Tamil Nationalist Politics and the Process of “Traitorization” in Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan

Octogenarian leader of the opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan in a hard hitting Parliamentary speech made four weeks ago drew attention to the prevailing practice of persons being condemned as Traitors (Drohi/Thurogi) within the sphere of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalist Politics. The Trincomalee district MP who is also the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentary group leader made specific reference to the recent attacks on TNA Jaffna district MP Mathiaparanam Abraham Sumanthiran by defeated political rivals. Here are a few excerpts from Sampanthan’s speech during the adjournment motion debate on February 22nd 2017 –

“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”.

M A Sumanthiran MP

“There has been a report filed by the police in the Kilinochchi Magistrate’s Court where they have definitely stated that there was an attempt at assassination of Mr. Sumanthiran. That is a matter of record, nobody can deny that. Some people are calling him “Drohi”. It is a very unbecoming word. It is a word that is inciting violence. Why are you calling him “Drohi”. Is it because he is working on our Constitutional Proposals along with me and others?”

“Tamil people are not protesting in support of you? Tamil people are protesting on account of wrongs being done to them by the Sri Lankan Government. They want that to stop. These jokers who could not even win one seat, could not come even close to one seat. They came long after us, we polled 200,000 votes, they polled 15,000 votes. They came after the EPDP; they came after the UNP and they came after the UPFA. They were totally rejected by the Tamil people.”
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Sarath Fonseka Puts His Foot in Mouth By His Allegations Against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Kapila Hendavitharana


By

C. A. Chandraprema

General Sarath Fonseka made waves again last week with the CID informing the Mt Lavinia Magistrate that he has given a statement implicating former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and former Chief of National Intelligence Kapila Hendavitarana in the attacks on journalists including the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga and the assault on Keith Noyhr. According to the B Report No: B92/09 filed before the Mt Lavinia Magistrate, Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka has given the CID a statement to the effect that at the time Lasantha Wickrematunga was murdered, he had not overseen security matters in the Colombo area and that this was handled by former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa with Maj Gen Kapila Hendevitarana and that he had received information that the assault on journalists were carried out by a certain group that functioned under Chief of National Intelligence Hendevitarana. Fonseka had also said that when he was Army Commander, he was unaware that there was an Army intelligence detachment functioning from the Tripoli market premises in Maradana.

By the time Lasantha was murdered, Kapila Hendavitarana had retired from the army and was holding a civilian appointment in the Ministry of Defence. When Sarath Fonseka became Army Commander at the end of 2005, Hendavitarana was in the Sri Lankan Embassy Bankok as Minister Counselor. Even before he was posted to Bangkok by then President Chandrika Kumaratunga, he had ceased to be the Director Military Intelligence and was functioning as the Director General Military Intelligence which was a position not in the Army but in the Joint Operations Headquarters. The Director Military Intelligence is a Brigadier level appointment in the Army and Hendavitarana had to be shifted out in order to be promoted Major General. After the Rajapaksa government came into power, Hendavitarana came back to Sri Lanka around February 2006 and he retired from the Army in 2006 October.

After coming back from Bangkok, Hendavitarana was appointed as an advisor on Military Intelligence to the Minister of Defence. After he retired from the Army in October 2006, a position was created for him as Chief of National Intelligence. His task was basically coordinating the work of the intelligence arms of the Army, Navy, Air Force and police intelligence units like the CID, TID, Special Branch etc. This was one of the major innovations introduced by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa – getting all the intelligence bodies of the armed forces and police to share information and work together to eliminate terrorism. However, neither Gotabhaya Rajapaksa nor Hendavitarana who were both retired from the Army could command troops or order troop movements. This had to be done by someone in uniform.

Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka Puts His Foot in Mouth By His Allegations Against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Kapila Hendavitharana’ »

Sri Lanka will Change Into De Jure From De Facto Security State if Obnoxious Counter Terrorism Act Becomes Law

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawrdene

Despite the Government of Sri Lanka’s proud boast to the contrary during requests to renew the EU GSP Plus trade facility and at numerous United Nations briefings, revisions made to the draft Counter-Terror Act (CTA) fail to address major Rule of Law concerns in substance.

Dangerously vague and overbroad definitions of what constitutes terrorism and terrorism-related offences are left intact. Indisputably this remains a law drafted for the protection of a Government in power, not to protect Sri Lanka itself from threats of terrorism. The distinction thereof must be made very clear.

Potential dangers to right of expression

As analysed in these column spaces previously when the original draft CTA was first leaked to the public by this newspaper, that version was riddled with the lack of conceptual clarity in regard to definitions of terrorism and terrorism related offences. One would have thought that this key concern in the draft may have been addressed when the Government furiously back-pedalled in damage control mode. However many of these offences continue to overlap and replicate each other even in the revised document when examined.

To add insult to injury, the revisions also include a new offence numbered as (vi) under ‘terrorist offences’ which punishes ‘any person who intentionally and unlawfully distributes or otherwise makes available a message to the public with the intent to incite the commission of a terrorist offence.’ This is so regardless of whether or not that conduct expressly advocates terrorist offences. It will suffice if it causes danger that one of more of such offences may be committed.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka will Change Into De Jure From De Facto Security State if Obnoxious Counter Terrorism Act Becomes Law’ »

Sri Lankan Govt Falls Into Trap of Its Own Making By Co-sponsoring UN Resolutions of September 2015 and March 2017


By

C. A. Chandraprema

The UNHRC resolution which was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and passed without a vote last Thursday has given the government two years to deliver on the commitments made in UNHRC Resolution No: 30/1 of October 2015. Unlike in previous years, this year’s UNHRC resolution did not generate much heat in Sri Lanka because the expectation was that the government would be given a further period of time. However, this extention of time to deliver may be more to the detriment of the government than if the things had come to a head right now. A two year postponement means that this matter will come up for discussion at the March 2019 Sessions of the UNHRC. However, 2019 will be election year for this government.

The Island carried a front page news item recently by our colleague Shamindra Ferdinando pointing out that even though Minister Faizer Mustapha had put forward an argument to the effect that President Maithripala Sirisena had been elected for a six year term and therefore, the next Presidential election will be held only in 2020, legal experts like Manohara de Silva, Jayampathy Wickremeratne and Krishmal Warnasuriya had pointed out that the term of the President was shortened to five years by the 19th Amendment and according to the transitional provision in Article 49(1)(b) of the Nineteenth Amendment, the persons holding office as the President and Prime Minister at the time the 19 A is passed will thereafter continue to hold such office subject to the provisions of the Constitution as amended by the 19A. What this means is that Maithripala Sirisena’s term as President comes to and end in five years and a presidential election will have to be called in the last quarter of 2019.

It would be very disadvantageous for the government to be grappling with the local fallout of implementing the UNHRC resolution or the international fallout from not implementing it after the first quarter of 2019. In fact by 2019, it’s best that this UNHRC resolution 30/1 be taken off the radar altogether. If the government implements even a part of the contents of Resolution 30/1 which they so ill-advisedly co-sponsored in October 2015, that will provide grist for the opposition mill at the presidential election campaign at the end of 2019. The Resolution that was passed last Thursday once again with the co-sponsorship of Sri Lanka, ‘took note with appreciation’ the comprehensive report presented by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to this session of the UNHRC as requested by the UNHRC in Resolution 30/1 of October 2015 and requests the Government of Sri Lanka to fully implement the measures in resolution 30/1 that are outstanding.

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President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe Reach Agreement on Re-shuffling Cabinet and Re-allocating Portfolios

By the Political Editor of “Sunday Times”

One of the main tasks for President Maithripala Sirisena, who returned yesterday from an official visit to the Russian Federation, will be to re-shuffle the Cabinet of Ministers.

Ahead of his departure to Moscow, Sirisena had discussed the issue at length with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on more than one occasion. The focus at these discussions has been on the portfolios allotted to ministers representing the United National Party (UNP). The performance of these ministers whose portfolios await changes had figured in the talks. Sirisena is learnt to have told Wickremesinghe he would not take away the subjects assigned to the UNP but expects Wickremesinghe to name the ministers whom he has identified and intimate it to him.

Besides Premier Wickremesinghe, there are 27 UNP members in the Cabinet of Ministers. The performance of some of these ministers who have been identified for their poor performance, controversial actions and those who face allegations of misconduct, the Sunday Times learnt, has been raised by Sirisena with the Prime Minister. Although Wickremesinghe had earlier insisted that no changes be made, he has now consented to them, it is learnt. Initially, the latter had defended the roles of some UNP ministers who are at the centre of serious controversy.

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Retd Admiral Sarath Weerasekera Promotes Foreign Intervention in Sri Lanka by Calling For UN Special Rapporteur to Probe LTTE War Crimes.

By

Rasika Jayakody

Former Parliamentarian Sarath Weerasekera flew to Geneva last week to present what he termed a special report on war crimes allegations against the Sri Lankan military forces, to the UNHRC session.
The former Parliamentarian said, his report contained evidence to ‘protect’ Sri Lanka’s war heroes from foreign prosecutors.

Although Weerasekera’s supporters told the local media that Weerasekera will present a special report to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, a spokesperson from the UNHRC Chief’s office said no one requested a meeting with the High Commissioner.

Instead, he attended a side event in Geneva, like many other Sri Lankan NGO activists and diaspora group members.

Addressing the UNHRC side event, the former UPFA Parliamentarian urged the United Nations General Assembly to appoint a Special Rapporteur into the alleged war crimes committed by the LTTE during the Eelam war.

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WM Mendis&Co, Arjun Aloysius, Finance Ministry and the Liquor Distillery in Kumburumoolai

BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI

Following the ill-famed Treasury bond debacle which incurred approximately Rs 200 billion loss to the country, Arjun Aloysius is all set to take on a new venture, a liquor factory in Kalkudah. It is a well-known fact that Arjun Aloysius and his father-in-law Arjuna Mahendran are the chief suspects of the Treasury bond scam. It is reported that massive tax concessions are to be granted to Arjun Aloysius’ liquor company.

In a situation where Arjun Aloysius is accused of a fiscal crime, it is absolutely inadmissible for the Ministry of Finance to grant ‘100 per cent capital allowance’ to his distillery, the W.M. Mendis and Company.

There are several requisites to be met in order to be qualified for the 2017 coveted budget grants to be received by a business venture. The venture should be a fixed asset, the fixed investment should be worth not less than Rs 4.5 billion, the business should be located within the boundaries of Uva and Eastern Provinces and the business should generate 250 employment opportunities in the least. However, the Chairman of W.M. Mendis and Company, Arjun Aloysius was shrewd enough to include his venture in the 2017 budget grants list by making his company fulfil the requisites.

The W.M. Mendis and Company tactically located its distillery in Kumburumulla in Kalkudah in the Eastern Province. Thus, Aloysius managed to fulfil the requirement that the business should be located within the boundaries of Uva and Eastern Province by having his business in the Eastern Province. Secondly, he furnished the Ministry of Finance with an estimation report of his business to be a fixed investment worth of Rs 4.5 billion. The other requirement of generating employment opportunities is to be assessed once the company is established and the Chairman of W.M. Mendis and Company has declared that his business is capable of creating 250 employment opportunities to the people of the area.

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Tamil Cinema Superstar Rajinikanth Cancels trip to Sri Lanka Following “requests” by Tamil Nadu Political Party Leaders

Following requests from political leaders, Kollywood superstar Rajinikanth on Saturday announced that he is cancelling his two-day visit to Sri Lanka on an invitation from Lyka Productions, which is alleged to have links with former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Clarifying that he has decided to stay away from the event organised by Lyca Productions in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, following requests from leaders of some political parties in Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth appealed to the leaders not to prevent him from visiting Lanka if another opportunity arises in the future.

Rajinikanth was to attend an event organised by the cinema production house on April 9 to hand over 150 houses built in war-ravaged northern Sri Lanka for the affected families belonging to the ethnic Tamil community.

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Superstar Rajnikanth Must Cancel Visit to Northern Sri Lanka for Handover of Houses Event Says VCP Party Leader Thirumavalavan

Tamil Nadu film actor ” Superstar” Rajinikanth’s visit to northern Sri Lanka next month to hand over keys of 150 houses built for displaced Tamil is turning into a controversy.

On Friday, a prominent Dalit leader in Tamil Nadu asked him to cancel his visit over concerns that the cine star’s presence at a high-profile event could lead the world to believe things were back to normal in the island nation.

T Thirumavalavan, the chief of VCK, Viduthlai Chiruthaigal Katchi (Liberation Panther Party), has advised Rajinikanth to re-consider his decision, cautioning that it could earn him the wrath of the Tamil community.

Continue reading ‘Superstar Rajnikanth Must Cancel Visit to Northern Sri Lanka for Handover of Houses Event Says VCP Party Leader Thirumavalavan’ »

Jayawewa! Why Sri Lanka is the Best Country in the World!!

By

Bandula Jayasekara


Sri Lanka is the best country in the world. It is a land like no other. Incredible! That is why there is a song and people always say ‘Loken Uthum Rata Sri Lankawai’ (Sri Lanka is the best country in the world).

Sri Lanka flag at Rockefeller Center, NYC

We have the best Finance Minister in the world and he wins awards no one really knows about and it happens all the time. Some publish advertisements and felicitate him. But, the US dollar continues to rise against the poor Sri Lankan rupee. Still, the United States is our best friend and he is still the best Finance Minister in the world. Aren’t we proud?

However, no banks in Sri Lanka come under him. Some say he got just the blood bank. But, he is no Dracula. Dracula is much thinner than him. He sure can give blood to the needy.

He is a lucky man because he gets to sign all the currency notes, even though he got no control over the Central Bank. He truly is a lucky hurly burly fellow.

Our Best in the world Finance Minister, who says there is no Bond scam when there is a GOPE report and a special presidential commission appointed by the President himself. He is a jolly good fellow.

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Prominent Tamil Writer Ashokamithran who wrote many Novels,Novellas and Short Stories Passes Away in Chennai at the Age of 86

By

B.Kolappan

Prominent Tamil writer and Sahitya Akademi winner Ashokamitran, who powerfully portrayed the lives and struggles of the urban middle class life in his literary works, died, aged 86, on Thursday night. He collapsed at home. He is survived by wife and three sons.

Ashokamithran

Born Tyagarajan on September 22, 1931, he later assumed the pen name, Ashokamitran. He was one of the few writers who wrote fluently in both Tamil and English and was also known outside Tamil Nadu as most of his works were translated into English and other Indian languages.

In a career spanning over six decades, he wrote eight novels, 20 novellas, hundreds of short stories, commentaries on a wide range of issues, and profiles of personalities. He was given the Sahitya Akademi award in 1996 for Appavin Snegidhar, a collection of short stories. Twice, he was awarded the creative writing fellowship at the University of Iowa.

Continue reading ‘Prominent Tamil Writer Ashokamithran who wrote many Novels,Novellas and Short Stories Passes Away in Chennai at the Age of 86’ »

Mandodari, Ravana, Chitralega and Maunaguru


By Thulasi Muttulingam

Victors it is said, write history. India might have its version(s) of the Ramayana but over in Sri Lanka, Ravana remains a tragic and misunderstood hero. A hero to this day loved and mourned by his people.

His tale continues to be enacted and re-enacted via drama and theatre in the Serendib isle. One of the foremost artistes of the isle to keep on studying and revising Ravana’s character and story as he gains new insights on them, is Professor S. Maunaguru – an authority on Sri Lankan Tamil drama and theatre.
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Wimal Weerawansa in Remand Prison on Charges of Misusing State Vehicles Refuses to have his meals for 2 days Demanding his Release..

BY Cassendra Doole

Former Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa continued his hunger strike for the second consecutive day, yesterday, urging that he be released. Weerawansa is currently in remand prison on charges of misusing State vehicles.

The National Freedom Front (NFF) leader was arrested by the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) on 10 January after he arrived to give a statement pertaining to allegations of misusing State vehicles.

Weerawansa has been accused of misusing several vehicles, belonging to the Presidential Secretariat Office, during his tenure as the Minister of Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities, and thereby causing losses to the tune of Rs 41 million to the government.

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Govt Presents Supplementary Estimate for 371 Million Rupees to But Nine Vehicles for Ministers and Deputy Ministers.


by Saman Indrajith

The government yesterday submitted a supplementary estimate seeking the approval of the House for Rs. 371 million (Rs. 371,097,000) to purchase nine vehicles for ministers and deputy ministers.

The estimate was presented to the House by Chief Government Whip Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilake.

Accordingly, the approval has been sought for the allocation of Rs. 39,897,000 to acquire a vehicle for the Minister of Education, Rs. 42,000,000 to purchase a vehicle for Deputy Chairmen of Committees in Parliament, Rs. 82,000,000 to purchase two vehicles for the minister and deputy minister of Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Rs. 40,000,000 to purchase a vehicle for the minister of plantation industries, Rs. 38,200,000 to purchase a vehicle for the Sports Minister, Rs 43,000,000 to purchase a vehicle for the Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media, and Rs. 86,000,000 to purchase two vehicles for the minister and state minister of Industry and Commerce.

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The Crown Prince of Sri Lankan Politics who was Never Crowned as King

by
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

“Politics is a blood sport” was a famous saying by former Sri Lankan president Junius Richard Jayewardene. In the cut-throatish competitive world of Sri Lankan politics there have been many casualties who aspired to high office but failed to fulfil their ambition. Even people with powerful bloodlines in Sri Lanka’s dynastic political realm fell or were felled in this blood sport arena.One such striking political personality was Anura Bandaranaike who passed away nine years ago on March 16th 2008.

Anura Bandaranaike (February 15, 1949-
March 16, 2008)

Anura as he was generally known was the son of two Sri Lankan prime ministers and was often referred to as the “crown prince ” within the context of Sri Lanka’s dynastic politics. Though Anura did hold several high posts during his eventful political career, the offices of Prime minister or President he yearned for , eluded him. In that sense he was the political crown prince who was never ever crowned as king.

Father & Son – Pic courtesy of: SWRD Bandaranaike Museum

I have interacted with Anura Bandaranaike in my professional capacity as a journalist during the years 1977 – 88. I have met with him on several occasions and engaged in coversations – both on and off the record – with him during that period. I once interviewed Anura at length for an Indian publication. For some reason the interview was never published. When I told him about it not being published ,Anura took it lightly and said “I know it was not your fault”. I have also written about Anura on earlier occasions and would be drawing from such writings in penning this piece about him.
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Full Text of Resolution on Sri Lanka adopted at 34th session of UNHRC

Human Rights Council
Thirty-fourth session

27 February-24 March 2017
Agenda item 2

Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Australia,* Canada,* Germany, Israel,* Japan, Montenegro,* Norway,* Sri Lanka,* the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,* United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America: draft resolution

Document A/HRC/34/L.1

Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka

The Human Rights Council,
Continue reading ‘Full Text of Resolution on Sri Lanka adopted at 34th session of UNHRC’ »

UNHRC Unanimously Grants Sri Lanka 2 Year Extension of time to Implement Resolution Including Provision for Hybrid Court.

By PK Balachandran

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Thursday unanimously gave Sri Lanka two years’ extension to implement the September 2015 resolution on ethnic reconciliation and accountability
for alleged war crimes.

As per the new timetable, the High Commissioner for Human Rights would give a written update to the council at its 37 th session in March 2018, and a comprehensive report at the 40 th session in March 2019.

Among other things, Resolution 30/1 of September 2015, called for the establishment of a judicial mechanism having foreign as well as Sri Lankan judges and prosecutors. Though Sri Lanka had co-sponsored that resolution as well as Thursday’s follow up, it has not agreed to have a hybrid court with foreign judges also.

Making this clear after the resolution was passed on Thursday, the Sri Lankan representative Dr.Harsha de Silva that Sri Lanka is striving “to establish a Sri Lankan Government-led processes with international assistance, engagement and support.”

He made no mention of a hybrid court with foreign judges, though the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid and the US representative William J.Mozdzierz had stressed the need for it. Before the resolution was passed, de Silva said that Sri Lanka would accept “foreign expertise” not foreign judges.

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Statement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on 22 March 2017

Item 2: Oral presentation of the High Commissioner’s Report on Sri Lanka

Statement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on 22 March 2017


Excellencies,

Colleagues and Friends,

I thank you for this opportunity to discuss the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, and to present my report pursuant to Council resolution 30/1.

The report acknowledges some positive advances on human rights and constitutional reform. I welcome the constructive engagement of the Government with my Office. We have continued to provide technical assistance through our presence in Sri Lanka, complemented by frequent expert missions and support by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. Five Special Procedures mechanisms visited Sri Lanka to address enforced disappearances, transitional justice, torture, the independence of judges and lawyers, and protection of minorities. Additionally, four treaty bodies reviewed Sri Lanka’s progress in implementing treaty obligations, and have made detailed recommendations regarding racial discrimination, migrant workers, torture and discrimination against women.

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Sinhala Hawk Retd Admiral Sarath Weerasekera Called a “War Criminal” by Tamil Hardliner Manivannan at UN side Event in Geneva

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

The final week of the UN Human Rights Council session got off to a dramatic start, after former UPFA Parliamentarian Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera made an appearance in Geneva and locked horns with Tamil hardline groups at a side event at the Palais des Nations on Monday (20).

The Rear Admiral made an intervention during the event, claiming that Sri Lankan troops had not committed war crimes and alleging that many LTTE perpetrators in crimes had also been acquitted in court.

Foreign experts had concluded that the war crimes allegations against the Sri Lankan armed forces were baseless, Weerasekera told participants at the well-attended side event.

The former military officer’s remarks angered P. Mannivannan of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), who called Weerasekera a “war criminal” and urged the Government of Switzerland to arrest the official.

Weerasekera sniped back, insisting on prolonging the argument amidst protest from the head table, with the moderator at the session, Abinaya Nathan, the editor of the Tamil Guardian, to bang her gavel on the table several times to end the back and forth.

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Major -General Chagie Gallage Who Commanded 59 Division During Final Phase of War in 2009 Is Denied Australian Visa Due to War Crimes Allegations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Australia has deprived Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage of an opportunity to visit his brother, an Australian citizen on the basis of unsubstantiated war crimes allegations against the Sri Lanka Army (SLA).

Australia has found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009. In response to inquiries made by Gallage, the Australian High Commission has stated that troops under his command certainly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Maj. Gen. Gallege, currently functions as Director General, Infantry. The officer, who was in the forefront of the war against the LTTE, is widely considered one of best strategists.

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Presentation of the Report of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka and Interactive Dialogue


ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented his report pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka. The report acknowledged some positive advances on human rights and constitutional reform, and noted that five Special Procedures mechanisms had visited Sri Lanka as well as four treaty bodies having reviewed Sri Lanka’s progress in implementing recommendations.

Progress to establish transitional justice mechanisms had been slow; what was needed now was agreement on a comprehensive strategy, with a time-line and detailed benchmarks, to address all the transitional justice pillars identified in resolution 30/1. Sri Lanka’s ratifications of various conventions, including the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, were also significant steps forward. In the face of rising frustration among victims, a number of confidence-building measures must be accelerated. Those included repealing the prevention of terrorism act and the design of truth and reparation processes.

Combined with a general lack of trust in the impartiality of the justice system regarding past violations, the continuing unwillingness or inability to address impunity reinforced the need for international participation in a judicial mechanism. That mechanism should include a special counsel, foreign judges and defence lawyers, and authorized prosecutors and investigators. As cases of torture, excessive use of force and failure to respect due process continued to be reported, there was clearly a need for unequivocal instructions to all branches of the security forces that any such conduct was unacceptable and that abuses would be punished. Sri Lanka’s “courageous” civil society and human rights defenders must be protected from harassment and intimidation, said the High Commissioner, adding that he was disturbed to hear reports of intimidation of members of civil society here in the Palais des Nations. At the centre of all of the efforts were the victims: there could never be sustainable peace without justice for them.

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“Sri Lanka Will Stay The Course” Declares Dep Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva at Geneva UN Human Rights Council

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

As Joint Opposition members led demonstrations outside the United Nations building in Geneva, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva told the Human Rights Council convening inside that the Government was “determined to stay the course” in delivering justice and reconciliation to its people, as the country recovers from a three-decade long civil war.

The Deputy Foreign Minister told the council that Sri Lanka had been working on the draft resolution providing a two-year extension of the timeline for fulfillment of resolution 30/1 that was adopted by the UNHRC in 2015. Sri Lanka will cosponsor this resolution at the council’s current session, he added.

“No country’s human rights record is perfect. It is always a work in progress,” the Deputy Foreign Minister acknowledged, after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein presented his report assessing Sri Lanka’s progress on implementing the 2015 UNHRC resolution to the council yesterday.

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Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Denies CID Report About his Alleged Links to “Top Secret Death Squads”Targeting Sri Lankan Media

By

Meera Srinivasan

After Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) told a magistrate court here about “top-secret death squads” that were reportedly linked to the defence establishment of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time, his brother and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya denied the charges on Tuesday.

Monday’s CID submission, based on former army chief Sarath Fonseka’s testimony, pertains to the assassination a newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunga in January 2009, a case that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has denied involvement in.

News agency AFP on Monday reported that the CID told the court the “death squad” was involved in a range of abuses against the media during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency, in which 17 journalists and media staff were killed.

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Only 25 out of 225 MP’s in Parliament are Graduates While 94 MP’s Have not Passed Their GCE O’ Levels -Prof MOA de Zoysa


By

Irangika Range

Ninety four MPs have not passed their GEC (O/L) examination while there are only 25 graduates among the 225 legislators in the present Sri Lankan Parliament, former Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya, Prof. M O A de Zoysa said yesterday.

He observed that MPs who have been elected to make laws on behalf of the people must conduct themselves with dignity.

Addressing a media briefing held in Colombo yesterday, he said the conduct of the Joint Opposition MPs since the day the Yahapalana government came to power amounted to a contravention of parliamentary discipline.

Continue reading ‘Only 25 out of 225 MP’s in Parliament are Graduates While 94 MP’s Have not Passed Their GCE O’ Levels -Prof MOA de Zoysa’ »

Transitional Justice is for Victims of all Ethnicities and Not For the Tamil Community Alone

By

Niran Anketell

On March 24th, human rights activists and victims’ groups worldwide will commemorate International Day for the Dignity of Victims, in honour of victims of mass atrocity crimes and human rights violations.

In Sri Lanka too, the day will be marked by events throughout the country. Tragically, this country has no lack of commemorative days on which victims respect their dead, remember their missing and confront their own buried grief. The proliferation of commemorative days—each community and sometimes each political party marking its own—highlights not merely the divisive nature of remembering the dead, but equally that mass scale political violence in Sri Lanka has left very few groups untouched.

Yet, unpardonably, the issue of doing good by victims—ensuring their rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence—has become identified with one ethnic group and its political struggle.

Yet, from Sinhala villages in the South to the Muslim villages in the East and Tamil ones in the North, there is a remarkable confluence of experiences, grievances and demands.

Continue reading ‘Transitional Justice is for Victims of all Ethnicities and Not For the Tamil Community Alone’ »

Sarath Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Blame Each Other For the Targeting of Journalists By Secret Death Squad of Military Intelligence

The brother of Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapakse denied on Tuesday involvement in war-era death squads, blaming the then army chief for an alleged secretive campaign of extra-judicial murders.

Gotabhaya Rajapakse has been accused of giving orders to a shadowy military outfit allegedly involved in murdering journalists and political dissidents during Sri Lanka’s long-running civil war.

In testimony filed to court on Monday, former army chief Sarath Fonseka said this death squad was run by military intelligence but took orders from Gotabhaya Rajapakse, a powerful defence secretary during his brother’s tenure.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksesaid Fonseka — who led Sri Lanka’s armed forces between December 2005 and July 2009 — should answer for the excesses carried out by troops under his command.

Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Blame Each Other For the Targeting of Journalists By Secret Death Squad of Military Intelligence’ »

CID Informs Court that Special Military Intelligence Group Was Responsible for Killing Lasantha Wickrematunga and Other Attacks on Journalists.

The CID yesterday informed the Mount Lavinia Magistrate’s Court that the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga had been carried out, in 2009, by a special group, operating under the then military intelligence head Maj Gen Kapila Hendawitharana, attached to the Joint Operations Command.

The CID informed the court that their investigations had found that the same group had been involved in attacks on journalists, Keith Noyahr and Upali Tennakoon and abducting several other media persons.

The CID also informed the court that the special group had used five SIM cards to make calls as regards the assassination of Wickrematunge.

Continue reading ‘CID Informs Court that Special Military Intelligence Group Was Responsible for Killing Lasantha Wickrematunga and Other Attacks on Journalists.’ »

Gotabhaya as President or a Gotabhaya-Mahinda-Sirisena Triangle, is our Best Bet.


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

There are times in history when one can remain above the fray and there are other times when one has to pick a side, make a choice. There are times when one can content oneself by diagnosing the problem and there are other times when one has also to indicate a solution. If one is serious about what one says and does, the solution has to be viable.

I do not believe that any society can tackle all its major problems at once. Nor do I believe that any society can fulfil its full potential in one leap. I hold with those who say that societies move through stages. Each stage has a defining task or cluster of tasks. Not all major tasks can be fulfilled in a single stage of social evolution.

I strongly feel that Sri Lanka has many tasks and challenges which have to be tackled in different stages and that these stages can be arranged in this or that sequence, though these tasks and stages may overlap, and are not always neatly separable.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya as President or a Gotabhaya-Mahinda-Sirisena Triangle, is our Best Bet.’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Presidency Project and the Moral Hypocrisy of Dayan Jayatilleka and his Band of Intellectuals


By Hafeel Farisz


“This is a debate about the future of Sri Lanka; our future; our fate. Which side are you on? Pick one”
Dr. Jayatilleka’s Facebook page screams right above his response to my critique. I agree. In his response he calls for non- digression, although, such diversion is what his response is all about. None of the issues brought to light were answered, instead he conflates the theoretical paradigm- of the international v the national, with Gotabayas practical sensibilities. This is after insisting that this isn’t about theory.

However, let us play on the turf prepared by him.

The crux of the issue is not the call for a Gotabaya presidency. Given the direction the country is both economically and politically headed- such a call is inevitable. Five years after the death of Mugabe, you would find people speaking of the ‘Good old days’. Egyptians admit Mubarak’s authoritarianism was better than Sisi’s dictatorship. The day Netanyahu leaves office, Israel’s liberals, leave alone the Far Right, would be singing praises of his iron grip. The Black community in the USA insist on Clinton being the first ‘Black President’- despite the disastrous crime bill and the crimes he committed in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’. Heck, the neo- Nazis still believe Hitler to be a hero and the Eelamist believe the same of Prabakharan.

The call for Gotabaya is therefore not surprising or unusual. What is at moot however, is the hypocrisy of Dr. Jayatilleka and his band of intellectuals. Let us not digress from it.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Presidency Project and the Moral Hypocrisy of Dayan Jayatilleka and his Band of Intellectuals’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Accuses Maj- Gen(Retd) Kamal Gunaratne of Betraying the Army By Cataloguing Military Atrocities in his Book “Road to Nandhikkadal”

Anti-Sri Lanka activists have snapped up retired army general Kamal Gunaratne’s tome to buttress their allegations of war crimes against government forces, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

The 741-page “Road to Nandikadal” published by Gunaratne the day after he retired from the army, was a catalogue of atrocities committed by government forces since early 1980s, the minister told reporters at his ministry last week.

Setting fire to homes of Tamil civilians, killing innocent civilians and plundering valuables of homes under the guise of cordon-and-search operations have been listed by Gunaratne in minute detail.The minister said the language used by Gunaratne also indicated that he derived pleasure by seeing the death and destruction around him and in his own words he had admitted that as an officer he did nothing to discipline soldiers under his command.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Accuses Maj- Gen(Retd) Kamal Gunaratne of Betraying the Army By Cataloguing Military Atrocities in his Book “Road to Nandhikkadal”’ »

Outgoing BASL President Alagaratnam Tries to “Blame” Retiring Chief Justice Sripavan for Appointment of Kannan as High Court Judge

by C.A.Chandraprema

The crisis in the judiciary caused by the irregular appointment of Ramanathan Kannan as a High Court judge still remains unresolved. Judges of the District Courts wait for long years to be promoted to the High Court as do Senior State Counsel in the Attorney General’s Department. If a member of the private bar is brought into the High Court over the heads of those awaiting promotion, that not only causes an immediate disturbance in the order of promotion but also skews everybody’s progression up the ladder for years if not decades to come. These are existential issues for those in the judicial service and the AG’s Department. This writer learns that a High Court judge with well over three decades of service had to retire recently without promotion to the Court of Appeal. The previous government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa had appointed one Supreme Court judge from the private bar, but never appointed anyone from the private bar to the High Court or the Court of Appeal.

As Hemantha Warnakulasuriya recounts, there was only one such appointment made during the Rajapaksa government when a vacancy opened up in the Jaffna High Court in 2007 and there were Tamil speaking candidates who were suitable for the position but none of them were willing to take up the job for fear of their lives. The then Chief Justice Sarath N.Silva had thereupon prevailed upon a senior and respected Jaffna lawyer by the name of S.Paramarajah to take up the job. That appointment from the private bar to the High Court was made in very exceptional circumstances. However the general principle strictly adhered to by the Rajapaksa government during its nine year tenure was that while on very rare occasions it may be acceptable to appoint distinguished members of the private bar to the Supreme Court, no appointments to the Court of Appeal or the High Court will be made from the private bar.

One of the main reasons for the angst within the judicial service and the AG’s Department at the appointment of Ramanathan Kannan a lawyer practicing in Batticaloa, to the High Court over the heads of all those awaiting promotion is that they had come to take it for granted that no one would be promoted from outside to the High Court or the Court of Appeal. There was a tradition of appointing distinguished members of the private bar to the Supreme Court and the present government also appointed Prasanna Jayawardene to the SC from the private bar, but nobody complained about that. (But here too such appointments should be made only on rare occasions. The vast majority of the Judges on the Supreme Court have made it there through the judicial service or the AG’s Department. The benchmark established by the Rajapaksa government was something like one per decade.) This was why the judicial service was reeling in shock when the present government appointed a lawyer from Batticaloa to the High Court in contravention of the established practice.

Continue reading ‘Outgoing BASL President Alagaratnam Tries to “Blame” Retiring Chief Justice Sripavan for Appointment of Kannan as High Court Judge’ »

Play Back Singer SP Balasubrahmanyam to Stop Singing Illayarajah Songs on Stage Due to Legal Notice by Music Composer

Popular Indian play back singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam has announced that he and his troupe would not be singing or performing film songs on stage for which the music has been composed by “Maestro” Illayarajah. SPB as Balasubrahmanyam is generally known has arrived at this decision following a legal notice sent by layers on behalf of the music composer. SPB who completed 50 years of singing for films in 2016 is currently engaged in stage music shows titled “SPBB 50” in several countries. Many of the songs being sung at these events have been composed by Illayarajah. According to the singer who is presently in the USA ,he has received a legal notice from lawyers representing Illayarajah. As such he will suspend singing songs composed by the music director and sing only songs composed by other music directors. This announcement has sent shock waves amidst the rasikas of both Illayarajah as well as Balasubrahmanyam.

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam has made this announcement on his face book. The text of the SPB entry on FB is given below –

Dear all,

Greetings from US. Had great shows in Seattle and LA last weekend. Grateful for the love you all showered upon us and the profesdional way the organizers conducted the shows.

SP Balasubrahmanyam & Illayarajah

Couple of days back, an Attorney representing Shri.Iliaya Raja, sent legal notices to me, Smt.Chithra, Charan, organisers of the concerts in different cities and the managements of all the venues, which says that we are not supposed to perform compositions of Shri.Iliayaraja without his permission, if so, it is breaking the copyright law and have to pay huge financial penalities and face legal action. Let me say, I am ignorant of these legalities.
Continue reading ‘Play Back Singer SP Balasubrahmanyam to Stop Singing Illayarajah Songs on Stage Due to Legal Notice by Music Composer’ »

Is the Chinese Defence Minister Rushing to Sri Lanka to Contain Colombo’s Po-Western Tilt and Re-establish Defence ties?

By P.K.Balachandran

Concerned about Sri Lanka’s lurch towards the US and the West, China is sending its Defence Minister Gen.Chang Wanquan to Colombo for a there-day trip beginning on Sunday.

The hurriedly planned visit will be part of a tour of some countries in the region (not in the Indian subcontinent). Gen.Chang Wanquan will meet all the top government leaders and also interact with the officers of the Defense Staff College.

While the precise purpose of the visit to Sri Lanka is not public yet, the speculation is that Beijing may want to stem Sri Lanka’s Westward lurch by re-establishing military ties with Colombo – a gap yet to be filled by the West.

China can use its long history of strong ties with Sri Lanka, established during the war against the Tamil Tigers, when the West and India had refused to provide military assistance on human rights issues while China and its ally, Pakistan, obliged. China is reported to have supplied US $1 billion worth of weapons and military equipment during the war years. In fact, the thirty year-war against the Tamil separatists could not have been won without the arms and ammunition generously supplied by China and Pakistan.

Continue reading ‘Is the Chinese Defence Minister Rushing to Sri Lanka to Contain Colombo’s Po-Western Tilt and Re-establish Defence ties?’ »

The Opportunity to Conclusively Reject the Bullet in Favour of the Ballot Must Not Be Missed By Sri Lanka


By
Rajavarothayam Sampanthan

(Text of Speech “Ballot vs Bullet” Made by the Sri Lankan Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Rajavarothayam Sampanthan at the Counter Terrorism Conference in New Delhi on the 15th of March 2017)

Ballot Versus Bullet

The choice should not be difficult, looked at superficially.

But our experience shows that the Choice is not that easy.

It is quite difficult, why is it not that easy?

It is because Human Society is so complex, so diverse as to necessitate that Governance is structured so as to meet such complexity and diversity.

It is the mode and the manner of Governance that decides the Choice between the Ballot and the Bullet. Governance in a country, is based upon the Country’s Constitution. Constitutions of countries play a vital role in the structure of Governance.

Governance encompasses the exercise of Legislative Power, Executive Power and Judicial Power. Each one of these fields of authority has a crucial impact on the manner in which a Country is governed, on the lives of people in relation to the Government, and in relation to each other.

The Constitution is therefore crucial.

Different Countries frame their Constitutions as desired by them. It largely depends on the leadership that a Country provides to the framing of a Constitution .Wise leadership ensures that a country’s Constitution is largely based upon a reasonable Consensus. Consensus accommodates Diversity, it avoids Complexity. Human society is diverse ,it is complex. Societies in most countries are multilingual, multi ethnic, multi-cultural, and pluralistic in character, they vastly differ from each other.

Constitutional arrangements need to accommodate such diversity, such complexity. If there is such accommodation society is stable. Such stability promotes development, and is able to achieve peace and prosperity. Lack of such accommodation promotes discontent and conflict, instability, lack of development, absence of peace and prosperity.
Continue reading ‘The Opportunity to Conclusively Reject the Bullet in Favour of the Ballot Must Not Be Missed By Sri Lanka’ »

Sri Lankan Govt to Reduce China’s Stake in Hambantota Harbour due to Pressure by Ports Minister Ranatunga


By
P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan government proposes to cut China’s stake in the Hambantota port from 80 per cent to 60 per cent, the Daily Mirror reported on Saturday.

Well placed sources told this correspondent that the watering down has been made upon the insistence of the Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, who has been campaigning against the Framework Agreement which gives the China Merchants Holding Company, 80 percent stake and a 99 year lease for an investment of US$ 1.1 billion. Ranatunga has also been campaigning for a fuller control over the security of the port.

A cabinet paper on the revised draft agreement is expected to be presented next Tuesday for discussion and approval, the sources said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Govt to Reduce China’s Stake in Hambantota Harbour due to Pressure by Ports Minister Ranatunga’ »

Sri Lankan Crew Members of Hijacked Oil Tanker “Aris-13” Released Without Paying Ransom After Govt Negotiates with Officials of Somalia’s Puntland Autonomous Region

By Asnah Anver

The Government yesterday announced the safe and ransom-free release of the Sri Lankan crew members aboard oil tanker Aris-13 that disappeared off the seas of Djibouti in the early hours of 17 March.dfh

Speaking to the press, Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the Government had commenced communications with officials of Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia, namely its President Abdiwali Mohamed Ali “Gaas” and its Chief of Staff Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, following reports of hostilities and firing at the hijacked oil tanker by its naval forces.

In particular, the Government’s efforts were primarily focused on putting an end to the firing to create an environment suitable for a negotiated settlement between the vessel’s management and the suspected pirates behind the hijacking, he said. Dr. de Silva added that following the Government’s appeal to the Chief of Staff, Puntland officials had cooperated and ceased firing.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Crew Members of Hijacked Oil Tanker “Aris-13” Released Without Paying Ransom After Govt Negotiates with Officials of Somalia’s Puntland Autonomous Region’ »

President Sirisena Does Not Want to Tackle Issues of Constitutional Reform and Transitional Justice Simultaneously – The Economist

“WE ARE like dogs in the street, while your men occupy our homes,” read one of the banners strung up by Tamil protesters, mostly women in saris and ragged children. They had been camping for more than a month in a jumble of makeshift tents on a baking, dusty roadside near a Sri Lankan air-force base in the country’s remote north-east. They said that the armed forces, consisting almost entirely of Sinhalese from the island’s south, nabbed their land at the end of a long-running civil war nearly eight years ago and have refused to give it back, despite the promises of a kindlier reformist government elected two years ago. The government recently said it would return some of the disputed property, but the protesters are unassuaged. It is just one of the many grievances of Sri Lanka’s disaffected Tamils, who feel that reconciliation between them and the Sinhalese majority is stalling.

Hopes of harmony rose two years ago when Maithripala Sirisena, who is Sinhalese, was elected president with the overwhelming support of the Tamils, who make up 15% of Sri Lanka’s population of 21m or so. The island’s Tamil-speaking Muslims, who are treated as a separate ethnic group and often feel done down by both sides, make up a further 10%—and also largely backed Mr Sirisena. The Tamils were particularly delighted by the shock defeat of Mr Sirisena’s chauvinistic and autocratic predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had exulted in the crushing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a Tamil separatist group, in 2009, despite the devastating loss of life and property in Tamil areas.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Does Not Want to Tackle Issues of Constitutional Reform and Transitional Justice Simultaneously – The Economist’ »

Clarifying Pre-conceived Notions About UN Human Rights Council Focusing on Sri Lanka’s Accountability Issues.

By

Dr.Nirmala Chandrahasan

At the current 34th sessions of the UNHRC the draft resolution on ‘Reconciliation, accountability and human rights’, to be placed before the Council shortly, requests Sri Lanka to fully implement the measures identified in HRC Resolution 30/1 that are outstanding, while extending the time limit. In this context we have to once again look to the setting up of judicial mechanisms for accountability in respect of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and the question of Hybrid courts.

Before we do so we have to clear our minds of certain preconceptions and view this question within the context of the global international scene. In Sri Lanka there are some who are of the view that the UN Human Rights Council is like the Inquisition of old (which persecuted Heretics), specifically tasked with the project of persecuting and punishing the Sri Lankan State for having won an armed conflict/war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, an Insurgent armed group. Although there can be political motivations for the actions of international players, one cannot view the UNHRC resolution in those terms alone.

Just as the poem by John Donne says ‘No man is an island’, today we could say, no state is an island. States are connected together by international laws constituted of treaties, multi lateral conventions and customary international laws which regulate and govern the relations of states interse as well as with their own citizens. Matters as diverse as international trade, nuclear proliferation, diplomatic and consular immunities, the law of the sea, outer space, human rights and the laws of war, (called International Humanitarian law today) are only a few of the areas regulated by international law.

A state’s human rights record within its borders, and even wars against third states, or armed conflicts within its borders are circumscribed or regulated by treaties and international law. States themselves give reports of the implementation of their treaty commitments to UN bodies and their actions are open to the scrutiny of other nations. The UN Human Rights Council consists of 47 member states and is a part of the UN system. It is a body tasked to strengthen human rights, combat impunity and strengthen accountability and the rule of law.
Continue reading ‘Clarifying Pre-conceived Notions About UN Human Rights Council Focusing on Sri Lanka’s Accountability Issues.’ »

“Why I want Gotabhaya as President and Mahinda as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka”

BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

Hafeel Farisz has written a double-barreled critique of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and me, though as he says, I am the primary target because of the intellectual dimension or pretensions that I bring to bear. It is quite tempting for me to respond at the level of theory, but that would be a diversion. That is not what this entire matter is about.

In the theoretical or intellectual realm I shall therefore limit myself to referring my critic and readers to my quite recent essay (March 2, 2017) in Vol. 10 Issue 14 of the e-publication of the Center for 21st Century Global Dynamics of the University of California, Santa Barbara, entitled “The Great Gramsci: Imagining an Alt-Left Project”(http://www.21global.ucsb.edu/global-e/march-2017/great-gramsci-imagining-alt-left-project). It is soon to be republished in an extended version in Paris, with accompanying critiques by Dominique Follet and Jean-Pierre Page, in La Pensee Libre.

My formula of Gota as President and Mahinda as PM was the development of an idea that came up in an extended interview that DBS Jeyaraj conducted with me on the occasion of my 60th birthday last December, in which I noted that Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa are the closest Sri Lanka come to a Fidel and Raul Castro combination. To make explicit what this implies, is that it is perfectly fine to think of a combination of the two brothers. I have recently framed it as “Gota as President, Mahinda as PM” for three reasons.

Continue reading ‘“Why I want Gotabhaya as President and Mahinda as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka”’ »

“Project Gotabhaya” of Dayan Jayatilleka is Promotion of Chauvinism in a Progressive Garb


By

Hafeel Farisz

Ali Shariati was the ideologue of the Iranian Revolution. It was Shariati’s liberation theology- a rationalization of Marxism through the lenses of Islam that propelled Ayathollah Ruholla Khomeni’s take-over of power in 1979 overthrowing the Pahlavi dynasty. Shariati’s politics was anti- imperial and Marxist with a firm base in Islamic liberation theology, distinct from the theology ‘Islamism’ has since come to be known for.Since the overthrow of the Socialist Oriented Prime Minister Mohommed Mossadeq by a CIA-sponsored coup in 1953 and the re-imposition of the dynastic rule, Shariati was destined to have a following. His lectures and writings remained a part of the Iranian psyche until they were violently crushed.

For Shariati, the ‘Battle of Karbala’ led by the Grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Hussain, against the Umayyad Caliphate was the epitome of revolutionary battle. The Umayyads represented everything that was cruel, inhuman and dispossessing of the vulnerable lower classes. The battle by the fourth Caliph Ali and thereafter his son Hussain against this sycophancy whose leaders were also relatives of the Prophet, for Shariati, was the epitome of a ‘real revolution’- for and on behalf of the masses.

It was a classless and free society that Islam envisioned according to him, and to this end a synthesis between Marxism and Islam was inevitable. Where Marxism failed, Islamic theology could take over. Horr, the greatest fighter on the side of the Umayyad dynasties- defection to Hussains camp during the ‘Battle of Karbala’, was to Shariati, what Keppetipolas defection in the Uva-Wellassa uprising was to Sri Lankans.

Shariatis synthesis between Shia Islam as a politically liberating ideology and his view of a classless society- non-servile and progressive was so profound and liberating that Jean-Paul Satre said “I have no religion, but if I were to choose one, it would be that of Shariati’s.”

Although Khomeni remained the symbol of the struggle against the imperial dynasty, it was Shariati who provided the fodder. However, unbeknownst to Shariati and the intellectual class, who were fighting for social reform under an oppressive and servile system of governance, Khomeni had other plans. After assuming power he usurped and crushed everything that brought him and the revolution to the streets of Tehran. Shariatis ideology soon became only spoken of in secret. Khomeini made the legal age of marriage for a woman to be 9, and imposed the Hijab on what was a free and open society, much before the ‘West’ assumed that role. Dissenters were imprisoned and murdered. The main victims were the very same ones who were the catalysts of the revolution. This included Shariatis ideology.

Dr. Jayatilleka together with his intellectual class, which broadly include the likes of Prof. Nalin De Silva Prof. G. L Peiris, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe and by default former Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva are no different. They don’t have the traction or the widespread readings that Shariati and his like enjoyed, but nevertheless, they form an inherent component of the political intellectual class in the country.

In his recent essay to our sister newspaper, Dr. Jayatilleka tells the reader that- the Gotabaya he has come to know now is a different man. He puts forth the proposition of a Gotabaya Presidency and a Mahinda Rajapaksa Premiership. He also remains apologetic telling the reader that his previous critique of Gotabaya is “outdated and irrelevant”.

Continue reading ‘“Project Gotabhaya” of Dayan Jayatilleka is Promotion of Chauvinism in a Progressive Garb’ »

“Carnatic Music as an Art Form Gets Diluted and Deflected in a Time Constrained Performance”- Pappu Venugopala Rao


By

Aparna M.Sridhar

(Eminent writer, and orator of Hinduism, Sanskrit and Indian dance and music, Ashtavadhani Dr PAPPU VENUGOPALA RAO, has been the Secretary of the Music Academy, Chennai, for the last decade.Steeped in both traditional learning as well as modern scholarship, he is an institution by himself.

In this interview with Aparna M Sridhar, he urges for greater Budget allocation for the arts, stresses on the urgent need to have an exclusive research methodology for dance and music and for the separation of the Veda from other cultural activities so that it retains its sanctity and divinity).

Excerpts:


What are your views about tradition and convention in music?

MahakaviKalidasa(in MalavikaagnimitramNatakam )says Puraanamityevana sadhu sarvam/ Na chaapikaavyamnavamityavadyam (all kaavyas are not necessarily good just because they are old. All kaavyas are not bad because they are new). Anything old is not necessarily good.

Tradition is not a stagnant pool of water. Tradition is a flowing stream. Tradition is that which is time-tested. Tradition is that which caters to the needs and sensibilities of audiences over a period of time. In changing times, aesthetic sensibilities may change. But the core qualities in music or dance, will not change. So I think after 20 years, music will be the same. Music will be more technology based but human beings will still sing with their voice, there will be no tools incorporated in their voice, to enhance their singing capacity.

Nowadays the artistes are younger, and the audiences are older. Look at TM Krishna, Sudha Ragunathan, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Abhishek Raghuram, and (the late) Mandolin Shrinivas. Youngsters have taken over. They have that spark, and they are more professional in their approach than the stalwarts of earlier times. Their way of looking at it, their way of presentation may be different but 20 years from now, Carnatic musicians will still sing the compositions of Mysore Vasudevachar, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Thyagaraja, Shyama Shastri and connoisseurs will appreciate it.

There may be more people who will stay back in their homes and stick to the internet instead of coming to sabhas. All the events may be telecast live, so that they can see it from the comfort of their homes. It will survive and be better.The repertoire will be richer, the performances will technologically and qualitatively much better. We didn’t have proper mikes 30-40 years ago, now we have good acoustics in good auditoriums. Technology may help enhance the quality and there will be nothing to dilute performances.

Continue reading ‘“Carnatic Music as an Art Form Gets Diluted and Deflected in a Time Constrained Performance”- Pappu Venugopala Rao’ »

Shame on you Mahinda,Shame!-Mangala Samaraweera Exposes Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Shameful Fear Mongering.

(Full Text of Response issued by Foreign Affairs minister Mangala Saaraweera to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Media Release of 13 March 2017)

On 13 March 2017 the former President of our country, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, issued a media release titled “Constitutional and legal reforms to destroy the nation”.

My initial inclination, when confronted with statements as inaccurate, inflammatory and erroneous as those contained in the media release issued by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, is to simply ignore them, as they would serve as the best self-indictment. However, when a former head of state seeks to deliberately cause division in Sri Lankan society by misleading the public, especially after years of conflict in which all communities have suffered, I felt that it is a serious matter that deserves a comprehensive response.

At the outset, it must be stressed that this first-ever National Unity Government in Sri Lankan history makes no apology for its noble attempts to take all possible action to bring Sri Lankans of all communities together. We make no apology for listening to all in our country, including our political opponents, and for engaging them in debate and discussion, rather than intimidating, isolating and persecuting them. We make no apology for restoring our country’s good name on the international stage to foster trade and prosperity for all in our country, rather than antagonizing our existing and potential partners. We make no apology for our policy of taking steps to combat corruption and root out the decay that has devoured precious state resources for far too long. We make no apology for considering a reform agenda to contribute to long-term peace and stability, because we know that Sri Lankans of all backgrounds desire reform, and yearn for durable peace, prosperity and stability.

I now turn to the erroneous claims made by the former President, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his media release. His entire argument hinges on the selective quotation and misreading of five key documents. So let me clarify what each of these documents represents:

Continue reading ‘Shame on you Mahinda,Shame!-Mangala Samaraweera Exposes Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Shameful Fear Mongering.’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Will be Arrested if Ex-Def -Secy is Found to have Committed “Cognizable Offence” States Addl Solicitor-General in Court


By S.S. Selvanayagam

When the fundamental rights petition filed by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa came up in the Supreme Court yesterday, the Additional Solicitor General said that the investigation against him was continuing and that if there was a cognisable offence against him, the integral part of such an offence was a mandatory requirement for an arrest.

Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kothagoda, appearing for the respondents, and the Attorney General also told Court that the interim order preventing the Financial Crimes Investigation Division from arresting him granted on 13 May 2015 was still in operation and asked the Court to fix a possible early date for argument of his rights application.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Priyasath Dep and Justices Anil Gooneratne, re-fixed the matter for argument on 15 June.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Will be Arrested if Ex-Def -Secy is Found to have Committed “Cognizable Offence” States Addl Solicitor-General in Court’ »

Senior President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva Leads Team of Lawyyers Appearing for Arjuna Mahendran in Treasury Bond Scam Probe.


By Sarath Dharmasena and Shyam Ganewatte

A team of lawyers appearing for the main respondent in the alleged bond scam, former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran was yesterday granted permission by the Presidential Court of Inquiry probing the issue, following a request made by the main Counsel appearing for Mahendran, President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva under section 16 of the Presidential Commission Act.

De Silva made the request three weeks after the Commission had commenced its proceedings and he submitted a list of names of lawyers who would appear on behalf of the former CB Governor.

The Defence Counsel said Mahendran had been questioned by the CID sleuths for three days and he couldn’t say how much longer it would take.

De Silva PC said Mehendran had instructed him to inform the Commission that he wished the team of lawyers to watch his interests at the Commission’s proceedings on the controversial bond sales.

Continue reading ‘Senior President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva Leads Team of Lawyyers Appearing for Arjuna Mahendran in Treasury Bond Scam Probe.’ »

Tamils Have no Choice But to Accept Incremental Gains and Continuing to Engage With Sinhala Community

By
M.Sooriasegaran

The Constitution of Sri Lanka must fulfil the aspirations and needs of the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims, the Burghers and the Plantation Tamils in order to unify them.Unity in diversity should be the guiding principle. It needs to be inclusive, guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to all Sri Lankans without any form or shape of discrimination. Only under these conditions Sri Lanka as country can prosper without conflicts and wars. Sinhala, Tamil and English must be made national and official languages.All religions i.e. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity must be equally recognized. Children in all schools in Sri Lanka must be taught all 4 religions and all three languages.

That is the best way that Sri Lanka can and should prepare our children to live harmoniously in a multi-cultural and multi-religious country. Gender discriminations and caste discriminations must be legally and constitutionally abolished. Minimum representation for women and marginalized communities must be ensured.

Tri-lingual administration and cultural, religious and political plurality must prevail throughout Sri Lanka. In other words the constitution must be non-discriminatory, democratic and secular.

Such a constitution is a pre-requisite for uninterrupted and sustainable social, political and economic advancement and for a peaceful, stable, conflict free and war free Sri Lanka.Only then the creative energies and skills of all Sri Lankans can be mobilized for nation building and the Sri Lankan identity will become meaningful and cherishable by every citizen.
Continue reading ‘Tamils Have no Choice But to Accept Incremental Gains and Continuing to Engage With Sinhala Community’ »

“Those who were with LTTE Till War Ended are now Pursuing War Crimes Allegations Against Sri Lanka” – Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has alleged that those who had been with the LTTE until the very end of the conflict in May 2009 were now pursuing war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka.

Referring to a conversation with former US Ambassador in Colombo Patricia Butenis, war veteran Rajapaksa said that when he had inquired about a section of the international community targeting the war winning government, her response was that the LTTE had been eradicated; therefore those who survived should be accountable.

The former Defence Secretary was referring to the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Tamil diaspora organizations, such as the UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF). Reference was also made to the post-war partnership between the TNA and the GTF pushing for full implementation of the Geneva Resolution 30/1, inclusive of foreign judges in judicial inquiry.

Continue reading ‘“Those who were with LTTE Till War Ended are now Pursuing War Crimes Allegations Against Sri Lanka” – Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’ »

If Mahinda and Gotabhaya Are Deprived of Civic Rights the “Senior Rajapaksa”(Chamal) Can Re-unite SLFP and Win Election.


By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Democracy must not be confused with liberalism. This government may be liberal but it is not exactly democratic. Liberalism is laudably concerned with individual freedoms. Democracy is primarily about the character of government as defined by the key variable of representation. Democracy is about being governed by chosen representatives of the people: “government of the people, for the people, by the people” (Lincoln). If the governed aren’t freely and adequately represented among the rulers/governors and the government-in-waiting (the Opposition), then even if the political atmosphere is relaxed and the freedom of individual expression is in evidence (liberalism), that political order’s democratic character and therefore legitimacy are questionable.

Progressive opinion always criticized the post-Independence disenfranchisement of the hill country Tamils of recent Indian origin who had voted at the 1947general election. Now we have a second disenfranchisement or semi-disenfranchisement. I refer to the partial disenfranchisement of the millions who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa and against the slogan of a National Government at the August 2015 parliamentary election.

Not only don’t they have their 95 seats, they have been deprived of the leadership of the opposition that their 51 seats entitle them to according to all tenets of logic, arithmetic, fair play and natural justice. Instead we have a bogus Opposition, a fraudulent Opposition, an entirely ethnic opposition which has only 16 seats, represents an ethnic minority and two provinces of the island. There is no mainstream opposition that is adequately permitted.

This structural fraud, this confiscation and suffocation of popular sovereignty, renders the political order illegitimate and therefore not entitled to the stipulation that goes with legitimacy, namely that such a political order can and must be replaced only through electoral and systemic means. If a political order ignores the results of an election, violates it and actually stands it on its head, then its degree of illegitimacy is such that extra-electoral methods of direct action and people’s power almost automatically come onto the agenda.

The eviction of the moderate Dinesh Gunawardena, from parliament for a week while disallowing Dullas Alahapperuma, a social democrat, to stand-in for him, smacks of a trial run to reduce the already restricted political space of the legitimate Opposition, the JO.

Continue reading ‘If Mahinda and Gotabhaya Are Deprived of Civic Rights the “Senior Rajapaksa”(Chamal) Can Re-unite SLFP and Win Election.’ »

“Over 5000 Indian Fishing Trawlers Poach in Sri Lankan Waters Three Days a week”-Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday vowed to continue arresting Indian fishermen entering Sri Lankan waters illegally to plunder fish resources in the seas off the country’s north.

The Minister made this statement during the launching of Wewak Samaga Gamak fisheries villages development programme at Kudawella in Hambantota, a week after an alleged shooting incident left one Indian poacher dead and several others injured in the vicinity of Kachchativu islet.

Continue reading ‘“Over 5000 Indian Fishing Trawlers Poach in Sri Lankan Waters Three Days a week”-Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera’ »

Canadian Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai urges Sri Lanka not to delay UN-mandated probe on war crimes

(Ottawa): Today, Member of Parliament and Conservative Party of Canada Leadership Candidate Hon. Deepak Obhrai called on the government of Sri Lanka not to delay any longer its probe on alleged war crimes.

Sri Lanka has demanded a two year extension to its probe mandated by the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30.1 of October 2015, which required that the country undertake the inquiry based on accountability, and upholding of human rights, which would contribute towards reconciliation.

Mr. Obhrai said: “Any delay to this inquiry will hamper reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka. There is much hope in the international community that the new government led by President Maithripala Sirisena would move rapidly on the probe on alleged war crimes.”

Continue reading ‘Canadian Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai urges Sri Lanka not to delay UN-mandated probe on war crimes’ »

“We Tamils” Leader Seeman Arrested with Over 300 Activists for Demonstrating Outside Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai

By Ananth Palakidnar

Famed Tamil film maker and politician Seemaan and 300 others have been arrested for demonstrating against the Sri Lanka Navy outside the Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai yesterday. They were demonstrating over last Monday’s shooting of Rameshwaram fisherman Britjo near Kachchatheevu.

Seemaan, who heads a political party named ‘We Tamils’, led hundreds of people in the demonstration outside the Lankan Deputy High Commission, located in Nungamparkkam, Chennai last morning.

Seemaan and his followers shouted slogans alleging that the Sri Lankan Navy was involved in the shooting.

Continue reading ‘“We Tamils” Leader Seeman Arrested with Over 300 Activists for Demonstrating Outside Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai’ »

Interim Order of May 13th 2015 Preventing FCID From Arresting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is Still in Operation States Addl Solicitor -General

When the fundamental rights petition filed by former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was taken up by the Supreme Court today, the Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kotagoda said investigations were continuing.

He said if there was evidence of a cognizable offence the mandatory requirement was to arrest the offender.

Continue reading ‘Interim Order of May 13th 2015 Preventing FCID From Arresting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is Still in Operation States Addl Solicitor -General’ »

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Warns SLFP and UNP Parliamentarians that Constitutional and Legal Reforms will Destroy the Nation.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday appealed to SLFPers in the government and the UNP parliamentarians to see the danger that awaits the country through proposed constitutional changes envisaged by the yahapalana rulers, which would lead to the ‘hogtying’ of the central government and the creation of a dangerous federal set up.

The text of ex-President’s Statement titled “Constitutional and legal reforms to destroy the nation”:

The government’s efforts to fundamentally change the constitution, the law and the structure of the Sri Lankan state is expected to come to the fore in the months ahead. Since November last year, several documents that have either been officially released or have come to light by other means reveal very clearly the intentions of the government. The reports of six subcommittees appointed by the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly were published in November last year. The report of the Prime Minister’s Consultative Task Force on Reconciliation and Transitional Justice was released in January this year. In the meantime, the 58 conditions imposed by the European Commission to restore GSP+ to Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister’s framework for the new counter terrorism law that is to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act, also came to light through the media.

The fountainhead of the four documents mentioned above is the UN Human Rights Council resolution of October 2015 which was brought against Sri Lanka by the Obama administration and the European Union and co-sponsored by the yahapalana government. Even though a radical regime change has taken place in the USA since then, the yahapalana government has not taken any steps to hold talks with the new US administration and to get the resolution against Sri Lanka amended. It thus becomes plain that the yahapalayakayas co-sponsored this dangerous resolution in 2015 not only due to pressure from foreign parties but also because of their intrinsic anti-national leanings. It should be borne in mind that as of this moment it is not the American government that is carrying forward the resolution against Sri Lanka, but our own government. The blueprint for change laid down for Sri Lanka by the yahapalana government as revealed by the documents mentioned above, can be summarised as follows:

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Warns SLFP and UNP Parliamentarians that Constitutional and Legal Reforms will Destroy the Nation.’ »

Sumanthiran’s Pvt Members Bill to Ban Bottom Trawling Will Be Presented to Parliament as Govt Bill on March 17th

By

P.K.Balachandran

A bill to ban the pernicious practice of bottom trawling, which will affect thousands of Sri Lankans and Indians fishing in the sea between Sri Lanka and India, is to be passed by the Sri Lankan parliament by March end, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, M.A.Sumanthiran, told Express on Monday.

“My private members bill has been converted into a government bill, and has been gazetted. It will now be bought to parliament on March 17 and passed later this month,” Sumanthiran said.

“Out of the nine provinces to which the bill was sent for comments, only the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) sought an amendment saying that time will be given to bottom trawler operators to switch over to another form of fishing and dispose off their boats. But the NPC’s call for an amendment will not stop the planned legislative process because fisheries is not a devolved subject in the constitution. Moreover, eight out of the nine provinces had accepted the bill in toto,” the Tamil MP said.

Continue reading ‘Sumanthiran’s Pvt Members Bill to Ban Bottom Trawling Will Be Presented to Parliament as Govt Bill on March 17th’ »

Popular Singer Victor Ratnayake’s son Lelum Publicly Attacks father Over Love Affair with a Younger Woman


By

Don Manu

A family row has broken out in public between Lanka’s top notch singing legend Victor Ratnayake and his son over the singer’s live in lover, 45 years younger to him.

Using his Facebook account the son Lelum Ratnayake put the family feud in the public spotlight by stating last week ‘My father passed away on 1st of Match 2017.’ When a storm of protests erupted over his macabre comment of his father’s death when he is much alive, and fans expressed their opprobrium over the shocking obituary notice, Lelum struck back three days later with a stinging attack on his father’s love affair.

In a pre-recorded video posted on his face book, the son claims that his father, the 75 year old widowed singer, is living with a woman of around thirty years of age and that she has hoodwinked his father to win his heart with the sole aim of gaining his money. He then proceeds to reveal to the public a great many personal details of his father’s recent lifestyle.

He claims: “This is a master plan. She was working in a bank where my father had many fixed deposits. She has driven a wedge between my father and us, my elder brother, my sister and me. On March 1st my father called me and my brother and said that the relationship between father and son has ended. He said not to even come for his funeral.”

Continue reading ‘Popular Singer Victor Ratnayake’s son Lelum Publicly Attacks father Over Love Affair with a Younger Woman’ »

Urgent Structural Reforms Needed to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women and Ensure Gender Justice

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) issued in regard to Sri Lanka on March 3rd this year is illuminating in several respects.

It was significant that the Observations were released just a few days before the world marked the International Day of Women. In Sri Lanka, this customarily signifies an empty parade of speeches and social events with no actual impact on gender rights.

Direct focus on the Witness Protection Authority

In recent years, it has also come to mean that the country’s politicians pontificate on the ‘achievements’ of women in sublimely ridiculous outpourings. And to be frank if not brutal, we have not seen any discernible difference in such absurdities when female Heads of State and Government have been in office either.

But as enormously tempting as it may be to dwell on that at satirical length, there are important and substantive issues that need to be discussed. CEDAW’s recommendations this month hone in on some of these most vital steps that need to be taken by the Sri Lankan state in that regard.

Continue reading ‘Urgent Structural Reforms Needed to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women and Ensure Gender Justice’ »

Retd Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara Armed with 100 Page Dossier Will Launch Counter Offensive Against UN Human Rights Chief in Geneva

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

Rtd. Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara will leave for Geneva tomorrow leading a three-man delegation to meet UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein to mount an offensive against the case, now argued before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes, especially during the closing stages of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein-pic via UN.org

This allegation is the centrepiece of the UNHRC resolution that is widely accepted by the international community including the Tamil Diaspora.

He takes a 100-page dossier of facts to buttress his arguments against the allegations.

Weerasekara, Chief Coordinator of The Federation of National Association sponsored by the Global Sri Lankan Forum, told Ceylon Today that UN Human Rights Chief Zeid has violated his own mandate by getting involved in a sovereign country’s internal affairs.

“I will seek a meeting with Zeid and be at the debating table when the Council takes up for discussion the Resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the Government, on 20 March,” he added. The Rear Admiral said that despite the fact the LTTE had committed serious war crimes including the recruitment of child soldiers, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had been ‘treacherous’ and a ‘traitor’ to the country by acknowledging and expressing appreciation of the UNHRC Report, having also gone to the extent of co-sponsoring the resolution.

Continue reading ‘Retd Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara Armed with 100 Page Dossier Will Launch Counter Offensive Against UN Human Rights Chief in Geneva’ »

Lankan Navy Commander Wijegunaratne Says SL Navy did not Fire on Indian Fishing Vessel

By

Romesh Madusanka and Thilanka Kanakarathna

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne yesterday denied allegations by Indian fishermen that the Sri Lanka Navy had opened fire on Indian fishing vessels recently.

After attending the Feast of St. Anthony’s Sacred Church located on Kachchativu Island, he responded to a question raised by a journalist as to why there had been no Indian presence at the annual Feast saying “Indian fishermen had boycotted the feast due to an incident where they claimed that the SL Navy had fired at an Indian fishing boat in Sri Lankan waters, which is totally false”.

Mr. Wijegunaratne said that even for a warning shot is fired at a boat it has to be to receive the approval of the Navy Commander.

“I never authorised such a thing. We don’t need to fire at them. If foreign fishermen are captured in Sri Lankan waters, the protocol is to arrest them and produce them before courts. With the technology available, any Navy officer can contact me directly. However, there is an ongoing inquiry about the incident being conducted by the Navy Deputy Chief of Staff,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Navy Commander Wijegunaratne Says SL Navy did not Fire on Indian Fishing Vessel’ »

Why I Was Critical of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Then But am Supportive of him Now

BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLLEKA

The impact and landmark nature of the Viyath Maga annual convention is discernible in the coverage in the country’s top business paper which has a wide corporate readership, the Daily FT, owned, I might add, by the Wijewardene family, hardly backers of the JO or the Rajapaksas. (http://www.ft.lk/article/601558/Mahinda-pricks-Govt.-over-plight-of-public-servants http://www.ft.lk/article/602544/ViyathMaga–Professionals-for-a-better-future).

As for the politics of Viyath Maga, if the choice is between the Rajapaksas– especially an MR+GR slate– and Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was described on TV a few days ago by his Oxford educated cousin Prof Rajiva Wijesinha as “a slimy crook” and “a disgrace to his grandparents”, I think Viyath Maga has indeed made the right choice and I am happy to have done so too, within and outside their company and well before their founding.

Following my speech at the Viyath Maga Annual Convention at which Gotabhaya Raapaksa played a prominent role, at least two well-known journalistic commentators, one early middle aged the other a senior citizen; one bilingual, the other writing solely in English, have resurrected my 2014 critique of Gotabhaya. That doesn’t require investigative journalism– indeed a more extensive version of my critique of Gotabhaya’s excesses is available in my full length book, “Long War, Cold Peace” (Vijitha Yapa, 2014 edition).

Whether it is Gotabhaya or Mahinda or anyone else, when they do something wrong I have criticized it then– unlike some who remained silent, in fear or for personal gain. On the other hand when I think they have overcome their mistakes and are infinitely preferable to those in power or about to take power, I support them. If they are better in power than those in Opposition, I support them then too– which is why I supported President Premadasa.

Continue reading ‘Why I Was Critical of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Then But am Supportive of him Now’ »

Koralaipatru Pradeshiya Sabha Opposes Setting up of Alcohol Distillery in Kalkudah by WM Mendis&Co of which Arjun Aloysius is Chairman.

By Namini Wijedasa

A liquor manufacturing firm helmed by Arjun Aloysius, is fighting local authorities in the Batticaloa District, over plans to build a grain-based alcohol distillery in Kalkudah.

Last year, the Excise Dept gave approval to W.M.Mendis & Co Ltd (of which Aloysius is Chairman) to set up the alcohol manufactory on instructions from the Dept of Fiscal Policy, both of which fall under the purview of the Ministry of Finance headed by Ravi Karunanayake.

The Fiscal Dept’s first communication to the Excise Dept saying, a grain-based ‘Extra Neutral Alcohol’ (ENA) distillery has been approved as a pilot project, is dated May 2015, a bare five months after the presidential election. In March 2016, W.M.Mendis & Co wrote to the Commissioner General of Excise, seeking a distillery licence to commission the plant. This was granted shortly afterwards.

Continue reading ‘Koralaipatru Pradeshiya Sabha Opposes Setting up of Alcohol Distillery in Kalkudah by WM Mendis&Co of which Arjun Aloysius is Chairman.’ »

President Sirisena who Came to Power Promising Justice for War Crimes Now Refuses to Prosecute his Troops

by Amal Jayasinghe

President Maithripala Sirisena came to power in Sri Lanka promising justice for war crimes, breaking from his hawkish predecessor and presenting the island with its first real shot at a lasting peace.

But that optimism has been sorely tested as Sirisena, having missed a two-year deadline to investigate war-era abuses, declared he would never prosecute his soldiers, rejecting outright fresh UN calls for an international trial.

“I am not going to allow non-governmental organisations to dictate how to run my government,” he said a day after the UN criticised Sri Lanka’s “worrying slow” progress in facing its wartime past.

“I will not listen to their calls to prosecute my troops.”

His defiant tone marked a sharp shift from the conciliatory approach that had earned praise from the international community, and drew unfavourable comparisons to Sri Lanka’s wartime leader Mahinda Rajapakse.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena who Came to Power Promising Justice for War Crimes Now Refuses to Prosecute his Troops’ »

Sri Lankan Police Failure to Investigate and Prosecute Perpetrators in “Emblematic” Cases Being Internationally Criticised.

Sri Lanka has come under renewed international criticism over police failures to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of what it calls “emblematic cases,” including the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga.

The UN Human Rights Council received a report outlining systematic failure of Sri Lanka’s police to prosecute suspects in 11 high profile cases it considers emblematic of the culture of impunity even after the end of a decades-long war.

The report buttressed its demand for international judges to try war criminals in Sri Lanka by pointing to police failures to investigate even the high profile cases.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Police Failure to Investigate and Prosecute Perpetrators in “Emblematic” Cases Being Internationally Criticised.’ »

If Sri Lanka Complains to UN or WTO About Tamil Nadu Fishers Poaching in her Waters, India May Get Internationally Blacklisted.

By Kumar Chellappan

The death of Bristo, a 21-year-old fisherman from Thankachimadom, a fishing hamlet in southern Tamil Nadu, has once again brought to surface some stark realities. Fishermen who were engaged in fishing with Bristo at Palk Bay alleged he was shot at by Sri Lanka Navy, while they were inside the territorial waters of India. Sri Lanka Navy, however, denied the allegation.

As the dispute rages over the location where the Indian fisherman was shot at, a senior Indian Coast Guard official said the Tamil Nadu government official who alerted them over the incident could not provide any information about the exact location. “He had informed us about the incident after 10 pm and we were helpless in locating the boat,” the ICG official said.

Captain Hariharan Balakrishnan, a war veteran, who knows the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean like the back of his hand, was blunt in pointing out that the Tamil Nadu fishermen had been poaching in the Sri Lankan waters for decades.

Continue reading ‘If Sri Lanka Complains to UN or WTO About Tamil Nadu Fishers Poaching in her Waters, India May Get Internationally Blacklisted.’ »

Indian Pilgrims Unable to Attend Kachchtheevu Festive Mass as Protesting Tamil Nadu Fishermen Refuse to Give Boats for Passage

By Chris Kamalendran

Indian devotees planning to attend the festive mass at the Kachchativu island off Jaffna today were obstructed by Indian fishing societies which declined to provide boats for them to travel.

This was in protest against a shooting incident which claimed the life of an Indian fisherman earlier in the week.

The Kachchativu Church parish priest, Rev. Fr. A. Jeyaranjan told the Sunday Times he was informed yesterday morning by a Rameshwaran priest that thousands of Tamil Nadu pilgrims were stranded without transport.

Continue reading ‘Indian Pilgrims Unable to Attend Kachchtheevu Festive Mass as Protesting Tamil Nadu Fishermen Refuse to Give Boats for Passage’ »

Television and Films Becoming Increasingly “Safronized” By “Hindutva” Elements in India

By KAMAYANI SHARMA

On the morning of 27 January, while the filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali was shooting for his upcoming period drama Padmavati at the Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur, members of Shri Rajput Karni Sena—a caste organisation of Rajputs—barged into the fort.

The horde ran amok, some smashing expensive film equipment, others breaking anything within reach and yet others forming a ruthless, agitated scrum around Bhansali.

Footage shows them grabbing him by his hair and slapping him around, as the rest of the gang continued to vandalise the set.

Though the entire episode was caught on camera, and was repeatedly played across television news channels, not a single miscreant was arrested in the aftermath. In fact, there was no condemnation from the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled governments in the state of Rajasthan and at the centre.

Instead, union minister Giriraj Singh showed support for the Karni Sena’s cited reason for the attack—the claim that the Hindu princess Padmavati’s story was being distorted.

In parliament, a BJP MP from Rajasthan, CP Joshi, demanded legal action against the filmmakers. Prominent Hindutva groups such as the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad also threatened to block the film’s release.

Continue reading ‘Television and Films Becoming Increasingly “Safronized” By “Hindutva” Elements in India’ »

Monologues, Melodrama and the Influence of William Shakespeare’s Dramas in Tamil Cinema.

By
S. Theodore Baskaran

Shakespeare entered the Tamil world through Pammal Sambandha Mudaliar, an illustrious playwright. It was Mudaliar’s translations of plays such as Hamlet ( Amaladityan in 1906) that introduced Shakespeare to Tamil readers and then to drama and film audiences.

In his passion for the stage, Mudaliar had helped establish the Suguna Vilas Sabha (SVS), an amateur drama club, in Madras in 1891. This building still survives, next to the Cosmopolitan Club in Chennai.

It was an elite outfit with lawyers and bureaucrats as members, and was distinct from the commercial drama companies which were more mass-based. A Tamil incarnation of Hamlet under the title Manohara was staged by the SVS. In this, Congress leader T. Sathyamurthy played the role of the king, the hero’s father.

Shakespeare’s works came to be depicted in Tamil cinema in three ways — through full adaptation of a story, through borrowing of famous scenes, and by featuring a very shortened form of one of his plays in a film. A play within a film was a ruse often adopted to pad up entertainment and create opportunities for long, flowery dialogue.

Continue reading ‘Monologues, Melodrama and the Influence of William Shakespeare’s Dramas in Tamil Cinema.’ »

President Sirisena Announces New Plans to Revive War Battered Economy of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province.

By

Meera Srinivasan

The Sri Lankan government will implement a new programme for the development of the Northern Province, President Maithripala Sirisena announced last week. From the time the island’s civil war ended in May 2009, claiming over 1,00,000 lives, there has been considerable talk about developing the war-battered north, home for over 10 lakh people, about 90% of them Tamils.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa invested considerably in roads and electricity, gradually changing the landscape of the region that was razed during the conflict. The carpeted roads and infrastructure overhaul were crucial to restoring connectivity between the country’s south and the north, which was cut off through the war years, but did little to revitalise the once-thriving economy of the Northern Province.

With incomes dropping in the country, the northern economy showed few signs of revival. In Mullaitivu district, most affected in the last phase of the war, the median per capita income was LKR 4,683 (₹2,065) per month, according to the Household Income and Expenditure Survey of 2012-13. Little has changed since then.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Announces New Plans to Revive War Battered Economy of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province.’ »

TNA Constituent EPRLF Disagrees With Decisions Taken By Tamil National Alliance on UN Human Rights Council Resolution

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the Tamil National Alliance Media Office on March 11th 2017)

The following decision was arrived at following a meeting of TNA Members of Parliament and Provincial Council Members held in Vavuniya today (11th March 2017):

All Sri Lanka’s obligations in terms of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 of 1st October 2015, co- sponsored by the Sri Lankan Government, must be fully implemented.

Continue reading ‘TNA Constituent EPRLF Disagrees With Decisions Taken By Tamil National Alliance on UN Human Rights Council Resolution’ »

Lost Her Arms in Shelling But Teaches Visual Basic Operating Computer With Her Toes.

By
Meera Srinivasan

Few students in Vadamarachchi, part of Sri Lanka’s northern peninsula, had heard of Visual Basic until Sebastian Selvanayagi started offering a course in it at her modest computer centre.

Selvanayagi teaches computing. | Photo Credit: Meera Srinivasan

“Even basic programming languages haven’t come to our village in a big way,” she said, entering a small room in her home, in Vetrilaikeni in Vadamarachchi East, where five desktop computers are kept.

As her office assistant switched one of the systems on, Ms. Selvanayagi sat down and quickly typed the password with her toes. That is how she has been typing for more than 20 years now — placing the keyboard under the table — after she lost both her arms in intense shelling in 1990. She was around 15 then, and preparing to take her O-level (class X) examination.

“The LTTE took complete care of me after that. I stayed with them and did programming and data entry work. That became my world,” Ms. Selvanayagi, 42, said.
Continue reading ‘Lost Her Arms in Shelling But Teaches Visual Basic Operating Computer With Her Toes.’ »

Narahenpita Police Arrest Billionaire Businessman’s Son who Abducted International School Student and Assaulted Her in Talahena Hotel

By Pradeep Samarakoon and Chaminda Silva

Multi-billionaire businessman’s son who abducted a female student of an international school and mercilessly assaulted her after taking her to a hotel room in Talahena was arrested by the Narahenpita police.

Investigations have revealed that the 22-year-old suspect has had a love affair with the 20-year-old victim and later the latter had broken up with him.

Continue reading ‘Narahenpita Police Arrest Billionaire Businessman’s Son who Abducted International School Student and Assaulted Her in Talahena Hotel’ »

For the First Time in Lankan History Parliament Ends Abruptly Due to Govt MP’s Walking out of House in Protest Against Speaker.

by Saman Indrajith

Parliament sittings came to an abrupt end around 11.50 am yesterday when the Leader of the House and government MPs walked out, protesting against what they called Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s failure to take action against Opposition MPs who disrupted proceedings.

Sources said it was the first time in parliamentary history of Sri Lanka that government members had boycotted the sessions in protest against the Speaker.

Government members took exception to the Speaker allowing the Opposition MPs to speak on the issue of National Freedom Front MPs, who are demanding permission to function as a separate group in Parliament, permission granted to the Joint Opposition MPs to appoint one of their colleagues as acting leader during the absence of MP Dinesh Guanwardena and allocating more time to the Opposition MPs in debates.

Continue reading ‘For the First Time in Lankan History Parliament Ends Abruptly Due to Govt MP’s Walking out of House in Protest Against Speaker.’ »

Kabir Hashim Informs Parliament Why Govt Cancelled Purchase of Three a-350 Aircraft Order for Sri Lankan Airlines.

by Saman Indrajith

Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim told Parliament yesterday that the government decision to cancel three A-350 aircraft ordered for SriLankan Airlines had been taken by the Economic Management Committee after discussions with all stakeholders.

In answer to a question by UPFA MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage, the minister said the government had been left with no alternative but to cancel three aircraft to avoid a loss of Rs. 32 billion.

Minister Hashim said that as the subject minister he had not been made aware of the procedure followed in cancelling the aircraft deal. He added that steps had been taken to rectify the situation and get SriLankan to follow the directions of the Ministry.

Continue reading ‘Kabir Hashim Informs Parliament Why Govt Cancelled Purchase of Three a-350 Aircraft Order for Sri Lankan Airlines.’ »

Current Hostility Between Police and Intelligence Agencies is Weakening Effort to Combat Overseas LTTE.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Case No B 85/17 concerning the assassination attempt targeting Tamil National Alliance (TNA)Jaffna district MP Mathiaparanam Abraham Sumanthiran was taken up at the Kilinochchi courts before Kilinochchi district judge A. A. Anandarajah on February 27th 2017. Five former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) were again produced in courts as the chief suspects by the Police Terrorism Investigation Department(TID). The five ex-tigers are suspected of being involved in a plot instigatedmdevised and financed by overseas LTTE operatives to assassinate TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.

M.A. Sumanthiran MP Pic courtesy of: facebook.com/FCASLANKA/

At the outset TID officials filed a further report outlining the progress made by the Police in investigating the assassination plot against the high profile lawyer MP who is also the accredited spokesperson of the TNA as well as its chief constituent the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK). The Police report in essence comprised three parts.
Continue reading ‘Current Hostility Between Police and Intelligence Agencies is Weakening Effort to Combat Overseas LTTE.’ »

Mangala Led Govt Delegation “Winning the Talk”in Geneva But Maithri-Ranil Govt “Losing the Walk”in Lanka

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

On Wednesday, 1 March, inside Room XXI of the Palais des Nations, the Sri Lankan delegation was winding up a four-day mission in Geneva on a high note.

The Government had organised a public discussion on Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session. In a room filled with Tamil lobby groups, hardline Tamil diaspora representatives, international activists and Geneva-based diplomats, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and his delegation spent nearly two hours in patient engagement about Sri Lanka’s reconciliation journey, defining its successes and the many challenges that lay ahead.

In a politically-polarised room, the delegation dealt with questions sensitively, acknowledging hurt on all sides, and articulating a sincere commitment to reckon with the legacy of a long civil war.

Seated at the Serpentine Bar, a few yards away from the meeting room, Sri Lankan human rights activist Ruki Fernando is filled with angst.

Exactly three years ago, Fernando himself was the subject of heated discussion at the Human Rights Council that sits two floors above. His arrest and detention by the TID in Kilinochchi while the UNHRC was in session in March 2014 sparked an outcry against the Government in Geneva.

A long-time human rights campaigner in Sri Lanka, Ruki Fernando was too well known in activist and diplomatic circles in Geneva for the arrest to go unnoticed. By brazenly detaining a well-known human rights defender on terrorism charges while the Human Rights Council was in session, the Rajapaksa administration sealed its fate as calls mounted for the establishment of a UN inquiry into war crimes committed during the final years of the conflict. The Government released Fernando and Fr. Praveen a few days later in the face of relentless international pressure.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Led Govt Delegation “Winning the Talk”in Geneva But Maithri-Ranil Govt “Losing the Walk”in Lanka’ »

Presidential Inquiry Commission told that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake met Primary Dealers at Feb 27 Treasury Bond Auction

BY Kavindya Chris Thomas

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into the Issuance of Treasury Bonds (PCIIIITB) learned that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake met the Primary Dealers at the Treasury Bond auction that took place on 27 February 2015, which is probably the first time such a meeting has taken place.

The former Additional Superintendent of the Central Bank’s Public Debt Department U. L. Muthugala being cross examined yesterday (9) revealed that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had met with the Primary Dealers of the controversial Treasury Bond auction that is under a cloud of allegations of foul play. According to Muthugala, the meeting, described as ‘unusual’, had taken place two to three weeks after the auction.

Continue reading ‘Presidential Inquiry Commission told that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake met Primary Dealers at Feb 27 Treasury Bond Auction’ »

5 Policemen Arrested Over Shooting of 2 Jaffna Undergrads Want Appeal Court to Transfer Case Out of North – East

By S.S. Selvanayagam

Five Police officers arrested in connection with the shooting of two Jaffna University students are seeking the Court of Appeal to transfer their case out of the Northern and Eastern provinces.

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

The bench comprising Justices Vijith K. Malalgoda (President/CA) and S. Thurairaja granted the respondents time until 6 April to file objections.

Continue reading ‘5 Policemen Arrested Over Shooting of 2 Jaffna Undergrads Want Appeal Court to Transfer Case Out of North – East’ »

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Accuses Joint Opposition and LTTE of Staging a Joint Protest Against Him at Deakin University

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe accused the Joint Opposition of allegedly staging a protest with the LTTE during his recent visit to Deakin University.

“Some Joint Opposition activist along with a handful of LTTE extremists protested at the gate using a portable public addressing horn,” he said in response to UPFA MP Padma Udayashantha Gunasekera.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Accuses Joint Opposition and LTTE of Staging a Joint Protest Against Him at Deakin University’ »

Death of Tamil Nadu Youth While Fishing Illegally in Sri Lankan Waters Leaves Dark Stain on Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s Reputation

By

Steve Creech

It has finally happened. It’s been threatening to happen for a while now. The news is deeply saddening and everyone’s thoughts must be with the family members of the 22-year-old Tamil Nadu fish-worker from Thangachimadam in central Rameswaram, who was shot and killed while fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters early yesterday morning.

Bridgo’s death stands as a damning indictment of the Tamil Nadu trawler owners’ stubborn refusals to stop sending their trawlers to fish illegally in Sri Lankan waters. His death underlines the catastrophic consequences of the Tamil Nadu government’s failure to take appropriate measure against boat owners whose trawlers are arrested for fishing illegally in northern Sri Lankan waters.

Equally, if not more so, the death of a Tamil Nadu fish worker while fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters will leave a dark stain on the reputation of India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Minister Sushma Swaraj. Despite repeatedly summoning her Sri Lankan counterparts and Sri Lankan fishermen to New Delhi, Sushma Swaraj has mishandled genuine attempts by the Sri Lankan authorities and Sri Lankan fishermen to bring to an end illegal fishing by Tamil Nadu trawlers in Sri Lankan waters.

Continue reading ‘Death of Tamil Nadu Youth While Fishing Illegally in Sri Lankan Waters Leaves Dark Stain on Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s Reputation’ »

Govt Must Formulate Policy Giving Clear Details About Release of Army Held Private Lands in North to the People who Own Them – Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan

ආරක්ෂක හමුදා සන්තකව පවතින ඉඩම් මුල් අයිතිකරුවන් වෙත නිදහස් කිරීම
படையினரின் வசமுள்ள காணிகளை அவற்றின் உரிமையாளர்களுக்கு விடுவித்தல்
RELEASE OF LANDS OCCUPIED BY SECURITY FORCES TOORIGINAL OCCUPANTS

ගරුරාජවරෝදියම්සම්පන්දන්මහතා (විරුද්ධපාර්ශ්වයේනායකතුමා)
(மாண்புமிகுராஜவரோதயம்சம்பந்தன் – எதிர்க்கட்சிமுதல்வர்)
(The Hon. RajavarothiamSampanthan – Leader of the Opposition)

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan MP

Mr. Deputy Chairman of Committees, I move the following Adjournment Motion before I make submissions on it:

“Whereas large swathes of lands belonging to private citizens were occupied by the armed forces when fighting came to an end in May 2009:

Most of these lands were taken over from civilians for security purposes. For instance, civilians were evicted from several thousands of acres of land in Valigamam North in order to protect the Palaly air base from artillery fire almost 25 years ago. But even after the fighting ended in 2009, only a fraction of that has been returned for civilian resettlement, while large tracts of land are still occupied by the military which is engaged in farming and trade including running tourist hotels while the original occupants languish in welfare centres and with host families.

In the Vanni too, still several thousands of acres of land are occupied by security forces. Although some lands were released in Keppapulavu recently by the Air Force, more lands are still occupied by the Army.

Continue reading ‘Govt Must Formulate Policy Giving Clear Details About Release of Army Held Private Lands in North to the People who Own Them – Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan’ »

Sirisena Boasts About Showing his “Backbone”to the UN While Samaraweera Bends Backward in Geneva.

By W.A. Sunil

Sri Lankan foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera plans to present a resolution to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) requesting two years to prepare a “mechanism” to investigate war crimes and human rights violations during the military offensives against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Samaraweera called on the US, the UK and Montenegro to support a joint motion to a UNHRC meeting at the end of this month. The Asian Mirror reported that the UK has already agreed to back the resolution.

This is another attempt by Colombo to suppress any investigation into serious allegations of abuses involving Sri Lankan security forces during the country’s 26-year communal war.

According to UN estimates, more than 40,000 civilians were killed by the military during the final months of the conflict in 2009.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena Boasts About Showing his “Backbone”to the UN While Samaraweera Bends Backward in Geneva.’ »

Re-visiting and Re-analysing the “Real” Problems Raised by the SAITM Issue


By Dr Nalin Abeysekera

Open University of Sri Lanka

A variety of topics and headlines surface on the economic and social set up of Sri Lanka from time to time. Learned people and others from different walks of life express their views based on the way such topics are highlighted in the Media. Whatever its final analysis may be, it is an essential feature of democracy. But it is necessary to re-analyse and revisit the particular issue, subject to such discussion in the country, to ascertain whether it is the ‘Real’ problem, which should be focused on.

I hope to discuss this ‘Real Problem’ through the issue at hand, namely, the Private Medical College problem, or the SAITM issue. The SAITM issue has come to the forefront in the media, just as much as the Ragama Medical college issue which came under discussion a decades ago.

One group expresses its view in its favour, while the other group speaks against it. It is unfortunate that these speakers focus on the symptoms of the ailment without making an effort to find out the cause.

Continue reading ‘Re-visiting and Re-analysing the “Real” Problems Raised by the SAITM Issue’ »

Release of Sri Lankan Fishermen Jailed in India Delayed as Chennai Court Orders Further Extension Of Remand Until March 23

By P.K Balachandran

As a first step towards defusing the fishermen’s agitation in Tamil Nadu, the Sri Lankan and Indian governments on Thursday agreed to simultaneously release all fishermen in each other’s custody.

While Sri Lanka will release 85 Indian fishermen, India will release 19 Sri Lankan fishermen. However, a court in Chennai on Thursday put paid to the immediate release of Sri Lankan fishermen from Tamil Nadu jails, when it extended their remand till March 23.

The two governments had acted after the Indian Vice President, Hamid Ansari, met the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in Indonesia on the sidelines of the Indian Ocean summit. In Colombo, Indian High Commissioner ,Taranjit Singh Sandhu, met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and pressed him to take action.

Continue reading ‘Release of Sri Lankan Fishermen Jailed in India Delayed as Chennai Court Orders Further Extension Of Remand Until March 23’ »

If President and Prime Minister are Opposed to Foreign Judges then who co-sponsored UN Resolution? Asks GL Peiris


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Joint Opposition (JO) has sought an urgent explanation from the government in respect of Geneva Resolution 30/1 in the wake of both President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe ruling out foreign judges’ participation in the proposed judicial process.

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 30/1 on Oct 1, 2015.

Addressing the media at Dr N. M. Perera Centre in Borella yesterday, former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said the government’s position was certainly comical as the Geneva Resolution 30/1 was co-sponsored by the yahapalana administration and it specifically dealt with a robust foreign participation in the process.

Continue reading ‘If President and Prime Minister are Opposed to Foreign Judges then who co-sponsored UN Resolution? Asks GL Peiris’ »

“Some People Aligned to the President and Premier are Carrying Tales About One to the Other”-Krishantha Cooray

By Nisthar Cassim

Both a political activist and a corporate and media personality, Krishantha Prasad Cooray is not known to mince words and is quite forthright. Wearing multiple hats as Chairman of Hotel Developers (Lanka) Plc, which owns Hilton Colombo and Independent Non-Executive Director at DFCC Bank as well as a Working Committee member of the ruling coalition party UNP. The Daily FT sat with Krishantha to get a frank personal assessment of the country’s current status of governance and the political economy as well as business.


Here are excerpts:


Q: The IMF has urged the Government to embark on privatising State enterprises. Among the institutions mentioned in news reports is Hilton Colombo. Are there moves to sell Hilton Colombo?

A: Decisions around the ownership of State enterprises are policy matters for the Government. The Board and I are focused on making sure that the institution under our purview does well. My priority is to do justice to a global brand, and build on an excellent reputation and track-record. We support and coordinate with the management company to keep motivating an excellent staff to maintain and improve standards of service, and taking cognisance of realities and meeting challenges with innovative strategies.

If the prospect of selling Hilton does arise, these efforts will enable the Government to fetch an excellent price. I must be clear that State institutions are not by definition inefficient or unprofitable. There have been instances where privatisation has been beneficial, such as the Distilleries Corporation (DCSL). The key is to entrust management of an enterprise, whether public or private, in the hands of people who have the skill, capacity, stature, leadership, courage, determination and business acumen to achieve the goals of the organisation. It’s all about taking ownership and prudent management. There’s nothing to say that such qualities cannot deliver when it comes to State enterprises. The very same Harry Jayawardena who acquired DCSL also did wonders at SriLankan Airlines.

Continue reading ‘“Some People Aligned to the President and Premier are Carrying Tales About One to the Other”-Krishantha Cooray’ »

UN Resolution Co-sponsored by Sri Lanka is not Binding on Sovereign Nations says Harsha de Silva

by Zacki Jabbar

Pointing out that UN resolutions were not binding on a sovereign nation, the government said yesterday that neither the UN Human Rights Council nor the international community had demanded that Sri Lanka adopt a federal solution to resolve its ethnic issue.

Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva, addressing a news conference at the Information Department in Colombo, said that the latest report on Sri Lanka by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, had no relevance whatsoever to what the government was doing at the ongoing 34th UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva.

Continue reading ‘UN Resolution Co-sponsored by Sri Lanka is not Binding on Sovereign Nations says Harsha de Silva’ »

Joint Opposition MP Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena Suspended from Parliament for a Week


By Saman Indrajith

MEP and Joint Opposition Parliament group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena who fought for the National Freedom Front’s right to function in the House as a separate party has been suspended for one week from parliament on grounds that his conduct was against dignity and decorum of Parliament yesterday.

The decision to suspend MP Gunawardena’s parliament sittings was taken after much uproar in the House and a vote taken on a motion moved by the government. The motion moved by Leader of the House Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that MP Gunawardena kept disturbing Parliament sittings against repeated warnings from the Chair and therefore he should be suspended for one week from attending Parliament. The Joint Opposition MPs demanded a division by name on the motion.

Accordingly, a vote was taken and 85 MPs voted for and 22 voted against. The JVP abstained from voting while 114 MPs were absent. The TNA and UPFA MPs in the government ranks voted with the government.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition MP Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena Suspended from Parliament for a Week’ »

Sirisena led Govt Speaking with Two Tongues for Foreign and Domestic Consumption

By

Niran Anketell

As Sri Lanka gets placed, once again, on the Human Rights Council agenda this month, it is difficult to ignore the significant shifts — internal and external — that have taken place since Sri Lanka was last on the Council’s agenda in September 2015. Then, flush with victory and the confidence to champion reform, the Sri Lankan Government negotiated a finely-crafted resolution amid global plaudits.

Back at home, the President was credited with what was termed an historic victory in Geneva. The government braved and comfortably carried a two-day debate on the text of the resolution itself and even convened a number of seminars and meetings through which to publicize the specifics concerning the resolution it co-sponsored. Contrary to mischievous mis-characterisations of the political dynamics among political leaders at the time, observers noted that there was in fact a remarkable unanimity between the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on the terms of the resolution.
Continue reading ‘Sirisena led Govt Speaking with Two Tongues for Foreign and Domestic Consumption’ »

Sampanthan and TNA Could Help Break the Deadlock Between Maithri-Ranil Govt and Mahinda Led Opposition

By
Ranga Jayasuriya

In game theory, there is this hypothetical strategy game that is used to explain why two rational individuals may not cooperate even when it is in their mutual interest to cooperate. It goes like this: Police arrest two criminals, but cannot find evidence to indict either of them on the principal charge, so decide to charge them on a lesser crime. In the meantime, police try on a strategy, hoping that the two suspects, who are held in solitary confinement without means to communicate with each other, would snitch.

Police offer both suspect following options. If the suspect A betrays (‘defects’) the suspect B, A would walk free, B would get three years in prison. If B rats out on A, B walks free and A gets three years. If both suspects betray each other, both get two years in jail. If neither of them betrays the other (i.e. they ‘cooperate’ with each other) they both get one year on a lesser charge. In game theory, in a one off game, betraying the other prisoner is considered the dominant strategy since ‘defection’ always has a higher payoff than ‘cooperation,’ regardless of the other player’s choice. That means, finally both suspects end up getting two years in prison. However, the paradox is that mutual cooperation has a better payoff than mutual defection, but self-interest and uncertainty over the other player’s move prompt both prisoners to defect. This scenario is used to explain a wide range of real world situations from economics, conflict resolution to international politics, such as why the states are less likely to cooperate in arms control initiatives, especially at a time of intense security rivalry.

Let’s apply these settings for many rivalries that limit cooperation in our politics. Take this for instance: President Maithripala Sirisena and his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa are locked in a veritable prisoner’s dilemma. President Sirisena believes that Mr Rajapaksa is running circles around him, and plotting to oust him from his leadership in the SLFP and to undermine his government. Mr Rajapaksa on the other hand suspects that the President his trying to jail him and his family and to politically annihilate him. In this intense rivalry for power and political survival , cooperation is unthinkable. Each is trying to undermine the other (‘defecting’).

However, mutual cooperation would be in their mutual interest, because the mutual defection would mean the split of the SLFP. Then no one wins, except the UNP. Why mutual cooperation does not materialize even despite a higher payoff is due to uncertainty (not counted in this equation is the fact that there are others who benefit from this rivalry). The President cannot be sure whether his opponent would stick to his side of the bargain even if the two agreed to cooperate. Say for instance, in exchange for his cooperation, Mr Rajapaksa gets the government to withdraw all the real and concocted charges against him and his family and once safe from legal troubles, returns to streets with a new found vigour to organize the people and to undermine the government.

Continue reading ‘Sampanthan and TNA Could Help Break the Deadlock Between Maithri-Ranil Govt and Mahinda Led Opposition’ »

Attempts to Prosecute Soldiers May Lead to Return of Mahinda Rajapaksa and all what he Represents.

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The time has come once again for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), comprising such defenders of human rights as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to scrutinize, among other things, how reconciliation is going in Sri Lanka. Since the end of the hostilities in May 2009, we have been under pressure from the international community, i.e. several Western nations, who always seemed to have preferred if the LTTE had won, and both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena Governments have been agreeing to various resolutions that everyone knew could never be implemented.

Resolution 30/1 that we agreed to in 2015 is probably, the worst resolution that we agreed to implement although Mahinda’s deal with Ban Ki-moon is a close second, and has ensured that the discussion on ‘Sri Lankan reconciliation and peace building process’ revolves around Hybrid Courts. At least Mahinda’s deal with Moon led to the establishment of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and its excellent report. On the other hand the discussion on Hybrid Courts has divided the country and even those who believe that an independent investigation on alleged war crimes is necessary if we are to move forward, and has ensured that we do not talk about anything else.

Drawing the line on sovereignty

I understand that the reconciliation process – is complex and the number of cases potentially covered by the four mechanisms/institutions that the government committed to establish through the resolution, an office on missing persons, an office for reparations, a judicial mechanism with a special counsel, and a truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence commission – is immense, and because I understand this, I don’t mind technical assistance for international experts from neutral countries. But allowing into the Hybrid Courts ‘international judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law,’ as recommended once again by Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein last week, I feel is too much foreign intervention and can be the beginning of a lot of things that will infringe our sovereignty. Also there is the fact that things will be a whole lot worse after the Hybrid Court has done its thing.

Continue reading ‘Attempts to Prosecute Soldiers May Lead to Return of Mahinda Rajapaksa and all what he Represents.’ »

“Viyath Maga” Venture has been Inspired by Gotabhaya’s Declared Respect for Professional Expert Opinion.

By DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

[Summary of speech on “Sri Lanka’s International Relations in a Changing World” delivered at the 2nd annual convention of Voice of Professionals–Viyath Maga– at Golden Rose, Boralesgamuwa, March 4th 2017]

As the Daily FT reported (Monday, March 6th 2017), the annual convention of the Voice of Professionals, better known by its Sinhala brand-name Viyath Maga, was an unprecedentedly successful event: “…a packed audience at the Annual Convention of the Viyath Maga… a network of academics, professionals and entrepreneurs, was held on Saturday with the participation of 2,000 members.”
Continue reading ‘“Viyath Maga” Venture has been Inspired by Gotabhaya’s Declared Respect for Professional Expert Opinion.’ »

Arjuna Ranatunga Tries to Mislead Cabinet Colleague Champika Ranawaka to get Govt Approval for Mixed Development Project Including Construction of Apartments

By the Political Editor of “Sunday Times”

The “Sunday Times” today reveals how Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga is trying to obtain Government approval for a mixed development project including the construction of apartments. According to documents available, this was through Wills Realtors (Private) Limited, a company which he formed with Prasad Wasantha Sirimanne on July 25, 2013, in terms of a declaration made under the Companies Act for the purpose of registration. Ranatunga’s address is given in the application for registration as 50/4C Pelawatte Road, Nugegoda whilst Sirimanne is at 45/7 Koranelis Mawatha, Sri Subuthipura, Battaramulla.

However, on November 25, 2016, when he became a Cabinet Minister, Ranatunga had withdrawn from the Board. The form for Change of Director/Secretary (Form 20) now lists P.W. Sirimanne, V. Krishnamurthy Rao (from Mumbai) with Ranatunga’s local address and Dileepa Hemamali Dhanatunge. The company’s registered address remained his Pelawatte Road, Nugegoda, home.

Ranatunga, it has now transpired, persuaded Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, to present a cabinet memorandum on the project. In that, Ranawaka said, “the 1996 Cricket World Cup Winning squad has duly incorporated a company named M/s Wills Realtors (Pvt) Ltd. under the Companies Act No, 7 of 2007. It bore company registration No: PV 93826 with the registered office at 50/4 C Pelawatte Road, Nugegoda. They asked that the land belonging to the Urban Development Authority (UDA) behind the HSBC at Rajagiriya, now worth Rs 1.5 billion, for a mixed development project.

Continue reading ‘Arjuna Ranatunga Tries to Mislead Cabinet Colleague Champika Ranawaka to get Govt Approval for Mixed Development Project Including Construction of Apartments’ »

Official Status of Tamil Language Restored in Theory but in Practice no Official Bilingualism in Sri Lanka -The Economist

FROM its gleaming new headquarters, Jaffna’s police force serves around 100,000 people. The vast majority of the local population are Tamils or Tamil-speaking Muslims; fewer than 50 locals are members of Sri Lanka’s biggest ethnic group, the Sinhalese. But the vast majority of the city’s 532 police officers are Sinhalese; only 43 are Tamil, and very few of the rest speak the Tamil language well.

This is not just an affront to Tamils, whose complaints about discrimination lay at the root of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009. It is also a practical problem. Sripathmananda Bramendra came to the new headquarters one day in December to obtain the paperwork needed to replace a lost licence-plate.

He waited for hours to talk to a Tamil-speaking officer. But the only one around was first busy with a superior, and then had to rush off to translate at a public protest. Everyone still queuing was told to return the next day.

Roughly three-quarters of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese; Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims make up the remaining quarter. But the population is relatively segregated, with most Tamils concentrated in the north and east. Unlike most officials in the provinces, police are recruited at national level and rotated around the country during their careers (doctors in government hospitals are another troublesome exception).

The result is that police stations in Tamil areas are staffed mainly by Sinhalese, who struggle to communicate with the people they are supposed to be protecting. This, in addition to the mistrust bred by the civil war, puts Tamils off joining the police, compounding the problem.

Continue reading ‘Official Status of Tamil Language Restored in Theory but in Practice no Official Bilingualism in Sri Lanka -The Economist’ »

Colombo must do much more to Address the Concerns of the Tamil Minority -Editorial in “The Hindu”

(Text of Editorial appearing in “the Hindu” of March 6th 2017 under the heading ” Elusive Reconciliationn”)

A United Nations report released last week on the progress of reconciliation efforts by the Sri Lankan government should be a wake-up call for President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Raising serious concerns about the delay in addressing allegations of war crimes and in meeting other promises Colombo made when it co-sponsored a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in 2015, the report warns the government that the lack of accountability threatens the momentum towards lasting peace.

It also alleges that cases of excessive use of force, torture and arbitrary arrests still continue in Sri Lanka, almost eight years after the country’s brutal civil war ended. Mr. Sirisena came to power on a promise that he would restore the rule of law, end the country’s international isolation and take steps towards reconciliation with the Tamil ethnic minority. The political momentum was also in favour of the government as it had the support of the dominant sections of the two largest parties in the country. In 2015, when Sri Lanka agreed to a host of measures at the UNHRC, including a judicial process to look into the war crimes, hopes were high.

Continue reading ‘Colombo must do much more to Address the Concerns of the Tamil Minority -Editorial in “The Hindu”’ »

Sri Lanka’s Best Known Cricket Match -the Royal- Thomian Encounter -is the Country’s own Eton vs Harrow

By

Meera Srinivasan

A fortnight ago, Asela Gunaratne slammed a pacy 84 against Australia, steering Sri Lanka to a remarkable victory in the T20 series. His innings made headlines here, but the series win was not the only cricket news.

Around the same time, senior Buddhist monks called for a ban on the country’s “big matches”, pointing to the violence and alcoholism that they see as its spin-offs. Given the influence that the Buddhist clergy has over Sri Lanka’s political and social spheres, their demand sparked anxiety among fans.

“Big matches” are annual encounters between leading schools on the island. Now a sporting and social fixture — some schools have been playing each other for over a century — these matches are more of an annual carnival.

The country’s best-known cricket clash, the ‘Royal-Thomian’ encounter, is scheduled later this week. Played between Colombo’s leading government school Royal College and the prestigious private Anglican institution St. Thomas’ College, this match inspires excitement like no other, particularly among Colombo’s elite men. It is Sri Lanka’s own Eton vs. Harrow.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Best Known Cricket Match -the Royal- Thomian Encounter -is the Country’s own Eton vs Harrow’ »

Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Explains How he Shifted Army Headquarters to Battaramulla to Make Way for Shangri-La Project

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says that the country is suffering for want of what he calls workable formula to achieve post-war development objectives.

Comparing the period in the aftermath of successful conclusion of the war in May 2009 with that under the current yahapalana administration, Rajapaksa stressed the pivotal importance of swift and bold decision taking.

Rajapaksa was addressing the annual convention 2017 of Viyathmaga, a civil society organisation pushing for larger role for professionals, at Golden Rose Hotel, Boralesgamuwa on Saturday (March 4).In his brief opening remarks, former Chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Dr Nalaka Godahewa explained the crises in every sector due to the failures on the part of the yahapalana administration. Viyathmaga convenor Dr Godahewa cited various economic indicators to prove his point that the economy had suffered since the 2015 change of government.

Continue reading ‘Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Explains How he Shifted Army Headquarters to Battaramulla to Make Way for Shangri-La Project’ »

No Effective Witness Protection Scheme Exists in Lanka Despite Re-constituted Witness Protection Authority.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Akin to the fabled (and damned) Scarlet Pimpernel of Baroness Orczy fame, one is constrained to search high and low for Sri Lanka’s elusive Witness Protection Authority. In fact, advocates in this country may be forgiven for indulging in the ditty ‘we seek (it) here, we seek (it) there, is (it) in heaven or is (it) in hell…?’ as they look for this (hopefully not) damned body in terms of its actual performance.

Many peculiarities in the process

This is a question that comes to the fore given the singular absence of any compelling interventions by the Authority into what remains one of the most agonizing failures of our justice system. True, a law was enacted to that effect many moons ago and some sort of body was established, to all intents and purposes.

This itself was attendant with many peculiarities, such as when its Chairman, a former High Court judge resigned shortly after taking up the appointment. After struggling with other issues including an embarrassing lapse in the legal procedures relating to the appointment of its members, we were informed that the Witness Protection Authority had been ‘reconstituted’ late last year after a long lapse following enactment of the law. This was apparently ‘launched’ in January this year.

Continue reading ‘No Effective Witness Protection Scheme Exists in Lanka Despite Re-constituted Witness Protection Authority.’ »

Group of EX- LTTE Cadres Launch New Political Party in Sampoor Named “Rehabilitated Unted Liberation Tigers Front”.

A group of former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) members in Sri Lanka has announced formation of a new party, saying people are getting frustrated by mainstream political parties as they have “failed” to address issues faced by the minority Tamils.

‘Rehabilitated United Liberation Tigers Front’ was formed in the eastern port district of Trincomalee’s Sampur on Friday.

Continue reading ‘Group of EX- LTTE Cadres Launch New Political Party in Sampoor Named “Rehabilitated Unted Liberation Tigers Front”.’ »

Is Mahinda Rajapaksa or Ravi Karunanayake Responsible for the Gazette on Central Bank Treasury Bond Sale?

BY Kavindya Chris Thomas

One of the most extraordinary financial frauds to have ever taken place during the Yahapalana Government’s tenure in its very first year in power is still being argued and debated in the public forum. It is the 2015 Treasury Bond scam. And just when things seem as if they are about to come to a much awaited conclusion, something new and exciting happens that more often than not, tends to deviate the attention from the main subject.

On 23 February (Thursday) the case of the controversial Treasury Bond issue was brought before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into the Issuance of Treasury Bonds hearing session – that only commenced a week or so before – brought a certain Gazette notification that completely changed the course of the ongoing inquiry. As a result of this startling revelation, the Presidential Commission’s hearing is currently under hiatus.

Continue reading ‘Is Mahinda Rajapaksa or Ravi Karunanayake Responsible for the Gazette on Central Bank Treasury Bond Sale?’ »

The Kansas shooting Teaches Indians a few Lessons about Trump — and the United States


By Barkha Dutt

For six days, the world’s most garrulous (and seemingly most underworked) head of state, famous for his bilious 3 a.m. tweeting IN ALL CAPS, found neither one word of empathy nor 140 characters of condemnation for last week’s fatal shooting of an Indian engineer in Kansas. The early silence of President Trump — and the prevarication of the White House in recognizing the slaying of 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla as a hate crime — had begun to feel near-deliberate; perhaps it was to avoid drawing unflattering attention to his administration’s own nativist policies.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla

When Trump finally made his first public statement on the Kansas shooting in an address Tuesday to a joint session of Congress (“We are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil”), he clubbed it with the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and anti-Semitism. His throwaway, if strongly worded, sentence came just as India’s Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar arrived in Washington for a four-day visit. Hillary Clinton urged Trump to speak out more strongly on the Kansas shooting. Maybe someone told Trump quietly before his speech that in Hyderabad, India, as Kuchibhotla’s broken father collapsed over his funeral pyre, family and friends were waving anti-Trump banners.

Still, the larger thrust of Trump’s speech Tuesday night was a strongman rant against immigration, a commitment to build a border wall and an unapologetic reaffirmation of extreme vetting. All of this represents the same provocative rhetoric that some would believe emboldened Adam Purinton, the man accused in the Kansas shooting, to pull out his gun. And as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pointed out on Facebook, Trump made it a point to invite relatives of a young American man killed by an undocumented immigrant; so why didn’t he extend a similar invitation to the family of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who lived and worked in the United States legally? Kuchibhotla was not even mentioned by name.
Continue reading ‘The Kansas shooting Teaches Indians a few Lessons about Trump — and the United States’ »

39 Year old Indian Sikh Shot and Injured by half-masked Stranger who Shouted “Go Back to your Country”.

A 39-year-old Indian in the U.S. was injured on Friday when an unidentified person shot him outside his home. The suspect allegedly shouted “go back to your own country” at the Indian.

The victim, who observes the Sikh faith, was working on his vehicle outside his home in the city of Kent on Friday when he was approached by a stranger, who walked up the driveway before opening fire, the Seattle Times reported.

Kent police said an argument broke out between the two men, with the victim saying the suspect made statements to the effect of “go back to your own country.” The unidentified man then shot him in the arm.

Continue reading ‘39 Year old Indian Sikh Shot and Injured by half-masked Stranger who Shouted “Go Back to your Country”.’ »

Convenience Store Owner of Indian Origin Harnish Patel (43) Found Dead Due to Gunshot Injuries in Lancaster,South Carolina.


A 43-year-old Indian-origin store owner in the US has been shot dead outside his home, just days after an Indian engineer was killed in Kansas in a hate crime shooting that had sent shockwaves across the country.

Harnish Patel (43), the owner of a convenience store in Lancaster County, South Carolina, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the front yard of his home on Thursday, coroner and police officials said.

Patel closed his store and drove in his silver minivan to his nearby home where authorities believe he was confronted by his killer. The store is about 6 km from his house, The Herald reported.

Continue reading ‘Convenience Store Owner of Indian Origin Harnish Patel (43) Found Dead Due to Gunshot Injuries in Lancaster,South Carolina.’ »

Govt Must Hold Polls to North Central,Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provinial Councils After October 2017.

By C.A.Chandraprema

Not holding the local government elections has become a major part of the survival strategy of this government. While the local government elections have been put off due to complications in the delimitation of wards, elections for the Eastern, North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces will be due at the end of the third quarter of this year. According to Article 154E of the Constitution, Provincial Councils will unless sooner dissolved, continue for a period of five years from the date of its first meeting and upon the expiration of this period, will stand automatically dissolved.

According to section 10(1) of the Provincial Councils Elections Act, No. 2 of 1988, Within one week of the dissolution of a Provincial Council by reason of, the operation of article 154E or dissolution by the Governor under Article154B (8) (c) of the Constitution, the Commissioner of Elections shall publish a notice of his intention to hold an election to such Provincial Council. In terms of these provisions, the elections to the Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Eastern Provinces will be due in October this year when they complete five years from the date of their first meeting in October 2012.

The government was able to avoid holding the local government elections because of the complications arising from the change in electoral systems. However they will not have the same excuse to postpone the elections to the three PCs that will be completing five years in October this year and the Elections Commission will be compelled to hold the elections, when the terms of the PCs lapse in October.

Minister Faizer Mustapha whose obvious preference is to postpone the day of reckoning as much as possible, tried to float the theory that because President Maithripala Sirisena was elected for a six year term, he would rule the country for six full years, until 2020 notwithstanding the 19th Amendment which shortened the term of office of the President to five years. However that elicited a pointed rebuttal from Jayampathy Wickremeratne, Manohara De Silva and Chrishmal Warnasuriya, who all pointed to the transitional provision in Article 49(1) (b) of the 19th Amendment which stated that the persons holding office as the President and Prime Minister on the day preceding the enactment of the 19 A will continue to hold such office after such date, subject to the provisions of this Amendment. This just about lays to rest speculation over when the next presidential election has to be held.

Continue reading ‘Govt Must Hold Polls to North Central,Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provinial Councils After October 2017.’ »

Ruwanpura Expressway Project Section -one May be Given to China National Technical Import and Export Corporation.

By Namini Wijedasa

The Highways Ministry has sought Cabinet approval to hire consultants for Ruwanpura expressway’s Section 1 which is expected to be awarded on a single proposal — without competitive bidding — to a Chinese firm.

The company identified for the 26.3 km stretch from Kahathuduwa to Ingiriya is China National Technical Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC).

The Cabinet paper dated February 20, 2017, was presented by Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella. It sought approval to set up a Cabinet Appointed Consultancy Procurement Committee (CACPC) to select and employ a consultant for Ruwanpura Section I.

Continue reading ‘Ruwanpura Expressway Project Section -one May be Given to China National Technical Import and Export Corporation.’ »

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

By P.K.Balachandran

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

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

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

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

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

By

Aparna M. Sridhar

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

Sudha Ragunathan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Manekshaw

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By PK Balachandran

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

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

Positive Advances

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prince Zeid’s Observations

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

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

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

Repeats Recommendations

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


Torture Still There

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

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


Need for Consistency

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

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


Courtesy:New Indian Express

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

By

Sandun A Jayasekera

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

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

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

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

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva

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

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

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

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

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

by Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

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

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

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