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

By

Aparna M. Sridhar

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

Sudha Ragunathan

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

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

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

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

By SANJA DE SILVA JAYATILLEKA

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

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

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

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

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

By D. Ranaweera

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

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

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

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

By

Yohan Perera & Ajith Siriwardana

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

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

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

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

When actress Jayalalithaa reigned as uncrowned Queen of Tamil cinema

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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

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

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

Fabulous film career

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

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

By

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan

M A Sumanthiran MP

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

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

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

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan

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

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

By Saman Gunadasa

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

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

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

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

By Shamindra Ferdinando

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

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

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

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

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

by Zacki Jabbar

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

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

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

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

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

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

R. Sampanthan ~ pic via: @radiogagana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many Attempts By Diaspora Tigers To Foment Violence In Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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

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

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

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

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

By

Kelum Bandara

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

Excerpts From The interview:

\


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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Meera Srinivasan

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

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

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

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

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

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

Yogeshwari Mahendraraja-pic by: Manjula Dayawansa

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

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

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

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

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

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

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

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

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

By Ananth Palakidnar

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

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

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

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

Hon. Speaker,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Dasun Edirisinghe

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

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

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

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

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

by Saman Indrajith

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

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

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

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

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


By Chitra Weerarathne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Dharisha Bastians Reporting from Geneva

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

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

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

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

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

BY

Niran Anketell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hon. Speaker
Parliament of Sri Lanka
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte.

ADJOURNMENT MOTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Dhammika Ranaweera

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Meera Srinivasan

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

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

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

Cosmopolitan Colombo let me survive with English mostly.

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

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

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

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


By Dharisha Bastians reporting from Geneva

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

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

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

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

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

By

Meera Srinivasan

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

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

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

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

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


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

Bhavana (b: June 6, 1986)

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

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

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

By

Meera Srinivasan

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

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

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

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

Ram Madhav

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

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

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


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

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

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

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

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


By P.K.Balachandran

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

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

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

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


By
P.K.Balachandran

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

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

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

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

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

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

By P.K.Balachandran

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Meera Srinivasan

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Are Organizers of Tamil Political Protests Using Them To Attack Political Rivals ?’ »

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants to Safeguard The Independence of the Judiciary’ »

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

By P.K.Balachandran

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

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

Within the ITAK itself there is a cleavage between the radicals and the moderates, with the former challenging the leadership of the latter. The leader of the Puthukudiyiruppu agitation is T.Ravikaran, a radical TNA member of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).
Continue reading ‘Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) is Real Target of Orchestrated Protests in Kaeppaapilavu and Vavuniya.’ »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

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

Unfortunate context of these questions

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

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

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

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

By Namini Wijedasa

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

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

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

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

The LRC has already conveyed this to the relevant authorities.

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

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

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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

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

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

Cadjan fence pic courtesy of: @DushiYanthini

Continue reading ‘Upali Wijewardene: Sri Lanka’s Beloved Home-Grown Tycoon’ »

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

By Dharisha Bastians

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

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

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Holds Tri-partite Talks with UNP, SLFP and TNA to Break Deadlock in Constitutional Negotiations’ »

New Constitution Making Process in Sri Lanka Is In the Doldrums


By P.K.Balachandran

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘New Constitution Making Process in Sri Lanka Is In the Doldrums’ »

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


By

Anna Isaac

Edappaady Palaniswamy

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

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

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

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

By

Dhanya Rajendran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Catholic Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith will Oppose any Move by Govt to Legalise Abortion.’ »

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

By

Dharisha Bastians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘AIADMK Gen Secy “Sinna Amma”Sasikala Becomes Prisoner No 9234 in Bengaluru Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara’ »

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

By Deepal Jayasekera and Keith Jones

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

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

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

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

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

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Powers Removed By Urban Development Authority to be Taken Back By Provincial Councils Says Western Chief Minister Devapriya.’ »

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


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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers Detained in Australia Who Return Home Wont be Prosecuted Assures Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’ »

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

By Dharisha Bastians

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

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

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

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

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

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Can Constitutional Reform Provide a Soution to the Tamil National Question?’ »

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


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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka and Australia sign MoUs on Development Cooperation and strengthening Cooperation in Sport’ »

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


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“Let’s Get It On…….” – Marvin

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘“Bring On a Referendum on the New Constitution, Bring it on Baby Bring it on”’ »

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

By Rathindra Kuruwita

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

Ethnic purity

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

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

Version 2.0 hits a snag

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

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

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

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

by Ifham Nizam

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Hakeem and Nazeer Join Forces to Gain and Maintain Control of Muslim Congress and Party Properties’ »

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

By Vijith Samarasinghe

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

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

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

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

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

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


NEWS UPDATE

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


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Earlier News Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

N. Sathiya Moorrthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Amra Ismail

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

Excerpts From an Interview

Question;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Subash Somachandran and S. Jayanth

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

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

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

Continue reading ‘Tamil Peoples Council Headed by CV Wigneswaran Launches “Ezhuga Thamizh”(Arise Tamil) Communal Campaign in East’ »

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

By Betsy Powell

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

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

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

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

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

By

P.K.Balachandran

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

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

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

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

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

Cabinet Approves the Gazetting of Bill to Criminalise Enforced Disappearances Discloses Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.


By Dharisha Bastians

The Government has proposed draft legislation to criminalise disappearances in line with its international obligations, even as the country grapples with the legacy of 65,000 people still missing after two insurgencies and a civil war.

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill was gazetted by order of the Prime Minister on 9 February. Cabinet approval was granted to gazette the enforced disappearances bill on 7 February, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

The Enforced Disappearances Bill must be supported by a simple majority of the House to be enacted into law.

The Bill, if enacted, will give effect to the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance that the Government of Sri Lanka ratified in May 2016. Under the convention, the country has an obligation to enact local laws to criminalise enforced disappearance and offer protection to victims of the crime.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Approves the Gazetting of Bill to Criminalise Enforced Disappearances Discloses Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.’ »

Ex- Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Has Become The Favourite ‘Whipping Boy’ Of Our Times!

By Janitha Devapriya

Arjuna Mahendran, the former Governor of the Central Bank, has become the favourite whipping boy for Government critics, Joint Opposition and the JVP, now running through the fifth month.

Ever since the COPE Report on the bond issue of 27 February 2015 was presented to Parliament in October 2016, the former Governor has become the focus for criticisms against the ‘Yahapalanaya’ Government and he continues to occupy prominent space both in print and electronic media, the latest being the charges levelled by the Head of Voice Against Corruption(VAC) Wasantha Samarasinghe at a media briefing on 5 February.

The headlines in print media the next day in bold print said, “Mahendran spent Rs. 66 m for his own purposes: VAC”. Samarasinghe said his “allegations were based on an audit report prepared by the CB’s Internal Audit Department and that the money allegedly embezzled was second only to the infamous bond issue, in which Mahendran is also said to be involved”.

Continue reading ‘Ex- Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Has Become The Favourite ‘Whipping Boy’ Of Our Times!’ »

UN Report Reveals Culture of Torture and White Van Abductions Continue Under Present Govt Also

By
Gamini Akmeemana

The UN report published on Friday January 28 describing a ‘culture of torture’ in this county has been described as a wake up call. But it’s doubtful if it’s going to wake anyone up. The report by special rapporteur Juan Mendez said there were credible reports to show that the notorious ‘white van abductions’ carried out routinely under the previous regime had continued under the new government between 2015-16.

The government will of course deny this. As the Yahapalanaya government began exhuming bodies, carrying out DNA tests and arresting suspects for murdering and disappearing people during the Rajapaksa years, we believed that the country’s judicial system and human rights record was about to transform itself. Now we know this isn’t true.

Continue reading ‘UN Report Reveals Culture of Torture and White Van Abductions Continue Under Present Govt Also’ »

Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Wont Allow any Extension Move to Develop Palaly Airport in Jaffna Into an International Airport


By Jehan Haniff

Northern Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran has vowed that he will not sign any document approving the extension of the Palaly Airport based some eighteen kilometers north of Jaffna town.

Vigneswaran gave this assurance at last Thursday’s Provincial Council meeting in Jaffna where he mentioned that he would “not approve the runway extension without the approval of a majority in the council,” a well informed Tamil political source quoted the CM as saying.

The source told The Island that the assurance was made following Tamil Ealam Liberation Organisation (TELO) spokesman M.K. Sivajilingam’s allegation that over 1,600 acres of additional lands are to be permanently seized from the uprooted Tamils in Valikaam North for the expansion of the Palaly runway.

Continue reading ‘Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Wont Allow any Extension Move to Develop Palaly Airport in Jaffna Into an International Airport’ »

Mansoor Cader Replaces Hassen Ali as Muslim Congress Secretary – General in Political Victory for Leader Rauff Hakeem

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has appointed Mohamed Mansoor Cader as the General Secretary of the party replacing Hassan Ali.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the SLMC High Command on Saturday evening and was announced at the SLMC’s 27th Delegates’ Meeting held at the BMICH yesterday by party leader Minister Rauff Hakim.

Hassan Ali who held the post of General Secretary of the had been asked to take the party chairman post but he had refused to accept it, according to the party.

Continue reading ‘Mansoor Cader Replaces Hassen Ali as Muslim Congress Secretary – General in Political Victory for Leader Rauff Hakeem’ »

Govt Will Not Legalise Prostitution or Same Sex Marriages in Sri Lanka -Thalatha Athukorale

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Prostitution and same sex marriages would not be legalised in Sri Lanka, Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorala said.

Minister Athukorala made the announcement amidst revelation that more than 4,500 new HIV cases and 24 AIDS deaths were reported in Sri Lanka in the first six months of 2016, with the number of victims increasing compared to the same period in 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, approximately 2,377 cases of HIV were reported, with nine AIDS deaths, and in the second quarter more than 2,400 HIV cases were reported, with 14 deaths reported.

Continue reading ‘Govt Will Not Legalise Prostitution or Same Sex Marriages in Sri Lanka -Thalatha Athukorale’ »

Buried LTTE Arsenals Unearthed by Security Forces and Police in Sarasalai, Muhamalai, Periyamadhu and Kattaiparichaan on Different Dates

By Dinasena Rathugamage

Police recovered a stock of explosives including landmines buried at a location near Sarasalai in Chavakachcheri in Jaffna on Saturday (11).

The police found 34 hand grenades, 10 RPG bombs, mortars and several other explosive items. The area is not currently inhabited by people, police said adding that they believed the explosives had been buried by the LTTE during the war.

Chavakchcheri police and Army are conducting further investigations.

Meanwhile, de-mining groups recovered one thousand rounds of T-56 ammunition, one anti personnel mine and one hand grenade from Muhamalai and Periyamadhu on Saturday (11), army said.

Continue reading ‘Buried LTTE Arsenals Unearthed by Security Forces and Police in Sarasalai, Muhamalai, Periyamadhu and Kattaiparichaan on Different Dates’ »

China Reaching for the Indian Ocean Colonizes Sri Lanka Telling India to Stay Off the Island

By

Panos Mourdoukoutas

After claiming South China Sea to be its own sea, telling America to stay off its islands, China is reaching for the Indian Ocean, telling India to stay off its own colony, Sri Lanka.

That’s something investors in Southeast Asian markets should keep a wary eye on, as it opens yet another front between the two Asian giants, raising the geopolitical risk of investing in the region.

Markets, for the time being, seem to be ignoring these risks.

Sri Lanka’s colonization began back in 2007, when China supplied President Rajapaksaboth military and diplomatic support to crush the Tamil Tigers.

Continue reading ‘China Reaching for the Indian Ocean Colonizes Sri Lanka Telling India to Stay Off the Island’ »

Re-colonisation Project Transferring Ownership of Sri Lanka from the People to Foreigners

by

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Would you undergo or put a loved one through an unnecessary but quite drastic, risky surgery? This is precisely what the UNP leadership and Chandrika Kumaratunga are trying perpetrate on the Sri Lankan body politic, through a new Constitution.

They seek to effect such change to the Constitution that cannot be limited to reform through the procedure of amendments. But what could such change be?

There is no Sri Lankan commitment to a new Constitution made to the Human Rights Council. Thanks to our neighboring friends, the only reference to a political solution is to the implementation of the 13th amendment, which is far more modest than that which is envisaged by a new Constitution. So it perfectly possible to leapfrog accountability/transitional justice and move directly to the political resolution item of the Geneva resolution, by implementing the 13 amendment, with necessary modifications and improvements.

The government’s contention that there is no reason for the Joint Opposition to oppose the government’s Constitutional project, is another example of the Constitutional bond scam now in play. Firstly the Rajapaksa administration’s joint communiques of May 21st and May 23rd 2009 with the Government of India and the UN SG Ban Ki Moon, and reproduced in the UNHRC resolution of May 27th 2009, did not promise to implement “13 Plus” still less “go beyond 13A”. Of the two communiques only the one with India mentioned 13A and that too was only to “implement the 13th amendment”.

Continue reading ‘Re-colonisation Project Transferring Ownership of Sri Lanka from the People to Foreigners’ »

Minister Champika Ranawaka’s Alleged Attempt to Confine his ex-Valet to Lunatic Asylum Must be Probed by Sri Lanka Medical Council


by C.A. Chandraprema

Last week Harsha Bandara Tilakasiri a former personal staff member and valet to minister Champika Ranawaka made a formal complaint to the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, Professor Carlo Fonseka, alleging that he had been given treatment against his will at the Angoda mental hospital for a mental illness that he never had. The translation of the letter he submitted to the Medical Council goes as follows:

Nikitha Harsha Tilakasiri Bandara
No: 81 Moratuwa Road
Piliyandala
8 February 2017
Chairman
Sri Lanka Medical Council
No: 31 Norris Canal Road
Colombo 10

Complaint into misconduct by a medical professional

I was an executive chef at Water’s Edge Hotel and functioned as a cook and personal assistant to Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka. I lived in the minister’s official residence at Wijerama Mawatha. Following differences that emerged with the minister, I was admitted to the Angoda mental hospital. The purpose of this was to label me as a mental patient if at some point I decided to reveal what I knew about him.

I had no mental illness but I was forcibly given medicine and administered electric shocks. This treatment was administered on the instructions of Dr Jayan Mendis. I suffered tremendous discomfort by being treated with electric shocks for a mental illness that I never had.

By administering treatment that has subsequent side effects to person who had no illness, at the behest of Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, the above mentioned medical professional has committed an act of medical misconduct and has acted contrary to medical ethics.

I request that a formal inquiry be conducted into the act of medical misconduct committed by Dr Jayan Mendis.

Sgd. Nikitha Harsha Tilakasiri Bandara

This may have been one of the strangest complaints ever received by the Medical Council. Some weeks ago, when we took this matter up in this column, our position was that the Sri Lanka Medical Council should look into this complaint of a person being treated forcibly at the Angoda Mental Hospital. The altercation over a Korean woman that Harsha Bandara Tilakasiri says took place between him and Minister Champika Ranawaka may be considered scandalous by puritanical types but is of little interest to the ordinary public. However the issue of a person with no mental illness being forcibly treated at a mental hospital certainly is.

Continue reading ‘Minister Champika Ranawaka’s Alleged Attempt to Confine his ex-Valet to Lunatic Asylum Must be Probed by Sri Lanka Medical Council’ »

Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias “Col” Karuna Leaves SLFP and Forms new “Tamil United Freedom Party” for North and East

Former Eastern Commander of the Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Deputy Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias ‘Karuna Amman’, launched a new political party, “Tamil United Freedom Party” in Batticaloa yesterday, breaking away from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in which he was Vice President during the previous regime.

Announcing the inauguration of the new party in Focus Hall, Batticaloa, the militant-turned-politician noted there is a need to form a new party to address the concerns of the Tamil speaking people in the North and East, as the current Tamil National Alliance (TNA) continues to fail the people.

Continue reading ‘Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias “Col” Karuna Leaves SLFP and Forms new “Tamil United Freedom Party” for North and East’ »

Hippocrates, Hypocrites and the Lucrative Medical Profession in Sri Lanka

by Reggie Ponnampalam

At the outset, let me categorically state that I am not for SAITM. Then again, I must admit, I don’t have anything against them. Whether they are right in exercising their right is not something I want to write about. It’s just that I am allergic to doctors. I wonder if you remember “Doctor I’m Sick – Of Your Ilk” – Sunday Island 25/SEP/2016. A friend of mine sent me a quote – A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.

We can talk about health services, standards, quality. Around 50 years ago, my family doctor told my mother that I would die if I did not get my appendix operated on. My remedy was “Operation Escape”, a dose of two Disprins once in six months and, although my dad died at 62, with about 10 or 15 doctors as close friends, many of them ‘boozing pals’, I’ve passed his age.

I have a great many friends and classmates in the “Medical Profession”. In 1985, I was visiting my brother in Melbourne and he fell sick. We took him to a hospital and a very professional nurse checked his history, took urine and blood samples and 30 minutes later, we saw the doctor. Etched in my memory is the heated discussion between the nurse and the doctor and the only time the word “Sir” was used was when they addressed the patient (my brother). I must admit I don’t know my elbow from my backbone where medical terms are concerned, but I gauged the nurse presenting a case for ‘remedial’ and ‘precautionary’ when the doctor was angling towards ‘incision’. We ended up with an earful of advice, a bag full of medications and my brother is still ‘alive and ticking’.

Continue reading ‘Hippocrates, Hypocrites and the Lucrative Medical Profession in Sri Lanka’ »

President Sirisena in a Surprise Move Appoints 4 Member Committee Headed by Ex- Supreme Court Judge Nimal Dissanayake to Probe Shortcomings at “Lake House”.

Sri Lanka’s festering tensions between the President and the Prime Minister came out into the open again, this time over the administration of the strategically-important Lake House publishing enterprise.

In a surprise move, President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday night appointed a four-member committee to investigate Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited which is better known as Lake House, a subject under the Media minister.

The committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Nimal Dissanayake was asked to identify management and administrative deficiencies as well as other shortcomings at Lake House.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena in a Surprise Move Appoints 4 Member Committee Headed by Ex- Supreme Court Judge Nimal Dissanayake to Probe Shortcomings at “Lake House”.’ »

Control of Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan will give China Easy Access to Strategic Gulf of Ormuz.

By

G.Parthasarathy

Confident of victory in Sri Lanka’s prolonged and bloody ethnic conflict, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to develop the port of Hambantota and its neighbourhood, along Sri Lanka’s south-western coast. He was determined to make this region his impregnable political base.

Taking note of Rajapaksa’s aversion to India and the western world, China obliged by offering to undertake a number of projects in and around Hambantota. Given the attention India focused on Colombo port, building and taking control of Hambantota, whose economic viability was questionable, was imperative for China. Beijing decided to acquire naval facilities in Hambantota, in the way as it has taken control of Gwadar in Pakistan.


Questionable projects

Funds for the Hambantota project were made available at near commercial terms by China’s Exim Bank, which extended credit of over $1.2 billion for the construction of the port, and $1.35 billion for a power plant. Assistance was also extended for a southern highway, a tele-cinema park and an airport. Rajapaksa’s ambitions for his constituency also included a sports zone for a proposed international sports meet that was never held and an international cricket stadium. Not a single international cricket match has been played in the cricket stadium. Not a single worthwhile film has been made in the tele-cinema park. All his projects in the constituency have been financial disasters.

Continue reading ‘Control of Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan will give China Easy Access to Strategic Gulf of Ormuz.’ »

Vimukthi Jayasundara Becomes First Sinhalese To Direct an Indian Film and First Sri Lankan to Make a Bengali Movie

By P.K.Balachandran

Links between Indian and Sri Lankan cinemas have had a long history, going back to the late 1940s. But while many Indians have directed Sri Lankan movies, only three Sri Lankans have directed Indian films so far.

The three Sri Lankans are: Batticaloa-born Balu Mahendra, maker of the prize winning Veedu, Sandhya Ragam and Thalaimuraigal; Punguduthivu-born V.C.Guhanathan, who turned out commercially successful films like Thanikkattu Raja and Michael Raj; and Ratnapura-born Vimukthi Jayasundara, who has made the Bengali art film Chatrak.

Of the these, Vimukthi Jayasundara is unique for two reasons: he is the first Sinhalese to direct an Indian movie, and also the first Sri Lankan to make a film in Bengali.

Chatrak (Mushrooms), made in the tradition of the renowned Bengali film maker Ritwik Ghatak, was shown in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, and also at the Toronto, Pacific Merdian and Vladivostok international film festivals.

Continue reading ‘Vimukthi Jayasundara Becomes First Sinhalese To Direct an Indian Film and First Sri Lankan to Make a Bengali Movie’ »

Will Norway Hand Over Diaspora Tiger Leader “Nediyavan” to Sri Lanka?

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Veluppillai Prabhakaran

“What was your first military operation”? was a question posed to Veluppillai Prabhakaran in a media interview many years ago. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) Leader replied ” Alfred Durayappah”. Prabhakaran was of course referring to the popular former mayor and ex-MP for Jaffna Alfred Thangarajah Durayappah who was gunned down within the Jaffna peninsula on July 27th 1975. Prabhakaran and three others Kalapathy, Kirubakaran and Satkunam were responsible for the cold blooded murder which took place opposite the Ponnaalai Varadarajapperumaal temple.

Alfred Thangarajah Durayappah

An assassination of an unarmed civilian holding elected office is generally regarded as an act of terrorism and not as a military operation. But Prabhakaran claiming the murder of Durayappah as his first military operation is indicative of Prabhakaran’s twisted mindset which perceived an act of terrorism as a military operation. This may perhaps throw much light on the personality of the ruthless tiger supremo whose organization was responsible for the murders of many political leaders from the Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim communities of Sri Lanka.

Starting with Jaffna mayor Durayappah, Prabhakaran’s LTTE went on to assassinate numerous political leaders including a former Indian Premier, a Sri Lankan president, a Sri Lankan ex- leader of the opposition, Several Cabinet ministers, ex – chairmen of District Development Councils, Parliamentarians and ex – parliamentarians, leaders of rival Tamil militant organizations etc. Many analysts have pointed out that the prevailing crisis of a lack of strong political leadership within the Tamil polity is very much due to the effect caused by the spree of continuous political assassinations by the LTTE.
Continue reading ‘Will Norway Hand Over Diaspora Tiger Leader “Nediyavan” to Sri Lanka?’ »

Moderate Tamils and Muslims in East Perturbed by Wigneswaran& Co Staging “Ezhuga Thamizh”(Arise Tamil) Rally in Batticaloa


By Dharisha Bastians
Reporting from Batticaloa

Mohammed Ibrahim, a 40-year-old Kattankudy businessman, looked up after the gunfire stopped. Dozens of men, who had been kneeling, face down in prayer just like him only moments ago, lay unmoving around him.

On 3 August 1990, Tiger cadres wielding machine guns and hand grenades stormed into two mosques in Kattankudy in the Batticaloa District during Friday night prayers and opened fire. The two mosque attacks claimed the lives of 147 men; nearly all of them shot in the back as they prayed.

For Sri Lankan Muslims living in the embattled north and east, 1990 was a brutal year. Two months after the Kattankudy mosque attack, the LTTE forced nearly 75,000 Muslims living in the north out of their homes overnight in October 1990, in a vicious act of ethnic cleansing.

As the conflict raged, the LTTE grew deeply suspicious, and seeing the Muslims as having become spies for Government troops, they turned their guns on the main minority community living in the Tamil-majority war-zone. The Tigers attacked mosques and burned Muslim homes and shops, sowing deep mistrust between the Tamil and Muslim communities that live cheek by jowl, particularly in the Eastern Province.

Twenty-seven years later, the memory of the Kattankudy mosque attack still looms large in the Muslim majority town. Kattankudy residents never cemented over the bullet holes on the walls of the mosque, and the pockmarked interior remains a grim reminder of the town’s tragic history.

Continue reading ‘Moderate Tamils and Muslims in East Perturbed by Wigneswaran& Co Staging “Ezhuga Thamizh”(Arise Tamil) Rally in Batticaloa’ »

“I am not Against Investigations but I am Just Saying Do It Properly”- Namal Rajapaksa

by

Meera Srinivasan

India misinterpreted the Rajapaksa administration’s relationship with China, but is silent on the current government’s engagement with the rising super power, Sri Lankan parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, the eldest son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said.

“We always made sure that Sri Lankan soil or waters was not used against any other country. And we maintained that during my father’s time on a strict basis,” he told The Hindu in a recent interview.

Formerly a rugby player, he captained the national team, the 30-year-old parliamentarian has since 2010 represented the southern district of Hambantota. Considered a stronghold of the Rajapaksas, Hambantota houses a $1.5-billion port that the former President built with Chinese loans.

“The Hambantota port was initially offered to India, but they did not get back. China came forward,” he said. “We can’t wait… because we have to look at our people’s interests first and our election promises to them.”

Continue reading ‘“I am not Against Investigations but I am Just Saying Do It Properly”- Namal Rajapaksa’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Instructs Authorities to Increase Security for TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran.

By

Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday instructed security authorities to increase the security allocated to TNA MP MA Sumanthiran.

Making a special statement in parliament, the Speaker said that he had discussed the issue of MP Sumanthiran’s security with several MPs including party leaders and the latest situation had been assessed before making the decision to call for additional security for the MP. Several MPs have come and met me and forwarded this issue to me. I had discussed it with MP Sumanthiran too. Thereafter I informed relevant security authorities to take measures to assure his safety and to increase the security detailed to him, the Speaker said.

Courtesy:The Island

Sumanthiran MP Moves Adjournment Motion in Parliament Over Peoples Protest in Mullaitheevu and Lashes Out Against Govt for Not Returning Lands

By Dharisha Bastians

The main opposition Tamil National Alliance yesterday accused the Government of apathy towards the plight of its citizens demanding the release of their lands in Mullaitivu, as a protest by residents of Keppapilavu entered its ninth day yesterday.

TNA Jaffna District Legislator M.A. Sumanthiran who moved an adjournment motion in Parliament on the issue, lashed out at the ruling coalition, accusing the Government of reneging on pledges to release private lands in the North and East President Maithripala Sirisena had made before the election.

“When there is a Private Bus Owners strike, this Government responds within 24 hours. This demonstration has lasted nearly 10 days. Is this apathy from the Government because of the ethnicity of the protestors and where they live?” Sumanthiran demanded.

“You wouldn’t dare treat your Sinhalese citizens this way,” the TNA Lawmaker charged, addressing Government members.

Continue reading ‘Sumanthiran MP Moves Adjournment Motion in Parliament Over Peoples Protest in Mullaitheevu and Lashes Out Against Govt for Not Returning Lands’ »

Sri Lanka To Request More Time From UN Human Rights Council to Implement Resolution Setting up Reconciliation and Transitional Justice Mechanism.

By

Dharisha Bastians

Sri Lanka will request more time at the UN Human Rights Council Session that convenes later this month, to implement the October 2015 resolution calling on the Government to establish mechanisms to deal with post-war reconciliation and justice for major rights abuses during the war.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said he would travel to Geneva on 27 February to address the UNHRC, to tell the Council that the Government needed more time to make good on its transitional justice commitments as outlined in the resolution it co-sponsored in 2015.

“Obviously we need more time,” the Foreign Minister told Foreign Correspondents in Colombo on Tuesday night, adding that the extended timeline would not be “forever”.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka To Request More Time From UN Human Rights Council to Implement Resolution Setting up Reconciliation and Transitional Justice Mechanism.’ »

If Jayalalithaa Left Will Stipulating That Sasikala Succeed Her as Chief Minister Then Panneerselvam Ready to Accept it


By

Dennis Jesudasan & T.K. Rohit

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who on Tuesday night turned the country’s attention on himself by meditating at Jayalalithaa’s memorial and going all out against AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala, is a tired man. One can empathise with him as he has been constantly meeting his supporters and fielding questions from the media ever since he chose to break his silence over the succession drama that is currently playing out in the party. In this exclusive interview with Dennis S. Jesudasan and T.K. Rohit, he regrets that he was not allowed to see his political mentor during the 75 days that she was in hospital. He promises to remain a loyal AIADMK worker, following in the footsteps of Jayalalithaa till the end.

Excerpts:

What prompted you to speak out against the party leadership now?

I was patient all these days. But if I had remained patient forever, a situation would have arisen where the people of the country would not have known certain truths. When I resigned as Chief Minister, it was portrayed badly and drew criticism for the wrong reasons. This is why I revealed the truth (about my resignation). Those in the party cannot refute it.

Continue reading ‘If Jayalalithaa Left Will Stipulating That Sasikala Succeed Her as Chief Minister Then Panneerselvam Ready to Accept it’ »

Road to Reconciliation May Take De-tours but no U – Turn Assures Mangala Samaraweera

By

Meera Srinivasan

A new Constitution is the most potent weapon for non-recurrence of Sri Lanka’s conflict and would have to be given priority over accountability mechanisms, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

The country, which suffered two youth insurrections and a 26-year-long war, had seen enough violence and bigotry, and needed checks and balances to ensure that the road ahead is peaceful, he told Colombo-based foreign correspondents on Wednesday.

Following the January 2015 election that saw President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe rise to power, the government decided to draft a new Constitution, promising a fair measure of devolution to the minority Tamils.

Six sub-committees came out with reports addressing different aspects of the proposed Constitution. A parliamentary debate on the reports was scheduled for January, but is yet to commence, sparking questions about the delay.

Continue reading ‘Road to Reconciliation May Take De-tours but no U – Turn Assures Mangala Samaraweera’ »

Panneerselvam Speaks Out About How he Was Forced to Resign Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Post to Pave the way for Sasikala.

On Tuesday night, after sitting on a samadhi at Jayalalithaa memorial at Marina beach for about 50 minutes, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam broke his silence – for the first ever time in his political career.

What followed was a carefully crafted attack on his leader, AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, and his colleagues. Panneerselvam noted how reluctant he was to assume the position after Jaya’s death, cited instances where junior members in the cabinet undermined him – some backstabbed – and his performance as the chief minister in the last three months.

This is the English version of that speech:

“I came to Amma’s memorial as my conscience hurt me. I wish to put forth some truths before the people and cadre, because Amma’s soul asked me to do so. I am standing before you because of that.
“Amma was admitted to Apollo hospital and her condition worsened after 70 days. They [Sasikala and family, and their loyalista] came to me and said we have the duty to protect the party and government. I told them that Amma is under treatment…

Continue reading ‘Panneerselvam Speaks Out About How he Was Forced to Resign Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Post to Pave the way for Sasikala.’ »

Govt is Confident About Winning a Referendum on the New Constitution says Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera

By Dharisha Bastians

A new constitution would be Sri Lanka’s most “potent weapon” against preventing a return to violent conflict, Minister Mangala Samaraweera told the Foreign Correspondents Association on Tuesday night.

As fears abound about a deadlock in ongoing constitutional negotiations, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday struck an optimistic note, expressing confidence that the Government could contest and win support for a new constitution in a referendum.

“A referendum is a risk – but I think it’s a risk worth taking,” Minister Samaraweera told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association on Tuesday night.

Continue reading ‘Govt is Confident About Winning a Referendum on the New Constitution says Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’ »

Govt Suspends Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) says Justice Minister; Sumanthiran Assassination Attempt Suspects to be Prosected Under Normal Law.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wiejayadasa Rajapakse yesterday acknowledged the suspension of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) pending introduction of a new Counter Terrorism Law.

Minister Rajapaksa said that as there had been concerns over the operation of the PTA, the government was now in the process of reviewing the anti-terrorism law. Minister Rajapakse said that the review was taking place in the wake of the conclusion of the conflict.

The previous government brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

The President’s Counsel was responding to Bandula Jayasekera on Sirasa ‘Pathikada.’

Continue reading ‘Govt Suspends Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) says Justice Minister; Sumanthiran Assassination Attempt Suspects to be Prosected Under Normal Law.’ »

Sri Lanka to Give Priority to Constitution Drafting Over Accountability Mechanisms

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Sirisena-Wickremesinge government in Sri Lanka will give priority to drafting a new constitution for the country over setting up war crimes accountability mechanisms like the Judicial Mechanism and the Truth-Seeking Commission, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said here on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Foreign Correspondents Association, Samaraeera said that the new constitution, which is the basic law of the land, would guarantee democracy, equality and fair play – conditions which are essential for national reconciliation.

A new democratic constitution is also an election promise made by President Maithripala Sirisena, he reminded.

Samaraweera said that the constitutional sub-committees’ reports will be placed before the Constitutional Assembly in a few months, and that he is confident that the draft constitution will be passed by the required two-thirds majority, given the present composition of the House. But the result of the mandatory referendum would be anybody’s guess, he added.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka to Give Priority to Constitution Drafting Over Accountability Mechanisms’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Under Pressure From UNP Members to take Over Finance Ministry and Appoint Karunanayake as Petroleum Resources Minister.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe s under pressure from his party to take the finance portfolio and head off internal dissension, sources close to the leadership said Friday.

Stalwarts within the ruling United National Party (UNP) have been speculating about cabinet changes amid unrest over Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s style of leading fiscal policy, the sources said.

“The PM is likely to take over the finance portfolio and get a deputy minister to run the ministry on a day-to-day basis,” one of the party officials said.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Under Pressure From UNP Members to take Over Finance Ministry and Appoint Karunanayake as Petroleum Resources Minister.’ »

TNA Grudgingly Acknowledges Danger Posed by LTTE Rump After Assassination Attempt on Sumanthiran Goes Awry.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

An abortive attempt to assassinate Jaffna District Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran in January this year sent shock waves through the Tamil community.

The exposure of the reprehensible conspiracy, by a former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), just before Christmas last year, led to the arrest of five LTTE personnel in separate raids in January.

The Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) carried out the arrests, in mid-January soon after a reluctant yahapalana government authorized further investigations into destabilisation project.

However, the government refrained from utilising the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to take the suspects into custody. The decision should be examined against the backdrop of the government being in the process of abolishing the PTA.

The government is seeking a consensus, as regards new national security mechanism, with those countries behind a spate of Geneva Resolutions directed at Sri Lanka since the conclusion of the conflict.

Police headquarters identified those who had been arrested in connection with the assassination attempt so far as rehabilitated LTTE cadres.

The Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) led TNA welcomed the investigation. Having repeatedly categorized those who had been rehabilitated, and released, as well, as still in government custody, as political prisoners, a deeply embarrassed TNA grudgingly acknowledged the danger posed by the LTTE rump as well as extremist elements overseas.

Continue reading ‘TNA Grudgingly Acknowledges Danger Posed by LTTE Rump After Assassination Attempt on Sumanthiran Goes Awry.’ »

Speaker Karu Overrides Premier Ranil to Prevent Breach of Standing Orders in Answering Questions Raised in Parliament.

By

Sandasen Marasinghe and Disna Mudalige

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said that he will not allow for the establishing of a new tradition of breaching the existing Standing Orders as long as he is in the chair.

When Social Empowerment and Welfare Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake was about to answer a question raised in Parliament on government lands in the Divulapitiya electorate,the opposition members questioned his right to answer the question creating a tense situation. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said that if the relevant Minister or his deputy was not available in the House, the Prime Minister, Chief Government Whip or the Leader of the House may answer the question.

“I will not allow for the establishing of a new tradition of breaching the existing Standing Orders while I am in the chair,” Speaker Jayasuriya said. Then,Chief Government Whip and Parliamentary Affairs and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilake answered the question.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Overrides Premier Ranil to Prevent Breach of Standing Orders in Answering Questions Raised in Parliament.’ »

Pigeons Fly From Kilinochchi on Independence Day With Message of Peace to Wattala

A special release of Pigeons on Independence Day took place at the Kilinochchi railway station, with the pigeons returning to their home in Wattala. The event was organized as a special peace event as the pigeons carried messages of unity and fellowship.

The event was attended by religious heads, the GA of the area Mr S. Arumainayagam and senior police officers.

Continue reading ‘Pigeons Fly From Kilinochchi on Independence Day With Message of Peace to Wattala’ »

Auditor-General Wijesinghe Speaks Out In Indirect Response to Finance Minister Karunanayake’s Scathing Criticism

By Chathuri Dissanayake

In an apparent reply to the Finance Minister’s scathing criticism of him, the Auditor General (AG) yesterday said he would always speak openly and strive to maintain the institution’s transparency. dfh

Highlighting that transparency and openness were two of the main features of good governance, AG Gamini Wijesinghe said that he was duty-bound to give information on public assets, especially following the enactment of the RTI Act.

“How can the Auditor General have secrets and form good governance. Transparency and openness are two of the main features of good governance. We are all handing assets that belong to the public so I cannot maintain secrecy on information regarding public assets,” Wijesinghe said while speaking at an event held to present the audited accounts of the Colombo Municipal Council.

“If anyone wants to write secret letters to me then they should first state that. As the Auditor General I will not write any secret letters to anyone. I cannot do so. I will uphold the transparency and sensitivity of the Government service,” he quipped.

Continue reading ‘Auditor-General Wijesinghe Speaks Out In Indirect Response to Finance Minister Karunanayake’s Scathing Criticism’ »

Finance Minister Karunanayake’s Vituperative Comments Against Senior Central bank Officials are Unjustified

By Legal Eye

I was extremely surprised and disappointed by the serious allegations made by the Minister of Finance on 24 January during the debate relating to the purported bond scam, against the Deputy Governor and Secretary to the Monetary Board and a few other officers of the Central Bank. DFT-12-13-9

The Minister alleged that these officers are henchman of former Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal and went to the extent ofmaking the grave accusation that one such officer issues emails to the persons who are not entitled to receive such emails from the Central Bank.

As children, we were taught the principle that issues inside should not be made public i.e. ‘athulginipitathatanodew’.I am at a lost to understand why the Minister of Finance under cover of the Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Actmakes abusive and derogatory comments without taking any initiative to remedy an unacceptable situation if such a situation really exists within his authority.

In terms of the Gazette Order made under Article 44 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 1897/15 –18 January 2015, relating to the Assignment of powers and functions of Ministries, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka comes under the purview of the Minister of Policy Planning, Economic Affairs, Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs.

Therefore, the Minister of Finance has no authority over the Central Bank. Hence, an erudite Minister of Finance who had genuine and valid concerns about the conduct of Central Bank officers should have intimated to the relevant Authority that is, Minister of Policy Planning, Economic Affairs, Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs (Prime Minister)that he should initiate action through the Monetary Board under the Classification, Control and Appeal rules of the Central Bank to take necessary disciplinary action against any officer of the Central Bank who acts in contravention of the accepted and expected norms of conduct as Central Bank officers.

Continue reading ‘Finance Minister Karunanayake’s Vituperative Comments Against Senior Central bank Officials are Unjustified’ »

JR Jayewardene Wanted to “Burn Jaffna To The Ground” Twice in 1987 But Lankan Armed Forces Refused to Avoid Unacceptable Casualty Toll.

By

Amit Baruah

Sri Lanka was forced into making a deal with India as its own armed forces had twice refused to “take Jaffna”, then President J.R. Jayewardene has been quoted as saying in a declassified document, nearly 30 years after the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was deployed in the island nation.

Signing of the Accord-1987-pic via: The Hindu

Jayewardene told visiting American diplomat Peter Galbraith that he had twice ordered his troops to take Jaffna — “burn the place to the ground” — and they had talked him out of it on grounds of unacceptably high casualties.

A little over 1,200 Indian soldiers died in IPKF operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in northern and eastern Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. In May 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had signed the July 1987 peace deal with Jayewardene, was assassinated by the LTTE.

In response to significant promises of devolution of powers to the Tamil minority and recognition of Tamil as an official language, India agreed to provide military assistance — the IPKF — to ensure peace according to the 1987 Gandhi-Jayewardene accord.

Continue reading ‘JR Jayewardene Wanted to “Burn Jaffna To The Ground” Twice in 1987 But Lankan Armed Forces Refused to Avoid Unacceptable Casualty Toll.’ »

Overseas LTTE Backed Plot To Assassinate TNA MP Sumanthiran in Jaffna Revealed

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Nallavan” (not his real name) is a Tamil youth living in a Northern village. He was a former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization who had surrendered to the armed forces in May 2009.

He was incarcerated for a period of time and released after undergoing a process of rehabilitation. Life in a post-war Northern environment was painfully difficult because Nallavan could not get gainful employment anywhere. Neither did he have adequate financial resources to go abroad. Nallavan lived with an aged aunt and engaged occasionally in manual work as a casual worker whenever possible.

Nallavan was approached by a former LTTE cadre called “Master” in November last year. Master asked “Nallavan” to hoist the LTTE flag clandestinely at particular places in Kilinochchi on November 26th night. The following day Nov 27th was the “Maaveerar Naal” or Great heroes day of the LTTE. He was offered 5000 rupees for it. Nallavan being hard -pressed accepted the offer and executed the assigned task. He was promptly paid the sum promised.

A few days later “Master” came to meet Nallavan in the company of another ex-tiger with a disfigured hand. They had a proposition. Nallavan was asked to join them on a new mission. He was told that there was a “contract” to kill an important Tamil politician. Nallavan would be given fifteen lakhs of rupees payment. Also safe passage would be provided for him if necessary to go to India and from there to Europe via a south-east Asian country. The duo said some tiger leaders living overseas had wanted this done and guaranteed payment and safe passage. Nallavan said he could arrive at a decision only if he knew who the target was. When the ex-tiger duo revealed the name of the target Nallavan was shocked.

The Tamil politician target was Maithiaparanam Abraham Sumanthiran the Tamil National alliance MP from Jaffna district. When told that the contract was to kill Sumanthiran, a horrified Nallavan refused vehemently. He said that he had been observing Sumanthiran’s politics in recent times and had been impressed by him. Nallavan said the war was now over and that Tamils must live in Sri Lanka with equal rights. He said Sumanthiran along with people like Sampanthan and Senathirajah were doing their best to win back the lost rights of Tamils without violence through democratic methods. Besides as a lawyer Sumanthiran was helping in the cases of so many Tamils including ex – tiger cadres. Nallavan also said that laying hands on someone like Sumanthiran would upset the present situation of fragile peace and invite massive state suppression.
Continue reading ‘Overseas LTTE Backed Plot To Assassinate TNA MP Sumanthiran in Jaffna Revealed’ »

Multi-Ethnic,Tri-Lingual School for Sinhala,Tamil and Muslim Students to be Built in Polonnaruwa With 300 Million Rupees From India.

India and Sri Lanka have entered into collaboration to build a multi-ethnic tri-lingual school in a north central district of the island nation that would provide opportunities to Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students to learn in a multi-cultural environment.

The MoU was signed by India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Secretary to the Ministry of Education Sunil Hettiarachchi.

Continue reading ‘Multi-Ethnic,Tri-Lingual School for Sinhala,Tamil and Muslim Students to be Built in Polonnaruwa With 300 Million Rupees From India.’ »

Group of Women in Batticaloa Utilise New Right To Information (RTI) Act to Renew Search for “Missing” Loved Ones .

By

Meera Srinivasan

Last week, when Sri Lanka’s Right To Information Act came into effect, a group of women in Batticaloa had a plan.

Last week, when Sri Lanka’s Right To Information Act came into effect, a group of women in Batticaloa had a plan.

After years of petitioning government offices and testifying to innumerable commissions, they decided to use the brand new Act, to seek information about their missing relatives.

“We set out at eight in the morning, and went from one office to the other until 5.45 p.m.,” P. Deepa told The Hindu over telephone.

Continue reading ‘Group of Women in Batticaloa Utilise New Right To Information (RTI) Act to Renew Search for “Missing” Loved Ones .’ »

Sri Lanka Must Have Its Own Version Of Development With An Agriculture First Economy.


By

Eranda Ginige

If I had a dollar for every time somebody said “Sri Lanka should be like Singapore”, I’d be a rich man. The odd thing is most of those people have never visited Singapore. Somehow we are made to believe Singapore as the perfect development standard, a utopian state where everything is so organised, a chewing-gum-less world, and a heavenly place where its people live happily ever after. But that’s a different debate.

There is an urban myth that the father of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew saw the great city of Colombo in the 1950s and vowed to make Singapore modelled after it. I’m yet to see hard proof he ever said that. The closest statement is him saying that “the British left behind a sound social and economic infrastructure (in Ceylon)” which is debatable. The iron-fisted patriot who ruled Singapore for over 30 years has been rather critical about Sri Lanka’s choices time after time. He clearly learned from our mistakes, but it’s naïve to say that Singapore was modelled after Colombo.

It’s easy to be a genius in hindsight. Lee Kuan’s choices were as risky as Bandaranaikes’ or Jayewardene’s or Premadasa’s; his contemporaries. Different circumstances lead to different outcomes.

All we can do is learn from the past. And the one lesson we can learn from the past is that no country can copy another country’s development. Perhaps we should stop trying to be like Singapore or the USA or China, instead start creating our own identity of development. Here are three places to start from:

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Must Have Its Own Version Of Development With An Agriculture First Economy.’ »

AIADMK Gen Secy Sasikala Elected Party Leader in Legislative Assembly on Feb 5th Will Become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on Feb 9th

By

Dennis Jesudasan

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam proposed her name at a meeting of party MLAs in Chennai.

V.K. Sasikala

AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala was on Sunday elected as the Leader of the Legislature party by the MLAs in the party head office in Chennai paving the way for her swearing in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Ms. Sasikala will be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on February 9.

The development came exactly two months after Jayalalithaa’s death. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam proposed her name in the MLAs’ meeting and she was unanimously elected as the Legislature party leader.

Mr. Panneerselvam has sent his resignation to the Governor.

Continue reading ‘AIADMK Gen Secy Sasikala Elected Party Leader in Legislative Assembly on Feb 5th Will Become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on Feb 9th’ »

CV Wigneswaran Boycotts Independence Day Event In Jaffna Town and Participates in Protest Meetings in Mullaitheevu District

By P.K.Balachandran

The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, boycotted the 69 th. Sri Lankan Independence Day function here on Saturday, and instead attended protest meetings held at Keppapilavu and Puthukudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu district.

The Governor of the Northern Province, Reginold Cooray, hoisted the national flag, but the Chief Minister chose not to be present.

A small section of radical Tamil nationalists led by Northern Provincial Council members M.K.Shivajilingam and Ananthy Sasitharan, observed the day as a “Black Day” for the Tamils. Wearing black bands and scarves and covering their mouths with black cloth, they held a demonstration in front of the District Secretariat putting forth five demands.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran drove to Keppapilavu to join the protest against the military’s refusal to give back 530 acres of land seized from the local people during the war which ended in 2009. After addressing the protesters he went to Puthukudiyiruppu were there was an agitation to recover 19 acres pf private land from the military.

Continue reading ‘CV Wigneswaran Boycotts Independence Day Event In Jaffna Town and Participates in Protest Meetings in Mullaitheevu District’ »

Will Proposed Counter -Terrorism Act (CTA) Be Even More Draconian Than Existing Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA)?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Is the essentially combative tone adopted by the Government to the Juan Mendez report finding that a “culture of torture” is still being practised in Sri Lanka quite wise, one might ask?

Of course, we live in an age where, confounding his own advisors and despite solid evidence to the contrary, the President of the United States is on record stating bombastically that ‘torture works’ as an interrogation method.

Key Mendez findings

But Sri Lanka’s state representatives have long adopted a far more devious method of denial. The immediate response has always been to rebut off hand, allegations that torture is commonly practised.

That reaction does not appear to change, let it be the ‘yahapalanaya government’, or any other. So this blunt rejection as reported in this newspaper last week is unsurprising. Yet the larger question is whether a more sober appraisal will not actually help the country more than an obstinate ostrich-like denial.

Continue reading ‘Will Proposed Counter -Terrorism Act (CTA) Be Even More Draconian Than Existing Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA)?’ »

President Sirisena Condemns “Opportunistic Forces” Campaigning Against Reconciliation as “Enemies of the Country”.

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has dubbed those “opportunistic forces” which are campaigning against the on-going ethnic and religious reconciliation process as enemies of the country.

“The government’s endeavor for reconciliation and communal harmony has been praised locally as well as internationally. The opportunistic forces that are against the on-going reconciliation process are against the country,” the President said in his address to the nation at the 69 th.Independence Day military parade here on Saturday.

“We are a nation that deserves to live a prosperous life in a country where peace and justice and equality prevail,” he added.

“There is a new meaning in today’s freedom as we are talking about a freedom that blows freely across the skies. This is an era in which human freedom, media freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom to gather freely blow across the skies.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Condemns “Opportunistic Forces” Campaigning Against Reconciliation as “Enemies of the Country”.’ »

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Intensifies Efforts to Topple Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt

By K. Ratnayake

Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has urged his supporters to help him topple the government. Addressing a January 27 rally of tens of thousands in the Colombo suburb of Nugegoda, Rajapakse denounced the government as “corrupt” and declared he was “ready to lead the force” to bring it down.

Promoted as “The beginning of the struggle,” the event was part of intensifying efforts by Rajapakse, a group of sitting parliamentarians, known as the Joint Opposition (JO), and their supporters to return him to power.

The escalating conflict between the Rajapakse-led JO and the administration of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is an expression of deepening political instability within the ruling elite. Colombo faces escalating balance of trade and foreign debt problems and growing struggles of workers and the poor against its social austerity measures.

Currently 45 members of parliament, including Rajapakse, back the former president, and sit on the opposition benches. The group includes a faction of Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Sirisena has the support of just 50 MPs. Wickremesinghe heads the United National Party (UNP).

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