jamath” as Being Responsible for Easter Sunday Attacks by Suicide Bombers:Death Toll Rises to 290, Injuries 450, Arrests 26: Island Wide Emergency Declared’ »

Sri Lanka’s State Intelligence Service in Memo Dated April 11th Warned that Suicide Attacks Were Being Planned by Mohomad Saharan the Leader of “Nations Thawahid Jaman” Reveals Cabinet Minister Harin Fernando.

Before the blasts in Colombo and other towns in Sri Lanka on Sunday, a memo warned of a potential attack and requested heightened security, a police source told CNN.

State Intelligence service had said in the memo that information had been received regarding an alleged plan of suicidal attack by the leader of ‘ Nations Thawahid Jaman” Mohomad Saharan.

The memo was dated April 11 and was signed by Sri Lanka’s Deputy Inspector General of police. Priyalal Dissanayake

Sri Lankan Minister of Telecommunication Harin Fernando tweeted a picture of the memo on Sunday.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s State Intelligence Service in Memo Dated April 11th Warned that Suicide Attacks Were Being Planned by Mohomad Saharan the Leader of “Nations Thawahid Jaman” Reveals Cabinet Minister Harin Fernando.’ »

Prior Information on Possible Attacks Was Available With Authorities But “Neither I nor Ministers Were Kept Informed” Says Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Statement Deflecting Blame Deftly on President Sirisena.

By

Meera Srinivasan

The government ordered an immediate nationwide curfew “until further notice”, and a “temporary” social media ban.

Prior information on possible attacks was available with Sri Lankan authorities ahead of blasts, but “neither I nor the Ministers were kept informed,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Sunday.

While it was important to probe why adequate precaution had not been taken, the urgent task ahead was to stabilise the situation in the country, he told media persons at a late evening press conference at Temple Trees, the PM’s official residence located a couple of blocks away from Cinnamon Grand, one of the Hotels targeted in Sunday’s coordinated blasts.

Continue reading ‘Prior Information on Possible Attacks Was Available With Authorities But “Neither I nor Ministers Were Kept Informed” Says Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Statement Deflecting Blame Deftly on President Sirisena.’ »

Three “Guests” With Identical Name and Same National Identity Card Number Registered at Shangri-La, Grand Cinnamon and Kingsbury Hotels in Colombo Where Explosions Took Place on Easter.

The three hotels which were subject to the terror attack yesterday each had a guest with an identical name and National Identity Card number.

Daily FT learns this information had been revealed during a high level industry meeting with Tourism Minister John Amaratunga yesterday. The meeting also discussed other findings via CCTV in the respective hotels.

An AFP report quoted one of the hotels saying that a man by the name Mohamed Azzam Mohamed had registered.

Continue reading ‘Three “Guests” With Identical Name and Same National Identity Card Number Registered at Shangri-La, Grand Cinnamon and Kingsbury Hotels in Colombo Where Explosions Took Place on Easter.’ »

Bomber who Registered at Cinnamon Grand Hotel Under the Name of “Mohammed Azzam Mohammed” Queued up Patiently for Easter Sunday Breakfast Buffet at Hotel’s Taprobane Restaurant Before Triggering off Explosives Strapped to His Back.

The Taprobane restaurant at the Cinnamon Grand hotel was having Sunday Breakfast Buffet at Hotel’sone of its busiest days of the year for the Easter holiday weekend.The suicide bomber waited patiently in a queue for the Easter Sunday breakfast buffet at Sri Lanka’s Cinnamon Grand hotel before setting off explosives strapped to his back.

Carrying a plate, the man, who had registered at the hotel the night before as Mohamed Azzam Mohamed, was just about to be served when he set off his devastating strike in the packed restaurant, a manager at the Sri Lankan hotel said.

“There was utter chaos,” said the manager, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to speak for the company.

Continue reading ‘Bomber who Registered at Cinnamon Grand Hotel Under the Name of “Mohammed Azzam Mohammed” Queued up Patiently for Easter Sunday Breakfast Buffet at Hotel’s Taprobane Restaurant Before Triggering off Explosives Strapped to His Back.’ »

13 Persons Arrested with 10 Being Detained for Questioning: Police Say Suspects are ” All Local” and Part of a “Radical Islamist Group” With “One Single Ideology”.

By

Hafeel Farisz

Two men checked into the Shangri-La which now takes pride of place in the heart of the city on April 20, 2019. They had provided an address in Dematagoda when checking in.

Close to 9 a.m. yesterday (April 21) the duo detonated two bombs. One at the packed restaurant cum cafeteria on the 3rd floor of the super luxurious hotel, at which many families had come to indulge in a scrumptious Easter Breakfast, and the next on the corridor of the same floor close to the elevators- not too far from each other.

The two explosions rocked the Hotel, with the death toll yet unconfirmed.

This was after the twin explosions at two revered Churches, in Kochchikade and Katana were reported.

The first explosion was at the revered church of St Anthony’s, just outside the city after which the second at the Katuwapitiya Church.

Continue reading ‘13 Persons Arrested with 10 Being Detained for Questioning: Police Say Suspects are ” All Local” and Part of a “Radical Islamist Group” With “One Single Ideology”.’ »

26 Killed in Bomb Explosion at Batticaloa’s Protestant Christian Zion Church During Easter Service : 69 of Injuured Admitted to Hospital, 6 Serious in ICU.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Over 200 people were killed and nearly 500 injured in a series of blasts that shook Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Churches and luxury hotels were targeted in the deadliest incidents since the civil war ended a decade ago.

As many as eight blasts occurred in and around the capital Colombo and in the eastern city of Batticaloa on Sunday morning, as large groups gathered at churches for Easter services.

“Most of the blasts appear to have been suicide bombings,” State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene told a press conference.

Continue reading ‘26 Killed in Bomb Explosion at Batticaloa’s Protestant Christian Zion Church During Easter Service : 69 of Injuured Admitted to Hospital, 6 Serious in ICU.’ »

A Single Group Believed To Be Responsible for Coordinated Easter Explosions Set Off by Suicide Bombers in Sri Lanka: State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene says “Seven Persons Arrested and Identified” But Requests Media Not To “Name The Attackers and Make Them Martyrs”

Reporting was contributed by Dharisha Bastians, Ellen Barry, Kai Schultz, Max Fisher, Elisabetta Povoledo, Mujib Mashal, Keith Bradsher, Gerry Mullany, Iliana Magra and Vindu Goel.

As Christians in Sri Lanka gathered on Sunday morning to celebrate Easter Mass, the culmination of Holy Week, powerful explosions ripped through three churches packed with worshipers, leaving hundreds of victims amid a havoc of splintered and blood-spattered pews.

In what the police said were coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by a single group, bombers also struck three hotels popular with tourists. At least 207 people were killed and 450 others injured, a police spokesman, Ruwan Gunasekera, said.

News of the bombings, the largest attack on South Asian Christians in recent memory, rippled out all Easter morning, interrupting celebrations across the world. Pope Francis, after celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square, said the attacks had “brought mourning and sorrow” on the most important of Christian holidays.

The bombings began around 8:45 a.m., and targeted Roman Catholic houses of worship — St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, the capital; St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo; and Zion Church in Batticaloa — along with three luxury hotels: the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand, and the Kingsbury, all in Colombo.

At least seven suspects were held in connection with the bombings, Sri Lanka’s defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said. He said that suicide bombers had been behind the explosions.

Continue reading ‘A Single Group Believed To Be Responsible for Coordinated Easter Explosions Set Off by Suicide Bombers in Sri Lanka: State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene says “Seven Persons Arrested and Identified” But Requests Media Not To “Name The Attackers and Make Them Martyrs”’ »

Coordinated Bomb Explosions in Sri Lanka by Suspected Suicide Bombers on Easter Sunday at Two Catholic and One Protestant Churches and Four Tourist Hotels in Colombo, Dehiwela, Negombo and Batticaloa Kill at Least 207 and Injure More Than 450.

By Dharisha Bastians, Jeffrey Gettleman and Kai Schultz

Coordinated bombings ripped across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, striking hotels and churches, killing more than 200 people, wounding hundreds and shattering the relative calm that the war-torn nation had enjoyed in recent years.

The targets were members of Sri Lanka’s small Roman Catholic minority attending Easter Mass and guests at high-end hotels popular with foreign tourists. By Sunday afternoon, soldiers had shut down roads across the country, and a jittery government had imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The government temporarily blocked major social media and messaging services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, to prevent the spread of misinformation online, according to the president’s secretary, Udaya Seneviratne.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in Colombo, the capital; Negombo, a city about 20 miles north of Colombo; and the eastern city of Batticaloa.

At least 207 people were killed and at least 450 wounded, said Ruwan Gunasekera, a police spokesman. Ravinatha Aryasinha, the secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said 27 foreigners were among the dead. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, denouncing “these vile attacks,” said “several U.S. citizens were among those killed.”

Officials and news media reports said that American, British, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese nationals were among the victims.

Continue reading ‘Coordinated Bomb Explosions in Sri Lanka by Suspected Suicide Bombers on Easter Sunday at Two Catholic and One Protestant Churches and Four Tourist Hotels in Colombo, Dehiwela, Negombo and Batticaloa Kill at Least 207 and Injure More Than 450.’ »

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Surrenders his US Passport and Submits Necessary Documents For Relinquishing his US Citizenship to the US Embassy in Colombo on April 17: Will Cases Against him in California Courts Affect the Renunciation Process?

By The “Sunday Times”Political Editor” :Excerpts

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary, handed in documents to the United States Embassy in Colombo on Wednesday (April 17) to relinquish his United States citizenship. That included the surrender of his US passport and signing an oath of renunciation.

Unlike other aspects of the relinquishment, it is accepted by the US government that the loss of citizenship occurs when the US citizen meets the Consular Officer at the Embassy by prior appointment. This is only for “immigration purposes” or is travel related. However, The Certificate of Loss of Nationality, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has sought will take time. Hereafter, he would have to utilise his Sri Lanka passport to travel overseas and will require a valid visa to enter the US.

He had his first interview at the US Embassy on March 6, just before flying to Los Angeles to attend the wedding of a friend. This interview was a requirement in terms of US laws for a Consular Officer to ensure that the renouncing of a citizenship is not being carried out by an applicant under duress. Upon his arrival in Colombo last Friday, he declared publicly that his visit was mainly to consult his lawyers. Pictures and videos of his taking part in musical events in Los Angeles with friends circulated widely in Colombo.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa Surrenders his US Passport and Submits Necessary Documents For Relinquishing his US Citizenship to the US Embassy in Colombo on April 17: Will Cases Against him in California Courts Affect the Renunciation Process?’ »

In the First 14 Weeks Of 2019 At Least 13 Christian Churches in 9 Sri Lankan Districts Have Been Affected by 35 Incidents Like Disruption of Worship, Assault, Death threats, Shouting of Obscenities and Property Damage

By Ruki Fernando

From February 3 to April 14 this year, across Sri Lanka, there has been some sort of disruption against a Christian worship service every Sunday – on 11 successive Sundays to be specific.

Christians in Sri Lanka suffer violations of their right to religion and belief regularly, but most incidents do not make it to the news – or even to the Twittersphere. But the attack on the Methodist Church Centre in Anuradhapura, last Sunday, which was also Palm Sunday, a day of religious significance for Christians, was widely reported because of the forthright personal testimony and determined efforts of the President of the Methodist Conference, Bishop Asiri Perera, who had experienced the attack first hand.

In the past two months, this same church centre had obscenities shouted and stones pelted at it. A Municipal Councillor and villagers had forcibly broken in and threatened the priest and worshippers with assault. The Sunday before the Palm Sunday attack, they had cancelled the service due to intense pressure about the legality of their premises and services.

Continue reading ‘In the First 14 Weeks Of 2019 At Least 13 Christian Churches in 9 Sri Lankan Districts Have Been Affected by 35 Incidents Like Disruption of Worship, Assault, Death threats, Shouting of Obscenities and Property Damage’ »

Our Political Leadership Showed Much Concern and Grief For the Notre Dame Cathedral Under Fire in Paris Than for the Methodist Centre for Worship Under Attack in Anuradhapura.


by Sanjana Hattotuwa

“Victor Hugo remercietous les généreux donateurs prêts à sauver Notre-Dame de Paris et leur propose de faire la même chose avec Les Misérables”(Victor Hugo thanks all the generous donors ready to save Notre-Dame de Paris and proposes they help the poor by doing the same) – Ollivier Pourriol

The quip by French philosopher Pourriol on Twitter, after the Notre Dame suffered catastrophic damage in a fire last week, was aimed at billionaires in France who at the time of writing this, had pledged close to a billion dollars towards the reconstruction of the beloved monument. Referring to the famous novel by Hugo, Pourriol’s tweet was a piercing critique of inequality in French society evident justin response to the disaster. He echoed others from France at a time when President Macron faces sustained and violent protests around festering socio-economic issues, including taxation of the very rich and corporate hubris in France.

Where and how in Sri Lanka the Notre Dame fire was captured on Facebook is worth highlighting. The morning after the fire, in over 1,000 pages I keep track of in Sri Lanka pegged to news, gossip, politicians, civil society, religious and other groups, three posts on it generated by order of magnitude more engagement than anything else. This is no mean feat, especially around an event that wasn’t linked to anything domestic or Sri Lankan. All three of the posts were from gossip pages.

Two of the posts featured photos of the burning Notre Dame and explicitly framed the response through a Buddhist lens, expressing sadness, solidarity and the hope the fire would be brought under control, soon. The other post was more straightforward in its framing, without recourse to Buddhism. All three posts were in Sinhala. During the day, several other posts from two clusters in particular – gossip and Sinhala-Buddhist pages – went up with comparable levels of engagement. This aside, what’s interesting is the domestic context for this outpouring of grief and concern over the Notre Dame, much of which, I am sure, was genuine.

Continue reading ‘Our Political Leadership Showed Much Concern and Grief For the Notre Dame Cathedral Under Fire in Paris Than for the Methodist Centre for Worship Under Attack in Anuradhapura.’ »

Why Cant the IGP Order his Police to Take action Against the Mob Which Attacked the Anuradhapura Methodist Centre Without the Prime Minister Instructing Him to do so?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The attack by stone-wielding and fire-cracker throwing ruffians, reportedly led by a provincial politician of the newly minted Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP), holding the President of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka and twelve terrified worshippers hostage in a prayer centre in Anuradhapura on Palm Sunday is no isolated, mundane incident, as much as we may like to believe it to be so.

Motives behind the attack

An assault of this nature would have been contemptible at any point. But the fact that it took place on Palm Sunday is peculiarly significant. This is a contemplatively holy week for Christians combining sombre introspection on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday with the triumphal rejoicing of Easter Sunday. Coincidentally it was also a week heralding the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, a time of celebration for all Sri Lankans. By launching an attack during this week, it was an unmistakable signal that impunity prevails.

Continue reading ‘Why Cant the IGP Order his Police to Take action Against the Mob Which Attacked the Anuradhapura Methodist Centre Without the Prime Minister Instructing Him to do so?’ »

“My family and I have been pushing for justice for my father’s killing for 10 years now. This pursuit isn’t tied to any election. It is tied to a need for truth” Says Murdered Editor Lasantha Wickrematune’s Daughter Ahimsa.

By Mike Ives and Dharisha Bastians

In the decade since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended, a former wartime defense chief has successfully dodged accusations of crimes against humanity. He may soon run for president.

But the accusations, which are supported by United Nations inquiries, recently caught up with him in a California parking lot.

The former official, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, oversaw the final stages of a quarter-century-long conflict with Tamil separatists that ended in 2009. So far he has avoided prosecution at home and abroad over the allegations of crimes against humanity.

But in early April, a private investigator tracked Mr. Rajapaksa, now an American citizen, to a Trader Joe’s parking lot in a Los Angeles suburb. He was then personally served with civil court complaints accusing him of a journalist’s murder and the torture of an ethnic Tamil who had Canadian citizenship, court documents show.

Supporters of the lawsuits say they were brought in California since opening criminal trials in Sri Lankan courts is politically impossible for now, not least because Mr. Rajapaksa’s family has significant influence over the country’s institutions. They say the California cases are a logical interim step in a long campaign for justice.

Continue reading ‘“My family and I have been pushing for justice for my father’s killing for 10 years now. This pursuit isn’t tied to any election. It is tied to a need for truth” Says Murdered Editor Lasantha Wickrematune’s Daughter Ahimsa.’ »

The Hindu Deity Sri Venkateswara (Lord Vishnu) At “Thiruppathi” Has Greater Influence on the So – called Sinhala Buddhist Leaders of Sri Lanka Than Our National Heritage “Thripitakaya”.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Are we heading with speed towards Solar Relief? The Avurudu highlights of solar tradition were completed with joyous participation of the people, and we had the recognized leader of the nation, President Sirisena, travel at speed to India the next day, to participate in a ritual at the Thirupathi Kovil.

For those who follow the Hindu tradition and belief, we are now living in the Kali Yuga – the period of darkness and divisiveness, hatred and greed, warfare and inequality. The deity at Thirupathi – Lord Sri Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared to save mankind from, the trials and troubles of the Kali Yuga.

Let’s get it all straight. Thirupathi is the divine hope and expectation of all our political leaders. It is the place of worship and pleading to divinity by Maithripala Sirisena, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Hindu Tamil leaders, and almost all other political leaders and catchers, who make a very big noise about this being a Sinhala Buddhist country and society.

Continue reading ‘The Hindu Deity Sri Venkateswara (Lord Vishnu) At “Thiruppathi” Has Greater Influence on the So – called Sinhala Buddhist Leaders of Sri Lanka Than Our National Heritage “Thripitakaya”.’ »

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s Anuradhapura Councillor Nalin Siriwardene Was Present at Police Station Meeting as the “Vocal Leader” of Group That Attacked “Adara Sevana” Centre Alleges Methodist Church Head Rev. Asiri Perera.

The President of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka is accusing a Member of the Anuradhapura Municipal Council from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna of leading a group that has repeatedly attacked one of their worship centers in Kumbicchankulama over the past few weeks.

Methodist Bishop President Asiri Perera told reporters today (18) that Municipal Councilor Nalin Siriwardene of the SLPP had been present during an attack on the worship center on March 31st.

The same person had been the vocal leader of the group at the Police station yesterday when the two groups had been summoned to try and reach a settlement.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s Anuradhapura Councillor Nalin Siriwardene Was Present at Police Station Meeting as the “Vocal Leader” of Group That Attacked “Adara Sevana” Centre Alleges Methodist Church Head Rev. Asiri Perera.’ »

6 Persons Allegedly Involved in Mar 31 Attack on Methodist Prayer Centre in Anuradhapura Issued Notices to Appear in Courts on May 5; Methodist Church Holds Hour Long “Silent Prayer Stand” On Galle Road Opposite Kollupitiya Methodist Church on Good Friday.

By

Sheain Fernandopulle

Six individuals had been issued notices to appear in court on May 5 over their alleged involvement in the attack on a Methodist prayer centre at Anuradhapura on March 31, police said.

They said the six individuals were issued notices after they appeared before the Anuradhapura Magistrate yesterday.

Following a complaint by the priest-in-charge Rev. Dinuka Silva and Methodist Church Bishop President Rev. Asiri Perera, the Anuradhapura Police on Wednesday summoned both parties to the police but no action had been taken against the offenders at that point.

Continue reading ‘6 Persons Allegedly Involved in Mar 31 Attack on Methodist Prayer Centre in Anuradhapura Issued Notices to Appear in Courts on May 5; Methodist Church Holds Hour Long “Silent Prayer Stand” On Galle Road Opposite Kollupitiya Methodist Church on Good Friday.’ »

Palm Sunday “Attack” in Anuradhapura:Death Threats, Stone Pelting, Fire Cracker Hurling and Congregation Being Locked in at “Adara Sevana” Centre Happened with President – Bishop of Sri Lankan Methodist Church Rev Asiri Perera Being Present.

By

Susitha R.Fernando and Gihan de Chickera

While many Christians, non-Christians, politicians and government leaders in Sri Lanka were gripped by the fire that engulfed the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last Monday, little attention was given to a mob attack on a small Christian congregation in the remote hamlet of Kumbichchikulama, near Anuradhapura.

A Methodist congregation comprising some 12 to 15 persons were subject to death threats, stone throwing, firecrackers being hurled at them, and even a hostage situation when they gathered for service on April 14 Palm Sunday. What made the attack even more conspicuous was that it took place in the very presence of the President Bishop of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, Rev. Asiri Perera.

Continue reading ‘Palm Sunday “Attack” in Anuradhapura:Death Threats, Stone Pelting, Fire Cracker Hurling and Congregation Being Locked in at “Adara Sevana” Centre Happened with President – Bishop of Sri Lankan Methodist Church Rev Asiri Perera Being Present.’ »

Callous Decision by Prime Minister and Power and Energy Minister To Endanger the Health of the People by Establishing More Coal -fired Power Plants Need to be Opposed.

by Ranil Senanayake

The totally incredulous decision announced by the Prime Minister and by the Minister for Power and Energy that Sri Lanka should rely even more on fossil fuels, specifically on more coal powered-power plants, cannot go unanswered. The callous disregard of the health of the next generations or even the violation of our fundamental right to breathe the quality of air that we grew up in seems to have no value for these ‘leaders’. The entire goal of ‘economic development’, to Sri Lanka politicians, seem to be ‘borrow as much money as we can and boast about how much was borrowed,’ with no idea on how to pay back that loan. They create a massive dependency on power by selling cheap to industry and ‘development’ projects and then whinge that we need coal-fired power plants, never mind their impact on public health and cultural artefacts.

What words can be used to describe people who sell and destroy the birthright and culture of their own people for the gain of personal wealth or political power? To answer this question, it is critical to understand the scope of the words birthright and culture.

A birthright is the privilege or possession that a person has or is believed to be entitled to as soon as he or she is born. The primary birthright of any human is the right to life. Once alive, the ability to continue living is a consequence of the environment that the person is born into. Thus the birthright of any individual will be to enjoy whatever health and wellbeing the environment that they have been born into can provide. While there is a great discrepancy in the nature of the environments that each of us are born into, the condition of that environment we are born into must represent our most fundamental birthright. Any degradation of that environment must transgress that right and must be seen as transgressing our fundamental human right.

Culture is the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, to act imaginatively and creatively; and the distinct ways that people, who live differently, classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively. Culture represents the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

With these definitions in mind, we can examine the intent and the consequences of the decisions to create a nation dependent on coal-fired power plants as their primary source of energy.

Continue reading ‘Callous Decision by Prime Minister and Power and Energy Minister To Endanger the Health of the People by Establishing More Coal -fired Power Plants Need to be Opposed.’ »

Instead of Taking Action Against Mob Which Attacked “Adara Sevana”Centre ,Police in Anuradhapura Tell Methodist Church Leaders Not to Allow People From Other Areas to Worship There.

Leaders of the Methodist Church in Anuradhapura were summoned before the Police today where they were told to stop worshippers from other villages from attending the ‘Adara Sevena’ institute which can under attack on Sunday, April 14.

As many as 12 worshippers and President Bishop Asiri Perera were locked inside the church while a group pelted stones at the church and lit firecrackers for about 45 minutes outside, hurling insults at the Bishop all the while.

Continue reading ‘Instead of Taking Action Against Mob Which Attacked “Adara Sevana”Centre ,Police in Anuradhapura Tell Methodist Church Leaders Not to Allow People From Other Areas to Worship There.’ »

Contours of the Lawsuit Filed by Murdered Sri Lankan Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Against Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the California Central US District Court.

(Excerpts from Press Releases and Fact Sheets Issued by the Centre for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco,USA About the Lawsuit filed in California against Former Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Ahimsa Wickrematunge the daughter of Sri Lankan Newspaper Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge who was assassinated in cold blood by masked assailants on motor cycles in broad daylight in a Colombo suburb on January 8th 2009)


The Center for Justice and Accountability
(CJA) has brought suit against the former Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his alleged role in the extrajudicial killing of award-winning journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge and the widespread and systematic persecution of journalists perceived to be critical of the Rajapaksa government. The civil complaint, filed on April 4, 2019, was unsealed today (April 15)by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rajapaksa is a dual national of the United States and Sri Lanka, and served as Sri Lanka’s Secretary of Defense after obtaining his citizenship in the United States.

CJA’s complaint was filed on behalf of Lasantha’s daughter, Ahimsa Wickrematunge. In the aftermath of the attack on Lasantha, attempts to credibly investigate the killing in Sri Lanka were met with interference and delay. A decade later, there have still been no charges filed against those responsible for his death. Says Ahimsa: “My father was killed because he was a journalist devoted to freedom of the press. Although this case is a civil matter, my primary focus is for the world to know in a court of law how my father was killed and who allegedly ordered the killing. So far, despite strong investigative work by the police in Sri Lanka, politics has hindered the pursuit of justice.”

CJA Senior Staff Attorney Nushin Sarkarati said, “Violence against journalists in Sri Lanka was a tool used by the Rajapaksa administration to suppress a free and independent press, and the impunity for these abuses persists to this day. We now seek truth in a U.S. court with the hope of seeing such cases move forward in Sri Lanka.”

Gotabaya Rajapaksa served as Sri Lanka’s Secretary of Defense from 2005 to 2015 throughout the presidency of his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘Contours of the Lawsuit Filed by Murdered Sri Lankan Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Against Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the California Central US District Court.’ »

Mob Pelts Stones at Methodist Cenre at Koombichchankulam in Anuradhapura on Palm Sunday But Police Fail to Take Action Alleges Sri Lankan Methodist Church President Rev.Asiri Perera.

By Norman Palihawadana

President of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, Rev. Asiri P. Perera, yesterday, criticized the police for their inaction as regards an attack on a Methodist Centre in Koombichchankulam, Anuradhapura, on Palm Sunday.

Rev. Perera said that Palm Sunday was an important religious ceremony and that he was present when the incident took place.

Continue reading ‘Mob Pelts Stones at Methodist Cenre at Koombichchankulam in Anuradhapura on Palm Sunday But Police Fail to Take Action Alleges Sri Lankan Methodist Church President Rev.Asiri Perera.’ »

” When a Christian Goes to Lodge a Complaint Sometimes they are not even Willing to Take Down the Complaint” – Sri Lanka’s Methodist Church President Rev. Asiri Perera Faults Police for Inaction When Churches are Attacked in Sri Lanka.

By Nuwan Senarathna

Two parties that involved in the dispute over an alleged attack on a prayer centre in Anuradhapura have been summoned to Anuradhapura Magistrate Court today, police said.

According the police, a group of youth staged a protest when the Methodist Church President Rev.Asiri Perera visited a prayer centre in Anuradhapura on last Sunday when Palm Sunday prayers were performed. Rev. Perera relating the incident said that he and 12 worshippers were locked in at the premises. The incident was brought under control with the intervention of the police.

Rev. Perera had lodged a complaint to Anuradhapura police on Sunday over pelting stones and lighting firecrackers during the prayers.

“When I went to the church centre on 14 April a group of youth surrounded my vehicle, although I tried to wish them for New Year their reaction was not pleasant. However I entered the premises to continue the service,” Rev Perera told reporters yesterday at Methodist Church in Colombo.

Continue reading ‘” When a Christian Goes to Lodge a Complaint Sometimes they are not even Willing to Take Down the Complaint” – Sri Lanka’s Methodist Church President Rev. Asiri Perera Faults Police for Inaction When Churches are Attacked in Sri Lanka.’ »

Until such time as Cases Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in California Courts are Decided Upon or Dismissed There Could be a Delay in his US Citizenship Renunciation Process Says National Peace Council Executive Director Jehan Perera


The two cases in which summons were served simultaneously on former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapapaksa in a parking lot of a grocery store in Los Angeles were against individuals has introduced a new element of uncertainty into Sri Lanka’s already uncertain political process, National Peace Council’s (NPC) Executive Director Jehan Perera has said issuing a statement
.

“There is no certainty even about the date of the election at this time. Members of President Maithripala Sirisena’s party have begun to argue that the president’s five year term ought to end only in June 2020 and not in January 2020 as previously believed. Their argument is that the president’s five year term began to run only in June 2015 when the 19th Amendment to the constitution was signed into law, and not in January 2015 when the president took his oaths of office and commenced his presidency,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Until such time as Cases Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in California Courts are Decided Upon or Dismissed There Could be a Delay in his US Citizenship Renunciation Process Says National Peace Council Executive Director Jehan Perera’ »

Govt Fails to Honour Commitment to Reduce Green House Gas Emission by 4% and Plans to Establish Fossil Fuel Power Stations Generating 2700 MW by 2020 Ignoring Environmental Concerns.

By Ifham Nizam

The government would go ahead with the proposed plan 2019 to establish 2700 MW of fossil fuel fired power stations by year 2020, a senior ministry official said.

Ministry Secretary Dr. Suren Batagoda said that there would be 300 MW new LNG Combined cycle at Kerawalapitya by WindForce Consortium, 300 MW new LNG Combined cycle Kerawalapitiya by Lakdanavi 300 MW new LNG Combined cycle plant at Kerawalapitiya with India, 300 MW new LNG Combined cycle at Kerawalapitiya with Japan, 300 MW new LNG Combined cycle at Hambanthota with China 300 MW new Coal power plant at Norochcholai and 300 MW new additional Coal plant at Norochcholai 600 MW new Coal power plant at Trincomalee. They would be given top priority considering country’s energy needs.

The Ministry is also planning to generate 750 MW of wind power in Mannar, Punarin and Siyambalanduwa and 1000 MW of solar power by 2025.

Continue reading ‘Govt Fails to Honour Commitment to Reduce Green House Gas Emission by 4% and Plans to Establish Fossil Fuel Power Stations Generating 2700 MW by 2020 Ignoring Environmental Concerns.’ »

Dr. Rajitha Senaratne Describes Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Allegation Against Sri Lanka’s Consul -General in Los Angeles Swarna Pushpa Kanthi Gunaratne as “Childish” and Says Slain EX-MP Bharatha Premachandra’s Sister Has Denied Any Involvement in the Judicial Action Against Gota


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, yesterday, said that the entry of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa into politics was a problem as he hadn’t even been a member at least of a village council.

Rajapaksa has declared his readiness to contest the 2019 presidential election on the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) ticket.

Dr. Senaratne said so after the opening of a newly constructed government building at Palindanuwara.

The Minister was responding to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s accusation earlier in the day that the Sri Lanka Counsel General in Los Anegles had facilitated filing of two civil cases against him in the US recently.


Soon after returning from the US, Rajapaksa told the media at the BIA of the alleged involvement of the Consul General in the operation targeting him.

Senaratne accused Rajapaksa of making childish statements.

Continue reading ‘Dr. Rajitha Senaratne Describes Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Allegation Against Sri Lanka’s Consul -General in Los Angeles Swarna Pushpa Kanthi Gunaratne as “Childish” and Says Slain EX-MP Bharatha Premachandra’s Sister Has Denied Any Involvement in the Judicial Action Against Gota’ »

Pre – Election Opinion Surveys Predict That the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(DMK) Led Alliance Will Sweep the Polls in Tamil Nadu by winning 30 to 33 pf 39 Lok Sabha Seats from the State.


By

Megha Kaveri

With less than ten days for Tamil Nadu to go to polls, media houses are busy publishing the results of the opinion polls. According to various opinion polls published by news channels, DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu is predicted to win a majority of seats (more than 30) in the general elections.

Puthiya Thalaimurai, a Tamil news channel, has predicted that the DMK-Congress alliance will gain over 30 seats out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu. For its opinion polls, Puthiya Thalaimurai-APT conducted the survey across 20 constituencies across the state between March 22 and April 2. Of the respondents to the survey, 64.87 per cent were men, 34.92 per cent were women and 0.21 per cent belonged to the third gender. Of the respondents, almost 42 per cent said that they would vote for the DMK-led alliance while 27 per cent said they would vote for the alliance led by the AIADMK.

Puthiya Thalaimurai is owned by TR Pachamuthu, who is contesting as part of the DMK alliance.

Continue reading ‘Pre – Election Opinion Surveys Predict That the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(DMK) Led Alliance Will Sweep the Polls in Tamil Nadu by winning 30 to 33 pf 39 Lok Sabha Seats from the State.’ »

Maithripala Sirisena Wants To Continue as President Beyond Jan 9th 2020 By Seeking Favourable Supreme Court Ruling But Success is Very Likely to Elude him.

By P.K.Balachandran

Earlier this week, the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Dayasiri Jayasekara, told the media that the chairman of his party and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, intends to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on the plea that his term of office should be deemed to have begun on June 21, 2015 and not January 9, 2015.

President Sirisena was sworn-in on January 9, 2015. But Jayasekara pointed out that the nature of the Presidency was altered by the 19 th.Constitutional Amendment which was signed into effect by the Speaker of parliament on June 21, 2015.

Therefore, Sirisena’s term should be deemed to have begun on June 21, 2015 and not January 9, 2015. It should be deemed to be ending on June 21, 2020 and not on January 9, 2020.

Sirisena has been wanting to be a joint Presidential candidate of the SLFP and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) in the coming Presidential election. He has been working hard launching popular campaigns on various issues to build up his image among the masses – an image which had suffered a beating because of his association with the right-wing and pro-West party, the United National Party (UNP) since 2015.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena Wants To Continue as President Beyond Jan 9th 2020 By Seeking Favourable Supreme Court Ruling But Success is Very Likely to Elude him.’ »

If Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Bid to Renounce his US Citizenshp is Delayed Due to the Lawsuits Filed Against him in the US, the Ex-Defence Secretary Wont be Able to Contest 2019 Presidential Elections.

Former Defence Secretary and presidential aspirant Gotabaya Rajapaksa landed in Colombo on Friday to a jubilant welcome from supporters eager to buttress his spirits as his criminal proceedings in Sri Lanka have been compounded with a lawsuit filed in the United States alleging his complicity in the extra-judicial killing of his old nemesis Lasantha Wickrematunge, the founding Editor of The Sunday Leader.

Last Sunday evening (7), a licensed process server intercepted Rajapaksa at a grocery store in the Pasadena suburb of Los Angeles, California, and physically served him with a summons to answer to a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California by Ahimsa Wickrematunge, the daughter of Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The summons, which has been circulated amongst confidants of Rajapaksa, reads “a lawsuit has been filed against you”, and states that “within 21 days after service of this summons on you (not counting the day you received it)” he “must serve on the plaintiff an answer to the attached complaint or a motion” to the District Court contesting the case. “If you fail to respond, judgment by default will be entered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint,” the summons read.

Attached to the summons was a lengthy complaint by plaintiff Ahimsa Wickrematunge alleging that “Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a United States citizen and Sri Lanka’s then Secretary of Defence, instigated and authorised the extra-judicial killing of Lasantha” and “had responsibility over those who executed the assassination” according to an excerpt widely distributed on social media.

Hours after the service of the summons and complaint, the former Defence Secretary’s propaganda machine went into hyperdrive, issuing statements denying not only that he was served papers by lawyers for Wickrematunge and another plaintiff, but that he was even in California at all. Photographs were released showing Rajapaksa in Nevada to indicate that the story was fake.

On Monday (8), the former defence secretary’s nephew MP Namal Rajapaksa issued a statement on Twitter that “as far as we are aware Gotabaya Rajapaksa never received summons of any form,” adding that he was appalled and amused by the “unsubstantiated claims”.

Continue reading ‘If Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Bid to Renounce his US Citizenshp is Delayed Due to the Lawsuits Filed Against him in the US, the Ex-Defence Secretary Wont be Able to Contest 2019 Presidential Elections.’ »

Gotabaya Told a Sinhala Weekly “If Lasantha’s daughter wants to know who his murderers are,ask her to come to Sri Lanka and meet me. I will tell her what happened.” Now Ahimsa Wickrematunge Wants Gota to Tell her What he Knows in a US Court of Law

BY DHATHUSENA YAHAPALANA (A PARALEGAL APPRENTICE)

According to news reports, former Defence Secretary and Presidential aspirant Gotabaya Rajapaksa is facing two civil suits in separate cases linked to events in Sri Lanka during his term in office in the US federal district court in California.

One is a suit filed by Ahimsa Wickrematunge who is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the defendant ‘for instigating and authorising the extrajudicial killing’ of her father in jury trial.

Her litigation is supported by the California-based Centre for Justice and Accountability.

Prof of Law G.L.Peiris while confirming that a law suit has been filed in the State of California by Ahimsa Wickrematunge has queried whether the daughter of the slain Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was using or abusing the US legal system for what he called collateral purposes.

Prof. Peiris has expressed his dismay over the action taken a decade after the assassination though, since Gotabaya Rajapaksa almost every year visited the US in the past 10 years.

This exploration of the US legal process relied on by Ahimsa Wickrematunge is prompted by the skepticism expressed by our ‘Good Prof of Law’ who has taught law but never practised before a judge and a jury. The good professor cannot be ignored. The skeptical legal tradition runs from Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic) to Hobbes and Bentham and even beyond. The law also has an invisible entity called ‘justice’. What follows is a simple ‘voyage of discovery’ by a layman relying on simple commonsense as the only compass for direction.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Told a Sinhala Weekly “If Lasantha’s daughter wants to know who his murderers are,ask her to come to Sri Lanka and meet me. I will tell her what happened.” Now Ahimsa Wickrematunge Wants Gota to Tell her What he Knows in a US Court of Law’ »

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa Embroiled in Several Court Cases in Sri Lanka Now Faces Fresh Legal Battles in the USA After Two Separate Civil Law Suits Were Filed Against him In the District Court of California.

By

Manoj Colombage

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, arguably once Sri Lanka’s most powerful man, faces legal battles in two countries after separate civil lawsuits were reportedly filed in the United States of America last week for allegedly instigating torture and extra judicial killing during his tenure as Defence Secretary.

The fresh legal trouble followed Gotabaya Rajapaksa to his hometown of Los Angeles, California last week, when he was noticed in a grocery store parking lot that the daughter of a journalist slain during his tenure as head of the defence establishment was suing him for damages in the District Court of California.

Dressed casually in a red cardigan, with his wife Iyoma Rajapaksa accompanying him, Rajapaksa had just finished shopping at the grocery store Trader Joe’s in Pasadena, California, when he was served notice in the case filed by Ahimsa Wickrematunge. The civil action lawsuit accuses the former Defence Secretary, a citizen of the United States, of “instigating and authorizing” the murder of her father.

The notice was served by Licenced Process Servers last Sunday (7) evening.

Continue reading ‘Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa Embroiled in Several Court Cases in Sri Lanka Now Faces Fresh Legal Battles in the USA After Two Separate Civil Law Suits Were Filed Against him In the District Court of California.’ »

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Brother of Sri Lankan ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Sued in a US Court Over Alleged Torture and killing During the Period he Served as Defence Secretary -The Guardian.

The brother of the former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa is being sued in a US court over alleged extrajudicial killing and torture, by the same lawyers who successfully brought a civil suit against the Syrian government for the killing of the Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Sri Lanka’s defence secretary during the final years of the country’s civil war against the Tamil Tigers until his brother lost the presidency in 2015, and has been mooted as the family’s presidential candidate in this year’s election.

He is believed to have directly overseen the country’s police and military, which have been accused by the UN, human rights groups and Sri Lanka’s own investigative agencies of crimes including torture, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings both during the Tamil conflict and in the years since it ended in 2009.

Private investigators working on behalf of the legal teams tracked Rajapaksa down on Sunday night to a Trader Joe’s car park in the Californian city of Pasadena, where he was formally served with notice of the civil suits.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa Brother of Sri Lankan ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Sued in a US Court Over Alleged Torture and killing During the Period he Served as Defence Secretary -The Guardian.’ »

Rajapaksa Family and SLPP Top Leaders “Livid” At Gotabaya For Letting a “Controversial Personality” Accompany him to the US and Take Part in all Engagements With Him Despite Warnings by Family Members Not to do so.

(Excerpts From Political Column in the “Sunday Times”)

The first tweet, surprising enough, came from a power centre within the government. It said that Ahimsa, the daughter of slain editor Lasantha Wickremetunge had filed civil action in a Los Angeles Court against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Opposition presidential hopeful and former Defence Secretary.

Lasantha’s brother Lal Wickremetunga, Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Australia, told the Sunday Times on the telephone from Sydney, “The family had waited for five years under the Rajapaksa government and another five years under the present one. They did not get justice. Therefore, they have gone before a US court.” The remarks were an about-turn from what he said just two weeks earlier.

Denying moves to file a case against his brother’s killing, he then told the Sunday Times (Café Spectator March 31): “Those reports are completely untrue. I have no plans to file any action in US courts. I am awaiting the outcome of what the Sri Lanka courts would do once those responsible are indicted.” Now he admits action indeed has been filed in US courts, albeit by “the family”. According to other well-informed sources, he played a key role in the ongoing exercise co-ordinating matters.

The brutal killing of Lasantha, Editor of the now defunct Sunday Leader, and one-time politician of sorts, took place on January 8, 2009. Since then, for the past ten years, investigations by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), have been mired in deep mystery and controversy. One of the main reasons is the pressure on those probing from different arms of the state, some of them very powerful. Talks on the probe had even extended to five-star hotels. Efforts are being made now to file indictments on some, after the national New Year. This again is on those widely described as being on the outer fringe or, as they say, where the buck has stopped. Thus, a case listing the accused, if as claimed including Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has not yet surfaced in courts. How then is he being allegedly accused of murder? The Sunday Times has learnt that substantial material involving his alleged involvement has been culled from reports filed by the CID in the Magistrate’s Courts in Colombo. Though these court reports are considered public documents, both the CID and the court staff, have been consistently protective and have not released them. This has come as a veil of secrecy not only in this case but many high-profile cases.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Family and SLPP Top Leaders “Livid” At Gotabaya For Letting a “Controversial Personality” Accompany him to the US and Take Part in all Engagements With Him Despite Warnings by Family Members Not to do so.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Has Been Absolutely Silent Over News Reports About Gotabaya Facing Lawsuits in the US and has Not Issued a Statement of Denial or Indicating Strong Support for his Brother.

by Sanjana Hattotuwa

“The lie is revealed. There was no summons served. The photo depicts a lookalike of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The FBI is engaged in an effort to ascertain who produced this false information”. The Facebook Page with this content originally in Sinhala also featured a screenshot of a news story from a leading private electronic media institution. This TV channel, with pages on Facebook in both Sinhala and English that regularly generate very high engagement, ran a story which strongly suggested news of Gotabaya Rajapaksa being sued in the US was false and incorrect.

Also on Facebook and in response to the entirely unexpected development around the former Secretary of Defence when on holiday in the US, nearly a dozen posts in Sinhala venomously decrying those who brought the lawsuits, journalists who reported it and anyone who welcomed it was published in the space of a day. Each post saw very high levels of engagement by way of responses and sharing. The usual hate prevailed, with one post on a fan page with close to 100,000 followers noting that the entire pack of dogs who brought lawsuits against Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be chased out beyond the ends of the earth once he became President.


Official social media accounts of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, at the time of writing this column, were silent on the lawsuits but published other content featuring meetings and gatherings in the US. Namal Rajapaksa, soon after the first reports of his Uncle being served papers at a car park in the US, tweeted a denial anchored to ignorance of the family around what at the time was carried in the media. A deluge of tweets around his birthday, the day after, soon subsumed this single tweet on the Uncle. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was completely silent, producing absolutely nothing by way of a vehement denial or a post indicating strong support.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Has Been Absolutely Silent Over News Reports About Gotabaya Facing Lawsuits in the US and has Not Issued a Statement of Denial or Indicating Strong Support for his Brother.’ »

Can Gotabaya Rajapaksa Clear Legal Hurdles in the US and Contest the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka?

By

Don Manu

When the Colombo High Court granted Gotabaya special permission to travel to the United States between March 26 and April 12, no doubt he would have been over the moon to be given the chance to spend a spring holiday in his adopted country. But as things stand today, this seeming blessing has turned out to be a curse in disguise for him.

Only last month had the Rajapaksa Family anointed him as their choice to contest the Presidency on the Pohottuwa party ticket. Even though the party itself has still not officially announced his candidature on its ticket, it is widely expected that he will win the nomination if his brother Mahinda gives his wholehearted approval in public the same nod he perhaps grudgingly gave to the family members when they met last month at Mahinda’s official Colombo 7 residence; and held a family-members-only dinner to decide over a meal of hoppers, perhaps, who should be the SLPP candidate at the presidential poll to be held at the end of the year.

With that important primary vote – not made by party members as its is done in the States but by the Rajapaksa siblings – won and under his belt and with the court, before which he faces charges of misusing public money, granting his request for two weeks to travel abroad, no doubt, he felt himself flying high on the road to Lanka’s presidency.

But last Sunday evening at the car park of Trader Joe’s Super Grocery Store in Pasadena, California, some form of Nemesis seems to have caught up with him and has possibly fouled his chances of being eligible to run in the presidential races. The fates that work in mysterious ways appear to have hobbled the Rajapaksa favourite steed in a United States Pasadena paddock.

Reportedly he was on his way to attend a meeting organised by the former Los Angeles consul under Rajapaksa regime titled ‘Meet the future President’ when a quirk of fate prompted him to make a pit stop at Trader Joe’s to shop for some fruits.

Continue reading ‘Can Gotabaya Rajapaksa Clear Legal Hurdles in the US and Contest the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka?’ »

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Says Notice of Civil Suits Filed Against Him in the US were Not Served in the Appropriate Manner and Alleges that the Sri Lankan Consul -General In California Played an Important Role.

Former Defense Secretary and presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa who arrived in Sri Lanka this morning said the civil suit notices served to him at a Trader Joe’s in Pasadena, California, were politically motivated targeting his candidacy at the upcoming presidential elections.

Speaking to journalists at the Silk Route lounge at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Rajapaksa accused what he called an LTTE-diaspora-affiliated NGO and unnamed groups in the country for orchestrating the move. He alleged that the Sri Lankan Consul General in California was also played an important role.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa Says Notice of Civil Suits Filed Against Him in the US were Not Served in the Appropriate Manner and Alleges that the Sri Lankan Consul -General In California Played an Important Role.’ »

“No one can Obstruct or Prevent me Fulfilling my Obligations to our Beloved Nation” – An Elated Gotabaya Rajapaksa Issues Special Message After Receiving Exuberant Welcome at BIA.

(Text of Message posted on his Facebook by Former Defence Secretsry Gotabaya Rajapaksa)

I was touched by the warm welcome I received at the Katunayaka Airport today. This was real proof in my mind that there are so many people who love this country as much as I do.

The patriots of this country have always joined together to protect our country from the onslaught of vicious external forces.

Today it is in the same spirit that people gathered around me. All they want is to protect their motherland and I am proud to be a part of that effort.

Continue reading ‘“No one can Obstruct or Prevent me Fulfilling my Obligations to our Beloved Nation” – An Elated Gotabaya Rajapaksa Issues Special Message After Receiving Exuberant Welcome at BIA.’ »

“Let Them Attack.I’m Prepared”: Defiant Gota Dismisses Twin Lawsuits Against him in US as “Baseless” and says that the “Charges Against him Wont Stand up in a Court of Law”

By Hassina Leelarathna in Los Angeles

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has dismissed the two lawsuits filed against him as baseless and insisted that they would only motivate him and his supporters to push for political change in Sri Lanka.

“These lawsuits have been filed to delay the process and discourage me. I have handed the matter to my lawyers [in Los Angeles] to take care of and I’m looking ahead to what needs to be done for our country,” said Rajapaksa, commenting on the two civil lawsuits filed against him in the Central District of California.

He met with his attorneys in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Continue reading ‘“Let Them Attack.I’m Prepared”: Defiant Gota Dismisses Twin Lawsuits Against him in US as “Baseless” and says that the “Charges Against him Wont Stand up in a Court of Law”’ »

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Returning to Rousing Welcome at Katunayake Airport Tells Media that Necessary Measures have Been Taken to Renounce his US Citizenship Successfully .

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rakapaksa said all necessary measures to renounce his US citizenship have been taken successfully.

Rajapaksa made this remark while speaking to the media upon his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport this morning.

Rajapaksa indicated that the court cases filed in the US would have no bearing on his ability to run for the presidency in Sri Lanka.

A large number of supporters are gathered at the BIA to welcome the former Defence Secretary who is currently facing two court cases in the US.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa Returning to Rousing Welcome at Katunayake Airport Tells Media that Necessary Measures have Been Taken to Renounce his US Citizenship Successfully .’ »

Speculation is Rife in Political Circles That US Citizen Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Acquired Sri Lankan Dual Citizenship May Be Revoked Under Section 2 of Citizenship (Amendment) Act No 45 of 1987.

Legal circles are ablaze with discussions that Gotabaya Rajapksa could lose his Sri Lankan citizenship after being served with notice for two separate cases in the US.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa is being flaunted as a potential Presidential candidate, however, his current dual citizenship in the US bars him from contesting.

Rajapaksa renounced his Sri Lankan citizenship in order to obtain his US citizenship. He subsequently regained his Sri Lankan citizenship as a dual national in 2005.

Continue reading ‘Speculation is Rife in Political Circles That US Citizen Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Acquired Sri Lankan Dual Citizenship May Be Revoked Under Section 2 of Citizenship (Amendment) Act No 45 of 1987.’ »

Grand Ceremony Planned by Sri Lanka PoduJana Party at Bandaranaike International Airport to Welcome Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa Who Is Expected to Arrive in Colombo From the USA on April 12

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa will return to Sri Lanka today (April 12) to a rousing welcome by his supporters.

Rajapaksa’s spokesman Milinda Rajapaksha told Daily FT that special arrangements had been made to receive the former Defence Secretary once he lands in Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa travelled to the US on 26 March and was served notice on two separate cases while in the US on Sunday. One case was filed by the daughter of form Editor of the Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge and a second by Canadian Tamil Roy Samathanam claiming torture.

Continue reading ‘Grand Ceremony Planned by Sri Lanka PoduJana Party at Bandaranaike International Airport to Welcome Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa Who Is Expected to Arrive in Colombo From the USA on April 12’ »

UNP Plans to Appoint Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka as Internal Affairs Minister With Powers to Handle “Citizenship Issues” of Ex – Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

by Saman Indrajith

The UNP has sought to shift the responsibility for handling former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s citizenship to Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, according to sources.

It was decided at a meeting between senior UNP ministers and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, yesterday, to have Fonseka appointed Minister of Internal Affairs.

The Internal Affairs Minister is responsible for issues related to citizenship.

Continue reading ‘UNP Plans to Appoint Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka as Internal Affairs Minister With Powers to Handle “Citizenship Issues” of Ex – Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.’ »

Cases Filed Against Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the US are Politically Motivated and Have the Backing of LTTE sympathisers Alleges SLPP Chairman Prof G.L. Peiris.

By Nuwan Senarathna

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday questioned the intention behind the two lawsuits filed against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the United States, insisting a political motive was behind the developments.

One case was filed by Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of former Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge, and a second by Roy Samathanam.

“It is very clear these cases are clearly connected with the Presidential election that is likely to take place at the end of this year. It is also clear all these initiatives are backed by LTTE sympathisers. These people have connections with diaspora communities that are still sympathetic to the LTTE,” SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L Peiris told reporters at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo.

Continue reading ‘Cases Filed Against Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the US are Politically Motivated and Have the Backing of LTTE sympathisers Alleges SLPP Chairman Prof G.L. Peiris.’ »

“We Took Up the Matter With All Tamil Politicians Including TNA Leader R.Sampanthan but None of Them Were Concerned About the Plight of the People” says Centre for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) National Coordinator Dr.Ravindra Kariyawasam.

By Ifham Nizam

Following the recent landmark decision by the Supreme Court to pay compensation to the people affected by the Chunnakam power station, some Tamil politicians in the Jaffna Peninsula were now trying to take the upper hand to strengthen their vote bank, alleged the environmental group that fought for justice of the affected people.


“We took up the matter with all Tamil politicians, including Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan but none of them were concerned about the plight of the people,” Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, National Coordinator, Centre for Environment and NATURE Studies, told a media briefing on Tuesday in Colombo.

He said that justice should be done to the people. “There has been no proper study on health impacts,” Dr. Kariyawasam said.

Continue reading ‘“We Took Up the Matter With All Tamil Politicians Including TNA Leader R.Sampanthan but None of Them Were Concerned About the Plight of the People” says Centre for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) National Coordinator Dr.Ravindra Kariyawasam.’ »

Sri Lanka PoduJana Peramuna Opposes Moves by the SLFP To Seek Extension of President Sirisena’s Term of Office: SLPP Chairman GL Peiris Ready to go to Courts to Oppose Postponement of Presidential Elections.

By Nuwan Senarathna

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday criticised the possibility of President Maithripala Sirisena seeking the Supreme Court’s opinion on the length of his term, as a step that would delay elections indicating talks between the SLPP and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to form a coalition were not proceeding smoothly.

SLPP faction member Dullas Alahapperuma expressed his displeasure on the SLFP’s statement on seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court while talking to media after the third round of talks with the SLFP on a possible collation to face upcoming elections.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka PoduJana Peramuna Opposes Moves by the SLFP To Seek Extension of President Sirisena’s Term of Office: SLPP Chairman GL Peiris Ready to go to Courts to Oppose Postponement of Presidential Elections.’ »

Can Maithripala Sirisena Remain as President Till June 2020 Because 19th Constitutional Amendment Became Operative Only From June 21st 2015? SLFP Likely to Seek Supreme Court Ruling On This Question Very Soon.

By

Sandun A Jayasekera

The SLFP is seriously considering whether to seek a Supreme Court ruling on when President Maithripala Sirisena’s five-year term of office expires under the 19th Amendment on the basis that it was signed into law by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on June 21, 2015, General Secretary and MP, Dayasiri Jayasekara said.

He said the President was likely to dissolve parliament when it completes four and half years of its term and go for an early general election.

The MP said the effective date of the 19th Amendment is June 21 and as such, the President’s five-year term should be counted from that day. This means he will remain as the executive president until June 20, 2020 and not January 8, 2020 if counting from January 9, 2015 which is the day the President was sworn in.

Continue reading ‘Can Maithripala Sirisena Remain as President Till June 2020 Because 19th Constitutional Amendment Became Operative Only From June 21st 2015? SLFP Likely to Seek Supreme Court Ruling On This Question Very Soon.’ »

International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) in Partnership With Hausfeld Law Firm and Human Rights Lawyer Scott Gilmore File Civil Damages Case in California Against Sri Lankan Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

(Text of a Press Release Issued on April 9th 2019 by the International Truth and Justice Project)

Johannesburg, South Africa: The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), in partnership with the international law firm Hausfeld and human rights lawyer Scott Gilmore, have filed a civil damages case in California against former Sri Lankan defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on behalf of a Tamil torture survivor Roy Samathanam.

Roy Samathanam made the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Mr.Rajapaksa, who is a dual US-Sri Lankan citizen. The case was brought under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which gives torture victims legal redress in US courts.

Notice was formally served on Mr. Rajapaksa on Sunday night (Apr 8). Notice was also served at the same time in a separate case filed by another organisation on behalf of assassinated journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Roy Samathanam, a Canadian national, was arrested on false charges in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo in September 2007 by Sri Lankan police who reported directly to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the time.

Continue reading ‘International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) in Partnership With Hausfeld Law Firm and Human Rights Lawyer Scott Gilmore File Civil Damages Case in California Against Sri Lankan Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.’ »

Will Case Filed Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in California “obstruct” Ex -Defence Secretary From Contesting Sri Lankan Presidential Elections?

Ahimsa Wickrematunge, the daughter of slain journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, has filed a case in the California Court against former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in connection with the assassination of her father in January 2009.

She had reportedly stated that Mr. Rajapaksa, who is currently holidaying in California, should be held responsible for the murder of her father. She has demanded compensation.

Lasantha Wickrematunge was the Editor of the ‘Sunday Leader’ newspaper.

There is a difference of opinion on the strength of the case as there is no evidence yet that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had a hand in the murder of the editor which took place ten years ago. There is also the question whether a US court has jurisdiction over such a case as the crime was allegedly committed outside the US in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Will Case Filed Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in California “obstruct” Ex -Defence Secretary From Contesting Sri Lankan Presidential Elections?’ »

Prof G.L. Peiris Dismisses Arguments Put Forward by his Former Pupil Dayasiri Jayasekara About President Sirisena’s Term of Office Beginning from June 21st 2015 and not January 9th 2015.

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Those who were close to President Maithripala Sirisena was damaging the reputation of the president and the institution of the executive president, Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Professor G.L. Peiris told The Island yesterday.

He said so referring to the statement made by Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekara, on Tuesday, that they were planning to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court when President Maithripala Sirisena’s term would expire.

Prof. Peiris said that the actions of those individuals, were without the approval or the knowledge of the President.

Continue reading ‘Prof G.L. Peiris Dismisses Arguments Put Forward by his Former Pupil Dayasiri Jayasekara About President Sirisena’s Term of Office Beginning from June 21st 2015 and not January 9th 2015.’ »

International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit Investigations Reveal “Well-Connected Lady From Down South”Linked to an Indian Bookie Played Extensive Role in Corrupting Many Sri Lankan Cricketers.


by Rex Clementine

Those of us who have followed Sri Lankan cricket closely had little idea how deep rooted corruption in the sport was when the International Cricket Council intensified investigations following the national cricket team’s shock defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe in 2017.

We put down the defeats to the glorious uncertainties of the great game rather than any sinister move by those involved in the game. Extensive investigations by the ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit have unearthed some startling revelations. Since then, former Test captain Sanath Jayasuriya has been banned for two years while Bowling Coach Nuwan Zoysa is provisionally suspended after being charged for trying to corrupt a player. A third – Dilhara Lokuhettige was also charged and suspended also for attempting to corrupt a player.

Continue reading ‘International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit Investigations Reveal “Well-Connected Lady From Down South”Linked to an Indian Bookie Played Extensive Role in Corrupting Many Sri Lankan Cricketers.’ »

Vicious Cycle of Increasing Election Related Govt Expenditure, Increasing Govt debt and increasing taxation – Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa

(Text of Press Release Issued on April 9th 2019 by the Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa)

According to the provisions in the Budget for 2019, all government servants are to be given a special allowance of Rs. 2,500. Pensions are to be increased. Samurdhi benefits are to be extended to an additional 600,000 families. Existing Samurdhi beneficiaries are to be allowed to withdraw up to Rs. 30,000 in two instalments this year from their accumulated funds in the Samurdhi Banks as spending money for the New Year and Christmas.

The newly set up Office of Missing Persons is to pay a monthly allowance of Rs. 6,000 each for the families of all missing persons until the Office of Reparations is established and a larger sum paid. The fact that this is an election year, will naturally lead many people to suspect that all these provisions are election related.

The government seeks to justify extending Samurdhi benefits to an additional 600,000 families on the grounds that ‘deserving families’ had been kept out of the scheme for political reasons. It appears that the government suddenly became aware of that alleged long standing injustice only after ruling the country for over four years.

The rhetoric of the government makes it obvious that the additional 600,000 Samurdhi recipients will be selected on political criteria for reasons more to do with elections than with poverty alleviation.

Continue reading ‘Vicious Cycle of Increasing Election Related Govt Expenditure, Increasing Govt debt and increasing taxation – Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Lester James Peries Remained Until His Last a Polymorphous Artiste: In Isaiah Berlin’s Terminology Lester was a “Fox” Unlike Many Of His Critics Who Were “Hedgehogs”.

By Uditha Devapriya

Philip Cooray called Delovak Athara the most personal film that Lester James Peries ever made, and it shows. From the milieu depicted in it to its choice of subject matter, it may well have been a “statement” in the same vein that Truffaut’s The 100 Blows or Bergman’s Wild Strawberries had been.

Audiences hadn’t seen this kind of story in a Sinhala film before. To Lester’s credit, to have sustained interest for two hours within such a narrow framework was, in the very least, remarkable, though not everyone was happy: a businessman, having seen it and obviously exasperated, point-blank asked the director, “What kind of ending was that?”

Delovak Athara is the kind of film that would be called an independent experimental work today. It was financed by an ad hoc organisation (Cine Lanka) formed between the director, his wife, and a school friend; it was rather “low budget”, made use of the leading players of the day, and propelled a relative unknown, cast as the protagonist, to stardom; it strayed from the narrative of every movie that preceded it (becoming, as Philip Cooray noted, “a totally cerebral film”); in terms of mood it was introspective, “the most Western” of Lester’s works until then; and it was a collaborationist film that recorded a “perfect fusion between the director and the cameraman” – Lester Peries and Willie Blake turned into Jean-Luc Godard and Raoul Coutard.

Continue reading ‘Lester James Peries Remained Until His Last a Polymorphous Artiste: In Isaiah Berlin’s Terminology Lester was a “Fox” Unlike Many Of His Critics Who Were “Hedgehogs”.’ »

Civil Damages Case Filed Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in US On Behalf of Sri Lankan Tamil Detained by TID From Sep 2007 to Aug 2010: Notice Served on Ex-Def -Secy at a Trader Joe’s Parking Lot in Pasadena on Sunday Night.

(Text of Press Release issued by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP)on April 8th 2019)

Johannesburg: The ITJP and the US law firm Hausfeld have filed a civil damages case in Califonia against former Sri Lankan defence secretary,Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on behalf of a Tamil torture survivor. Roy Samathanam made the complaint in the Central District of California against Mr.Rajapaksa, who is a dual US Sri Lankan citizen.

Continue reading ‘Civil Damages Case Filed Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in US On Behalf of Sri Lankan Tamil Detained by TID From Sep 2007 to Aug 2010: Notice Served on Ex-Def -Secy at a Trader Joe’s Parking Lot in Pasadena on Sunday Night.’ »

Slain “Sunday Leader”Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Files Case in the US Against Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa Concerning Her Father’s Murder in Jan 2009.

A case has been filed in the US against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa related to the murder of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The case has reportedly been filed by Lasantha’s daughter Ahimsa Wickrematunge.

Lasantha Wickremetunge was killed in January 2009 while he was on his way to office.

Continue reading ‘Slain “Sunday Leader”Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Files Case in the US Against Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa Concerning Her Father’s Murder in Jan 2009.’ »

CID Informs Court That Chief of Defence Staff Ravindra Wijegunaratne When Serving as Navy Commander Aided and Abetted Lt Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi To Evade Arrest By Allowing Him To Hide Within Premises of SLNS Parakrama in March 2017

By

Maneshka Borham

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) this week further strengthen its case against Sri Lanka’s top military chief, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne after he was linked to the now famous case of 11 missing youth believed to have been abducted by a ‘Navy abduction for ransom gang’between 2008 – 2009.

Arrested by the CID and now out on bail, Wijegunaratne has been further implicated in the gruesome case through recent revelations made by a new witness supporting the allegations levelled against him by the CID.

OIC of the Gang Robberies Unit of the CID, IP Nishantha Silva presenting the explosive B-report before Colombo Fort Magistrate, Ranga Dissanayake this week said through the latest witness statement the CID can prove without a doubt that Hettiarachchi was protected and hidden within the premises of SLNS Parakrama, Colombo by the former Naval Chief, Admiral Wijegunaratne when the CID was hot on Hettiarachchi’s heels in March 2017.

In her statement, the witness identified by the CID as an individual who had constantly kept in touch with Hettiarachchi when he was on the run claimed Hettiarachchi revealed to her that he was in hiding within the Naval Command and would be in trouble with the Commander of the Navy if he leaves its premises.

Continue reading ‘CID Informs Court That Chief of Defence Staff Ravindra Wijegunaratne When Serving as Navy Commander Aided and Abetted Lt Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi To Evade Arrest By Allowing Him To Hide Within Premises of SLNS Parakrama in March 2017’ »

Four out of Seven Members Of the Committee Appointed by Minister Mangala Samaraweera to Monitor State Media Institutions Have Resigned In Around a Month After it was Constituted.

By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

A false front page in a leading English daily newspaper last week highlights two significant and inter-related problem sets. The false page advertised the campaign against illegal drugs by the President. On Twitter, I quipped that it was a collector’s edition. The English is so bad, it borders on the poetic and inadvertently sublime, featuring words that don’t exist and sentences that are utterly meaningless. For good effect, there is even mention of a spy service to save children.

It is unclear how much public money was spent on this advertising Titanic. It was so bad, the newspaper took the unprecedented and extraordinary measure of distancing itself from the false front page, noting that the Editorial team wasn’t involved in the content creation. This revelation captured the second issue, around journalistic integrity and ethics. That all print and electronic media rely on advertising for their existence is well-known, as is the fact that the state is the largest advertiser in the country. Controlling media by curtailing advertising is a silent weapon to contain the spread of inconvenient truths wielded by all governments.

One is sympathetic to traditional media that relies on false front covers for financial viability. But especially when public money is involved, it is not unfair to ask questions around integrity, accountability and ethics. If the newspaper’s Editorial, faced with the sheer inanity of the false cover, was forced to distance itself from its content, the question was asked by many on social media as to why the newspaper allowed it to run in the first place.

Continue reading ‘Four out of Seven Members Of the Committee Appointed by Minister Mangala Samaraweera to Monitor State Media Institutions Have Resigned In Around a Month After it was Constituted.’ »

Polgahawela Police Pressured by Buddhist Monks Charge Writer Shakthika Sathkumara Under International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act of 2007 and Section 292 of Penal Code For Writing Short Story about Issues of Homosexuality and Sexual Harassment Within Buddhist Clergy

By

Aanya Wipulasena

When post-modernist, award winning novelist Shakthika Sathkumara walked into the Polgahawela Police Station on 1st April morning along with his lawyer and two other associates, what followed was completely unforeseen.

About four Buddhist monks were at the station already. Sathkumara, a 33-year-old father of two, was hoping to avoid a confrontation with the monks. When he was first called to provide a police statement he refused and requested a day that did not overlap with the time the monks will also be present. But the police turned a deaf ear to his request.

Sathkumara knew all too well why the monks were there. One of his short stories, published on Facebook about two months ago was subjected to extreme criticism. Its message, (irrespective of whether it be true or false) did not sit well with the monks.

His fiction ‘Ardha’ that translates from Sanskrit to ‘half’ revolves around a de-robed monk. Towards the end of the story Sathkumara indicates that the former monk was sexually harassed by the chief priest of the temple to which he was attached. The incident results in the “abbithaya’s” de-ordainment. However, his layman’s life turns out to be no different. He befriends a man whose inclination seems not dissimilar to the chief monk’s.

Continue reading ‘Polgahawela Police Pressured by Buddhist Monks Charge Writer Shakthika Sathkumara Under International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act of 2007 and Section 292 of Penal Code For Writing Short Story about Issues of Homosexuality and Sexual Harassment Within Buddhist Clergy’ »

Supreme Court in Landmark Judgement Faults Central Environmental Authority and Board of Investment for not Looking into Persistent Complaints by Chunnakam Residents that “noise, air emission and discharge of wastewater containing oil causing pollution to the surrounding environment” had been Caused by the Operation of the Power Station.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The casually irreverent manner in which state entities such as the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and the Board of Investment (BOI) treat issuance of mandatory environmental approvals received a sharp reprimand by the Supreme Court in this week’s ruling on the pollution of ground water in Chunnakam as a result of a private company operating a power plant without conforming to statutory procedures.


Excellent warning to violators of the law

The polluter, (Northern Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd), was directed to pay an appreciably high compensatory award of Rs. 20 million to the affected communities. It was allowed to continue its operations on condition that it would take immediate steps to prevent contamination or pollution of the area and that it would adhere to criteria and standards stipulated in the National Environmental Act and Regulations made thereunder, subject to monitoring by the CEA/BOI.

The approach taken by the Court is an excellent warning not only to state entities which renege on their duties but also private companies motivated by profit who flout the law with impunity, leaving communities and citizens helpless in the face of state apathy and/or collusion. This ruling hits those with ‘deep pockets’ precisely where it hurts the most. That is to the good.

Several innovative aspects of the judicial reasoning in this case merit scrutiny. It was considered by the Court that the project to construct and operate a thermal power station in Chunnakam was a “prescribed project”, requiring approval under the relevant provisions of the National Environmental Act(as amended), the relevant “project approving agency” being the CEA and/or the BOI.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court in Landmark Judgement Faults Central Environmental Authority and Board of Investment for not Looking into Persistent Complaints by Chunnakam Residents that “noise, air emission and discharge of wastewater containing oil causing pollution to the surrounding environment” had been Caused by the Operation of the Power Station.’ »

Rekava, Gamperaliya and Nidhanaya: Cinematic Triple Gems Of Lester James Peries

by
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Lester James Peries is regarded by many including this writer as Sri Lanka’s greatest film director. The birth centenary of the master film maker born on April 5th 1919 will be commemorated this week. Lester as he was generally known passed away last year just 24 days after his ninety-ninth birthday .His first death anniversary falls on April 29th this year. It had been for long my hope and prayer that Sri Lanka would be able to celebrate the birth centenary of her foremost film maker while he was among the living. Alas! That was not to be. This article therefore intends celebrating the life and work of Lester James Peries as a form of tribute on his birth centenary.

In a film making career spanning more than five decades Lester James Peries has made 20 feature films inclusive of the short feature ‘Pinhamy’. The first of his feature films was the path-breaking ‘Rekava’ or line of destiny in 1956. His final feature was ‘Amma Waruney’ or an elegy to a mother released in 2006. Lester James Peries has also made 11 short films, most of them in documentary mode. The first of these short films was ‘Soliloquy’ made in 1949 and the last ‘Kandy Perahera’ filmed in 1973.

‘Nidhanaya’

The greatness of Lester James Peries however cannot be measured by the quantity of his output. It is the qualitative nature of his films that elevated him to commendable heights. Lester James Peries is acknowledged as the pioneer of authentic Sinhala cinema. It was he who first created in every sense of the term an indigenous cinema in both substance and style. It was also Lester who first gained worldwide recognition for Sinhala cinema. Lester James Peries became a national icon identified with the sphere of Sri Lankan cinema over the years. His work influenced several generations of film directors who followed him.
Continue reading ‘Rekava, Gamperaliya and Nidhanaya: Cinematic Triple Gems Of Lester James Peries’ »

Supreme Court adopts “Polluter Pays Principle” in Landmark Judgement and Orders Northern Power Company That Operated a Thermal Power Station in Chunnakam To Pay Rs 20 Million To Residents For Contaminating Ground Water in the Area; Board of Investment and Central Environmental Authority Admonished

By S.S. Selvanayagam

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court yesterday ordered Northern Power Company, which operated a thermal power station in Chunnakam that polluted ground water in the Chunnakam area and made ground water unfit for human use, to pay Rs. 20 million to offset a part of the substantial loss, harm and damage to the residents for the contamination of ground water and soil in the vicinity of its thermal power station.

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena with concurred with Justices Priyantha Jayawardane and Lalith Dehideniya in his judgment held that failures, omissions and inaction on the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and the Board of Investment (BoI) were arbitrary and unreasonable and in breach of the Trust public reposed on them.

The Court held that thereby they violated the Fundamental Rights of the residents of Chunnakam and the Petitioner.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court adopts “Polluter Pays Principle” in Landmark Judgement and Orders Northern Power Company That Operated a Thermal Power Station in Chunnakam To Pay Rs 20 Million To Residents For Contaminating Ground Water in the Area; Board of Investment and Central Environmental Authority Admonished’ »

April 5th the Birthday of Renowned Film Director Lester James Peries Will Be Celebrated Annually as National Cinema Day Announces Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa.


By

Ishara Mudugamuwa

The government has declared April 5 (today) as ‘National Cinema Day’ as a tribute to late Veteran film director Dr. Lester James Perie

Addressing the media yesterday at his Ministry, Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa said that the Ministry has decided to declare a National Cinema Day to mark the 100 year birth anniversary of Dr.James Peries.

Starting from this year, Sri Lankans will be celebrating April 5 every year as ‘National Cinema Day’, the Minister said.

Continue reading ‘April 5th the Birthday of Renowned Film Director Lester James Peries Will Be Celebrated Annually as National Cinema Day Announces Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa.’ »

Rajapaksas Close Ranks Behind Gotabaya as Presidential Candidate

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Is Mahinda Playing Fair by Gota in the Presidential Candidacy Issue? Was the heading of an article by this writer that was published a fortnight ago in the “Daily Mirror”. Let me begin this week’s article by excerpting five relevant paragraphs from the D.B.S. Jeyaraj column of March 9th 2019. Here are the first four paragraphs from the beginning of the article –

pic via: facebook.com/gotabayar ~ Feb 17, 2019

“Is former President Mahinda Rajapaksa playing fair by his younger brother Gotabaya as far as the presidential election candidate issue is concerned? This question has popped up in the minds of many observers of Sri Lanka’s political landscape in recent times. Although the Rajapaksa brothers present an outward image of monolithic unity, the political grapevine has hummed many times about strong political differences existing within the ‘Kurakkan Sataka’ clan. This has been particularly so in the case of a family decision on publicly announcing the candidate for the presidential election this year”
Continue reading ‘Rajapaksas Close Ranks Behind Gotabaya as Presidential Candidate’ »

M.N. Nambiar: Birth Centenary of Tamil Cinema’s Greatest Screen Villain

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Thursday 7 March 2019 was the birth centenary of Indian film actor Manjeri Narayanan Nambiar known to the world at large as M.N. Nambiar. The great Thespian who made a name for himself by acting in negative roles was hailed by many as the greatest screen villain of Tamil cinema.

In a stage and screen career that spanned more than seven decades Nambiar has acted in more than 600 films with different generations of actors. Most of them were in Tamil but some were in Malayalam and Telugu. He has also acted in a few Hindi and English films.

Nambiar, who passed away at the age of 89 on 19 November 2008, was a rare individual who played villainous roles on screen while remaining a virtuous person with saintly qualities off-screen. Contrary to his villainous screen persona, Nambiar was in real life a teetotaller and vegetarian and, above all, a man who upheld ethical values without any scandal or gossip ever being attributed to him.

‘Nambiarswamy: The Good, the Bad and the Holy’

Presently Nambiar’s birth centenary is being commemorated and celebrated by family members, friends, well-wishers, fellow devotees and above all fans in different ways. Paramount among these was the launch of a book about Nambiar written by his grandson M.N. Dipak Nambiar.
Continue reading ‘M.N. Nambiar: Birth Centenary of Tamil Cinema’s Greatest Screen Villain’ »

Unanimous UNHRC Resolution Shows Sri Lanka Continues to Enjoy International Credibility Despite the Tardy Progress it has made so far but Sri Lanka has to Complete Three Requirements by 2021 To Retain It.

By

Col. R.Hariharan

The decision of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to bury their political hatchet, at least temporarily, appears to have helped Sri Lanka to gain two more years to fulfil its commitment made at UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to promote accountability and human rights in 2015. The 40thsession of the human rights body unanimously adopted a new resolution 40/L.1 granting Sri Lanka two more years, for a second time.

Sri Lanka co-sponsored the new resolution, just as it did in 2015, as a tactical ploy to avoid a divisive vote in the UN forum and to gain a breather till 2021. However, the resolution is a strong reminder that the international community is not satisfied with the progress made by Sri Lanka to bring transitional justice to the victims of internal conflict, even ten years after the end of the Eelam.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s report placed at the 40th session, appreciated Sri Lanka’s commitment to implement Human Rights Council resolution 30/1. But it also said Sri Lanka needed to be more consistent, comprehensive and accelerated. The High Commissioner noted that there had been minimal progress on accountability and said the continuing impunity risks fuelling communal or ethnic violence and instability. She pointed to the continuing allegations of torture and other human rights violations by security forces, including sexual violence were troublesome. Ms Bechelet called for effective, transparent and independent investigations by the government as well as measures to prevent and end such practices.

Continue reading ‘Unanimous UNHRC Resolution Shows Sri Lanka Continues to Enjoy International Credibility Despite the Tardy Progress it has made so far but Sri Lanka has to Complete Three Requirements by 2021 To Retain It.’ »

Writer Shakthika Sathkumara Who Wrote Short Story about Sexual Abuse in a Buddhist Temple Arrested by Police and Remanded Due to Complaint Lodged by Buddhist Monks From Polgahawela.

Shakthika Sathkumara, a Sri Lankan poet and writer, has been arrested by the police yesterday for insulting Buddhism in one of his short stories.

The Polgaawela Magistrate has remanded the writer until April 09 when he was presented before the court last afternoon.

Sathkumara was arrested by the police following a complaint lodged by a group of Buddhist monks in the Polgahawela area.

Continue reading ‘Writer Shakthika Sathkumara Who Wrote Short Story about Sexual Abuse in a Buddhist Temple Arrested by Police and Remanded Due to Complaint Lodged by Buddhist Monks From Polgahawela.’ »

Creeping Islamaization and Arabianization of Sri Lankan Muslims as well as Growing Islamaphobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Promoted by Fringe Buddhist Organizations Need to be Addressed Urgently.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The anti-Muslim campaign of the fringe Sinhala Buddhist ultra-nationalist bigotry is regenerative. It is adept at finding a new ruse every now and then. The list ranges from Halal, cow slaughter, Muslim clothing stores, wada pethi (sterilizing tablets) and the latest ‘Save Wilpattu.’

All the past campaigns culminated in a violent upheaval, after which it went through a period of hibernation only to resurface under a new set of affected grievances.

The latest is ostensibly to protect the forestry of Wilpattu, but it is the same old Islamophobic campaign that has resurfaced after a lull of several months following the violent clashes in Digana and Amparai.

If the quiet on the ultra-nationalist front was mainly due to the police action and arrest of several key functionaries of Mahason Balakaya, a bigoted Sinhalese Buddhist fringe group, their latest activism comes after the court released those suspects from the remand prison.

Like the previous episodes of anti- Muslim bigotry, the latest campaign is promoted through the social media, through a number of facebook pages, twitter accounts and other social media pages. Some of the pictures of purported Wilpattu deforestation are in fact photos of land cleared for palm oil cultivation in Indonesia and Brazil, as BBC Sinhala website revealed recently. However, these photos are shared and retweeted in hundreds, some times in thousands, effectively creating mass circulation of a racially motivated fake narrative.

Continue reading ‘Creeping Islamaization and Arabianization of Sri Lankan Muslims as well as Growing Islamaphobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Promoted by Fringe Buddhist Organizations Need to be Addressed Urgently.’ »

Ven.Galkande Dhammananda Thero Has Created a “Safe Space” at the Walpola Rahula Institute Where Buddhists and Non -Buddhists Can have Discussions About Important Issues of Our Times Inclusive of Reconciliation.

By Radhika Coomaraswamy

I recently attended an event organised by the Walpola Rahula Institute. In just a few years Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thero has created a safe space where Buddhists, women and minorities can have a discussion about the important ideas of our time and the best way forward for reconciliation.

Venerable Dhammananda Thero has no strong view that he imposes on others but he is a facilitator for frank exchange and dialogue, an enabler who makes you feel secure and cared for no matter who you are. When you are with him you have a strong sense of compassion and belonging.

The occasion for the get together by the Institute was the release of the English translation of Ven. Walpola Rahula’s book ‘Sathyodaya,’ translated initially by Padma Gunasekara. Niranjan Selvadurai translated the final version.

Ven. Walpola Rahula, a Buddhist legend, was, as we all know, a graduate of the University of Colombo, University of London and the Sorbonne and was a Professor of History and Religion at North Western University. He was the first Buddhist monk to enter university and first one to be a professor in a prestigious university outside Sri Lanka. He was also once the Vice-Chancellor of Vidyodaya and the Chancellor of Kelaniya University. ‘Sathyodaya’ was his first book but he went on to write many definitive works including ‘What the Buddha Taught,’ which is his most famous work.

Continue reading ‘Ven.Galkande Dhammananda Thero Has Created a “Safe Space” at the Walpola Rahula Institute Where Buddhists and Non -Buddhists Can have Discussions About Important Issues of Our Times Inclusive of Reconciliation.’ »

Veteran Tamil Film Director J.Mahendran of “Mullum Malarum”, “Nenjathaik Killaathae”, “Uthirip Pookal” and “Pootaatha Poottukkal” fame Passes Away in Chennai at the age of 79.


By

Anjana Shekar

Veteran director J Mahendran, who has given Tamil cinema several important films including Aadu Puli Attam (story, dialogues) Mullum Malarum (debut as director), Uthiripookkal and Nenjathai Killadhe passed away at his residence in Chennai early on April 2.

Public homage for the director will be held from 10.00 am and his last rites will be performed at 5.00 pm on Tuesday.

The director had been critically ill for the past few days and was undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospital in Chennai but was taken home on Monday night. The director was 79.

The news of his demise was shared by his son John Mahendran, also a director.

Born in 1939, Mahendran began writing stories for filmmakers way back in 1966.

Continue reading ‘Veteran Tamil Film Director J.Mahendran of “Mullum Malarum”, “Nenjathaik Killaathae”, “Uthirip Pookal” and “Pootaatha Poottukkal” fame Passes Away in Chennai at the age of 79.’ »

“Rather than Demonstrating Diplomatic Skill, Finesse, Grace and mMturity, We Made a Spectacle of Ourselves in Geneva” – Mangala Samaraweera Lashes Out at Egocentric One-upmanship, Emotional Manipulation and Nationalistic Propaganda

By Mangala Samaraweera

(Full Text of a media communique issued on behalf of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera Outlining the former Foreign Affairs Minister’s response relating to the current UNHRC Resolution controversy under the heading “The truth about the Geneva Human Rights Council Resolution”)

During the past few weeks, I have been watching the many headlines, debates, misinformation, misrepresentation of facts as well as self-congratulatory statements by some members of the delegation that went to Geneva to participate in the 40th session of the Human Rights Council where the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet presented the Report on Sri Lanka as requested by the Human Rights Council.

As the person who held the portfolio of Foreign Affairs when resolution 30/1 of 01 October 2015 was adopted, I feel that it is my duty to respond to some of the malicious arguments being made and misrepresentation of facts.

I saw some statements claim that the initial delegation to the Human Rights Council’s 40th session in March 2019 was changed. This, like most reports attempting to mislead the public, is false. There is also an abundance of gossip about the delegation and undignified attacks against devoted public servants. Contrary to what is being said, there were no plans to send anyone to Geneva originally for the 40th session as we have a competent, experienced, respected diplomat as our Ambassador to the UN in Geneva who is well-versed in procedure and substance and who has always managed things in a professional and dignified manner, based on instructions, with no attempts to blow his own trumpet like some do. And unlike some others who held this post earlier, the present Ambassador is completely apolitical with no hidden agenda to embarrass the Government of the day or our country.

Initially I thought that the diplomatic event at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council would be a show of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic maturity, skill, finesse and grace in handling matters rationally on the international stage. After all, Sri Lanka’s position in the world, its global recognition as a trusted partner and sovereign nation is an issue of critical importance to us all. And what could be more important today, ten years after the end of a brutal fratricidal conflict? What could be a better opportunity to showcase our democracy especially after a tilt towards autocracy was defeated by the people, by Parliament and by the Judiciary? Indeed, the 40th session was an opportunity to tell the world of our difficult yet committed journey towards strengthening democracy, reconciliation, sustainable peace and achieving equitable economic development and prosperity for all. What I had hoped to see therefore was a serious, compassionate, and well-informed discussion on true reconciliation.

Continue reading ‘“Rather than Demonstrating Diplomatic Skill, Finesse, Grace and mMturity, We Made a Spectacle of Ourselves in Geneva” – Mangala Samaraweera Lashes Out at Egocentric One-upmanship, Emotional Manipulation and Nationalistic Propaganda’ »

“Yahapalanaya” Government’s Bungling of Power Crisis Provides Fresh Emphasis to the Saying “Kolombata Kiri, Gamata Kekiri” (Milk for Colombo and Snake Gourd for the Villages)

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As Sri Lanka suffers from extraordinary heat, the Government’s decision to impose nation-wide power cuts excepting Colombo city and other ‘privileged’ locations where parliamentarians reside, speaks not only to its witless actions in respect of a major crisis but also imputes a ‘selectiveness’ that has deadly import in an election year.

A Government that cannot ‘govern?

Tellingly, a disgruntled householder in Chilaw exclaimed this week when asked for her reactions by a television, ‘power and water are two basic things that a government is supposed to supply to its people. If it cannot do even that, then what use is it?’ Hardships due to decreased water levels in the reservoirs and the absence of rain are natural and indeed annual occurrences that we ought to be prepared for during these months. But instead of a national sustainable energy policy comprising renewable power solutions as an important part thereof, the public has to suffer major corruption in state bodies responsible for energy generation that goes unchecked and bickering public servants who are as bad as politicians in foisting the blame on each other.

Meanwhile imbecilic political statements offering short term solutions are rife. This week, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe asserted that Temple Trees would be powered by generators, which example ought to be followed by others. So is the private supply of power the answer to a brazen political failure to initiate additional power production facilities or solar powered alternatives during the past few years and to tackle the well known ‘power mafia’ in the country? The lack of transparency and accountability on the part of officials in the energy sector is well established.

Continue reading ‘“Yahapalanaya” Government’s Bungling of Power Crisis Provides Fresh Emphasis to the Saying “Kolombata Kiri, Gamata Kekiri” (Milk for Colombo and Snake Gourd for the Villages)’ »

Forthcoming Presidential Election Likely to See a Head-on Clash Between The Two Political Projects of Parliamentary Democracy and Autocratic Authoritarianism.

By

Jayadeva Uyangoda

In democracies, elections usually are significant political turning points. In democratic theory, an election marks two key opportunities to the people as well as the rulers. For the people, it marks the periodic occasion to elect their rulers and grant them authority to rule over them for a specific period of time, usually, five years.

For the rulers, incumbent or aspiring, an election provides legitimacy to rule. Legitimacy entails both legality and popular support. Legitimacy secured at a free and fair election is an essential precondition for democratic government. The absence of legitimacy secured through elections usually erodes the authority of the rulers and eventually the State.

Sri Lanka’s citizens are awaiting two crucial elections in the year 2019, Presidential and Parliamentary. Of the two, the presidential election is destined to be most crucial for the democratic future of Sri Lanka. It has the potential to determine the country’s future political directions, nature of the Sri Lankan State as well as the state-society relations.

Impending clash

This political significance to the forthcoming presidential election emanates from a single factor. It is the slow building up of a head-on clash between two political projects, parliamentary democracy and autocratic authoritarianism.

Continue reading ‘Forthcoming Presidential Election Likely to See a Head-on Clash Between The Two Political Projects of Parliamentary Democracy and Autocratic Authoritarianism.’ »

Wilpattu Has Not Been De-Forested For Muslim Re-settlement but Vicious Campaign Underway To Spread Anti -Muslim Racism

By

Maneshka Borham and Rajitha Jagoda Arachchi in Marichchukkaddi

Mohammad Thoufeek of Marichchukaddy the most Southern village of Musali, was 29-years-old when he entered the Wilpattu forest on October 28, 1990 accompanied by his family and other villagers, following the LTTE order to evict their village in 24 hours as it suspected that Muslims provided secret information on them to the government forces.

Musali was the only divisional secretariat in the Mannar district with a Muslim majority. It was a difficult journey through the thick forest to Puttlam where they set up a temporary shelter. Thoufeek and the other 70,000 odd Muslims in the Northern District started a life full of many hardships becoming internally displaced unfortunates.

By the time they returned, Wilpattu forest had snuffed the entire village that they couldn’t even see landmarks of the earlier civilisation. However, Musali Divisional Secretariat (DS) under the guidance of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, cleared the area and began the resettlement process.

When we met Thoufeek last week, he was in a small shed in front of his house with his wife, perhaps to escape the hot air inside the house. It was a burning, hot sunny day and to live in the area was nothing short of unfortunate, one could say.

“Assalamualaikum! (Peace be with you),” he extended us a warm welcome.

Continue reading ‘Wilpattu Has Not Been De-Forested For Muslim Re-settlement but Vicious Campaign Underway To Spread Anti -Muslim Racism’ »

Arrests of Four Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Board Directors and Ex-Central Bank Deputy Governor Simultaneously in “Morning Operation ” Indicates CID Probe Into Bond Scam Is Reaching Decisive Phase

By

Anurangi Singh

In the clearest sign that the CID investigations into the February 2015 treasury bond scandal are fast reaching a conclusion, sleuths last Monday (25) arrested five additional suspects, including four board directors of Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) and a retired senior Central Bank official.

Last February, when PTL owner Arjun Aloysius and CEO Kasun Palisena were arrested by the CID, they were charged with aiding and abetting former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran to commit criminal breach of trust against treasury funds.

The suspects arrested last week were additionally charged with offences of ‘insider trading’ and ‘market manipulation’ criminalised by the Registered Stocks and Securities Ordinance. The four arrested directors are Chairman Geoff Aloysius, who is the father of Arjun Aloysius, Pushya Gunewardane, Ranjan Hulugalle and Mutturaja Surendran.

Of the four, Geoff Aloysius and Ranjan Hulugalle had been extensively questioned by the CID in 2018 in connection with investigations into suspected money laundering by affiliate company W.M. Mendis, of which both were board directors.

Continue reading ‘Arrests of Four Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Board Directors and Ex-Central Bank Deputy Governor Simultaneously in “Morning Operation ” Indicates CID Probe Into Bond Scam Is Reaching Decisive Phase’ »

CID Informs Magistrate That Ex- Commander of the Navy Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda Knew Where, When and How the 11 “Missing” Youths were Abducted and That he Also Knew of Their Eventual Fate.


By

Maneshka Borham

On Thursday when the magisterial inquiry into the abduction of eleven youth by a Navy abduction gang for ransom concluded for the day, parents of the missing boys waited near courts hoping to attract the attention of investigators led by OIC of the Gang Robberies Unit of the CID, IP Nishantha Silva. A decade after their children disappeared, and in spite of mounting evidence that they were murdered, this small group of women want to keep begging Silva and his team of investigators to do more to find their boys.

Earlier during the proceedings OIC Silva submitted an explosive revelation in his latest B report to Court on the gruesome navy abduction for ransom racket the CID has painstakingly uncovered, in an investigation that has spanned nearly a decade. With suspects going right up the chain of the Sri Lanka Navy command,implicatingthe current Chief of Defence Staff and the war-time Commander of the Navy, the case has generated wide public interest.

OIC Silva’s B report last week, revealed the CID’s latest breakthroughs in the high profile case of abduction and murder by Navy sailors.

Continue reading ‘CID Informs Magistrate That Ex- Commander of the Navy Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda Knew Where, When and How the 11 “Missing” Youths were Abducted and That he Also Knew of Their Eventual Fate.’ »

Right Wing Extremism and Fascism Present in Sri Lanka is Openly Promoted by Prominent Politicians, Influential Monks, Leading Traditional Media Outlets as well as Through Personal Social Media Accounts

By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

It’s the birth-rates.
It’s the birth-rates.
It’s the birth-rates.

In June 2018, a senior politician publicly condemned the incarceration of Buddhist monks, noting that the clergy would do well to transform their saffron robes to saffron jumpers. The dog-whistling and coded message was clear to the intended recipients. The infamous Gnanasara Thero had just been incarcerated for criminally intimidating the plaintiff in court, two years prior. The politician went on to say that in the past, there were around nine or 10 in a family, but now there’s just one or two, or at most, three. He unequivocally noted that the Sinhala Buddhist race is also nearing extinction, and that what the current government is doing to reduce the population is quite heinous.

What I’ve done above is to juxtapose the first three lines of a document that the killer in Christchurch, just over a week ago, uploaded to the Internet before slaughtering 50 Muslims and the speech made by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a temple, to a large group of people. The Christchurch killer’s document, just over 70 pages, is disturbing and unhinged.

In an op-ed I wrote last week, I noted that the killer’s language is simple, precise and clear, even if and indeed, mainly because, the logic is so twisted.There is considered intentionality behind the document, written in the format of questions and answers, with a clear political agenda.

The author shows an acute awareness of the media landscape and how violent extremism can be seeded in ways that almost guarantee wide distribution in the short-term and over time. Prejudice is projected as fact. Hate is promoted as reason. Killing is normalised as an entirely justified and necessary response. Though the Christchurch killer’s document is anchored to right-wing extremism and its pantheon of conspiracy theories, reading it, what’s quite disturbing is how much of it resonates with the anti-Muslim rhetoric spewed by extreme Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist monks in Sri Lanka, and their powerful, populist political enablers.

The top 25 words used in the Christchurch killer’s writing are revealing insights into man and mentality, as well as right-wing terrorist ideology. There is an overwhelming emphasis on ‘people’ – his people, or his race. There’s also repeated reference to ‘invaders’, referring exclusively to Muslims. ‘Culture’ is also used a lot, capturing what is perceived as cultural violence brought about by foreigners who are visibly Muslim. The emphasis on ‘land’and a love of the natural environment flows from this, where native lands are portrayed as being invaded by hordes of Muslims, contributing to everything from overpopulation to environmental degradation. This logic frames the more disturbing prevalence of words like ‘death’ and‘attack’in the imperative, with‘victory’ as the ultimate outcome. The document makes specific reference to the killing of children as well, as necessary.

Continue reading ‘Right Wing Extremism and Fascism Present in Sri Lanka is Openly Promoted by Prominent Politicians, Influential Monks, Leading Traditional Media Outlets as well as Through Personal Social Media Accounts’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Callous Remarks About Wasim Thajudeen Being Killed by Speed Saddens and Angers Family of Murdered Rugby Captain


By

Aanya Wipulasena

The family of murdered Sri Lankan Rugby Captain Wasim Thajudeen broke its silence last week, after former President Mahinda Rajapaksa quipped callously at a SLPP event in Kegalle that it was speed that had killed the young sporting icon, even after a court ruled his death a murder three years ago.

Ayesha Thajudeen, the sister of the murdered rugby player has refused press interviews for many months. Her family, she says, has been faced with one bitter disappointment after the other for seven long years, on the road to getting justice for her brother Wasim.

But the remarks by former President, whose family is at the centre of the scandal surrounding the star sportsman’s suspicious death, goaded Ayesha into speaking to the Sunday Observer last week.

“It is ridiculous to still say my brother’s death was an accident when it is scientifically and judicially proven – with a clear court ruling – that it was murder,” Ayesha said in an interview, breaking her long silence on the subject.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Callous Remarks About Wasim Thajudeen Being Killed by Speed Saddens and Angers Family of Murdered Rugby Captain’ »

Hambantota Oil Refinery Project Will Take At Least A year To be Finalized as Main Investor India’s Accord Group is Yet to Recruit Partners or Conduct Assessment of Plan’s Viability.

By

Sudarshan Varadhan and Shihar Aneez

Reuters: An agreement to build a proposed $3.85 billion oil refinery in Sri Lanka will take at least a year to be finalized as its main investor, India’s Accord Group, says it is yet to recruit partners and conduct an assessment of the plan’s viability.

The comments add to confusion about the project, which was announced last week by the Sri Lankan government as the nation’s largest single foreign direct investment ever, but has since been the subject of conflicting statements by various parties.

Accord’s Chairman S Jagatrakshakan, a former Indian government minister, said he has submitted a preliminary proposal to the Sri Lankan government to invest in the project but has not finalized any terms of the deal.

“The project assessment and financial viability assessment will take at least a year. We have not sorted out any of the equity partners for the projects, but are in talks with investors from many countries,” he told Reuters over the phone from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Continue reading ‘Hambantota Oil Refinery Project Will Take At Least A year To be Finalized as Main Investor India’s Accord Group is Yet to Recruit Partners or Conduct Assessment of Plan’s Viability.’ »

Tamil Filmstar Nayantara Issues Statement Condemning Veteran Actor Radha Ravi’s Derogatory Comments Against Her and Urges South Indian Artistes Association To Hold an Internal Inquiry Into the Incident.

By

Janane Venkatraman

Actor Nayanthara on Monday released a statement registering her “condemnation and protest against the derogatory speeches made by Mr. Radha Ravi against women and children in general and me in specific” (sic).

In a strongly worded statement, she demanded that the South Indian Artistes’ Association, also known as the Nadigar Sangam, set up an Internal Complaints Committee as per the Supreme Court guidelines and carry out an internal inquiry on the incident.

She also thanked Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M.K. Stalin for taking action against Radha Ravi — the party had suspended him for his comments on Monday.

She was responding to comments made by the actor at the trailer launch of her film Kolaiyudhir Kaalam on Saturday.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Filmstar Nayantara Issues Statement Condemning Veteran Actor Radha Ravi’s Derogatory Comments Against Her and Urges South Indian Artistes Association To Hold an Internal Inquiry Into the Incident.’ »

SCRM Secy -Gen Mano Tittawela Instructed Envoy in Geneva ALA Azeez to Accept 40/1 Resolution Co-sponsored by Sri Lanka at UNHRC On Behalf of Country in Accordance With Decision Taken by Govt Headed by President Sirisena.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Mano Tittawella, in his capacity as the Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) instructed Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva A. L. A. Azeez to accept the latest resolution 40/1 on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka.

Tittawella was appointed, on March 29, 2016. In Aug 2017, as senior advisor to the Finance and Media Ministry.

The UNP-UPFA coalition established the SCRM under Prime Minister’s Office in keeping with a Cabinet decision dated Dec 18, 2015.

The Secretary General reports directly to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Authoritative sources told The Island, yesterday, that the SCRM had instructed Ambassador Azeez as regards government decision in respect of the resolution 40/1 led by the UK in the absence of the US.

Continue reading ‘SCRM Secy -Gen Mano Tittawela Instructed Envoy in Geneva ALA Azeez to Accept 40/1 Resolution Co-sponsored by Sri Lanka at UNHRC On Behalf of Country in Accordance With Decision Taken by Govt Headed by President Sirisena.’ »

Countering Falsehoods: The Case for Foreign Judges in a Judicial Mechanism in Sri Lanka.


By

Bhavani Fonseka and Luwie Ganeshathasan

In a few weeks, Sri Lanka marks a decade since the end of its brutal war, but its long legacy of abuses remains unaddressed. Decades of inaction, denial and silencing have contributed to and exacerbated a culture of impunity that protected perpetrators and at times, even promoted them. In 2015 the Government of Sri Lanka signalled a change from the past when it officially recognised the need for a comprehensive strategy of addressing past wrongs, finding answers, providing reparations and, most importantly, fighting impunity. With the adoption of Resolution 30/1 at the 30th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Government of Sri Lanka formally acknowledged key areas for reform including in the accountability realm.

The Resolution notes the need to uphold the rule of law and build confidence in the justice system with the establishment of a “judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorised prosecutors and investigators”

This commitment was further reinforced in Resolution 34/1 in March 2017 when the UNHRC provided further time for the full implementation of commitments made in 2015. Despite the passage of time, delays and setbacks were evident and a further two years was granted to Sri Lanka with Resolution 40/1 at the UNHRC Session that concluded last week.

This may have not generated much interest nationally and internationally if not for the statements and actions by key actors in Sri Lanka in the lead up to 20th March when Sri Lanka was discussed at the UNHRC. The curiously assembled delegation of Sri Lanka spared no punches when the head of delegation, Foreign Affairs Minister Thilak Marapana, in a written statement critiqued the report presented by the High Commissioner for Human Rights which incidentally contained data shared by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Notable in this statement was the revisiting of an argument used without success by some in 2015 to prevent the inclusion of the participation of foreign judges, lawyers and others called for in Resolution 30/1.

This article specifically addresses the falsehood that there is an apparent constitutional bar preventing foreign judges from sitting in a judicial mechanism in Sri Lanka. It also presents past examples involving international involvement in investigations and justifies why internationals must be fully integrated in a future judicial mechanism if it is to move beyond past exercises of mere ‘advice’ and ‘monitoring’. Finally, the article also reiterates the call made by many across Sri Lanka on the need for truth and justice and why it is critical to heed this call if the Government and other stakeholders are genuinely interested in tackling the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Countering Falsehoods: The Case for Foreign Judges in a Judicial Mechanism in Sri Lanka.’ »