TNA MP and lawyer M. A. Sumanthiran told The Sunday Leader that the 13th Amendment alone would not be sufficient to solve the national questions, and that the government should go above and beyond the constitution to truly address ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: Do you think the proposed 19th amendment will solve the national question?
A: Not at all! It will only exacerbate the problem. The 13th amendment was brought in as the solution to the national question, but everyone will agree that it did not sufficiently redress the imbalance created by the reality of a heterogeneous society in which some were the permanent majority while others were permanent minorities. All attempts to finally settle this were in the direction of enhancing devolution and making it meaningful. Greater devolution is agreed as the way forward and not the opposite, which is what is contemplated by the proposed 19th amendment.
Continue reading ‘It was the Govt which Offered to “Implement the 13th Amendment in full and Go Beyond it also”-MA Sumanthiran’ »
Leader of the Democratic Left Front, National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara emphasizes that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was a step in the right direction in solving the ethnic problem. He believes that it will be fully implemented after consultation of a fairly representative parliamentary select committee (PSC)
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: Do the proposed changes to the 13th Amendment, in your view, solve the national question?
A: Yes, it is a step in the right direction to address the national question; it is definitely a right step. To have free and fair elections in the Northern and Eastern provinces is what these changes allow. We must give that to them, to elect their own representatives, that is the first step in winning them over; the Northern and Eastern provinces are still very much disillusioned.
Continue reading ‘There is no Alternative to the Provincial Councils System-Vasudeva Nanayakkara’ »
by Lakshmi Puri
UNITED NATIONS – Last year, as rebels captured the main towns in Northern Mali, UN Women registered a sudden and dramatic increase of rapes in the first week of the takeover of Gao and Kidal, in places where most women never report this violence to anyone, not even health practitioners.
We heard stories of girls as young as 12 being taken from their homes to military camps, gang-raped for days and subsequently abandoned; of surgery and delivery rooms invaded by armed men enforcing dress codes and occupying health facilities; of young women being punished, flogged, and tortured for bearing children outside of marriage.
Continue reading ‘Forwrd Movement in Turning Violence Against Women from Pandemic into Aberration’ »
Upul Joseph Fernando
For quite some time now India has been trying to understand with at least a modicum of certainty, where exactly Mahinda Rajapaksa stands on the issue of the 13th Amendment. India needs to gain some insight into his thinking on this, so its leaders could evaluate his genuineness and reliability in respect of his various promises and pronouncement regarding the Amendment. However, his thinking on this vital matter is as elusive as ever. Even his close associates find it near impossible to read his mind.
Wikileakes revelations in recent days have laid bare a few pointers, which could perhaps help pin down his inner convictions on this matter. It discloses details of several discussions Rajapaksa has had with US Ambassador Jeffery Lunstead just prior to 2005 Presidential Election. A careful perusal of this throws some light on how to unravel the exact stance of Mahinda in regard to 13A. In one of the leaked cables datelined 30 September 2005, Ambassador Lunstead records a discussion he had with Nirupama Rajapaksa, a niece of the President, who has bluntly remarked about Mahinda’s inscrutability, and reluctance to disclose his inner feelings.
Continue reading ‘Actual Mindset of Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment’ »
N Sathiya Moorthy
It may remain unclear whether the Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA) decision to stay away from the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) being formed in Sri Lanka to find a political solution to the still so very vexatious ‘ethnic issue’ was influenced by the fact that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was ‘dismayed’ by reports of the Sri Lankan Government attempting to ‘dilute certain key provisions’ of the Thirteenth Amendment ahead of the promised Northern Provincial Council poll. Singh had expressed his views when a TNA delegation led by parliamentary group leader R Sampanthan called on him in New Delhi a fortnight ago.
Continue reading ‘Why the Tamil National Alliance Should Not Boycott the Parliamentary Select Committee’ »
“Living is death; dying is life. We are not what we appear to be. On this side of the grave we are exiles, on that citizens; on this side orphans, on that children;”
~Henry Ward Beecher
From the time Sri Lanka gained Independence from the colonial powers, all Sri Lankan political leaders, barring none, have been indulging in a frenzy of electoral politics. Every national issue had been viewed through the electoral eyeglass and solutions to those national issues had been skewed and screwed to such an un-dignifying degree, in almost all instances, that the solutions that had been found and effected, had proven time and again, to be more radical and damaging than the original problem. This tragic flaw ever so manifest in our pattern of governance over the last six and half decades, had taken its toll on our national character, giving it an appearance of an incompetent and untrained technician trying to meddle with a machine about whose intricate workings, he does not comprehend at all. Not a good one.
When you pour into this pot of confusion, the sons of ministers playing havoc on the beaches, at nightclubs and on board planes in mid-air and also hammering Army personnel, the common masses must be really wondering as to what kind of government and governance we have been ‘blessed’ with. To paraphrase Churchill, never in the short history of Sri Lanka’s post-independence era have so few a number created so much chaos in so short a time as at present. The war-victory psyche is still playing up and the second generation of those who govern has taken upon themselves, the task of undoing whatever the positive this government has done, if only there is anything positive to write home about, over the last eight years.
Continue reading ‘Sons of Govt Ministers Playing Havoc on Beaches,Aboard Planes,At Nightclubs and Also Hammering Army Personnel’ »
Hafeel Farisz Interviews Defence Secretary
The country’s powerful Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa spoke to the Daily Mirror in one of his most wide ranging interviews in recent times, on a gamut of issues. Rajapaksa explained why he believes that devolution of power is not the solution to the national question. He also expressed his candid views about his percieved relationship with hard-line Sinhala groups,the issues surrounding the arrest of a senior Police officer on charges of murder and about the controversial Matale mass grave among other topics on this exclusive interview.
Q: You come from a political family. What are your views on the presidencies of J.R. Jayewardene, R.Premadasa and Chandrika BandaranaikeYour impressions of their times in power?
Continue reading ‘“I did not create the Bodu Bala Sena, it was a creation as a reaction to what was happening”-Gotabaya Rajajapaksa’ »
(Text of Editorial appearing in “The Island”of July 4th 2013 under the heading”Fathers, sons and closed doors”)
One of our young cricketers has become internationally known overnight—for the wrong reason though. He tried to open the door of a British airways plane in mid-air while looking for a toilet the other day. Sri Lanka Cricket, which usually has egg on its face by trying to sweep things under the carpet, promptly identified him as Ramith, son of Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.
His father who, incidentally, considers it his bounden duty to lay down guidelines on ethical practices among journalists, also had a problem with a closed door of a hotel room down under some time ago. Unable to open a door which got locked, shutting him out on a balcony, he tried to creep into his room through a window and had a nasty fall in the process. Having learnt a bitter lesson, he must have advised his son to be wary of taking chances if a door happened to be closed and to keep tugging at its handle until it opened or help arrived. The boy must have remembered his father’s advice and did as had been told, even at an altitude of 35,000 feet! An epitome of obedience, eh?
Continue reading ‘Rambukwellas and Closed Doors:Father Keheliya in Australian Hotel Room and Son Ramith in British Airways Plane.’ »
The State Resources and Enterprise Development Ministry decided to chop down and sell nearly 70,000 trees on Government-owned plantations, after the Labour Dept said they would sue estate management companies for 16 years worth of unpaid worker dues.
Meanwhile, experts conceded that it has been a longstanding practice to fell mature, cultivated trees in estates for economic purposes. However, they warned, it must be done with caution, and that, a simultaneous replanting campaign is imperative.
This is the first time, such a large quantity of trees would be harvested in one go. The total number of trees to be cut down is 67,132. They are distributed across 36 estates in the Matale, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy districts, and mostly growing among tea bushes.
Continue reading ‘67,132 Trees in 36 Estates to be Sold to Timber Corporation to pay Rs 1.74 Bllion EPF,ETF Due to Workers Since 1997’ »
The controversial retention of public land in the Jaffna Peninsula, on the excuse they come under ‘high security zones (HSZ),’ has left thousands of Jaffna residents homeless and prime agricultural land unused by the civilians.
Hidden from locals, in the Valikamam North HSZ, the military has taken to developing the region for tourism purposes, unfortunately at the expense of hundreds of people, who have lost their homes.
In an area sitting along the Peninsula’s northern beach front, and covering nearly 25 square miles, the Valikamam North HSZ is cordoned off to all locals, who wish to travel to what were originally their own homes.
Continue reading ‘Homes and Lands Taken from Jaffna People for “High Security Zones”Being Used by Military for Tourism Purposes’ »
Four Thousand Copies of the prestigious US weekly news-magazine “Time” have been seized by the Sri Lankan Customs at the Colombo International Airport in Katunayake.
The seizure authorised by the Sri Lankan Government was executed by the Customs under the pretext that its cover story on Myanmar’s clashes could hurt religious sentiment in the country.
Continue reading ‘4000 Copies of “Time” Magazine with Cover Story on “Buddhist Terror” Seized by Customs at Katunayake Airport on Govt Order’ »
Sri Lanka saw six cases of religious persecution in the month of June alone, all of which took place in the districts of Hambantota, Batticaloa, Kegalle, and Kalutara.
“After a relative lull during the month of May, incidents of religious persecution once again increased during this month,” according to the June 2013 Incident Report of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), an umbrella organization of evangelical churches and denominations in the Sinhala-Buddhist majority country.
Continue reading ‘Six Incidents of Religious Persecution in Sri Lanka in June 2013 Where Christian Churches were Under Attack’ »
Amidst the entire range of complexities that mark the situation in Sri Lanka one fact remains incontestable: President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his three brothers — Defence Secretary Gotabhaya, Basil, who controls politics and economic policies, and the soft-spoken Speaker of the Parliament, Chamal — are the arbiters of their country’s destiny. The institutions of democracy as provided for within Sri Lanka’s democratic constitution operate but neither the parliamentary opposition nor voices of dissent within the ruling alliance have the strength to put a brake on the objectives that the Rajapaksa brothers, especially the President, have set for themselves and, by extension, for their country.
Continue reading ‘Entire India Shares the Concern Expressed in Tamil Nadu for the Rights and Welfare of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Community’ »
(Text of Cover Story “The Face of Buddhist Terror”in July 1st 2013 TIME magazine)
His face as still and serene as a statue’s, the Buddhist monk who has taken the title “the Burmese bin Laden” begins his sermon. Hundreds of worshippers sit before him, palms pressed together, sweat trickling down their sticky backs. On cue, the crowd chants with the man in burgundy robes, the mantras drifting through the sultry air of a temple in Mandalay, Burma’s second biggest city after Rangoon. It seems a peaceful scene, but Wirathu’s message crackles with hate. “Now is not the time for calm,” the monk intones, as he spends 90 minutes describing the many ways in which he detests the minority Muslims in this Buddhist-majority land. “Now is the time to rise up, to make your blood boil.”
Continue reading ‘“Buddhist Blood is Boiling”-Rise of “Buddhist Terror” in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka’ »
National Security Advisor – Ibndia ~ Shiv Shankar Menon. Photo: PTI
India’s National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon is scheduled to meet sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at “Temple Trees” in the morning of July 9th 2013 for crucial discussions on recent developments concerning the Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment brought about by the India-Sri Lanka accord of July 29th 2013.
Menon who has served in Sri Lanka as High Commissioner and also held the post of foreign secretary is also expected to convey a high level message from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to President Rajapaksa.
The discussions will be preceded by a breakfast meeting with President Rajapaksa and a few important officials during which important bilateral issues would be delved into.
Thereafter the President and the Indian National Security adviser will commence direct discussions focusing on matters related to the 13th Constitutional amendment. President’s secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Indian high commissioner Yashwardan Kumar Sinha will be present during this round of discussions.
Continue reading ‘Indian National Security Adviser SS Menon To Meet President Rajapaksa, UNP, TNA and SLMC in Colombo on July 9th’ »
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lankan cricket enthusiasts were in for a rude shock yesterday after it was revealed that the country will not be hosting any ICC events for the next ten years!
The ICC announced yesterday its global events from the period of 2016 to 2023 and while all Full Members of ICC were given some event, the only countries that were not allocated any events were Sri Lanka and Pakistan. While no cricket has been taking place in Pakistan since 2009 due to security concerns, it was surprising to see Sri Lanka being completely left out– not even an under-19 World Cup or a Women’s World Cup.
Continue reading ‘No Hosting of International Cricket Council Events for Sri Lanka for Ten Years’ »
by Gouri Dange
Most of us ‘old song lovers’ are hooked to and entwined with the songs of SD, Naushad, Madanmohan, Ravi, Shankar Jaikishan, Kalyanji Anandji (and yes, even some LP), RD, Hemantda, Salil Chaudhari, Chitragupt, et al. In our unilateral view, any music directors and singers after that era will need to sit around in vats in some basement until they are appropriately aged and their music survives the test of time.
There is one school of old Hindi film song lovers/listeners who defensively and steadfastly refuse to be drawn into any talk about ragas used by music directors. Were you to even tangentially suggest that a particular song is so perfect for the lyrics and the situation in the film because the music director has chosen to cast it in a particular raga, the too-quick response is, “I don’t know about all this ragas-wagas-and-all. I just know it is so melodious.”
Continue reading ‘Appropriate Use of Classical Music Ragas in Old Hindi Film Songs’ »
by D.B.S. Jeyaraj
Subramaniam Sivakamy alias Thamilini
“Suthanthirapparavaigal”(Birds of Freedom)was the popular name by which the Women’s political division of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE)was known in the past.Last week , saw a former woman political commissar of the LTTE tasting freedom after three years of detention and one year of rehabilitation.41 year old Subramaniam Sivakamy alias”Col”Thamilini became a Suthanthirapparavai or free bird on June 26th 2013.
It was exactly a year ago that Thamilini was transferred from the Colombo Remand Prison(CRP) in Welikade to the Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centre(PARC)at Poonthottam in Vavuniya.She was transferred there on June 26th 2012 on an order to that effect issued by then Colombo chief magistrate Rashmi Singappuli on June 22nd.The transfer was then perceived as the forerunner of Thamilini’s eventual release after undergoing a period of rehabilitation at Poonthottam PARC which functions as a cooperative training centre.
Continue reading ‘Subramaniam Sivakamy Alias ‘Col’ Thamilini becomes a ‘Suthanthirapparavai’ (Free Bird) Again’ »
The on-going campaign to abolish the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was led by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday.
Addressing a press conference in Colombo, Samaraweera said that he did not think President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to go along with the plan hatched by Gotabhaya and supported by parties such as the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and National Freedom Front (NFF).
Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Behind Campaign to Abolish 13th Constitutional Amendment Says Mangala Samaraweera’ »
Outspoken politician and Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne claims Sri Lanka should learn from her past political mistakes and cautions against drastic decision-making with regard to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. He feels such moves would be to the detriment of the country.
You strike an emotional note when speaking of the moves to alter the 13th Amendment? Why?
A: There is reason for me to be so. The sacrifices made and the suffering some of us underwent to promote and maintain the topic of power devolution in the political agenda, makes some of us react to the current debate with strong sentiments. It had not been easy to mainstream the idea and to convince the populace that sharing power is the solution to our problem. People have had to make sacrifices for taking such a stance.
During our Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP) days, we were vilified as promoters of near separatism. Our claims were based on principles of equity and correcting historical wrongs. We have come this far and a political fringe should not be allowed to dominate the discussion and force us to take backward steps. It will be detrimental to the national interest.
Continue reading ‘Instead of Amending we Should Implement the 13th Amendmet in Full and Build Upon it-Rajitha Senaratne’ »
With the pending announcement of the Northern Provincial Council elections, many people in the Jaffna Peninsula are already preparing for a sweeping victory by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
While the Commissioner of Elections is yet to set a date for the election, many residents of the region are convinced the government will announce an election solely in light of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Continue reading ‘Many People in Jaffna Preparing for Sweeping Victory of the TNA in Northern Provincial Poll’ »
The conservation of sea turtles is becoming increasingly important, especially in the backdrop of the numerous threats posed to their survival. Sri Lanka has a major role to play in this regard, being home to five of the seven species of marine turtles in the world. Of these five, two are currently critically endangered.
The sea turtles calling our shores home are the Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Loggerhead Turtle. The Leatherback Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle are the two most critically endangered. Species not found in Sri Lanka are the Flatback Turtle and Kemp’s Ridley Turtle.
Continue reading ‘Conservation of Sea Turtles:Five of World’s Seven Marine Turtle Species Call Sri Lankan Shores Home’ »
“Winston Smith: Does Big Brother exist?
O’Brien: Of course he exists.
Winston Smith: Does he exist like you or me?
O’Brien: You do not exist. ”
― George Orwell
It’s time that the Government and all other political parties and fringe groups realized that holding the elections for the Northern Province would eventually benefit not only the Province in question, but also the country at large and its people. Those who occupy the threshold don’t seem to have any place other than the threshold; they will keep in between extremes without having any pivotal role to play. Politics does not flow like that, other than in Sri Lanka whose leaders have never failed to sustain their own parochial thinking and take an unsuspecting mass of voters along a very destructive path.
Northern Provincial Council elections could not be held if the Thirteenth Amendment was not there; Provincial Councils are a creation of the Thirteenth Amendment, yet if any adjustments or further amendments- however minute or slight they may be and the purpose of such amendments is to dilute the powers already devolved to the Provinces- are effected, then we are killing the spirit of the 13 A. Outside of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, all other provinces acquired their current Council status mainly and solely owing to the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment. The decentralized administration, manor-like official residences, fat allowances and salaries, attendant perks and all other fringe benefits that flow into the pockets of politicians, officials and their main and minor staff did materialize because there is a provincial or regional administrative mechanism in play with extensive powers to implement the policies and principles of that administration. The very spirit of that devolution is embedded in the devolution of political power which overrides all other powers, be it administrative, financial, cultural or economic.
Continue reading ‘Holding Northern Province Elections Without Amending 13 A will Benefit the Country at large and its People’ »
by Brendan Brady
As mobs wielding torches and machetes rampaged through his neighborhood, Abdul had a strangely candid encounter with one assailant. Recognizing the man as his long-time neighbor—the same man who had once showed great affection towards Abdul’s children—Abdul yelled to his would-be executioner: “‘Why are you doing this?’ He told me, ‘Sorry, I’m fighting for my people.’” Abdul, whose full name is withheld to protect his identity, is a Muslim from the Rohingya ethnic group and his attacker, a Buddhist. Abdul kept him and other members of the mob at bay by throwing his valuables out of his window onto the street. As they were distracted collecting the cash and jewelry, another group of Buddhists from his street approached his house from the rear. They, too, were armed but they had come to escort Abdul and his family out of the besieged neighborhood. “They saved our lives.”
The conflict in western Burma’s Rakhine State erupted last June, when reports spread that a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered by three Rohingya men. Shortly after, a mob of Buddhists exacted retribution by pulling over a bus carrying Muslims and beating 10 passengers to death. The incidents ignited sectarian violence throughout the state. Nearly 200 were killed and many more injured, and some 10,000 homes were destroyed. The vast majority of the estimated 140,000 displaced were Rohingyas, and a year after their violent upheaval they continue to languish in squalid temporary encampments.
Continue reading ‘Burma’s Rohingya Muslims Viciously Targeted by Rakhine State Buddhist Mobs’ »
“If a people is to pass away,
Then will the furies will just send a man
Who, spreading deceit all over, will indoctrinate
The healthy people in crime…”
Friedrich Hölderlin (The Death of Empedokles)
Chathurika de Silva, the courageous magistrate who placed the rule of law above the law of the rulers, was abruptly transferred out of Matale.
And with that sudden (though hardly unexpected ) transfer, the hope of a free and fair inquiry into the Matale mass-grave evaporated.
Magistrate de Silva’s transfer was preceded by the equally sudden (and not-unexpected) transfer of Dr. Ajith Jayasena, the JMO in charge of the case, from Matale to Kurunegala.
Continue reading ‘Rajapaksas Planning to Hoodwink India by Getting Courts to Postpone Northern Provincial Elections’ »
Those parties, who made use of the Provincial Council system for 25 years, are now up in arms at the thought of Tamils in the Northern Province having an elected council of their own, for the first time since Vartharajah was deposed by the President Premadasa.
These parties used these councils to do services to their followers and to build up their leaders. Some of these may not exist today if not for the devolution of power.
PC system helped them to enjoy power in the respective areas but they want to deprive the NPC of rights, the other PCs enjoyed for a quarter century.
Obviously they do not want Tamils and Muslims to share power and they believe only Sinhala nationality has the right of autonomy or self rule. In effect they assume other communities should be under the power of Sinhala.
Continue reading ‘Sinhala Nationalism and Chauvinist Campaigns Could Make Theravada Buddhism Extinct in Sri Lanka’ »
Last Wednesday, police officials paid a visit to the beef stall at the Bambalapitiya Market on Galle Road. They had a polite warning for the beef vendors at the market. The Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya march would pass through the Galle Road in Colombo early next week, they said, and the best way to avoid unruly incidents was for the beef stalls to shut their doors on that day.
The warning came one day after participants in the Sinhala Ravaya foot marched from Kataragama to Temple Trees in Colombo, passing through Tangalle and setting Muslim owned beef stalls ablaze in full view of the police. The saffron army has passed through town after town along the Southern coast, issuing dire warnings of their arrival in the area 24 hours ahead and challenging meat vendors to remain open when the ‘river of people’ pass through their towns.
Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Promises Sinhala Ravaya That New Legislation to Ban Killing of Cows Will be Introduced in Two Months’ »
By Eran Wickremaratne M.P.
Freedom of expression and the freedom to information are universally accepted values. The individual’s right to freedom of expression has had to be defended from time immemorial whether the threat was from the king or the ruling coterie in a republic. That struggle continues today.
The media provides both information and expression of opinions for public consumption. The Judiciary and the media are the two keystones of our democracy. The subjugation of the Judiciary to the Executive as in the recent irregular and immoral impeachment of the Chief Justice is a part of our recent dark history.
Continue reading ‘Imposition of Code of Ethics for Media is in Some Respects Worse than Press Censorship.’ »
It is quickly beginning to look as if the Government may have bitten off a little more than it can chew with regard to revising the 13th Amendment to the Constitution ahead of the Northern provincial council election. All signs show that the Rajapaksa administration is being pushed into a corner with regard to the absolute necessity to hold the poll in the North by its self-imposed September deadline.
For it is important to remember that while the international community, including New Delhi and Sri Lanka’s firm friend Tokyo, are holding Colombo to the September election promise, the very first commitment in this regard came from President Rajapaksa himself in repeated media interviews and promises to foreign visitors.
Continue reading ‘Unprecedented Resistance in Cabinet of Ministers Against President’s Move to Dilute 13th Amendment’ »
A trade union for journalists in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Journalists’ Trade Union (SLJTU), was launched in Colombo on Tuesday.
At its inaugural press conference held at the National Library Services Auditorium, the union announced that it would be commencing broad intellectual discussions on key issues faced by media personnel, while focusing on the Government’s proposed code of ethics for the media as a matter of priority in the days ahead.
According to SLJTU President Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema, the union, which is registered with the Labour Department, was formed with the intention of addressing issues faced by Sri Lankan journalists when engaging in their profession.
Following are excerpts of an interview with Abeywickrema:The Interview was obtained exclusively for this blog
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s First Trade Union for Journalists Pledges to Mobilise Media and Address key Issues’ »
Starting his political career as a member of the Leftist movement, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Rajitha Senaratne has always cut a rebellious figure in Sri Lanka’s political arena. Despite being a Cabinet minister, his position against the move by the Government to revise the 13th Amendment to the Constitution has caused ripples within the ruling coalition and the political arena. In a candid conversation with the Daily Mirror, Minister Senaratne reinforced his commitment to the 13A and did not mince his words about the hardliners who campaign for its repeal. Following are some excerpts from the interview with him.
Continue reading ‘“Silent Majority of Sri Lankans are for Devolution of Power” –An Interview with Dr.Rajitha Senaratne’ »
Brazen attempts are being made by vested interests to distort the truth about the incident where a Lady teacher was forced to kneel down in public by a United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA)Provincial councillor from the North western province.
Although President Mahinda Rajapaksa personally telephoned the lady teacher and promised that justice would be done it is reliably learnt that a systematic campaign is underway to intimidate potential witnesses into denying or distorting the truth about the incident that has been widely condemned.
According to informed sources a powerful group of politicians close to the Provincial councillor concerned is engaged in this campaign with the aid of some senior Education Department officials in the Puttalam region. It is also alleged that Wayamba Province Governor Tissa Balalle is somewhat partial towards the Provincial councillor in this matter.
Continue reading ‘Eye Witnesses in Police Complaint About Case Where Provincial Councillor Forced Lady Teacher to Kneel Being Intmidated to Deny they Saw it’ »
Col R Hariharan
Indian Ministry of External Affairs took the unusual step of issuing a strong press statement cautioning Sri Lanka not to dilute the 13th Amendment (13A) at the end of a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegation’s meetings with Indian leadership including the Prime Minister on June 19, 2013. It was in response in to Colombo’s hectic moves to dismantle the constitutional provision of 13A that confers a level of autonomy to Tamil minority. If 13A is abolished it would not only be negation of the promises President Rajapaksa made to the nation and India but it would set the clock back on the national reconciliation process that is stalled at the start line since 2009.
The much maligned 13A reached its episodic climax during May-June as the September 2013 Northern Provincial Council (NPC) elections neared. There was a flurry of activities in Colombo as the President was averse to allow the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) – erstwhile political ally of the LTTE- to capture power in the NPC. There was a bit of confusion as the President was making up his mind on how to go about doing this. This resulted in the administration and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the all powerful Defence Secretary sending confusing signals on future course of action. Lalith Weeratunge, President’s Secretary, added his penny’s worth in twitter justifying the dilution of powers of the “while elephant” provincial councils had not served any purpose, a discovery that came 23 years too late.
Continue reading ‘Nine Lives of Sri Lanka’s Thirteenth Constituional Amendment’ »
by Lauren Padgett (Editor)
In 25 years of investigative journalism in Sri Lanka, Frederica Jansz has seen it all, and was forced to leave it all behind.
She has a price on her head and can never return to her native country, after standing up to an oppressive government through journalistic expression.
Jansz’ journey to Washington as a political refugee is complicated and painful, but with two sons happily enrolled in local schools—one at Pierce College and the other at Sunrise Elementary—she hopes to begin a new life here as an American single mom.
Continue reading ‘Courageous”Sunday Leader”Editor Frederica Jansz Battles to Begin a New Life as a Political Refugee in the USA’ »
The Niqab – a veil worn by conservative Muslim women – has been a frequent target of criticism by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) when condemning the Muslim community. During a BBS convention in Baddulla last week (15 June), the controversial General Secretary of the BBS, Ven. Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thero; who was indicted on 11 charges of carrying out an attack on the Calvary Church in Araliya Place, Thalahena, yet again called for the ban of the Niqab speaking on behalf of local banks.
Ven. Gnanasara Thero announced that several local banks had contacted him and repined that conducting business with veiled clients is problematic and is of great inconvenience to the banks. “When women wearing a Niqab or Burka go to a bank to do a transaction and when they are asked to show their Identity Cards (ID) the bank officer is unable to verify the identity as the woman’s face is covered” declared Gnanasara Thero. “When the woman is asked to show the face she refuses. So how do we know if it is a man or woman under the dress?”
Continue reading ‘Gnanasara Thero Says Local Banks are Complaining to Bodu Bala Sena About Muslim Women Wearing the “Niqab”Veil’ »
Mahinda Rajapaksa has had another bright idea. A few weeks ago, he got one of his hangers-on in the ‘public service’ to float a draft code of ethics for journalists, which he no doubt expected to prove useful in strengthening formal mechanisms of control of the Fourth Estate. Unfortunately for him, the document was so flawed that even his hangers-on in the media could find nothing positive to say about it. Indeed, the condemnation that it elicited was virtually universal, forcing the President to step in and promise that such efforts would be left to journalists themselves.
That initiative forestalled, Mahinda Rajapaksa is now busying himself with an alternative – the dissemination of ideas for self-censorship.
At last week’s regular meeting with newspaper editors, he made a particularly curious suggestion. He requested them not to cover the anti-Muslim activities of extremist organisations, saying, ‘If they don’t get publicity, they will just fade away.’
One cannot help but wonder if he is aware of the context in which such arguments are usually made.
Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa with his “Bright Ideas”Should not Get Involved in Formulating Guidelines for the Media’ »
by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha M.P.
(Text of a Lecture given to the Masters Course at the Kotelawala Defence University)
Ethnicity and Religion are perhaps the most obvious elements through which people distinguish themselves from each other. They are not the only ones, and sometimes elements such as caste and class become even more important in the emergence of reasons to limit association with others.
Fortunately we in Sri Lanka do not have too much experience of this, though we should constantly be aware that the phenomenon exists, and needs to be guarded against. What we do have, which keeps people apart even where there is the utmost goodwill, is barriers created by language. Sri Lanka is perhaps the only country in the world where those who have school leaving qualifications are not required to know a second language. The result is that many of our people are trapped in a monolingualism that stops them communicating, and hence associating, with others.
Continue reading ‘Need to Build up a National Identity to Stop Ethnicity and Religion Exercising their Destructive Ideological and Political influences’ »
Puppetry is dying in Sri Lanka due to the rise of television. But, the cricket team may help revive it.
The 26 year-old Angelo Mathews is a captain only in name. The team is controlled by the old firm of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who are aged 36 and 35.
The two veterans whisper field placements to their prodigy. The fielders look to the old guard for guidance not to the official captain. Master strokes such as sending Kulasekera as a pinch hitter against England are not Mathews’ ideas.
To add to the comedy, the 23 year-old vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal can’t command a place in the side. Mathews barely looks at him, let alone consult him. Chandimal was banished to the outfield, while Mathews sought wisdom from the old men.
Continue reading ‘Angelo Mathews is “Puppet Captain”With team Being Controlled by Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara’ »
The Government of Sri Lanka recently revealed its agenda to further restrict minority freedoms and autonomy in the country. It seeks to:
(1) repeal constitutional provisions granting people the freedom to determine administrative boundaries
(2) amend the Constitution, so as to permit the Central government to freely and arbitrarily legislate on provincial matters — even without the consent of the people of a particular province and
(3) remove altogether provincial powers over land and police. These constitutional features were first introduced through the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, constituent to the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987. Hence, the government’s agenda is in fact to dilute the Thirteenth Amendment.
Continue reading ‘New Delhi Must Act Decisively to Prevent Attempts by the Sri Lankan Govt to Dilute the 13th Amendment’ »
Following revelations on how former DIG Vass Gunawardena extorted money from the Parliamentary Affairs Secretary to Minister Mervyn Silva to avoid taking action against him for the possession of heroin and firearms; concrete evidence has now emerged as to how Minister Silva is having close associations with underworld thugs.
Sarath Edirisinghe alias Singappuru Sarath was the then Parliamentary Affairs Secretary to Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva. He was allegedly connected to many murders, extortions, prostitution and drug peddling with the assistance of the Minister. Although Singappuru Sarath was remanded for an alleged murder, he was later taken as a state witness and was granted bail within a few weeks all because of Mervyn Silva’s connections.
The investigations further revealed that Vass Gunawardena had told Singappuru Sarath that his (Singappuru Sarath’s) name was on the top of the list of drug traffickers to be killed.
Continue reading ‘Mervyn Silva Connection with Underworld Criminals Exposed During Investigation of DIG Vass Gunawardena’ »
A Brent MP is calling for the government to drop plans to charge some visitors to the UK £3,000 for a visa.
Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central, has slammed the proposals by the Home Office as unworkable and discriminatory.
From November, visitors from six ‘high risk’ countries will have to pay the bond before they are allowed to enter the UK.
The pilot scheme, which aims to clampdown on immigration abuse, will affect anyone coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, India and Ghana.
Continue reading ‘Visitors From Six “High Risk Countries”Including Sri Lanka Will Have to Pay 3000 Pounds or SL Rupees Six Lakhs for British Visa’ »
The atrocious Second World War left behind lasting damage by lowering our standards for what is marginally acceptable. War is bad; but if it is not nuclear, the limit has not yet been reached. Fascism is bad; but if it does not come with dictatorship and the elimination of a category of people, the limit has not yet been reached. Hiroshima, Hitler, Auschwitz are deeply rooted in our minds, distorting them.
Hiroshima makes us disregard the state terrorism against German and Japanese cities, killing citizens of any age and gender. And Hitler and Auschwitz make us disregard fascism as the pursuit of political goals by means of violence and the threats of violence. It takes two to make a war, by whatever means. But it takes only one to make fascism, against one’s own people, and-or against others.
What is the essence of fascism? A definition has been given: coupling the pursuit of political goals and of massive violence. We have democracy exactly to prevent that, a political game for the pursuit of political goals by nonviolent means, and more particularly by getting the majority, as demonstrated by free and fair elections or referenda, on one’s side. A wonderful innovation with a logical follow-up: the use of nonviolence when the majority also oversteps lines or limits, for instance as written into the codes of human rights.
Continue reading ‘It Takes Two to Make a War But Only One to Make Fascism Against One’s Own People and/or Against Others’ »
In his book, ‘Propaganda’, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth-teller and an enlightened public.
In 1971, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as The Pentagon Papers, revealing that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the US Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the full extent of the invisible government: the domestic spying and subversion and warmongering by intelligence and “security” agencies and the backing they received from big business and the media, both conservative and liberal.
Continue reading ‘Washington Using Facebook,Google,Apple etc to Spy on Almost Everyone is a Modern Form of Fascism’ »
by Gary Younge
When Darrell Anderson, 22, joined the US military he knew there was going to be a war, and he wanted to fight it. “I thought I was going to free Iraqi people,” he told me. “I thought I was going to do a good thing.”
Until, that is, he realised precisely what he had to do. While on patrol in Baghdad, he thought: “What are we doing here? Are we looking for weapons of mass destruction? No. Are we helping the people? No, they hate us. What are we working towards, apart from just staying alive? If this was my neighbourhood and foreign soldiers were doing this then what would I be doing?” Within a few months, he says, “I was cocking my weapon at innocent civilians without any sympathy or humanity”. While home on leave he realised he was not going to be able to lead a normal life if he went back. His mum drove him to Canada, where I met him in 2006 at a picnic for war resisters in Fort Erie.
Anderson’s trajectory, from uncritical patriotism to conscious disaffection and finally to conscientious dissent, is a familiar one among a generation of Americans who came of political age after 9/11. Over time, efforts to balance the myth of American freedom on which they were raised, with the reality of American power that they have been called on to monitor or operate, causes a profound dislocation in their world view. Like a meat eater in an abattoir, they are forced to confront the brutality of the world they are implicated in and recoil at their role in it – occasionally in dramatic fashion.
Continue reading ‘New Generation of US Patriots Concerned Over Violation of Civil Liberties in the name of Security’ »
Two weeks back, during a Cabinet meeting, as some of his Cabinet Ministers exchanged verbal barbs over the proposed changes to the 13th Amendment, President Rajapaksa, who had been quietly listening to the heated exchange of words, broke the silence to remind them that he knows how to obtain the required two-thirds majority, in order to pass the proposed amendments, if he wishes to do so.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa met Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on May 28, 2013 at the Great Hall of the People.
He was not bragging and if recent history is any guide, he had been masterful in that particular manoeuvre. However, after much foreplay, his government, which initially planned to pass the proposed amendments as an ‘urgent Bill’ – notwithstanding that its urgency itself is a matter of wild imagination – suddenly went on the back foot.
Continue reading ‘Fanciful Idea of using China against India Prompts key Protagonists of Colombo Regime to Ignore New Delhi’s Concerns’ »
Rex Clementine Reporting from Cardiff
Lapses in British intelligence and the security services were severely exposed after six supporters of the LTTE invaded the pitch during the Sri Lanka–India clash at the ICC Champions Trophy tournament.
During the second semi-final of the tournament on Thursday, two LTTE supporters invaded the pitch, carrying the LTTE flag in the penultimate over of the Sri Lankan innings.
Proving that there were serious lapses in security, five other supporters also carrying the LTTE flag marched onto the pitch during the Indian innings, and it took security officials more than a minute to bring the situation under control, as two of the supporters ran around mid-pitch.
Continue reading ‘Four Attacks Against Sri Lankan Cricket Fans at Cardiff by Youths Carrying Tiger Flags’ »
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan
A Muslim owned business establishment at Urukaamam in the Eastern Batticaloa district was subjected to an arson attack on Thursday June 20th 2013.
A provision store cum eatery owned and run by Mr.Seeni Mouhammadu Fareed near the main street junction in Urukaamam was burnt down by an “unknown”gang at about 10. 30 pm on Thursday.
Continue reading ‘TMVP Front “Dravida Senai” Suspected of Burning Muslim Establishment at Urukaamam in Batticaloa District’ »
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has asked the Sri Lankan media to refrain from giving publicity to the anti-Muslim activities of Extremist Sinhala Buddhist organizations. The President made this request when he met the editors of Sri Lankan newspapers and heads of TV and Radio stations for breakfast at “Temple Trees” on Friday June 21st 2013.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa with editors of government and private media institutions-June 21, 2013~pic-news.lk
President Rajapaksa’s request was made when he was mingling with media heads and editors in an informal manner after the formal breakfast meeting was concluded.
Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Requests Media To Deny Publicity to Anti-Muslim Activities of Sinhala Buddhist Organizations’ »
The secret behind the good health of Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs Mervyn Silva is due to his emulating former Indian Prime minister Morarji Desai who lived up tp a hundred years
It is now known that the controversial politician elected as MP from Gampaha district drinks his own urine every day just as Morarji Desai did.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva Drinks His Own Urine Daily Like Ex-Indian PM Morarji Desai’ »
89th Birth Anniversary of President Ranasinghe Premadasa
“…the social state is advantageous to men when all have something and no one has too much”
Rousseau (Social Contract).
Values are not constants. Different historical-times have different political, developmental and socio-cultural values. For centuries, beheading a murderer was an accepted practice across civilisational-divides. So was child labour. In those Western nations caught in the ferment of the first Industrial Revolution, children as young as six-years worked for 18-20 hours in mills and mines. Politicians and prelates, kings and society ladies accepted this brutal exploitation as a necessary condition for the wealth of nations.
The initial demands for marginal improvements in the harsh labouring-conditions of these ‘new slaves’ were decried as inimical to national wellbeing: “It was asserted….that the restriction of the labour of young persons and children would be ruinous to industry and that foreign countries in which enterprising employers were not hindered by factory laws would secure trade which would be lost to Great Britain”. The US Supreme Court declared any attempt to provide some safety to America’s labouring children as unconstitutional, in the first quarter of the 20th Century.
Continue reading ‘Dominant Caste Sinhalese and Tamils Had Common Visceral Antipathy Towards President Premadasa as he was of a Subaltern Caste’ »
By MERVYN DE SILVA – 14TH Death Anniversary June 23rd
Mervyn de Silva
(Abridged text of lecture delivered at the Marga Institute in 1985, two years before the airdrop, the Indo-Lanka Accord, the IPKF and the 13th Amendment. Full text in ‘Crisis Commentaries: Selected Political Writings of Mervyn de Silva’, ed. E Vijayalakshmi, ICES Colombo 2001, pp68-78)
This evening’s topic is in fact an invitation to discuss the foreign policy issues involved in what is popularly called our ethnic problem but now, more properly termed, I think, our national crisis. The shocking events of July 1983 suddenly and rudely awakened the Sri Lankan intelligentsia to the realities of our immediate environment and the world outside. In short, we were, psychologically speaking, taken by the scruff of our necks and forced to face up to and come to terms with a host of harsh realities that constitute the pith and substance of foreign policy. Therefore, they present themselves as constant challenges to our diplomacy, in varying degrees of importance and urgency.
Continue reading ‘The Price of Folly: External Aspects of The Ethnic Issue’ »
OFTEN, when Sri Lanka’s ethnic-Sinhalese-dominated government appears to be offering a hand in friendship to the Tamil minority, it turns out to be a slap in the face. For example, in 2010 it appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the final phase of the 26-year civil war.
But many Tamils saw it as a whitewash, because it absolved the Sri Lankan army of charges that it had deliberately attacked civilians during the war’s apocalyptic final battles in 2009, and many of its confidence-building recommendations have not been implemented. Or take the election scheduled for this September in the north of the country when (mostly Tamil) voters are for the first time to elect a provincial council. The government is now moving to neuter the council, depriving the region of much of the autonomy it had been promised.
Continue reading ‘The winners in Sri Lanka’s civil war continue to make life hard for the losers-Economist’ »
Rex Clementine reporting from Cardiff
The Sri Lankan cricket team has been the most consistent team in ICC events during the last six years. Since 2007, there have been eight ICC events and Sri Lanka has reached the finals in four of them, while there have been two semi-final appearances.
The only instances when they did not reach the last four was at the 2007 World T-20 in South Africa and the 2009 Champions Trophy, also in South Africa.
One major drawback for the Sri Lankans though has been their inability to win finals.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Consistently Enters Semi-finals and Finals in Cricket but Constantly Fails to Win’ »
THE INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT AGAINST ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AND RACISM (IMADR) Japan has condemned roundly the harassment of a Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender Dr. Nimalka Fernando by Sri Lankan Embassy staff in Tokyo. Fernando was heckled and interrupted during a seminar lecture delivered by her . Embassy staff also followed her and tried to intimidate and threaten her not only during her speech but afterwards when she was leaving the venue.
The text of the Press release issued by IMADR is as follows -
TOKYO, 13 JUNE 2013 – IMADR strongly condemns any kinds and acts of reprisal and harassment against Human Rights Defenders and expresses its grave concern and protest against the action and behavior of Sri Lankan Embassy representatives for Japan at a public event in Tokyo hurling abusive words at a prominent Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender.
In the evening of 12th June, 2013, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) organized a public seminar on human rights and development challenges in Sri Lanka at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. The main part of the event was the lecture by Dr. Nimalka FERNANDO, a Human Rights Defender (HRD) from Sri Lanka and the president of IMADR. Along with Japanese participants, the event was also attended by several Sri Lankan persons, who were led by two representatives from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Japan.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Embassy Staff in Tokyo Harass Human Rights Defender Nimalka Fernando During Seminar in Japan’ »
by Col.R Hariharan
[Full text of a presentation on "Managing India- China convergences and contradictions" made by Col. R.Hariharan at the China-South Asia Think Tank Forum meet held on June 6 and 7, 2013 at Kunming.]
The 21st century is going to be the Asian century, if we go by the continued growth of Asian economy despite global economic downturn. Three Asian power centres – China, Japan, and India – are increasingly influencing global power equation well beyond Asia. As strategic analyst Brahma Challaney puts it “Never before have China, Japan, and India have all been strong at the same time.”
Historically, the three Asian powers have had social and cultural linkages that influenced religious perceptions and life style of Asia as a whole. However, the aftermath of the World War II not only changed Asia’s territorial contours but also introduced political and structural changes. After the end of Cold War and the emergence of a liberalized world economic order, China has developed into a global economic power, overtaking Japan in the process. China now aspires to overtake the U.S., which continues to remain the most powerful nation in the world.
India having grown into a regional economic power has more modest ambitions to expand its linkages with the east and protect its global strategic, economic and political interests. In Japan strong nationalist sentiments are striving to cut loose its umbilical relationship with the U.S in a bid to reassert its global power.
Continue reading ‘India and China have no choice but to build a meaningful relationship with each other, avoiding military confrontation.’ »
Tamil political activists in Britain are preparing to conduct a massive protest demonstration on Thursday June 20th 2013 when Sri Lanka plays against India in the Champion Trophy cricket semi-final at the Welsh SWALEC Stadium also known Cardiff Wales Stadium.
Tamil organizations such as the Tamil Youth organization of UK, British Tamil Forum, Tamil Coordinating Committee are joining forces to stage a huge ten hour demonstration from 9 am to 7pm under the aegis of the “Boycott Sri Lankan Lanka Cricket” movement at Cardiff in Wales.
Buses have been arranged to provide free transport to and from Cardiff for those wanting to participate from various locations in England such as London,Coventry, Birmingham,Nottingham,Manchester and Liverpool etc.
Continue reading ‘Angered by Oval Incident, British Tamil Activists Plan Huge Demonstration Against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on 20th During Match with India’ »
A protest march conducted by the Extremist Sinhala Ravaya (sound or roar of Sinhala)organization against cattle slaughter has now turned ugly with a Muslim owned beef stall being set ablaze enroute in the Southern Province coastal town of Tangalle in full view of the Police.
The incident has sent alarm bells ringing among Muslims engaged in the meat trade running beef stalls along the coastal areas of the Southern and Western Provinces as the protest march route is from Kataragama to Colombo.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Owned Beef Stall in Tangalle Set Ablaze by Sinhala Ravaya Extremists Marching Against Cattle Slaughter’ »
Another incident of anti-Muslim violence has occurred in the Southern province of Sri Lanka during the course of the protest march being conducted by the Sinhala Ravaya from Kataragama/Kathirkaamam to Colombo.
Preliminary reports indicate that a Muslim photographer authorised by the Police to record the Sinhala March had been assaulted with the Police doing nothing to stop it.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Photographer Attacked by Marching Sinhala Ravaya Protesters at Gandara in Matara District’ »
Tension prevails in the predominantly Muslim area of Kinniya in the Eastern province district of Trincomalee due to an altercation between the Police Special Task Force and members of the public.
Bullock carts in Kinniya-Oct 2010 pic by: Drs. Sarajevo
The clash was sparked off when the Police began checking bullock carts carrying timber and firewood in the area known as Kuttikarachi in Kinniya on Tuesday June 18th 2013.
Kinniya is about 240 km away from Colombo and 20 km away from Trincomalee.it is the hometown of Eastern Provincial Council chief minister Najeeb Abdul Majeed.
Continue reading ‘Armed Forces Called in as Special Task Force Clashes With Muslim Public at Kinniya in Trinco’ »
Bob Rae, the Liberal MP and former interim leader of the party, will resign his Toronto Centre seat.
An emotional Rae, 64, told his Liberal colleagues of his decision at Wednesday’s party caucus meeting. He had previously announced he was taking on a job as chief negotiator for several First Nations groups in northern Ontario who are negotiating with the provincial government over the Ring of Fire mining development.
Bob Rae spoke at the Donald Gow Memorial Lecture at Queens University in April 2013 about “Why Canada’s First Nations People Can’t Wait.”
Rae told reporters his work as a negotiator required too much of his time and made it impossible for him to continue as a member of Parliament.
Continue reading ‘Bob Rae Will Resign as Toronto Centre Liberal MP to be Chief Negotiator for First Nations Groups in Northern Ontario’ »
(New York, June 19, 2013) – A new media code proposed by the Sri Lankan government contains overbroad and vague language that could have a severe and chilling effect on free speech, Human Rights Watch said today. On June 17, 2013, the Ministry of Mass Media and Information officially proposed a Code of Media Ethics that would apply to print and electronic media, including the Internet.
The proposed code comes at a time when the government has taken various measures to clamp down on Sri Lanka’s once vibrant media, including forcing some electronic media critical of the government to close down.
Continue reading ‘New Media Code Proposed by Sri Lankan Govt Could Further Restrict Already Embattled Press says Human Rights Watch’ »
A group of Christians belonging to the denomination known as Jehova’s Witnesses became the target of the ethno religious fascist organization “Ravana Balaya” (Ravana force)on Sunday June 16th 2013 at Mulleriyawa on the eastern outskirts of Colombo city.
The Ravana Balaya is an extremist organization comprising members of the Buddhist clergy and laity named after the mythological ten headed demon king of ancient Lanka,Ravana.
The Ravana Balaya along with the Bodhu Bala Sena and Sihala Ravaya forms a triumvirate of Ethno Religious fascist organizations unleashing hatred and violence against the religious and racial minorities in Sri Lanka in the name of “Sinhala Buddhism”.
Continue reading ‘Jehova’s Witnesses Christians “Arrested” and Threatened by Ravana Balaya Activists in Colombo Suburb’ »
The Sri Lankan Government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been “advised” by the Government of India led by Prime minister Manmohan Singh to refrain from undertaking any rushed moves to make hasty changes to laws relating to the Thirteenth Amendment in the Sri Lankan Constitution.
The 13th Constitutional amendment enacted in September 1987 was introduced in consultation with India as a result of the India-Sri Lanka agreement signed by Rajiv Gandhi and JR jayewardena on July 29th 1987.
Continue reading ‘New Delhi “Advises” Colombo to Refrain From “Hasty” Changes to 13th Constitutional Amendment’ »
Veteran Tamil Politician Veerasingham Anandasangaree celebrates his eightieth birthday today (June 15th).
Sangaree as he is generally known was born on June 15th 1933 in Point Pedro. Though not in Parliament now, the octogenarian is yet active in politics and functions as the Secretary-General of the Tamil United Liberation Front(TULF).Earlier he was the TULF president.
The TULF which swept the polls on a separatist platform in 1977 and won 18 of the 19 Tamil majority seats in the Northern and Eastern provinces is now a shadow of its former self. Sangaree himself remains in the news still , but has declined considerably in political importance.The vibrant leader known for his independence and outspokenness has now joined the configuration called Tamil National Alliance(TNA) in the larger interests of the Tamil people to broad base Tamil unity.I doubt however that the irrepressible Anandasangaree would remain within TNA folds for long in view of the audible rumblings of discontent over alleged hegemonic domination by the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK).
Continue reading ‘Anandasangaree Must Retain His Self-Respect By a Dignified Exit From The TNA’ »
Tension prevailed in the Galle suburb of Karapitiya on Wednesday June 12th 2013 when Muslim women protesting the intended demolition of their homes by the Urban Development Authority(UDA)demonstrated in front of bulldozers and succeeded temporarily in prevented their dwellings being wrecked.
View Larger Map
The dramatic incident where around 25 Muslim women bravely sat down or lay down in front of four bulldozers that were getting ready to mow down their homes resulted in the demolition efforts from proceeding further.
Continue reading ‘Protesting Muslim women Demonstrate in Front of Bulldozers to Prevent UDA Demolishing Their Homes in Karapitiya’ »
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is “extremely annoyed”by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent subtle efforts to undermine the quantum of devolution provided to the Island’s nine Provinces through the thirteenth Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution that was facilitated by India.
President Rajapaksa & Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-file pic- via PTI
According to informed Indian sources the usually mild –mannered Manmohan Singh known for his gentle and genteel ways had in uncharacteristic fashion “almost blown a fuse”when informed of recent efforts by President Rajapaksa to amend the Sri Lankan Constitution in a manner that would seriously undermine the devolution arrangements enabled by the 13th Constitutional Amendment.
Circles linked to the Indian external affairs establishment referred to as “South Block”speaking on condition of anonymity revealed that the Indian Govt in general and the Prime minister in particular were of the view that the Rajapaksa regime’s attempts to introduce the 19th Constitutional amendment at this juncture was an “expression of bad faith”.
Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance to Meet Indian Premier Manmohan Singh in New Delhi Next Week’ »
President Rajapaksa’s proposed move to bring about urgent legislation to amend the Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment and circumscribe devolution suffered a major setback as the Government’s chief Muslim constituent party has resolved to oppose such arbitrary and ad hoc attempts to make Constitutional changes.
The Parliamentary Group of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress(SLMC) met at the Colombo residence of party leader and Justice minister Rauff Hakeem on Monday June 10th 2013 and unanimously resolved to express opposition to moves by the Rajapaksa regime to bring about changes to the Constitution curtailing further the powers of devolution allocated to the Country’s Provincial councils under the thirteenth Constitutional amendment.
All eight Muslim congress Parliamentarians participated at the meeting that lasted for more than two hours.
The participants were Justice minister and Kandy district MP Rauff Hakeem,Productivity promotion minister Basheer Segu Dawood, Trincomalee dist MP MS Thowfeek,Amparai dist MP’s HMM Harees and Faizal Cassim,Wanni dist MP MB Farook and National list MP’s MT Hasen Ali and Mohamed Aslam.Hasen Ali is the secretary general of the party while Segu Dawood is the chairman. Hakeem is party leader.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Congress Parliamentary Group Unanimously Resolves to Oppose Govt Moves to Amend 13th Constitutional Amendment’ »
by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
pic by: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai ~ twitter.com/dushiyanthini
Festival-goers getting drenched
Continue reading ‘Colourful Holi Festival Celebrated in Sri Lanka at Mt.Lavinia Hotel Paradise Beach’ »
The Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka (CBCSL) has called upon the government not to amend the 13th Amendment to the Constitution or repeal it but to discuss it with all parties to bring about a totally new Constitution.
A statement issued to media yesterday signed by President of the CBCSL, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Secretary General of the CBCSL, Bishop Valence Mendis, says: “What is needed is the proper study and careful consideration of all factors along with a broad-based consultation of the different political parties and civil society groups before any changes are to be made.”
The full text of the statement is as follows:
Continue reading ‘Catholic Bishops Conference Want Govt to Bring New Constitution Instead of Amending or Repealing the 13th Constitutional Amendment’ »
(Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and leader of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham ,Muttuvel Karunanidhi has written a letter to Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh urging him to prevent the repeal of the India-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987 signed by Rajiv Gandhi and JR Jayewardena and requesting him to ensure the speedy implementation of the pact.The full text of the letter is reproduced below)
Dear Prime Minister,
I wish to bring to your kind notice the attempts of the Sinhala Extremist Groups led by Jathika Hela Urumaya to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of SriLanka repealed and consequently the 1987 Rajiv – Jayawardane Accord abrogated.
This is reminiscent of the historical tendency of the Sinhalese to disown agreements and pacts made to pave way for the Sinhala- Tamil amity. From Mahendra Pact of 1925 to the agreement on a Cease-fire in 2002, nearly 14 Agreements and Pacts entered into so far have been flouted.
Continue reading ‘DMK Chief Karunanidhi Writes to Manmohan Singh Urging PM to Prevent Repeal of Indo-Lanka Pact Signed by Rajiv and JR’ »
New York) – Sri Lankan authorities should challenge a parliamentarian’s claim as to the whereabouts of a political cartoonist who was forcibly disappeared in 2010 and provide information on his fate. Sri Lankan lawmaker Arundika Fernando told Sri Lanka’s Parliament on June 5, 2013, that Prageeth Ekneligoda, a cartoonist and government critic who has not been seen since leaving work on January 24, 2010, is currently living in hiding in France.
“Solving the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda and that of thousands of other Sri Lankans over past decades should be a top priority of the Sri Lankan government and its investigative agencies,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “After years of no progress in Ekneligoda’s case, any clues about his fate should prompt an intensive investigation, not shrugs by senior government officials.”
Continue reading ‘Arundika Fernando Statement in Parliament About Disappeared Cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda Must be Challenged -Human Rights Watch’ »
Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.
Continue reading ‘Edward Snowden:The 29 Year old Whistleblower Behind US National Security Surveillance Leaks’ »
By Elias Groll
The war over how to spin revelations of the National Security Agency’s latest spying program has officially begun.
On the heels of media reports that the NSA has gained access to the servers of nine leading tech companies — enabling the spy agency to examine emails, video, photographs, and other digital communications — Google has issued a strongly worded statement denying that the company granted the government “direct access” to its servers. That statement goes so far as to say that the company hasn’t even heard of “a program called PRISM until yesterday.”
At first glance, Google’s statement is difficult to believe. Senior intelligence officials have confirmed the program’s existence, and Google’s logo is prominently listed on internal NSA documents describing participating companies. But Google may be engaging in a far more subtle public relations strategy than outright denial.
Continue reading ‘US National Security Agency Begins Spying Program to Examine Emails, Videos, Photographs and Other Digital Communications’ »
The Media Ministry’s proposed Code of Ethics is the Rajapaksa administration’s equivalent to ‘newspeak.’ In the first place, a ‘code of ethics’ drafted unilaterally, and even clandestinely, by the spin doctors of the government, is not worth its salt.
That is not how democracies work. Perhaps the best equivalent to this so-called Code of Ethics would be the fictitious, totalitarian language of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, ’1984.’ Their real world equivalents were much scarier.
Continue reading ‘Proposed Code of Ethics by Rajapaksa Administration is Equivalent to “Newspeak” in George Orwell’s Novel “1984″’ »
“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government” (US Supreme Court on Pentagon Papers)
If the Rajapaksas succeed in turning their ‘media ethics proposal’ into law,Sri Lanka will have her very own Minitrue (Ministry of Truth). And the role of Lankan media will be redefined, from ‘watchdogs of democracy’ to ‘lapdogs of the Rajapaksas’.
Parishioners gather at St. Francis Xavier’s Catholic Church – Angulana after it was attacked on June 6, 2013-pic via: queenofangels.lk
In the consequent Orwellian reality, it will be permissible for Mervyn Silva to tie a public official to a tree and Rohitha Rajapaksa to hammer a referee, both in full public view. But it will be impermissible for the media to report/comment on these (and other innumerable crimes and transgressions by power-wielders and their kith and kin) because that would “offend against expectations of the public, morality of the country or tend to lower the standards of public taste and morality”[i].
Continue reading ‘New “Media Ethics Proposal” Will Turn Sri Lankan Media From Watchdogs of Democracy to Lapdogs of the Rajapaksas’ »
Text and Pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
Chris Elms, the young Press and Information Officer attached to the US Embassy in Colombo had been doing more than his diplomatic job in Colombo.
Captured in Yala
He has been busy learning about the country he made his temporary home for two years, and busied himself with capturing the beauty and diversity he discovered during his travels throughout the Indian Ocean island on film.
Chris Elms~Pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
“Connecting the Dots” his solo exhibition that opened on Wednesday at the American Center, Colombo is all about those captured and stored images he wanted to share with his friends and colleagues. There are 25 colour and black and white photographs on display and the exhibition will continue till the end of June. His photographs depict Sri Lanka’s cultural, historical, natural, spiritual and ethnic diversity.
“As I explored Sri Lanka throughout my two -year period I was struck by the beauty of this country-its vibrant temples, its profound scenery, and its friendly people. Reflecting on my time here and my photography, it was impossible to identify a unified theme for such a varied place. I connected the dots and realized that Sri Lanka’s strength and beauty lies in her variety and diversity. I feel that the natural beauty of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean comes from its biodiversity, and its rich history reflects the different people who have been drawn here from near and faraway lands” says Elms.
Continue reading ‘US Diplomat “Connects the Dots” in Sri Lanka Through an Eye of a Camera’ »
In a remarkable display of political courage rarely seen among members of the Rajapaksa Government in recent times,Justice minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem, has protested strongly against President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s controversial move to circumscribe devolution by amending the Constitution.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open a DNA Department with state of the art facility, Pelawatte, Battaramulla on the invitation of SLMC Leader and Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem on May 10,2013-pic: slmc.lk
The protest lodged by Hakeem at the weekly cabinet meeting held on Thursday June 6th 2013 was overtly backed by National Languages and Social Integration minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara and covertly endorsed by several other cabinet ministers from the Sinhala community while cabinet ministers from the Tamil and Muslim communities remained conspicuously silent.
Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa in Tactical Retreat as Rauff Hakeem Protests Courageously at Cabinet Meeting Against Move to Amend 13th Constitutional Amendment.’ »
(Jonathan Marks is a molecular anthropologist who teaches at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is author of Human Biodiversity and What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee)
Anthropologists have been studying race for over 200 years now, and contrary to what seems to be conventional wisdom (at least as articulated in Leroi’s New York Times essay), they have learned quite a bit about it.
Perhaps the most significant discovery is that human groups, however constituted, are fluid, bio-cultural units. They run a broad gamut from more-or-less biological to more-or-less cultural, both in the criteria used to define the groups and in the context or circumstances that make such groups interesting or relevant to define. Thus, a category such as “achondroplastic dwarves” or “albinos” is unified by the possession of a few key phenotypes and genetic features in spite of the overall biological and cultural heterogeneity of its members. A category such as “blondes” or “Italians” is likewise constructed around some aspects of phenotype, genes, geography, or nationality. However, one can become a blonde or an Italian, while one cannot become an achondroplast or an albino.
Continue reading ‘Race as Concept and Category: Reality and Realisation’ »
“Nemesis, the goddess of measure and not of revenge, keeps watch. All those who overstep the limits are pitilessly punished by her”.
Albert Camus (Helen’s Exile)
One of the most incisive analyses about Rajapaksa modus operandi was made not by a Sri Lankan but by an American Ambassador Robert Blake. Mr. Blake’s observations about how the Siblings operate have a particular resonance as the Rajapaksas plan to neutralise the last remaining structural obstacle to their power-grab: the 13th Amendment.
“The President is often reluctant to make decisions and will stall for time, particularly on important issues. Sometimes he avoids decision making altogether by delegating many responsibilities to Gothabaya or Basil, allowing him to avoid blame for unpopular decisions…. the President’s brothers play an important and influential role in shaping GSL security and political policy.
Moreover, one of their biggest roles is to provide political cover to the President. The President often has Gothabaya and Basil take credit for decisions so he can appear less involved in actions that earn the GSL criticism at home and abroad”.
Continue reading ‘Disembowelling the 13th Amendment Will Transform Veluppillai Pirapaharan from Failed Leader into Misunderstood Prophet.’ »
Text and Pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
Women’s Action for Social Justice (WASJ) recently organized a panel discussion on the theme Violence Against Women is ‘Violence Against Humanity,’ which was held at the Public Library auditorium.
Signature campaign seeks public attention and participation
Over 10,000 signatures, which have been gathered against Violence Against Women, from 10 December 2012 to May 2013, were also handed over to the United Nations Office in Colombo.
Continue reading ‘Violence Against Women is Violence Against Humanity’ »
(Text of Statement Issued by the Centre for Policy Alternatives on Proposed Constitutional Amendments)
5th June 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply perturbed by recent media reports that the government is planning on amending several provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution.
Over the past several weeks there were contradictory statements made by senior MPs of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) as to whether discussions are under way to amend the constitution. However, all such reports were denied by the (acting) cabinet spokesperson who at the weekly cabinet news briefing whilst purporting to represent the official position of the government stated that;
“The President expressly said a Parliamentary Select Committee consisting of all the political parties can discuss if there will be any changes to the present Constitution, especially to the 13th Amendment. In that scenario, no steps have been taken to change the status quo.”
However several media organizations reported this morning that the government is to propose amendments to several provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment and that these amendments will be introduced in the form of an urgent bill.
Continue reading ‘Proposals to Amend 13th Constitutional Amendment is a Historical Mistake by Govt -Centre for Policy Alternatives’ »
(Aiyathurai Nadesan serving as Batticaloa correspondent of the Tamil daily ”Virakesari” was shot dead in broad daylight in the heart of Batticaloa town by assassins belonging to the Eastern breakaway faction of the LTTE on May 31st 2004. His killer was believed to be none other than Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan who was later to become the first chief minister of the Eastern Provincial council. I am reproducing without any changes the article I wrote then for “The Sunday Leader”, to commemorate Nadesan’s ninth death anniversary)
The death of any member of the journalistic fraternity is distressing. More so when a scribe is gunned down in broad daylight by ‘unknown’ assassins for the ‘crime’ of writing something that displeases people with pretensions of power.
The sadness is even more acute when the journalist was some-one known to you for more than 25 years and was immensely helpful as a source of accurate news and stimulating views.
Continue reading ‘Aiyathurai Nadesan: Tragic Demise of a Dedicated Journalist’ »
By Jeanne Galatzer-Levy
Siva Sivananthan at the Sivananthan Laboratories in Bolingbrook
Sivalingam Sivananthan, professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been named a White House Champion of Change. He was presented with the honor at a ceremony this morning (May 29, 2013) at the White House.
The honor recognizes immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs—”the best and brightest from around the world who are helping create American jobs, grow the economy and make our nation competitive in the world,” the White House said in a press release.
Sivananthan’s work with a semiconductor material, mercury cadmium telluride or MCT, is at the heart of night vision technology and made the raid that took down Osama Bin Laden on a moonless night possible. Developing “technology that protects our protectors” has given him the opportunity to give back to his adopted country, said Sivananthan.
Continue reading ‘US Names Illinois University Physics Prof Sivalingam Sivananthan as White House Champion of Change’ »
“We win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
The 13th Amendment which saw passage in Parliament in August 1987 amidst civil chaos and political turmoil, once again has gained unusual attention from political quarters, both international and local. What is even more bewildering is, after accomplishing a military victory of unprecedented scale and crushing all hopes of a Tamil Ealam and after eliminating the last semblance of any militant resistance from the Northern Tamils, the very constitutional modification offered via the 13th Amendment to the people of the North and the East, is now under threat.
The victorious Sinhalese politicians led by the fringe elements of the government coalition and most unambiguously backed by the military establishment (which is close to the ruling elite) of the country, are now crying out loud to galvanize the hardcore Sinhalese Buddhists of the land towards the abolition of that Constitutional Amendment.
Continue reading ‘Survival of 13th Constitutional Amendment Highly Unlikely Unless President Rajapaksa Shows Real Desire to do Justice’ »
There is of course a Sri Lankan Muslim problem in the sense that there has been a prolonged hate campaign against our Muslims and anti-Muslim action in various forms. My argument is that that problem cannot be given a rationale in terms of the acts of commission and omission on the part of the Muslims. It can only be given a rationale in terms of an anterior racism among some Sinhalese who want to kick the Muslims down. My further argument is that the anti-Muslim Sinhalese racists are in a minority among the Sinhalese but they have power far beyond their numbers because the Sinhalese politicians, both in the Government and in the Opposition, are supportive of or are complicit with them. The core problem therefore is not the Muslim, not the Sinhalese racist, but the Sinhalese politician.
I will now set out some details to show that the “Muslim problem” is something that should be written within inverted commas to signify that it is not really a problem. The SL Muslims have always supported the Sinhalese against the Tamils – on “Fifty-fifty”, on Sinhala Only, on standardization for University admissions, and so on. Their disagreements with the Sinhalese have been of a minor order, not on anything that adversely affects the vital interests of the Sinhalese. Furthermore, although their grievances are many they have refused to speak out on them, their political and other representatives preferring for the most part to behave like clams rather than say anything that might displease the Sinhalese. I have dubbed them “an invisible minority” in the past, and I have also written about their fear psychosis towards the Sinhalese. It is difficult to imagine a more submissive minority, indeed a more abjectly submissive minority, than the SL Muslims.
Continue reading ‘The Core Problem is not the Muslim nor the Sinhalese Racist but the Power Hungry Sinhalese Politician’ »
N Sathiya Moorthy
Independent of the Tamil Nadu Assembly’s repeated resolutions and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s repeated missives to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, there is an urgent need for the State and its polity to look futuristically at the problems faced by their fishers in the Palk Bay, and delink one from the others, if any practical solution has to be found. Given that the first Provincial Council election in the Tamil-majority North in Sri Lanka has been promised by September, there is an equal, if not greater, urgency for the Tamil Nadu polity to delink it too from the fishing issue.
The ethnic issue is strictly an internal problem of Sri Lanka, with popular sentiments in Tamil Nadu influencing the polity and the Government. The reverse is also equally true. The fishing issue is a bilateral problem involving the fishing communities of the two countries and the two national Governments. On the Indian side, Tamil Nadu has stakes and has made it clear to the Centre, whoever has ruled from Fort St George over the past four decades. A new element in the form of the Northern administration can add a new and more complicating element as and when polls are held to the Provincial Council.
Continue reading ‘Kachchatheevu Issue is Part of the Problem;It Cannot be Part of the Solution’ »
Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne
The cry for devolution is not a new phenomenon to Lanka. In ancient times too, Lanka was divided into three provinces though it was united under one umbrella. With the rise of Lankan bourgeoisie the federal idea was originated among the Sinhalese. In 1925 S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was prepared to come out with that suggestion. The young Bandaranaike was a brilliant student of Oxford; he returned to the island in 1925 with a firm resolution to serve his motherland as a national liberal politician. In the same year he founded a political party known as ‘Progressive National Party’ to achieve national emancipation. He was the leader of that Party while the Secretary was C. Ponnambalam.
At that time, most of the Tamil leaders preferred a unitary system of government to that of a federal form. While the Sinhala leaders propagated the concept of a federal formula the Tamils strongly opposed it. The latter wanted a balanced representation on the basis of communal interests within a unitary state. In that manner they expected to counter the Sinhala majoritist tendency in the state assembly.
Continue reading ‘If the Northern Provincial Council elections are held then the TNA is sure to win, provided it contests as an anti government united front.’ »
When regimes are dictatorial and dangerous, alternative forces which promise a better society and future do tend to be taken seriously by the people. This, quite simply, is because the future promised by such alternative forces tends to be better than the present. But one thing many people can’t do about the present UNP is to take it seriously. The UNP’s new constitutional principles – which it claims will shape and form the new constitution it hopes to place before the people once elected to power – tell us why this is the case Just a few thoughts on these principles would suffice, since apart from a few grand promises, the UNP’s guiding principles are generally known to the people and can be easily found stated in different words in the 1978 Constitution.
The new set of constitutional principles needs to be viewed in the context of the grand promise of radical transformation of party and polity which the UNP started making sometime ago. Grand pronouncements were made to the effect that the UNP has begun to tread a path of radical politics. But this, unfortunately for the country, turned out to be a farce. What transpired on further inspection was that the UNP’s promise of radicalism was firstly to keep Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe as its leader. This ‘radicalism’ was followed by Mr. Sajith Premadasa’s own brand of radicalism when he recently admitted that his attempt to oust Mr. Wickremasinghe may have a bit premature.
So it is this ‘radical’ UNP that now comes up with a document promising a more democratic country. But even before you proceed to the end of the Preamble of the document, it begins to appear why the grand promise of the UNP amounts to yet another grand farce.
Continue reading ‘UNP Needs to be Treated as Part of the Current Rajapaksa Regime and not as an Alternative Force or Govt’ »
When Bowatte Indrarathana Thero poured petrol on his body and set himself ablaze outside the sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy last Friday, he set in motion a series of unfortunate events that shattered the peace of Vesak season. The holiday weekend to commemorate the birth, passing and enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama is usually a time of reflection and meditation for Buddhist devotees and a festival of light for other denizens of the ‘land of the Buddha’, who take to the streets of Colombo and suburbs in their hundreds to view the spectacle of lanterns and pandols that illuminate the streets.
This year, the holy season was marred by terrifying images of a human inferno, saffron robed and dancing in flames before Sri Lanka’s most sacred Buddhist shrine. Indrarathana Thero succumbed to his injuries 24 hours later, after being airlifted from the Kandy General Hospital to Colombo National Hospital for treatment. He had chosen this gruesome death apparently to protest against the slaughter of cattle and alleged unethical conversions taking place in the country.
Continue reading ‘Bowatte Indrarathana Thero Turning Himself Into a Human Inferno Shatters the Peace of the Holy Vesak Season’ »
Mr. John F. Kerry
Secretary of State,
U. S. Department of State,
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 – Sri Lanka
I, Douglas Devananda, Member of Parliament and the Cabinet Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development in Sri Lanka wish to bring the following with regard to the contents in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 under the caption Sri Lanka, which was transmitted by the Department of State to the United States Congress in April this year.
I am also the Secretary General of the Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party, popularly known as EPDP, which is a recognized political party by the Commissioner of Elections of Sri Lanka. In the 1970s and 1980s I have been in the forefront of the struggle to win over the rights of the Tamils in the country. After the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, which paved the way for the 13th amendment to the constitution and provided for the devolution of powers to the provinces, I fully endorsed it and along with several other Tamil Groups joined the Democratic Mainstream of politics in Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Douglas Devananda Writes to John Kerry Protesting Against Inaccurate References to him and the EPDP in US State Dept Country Report on Sri Lanka’ »
(Text of Press Release Issued by the Tamil National Alliance Media office)
The writ applications filed by 2176 Jaffna Tamils in a desparate bid to prevent their lands and homes being grabbed by the Rajapaksa regime were taken up for support in the Appeal Court today (30.05.2013), before Justice S. Sriskandaraja, President of the Court of Appeal.
The Appeal Court heard counsel and issued notice on the respondents to show cause if any through filing of objections, as to why the court should not grant the reliefs asked for. The date given for the purpose was10.07.2013.
Counsel for the petitioners were permitted by the Appeal Court to reserve and retain the right to press for interim relief.
Continue reading ‘Appeal Court Issues Notice On Respondents In Cases By 2176 Jaffna Tamils Seeking Relief Against Land Grab By The State’ »
“That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to him, who’d never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept”
Auden (The Shield of Achilles)
The Lankan crisis is a multi-dimensional one. There is the political crisis which encompasses the crisis of democracy and the crisis of peace-and-nation-building. There is the economic crisis.
There is also a psychological crisis, a moral-ethical crisis, a crisis of values. This societal affliction was cast into sharp relief by two incidents which happened during the Wesak season.
The callous manner in which several doctors and nurses in the General Hospital treated a seriously injured patient has received a fair degree of publicity thanks to the efforts of Seylina D Peiris, the Good Samaritan who took the young woman to the hospital and witnessed the pageant of indifference first hand. This incident cannot be pigeon-holed as typical of the state sector, because similar horror stories have emerged from private hospitals as well, the most recent being the death of a young child at Nawaloka . Nor is this problem limited to hospitals. It is present in every possible space, public and private, political and non-political.
Continue reading ‘Rajapaksas Can be Ejected Democratically But Curing Lankan Society of Ruthless Indifference Will be Far More Difficult’ »
DR DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
Yugoslavia was a sister country of Sri Lanka; a fellow founder of the Non Aligned Movement in that country’s capital Belgrade in 1961. Yugoslavia no longer exists. The breakup of that country resulted from a chain reaction that commenced with the dramatic change of the Yugoslav Constitution promulgated by the sagacious socialist Marshal Tito and the drastic reduction of the powers of the autonomous province of Kosovo followed by the dissolution of the Kosovo assembly in 1990. Sri Lanka must not proceed down the same path which leads over a precipice.
The country stands at a crossroads. A parliamentary victory for the JHU bill will complete the negative process which commenced with Sinhala Only in 1956 and the distortion in 1972 of the laudable shift to a Republic with mono-linguistic and mono-religious hegemony. If ’56 and ’72 were paving stones for the Tamil Eelam project, the passage of the JHU bill to abolish the 13th amendment will complete the process of the legitimisation of secessionism.
Continue reading ‘Defeating the Jathika Hela Urumaya Bill on Abolishing 13th Amendment is only Opportunity for SLFP MP’s to Defeat Lunatic Extremists in Govt’ »
A book on the life and work of slain Sri Lankan Editor and journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge was launched today.
The biography, titled “And Then They Came For Me’ is the story a man who lived, breathed and finally died in the pursuit of the truth in a land where contemporary media history is written in the blood and tears of those who dare to tell it as it is.
Continue reading ‘“And Then They Came For Me”: Biography of Slain “Sunday Leader”Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge Written By Raine Wickrematunge Launched’ »
by Social Architects
In November 2011, Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, said that discovering how many civilians “died or went missing during the last few months of the conflict” would be “a first step towards reconciliation.”
The government’s Enumeration of Vital Events (EVE) attempted to answer that question by collecting information about people who have died, disappeared and emigrated from Sri Lanka since 1982. The survey was overseen by the Ministry of Defence, but was conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS).
Continue reading ‘Spot Fixing Sri Lanka Style: Revisiting the Enumeration of Vital Events’ »
Full Text of New Constitutional Principles Formulated by United National Party. This Draft constitution will be submitted for the approval of the people from tomorrow for Relevant Suggestions and Appropriate Amendments.
The Second Republican Constitution was adopted in 1978 to provide for the economic, political and social development of the country. It achieved the expected objectives including the socio-economic transformation of the country, to a great extent.
During the last several years under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime, the office of Executive President has been completely desecrated, by destroying all the checks and balances that were built into the system. The dignity and the integrity of that office has been reduced to a despicable state as a result of the blatant abuse of power and the creation of an authoritarian regime marked with extreme nepotism and corruption, with gross disregard for democratic values and fundamental human rights.
Continue reading ‘UNP Formulates New Draft Constitution to Abolish Executive Presidency After Endorsement by People at Referendum’ »
The following is the text of an email sent by a concerned citizen about a shocking incident of callous neglect displayed by staff at the Colombo National Hospital. It is published here in deference to the wishes of the sender who wants it to be widely publicised - DBS Jeyaraj
Forgive me for sending out an impersonal email. I wish to draw your attention to the following.
Last night (28.05.2013), a young trainee nurse from Nawalapitiya was tossed out of a moving bus unto the bustling street in Kirulapone and fell right in front of my moving car.
Continue reading ‘Doctors, Nurses and Attendants at Hospital Accident Ward Watch TV Instead of Treating Emergency Patient in Urgent Need’ »
The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) has once again been thrust into the limelight. Like the Patriot Act, introduced in the US post 9/11, the PTA lengthens the detention period of terror suspects, detained under Emergency Regulations promulgated under the Public Security Ordinance. The police can detain these so-called ‘terrorists’ for as long as 18 months without filing charges against them.
Yet the irony of this is, despite separatist terrorism being long eradicated, the government still finds a necessity in continuing with the present state of the PTA and does not appear to be calling for ‘amendments’ either. Is the threat of terrorism in Sri Lankan still so tangible, a stringent piece of legislation as the PTA is essential? Or has the PTA become the smokescreen by which the government attempts to stifle political opposition and suppress dissenting voices?
Continue reading ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka is a True Example of Draconian Legislation’ »
COLOMBO] The single limestone aquifer, which is the main source of freshwater in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsula, is gradually depleting through overuse, researchers say.
“The area suffers from severe groundwater imbalance which might reach crisis proportions in the future,” Shanti de Silva, one of two scientists who carried out the research for the agricultural department of the University of Jaffna, told SciDev.Net.
Continue reading ‘Groundwater Balance in Jaffna Peninsula Facing Crisis Due to Depletion of Limestone Through Overuse’ »
Upul Joseph Fernando
It is becoming increasingly apparent that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s assent and blessing is even more vital than that of the President’s in holding the Northern Provincial Council elections and implementing a process of reconciliation with the Northern Tamils. He is the government’s point man in so far as the Northern Province’s political strategy is concerned.
At a time when the government is acting expeditiously to conduct the much hyped elections for the Northern Provincial Council, Gotabhaya sounded a dissenting note when he openly declared he was opposed to giving police powers to the Northern Council. In an objective scrutiny of the dissent expressed by Gotabhaya, one is easily reminded of Lalith Athulathmudali, the former National Security Minister in the
J.R. Jayewardene Government.
Continue reading ‘Assent and Blessing of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for Holding Northern Provincial Election is Even More Vital Than That of the President’ »
(Text of Address by the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva and the Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation Ravinatha Aryasinha at the Human Rights Council -23rd Regular Session in Geneva)
At the outset, Sri Lanka wishes to associate itself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
My delegation takes note of the High Commissioner’s statement and is firmly committed to supporting the High Commissioner in the discharge of her mandate as contained in GA Resolution 48/141.
Sri Lanka urges the OHCHR to redouble its efforts in mainstreaming economic, social and cultural rights, which remain disproportionately marginalized, by allocating more financial and human resources to the promotion and protection of these rights.
Continue reading ‘Five Students Murder Incident:Police to Initiate Non-Summary Proceedings Before Trincomalee Magistrate in First Week of June’ »
The Sinhalese have been too tolerant and the minorities have abused that tolerance in an undue manner, stresses Udaya Gammanpila, Senior Member of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and Minister of Agriculture, Agrarian Development, Irrigation, Trade and Environment in the Western Provincial Council.“We are the champions of minority rights. We have no international obligation to devolve power. There is no minority right called devolution of power,” Gammanpila points out.
The JHU announced that a bill would be brought to Parliament to repeal the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. “This is not a mere dream. This is something realisable. We are quite confident and hopeful that both these leaders will allow their members to have free vote,” he added.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: What is the JHU’s position on the provincial council system?
A: From the inception we were of the view that provincial councils are totally unnecessary. It was forced on us by India. It has no legitimate right to be in existence. So we believe that it should be abolished in toto.
Continue reading ‘Bodu Bala Sena Has Filled a Vacuum with the Blessings of the Jathika Hela Urumaya Says Udaya Gammanpila’ »