“Roll On” Resolution to be Passed by UNHRC Will Enable Sri Lanka not to have Foreign Judges on War Crimes Tribunal.

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka believes that the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution on it, to be passed at the end of this month, will not force it to accept adjudication by foreigners in war crimes cases.

It is true that in its latest report to the UNHRC, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights had demanded a “hybrid court” comprising Sri Lankan and foreign judges to try war crimes cases pertaining to the 2006-2009 war to annihilate the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

But the up-coming resolution, to be co-sponsored by the US and Sri Lanka, is expected to be a “roll on” resolution, essentially based on the October 2015 resolution, which was also co-sponsored by Sri Lanka. And the wording of that resolution is such that it could be conveniently interpreted by Sri Lanka to avoid having foreign judges, informed sources told Express on Saturday.

Continue reading ‘“Roll On” Resolution to be Passed by UNHRC Will Enable Sri Lanka not to have Foreign Judges on War Crimes Tribunal.’ »

Musical Excellence and Sartorial Elegance: Conversing With Carnatic Vocalist Sudha Ragunathan

By

Aparna M. Sridhar

(Intelligent, articulate and self-aware SUDHA RAGUNATHAN chats with Aparna M Sridhar about three decades of life in Karnatic Music, gently tossing back at critics the casual, unfair barbs about everything from her sartorial style to the “early” bestowing of top awards)

Sudha Ragunathan

Sudha Ragunathan’s is a story about sustained success, and as often happens when it is accompanied by early and broad-based recognition, glamour and mass appeal, it is also about a constant, unwarranted carping, against a musical career of considerable scale and depth, built on very solid foundations.

Those foundations go back to her rigorous training accompanying her revered guru M. L. Vasanthakumari, one of Carnatic music’s most glorious figures, the youngest of a trinity with D.K. Pattammal and M.S. Subbulakshmi.

Many a morning Sudha would be at MLV’s house for a practice session. She was privy to the daily turmoil in her guru’s life.To MLV were not often available the luxury of hours of focused practice, or immersive peace in music.

She saw MLV going through a series of health challenges, family issues and a large part of the wealth she had earned dwindling away. “During the day in her house, she always had to pay something, settle something, so many challenges that came by phone or by the doorbell,” Sudha says.“An artiste should be able to perform without worrying about sheer survival. But the times for her were so difficult that such was her situation.”

There would be an important concert in the evening and MLV would set everything aside and start getting ready at 5. An hour later she would take to the dais, and her audience would have no inkling of the stresses of her day. MLV’s inventiveness in combining fast paced brigas and the pausal kaarvais that she learnt from her guru GN Balasubramaniam, and her own deep passion for the bhakthi-laden dasarapadagulu in Kannada and the beautiful Tamil verses of Andal’s Thiruppavai enraptured audiences just as much as her contemporary MS Subbulakshmi was doing in her own way.

Having accompanied her on the stage for over a decade,Sudha says every concert saw MLV “rising like a phoenix, like a colossus. Watching all that put in a lot of grit into me. She would say ‘nothing is bigger than us, no challenge so big that you cannot overcome it.’The one thing that I learnt from MLV was that whatever the situation, I cannot allow it to put me down.”
Continue reading ‘Musical Excellence and Sartorial Elegance: Conversing With Carnatic Vocalist Sudha Ragunathan’ »

TNA Leader Sampanthan’s Generosity in Granting More Time To Govt Should Not Be Taken For Granted.

By

Manekshaw

The Leader of the Opposition and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan reiterating his commitment towards strengthening the reconciliation process has said that Sri Lanka should be given time with conditions to fulfil its commitments vis a vis the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution of 2015 which was cosponsored by the island nation.

The TNA Leader had not only shown his political maturity, he has also highlighted his commitment towards not toppling the ‘apple cart’ in an arduous effort of reaching a durable solution to the ethnic question by addressing the humanitarian issues in a sensible manner.

The TNA, led by Sampanthan, played a significant role in ousting the Rajapaksa regime in the best interests of establishing peace and reconciliation in the country.

It is important to remember that the entire North and East stood by the TNA towards bringing the National Unity Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to power in 2015.

Continue reading ‘TNA Leader Sampanthan’s Generosity in Granting More Time To Govt Should Not Be Taken For Granted.’ »

Tamil National Alliance Wants Govt to Make Swift Progress on Issues Highlighted by UN Human Rights High Commissioner


(Text of Press Release Issued by the Tamil National Alliance Media Office on March 3rd 2017)

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) welcomes the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution, and its recommendations.

While the report acknowledges some areas of progress, such as discussions on constitutional reform, it is critical of the government’s failure to deliver with respect to a number of critical issues.

The TNA shares the concerns of the Report that confidence building measures such as land releases, release of prisoners, repeal of the PTA, reform of the Victim and Witness Protection Authority and ending military involvement in commercial and civilian activities have not been pursued satisfactorily.

In fact, the failure of the government on these issues are steadily eroding the trust of our people.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Wants Govt to Make Swift Progress on Issues Highlighted by UN Human Rights High Commissioner’ »

UN Human Rights Chief raps Sri Lanka for tardiness, demands foreign judges in war crimes courts


By PK Balachandran

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has said that the momentum towards lasting peace and ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka could be derailed by the “slow pace of transitional justice and the lack of a comprehensive strategy to address accountability for past crimes.”

It has also insisted on the establishment of a “hybrid court” comprising both Sri Lankan and foreign judges to try war crimes cases.

Positive Advances

The report, which was presented to the UNHRC in Geneva on Friday, however, acknowledges that there have been positive advances on human rights and constitutional reform.

“The Government has advanced on constitutional reforms and showcased some positive developments on the broader human rights agenda. The fulfillment of transitional justice commitments has, however, been worryingly slow, and the structures set up and measures taken during the period under review were inadequate to ensure real progress,” the report states.

It commends the constructive engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka with the UN’s human rights bodies, marking a discernible change in policy. It also recognizes some advances on constitutional reforms, on crucial issues like land restitution and symbolic gestures towards reconciliation, as well as legal reforms and the design of an Office of Missing Persons.

“The laudable, inclusive work of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanism, appointed by the Government, has also resulted in an incisive report, which was issued in January this year.”

“However, the structures set up and measures taken until now have been inadequate, lacked coordination and a sense of urgency. Party politics, including the balancing of power between the different constituencies of the coalition in the run-up to constitutional reforms, have contributed to a reluctance to address difficult issues regarding accountability or to clearly articulate a unified position
by all parts of Government.”

“Unclear and often contradictory messages have been delivered on transitional justice mechanisms. Public messaging around transitional justice and reconciliation has been generally confusing and at times contradictory,” the report states.

Prince Zeid’s Observations

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein noted that in many ways, Sri Lanka appears to be turning a corner on the promotion and protection of human rights, but he stressed that hard-won gains could prove illusory if they are not tethered to a comprehensive, robust strategy.

“Seventeen months ago, when we published a detailed report on the grave human rights violations committed during the conflict in Sri Lanka, I urged the Government and all the people of Sri Lanka to ensure that this historic opportunity for truly fundamental change should not be squandered,” Zeid said.

“This critical opportunity in Sri Lankan history cannot be missed. I urge the Government and people of Sri Lanka to prioritize justice alongside reconciliation to ensure that the horrors of the past are
firmly dealt with, never to recur,” he added.”

Repeats Recommendations

The report makes a number of concrete recommendations, including calling on the Government to embrace the report of the Consultation Task Force, to formulate a communications campaign to inform the public about details of the reconciliation agenda, to invite the UN Human Rights Office to establish a presence in Sri Lanka, to give the highest priority to the restitution of all private land that has been
occupied by the military, and to adopt legislation establishing a “hybrid court,” comprising Sri Lankan and foreign judges.


Torture Still There

The report also highlights a number of serious human rights violations that are reportedly continuing to occur in Sri Lanka, including the harassment or surveillance of human rights defenders and victims of
violations, police abuse and excessive use of force, and the use of torture.

It pointed out that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has stated that the complaints it receives indicate the routine use of torture by the police throughout the country as a means of interrogation and investigation. The report notes that the “prevailing culture of impunity for perpetrating torture has undoubtedly contributed to this situation.”


Need for Consistency

Prince Zeids added: that the authorities “at all levels, from the head of State to military, police, intelligence and local-level leaders, need to publicly issue unequivocal instructions to all branches of the military, intelligence and police forces that torture, sexual violence and other human rights violations are unequivocally prohibited and will be punished. And such violations need to be promptly investigated without fail. This is essential to regain and retain the trust of all Sri Lankans in the authorities, and to reassure them that the State exists to protect the rights of all its people.”

The High Commissioner will present the report to the Human Rights Council on 22 March in Geneva.


Courtesy:New Indian Express

President Sirisena Claims to have Shown his “Backbone” to the International Community by Rejecting UNHRC Chief’s Proposal for a Hybrid Court

By

Sandun A Jayasekera

President Maithripala Sirisena told the SLFP executive committee meeting that he had shown his ‘backbone’ to the International community by rejecting UNHRC Chief Zeid bin Ra-ad Al Hussein’s recommendation for a hybrid court to probe war crimes allegations in Sri Lanka.

“Two weeks ago the UN Human Rights High Commissioner in his report on Sri Lanka called for a probe by foreign judges. Within 24 hours, I rejected it saying I am not ready to bring foreign judges here,” he said. “There can be people without a backbone. But I am not ready to go forward with those without a backbone. I will go forward with only those with a backbone,” he said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Claims to have Shown his “Backbone” to the International Community by Rejecting UNHRC Chief’s Proposal for a Hybrid Court’ »

Hybrid War Crimes Tribunal With Foreign Judges in Sri Lanka is not Politically Feasible States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

A hybrid war crimes tribunal, recommended by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September 2015, was not feasible in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe said yesterday.

The PM was speaking at the inauguration of the National Law Week 2017- Colombo Segment at the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) auditorium. The event was attended by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, newly appointed Chief Justice Priyasath Dep and other distinguished invitees.

However, President Maithripala Sirisena was absent though he had been invited by the BASL.

CJ Dep made his first formal public appearance and speech as the head of the judiciary. The PM congratulated CJ Dep and described him as a person who deserved the office of Chief Justice.

The Prime Minister said a call for a hybrid court system in 2015 had been made as the international community lacked faith in the judiciary at that time.

Continue reading ‘Hybrid War Crimes Tribunal With Foreign Judges in Sri Lanka is not Politically Feasible States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

First Draft of Resolution to be Adopted at UNHRC in Geneva Grants Sri Lanka Two Year Extension for Implementation.

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

Sri Lanka has obtained a two year extension to tackle post-war reconciliation and allegations of war crimes, according to a first draft of the UN resolution that is likely be adopted at the Human Rights Council at its 34th Session currently underway in Geneva.

According to the “zero draft” of the resolution in circulation late yesterday, Sri Lanka’s next major report on progress made on implementing the 2015 resolution by the High Commissioner for Human Rights will be at the Council’s 40th Session in March 2019.

The draft resolution also calls for a written report from the High Commissioner at the 37th Session of the Council in March 2018.

Continue reading ‘First Draft of Resolution to be Adopted at UNHRC in Geneva Grants Sri Lanka Two Year Extension for Implementation.’ »

Ex-CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran Ordered Public Debts Supdt to Accept Rs 10 Billion Worth of Treasury Bonds at Feb 27th 2015 Sale

by Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

Additional Director of the Statistics Department of the Central Bank (CB) Dr. M. Z. M. Azim told the Special Presidential Commission probing the controversial bond issue, yesterday, that former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran had instructed the Superintendent of Public Debts to accept Rs. 10 billion worth bids on Treasury bonds despite the Public Debt Department’s recommendation that Rs 2.6 billion bids during the treasury bond sale on Feb 27, 2015 be accepted.

Asked by counsel whether he had received it as an order from the former CB Governor to the Public Debt Superintendent, Dr. Azim responded in the affirmative.

Continue reading ‘Ex-CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran Ordered Public Debts Supdt to Accept Rs 10 Billion Worth of Treasury Bonds at Feb 27th 2015 Sale’ »

UN Human Rights Chief Zeid chides Lanka on ‘slow progress’and lack of commitment on war crimes court

By DharishaBastians in Geneva

Sri Lanka has shown little commitment to setting up a special judicial mechanism to prosecute alleged war crimes, the United Nations said in a new report released in Geneva yesterday that criticises the Government for its “slow pace of progress” on post-war reconciliation and justice.

In a hard-hitting report to the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council currently meeting in Geneva, UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the Government had prioritised only truth and reparations aspects of the transitional justice process it committed to in the 2015 resolution.

“While acknowledging the complexity of establishing such a judicial mechanism, the High Commissioner considers that preparatory work for judicial mechanisms should already be at an advanced stage,” the report observed.

The High Commissioner’s report also makes the astute observation that party politics and the balance of power in the ruling coalition in Sri Lanka had contributed to a reluctance to address “difficult issues” relating to accountability for grave crimes committed during the war in the run up to constitutional reforms.

Continue reading ‘UN Human Rights Chief Zeid chides Lanka on ‘slow progress’and lack of commitment on war crimes court’ »

No Foreign Judges in Lanka’s Judicial Mechanism for War Crimes, Implies Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in Geneva


By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

The Government will not enact new laws to incorporate foreign judges and lawyers into a local judicial mechanism to address allegations of war crimes, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told a UN Human Rights Council side event in Geneva on Wednesday (1).

“But with or without foreign judges, the mechanism the Government comes up with will be credible,” the Foreign Minister vowed, in response to a question posed to the delegation on the controversial issue.

During his remarks, Minister Samaraweera did not rule out international participation in the judicial mechanism the Government was proposing to address allegations of grave violations of international law during the final stages of the war.

However his comments appeared to indicate that foreign jurists would not sit as judges in a future special court.

Continue reading ‘No Foreign Judges in Lanka’s Judicial Mechanism for War Crimes, Implies Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in Geneva’ »

Ex-Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Entered Public Debt Dept on Feb 27th 2015 While Treasury Bond auction was Going on.

By Shayam Nuwan Ganewatte and Sarath Dharmasena

Top Central Bank official Dr. M. Z. M. Aazim yesterday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that Governor Arjuna Mahendran had entered the Public Debt Department on the tenth floor of the CBSL building at 10.45 am on Feb 27, 2015 while an auction of treasury bonds was taking place.

Dr. Aazim was the Additional Superintendent of the Public Debt Department at that time.

In answer to a query from Senior Deputy Solicitor General Priyantha Nawana, Dr Aazim said that during the time he served at the Public Debt Department, Mahendran’s predecessors had never entered that section.

When Supreme Court judge Prasanna S. Jayawardena asked whether a Governor visiting various departments was normal, Dr Aazim said he had not seen a Governor visit the Public Debt Department earlier while an auction was on.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Entered Public Debt Dept on Feb 27th 2015 While Treasury Bond auction was Going on.’ »

Draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA) Is No Longer Operational in Sri Lanka – SCRM Head Tittawela in Geneva

By

Dharisha Bastians

President Maithripala Sirisena had issued directives that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Sri Lanka’s draconian anti-terror law was no longer to be used to charge suspects, Mano Tittawella, who heads the Government office coordinating reconciliation mechanisms said in Geneva on Wednesday.

“The old PTA is not operational anymore,” Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) told participants at a discussion organized by the Government on the sidelines of the UNHRC session in Geneva.

Tittawella said that two arrests had been made recently under the PTA, but in both those cases the arrests were reversed and the suspects were charged under the normal laws.

Continue reading ‘Draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA) Is No Longer Operational in Sri Lanka – SCRM Head Tittawela in Geneva’ »

Pro-Tiger TGTE “Transitional Govt” Minister Accosts Mangala Samaraweera in Geneva Accusing him of Telling Lies to International Community.

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

Moments after a speech on Tuesday (28) in which he blamed extremists on both sides of the ethnic divide for stalling Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was briefly accosted by a member of a pro-LTTE group at the Palais des Nations, the building that houses the United Nations in Geneva.3

The Minister was walking out of Room XX where the Human Rights Council sits after his speech was filmed by the Tamil Diaspora representative when he stopped for a brief interaction with President of the Global Tamil Forum, Fr. S.J. Emmanuel.

Continue reading ‘Pro-Tiger TGTE “Transitional Govt” Minister Accosts Mangala Samaraweera in Geneva Accusing him of Telling Lies to International Community.’ »

British Parliament Debate on Human Rights Situation in Sri Lanka and Resolution on Sri Lanka at UNHRC 34th Sessions in Geneva

James Berry (Kingston and Surbiton) (Con)

I beg to move,

That this House has considered human rights in Sri Lanka and the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gapes, not only because it will be wonderfully fair and impartial but because I know that you take an interest in the issue. It is also a pleasure to be joined by so many members of the all-party parliamentary group for Tamils, in which I have seen, since my election, genuinely cross-party work on an issue of importance to many of our constituents.

It is timely that we are holding this debate the day after the opening of the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. In fact, our first debate on this subject, in October 2015, was on the day before the start of the session. I hope that we can make our views clear as our Ministers go in to represent the UK at the Human Rights Council. The Minister with responsibility for Sri Lanka, my hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma), is not here today; I understand that he is in Geneva and was at the opening of the session, which is welcome. However, I am pleased that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood)—not the B-team—is here to respond for the Government.

Joan Ryan (Enfield North) (Lab)

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing what I agree is a timely debate. Many of the key promises made by the Government of Sri Lanka in 2015—justice, accountability, human rights protections, reconciliation—have not been fulfilled. Does he agree that the UK Government must support a follow-up resolution in Geneva calling on Sri Lanka to provide a clear timetable for the implementation of all outstanding commitments?

Continue reading ‘British Parliament Debate on Human Rights Situation in Sri Lanka and Resolution on Sri Lanka at UNHRC 34th Sessions in Geneva’ »

Recent Protests Over Access to Land and Sea Due to Livelihood of People Being Tied to Land and Sea

By

Meera Srinivasan

“When I lie down here at night, I imagine being under the roof of my home,” says Singarathinam Sellamma, 83, seated among a small group of people outside the divisional secretariat in Puthukkudiyiruppu here.

For about 25 days now, representatives of 49 families have been taking turns and fasting at the entrance of the government’s administrative unit in the small town, staying put under a roadside shelter. Their demand is simple – they want to return to their homes across the road, located on the 19 acres of land that the military has occupied since 2009. Hundreds of families like theirs were displaced in the final phase of the war.

“Why should I live at the mercy of a relative when I have my own home? We have our documents. Why is it so difficult for the government to verify all that and give back our land?” asks Ms. Sellamma, sulking at the number of photocopies she has had to make for different petitions. After losing her son and son-in-law during the war, the only reason she keeps hopes afloat is to “go back home one day”.

While the government has so far released about 9,020 acres that was under military occupation, war-affected people in different parts of the north and east have been protesting incessantly to reclaim the remaining civilian land that is occupied by the military.

Continue reading ‘Recent Protests Over Access to Land and Sea Due to Livelihood of People Being Tied to Land and Sea’ »

“Remove Ravi Karunanayake From Finance and Make Him Cultural or Buddha sasana affairs Minister” – Bandula Gunawardana

By

Lahiru Pothmulla

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake will be better off with another portfolio like that of Cultural Affairs or Buddha Sasana Affairs, the joint opposition said yesterday.

It said the minister should resign as he had made baseless allegations that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was responsible for the controversial bond sale issue.

“If he didn’t resign, the President should remove him. The country’s economy will be saved if instead of his current portfolio he is appointed Cultural Affairs Minister or Buddha Sasana Affairs Minister,” MP Bandula Gunawardana told a news conference.

Continue reading ‘“Remove Ravi Karunanayake From Finance and Make Him Cultural or Buddha sasana affairs Minister” – Bandula Gunawardana’ »

Sri Lanka to Co-sponsor Resolution Along with UK,USA and Montenegro Seeking 2 Year Time Frame to Implement 2015 UNHRC Resolution.

By

Dharisha Bastians

Sri Lanka will co-sponsor a resolution led by the US and the core group at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Government confirmed in Geneva yesterday.

Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms Mano Tittawela told Daily FT in Geneva that the Government would submit a resolution together with the US, UK and Montenegro that it hopes would provide more time for implementation of UNHRC resolution 30/1 which was adopted by the Council in October 2015.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka to Co-sponsor Resolution Along with UK,USA and Montenegro Seeking 2 Year Time Frame to Implement 2015 UNHRC Resolution.’ »

“Permanent Office of Missing Persons Will Be Ready in 2 or 3 Months”-SCRM Secy-gen Mano Tittawella in Geneva

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

The permanent Office of Missing Persons should be ready to go in two or three months, the Sri Lankan Government announced in Geneva yesterday, urging victims and activists to be patient as frustration mounts about the pace of its progress on reconciliation and justice.

The Government had already allocated Rs. 1.4 billion for the Office of Missing Persons in its 2017 budget and the Office will be operationalised once the subject is assigned to a Ministry, Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) Mano Tittawella told an event organised by the Government on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council’s 34th Session.

He added that the OMP would be fully independent from Government, with the OMP law mandating that the Office will report directly to Parliament. “The Office will function at district level and is vested with powers by the Act to go to any province or region. The OMP may even use mobile units to gather information,” the SCRM Chief explained.

Continue reading ‘“Permanent Office of Missing Persons Will Be Ready in 2 or 3 Months”-SCRM Secy-gen Mano Tittawella in Geneva’ »

US Dep Asst Secy of State Erin Barclay Praises Sri Lanka’s Progress and Cites it as an Example of UN Human Rights Council Working Properly

By

Dharisha Bastians

Sri Lanka was an example of a country in which the UN Human Rights Council had catalysed progress for reform and provided assistance to improve accountability for past violations, the US Government said in Geneva yesterday.

Addressing the High Level segment of the UNHRC 34th Session at the Palais des Nations, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay used Sri Lanka and North Korea as examples of the council’s usefulness, in a speech that otherwise blasted the 47-member UN body for unfairly targeting Israel.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Barclay’s speech before the UNHRC yesterday was the first time the US had addressed the council since the Trump Administration took office.

“When the council functions properly, it has the ability to remind states of their commitments and obligations and it can hold countries accountable for the same,” the US Deputy Assistant Secretary noted.

“When the council works as it should, its successes are victories for human rights. For example, HRC action catalysed progress for reform and provided technical assistance to improve accountability for past violations in Sri Lanka,” Barclay said.

Continue reading ‘US Dep Asst Secy of State Erin Barclay Praises Sri Lanka’s Progress and Cites it as an Example of UN Human Rights Council Working Properly’ »

“TEXIT” Strategy of Tamil Nationalism is Political Utilization of Constitutional Referendum Regardless of Result

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

A funny thing happened in-between the reconvening of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly (Feb 21) and the adjournment motion on the Constitution held the next day in Parliament. TNA MP MA Sumanthiran and target of an assassination attempt by the LTTE, struck a discordant note in his speech at a seminar on “The Constitution, Reconciliation & You”, organized by Sri Lanka Inc. and held at the Buddhist Cultural Center auditorium on February 21st evening. His speech and mine (which came much later) triggered off a heated debate that kept the event going until 9:30 p.m.

Mr. Sumanthiran spoke second, following upon Prof GL Pieris. My own speech took on more of an edge than it otherwise would have, in response to the latent note of intimidation vis–a-vis the Sinhala majority struck by both Suma and former Chief Secretary of the North Eastern Provincial Council, Dr. Wigneswaran.

When criticizing the concept of majority rule based on the principle of one man one vote, Mr. Sumanthiran chose to quote from the remarks in Parliament of Mr. C. Sundaralingam, a pioneering Eelamist (he called it “Eylom”) who stood for a separate state even when the TULF did not, and ran for election on that slogan. More curiously, but quite revealingly, Mr. Sumanthiran chose a quote in which Mr. Sundaralingam’s critique of democratic majority rule included an explicit threat of physical violence.

Continue reading ‘“TEXIT” Strategy of Tamil Nationalism is Political Utilization of Constitutional Referendum Regardless of Result’ »

Govt will Adhere to its Commitments on Transitional Justice and Reconciliation , Mangala Samaraweera Assures UNHRC in Geneva

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

In the face of mounting criticism about the pace of reform and setbacks in the transitional justice process, Sri Lanka told the United Nations yesterday about dilemmas the Government was confronting as it attempted to lead a war-torn and divided country on a journey of reckoning with a violent past.

The Government of Sri Lanka was facing fire from extremists on both sides of the ethnic divide as it grapples with delivering on its reconciliation and justice pledges, but its resolve to see the transitional justice process through remains undiminished Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told the UN Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations in Geneva yesterday.

Delivering Sri Lanka’s national statement before the 47-member UN body on human rights, the Foreign Minister laid out the Government’s dilemma, as it faced accusations of doing too much or too little by different actors who stubbornly refused to acknowledge gains made in the past two years.

“In the face of roadblocks in the day-to-day world of realpolitik, there may be detours from time to time, but the destination and our resolve to walk the distance remain unchanged,” the Minister vowed.

Continue reading ‘Govt will Adhere to its Commitments on Transitional Justice and Reconciliation , Mangala Samaraweera Assures UNHRC in Geneva’ »

Khaki-clad Gunmen With Assault Rifles Attack “Black Maria” Prison Van in Kalutara Killing 7 and Injuring 9

By Norman Palihawadana and Sarath de Silva

Seven persons including five prisoners and two jailers were killed when a group of gunmen dressed in police style uniforms launched an audacious daytime attack on a prison bus at Ethanamadala in Kalutara around 8.30 am yesterday.

Among the dead was notorious underworld kingpin Aruna Udayashantha alias Kaduwela Samayan, police said. The prisoners who died in the attack were henchmen of the underworld leader, police claimed.

Nine prison officers injured in the attack had been admitted to hospital, police said.

Continue reading ‘Khaki-clad Gunmen With Assault Rifles Attack “Black Maria” Prison Van in Kalutara Killing 7 and Injuring 9’ »

“Go to Courts if You Can”- Ravi Karunanayake Issues Challenge to Mahinda Rajapaksa Over Treasury Bond Issue Gazette Issue.

By

Chamikara Weerasinghe

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday challenged former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to go to Courts if he can over the controversial Gazette notification dated Jan 1, 2015 on the issuance of Treasury Bonds by the Central Bank. “This is exactly what we want for the truth to come out,” Karunanayake said. He was speaking at a press conference at Finance Ministry yesterday.

Central Bank Governor Indrajit Kumaraswami was also present on the occasion.

Former President Rajapksa had reportedly stated at a public ceremony in Horana on Monday that he is seeking legal advice from his lawyers to take Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and the Central Bank to Courts over the issue concerned.

Continue reading ‘“Go to Courts if You Can”- Ravi Karunanayake Issues Challenge to Mahinda Rajapaksa Over Treasury Bond Issue Gazette Issue.’ »

Has Mahinda Rajapaksa Actually Done Anything Tangible or Sustainable Benefiting the Sinhalese?

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Issuing a report on transitional justice a few days before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meeting in Geneva, Centre for Human Rights and Research (CHR) stated that neither the government nor NGOs have recognized the suffering of Sinhalese and Muslims who were affected by the conflict.

The report added that the suffering of the two communities must be recognized and the government should recognize their right to return.In a sane universe this fact should have been recognized from day one and steps would have been taken to ensure that the Northern Sinhalese and Muslims were also restituted and their right to return recognized.

If this was done and a concerted attempt was taken to convince the Sinhalese and Muslims that they too are a part of the ‘reconciliation process’, a lot of resistance and suspicion we see today would not be there.

But since successive governments and those working for reconciliation made the entire process about the Northern Tamils, the Sinhalese were automatically deemed the bad eggs and recognizing the sufferings of Muslims, exclusively at the hands of Tamil militant groups, would have muddled the narrative of Tamil victimhood. This explicit (in the case of Sinhalese) and implicit (Muslims) excluded the other two communities; what we now see is a wall of resentment and opposition, especially from the Sinhalese.


Rajapaksa never cared about the Sinhalese

Continue reading ‘Has Mahinda Rajapaksa Actually Done Anything Tangible or Sustainable Benefiting the Sinhalese?’ »

Sri Lanka’s New Right to Information Law Puts Corrupt Officials In Crosshairs


By

Marwaan Macan-Markar

COLOMBO – Since November 2012, the students of St. Joseph’s College, an all-male secondary school in Colombo, have watched a landmark tower rising over their backyard. The construction work rattled some of the classrooms closest to the Lotus Tower, as the 350 meter freestanding structure is called, and put paid to the students’ former habits of scampering across the grounds behind the school to fish in a nearby lake with improvised rods.

Some of the school’s alumni scoffed at the $104 million tower, funded largely by the Export-Import Bank of China and commissioned by the autocratic former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

They dismissed it as “another Rajapaksa vanity project,” adding to widespread skepticism that the communications tower, once complete, with lotus petals and antenna, will be the tallest building in South Asia.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s New Right to Information Law Puts Corrupt Officials In Crosshairs’ »

2 Candidates Seeking Liberal Party Nomination for Markham-Thornhill By-election “Cry Foul” Against Party Leadership

By ABBAS RANA

Two candidates seeking the federal Liberal nomination in the vacant Markham-Thornhill, Ont., riding are crying foul over the party’s handling of the nomination process, saying the party is “doing everything they can” to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s director of appointments, Mary Ng, elected as the candidate in next weekend’s nomination meeting.

“Mary Ng is the [Liberal] candidate,” said Markham businessman Nadeem Qureshi, who is one of the three candidates running for nomination in the riding. “That’s what the Liberal [party leadership] wants. There’s no doubt on that.”

Juanita Nathan, a Markham school board trustee, who is also running for the nomination, said she’s holding a press conference to express her “serious concerns” about how the party is trying to get Ms. Ng elected as the Liberal candidate in the riding.

“I strongly feel the voice of the electorate must be heard and that it is imperative to the democratic process that all nomination candidates have an equal and fair chance to be selected to represent their political party in the upcoming by-elections,” Ms. Nathan told The Hill Times.

Continue reading ‘2 Candidates Seeking Liberal Party Nomination for Markham-Thornhill By-election “Cry Foul” Against Party Leadership’ »

Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor Assure Investors that Govt Would Honour Treasury Bonds Despite Problems of Issuance.

By

Uditha Jayasinghe

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy yesterday joined forces to assure investors that bonds issued by the Government remained “sacrosanct” and would be honoured even as they admitted the procedures of gazetting them remained problematic.

Convening a press conference at the Finance Ministry, Karunanayake soothed market concerns pledging legality and issuance procedures of bonds would be resolved speedily by the Government with cooperation from the Central Bank but assured payments would not be hindered.

He also questioned as to why the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), which complied a hefty report on bond sales and presented it to Parliament, had not unearthed the procedural problems linked to bond issuance.

Continue reading ‘Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor Assure Investors that Govt Would Honour Treasury Bonds Despite Problems of Issuance.’ »

Gazette no 1895/19 Dated 1st Jan 2015 on Issuance of Treasury Bonds was Printed on 22nd Dec 2016.

The Government Printer Gangani Kalpana Liyanage revealed yesterday that the 1 January 2015 Extraordinary Gazette No. 1895/19 relating to the issuance of Treasury Bonds by the Central Bank was actually submitted for printing on 22 December 2016.

She told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the issuance of Central Bank Treasury bonds that the relevant gazette was submitted for publication by the Central Bank Public Debt Department.

Continue reading ‘Gazette no 1895/19 Dated 1st Jan 2015 on Issuance of Treasury Bonds was Printed on 22nd Dec 2016.’ »

Ex- CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran Auctioned Treasury Bonds Without Monetary Board Approval Reveals Finance Ministry Secy Samaratunga.

By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta and Sarath Dharmasena

Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Dr RHS Samaratunga yesterday informed the Commission of Inquiry investigating the controversial bond sale that former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran had opted to sell Treasury bonds through public auction without approval from the Monetary Board.

In answer to a question by Senior State Counsel Yasantha Kodagoda, Dr Samaratunga said the former Central Bank Governor had decided on the public auction and informed the Monetary Board only after carrying out the controversial bond sale on Feb. 27, 2015.

Asked by Supreme Court Judge Prasanna S. Jayawardena whether a decision to opt for the public auction should have been made by the Monetary Board Dr Samaratunga answered in the affirmative.

Continue reading ‘Ex- CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran Auctioned Treasury Bonds Without Monetary Board Approval Reveals Finance Ministry Secy Samaratunga.’ »

Acting Govt Printer Tells Inquiry Commission that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Name was Included in Gazette on Instructions from Central Bank Officials


By Shyam nuwan Ganewatta and Sarath Dharmasena

Acting Government Printer Gangani Kalpana Liyanage yesterday informed the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating the controversial bond sale that the name of former Finance Minister and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s name had been included in the gazette No 1895/19 relevant for the controversial sale on instructions from the Central Bank.

She admitted that mentioning the name of Rajapaksa as the Minister of Finance in the gazette was a mistake and it had been brought to her notice by an official of the proofreading division of the government printing department.

Continue reading ‘Acting Govt Printer Tells Inquiry Commission that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Name was Included in Gazette on Instructions from Central Bank Officials’ »

Mangala Likely to Seek 2 Year Extended Time Frame at UNHRC Geneva Sessions to Implement UN Resolution Provisions on Transitional Justice.

Dharisha Bastians reporting from Geneva

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera will address the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today, delivering a speech that will outline Sri Lanka’s reconciliation and justice efforts since 2015 and appeal for more time to deliver on its transitional justice pledges as the country reckons with its violent past.

Sri Lanka is likely to seek a two-year extended timeframe to implement recommendations contained in UNHRC resolution 30/1 which it cosponsored in October 2015. The resolution called on the Government to meet its transitional justice commitments, undertake political and security reforms and set up a judicial mechanism comprising foreign judges, lawyers and investigators to address alleged war crimes committed by Government troops and the LTTE during the conflict.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Likely to Seek 2 Year Extended Time Frame at UNHRC Geneva Sessions to Implement UN Resolution Provisions on Transitional Justice.’ »

New Constitution Project is an Effort to Weaken Sri Lankan State Along Two Lines.


BY

DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

Hon. Sampanthan’s 90 minute (written) speech during the recent adjournment debate (Feb 22) on the Constitution was ‘historicist’, in the sense that he invoked a great deal of political history. But his argument was a-historical and illogical.

The Tamil nationalists, including Mr. Sampanthan himself spurned the many offers made by successive Sri Lankan (OK, Southern or Sinhala) administrations from that of President Premadasa through President Kumaratunga to President Rajapaksa. Why does the TNA think that offers made and rejected in wartime, due to the compulsions of wartime and the sacrifices necessary for a negotiated settlement which would end the carnage, once rejected, would remain on or return to the table once the war was over and had been won by the State and the South at great cost?

Overall, the project for a new Constitution is nothing but an effort to weaken the Sri Lankan state along two lines. Firstly to decapitate it by removing the Executive Presidency, which will make it impossible for the country to have a strong stable leadership which can stabilize the state and act as an engine of development. Thus we shall not a have a successor of the strong leaders such as JR Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Secondly, the unitary character of the state will be abolished and the provinces will be given qualitatively more control, which will decompose us into eight or nine competing provinces without a strong center—the executive Presidency—to hold them together.

Continue reading ‘New Constitution Project is an Effort to Weaken Sri Lankan State Along Two Lines.’ »

“Open War” Between Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ravi Karunanayake Over Controversial Gazette on Central Bank Issuance of Treasury Bonds


A major battle has erupted between Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa over a 2015 January gazette by the Central Bank listing past and future Treasury bond issues with an aggregate value of a staggering Rs. 1.8 trillion.

Karunanayake yesterday charged that the Central Bank under the Rajapaksa regime had violated regulations as well as legalised corruption-prone private placements of Treasury bonds whilst Rajapaksa in his rebuttal blamed the Yahapalanaya Government for a “diabolical attempt” to foist the blame for the “great” Central Bank bond scam on him. The former president also threatened legal action against Minister Karunanayake.

The basis for the battle, which is likely to create shockwaves within and beyond political circles, is Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 1895/19 dated 1 January 2015 i.e. seven days before the 8 January 2015 Presidential Election, issued by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the then Minister of Finance and Planning.

This gazette transpired when the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga appeared before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Treasury bond issuances last Thursday (23 February).

Continue reading ‘“Open War” Between Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ravi Karunanayake Over Controversial Gazette on Central Bank Issuance of Treasury Bonds’ »

89th Oscars Event Peppered With Barbs Against Donald Trump but “Bonie and Clyde”Lead Pair Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty Feature in Finale Fiasco.

By

Rory Carroll

Moonlight has won the best picture Oscar in a chaotic awards ceremony climax which mistakenly awarded the top honour to La La Land, a fiasco which stunned Hollywood and viewers around the world.

Jimmy Kimmel

Faye Dunaway named La La Land as the year’s best picture at the end of Sunday night’s ABC broadcast only to be corrected a few minutes later as the musical’s makers celebrated on stage, a tableaux likely to be immortalised in Hollywood annals.

Audible gasps were heard in the Dolby theatre when La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz declared the real winner was Moonlight, a coming-of-age drama revered by critics.

It appeared Dunaway and Warren Beatty had an envelope containing a card naming a previous award won by La La Land, prompting visible hesitation between the two veteran actors before Dunaway went ahead and named La La Land.

Two minutes later Horowitz, as celebrations on stage turned into commotion, bewildered millions by saying a mistake had been made and that it was not a joke. He held up a card showing Moonlight was the winner.

Continue reading ‘89th Oscars Event Peppered With Barbs Against Donald Trump but “Bonie and Clyde”Lead Pair Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty Feature in Finale Fiasco.’ »

“La La Land” Lands Six Oscars at 89th Academy Awards in LA but “Moonlight” Wins Best Picture Oscar in Surreal Mix-up

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land landed the Oscar for Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards, except it didn’t, as the award presenters read out the wrong winner.Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight was in fact given the accolade, in an unbelievably surreal piece of television and undoubtedly the most dramatic moment in Oscars history.

Presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced La La Land as the winner of the night’s biggest award, with cast and crew flooding the stage.

Producer Jordan Horowitz launched into an acceptance speech, getting quite far into it, before the truth slowly spread through the gaggle of people on the podium.Speaking into the microphone, Horowitz announced: “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture.” As the crowd looked on, bemused, he reiterated: “This is not a joke. Moonlight has won best picture,”

LA LA LAND

After host Jimmy Kimmel attempted to crack jokes (“Warren, what did you do?”) to break the tension, Beatty explained: “I opened the envelope and it said: Emma Stone, La La Land. That’s why I took such a long pause and looked at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

Continue reading ‘“La La Land” Lands Six Oscars at 89th Academy Awards in LA but “Moonlight” Wins Best Picture Oscar in Surreal Mix-up’ »

IGP Crying in Public or his Officers Meditating Will not Help Reform the Police Service in Sri Lanka.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

When leaving his position as Chairman of the National Police Commission (NPC) to assume an academic appointment overseas last month, Professor Siri Hettige’s reported observation that Sri Lanka’s Independent Police Commission is unable to control the police force and that the Commission has had to seek appropriate powers, attracts a peculiar kind of public scrutiny.

The powerlessness of the NPC

One may well question as to why the outgoing Chairman woke up to this basic realization at the singular point of leaving the post. Surely should this not have dawned on him soon after taking up the leadership of this vital body? And should not the NPC then have forcefully intervened with the Government in bringing about the required changes to enable those powers to be exercised?

Or in the alternative, should not its members have taken the principled stance that there was no point in serving further? What is the point in having a police commission (independent as the case may be) with no powers to accomplish its task? And as I may question further, if so, what is the point of expending public funds on these bodies?

This was, after all, the major problem that was supposed to have been addressed by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Let us see exactly where the source of this powerlessness lies. As originally envisaged in the 17th Amendment, the NPC was supposed to be a path-breaker in South Asia when created in 2001. Modeled along the lines of independent police complaint commissions elsewhere in the world, it possessed direct power to appoint, promote, transfer, and exercise disciplinary control and dismissal of all officers other than the Inspector General (IGP). After these provisions were repealed by the 18th Amendment, they were restored by the 19th Amendment with the addition that the NPC must ‘consult’ with the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

Continue reading ‘IGP Crying in Public or his Officers Meditating Will not Help Reform the Police Service in Sri Lanka.’ »

Finance Ministry to Investigate Gazette No.1895/19 Dated January 01 2015 on Treasury Bond Issuance by Central Bank

The Finance Ministry is set to investigate the controversial Extraordinary Gazette notification on the issuance of bonds by the Central Bank, dated January 01, 2015.

Referring to Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 1895/19 dated January 1, 2015 issued by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Finance and Planning at the time, the Ministry of Finance yesterday said the gazette is a unique example of fraudulent management of public debt by Rajapaksa, Ajith Nivard Cabraal and his colleagues in the Central Bank in violation of laws ,in the past.

Issuing a media statement the ministry said, the Minister of Finance is in receipt of Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 1895/19 dated 01 January 2015 issued by Mahinda Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance and Planning at that time.

Continue reading ‘Finance Ministry to Investigate Gazette No.1895/19 Dated January 01 2015 on Treasury Bond Issuance by Central Bank’ »

“Diabolical Attempt by Yahapalanaya Authorities to Foist Blame for Central Bank Scam on My Govt” Accuses Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa


Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday condemned what he called a diabolical attempt by the government to frame him for the bond scams, and vowed to take legal action against those responsible for it.

The former President has said in a statement:

“It is with regret that I inform the public of a diabolical attempt by the yahapalana authorities to foist the blame for the Central Bank bond scam on my government. The established practice in relation to government finance is that towards the third week of each month or even earlier, the Treasury determines the financial needs of the government for the coming month and informs the Public Debt Department which functions under the Central Bank that a certain amount of money is required by a certain date. The Public Debt Dept. then takes steps to borrow the required amount from the market by issuing the appropriate instruments such as Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds. The Gazette notifications relating to such bond issues are published only after the transactions have been completed. The reason for this is that until the transaction is complete no one will know its final details because many variables are determined by the market.

Continue reading ‘“Diabolical Attempt by Yahapalanaya Authorities to Foist Blame for Central Bank Scam on My Govt” Accuses Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Forged Signature used to Issue Fraudulent Gazette Setting Up Treasury Bond Sales After New Govt took Over?

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa vowed to sue the central bank and the finance ministry as a gazette emerged showing he created a 10 billion rupee bond whose sale has become the subject of several investigations.

Addressing reporters at a temple ceremony in Horana, the former leader said his name had been used to carry out a major fraud and he intends to take legal action against the finance minister and the central bank.

He was asked about a gazette of January 1, 2015 creating debt, including a 30-year bond on March 1, 2015 at a coupon rate of 12.5 percent under his signature as the finance minister just a week before he lost the presidential vote.

Continue reading ‘Was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Forged Signature used to Issue Fraudulent Gazette Setting Up Treasury Bond Sales After New Govt took Over?’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Must Lodge Police Complaint if he did not sign Gazette Setting up Treasury Bond Sale Which took Place After his Defeat

A good governance activist Saturday challenged former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to file a police complaint if he was not behind an impugned gazette that set up the controversial bond sale after his defeat.

Keerthi Tennakoon of the campaign for Free and Fair Elections and the Anti-Corruption Front said Rajapaksa must lodge a complaint if he did not sign a gazette dated January 1, 2015 creating, among others, the 30-year bond.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Must Lodge Police Complaint if he did not sign Gazette Setting up Treasury Bond Sale Which took Place After his Defeat’ »

Request by Mahinda for Security During Visit Turned Down By Singapore Govt which said there was no Threat to Rajapaksa.

(From “Talk at the Cafe Spectator” Column)

The telephone calls from Singapore appeared urgent. Unable to reach Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, this was why Udith Lokubandara MP, who serves as Personal Assistant to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, left hurried messages at his office to call back.

Not sure what the issue was, Minister Samaraweera telephoned. Mr. Lokubandara, a UPFA (Mahinda faction) MP for Badulla District, handed over the telephone to the former President Rajapaksa, who was undergoing a medical check-up at a hospital in Singapore.

Rajapaksa asked whether Foreign Minister Samaraweera could contact the Singapore government and arrange for personal protection for him.

Continue reading ‘Request by Mahinda for Security During Visit Turned Down By Singapore Govt which said there was no Threat to Rajapaksa.’ »

Muslims Should Leave the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Join National Political Parties.

By Latheef Farook

A spate of controversies involving the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has underscored the call that the Muslims in Sri Lanka should reassess their politics and withdraw themselves from this party which many accuse of betraying the community for positions and perks.

The SLMC came with the slogan of Islam and unity. However this slogan was abandoned at the inception itself. It had been a one-man show by its founder, the late A.H.M. Ashraf, and had been beset by many a controversy.

The SLMC’s history has been one of compromising the community’s interest for positions. The latest controversy involving SLMC parliamentarians and its leadership points to the lowest moral depth to which they have descended to.
With unity in disarray and principled politics rarely seen, how can they claim themselves to be Muslims?

They have tarnished the good name of the community. The emerging consensus is that the party should wind up as early as possible.

Continue reading ‘Muslims Should Leave the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Join National Political Parties.’ »

Carnatic Music is Being Presented in New Venues to New Audiences by a New Wave of Younger Artistes.

By

Aparna M. Sridhar

As a classical art, it is easy to associate Carnatic music with not just tradition and heritage in terms of musical form, presentation, and com position, but with venerable vocalists and instrumentalists who have always represented the best that it has to offer. But as we celebrate the 250th birth anniversary of the greatest of India’s lyricist-composers, Saint Thyagaraja, whose incomparable melodies and bhakti-laden lyrics resonate eternally across the land, there is a new wave of younger artists who are setting such high standards that they are dominating the field.

Sudha Ragunathan

The established leading vocalists today, TM Krishna, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Ranjani-Gayathri, and instrumentalists like Chitravina N Ravikiran are only a little older than a host of younger stars led by the likes of Abhishek Raghuram and Shashank Subramaniam. Carnatic music is also being presented in new venues to new audiences, and there is active research into its various nuances, while new technology makes the output more accessible to would be-initiates and casual listeners.

Renowned musicologist and secretary of the prestigious Music Academy in Chennai, Dr Pappu Venugopal, believes that while the core of Carnatic music is secure, aesthetic sensibilities will evolve keeping in tune with changing times. “Thirty years ago, the audiences were younger, the artistes were older. Now the audiences are older, the artistes are younger,” he says. While the content of the music remains untouched, audiences for Carnatic music concerts have changed.

Continue reading ‘Carnatic Music is Being Presented in New Venues to New Audiences by a New Wave of Younger Artistes.’ »

Is China a Threat to our Island and the Indian Ocean Region?

By SANJA DE SILVA JAYATILLEKA

While two high level delegations from Beijing were visiting Colombo it was strange indeed to see a full page article in the Daily News of 22 Feb 2017 (“Tripartite Agreement with India, Japan Mooted”, p 4), suggesting that China might well be a threat to Sri Lanka, and Sri Lanka would do well to align with India and Japan to counter this threat. That it was a state-run newspaper that published it while the Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister was visiting and a high level delegation from the ruling Communist Party of China had just arrived in the island, makes it all the more disconcerting.

The fact that it was a report of a talk by a Japanese scholar, Dr. Satoru Nagao, Research Fellow at the Tokyo Foundation and the views expressed were his, in no way makes it less serious, especially since the interview was published with a huge picture of an Indian warship running the width of the page and a smaller one of a Chinese submarine illustrating the perceived threat to the Indian Ocean region. Interestingly, the report itself was by a young American researcher based in Asia, Sam Bresnick. What was it doing so prominently featured in the Sri Lankan state’s English language flagship newspaper the Daily News on that particular day?

From where I am seated, as a citizen of Sri Lanka, China has been a friend for hundreds of years, and has never posed a threat to our country. In fact, in the face of the most dangerous of threat to the very existence of this island as one country, China came through for us when some of our other friends were unable to, probably due to valid electoral considerations of their own.

Continue reading ‘Is China a Threat to our Island and the Indian Ocean Region?’ »

Namal Rajapaksa Demands 250 Million Rupees From Chandrika Kumaratunga For Allegedly Defaming his Character.

By D. Ranaweera

Hambantota District SLFP MP Namal Rajapaksa has sent a letter of demand to former President Chandrika Kumaratunga demanding a sum of Rs 250 million for defamation of character by the latter.

The MP has notified the former President that failure to pay the aforementioned sum will result in legal action being taken against her.

Continue reading ‘Namal Rajapaksa Demands 250 Million Rupees From Chandrika Kumaratunga For Allegedly Defaming his Character.’ »

Allowing Coca Cola Facing Opposition in India to Open Plant in Sri Lanka Will Further Deplete our Diminishing Water Resources Warns Douglas Devananda.

By

Yohan Perera & Ajith Siriwardana

The Coca Cola factory proposed to be established in Sri Lanka would further reduce the water resources which are already diminishing as a result of the drought, Parliamentarian Douglas Devananda charged.

Mr. Devananda told Parliament that Coca Cola was planning to shift the largest manufacturing plant owned by it in South Asia, which was initially situated in India, to Sri Lanka.

He therefore cautioned the government stating that the company has ran into trouble in India in addition to using up much of the water resources in the sub-continent.

Continue reading ‘Allowing Coca Cola Facing Opposition in India to Open Plant in Sri Lanka Will Further Deplete our Diminishing Water Resources Warns Douglas Devananda.’ »

When actress Jayalalithaa reigned as uncrowned Queen of Tamil cinema

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The recent demise of alluring actress turned powerful politico Jayalalithaa Jayaram has caused a void in the politics of India’s Tamil Nadu state.

A “Milk offering & shower” to the Chief Minister by her supporters

The 68-year-leader of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK) served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991-96, 2001-06 and from 2011 to date. Jayalalithaa hailed as “Amma” (meaning mother/madam) was virtually the uncrowned queen of Tamil Nadu during her years of rule as Chief Minister.

Fabulous film career

There was however an earlier phase in her life when the beautiful Brahmin woman reigned as the uncrowned queen of Tamil cinema for over a decade from the mid-sixties to mid-seventies of the 20th century. ‘Spotlight’ being a column focused on cinema related matters – returns after several weeks and – re-visits the fabulous film career of actress Jayalalithaa.
Continue reading ‘When actress Jayalalithaa reigned as uncrowned Queen of Tamil cinema’ »

Police Report Filed in Court States Definitely About Attempt to Assassinate MA Sumanthiran MP

By

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan

M A Sumanthiran MP

We want the country to be stable; we want the country to be calm. But, our people are complaining; our people are suffering. My Friend Mr. Sumanthiran has been accused of being traitorous by some Tamil Leaders who have been resoundingly rejected at the last Parliamentary Elections, some persons whose party polled around 15,000 votes. Mr. Sumanthiran got four times that number of votes in Jaffna.

I have got the particulars with me. That whole party did not poll 15,000 votes. Mr. Sumanthiran polled four times that vote by himself – preference votes. Today, he is being called a “traitor” because he is working with the Government. We look upon Mr. Sumanthiran as a very useful Member of Parliament performing valuable service on behalf of the people, and we want that to be recognized. But, he is being attacked. He is being attacked because these persons who were resoundingly rejected by the people in 2015 are using your failure to do what you must do by the people as the ground for attacking people like Mr. Sumanthiran and me and others too, even Mr. Senathirajah.

This cannot continue. This must come to an end. Your Government must realize it; your President must realize it; your Prime Minister must realize it. We are getting bitter ourselves. Let me tell you very frankly, I am extremely unhappy about the way the Government is treating our people on the question of land. Our land must be returned to them. That is our right; that is our birth right. You cannot hold back from doing that. That must be done.

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan

Continue reading ‘Police Report Filed in Court States Definitely About Attempt to Assassinate MA Sumanthiran MP’ »

President Sirisena and SLFP Ministers in Govt Briefed at Secret Meeting about “Frightening Economic Situation Unfolding in the Country”.

By Saman Gunadasa

The Colombo-based Sunday Times published a lengthy article last weekend about a secret meeting of government ministers and President Maithripala Sirisena. According to the newspaper, the high-level gathering discussed “what portends to be a frightening economic situation unfolding in the country.”

The meeting was briefed by Central Bank Governor Indrajith Coomaraswamy and his deputy, Nandalal Weerasinghe, and involved ministers from Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The SLFP is part of the “unity government” with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP). Another meeting involving UNP ministers is planned.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena and SLFP Ministers in Govt Briefed at Secret Meeting about “Frightening Economic Situation Unfolding in the Country”.’ »

“Left Centre” Co-convenor Chameera Perera Alleges that Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was Behind Abduction of Journalist Keith Noyahr

By Shamindra Ferdinando

A civil society grouping that campaigned for Maithripala Sirisena at the January 2015 presidential poll yesterday alleged that the wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was behind the abduction of Associate Editor of The Nation, Keith Noyahr in May 2008.

Addressing the media at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR) Chameera Perera, co-convenor of the Left Centre alleged that the ongoing investigation pointed to the direct responsibility of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the heinous crime.

Perera claimed that those who had been arrested in connection with the abduction of the journalist had shed light on Gotabhaya Rajapaksa involvement during ongoing investigations.

Continue reading ‘“Left Centre” Co-convenor Chameera Perera Alleges that Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was Behind Abduction of Journalist Keith Noyahr’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Openly Encouraged Corruption Among Elected Govt Officials Charges Chandrika Kumaratunga

by Zacki Jabbar

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa openly encouraged elected government representatives to be corrupt, says Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Whenever Mahinda held meetings, especially with local councillors, he always reminded them to collect their 20 percent Commissions from any project under their purview, as if it was a legal right, she told a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in Colombo, last week.

Obtaining financial rewards to perform one’s official duties was illegal, since such monies belonged to the State, Kumaratunga said.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Openly Encouraged Corruption Among Elected Govt Officials Charges Chandrika Kumaratunga’ »

Full Text of Speech Made in Parliament by Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan During Adjournment Motion Debate on Feb 22nd 2017

ගරු රාජවරෝදියම් සම්පන්දන් මහතා (විරුද්ධ පාර්ශ්වයේ නායකතුමා)
(மாண்புமிகு ராஜவரோதயம் சம்பந்தன் – எதிர்க்கட்சி முதல்வர்)
(The Hon. Rajavarothiam Sampanthan – Leader of the Opposition)

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are starting this Adjournment Debate half-an-hour behind time. Might I suggest that in case Hon. Members want to speak, you might have to sit a little beyond 7.00 p.m. to be able to accommodate the Hon. Members because we are already 35 minutes or 40 minutes behind schedule? I leave that to you, Sir.

R. Sampanthan ~ pic via: @radiogagana

I will now read my Adjournment Motion which is as follows:

“All people who lived in Sri Lanka, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, or any other difference, whether Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher made their fullest contribution to the achievement of independence.

It is almost 70 years since Sri Lanka attained Independence from Colonial Rule.

Ethnic strife had plagued the country from shortly after it attained Independence.

Pacts entered into between Prime Ministers and the Tamil Political Leadership to help resolve such ethnic strife and enable all citizens to live together in peace and amity, with equality and justice were not fulfilled by the ruling elite.

As a result of such ethnic strife and ethnic violence against the Tamil people in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and thereafter, up to 50 per cent of the Sri Lankan Tamil population were compelled to leave their own country largely on grounds of insecurity and take up residence in different countries the world over. Tens of thousands of Tamil families have consequently been divided. It is relevant to point out that ethnic violence was unleashed against the Tamil people when they made political demands that would enable them to live as equal citizens in the country.

Recurrence of violence would result in more Tamils feeling the country.

Ethnic violence against Tamils is an imminent danger unless and until there is a political resolution of the conflict.

An armed conflict emerged. Tamil youth waged a war against the Sri Lankan State for more than 25 years. It is more than seven years since the armed conflict came to an end. During this armed conflict much suffering was endured by all people in all parts of the country. Such armed conflict by Tamil youth emerged only after several decades of ethnic violence against the Tamil people.

The conflict was also internationalized and the issue has been in the international domain. Several Resolutions were adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Resolution adopted in October 2015 comes up for review in February/March 2017.

Our neighbour and parent country India offered its good offices to resolve the issue which Sri Lanka accepted in 1983. An Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was signed on 29th July 1987 between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India and President J. R. Jayewardene of Sri Lanka which laid down vital contours for a political resolution.

Continue reading ‘Full Text of Speech Made in Parliament by Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan During Adjournment Motion Debate on Feb 22nd 2017’ »

Many Attempts By Diaspora Tigers To Foment Violence In Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The ongoing investigation conducted by the Police Terrorism Investigation Department(TID) into the assassination plot targeting Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Jaffna district MP Mathiaparanam Abraham Sumanthiran has unearthed more details about the conspiracy hatched by “tigerish” elements in the Global Tamil Diaspora.

“Police have so far traced two payments of Rs 800,000 and Rs. 600,000 being sent..”

Five former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) now in custody have divulged much information about how three individuals living overseas had conspired,instigated and instructed them on how to execute the assassination plot against Sumanthiran. All communication between the overseas”handlers” and the five ex-tigers in Sri Lanka had been through the telephone. Police were authorised by courts to send the telephones used by the five suspects to the Moratuwa university for further decryption and analysis.

According to information provided by security related sources the would be assassins had attempted thrice to target the TNA parliamentarian. Their efforts had proved abortive due to circumstances beyond their control. All three attempts were aimed at assassinating Sumanthiran MP by using explosive devices while he was travelling along the B-402 Soranpatru – Thaalayadi road. The TNA parliamentarian was unaware of all three attempts until the arrest of suspects afterwards.
Continue reading ‘Many Attempts By Diaspora Tigers To Foment Violence In Sri Lanka’ »

When I was Secretary, We Took Action When People Like Nediyavan Tried to Resume Terrorist Activities” – Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

By

Kelum Bandara

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, in an interview with Daily Mirror speaks about his future plans, diplomatic ties he developed during the war time and the charges levelled against him.

Excerpts From The interview:

\


Q As the former Defence Secretary, how do you analyse the current situation of the country?

There are a lot of people analysing economy and all those things. You could see a definite frustration among the people. You could see this government is not focused. They came to power purely with the intention of throwing Mahinda Rajapaksa out. They had the need for it with the external forces playing a role at that time. It is not a secret that the West wanted to get rid of us. Indians wanted to change the government. They have their own reasons. It helped the change. There was this bogus propaganda against the then government. Sections of the country, especially the youth and urban middle class wanted a change. There was an ad hoc arrangement towards it and the main opposition UNP with Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe as the leader did not contest at the Presidential election. He selected an SLFPer.

After coming to power, they had no proper plan. They did not have proper people to implement whatever policies they had. For a government to be successful, it is important to have a proper leadership. In the government, there are so many leaders the President, the Prime Minister and the Ministers. There are so many talking about policies, one contradicting each other. As a result, their main concern is taking revenge. They get somebody, mainly one from the Rajapaksa family, and take him to the FCID or the Bribery Commission or the CID. That is what is going on. They try to divert attention from main issues by harassing the Rajapaksas. They do not focus on how to develop the economy. Two have years have just gone by and nothing has happened. The projects that were ongoing were stalled. Because of that, there is a definite impact on the economy. We do not see proper leadership, focus, and proper people to implement policies.

For any government, bureaucrats or officials are there to implement the policies. Parliament and politicians are there to outline their policies. Parliament makes laws and regulations. One must have officials who can implement these policies. You must give authority and freedom for them to work. If the politicians try to do it, it will never happen. Politicians cannot concentrate on all this work. That is why officials are there; the District Secretaries, Additional secretaries, engineers etc.

Continue reading ‘When I was Secretary, We Took Action When People Like Nediyavan Tried to Resume Terrorist Activities” – Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’ »

“I am Extremely Unhappy With the Way Our People Are Treated By This Govt” -TNA Leader R.Sampanthan in Parliament

By

Meera Srinivasan

After two years of engaging the Sri Lankan government on reconciliation and constitutional reform, the country’s Tamil polity seems to be losing patience, if Leader of Opposition R. Sampanthan’s address in Parliament is any indication.

On Wednesday, the veteran Tamil leader attacked the government that, he said, was treating the minority Tamils the same way the previous governments did. Pointing to two key issues — land and disappeared persons — the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader said: “Let me be frank. I am extremely unhappy with the way our people are treated by this government with respect to their land.”

Continue reading ‘“I am Extremely Unhappy With the Way Our People Are Treated By This Govt” -TNA Leader R.Sampanthan in Parliament’ »

“My Husband Was Not a Traitor” Says Ex-LTTE Deputy Leader Gopalaswamy Mahendrarajah alias “Mahathaya”‘s Wife Yogeshwari.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

With the sea of information we have received through media and books about the LTTE and the 30-year-long war, the man called ‘Mahaththaya’ captured the attention of all as he was given a Sinhala name unlike the rest of the Tamil Tiger fighters. While top Eastern Commander like Karuna Amman had a narrow escape from death at the hands of Prabhakaran, Mahaththaya was the only top leader who was not so fortunate. He was tortured and killed by his best buddy Prabhakaran who suspected that he worked closely with the Indian Intelligence RAW. His widow Yogeshwari who lives in the North claims that Mahaththaya was a man of substance too like the ‘Thalaivar’ and he could have written a different story if he was alive. She says, “My husband was never a traitor because he loved his people and I am angry that he was named so and was killed at the end.”

Yogeshwari Mahendraraja-pic by: Manjula Dayawansa

Yogeshwari did not expect Ceylon Today writer and the photographer to walk into her garden. She was after a bath and was drying her wet curly hair, standing in the sunlight. Round faced and with sparkling eyes, she has not lost her allure. She is still attractive and no doubt Mahaththaya had set his eyes on this right choice.

Standing in front of the house, she smiled as she saw the two strangers walking towards her.

When we were introduced, she was reluctant to talk to us and was camera shy too. However, she took courage to share some thoughts about her husband, who is no longer a part of her life.

Continue reading ‘“My Husband Was Not a Traitor” Says Ex-LTTE Deputy Leader Gopalaswamy Mahendrarajah alias “Mahathaya”‘s Wife Yogeshwari.’ »

Alleged LTTE Suspects Arrested in Narahenpita With Caps Bearing Tiger Insignia Further Remanded Till March 1st

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Three alleged LTTE suspects including Subramaniam Nagulerasa alias Nagulan arrested over the seizure of several caps bearing the LTTE logo in Narahenpita were yesterday ordered to be further remanded till March 1 by Colombo Additional Magistrate Aruni Artigala.

The Additional Magistrate is to announce her bail order regarding the suspects on the next hearing date.

Continue reading ‘Alleged LTTE Suspects Arrested in Narahenpita With Caps Bearing Tiger Insignia Further Remanded Till March 1st’ »

Ex-LTTE Cadres with T-56 and 46 Cartridges Arrested by Police on Mullaitheevu – Batticaloa Bus After Anonymous Tel Call Tip Off

By Ananth Palakidnar

Three persons in possession of a T-56 assault rifle and 46 cartridges have been arrested by Police in Mullaitivu, while they were en route to Batticaloa last Tuesday.

The arrest came when Police acted on an anonymous call leading them to a passenger bus in Oorani that was en route to Batticaloa from Mullaitivu, in which the three suspects were found.

Continue reading ‘Ex-LTTE Cadres with T-56 and 46 Cartridges Arrested by Police on Mullaitheevu – Batticaloa Bus After Anonymous Tel Call Tip Off’ »

“We are Answerable to the People of this Country and not to the International Community” – Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera

(Speech made by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, MP., during the Adjournment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. R. Sampanthan, in Parliament on 22 February 2017)

Hon. Speaker,

• I thank the Honourable Leader of Opposition for raising this important issue in this House today – an issue on which the very future of our nation depends.

Hon. Speaker,
• I have spoken many times in this very House about the hopes that the world held for our country at the time of Independence.

• As Lee Kuan Yew, in his memoirs – “From Third World to First” wrote,

Ceylon was Britain’s model Commonwealth country. It had been carefully prepared for independence. After the War, it was a good middle-sized country with fewer than 10 million people. It had a relatively good standard of education, with two universities of high quality, a civil service largely of locals, and experience in representative government starting with city council elections in the 1930s.

When Ceylon gained independence in 1948, it was the classic model of gradual evolution to independence.

Alas, it did not work out. During my visits over the years, I watched a promising country go to waste.

It is sad that the country whose ancient name Serendib has given the English language the word ‘Serendipity’ is now the epitome of conflict, pain, sorrow and hopelessness.

Continue reading ‘“We are Answerable to the People of this Country and not to the International Community” – Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’ »

“Ranil as Opposition Leader Told Parliament Sarath Fonseka was Responsible For Abduction and Assault of Journalist Keith Noyahr” -Dullas Alahapperuma

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Matara District Parliamentarian Dullas Alahapperuma yesterday recalled that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the then Opposition Leader in 2009 told Parliament that then Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka was responsible for the abduction and assault on journalist Keith Noyahr.

Answering a question at the Joint Opposition’s weekly media briefing at Dr N.M. Perera Centre in Borella yesterday, Alahapperuma said they would not oppose any investigation into attacking of journalists, but the prison sources informed them the military intelligence officers were forced by the police to confess to what the government wanted.

“Wickremesinghe’s accusation against then Army Commander is in Parliament hanzard reports,” Alahapperuma said adding now he (Fonseka) was with the government as a minister.

Continue reading ‘“Ranil as Opposition Leader Told Parliament Sarath Fonseka was Responsible For Abduction and Assault of Journalist Keith Noyahr” -Dullas Alahapperuma’ »

Wimal Weerawansa Wants His National Freedom Front Comprising 5 MP’s to be Treated as Separate Group in Parliament.

by Saman Indrajith

National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa requested from Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday in parliament to accept five NFF MPs including him as an independent group since they have severed all their connections with the UPFA.

Speaker Jayasuriya said that he would refer the matter to the party leaders’ meeting scheduled for today and will inform the outcome to the House.

MP Weerawansa made his request soon after House commenced sittings yesterday. I have handed over the same request in writing to you months ago. We have informed you that the NFF MPs no longer have any connection with the UPFA and would act as an independent group. You stated that the matter would be taken up with UPFA leaders and let us know of the result. However, so far we have not been informed of the result. This has deprived us of our rights. I request you to take action necessary to enable us to function as an independent group in this Parliament. We have a right to be independent. Please give our rights.

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawansa Wants His National Freedom Front Comprising 5 MP’s to be Treated as Separate Group in Parliament.’ »

Court of Appeal Issues Notice on Six Persons Acquitted in Murder Trial of Tamil MP Nadarajajah Raviraj.


By Chitra Weerarathne

The Court of appeal on February 21 issued notice on the six persons, indicted in the High Court, but later acquitted after the trial held in respect of the murder of the TNA parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj.

The aggrieved party, the wife of N. Raviraj, had filed a revision application on the Court of Appeal, seeking to revise the High Court acquittal, delivered after a jury trial.

The petitioner, Mrs. Shashikla Raviraj had asked for a re-rial, without a jury. She requested the Court of Appeal to quash the High Court order, and order a re-trial without jury.

Counsel M. A. Sumenthiran appeared for the petitioner, Shashikala Raviraj. Notice on the respondents are returnable on March 28, 2017.

Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal Issues Notice on Six Persons Acquitted in Murder Trial of Tamil MP Nadarajajah Raviraj.’ »

Bar Association of Sri Lanka Responds to Accusations About Appointment of Mr. Ramanathan Kannan as High Court Judge.

Mr. Geoffrey Alagaratnam, PC, President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has responded to accusations directed at the BASL in respect of the recent appointment of Ramanathan Kannan as High Court judge.

The following is the text of Mr. Alagaratnam’s statement:

“There has been much speculation and allegations related to the above appointment and the role of the Bar Association in relation to it.

For over a year, representations were made by lawyers, especially from the Eastern Province, that there was an acute shortage of High Court Judges in the Northern and Eastern Provinces conversant in the Tamil language resulting in a backlog and delay in disposal of cases. These representations were made both at the Bar Council and Executive Committee meetings of the Bar Association.

This issue was taken up at the regular Bench and Bar meetings between representatives of the Bar Association and His Lordship the Chief Justice and other members of the Judicial Service Commission on several occasions.

At these meetings it was indicated that there was a serious shortage of Tamil speaking career judges senior enough to be promoted to the High Court and that even the Attorney General’s Department was unwilling to release its officers conversant in the Tamil language for such appointments due to its heavy reliance on its very few Tamil officers.

Continue reading ‘Bar Association of Sri Lanka Responds to Accusations About Appointment of Mr. Ramanathan Kannan as High Court Judge.’ »

Lankan Govt Response to Tough Questions Posed by CEDAW Experts Dismays Women Rights Activists

By Dharisha Bastians Reporting from Geneva

The Government of Sri Lanka faced tough questions from the UN women’s rights watchdog in Geneva yesterday, as it presented its four yearly periodic report and pleaded with the Committee to acknowledge advances and improvements on the condition of women in the country.

“By all means push us and if we are not doing enough, you are free to say so,” Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva told experts on the UN Committee for Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). “Help us to do things faster, be constructive, that is my plea to you,” he said, urging Committee members not to “impute motives” to shortfalls in the Government’s reform agenda.

Ambassador Aryasinha complained during his submission that the many advancements made especially in the past two years on women’s rights was not being given sufficient weightage by the committee. “The processes and difficulties are not acknowledged,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Govt Response to Tough Questions Posed by CEDAW Experts Dismays Women Rights Activists’ »

Those Responsible For Recurring Political Violence In Sri Lanka Have Never Been Seriously Prosecuted

BY

Niran Anketell

When an historic Obama Presidency took control of Washington in early 2009, there was a wide expectation that the new administration would rectify one of the Bush administration’s greatest moral failings – its use of torture.

Previously, Bush administration lawyers had drafted several legal memos, on which members of the CIA relied, stating that certain methods euphemistically called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ were legal and did not amount to torture.

President Obama moved swiftly, deemed these methods to be torture, and dismantled the legal architecture on which the torture programme was built. Yet, despite demands from his own base, the President refused to prosecute the architects of the programme and those, who actually carried out the torture. In fact, the administration even refused to explain precisely why it decided not to prosecute.

Eight years hence, torture is back on the table, with President Trump even committing to go a lot further than the measures introduced under President Bush. Despite widespread revulsion against the practice even within the US military, the use of torture in the war on terror now appears to have become a ‘policy option’ – to be utilized or shelved depending on the political whims of the day.
Today, as one part of America introspects, many blame the re-emergence of torture as a policy option on Obama’s administration’s failure to prosecute what it openly acknowledged was criminal activity.

The sense of impunity that the failure to prosecute generated, coupled with the failure to adequately communicate society’s moral disapproval of torture, meant that the practices could always re-emerge, under a new political dispensation.

Continue reading ‘Those Responsible For Recurring Political Violence In Sri Lanka Have Never Been Seriously Prosecuted’ »

“Recurrence Of Violence Would Result In More Tamils Fleeing The Country” – Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan In Parliament

Hon. Speaker
Parliament of Sri Lanka
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte.

ADJOURNMENT MOTION

Question relating to matter of Public importance to be raised on 22nd February 2017 at the conclusion of questions by Mr. R Sampanthan, Member of Parliament, Leader of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) and Leader of the Opposition.

All people who lived in Sri Lanka, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, or any other difference, whether Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher made their fullest contribution to the achievement of independence.

It is almost 70 years since Sri-Lanka attained Independence from Colonial Rule.

Ethnic strife had plagued the Country from shortly after it attained Independence.

Pacts entered into between Prime Ministers and the Tamil Political Leadership to help resolve such ethnic strife and enable all Citizens to live together in peace and amity, with equality and justice were not fulfilled by the ruling elite.

As a result of such Ethnic Strife and ethnic violence against the Tamil People in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and thereafter, up to 50% of the Sri Lankan Tamil population were compelled to leave their own Country largely on grounds of insecurity and take up residence in different countries the world over. Tens of thousands of Tamil families have consequently been divided. It is relevant to point out that ethnic violence was unleashed against the Tamil people when they made political demands that would enable them to live as equal citizens in the Country.

Recurrence of Violence would result in more Tamils fleeing the country.

Continue reading ‘“Recurrence Of Violence Would Result In More Tamils Fleeing The Country” – Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan In Parliament’ »

Kabir Hashim Challenges Ravi Karunanayake’s Arbitrary Decision to Pay US $ 154 Million As Compensation For Cancelling Aircraft Purchasing Deal

By Dhammika Ranaweera

A determined stand-off between Minister of Public Enterprises Development Kabir Hashim and the Finance Ministry at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting sent emotions. roaring in connection with a clash of opinions on the amount of compensation to be paid for cancellation of an agreement signed by the previous regime to purchase aircraft.

Hashim objected to the Finance Ministry’s cancellation compensation estimate of US$ 154 million though Cabinet had agreed on a payment of between USS 75-85 million.

Informed sources said the previous UPFA regime had signed an agreement with Aircap Corporation in 2012 to purchase several aircraft.

However, the current government had decided to cancel that agreement on the basis that the intended purchase was not necessary.

Continue reading ‘Kabir Hashim Challenges Ravi Karunanayake’s Arbitrary Decision to Pay US $ 154 Million As Compensation For Cancelling Aircraft Purchasing Deal’ »

Battling Their “Brothers”In Tamil Nadu Who Compete For Fish in the Palk Bay

By

Meera Srinivasan

The first thing that struck me about Rajachandran was the way he spoke: pausing between words and raising his voice when he emphasised a point.He watched my face to make sure I followed what he was saying. There was no difficulty understanding him; even some of the unfamiliar Jaffna Tamil words were intelligible.

Our first meeting was in May 2013, outside a fish auction centre in Karainagar, a small Sri Lankan island off Jaffna peninsula. Fishermen would bring their catch to the fisheries cooperative that Rajachandran led.

A month after moving to Colombo to report for The Hindu , that was my first trip to the Tamil-majority north.

Cosmopolitan Colombo let me survive with English mostly.

To the average tuk driver or cop, however, I was an obvious “other” with a general air of cluelessness. I kept hearing a lot of Sinhala, which sounded nothing like my mother tongue Tamil or the little Hindi that I know.

In that sense, Jaffna gave me a sense of odd familiarity. The sound of Jaffna Tamil was novel, but not distant. I was excited that we could communicate without an interpreter or my desperate repetitions of questions in English.

Continue reading ‘Battling Their “Brothers”In Tamil Nadu Who Compete For Fish in the Palk Bay’ »

Lankan Womens Rights Activists Lobby At Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Sessions in Geneva


By Dharisha Bastians reporting from Geneva

Lankan activists gathered in the Swiss canton of Geneva this week to lobby the United Nations women’s rights watchdog – CEDAW – pressing the UN committee to urge the Sri Lankan Government to meet its obligations to protect women in the country from discriminatory practices, including oppressive marriage laws, a ban on same-sex unions and ongoing sexual exploitation of women and girls, especially in former war zones.

A 16-member Sri Lankan delegation representing civil society and including several young women activists addressed the 66th Session of the Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) at an informal discussion at the Palais des Nations on Monday (20).

The activists mounted impassioned appeals on the urgency of reforming Muslim marriage laws that oppress and discriminate Muslim women and girls and permit child marriage, and demanded that women’s rights be enshrined in the fundamental rights chapter of the new constitution.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Womens Rights Activists Lobby At Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Sessions in Geneva’ »

India Advises TNA To Negotiate For Political Solution Without Demanding North – East Merger

By

Meera Srinivasan

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar has asked the Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka to continue negotiating a political solution with the government, without being fixated on the demand for merging the island’s northern and eastern provinces.

“The Indian Foreign Secretary said we needed to think in terms of alternatives which might provide an answer to the Tamil people’s apprehensions,” Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan told The Hindu, after members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), led by him, met the visiting top diplomat.

Mr. Sampanthan briefed him on pressing issues faced by the Tamil people, including the lack of progress on the release of military-occupied land by the government and lingering concerns about enforced disappearances and detained Tamil political prisoners, a TNA media release said. The delegation updated Mr. Jaishankar about the new Constitution, pointing to the process being “stalled”.

Continue reading ‘India Advises TNA To Negotiate For Political Solution Without Demanding North – East Merger’ »

Gang Of Goondas Abduct And Molest Popular South Indian Actress Bhavana in Kerala After Hijacking Her Vehicle


Popular South Indian actress of Malayalam ethnicity Bhavana was reportedly abducted and molested by a gang of goondas when she was returning home from a shoot in Ernakulam district in Kerala.

Bhavana (b: June 6, 1986)

The incident took place on Friday Feb 17th when the men stopped and hijacked Bhavana’s car near Athani in Angamaly. The actress was molested in a moving car till they reached Palarivattom, which is roughly 25 kms away. The assailants got down at Palarivattom and fled in another car.

Continue reading ‘Gang Of Goondas Abduct And Molest Popular South Indian Actress Bhavana in Kerala After Hijacking Her Vehicle’ »

Indian Premier Modi’s “Point Man” Ram Madhav Visits Lanka to Assess Whether Gotabhaya Could Split From Mahinda For “High” Political Office.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Even as Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa angles for a political comeback, New Delhi appears to be weighing up possible political shifts in the island, including a split in the Rajapaksa camp.

On February 10, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, known to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s point man on Sri Lanka, met President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo, a week before Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s scheduled official visit.

Mr. Madhav also met a few other key political actors, The Hindu learns, and reportedly discussed political options that might “neutralise” former strongman Rajapaksa. Confirming that he met the President and the Prime Minister to discuss bilateral issues and a forthcoming Indian Ocean conference in the island, Mr. Madhav, when contacted in New Delhi, said “the [other] allegations are false”.

Ram Madhav

While he categorically denied having discussed the former first family in any of his meetings, political sources in Colombo told The Hindu that the BJP’s key strategist seemed to explore the possibility of Gotabaya Rajapaksa decamping from Mahinda Rajapaksa in return for high political office.

Continue reading ‘Indian Premier Modi’s “Point Man” Ram Madhav Visits Lanka to Assess Whether Gotabhaya Could Split From Mahinda For “High” Political Office.’ »

Economic Lethargy and Incompetence of Present Govt Could Make People Feel Nostalgic About Rajapaksa Regime


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

A few years back under the former regime, it was not a nice spectacle when slum dwellers in Colombo were evicted by gun-toting soldiers to make room for development activities. Decent people were right to feel outraged. However, many of those folks might not have noticed it yet. But, this government’s manifest indecisiveness in economic development is becoming far more disastrous than its predecessor’s highhandedness.

Running a country is not about having big ideas. It is about implementing at least some of them. One can smell vacillation in implementation of development policyalmost everywhere in the country. Most large scale development projects are held up,annual economic growth is below 5 per cent for a third consecutive year, a balance of payment crisis is looming and Sri Lanka is reportedly going to miss the repayment of loan instalments on the Hambantota Port.

Continue reading ‘Economic Lethargy and Incompetence of Present Govt Could Make People Feel Nostalgic About Rajapaksa Regime’ »

India will not Press for Merger of Northern and Eastern Sri Lankan Provinces States Indian Foreign Secy Jaishankar


By P.K.Balachandran

India will not be pressing Sri Lanka to merge the Northern and Eastern Provinces to form a single Tamil-majority, Tamil-speaking province as envisaged by the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, the Indian Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar told the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) here on Monday.

He was reacting to a demand made by the leader of the Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) Suresh Premachandran, that India should honor its promise to keep the North and East united. It had even said that it would not allow a referendum to be held on the issue. When the united province was de-merged in 2006 by a Supreme Court order, India did not protest saying that it was for the Sri Lankan government to appeal against the judgment. India had clearly lost interest in the issue. Its interests lay elsewhere in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘India will not Press for Merger of Northern and Eastern Sri Lankan Provinces States Indian Foreign Secy Jaishankar’ »

Indian-origin Tamils Participating in Governance Within the Sri Lankan National Mainstream Appreciated by Indian Foreign Secy


By
P.K.Balachandran

The Indian Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar expressed his happiness about the Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs) being in the Sri Lankan national mainstream, fully participating in governance and securing benefits for themselves, Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), told Express after meeting the top Indian official here on Monday.

According to Ganeshan, Jaishankar conveyed to him that India will henceforth give “special consideration” to the Indian Origin Tamils in view of their special needs and also their willingness to participate in Sri Lanka’s governance structure, the political mainstream as it were.

India has been telling the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders too to cooperate with the Sri Lankan and Indian governments, but with only marginal success so far. The Indian Origin Tamils, on the other hand, have a better record of participating in democratic structures from the time of Saumyamoorthy Thoondaman.

“Today, we are Sri Lankan in every way, but without losing our identity as a people of Indian origin,” said Mano Ganeshan, who is a cabinet minister of National Dialogue and National Languages.

Continue reading ‘Indian-origin Tamils Participating in Governance Within the Sri Lankan National Mainstream Appreciated by Indian Foreign Secy’ »

Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar urges Tamil National Alliance to unite to fight for Tamils’ rights

By P.K.Balachandran

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar has urged the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to unite to fight for the Tamils’ rights, including their rights under the proposed constitution, and cooperate with India in the economic development of the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Meeting the TNA top brass ahead of his meetings with the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe here on Monday, Jaishankar asked the Tamil leadership about their concerns so that he could take them up with the Sri Lankan government leaders.

The TNA delegation, comprising R.Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah, M.A.Sumanthiran, D.Siddharthan and Selvam Adaikalanathan, pointed out that the government is dragging its feet on drafting the new constitution though all the committees have submitted their reports and even the apex Steering Committee headed by the Prime Minister has circulated a draft report.

Continue reading ‘Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar urges Tamil National Alliance to unite to fight for Tamils’ rights’ »

Military Intelligence Hit Squad Operating Out of Kohuwela Camp Used For Assassinating,Abducting and Attacking Journalists from 2006 to 2010


Sri Lanka’s police made a major breakthrough Saturday in their investigations in to the abduction of news editor Keith Noyahr as well as a string of other attacks, disappearances and killings of journalists by arresting at least three military personnel attached to a hit squad which operated from Kohuwela.

Police headquarters in a statement said the three military personnel were arrested in connection with the May 2008 abduction of Noyahr, a then deputy editor of the Nation weekly, but official sources said they were also suspected to be involved in many other acts of violence between 2006 and 2010.

The three men, all serving military personnel, were being questioned by the police and they were due to be taken before the Mount Lavinia magistrate later Saturday, the statement said.

Military spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne confirmed that the trio were still in the service.

Continue reading ‘Military Intelligence Hit Squad Operating Out of Kohuwela Camp Used For Assassinating,Abducting and Attacking Journalists from 2006 to 2010’ »

UNP Allegation About Sarath Fonseka’s “Special Team” Being Responsible for Attacks on Journalists Must Be Investigated Too -“The Island”

( Full Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Island” of February 20th 2017 Under the heading “CID’s Nelsonian eye”)

The CID has woken up like Rip Van Winkle. It has arrested three military intelligence personnel including a major over the abduction of the then Associate Editor of The Nation newspaper, Keith Noyahr, way back in May 2008. The suspects have been remanded. We have been urging the CID, all these years, to seek the assistance of Noyahr, who fled to Australia with his family following his abduction, to nab those responsible for harming journalists because he is the only scribe to have suffered at the hands of his abductors for hours and returned alive.

The CID action, albeit belated, is welcome. But, there is much more to be done. Above all, the government must refrain from playing politics with this vital issue. It has mastered the art of keeping suspects behind bars indefinitely until they crack and agree to collaborate with it to frame its rivals as is public knowledge.

Noyahr’s adductors obviously had nothing personal against him; they only carried out someone else’s order. The task before the CID, which has, thankfully, risen from a politically induced slumber, is to find out who ordered the abduction at issue. A major attached to the Directorate of Military Intelligence is not equal to the task of carrying out a high-profile abduction on his own without orders from his superiors; he is as helpless as an unarmed reserve constable facing a mob of government goons. It may be recalled that in September 2012 the then powerful minister Mervyn Silva’s son, Malaka, assaulted a military intelligence officer of the rank of major at a Colombo nightclub. The hapless officer took it all lying down and his assailants even stripped him of his service revolver.

Continue reading ‘UNP Allegation About Sarath Fonseka’s “Special Team” Being Responsible for Attacks on Journalists Must Be Investigated Too -“The Island”’ »

Are Organizers of Tamil Political Protests Using Them To Attack Political Rivals ?

By

Meera Srinivasan

The small group of Tamils that met top Ministers in Colombo on February 9 conveyed one thing emphatically— their patience was wearing thin. All the members of the group that had travelled nearly six hours by bus from Sri Lanka’s Northern Province to Colombo have been searching for their missing relatives for many years. Their sons or daughters or spouses went missing during, and in some cases, after May 2009 when Sri Lanka’s civil war ended.

The meeting was fixed following a fast unto death they had begun in the Northern town of Vavuniya late January. After State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene went up to Vavuniya and invited them for a high-level meeting in Colombo to discuss their grievance, the protesting family members agreed.

Around 15 of them came to Colombo with more disillusionment and anger than hope. Local media reports indicated that the discussion was heated, with the family members demanding that the Tamil lawmakers present in the room leave immediately. “We have no faith in them,” one of them told the Ministers.

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Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants to Safeguard The Independence of the Judiciary

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has urged the legal fraternity to pressure President Maithripala Sirisena to reverse the controversial appointment of Ramanathan Kannan as a High Court judge.

The former President also pressed them to take tangible measures to end politicization of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the former President:

“The Judicial Services Association of Sri Lanka has strongly objected to the appointment of Mr Ramanathan Kannan, a lawyer practicing at the private bar in Batticaloa, as a High Court Judge. The accepted practice in this country is that virtually all the judges serving on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court are promoted to those positions through the ranks of the judicial service or to a lesser extent, the Attorney General’s Department.

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Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) is Real Target of Orchestrated Protests in Kaeppaapilavu and Vavuniya.

By P.K.Balachandran

Factionalism within the multi-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has been at the root of the on-going agitations in Kepapilavu and Puthukudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu district and the just concluded stir on the issue of disappearances in Vavuniya, sources in the TNA told Express on Sunday.

The Vavuniya agitation was directed by the Eelam People Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) led by Suresh Premachandran and Sivasakthi Anandan against the current leaders of the TNA, especially M.A.Sumanthiran and Charles Nirmalanathan of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), and Selvam Adaikalanathan of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO).

Within the ITAK itself there is a cleavage between the radicals and the moderates, with the former challenging the leadership of the latter. The leader of the Puthukudiyiruppu agitation is T.Ravikaran, a radical TNA member of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).
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Major Prabath Bulathwatte, Sgt Duminda weeraratne and Sgt Hemachandra Perera of Military Intelligence Arrested Over Attack on Ex-Newspaper Editor Keith Noyahr.

Criminal Investigation Detectives yesterday arrested an Army officer and two Sergeants over the May 2008 attack on journalist Keith Noyahr. The arrests came after the trio were summoned to CID headquarters on Friday and interrogated.

The trio are Major Prabath Bulathwatte, Sergeant Duminda Weeraratne and Sergeant Hemachandra Perera.

The formal arrests were made yesterday after interrogation overnight. Two more soldiers from the Army’s Military Intelligence are now being interrogated.

Probing the case was a CID Task Force that has been investigating a string of incidents – murders, abductions and assaults on media personalities.

They included the killing of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickremetunga, the disappearance of Lanka E-news journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda and the attack on Rivira Editor Upali Tennekoon.

Continue reading ‘Major Prabath Bulathwatte, Sgt Duminda weeraratne and Sgt Hemachandra Perera of Military Intelligence Arrested Over Attack on Ex-Newspaper Editor Keith Noyahr.’ »

Controversy Over Role Played By “Lawyer Leaders” of Bar Association in Appointing An Eastern Lawyer as Northern High Court Judge

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Heated controversy surrounding the recent appointment of a Batticoloa lawyer as a Northern High Court judge by President Maithripala Sirisena raises a fundamental point of contention. Even on the most innocent of explanations, ‘leaders of the Bar’ must refrain from putting themselves into situations where a disturbing lack of clarity arises in regard to precisely where the formal role of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) ends and where individual identities as legal professionals begin.

Unfortunate context of these questions

This problem surfaced in public after the BASL was challenged by the Judicial Services Association (JSA) to disclose exactly what part the Bar played in that appointment. This was on the basis that the BASL had no business to be informally lobbying without the seal of its executive body, either per se or on behalf of another interested party, for a particular judge to be appointed.

The JSA had asked this question after both the Chief Justice who is the head of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which is constitutionally vested with the duty of recommending appointees to the High Court and the President had justified the appointment of this High Court judge as due to a request made by BASL.

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Land Reforms Commission Claims Ownership of Lands to be Leased by Board of Investment to Nandana Lokuwithana for Tyre Factory

By Namini Wijedasa

A land transaction between the Board of Investment (BOI) and controversial businessman Nandana Lokuwithana has become more complicated.

Mr. Lokuwithana’s Rigid Tyre Corporation (Pvt) Ltd is tipped to receive 100 acres of land from the gazetted BOI industrial zone at Wagawatta in Horana.

The deal was negotiated by the Development Strategies Ministry which proposed a 99-year lease to Rigid Tyre at well below the BOI’s base price for lands in that area.

But the Land Reform Commission (LRC) has now claimed ownership to the property and there are concerns that the BOI may not even be authorised to lease it out to Rigid Tyre.

The LRC has already conveyed this to the relevant authorities.

Continue reading ‘Land Reforms Commission Claims Ownership of Lands to be Leased by Board of Investment to Nandana Lokuwithana for Tyre Factory’ »

Upali Wijewardene: Sri Lanka’s Beloved Home-Grown Tycoon

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Upali Wijewardene known widely as Upali was arguably Sri Lanka’s first home-grown tycoon of the post – Independence years who captured the popular imagination of the people at large. The Island nation has produced several indigenous business magnates and industrialists of great repute but there was none quite like Upali Wijewardene. He interacted on a higher plane with transnational captains of industry and commerce on equal terms. Yet he retained the loyalty and affection of his employees and workers who simply adored him. More importantly the Sri Lankan masses despite being exposed to left -wing rhetoric for decades loved this high -profile capitalist.Upali was a beloved indigenous tycoon.

Upali Wijewardene (February 17, 1938 – February 13, 1983)

It was my privilege to be associated with Upali Wijewardene slightly and briefly during the years 1978 to 1983. As a journalist on the Tamil Daily “Virakesari” I covered the Greater Colombo Economic Commission (GCEC) or “free trade Zone” from 1978 to 1981. Upali was the first Director -General of the GCEC. Later in 1981 I began working as a staff reporter on the English daily “The Island” published by Upali newspapers Ltd of which he was the proprietor. It was in 1983 that Upali went missing.

Cadjan fence pic courtesy of: @DushiYanthini

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President Sirisena Holds Tri-partite Talks with UNP, SLFP and TNA to Break Deadlock in Constitutional Negotiations

By Dharisha Bastians

President Maithripala Sirisena has stepped into break a deadlock in constitutional negotiations, holding a round of tripartite talks with the United National Party (UNP), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) late last month.

Prime Minister fgjRanil Wickremesinghe attended the tripartite discussions, together with UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema and Party General Secretary Kabir Hashim. TNA Leader R. Sampanthan attended with TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran. President Sirisena chaired the meeting, with SLFP Ministers Susil Premajayantha, Faizer Mustapha and Nimal Siripala De Silva also present. Daily FT learns that JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake was also invited to attend the talks but had been unable to participate due to other commitments. The meeting took place on 30 January, subsequent to discussions between President Sirisena and the TNA about ongoing consultations on the new constitution.

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New Constitution Making Process in Sri Lanka Is In the Doldrums


By P.K.Balachandran

The process of drafting a brand new constitution for Sri Lanka is in the doldrums though many steps had already been completed and the process was in the final stages early last month itself.

The six subcommittees on various subjects had submitted their reports based on the widest possible public consultations. The Steering Committee had considered these reports and drafted its own report which was to be presented to the Constitutional Assembly (comprising the current members of parliament).

But the Steering Committee’s report was not presented to the Constitutional Assembly on January 9 as planned.

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Tamil Nadu’s 25th Chief Minister Edappaady Palaniswamy Must Prove He has Majority Support in the Legislature Within 15 Days


By

Anna Isaac

Edappaady Palaniswamy

The red beacon has been removed from O Panneerselvam’s car and shifted to the vehicle of Edappadi K Palaniswamy. The confusion over whether Tamil Nadu has an ‘interim Chief Minister’ or a ‘caretaker Chief Minister’ has also ended.

Edappadi K Palaniswamy has been sworn in as the 25th Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and he will hold the office for now, at least until the Tamil Nadu Speaker convenes the state Assembly and a confidence vote is held.

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“Sinna Amma” Sasikala’s Chosen Man Edappadi Palaniswamy Will Be the New Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State

By

Dhanya Rajendran

It’s official: Governor Vidyasagar Rao has made up his mind to call Edappadi Palaniswami to form the government in Tamil Nadu. He will be sworn in on Thursday evening, but the drama isn’t over just yet.

Sasikala’s chosen man now has 15 days to prove his majority on the floor of the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

While Edappadi Palaniswami and the rest of the Sasikala camp have been claiming that they have the support of 126 MLAs, the OPS camp has insisted that if the MLAs were allowed to go out of Golden Bay resorts, they would flock to his side.

The ultimate test of their claims will be held in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. If Palaniswami can prove that he has a majority in the House, he will remain the Chief Minister until the next elections.

But if Palaniswami fails the floor test, the political game will be up in the air once again.

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Catholic Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith will Oppose any Move by Govt to Legalise Abortion.

Catholic Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said that he would stand against legalising abortion, if the government intends it to introduce it as law.

‘Abortion is considered a sin.The Ten Commandments of the Holy Bible clearly states that we should not kill,’ the Archbishop said.

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Chandrika Kumaratunga Wants SLFP to Take a “Clean Break” From the Joint Opposition Faction Led by Mahinda Rajapaksa

By

Dharisha Bastians

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Tuesday admitted that there had been a breakdown in party discipline in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and suggested a “clean break” from the Joint Opposition led by her successor Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Joint Opposition was not a “huge threat” to the future of the SLFP, Kumaratunga told Foreign Correspondents at the ONUR office this week, even though some party members were concerned that the JO would “gobble” the party up.

The former President said that SLFP unity had been “temporarily” broken, accusing ex-President Rajapaksa of orchestrating the split. “The same gentleman who is leading the SLFP split now, split the party twice before,” Kumaratunga asserted.

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AIADMK Gen Secy “Sinna Amma”Sasikala Becomes Prisoner No 9234 in Bengaluru Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara

After a day of high drama in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala, convicted by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case on Tuesday, surrendered at a special court, a few hundred metres from Bengaluru Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara, and became prisoner no. 9234.

Before leaving for Bengaluru by road on Wednesday, Ms. Sasikala stopped by at the memorial to Jayalalithaa on the Marina in Chennai and dramatically slapped the memorial’s slab thrice as if taking a vow. After this, she headed out to former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran’s house in Ramavaram and paid floral tributes to his portrait and his statue. She also spent a few minutes sitting on the floor of the house in front of the portrait.

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Trump Administration to Further Expand US -India Strategic Military Alliance in a Bid to Contain and/or Thwart Rise of China.

By Deepal Jayasekera and Keith Jones

The Trump administration has served notice that it intends to expand the Indo-US military strategic alliance. This is not surprising, but nonetheless highly significant: first, because it underscores the new administration’s intention to pursue confrontation with China; and second, because Washington’s drive to harness India to its military-strategic offensive against China has dangerously destabilized the region, fueling tensions between India and both China and Pakistan.

US Secretary of Defense, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, telephoned his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar last week. Mattis, according to the Pentagon readout of their Feb. 8 conversation, hailed the “tremendous progress” made in “recent years” in Indo-US “defense cooperation” and said the new administration is eager to “sustain the momentum” and “build upon it.”

The readout made specific mention of the bilateral Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) under which the US and India are codeveloping and coproducing advanced weapon systems.

Continue reading ‘Trump Administration to Further Expand US -India Strategic Military Alliance in a Bid to Contain and/or Thwart Rise of China.’ »

Powers Removed By Urban Development Authority to be Taken Back By Provincial Councils Says Western Chief Minister Devapriya.

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Provincial Councils (PC) would introduce a controversial convention very shortly to take back and regain the powers that had been removed from them by the Urban Development Authority (UDA), Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya said yesterday.

Addressing the media at the Chief Minister’s office in Colombo, Devapriya said the charter would be introduced by the PCs if the Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka did not take necessary steps to reinstate the powers taken back by the UDA within the next few days.

Lashing out at UDA Chairman Jagath Munasinghe, CM Devapriya claimed that the decision had been taken by the UDA Chairman on his own accord without even consulting Minister Ranawaka.

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Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers Detained in Australia Who Return Home Wont be Prosecuted Assures Prime Minister Wickremesinghe


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has urged compatriots who are being held in Australian-run immigration detention centres to come home.

Ranil Wickremesinghe claimed the Sri Lankans had broken the law in trying to flee to Australia but insisted they would not face prosecution if they returned. “Come back. All is forgiven,” Wickremesinghe said as he stood beside Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra on Wednesday.

Asked about those who might prefer to remain in the camps than return in fear for their safety, he insisted they were mistaken, pointing to a newly-established missing persons’ office in his country.

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Govt Will Launch a “Hearts and Minds” Campaign to Mobilise Support for the New Constitution Announces Chandrika Kumaratunga

By Dharisha Bastians

The Government will launch a hearts and minds campaign to win support for a new constitution in the coming months, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga said on Tuesday.

The campaign is expected to be modelled along the lines of Kumaratunga’s own Sudu Nelum Movement initiative in 1995, which sought to build bridges between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities and create public awareness about the necessity for power sharing and building an inclusive society.

Former President Kumaratunga, who heads the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), told Foreign Correspondents this week that such a peace movement was the “main requirement” to ensure victory at a referendum on a new constitution.

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Can Constitutional Reform Provide a Soution to the Tamil National Question?

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

A German friend of mine whom I met after 7 years in the middle of our conversation asked me about the state reforms project of the Yahapalana government. He said that many people he met had been sanguine about them in spite of some minor difficulties. Lankans have been talking about the state reforms since the second republican constitution was promulgated in 1978.

Three main questions have been posed, namely, (1) The executive presidential system and over-centralized architecture of the constitution; (2) the constitutional relevance in ethnically divided society; and (3) the representational deficiency in the system of election.

After a heated debate in the 1980s and 1990, the heat of the constitutional debate has now subsided as many seem to believe that the present system has reached some stability. This may be partly due to the rigid character of the constitutional design. However, it is not totally true as we have had Parliaments with the necessary 2/3 majority. Hence, the more realistic reason appears to be the fact that the system serves quite well those who hold and exercise power.

Already the moribund section of the SLFP has announced that they would field the incumbent as their candidate in 2020. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa appears to be the leading contender from the Joint Opposition. What is the position of the UNP is still unknown. In such a context, I told him that the state reforms would be a highly unlikely happening.

Since my friend was very much interested in the aforementioned second question and our discussion was also focused on the nexus between state reforms and the national question, my focus in this article is confined to that issue.

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Sri Lanka and Australia sign MoUs on Development Cooperation and strengthening Cooperation in Sport


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is visiting Australia at the invitation of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, held discussions with the Australian Premier at the Parliament House in Canberra yesterday.

Following bilateral discussions between the two sides, the two leaders witnessed the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding on development cooperation and on strengthening cooperation in sport.

Addressing a press conference following their meeting, the Australian PM said they had a fruitful discussion, reflecting the very deep relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka.

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“Bring On a Referendum on the New Constitution, Bring it on Baby Bring it on”


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“Let’s Get It On…….” – Marvin

Mangala Samaraweera announced to the Foreign Correspondents Association last Tuesday evening that the government had decided that it was “worth the risk” to go for a referendum on a new Constitution. Lakshman Kiriella reiterated this in Parliament, saying that the government’s decision was that it would garner the support of the SLFP for a new Constitution and face a referendum. Why a new Constitution/Referendum while an economic crisis looms?

The case for fast-tracking the new constitution is a scam. The argument is that Sri Lanka will buy time to implement the Geneva resolution which the government co-sponsored, by leapfrogging the accountability/transitional justice issues and moving directly to the political resolution of the ethnic conflict by means of a new Constitution. But even the Geneva 2015 Resolution makes no mention of a new Constitution.

There is another “Geneva commitment” however, to a new Constitution. In his report on Sri Lanka UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid al Hussein referred to a commitment by the Government of Sri Lanka to enact a new constitution via a referendum in 2017; a new Constitution in which international law relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity would be embedded, enabling their retroactive prosecution. So Mangala Samaraweera has promised Zeid al Hussein, and not the UNHRC, to have a new Constitution in place by 2017. Sri Lanka is not under pressure to enact a new constitution due to the need to comply with the Geneva 2015 resolution, but as part of this despicable understanding between Mangala Samaraweera and Zeid al Hussein and his office which would enable the retroactive prosecution of the Sri Lankan military and war-winning national political and bureaucratic leadership.

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CV Wigneswaran Makes Cardinal Error of Attacking MA Sumanthiran Out of Jealousy.

By Rathindra Kuruwita

So Northern Province Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran and the gang just held the second instalment of Ezhuga Tamil (Arise Tamils) festival (?) in Batticaloa. Then again why shouldn’t they? The first one was, in my estimate, a success. They managed to bring a few thousand people onto the roads; a lot of diaspora people and activists managed to do a lot in group virtue signalling and most importantly got some good press from the English media that, for the most part, ignored the sectarian nature of the event.

Ethnic purity

The purpose of the Ezhuga Tamil version 1.0, according to Wigneswaran, was to speedily address the needs of the Tamils in the North and the East. Among these needs of the people, according to Wigneswaran (a man who has lived in Colombo 95% of his life and whose child is married to MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara’s child), is to maintain the ethnic purity of the two provinces.

Just in case anyone missed his point, Wigneswaran said that they wanted an end to ‘unauthorized Sinhala and Muslim settlements’. No one bothered to ask how these settlements, if any, are ‘unauthorized’? The Constitution of Sri Lanka ensures ‘the freedom of movement (of a Sri Lankan) and of choosing his residence within Sri Lanka (Article 14. 1. h). So, why can’t a Muslim or a Sinhalese settle in the North? And that because the power over land is held by the Central Government, it is up to the government to determine if a settlement is ‘unlawful or unauthorized;’ Wigneswaran has no say in that matter.

Version 2.0 hits a snag

The second instalment of Ezhuga Tamil last week was not different but as the event was held in the East, where a significant amount of Muslims live, there was an attempt to get the eastern Muslims on the bandwagon as well.

Wigneswaran addressing the rally in Batticaloa, where 143 Muslims were killed when they were praying in Kattankudy mosque on 3 August 1990, said there were “some unfortunate incidents” of the past that had inflicted wounds on the Muslims which are yet to heal.

Continue reading ‘CV Wigneswaran Makes Cardinal Error of Attacking MA Sumanthiran Out of Jealousy.’ »

Hakeem and Nazeer Join Forces to Gain and Maintain Control of Muslim Congress and Party Properties

by Ifham Nizam

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) will continue to have more problems of a serious nature unless Party Leader Rauff Hakeem puts an end to acts that favour some who were keen on building their financial strengths, neglecting party politics.
SLMC officials told The Sunday Leader that there are frequent clashes within the party due to the conflict of interest, good and evil.

According to insiders after the demise of Leader Ashraff, the party was captured by a few under the leadership of the present leader.

“The properties were captured by a few under the leadership of Nazeer Hafeez through the Trust and the Company. Eventually only the party came under the wings of Hakeem. Likewise the party’s properties came under Hafeez.”

They pointed out that Hakeem’s initial efforts taken to capture the party as well as its wealth did not materialise. In the same manner, initial efforts taken by Hafeez to capture the party along with its wealth did not materialise as well. People who are aware of the history will know this. People who are ignorant to this could ascertain these factors by consulting others.

In the year 2012, Hakeem who captured the party and Hafeez who captured the party’s wealth have joined hands. This has paved the way for Hafeez who intended to own the party with its wealth in order to obtain political positions and achieve what he wanted. As for Hakeem who envisaged getting the Party and its wealth together, already has the party and now got his share of wealth as well.

Ashraff purchased the 15.30 perches of empty land next to ‘Dharusalam’ during the middle part of 1999 from Carson Cumberbatch & Company for a price of rupees 10 million 12 lakh and 50 thousand. The deed of that property was in favour of five high ranking officials – the leader, chairman, secretary, national organiser and treasurer – as property of the party and specifically mentioning that when any of them lost their position the one succeeding him will automatically be replaced in place of him. (The leader has used his legal brain and specifically stated that not any individuals or companies but those holding responsible party ranks only will become eligible and he has made it very clear and lawful so that nobody can deceive)

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President Sirisena Insists on Retaining Power to Declare Emerggency Rule With Simple Majority Approval in Parliament Instead of Two-Thirds.

By Vijith Samarasinghe

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has blocked a move to require a two-thirds parliamentary vote, rather than the current simple majority, to approve a presidential declaration of emergency.

He ordered the removal of a clause to that effect in the proposed National Action Plan for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (NHRAP).

The president’s insistence on having an unrestrained prerogative to impose police-state provisions underscores the anti-democratic nature of the government and its readiness to use draconian measures against political opponents, workers and the poor.

The new NHRAP clause was proposed by a ministerial committee, for submission to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which is scheduled to discuss the Sri Lankan human rights situation next month.
A previous NHRAP document, submitted to the UNHRC by former president Mahinda Rajapakse’s government, expired at the end of 2016. Rajapakse’s administration presented that document to UNHRC in 2011 in response to a resolution sponsored by the US that called for an investigation of war crimes committed during the final military offensive against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Insists on Retaining Power to Declare Emerggency Rule With Simple Majority Approval in Parliament Instead of Two-Thirds.’ »

Dambulla Situation Returns to Normal: All Muslim Owned Businesses Functioning Smoothly and Safely.


NEWS UPDATE

The situation in Dambulla has returned to Normal. Al Musli owned businesses in Dambulla were fully open on Monday February 13th. Representatives of the Dambulla Sinhala Traders Association and Muslim Businesspersons had a friendly discussion to resolve outstanding problems on Sunday Feb 12th. Meanwhile the Muslim restaurant manager and Sinhala customer whose altercation led to the crisis in Dambulla have both agreed to arrive at an amicable settlement of the dispute. Both of them had been arrested earlier by Police and remanded until Feb 22nd. Representatives of the Dambulla Mosque administration met with both at the Remand prison and got both to agree to an amenable sentiment


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Earlier News Story

Club Sandwich-Submarine Dispute Results in Forcible Shut down of Muslim Owned Businesses in Dambulla-Sri Lanka

A dispute with a Sinhala customer over the ordering of food items in a Muslim owned hotel has resulted in communal tensions flaring up in Dambulla town located 165 km from Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.

According to reports in websites specialising in news concerning the Muslim community ,the dispute which occurred on Wednesday Feb 8th 2017 , turned into a physical clash between the customer and hotel staff in which the customer was injured. Following this a gang of Sinhala speaking persons invaded the hotel and attacked the Muslim manager.

Thereafter a mob assembled in Dambulla and staged a demonstration against the Muslims after which all Muslim owned businesses in Dambulla were ordered to be closed. All Muslim shops,hotels and other businesses in Dambulla were shut down at 7 pm on Wednesday

Continue reading ‘Dambulla Situation Returns to Normal: All Muslim Owned Businesses Functioning Smoothly and Safely.’ »

Indian Nation’s Confidence in the Judiciary Restored After Supreme Court Ruling on Tamil Nadu Political Corruption Case Appeal.

By

N. Sathiya Moorrthy

By setting aside Karnataka high court Judge C Kumaraswamy’s acquittal order and restoring trial court Judge John Michael Cunha’s verdict in its entirety on Tuesday, the Supreme Court has reiterated the nation’s confidence in the judiciary, especially in matters of dealing with political bosses who have made it a habit of getting away with blatant corruption — and go scot-free from the long arms of law as well.

With this, Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy, through their separate but concurring judgments, have also put the Tamil Nadu political tussle over the chief ministership in the court of acting governor, Ch Vidyasagar Rao, and through him the state assembly, where a floor test has become imminent and purposeful.

That was neither the purpose of the Supreme Court case nor the verdict, but the restoration of the verdict of conviction and four-year jail term for All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary V K Sasikala means precisely that.

She had staked her claim to become chief minister after incumbent O Panneerselvam, or OPS, had quit, purportedly voluntarily — but only to claim later that it was done under force.

By upholding Judge Cunha’s verdict in its entirety, the Supreme Court had also restored the trial court’s conviction of A-1, the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, but ‘abated’ the case against her following her death on December 5, 2016.

Without upholding the conviction against Jaya, the ‘abettors’ and co-conspirators under the law, starting with the Prevention of Corruption Act, could not have been sentenced, either.

Continue reading ‘Indian Nation’s Confidence in the Judiciary Restored After Supreme Court Ruling on Tamil Nadu Political Corruption Case Appeal.’ »

Solution Through Consensus Must be In -Between Concern About Separation and Need For Greater Autonomy – Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

By

Amra Ismail

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is an expert in governance and peace. He has submitted research papers on the subjects in international conferences. In 2013, he attended a High-level Civil Society Round Table during the tenure of Barack Obama, the former President of the USA. He is one of the founders of the Sri Lanka Chapter of Transparency International and the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV). He has been the Secretary of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation mechanism. In a candid interview with the Dailymirror Dr. Saravanamuttu, who has a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) shared his thoughts on the current constitution making process, reconciliation, transitional justice, good governance and the debatable topics that have taken centre stage during the past few weeks.

Excerpts From an Interview

Question;

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee headed by President Maithripala Sirisena has come to a decision to continue with the Executive Presidential system of governance. But the President came to power pledging to do away with this system. What are your thoughts on this?

Continue reading ‘Solution Through Consensus Must be In -Between Concern About Separation and Need For Greater Autonomy – Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu’ »

“Mannarkudi Mafia’ Scheme to make “Sinna Amma” Sasikala the chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Foiled by Supreme Court Verdict Upholding Previous Conviction for Corruption.

Sasikala’s political career has hit a roadblock even before it took off. The Supreme Court set aside the Karnataka High Court verdict acquitting Sasikala, her niece Ilavarasi, nephew VN Sudhakaran and late CM Jayalalithaa in the Disproportionate Assets case.

In doing so, the apex court has restored the Special Court’s judgement by Michael D’Cunha in September 2014 with penalties, which convicted all four accused in the 20-year-old corruption case.

At this stage, while the special court verdict stands, Sasikala cannot contest elections for the next 10 years. This is because she was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment by Justice Cunha, and stands disqualified from membership of the TN Assembly for a further six years.

The AIADMK General Secretary who was elected as leader of the Legislature Party on February 5, will as a result be ineligible to contest for bye-elections.

Continue reading ‘“Mannarkudi Mafia’ Scheme to make “Sinna Amma” Sasikala the chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Foiled by Supreme Court Verdict Upholding Previous Conviction for Corruption.’ »

Tamil Peoples Council Headed by CV Wigneswaran Launches “Ezhuga Thamizh”(Arise Tamil) Communal Campaign in East

By Subash Somachandran and S. Jayanth

The Tamil People’s Council (TPC), a Tamil nationalist organisation, has called an Ezhuga Thamizh (Rise up Tamils) protest on February 10 in Batticaloa in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. The TPC held a similar demonstration in Jaffna last September.

The purpose of the protest is to divert the growing social tensions among Tamil workers and the poor along communal lines and divide them from their class brothers and sisters in the country’s south.

The TPC was established in 2015 by a section of the parliamentary opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) and various university academics and civil society formations. The TPC is headed by C.V. Wigneswaran, a leading member of the TNA and the Northern Provincial Council’s chief minister.

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NDP Backed Neethan Shan Wins Ward 42 By-Election With 4763 Votes To Become First Tamil Canadian to Serve on Toronto City Council

By Betsy Powell

NDP-backed Neethan Shan will be the first Tamil-Canadian to serve on Toronto city council after he won a byelection in Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River, according to unofficial results on the city web site.

He won 4,763 votes in a crowded field of 29 candidates in a part of the city that held its third byelection in 13 months. His popular vote was 45.7 per cent.

“I’m ready to get to work immediately,” Shan told CP24 at a victory party.

Continue reading ‘NDP Backed Neethan Shan Wins Ward 42 By-Election With 4763 Votes To Become First Tamil Canadian to Serve on Toronto City Council’ »

Ex-LTTE Commandr “Col”Karuna’s new Party “Tamil United Freedom Front” Will Engage in Cooperative and not Confrontational Politics

By

P.K.Balachandran

Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, alias Karuna Amman,who was formerly the LTTE’s Special Commander for Batticaloa and Amparai, says that his new party, Tamizhar Aikkiya Suthanthira Munnani ( Tamil United Freedom Front) is opting for “cooperative politics” (inakkapaadu arasiyal) in place of the current “confrontational politics” (muranpaadu arasiyal).

Speaking to Express on Monday, a day after the formation of the party TUFF, Karuna said that while some Tami parties and leaders desire only confrontation with Sri Lankan governments and the Sinhalese majority, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which has the largest number of Tamil members in parliament, is neither here nor there. It is also divided between those who want to do cooperative politics and those seeking confrontation.

On the one hand, the TNA cooperates with the government as a loyal opposition, and on the other it instigates the Tamils to show itself as a Tamil nationalistic party.

The TNA has failed to use its influence as an ally of the government to solve the many issues confronting the Tamils in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, Karuna charged.

Continue reading ‘Ex-LTTE Commandr “Col”Karuna’s new Party “Tamil United Freedom Front” Will Engage in Cooperative and not Confrontational Politics’ »