Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is relieved that the Govet after prolonged vacillation has finally restored the constitutionally protected fundamental the right for burial of COVID 19 victims and COVID-19 suspected victims States Party Leader Rauff Hakeem

(Text of a Press Release Issued by Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem MP)

We are relieved that the Government after a prolonged vacillation has finally restored the constitutionally protected fundamental the right for burial of COVID 19 victims and COVID-19 suspected victims.

In this regard it is quite obvious that if not for the inclusion of this matter in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the subsequent inclusion of the matter in the resolution on Sri Lanka tabled by the core group, the deliberate intransigence that resulted in
outrageously traumatizing a section of Sri Lankan people would not have been resolved.

The concern raised by the Secretary General of the OIC during the High-Level Segment and the overwhelming demonstration by almost all the Western States during the Interactive Dialogue on Sri Lanka yesterday (25 th February 2021) at the ongoing UNHRC sessions expedited the process.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is relieved that the Govet after prolonged vacillation has finally restored the constitutionally protected fundamental the right for burial of COVID 19 victims and COVID-19 suspected victims States Party Leader Rauff Hakeem’ »

The “Maravanpulavu” Man Behind Moves to Form the “BJP” in Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(This is an Updated Version of an Article written for the “DBS Jeyaraj ” Column in the “Daily Mirror ” of Feb 20th 2021.)

The flower bud is the accredited electoral symbol of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) which is ruling Sri Lanka. However the image of that flower bud resembles the lotus flower bud. In fact a lot of lotus buds are used to decorate platforms of the SLPP known in popular parlance as the “pohottuwa” party.

“Maravanpulavu” Satchithanandan – pic via: FB-SivaSenai-Vavuniya

The Lotus flower is the symbol of India’s ruling party the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP). The SLPP in English means Sri Lanka peoples front. The English meaning of BJP is Indian Peoples Party. Both the SLPP and BJP claim to be the people’s parties of Sri Lanka and India with related symbols namely the lotus bud and lotus. Lotus buds bloom into Lotus flowers. Mother Nature decrees it so.

Continue reading ‘The “Maravanpulavu” Man Behind Moves to Form the “BJP” in Sri Lanka’ »

21 Countries Including 10 Member States of the UN Human Rights Council Speak in Support of Sri Lanka During the Interactive Dialogue on Sri Lanka at Geneva UNHRC 46th Session While 15 Nations Speak Against SL

By

Kelum Bandara

The international lobbying spree by the government gathered momentum today with 21 countries speaking in favour of Sri Lanka and 15 against during an Interactive Dialogue at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Daily Mirror learns.

A core group of countries led by the United Kingdom has proposed to move a resolution on Sri Lanka calling for action on alleged human rights and accountability issues during wartime. Sri Lanka has sought to thwart the adoption of such a resolution.

The Interactive Dia inlogue took place amidst intense campaigning for support.

Continue reading ‘21 Countries Including 10 Member States of the UN Human Rights Council Speak in Support of Sri Lanka During the Interactive Dialogue on Sri Lanka at Geneva UNHRC 46th Session While 15 Nations Speak Against SL’ »

Gotabaya Govt Permits Muslims to Bury Persons Dying of COVID – 19 Due to Need to Prevent Islamic Nations Voting Against Sri Lanka at Crucial UNHRC Vote in Geneva and Because of Intense Lobbying by Pakistan

By P.K.Balachandran

Late on Thursday, February 25, the Sri Lankan Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi issued a gazette extraordinary lifting the year-old ban on burying COVID-19 dead. The Gazette amended the earlier ordinance by putting the words “cremation or burial” in place of the single word “cremation”.

“In the case of burial, the corpse of such person shall be buried in accordance with the directions issued by the Director General of Health Services at a cemetery or place approved by the proper authority under the supervision of such authority,” the gazette said.

The government’s decision brought the curtains down on an issue which deeply agitated the minority Muslims for whom burial is mandated by Islam and therefore inviolable.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Govt Permits Muslims to Bury Persons Dying of COVID – 19 Due to Need to Prevent Islamic Nations Voting Against Sri Lanka at Crucial UNHRC Vote in Geneva and Because of Intense Lobbying by Pakistan’ »

Sri Lanka-Pakistan ties on a new footing following Imran Khan’s visit;Besides Enhanced defense and security ties the relationship may acquire a strong economic basis with Pakistan becoming a factor in Lankan Muslim politics

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By P.K.Balachandran

The two-day visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Sri Lanka, which concluded on Wednesday, has put Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations on a higher footing. Besides the traditional defense and security ties, which will be enhanced, the relationship may acquire a strong economic basis, and Pakistan may become a factor in Lankan Muslim politics.

Imran’s intercession on the issue of the burial of the COVID-19 dead, might result in government’s lifting the ban on it, thus bringing the curtains down on the bitter conflict between the State and the Muslims, for whom burial is a mandated Islamic practice.

It is clear that from now on, Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations will have a major trade and investment component as both countries have pledged to increase two-way trade from the current US$ 460 million to US$ 1 billion. For the first time, Sri Lanka has been invited to join the China-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to reach out to growing markets in Central Asia.

The China-factor in this matter was evident when Imran descried CPEC as the “flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative”, President Xi Jinping’s pet scheme with a global reach.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka-Pakistan ties on a new footing following Imran Khan’s visit;Besides Enhanced defense and security ties the relationship may acquire a strong economic basis with Pakistan becoming a factor in Lankan Muslim politics’ »

Support for Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity and Abiding commitment to aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace and dignity are the Two Pillars of India’s Consistent Position on Sri Lanka Says Indian Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey at UNRC in Geneva


Issuing his statement on OHCHR report on Sri Lanka, Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, Permanent Representative of India, said they believed that respecting the rights of the Tamil community, including through meaningful devolution, contributes directly to the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka.


Full statement is as follows,

We have taken note of the High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka and her oral remarks. The Council has adopted 7 Resolutions on the question of human rights in Sri Lanka since May 2009, when the three decades old conflict in that country ended.

India has been an active participant in the discussions on these Resolutions and has remained engaged with Sri Lanka as its close friend and immediate neighborIndia’s consistent position rests on two pillars:

i). Support for Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity.

ii). Abiding commitment to aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace and dignity.

Continue reading ‘Support for Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity and Abiding commitment to aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace and dignity are the Two Pillars of India’s Consistent Position on Sri Lanka Says Indian Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey at UNRC in Geneva’ »

Text of Statement by Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena during the Interactive Dialogue on the OHCHR Report at the 46th sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

(Text of Statement by Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena during the Interactive Dialogue on the OHCHR Report at the 46th sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva).

Madam President,

Madam High Commissioner,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The OHCHR Report which is presented today, emanates from the Resolution 30/1 and 40/1, from which the Government of Sri Lanka announced its withdrawal of co-sponsorship, at the 43rd Session of this Council last year.

Sri Lanka rejects the High Commissioner’s Report which has unjustifiably broadened its scope and mandate further, incorporating many issues of governance and matters that are essentially domestic for any self-respecting, sovereign country.

This is in complete violation of Article 2 (7) of the Charter of the UN that states: “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state…”

Continue reading ‘Text of Statement by Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena during the Interactive Dialogue on the OHCHR Report at the 46th sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva’ »

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet Tells 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council that her office would support judicial measures Targeting Sri Lanka in jurisdictions of Countries Outside the Island because the Sri Lankan Government had “closed the door” to justice for grave rights abuses nationally.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has vowed to support judicial proceedings in other countries against perpetrators of grave human rights violations in Sri Lanka, after the Government had effectively closed the door to achieving justice locally for alleged war time abuses.

In her statement to the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, High Commissioner Bachelet said her office would support judicial measures in outside jurisdictions because the Sri Lankan Government had “closed the door” to justice for grave rights abuses nationally.

“By repeatedly failing to advance accountability for past human rights violations committed, and by withdrawing its support for the Council’s resolution 30/1 and related measures, the Government has largely closed the door on the possibility of genuine progress to end impunity through a national process,” the UN Rights Chief told the 47-member Council.

Continue reading ‘UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet Tells 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council that her office would support judicial measures Targeting Sri Lanka in jurisdictions of Countries Outside the Island because the Sri Lankan Government had “closed the door” to justice for grave rights abuses nationally.’ »

Sri Lankan Govt categorically rejects the conclusions and recommendations in the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s Report and calls upon the members of the UNHRC to reject any resolution based upon this Report presented to the Council.

Sri Lanka rejected High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s report yesterday, saying it had “unjustifiably” broadened its scope and mandate, to include issues of governance that are essentially domestic for any sovereign country.

Responding as the country concerned to Bachelet’s oral statement on her report to the UNHRC on Sri Lanka’s progress on accountability and reconciliation, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunewardena said the report emanates from UNHRC resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 from which the Government has announced its withdrawal of co-sponsorship.

Addressing the council virtually, Minister Gunewardena said the Government categorically rejected the conclusions and recommendations in the High Commissioner’s Report.

“The trajectory that has emerged about the recommendations and conclusions reflects the preconceived, politicised and prejudicial agenda which certain elements have relentlessly pursued against Sri Lanka. These recommendations are based on ill-founded allegations,” the Foreign Minister charged.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Govt categorically rejects the conclusions and recommendations in the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s Report and calls upon the members of the UNHRC to reject any resolution based upon this Report presented to the Council.’ »

“The United States will seek election to the human rights council for the 2022 to 2024 term. We humbly ask for the support of all UN member States in our bid to return to a seat in this body” – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

By

Sriram Lakshman

The U.S. will seek re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday, as he “humbly” asked for the support of UN member states. ‘

This is the latest in a series of moves by the Biden administration to reverse a pattern of retreat from multilateralism that was characteristic of the Trump administration.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump had taken the U.S. out of the Council in 2018 saying it was biased against Israel and had members who were human rights abusers.

Continue reading ‘“The United States will seek election to the human rights council for the 2022 to 2024 term. We humbly ask for the support of all UN member States in our bid to return to a seat in this body” – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’ »

US Urges UNHRC member states to support resolution on Sri Lanka:Secretary of State Blinken says resolution will address “lack of accountability for past atrocities”

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council for the first time since its exit in 2018, the US yesterday urged member states of the Council to back a resolution on Sri Lanka to address the lack of accountability for past atrocities in the island.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the 46th Session of the UNHRC currently underway that the US was “placing democracy and human rights at the centre” of its foreign policy.

Continue reading ‘US Urges UNHRC member states to support resolution on Sri Lanka:Secretary of State Blinken says resolution will address “lack of accountability for past atrocities”’ »

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena participating in the Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR)again calls upon members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to reject the anti-Sri Lankan resolution presented to the Council

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has again asked members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to reject the anti-Sri Lankan resolution presented to the Council on Wednesday.

He was participating in the Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) entitled: ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ (A/HRC/46/20).

Gunawardena said that the OHCHR report emanated from Resolutions 30/1 and 40/1. The Government of Sri Lanka had withdrawn co-sponsorship of these resolutions at the 43rd Session of this Council in 2020.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena participating in the Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR)again calls upon members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to reject the anti-Sri Lankan resolution presented to the Council’ »

Saliya Pieris PC Elected President of Bar association of Sri Lanka(BASL) With an Overwhelming Majority Obtaining 5127 Votes While Rival Kuvera de Zoysa PC Garners 2807 Votes

Former head of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Saliya Pieris, PC, yesterday won the BASL presidency with an overwhelming majority.

Pieris succeeded Kalinga Indatissa, PC.

Former BASL President Upul Jayasuriya, PC, last night told The Island that Pieris polled 5162 votes. His rival Kuvera de Zoysa secured 2807 votes.

Continue reading ‘Saliya Pieris PC Elected President of Bar association of Sri Lanka(BASL) With an Overwhelming Majority Obtaining 5127 Votes While Rival Kuvera de Zoysa PC Garners 2807 Votes’ »

Full Text of the Draft Resolution on Sri Lanka Comprising 15 Preambular and 16 Operational Clauses Tabled by Core Group of Countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva

The Core Group on Sri Lanka tabled the draft resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, a UN spokesperson said, Resolution HRC_46_L.1 titled ‘promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ was tabled on Monday, UNHRC spokesman Rolando Gómez said.He said that this was the first resolution to be tabled at the ongoing 46th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva.

“This is the first of many that we expect to see to be tabled over the coming weeks,” he said.He said that all resolutions will be considered on March 22 and 23, the last two days of the 46th Session.Gómez also said that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will table a report on Sri Lanka on Wednesday Feb 24 at the Council following which the country concerned will respond.

The core group of countries comprise Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the United Kingdom

The full text of the draft resolution is as follows –

46th Session of the Human Rights Council

Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka

Human Rights Council 46 Resolution L.1


Preambular Paragraphs,

PP1: Guided by purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recalling the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments,

PP2: Recalling Human Rights Council resolutions 19/2, 22/1 25/1, 30/1, 34/1 and 40/1 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,

PP3: Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka,

PP4: Reaffirming also that it is the primary responsibility of each State respect, to promote and fulfill human rights as well as to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of its entire population,

PP5: Deploring the acts of terrorism which occurred in Sri Lanka in April 2019 leading to high numbers of injuries and deaths,

PP6: Acknowledging the holding of free and transparent democratic elections in November 2019 and August 2020,

Continue reading ‘Full Text of the Draft Resolution on Sri Lanka Comprising 15 Preambular and 16 Operational Clauses Tabled by Core Group of Countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva’ »

Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing Easter Day terror attacks finds former President Maithripala Sirisena guilty of “criminal liability” for his acts of omissions;recommends that Attorney-General Consider Criminal Proceedings Under the Penal Code Against Ex-president


By Chandani Kirinde

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) that probed the Easter Day terror attacks has found enough evidence to hold former President Maithripala Sirisena guilty of “criminal liability” for his part in the acts or omissions which resulted in the tragedy.

The PCoI recommended that the Attorney General (AG) consider instituting criminal proceedings against the former President under any suitable provision in the Penal Code.

The Commission also recommended that the AG consider initiating criminal proceedings against former IGP Pujith Jayasundera, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, Senior DIG Nandana Munasinghe and DIG Deshabandu Tennekoon.

A copy of the report was sent to Parliament yesterday and kept in the MPs library for perusal. The Daily FT saw extracts of the conclusions and recommendations of the five-member commission.

Continue reading ‘Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing Easter Day terror attacks finds former President Maithripala Sirisena guilty of “criminal liability” for his acts of omissions;recommends that Attorney-General Consider Criminal Proceedings Under the Penal Code Against Ex-president’ »

Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena appeals to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to reject a baseless anti-Sri Lankan resolution which the Core Group of Countries on Sri Lanka has tabled at the 46th Session of the UNHRC

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunwardena told the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday that his country, which is being pilloried by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for alleged war crimes had actually acted in self-defense against the depredations of a ruthless terrorist and separatist group.

“Nonetheless, hegemonic forces colluded against Sri Lanka in bringing an unsubstantiated resolution against Sri Lanka which was defeated by the support of friendly nations who remain by Sri Lanka’s side even today,” Gunawardena said addressing the High Level Segment of the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council using the video conferencing facility.

He appealed to the members of the Council to reject a baseless anti-Sri Lankan resolution which the Core Group on Sri Lanka is planning to table.

“Nonetheless, hegemonic forces colluded against Sri Lanka in bringing an unsubstantiated resolution against Sri Lanka which was defeated by the support of friendly nations who remain by Sri Lanka’s side even today,” Gunawardena said addressing the High Level Segment of the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council using the video conferencing facility.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena appeals to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to reject a baseless anti-Sri Lankan resolution which the Core Group of Countries on Sri Lanka has tabled at the 46th Session of the UNHRC’ »

When actress Jayalalithaa reigned as uncrowned Queen of Tamil cinema

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Former chief minister of Tamil Nadu Ms.Jayalalithaa Jayaram was born on February 24th 1948. The glamorous actress turned politician who passed away in 2016 would have turned seventy-three were she among the living now. This article originally written in 2016 for the “Spotlight”film affairs column in the “Daily Financial Times” is being re-posted here without changes to denote “Amma”s 73rd birth aniversary)

The demise in 2016 of alluring actress turned powerful politico Jayalalithaa Jayaram has caused a void in the politics of India’s Tamil Nadu state.

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

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

Fabulous film career

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

Chinese Firm Which Won Bid to Execute Renweable Energy Project in Delft, Nainatheevu and Analai Theevu Lashes Out at India for Protesting on Grounds of Security and Offering Outright Grant by Saying “We firmly oppose any outrageous interference by any third party without legal and factual basis.

By

Meera Srinivasan

A Chinese firm, which had won the bid to execute a renewable energy project in Sri Lanka’s northern islands, has objected to “outrageous interference” by a “third party”, apparently referring to India voicing concern recently.

In a statement issued on Monday, Sinosoar-Etechwin Joint Venture said it learned from media reports that “a third party” had protested against Sri Lanka’s Cabinet decision clearing the project, on grounds of “so-called self-security”. “We firmly oppose any outrageous interference by any third party without legal and factual basis,” the firm said.

Continue reading ‘Chinese Firm Which Won Bid to Execute Renweable Energy Project in Delft, Nainatheevu and Analai Theevu Lashes Out at India for Protesting on Grounds of Security and Offering Outright Grant by Saying “We firmly oppose any outrageous interference by any third party without legal and factual basis.’ »

Feb 20th 1961 Launch of Tamil ‘Satyagraha’ Encounters Baptism of fire on First Day

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(This is an Enhanced Version of an Article written for the “Political Pulse” Column in the “Daily Financial imes” of Feb 18th 2021).

February 20th 1961 is a very important date in the history of the Sri Lankan Tamil political struggle to regain lost rights. It was on this day, sixty years ago that the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) known in English as the Federal Party (FP) led by SJV Chelvanayakam commenced a non – violent direct action campaign against the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Government headed by the world’s first woman Prime minister Sirima Bandaranaike.This column intends re-visiting the hectic events amounting to a ‘baptism of fire’ on that fateful day in February sixty years ago.

1961 ~ Tamil ‘Satyagraha’

SJV Chelvanayagam

When the SLFP formed a Govt under Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike in July 1960 , the ITAK/FP had great expectations. The chief Tamil political party had entered into an unwritten agreement with the SLFP prior to the elections and expected the new Govt to honour it.To the ITAK’s dismay it was honoured in the breach.

Continue reading ‘Feb 20th 1961 Launch of Tamil ‘Satyagraha’ Encounters Baptism of fire on First Day’ »

Tamil “Satyagraha” Paralyses Administration in North and East 60 Years Ago

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(This is an Enhanced Version of an Article written for the DBS Jeyaraj Column in the “Daily Mirror” of Feb 13th, 2021.)

The “Pottuvil to Poligandy” (P2P) Protest that ended successfully last week was a watershed moment in the political history of Sri Lankan Tamils. The Five day “P2P” protest march began in the East on Wednesday 3 February concluded in the north on Sunday 7 February. Thousands of Tamils marched on foot and proceeded in vehicles from Pottuvil in the Amparai District to Poligandy in the Jaffna District.The P2P protest trek proceeded along the littoral in the Eastern Province and crisscrossed the hinterland in the Northern Province. The long journey covered over a distance of 700 km across the Districts of Amparai, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna. Tens of thousands of Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims demonstrated their support for the protest along the route in a remarkable show of solidarity and unity.

SJV Chelvanayagam at a Satyagraha


via: #P2P

What the P2P protest did was to provide an opportunity where the long suppressed Sri Lankan Tamil community could engage in an imaginative political campaign of this scale and scope. It displayed to the world at large the creative potential within the community to organize and execute a huge political demonstration of this nature. Above all, it refreshed memories of past non -violent protests by Tamils and indicated that the future course of Tamil politics in this country could, should and would be proactively dynamic in a democratic, non – violent mode.

Continue reading ‘Tamil “Satyagraha” Paralyses Administration in North and East 60 Years Ago’ »

Counsel Niran Anketell Appearing on behalf of Attorney at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah Tells the Fort Magistrate’s Court that the entire case against the Prominent Lawyer was “one big lie”.

Attorneys-at-Law for prominent lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah on Friday told the Fort Magistrate’s Court that the entire case against Hizbullah was “one big lie”.

“It’s a pure fabrication. They coerced children to make statements and even those statements they failed to get their facts right,” they said.

This was after Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris informed court that the Attorney General had decided to charge Hizbullah and the Principal of the Madrasa School under Section 2 (1) (h) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Section 3 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Peiris said that there was evidence that Zahran Hashim and the entire set of suicide bombers had visited the Madrasa, according to the statements made by children.

Continue reading ‘Counsel Niran Anketell Appearing on behalf of Attorney at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah Tells the Fort Magistrate’s Court that the entire case against the Prominent Lawyer was “one big lie”.’ »

46th Session of UN Human Rights Council Commences in Geneva on Feb 22 with Resolution on Sri Lanka being Very Likely to be Adopted by Sessions End on March 19; Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardene to Address High Level Segment on Feb 24 After Which UN Human Rights Commissioner will Present Oral Report on Sri Lanka Followed by Interactive Dialogue on Lanka


The legacy and closure of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war and the country’s complicated human rights record will take centre-stage as the 46th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) kicks off in Geneva today.(Feb 22)

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunewardane will address the 46th Session of the Council during the ‘high-level segment’ on Wednesday between 1.30-4.30 p.m. local time via video conference, with coronavirus pandemic protocols put in place for the meeting.

Soon after the high-level segment, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will deliver her oral report on Sri Lanka, followed by an interactive dialogue where Member States of the Council will weigh in on her appraisal.

Bachelet’s oral statement will be based on her scathing 17-page update on Sri Lanka’s compliance with previous UNHRC resolutions that urged the country to make good on post-war justice and reconciliation commitments.

The Council is likely to adopt a resolution on Sri Lanka at the conclusion of its month-long session which will end on 19 March. Calls are mounting internationally for the UNHRC to take decisive action on Sri Lanka, by way of a strong resolution at the end of the 46th Session.

In her report to the Council, High Commissioner Bachelet issued an early warning that Sri Lanka’s current trajectory sets the scene for a recurrence of grave human rights violations.

The UN Rights Chief has urged Member States of the UN to take swift preventative action on Sri Lanka to prevent a human rights calamity in the country, including the options of travel bans, targeted sanctions and asset freezes against alleged perpetrators of grave violations and atrocities.

Global human rights watchdogs have also sounded the alarm.

Continue reading ‘46th Session of UN Human Rights Council Commences in Geneva on Feb 22 with Resolution on Sri Lanka being Very Likely to be Adopted by Sessions End on March 19; Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardene to Address High Level Segment on Feb 24 After Which UN Human Rights Commissioner will Present Oral Report on Sri Lanka Followed by Interactive Dialogue on Lanka’ »

Sarath Weerasekara and the Withdrawal of STF Security For Sumanthiran After P2P

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The five-day-long ‘Pottuvil to Poligandy’ (P2P) protest that began in the East on Wednesday 3 February concluded in the north on Sunday 7 February on a triumphant note.

Thousands of Tamils marched on foot and proceeded in vehicles from Pottuvil in the Amparai District to Poligandy in the Jaffna District. Tens of thousands of Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims demonstrated their support for the protest along the route in a remarkable show of solidarity and unity.

#P2P, MW Sumanthiran, Shanakkiyan & Sarath Weerasekara

The ‘P2P’ protest march or demonstration was initially organised by committed Tamil civil society activists of the north and east in tandem with Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK) Parliamentarians Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran and Shanakkiyan Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam.

Continue reading ‘Sarath Weerasekara and the Withdrawal of STF Security For Sumanthiran After P2P’ »

Sri Lankan Energy Minister Says Govt would “re-acquire” oil tanks in Trincomalee leased out to an Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) subsidiary but India says the bilateral understanding on jointly developing and operating the tank farm sill stands.


By

Meera Srinivasan

A day after Sri Lanka’s Minister of Energy remarked that the government would “re-acquire” World War-era oil tanks in the eastern city of Trincomalee — which were leased out to an Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) subsidiary in 2003 — India said the bilateral understanding on jointly developing and operating the tank farm stood.

“The two governments have consulted each other to explore mutually acceptable modalities for jointly developing and operating the facility in accordance with existing bilateral understandings, including the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2017,” a statement from the Indian mission here said, denying reports in “sections of media” that the old deal was “scrapped”.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Energy Minister Says Govt would “re-acquire” oil tanks in Trincomalee leased out to an Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) subsidiary but India says the bilateral understanding on jointly developing and operating the tank farm sill stands.’ »

Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal Mohammed Shakeel remanded till 3 March by Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage; face charges under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA, section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act and Section 102 and 113 (a) of the Penal Code.


Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and the Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were remanded till 3 March by Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage yesterday.

The two were produced before the Magistrate on the directive of the Attorney General to face charges under the PTA and the ICCPR Act.

Deputy Solicitor General Dileep Peiris informed the Magistrate that the suspects were involved in imparting extremist teachings at a religious school in Puttalam and this school had links to those involved in the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Continue reading ‘Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal Mohammed Shakeel remanded till 3 March by Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage; face charges under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA, section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act and Section 102 and 113 (a) of the Penal Code.’ »

Attorney- General Dappula de Livera Directs CID to name detained attorney Hejaaz Omar Hizbullah as a suspect and produce him in Courts to face charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the ICCPR Act, as well as charges of conspiracy under the Penal Code.

By Chandani Kirinde

Attorney General Dappula de Livera yesterday directed the CID to name detained attorney Hejaaz Omar Hizbullah as a suspect and produce him before a Magistrate to face charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the ICCPR Act, as well as charges of conspiracy under the Penal Code.

Hizbullah will face charges under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA, section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act and Section 102 and 113 (a) of the Penal Code, Coordinating officer to the AG State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

She said that the AG’s directive came after perusal of the investigation reports submitted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the AG.

Continue reading ‘Attorney- General Dappula de Livera Directs CID to name detained attorney Hejaaz Omar Hizbullah as a suspect and produce him in Courts to face charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the ICCPR Act, as well as charges of conspiracy under the Penal Code.’ »

Energy Minister Gammanpila Says New Joint Venture Project Will Enable Sri Lanka to Regain Trincomalee Oil Tanks Given to India two Decades Ago but Indian High Commission Spokesma in Colombo is Cautiously Non – Committal about A any Agreement Being Reached

By Uditha Jayasinghe

The Government yesterday said talks with India on development of the Upper Oil Tank Farm in Trincomalee had concluded with both sides agreeing to manage them via a partnership between Lanka IOC and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), with the latter being the majority shareholder.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila speaking at an event at the CPC’s Kolonnawa storage terminal, praised India for being flexible on the stipulations put forward by the Sri Lankan Government and agreeing to a joint venture that would see Sri Lanka regaining the tanks that were given to Lanka IOC nearly two decades ago.

The talks on the oil tanks, which closely followed Sri Lanka’s controversial decision on the East Container Terminal (ECT), were held with Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay. Minister Gammanpila said Baglay’s stance was praiseworthy, as India was willing to venture beyond the terms outlined in an agreement with the former Government in 2017.

“The talks concluded last Sunday and they were to Sri Lanka’s advantage. We will soon re-acquire the Trincomalee oil tanks and they will be managed and developed under a company jointly held by the CPC and Lanka IOC. The CPC will be the majority shareholder. We will work very cordially with Lanka IOC on this venture,” Gammanpila told the gathering.

Continue reading ‘Energy Minister Gammanpila Says New Joint Venture Project Will Enable Sri Lanka to Regain Trincomalee Oil Tanks Given to India two Decades Ago but Indian High Commission Spokesma in Colombo is Cautiously Non – Committal about A any Agreement Being Reached’ »

President Rajapaksa’s Office Strongly Denies Allegation by Ex- US Ambassador for War Crimes and Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp that Gotabaya as Def Secy had admitted to Killing LTTE Surrendees saying ““I killed them, I killed them, I killed them,”

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Office yesterday (15) strongly denied a claim by former US Ambassador for War Crimes and Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp (2009-2015) that wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had admitted to killing LTTE leaders following their surrender to the Army in 2009. Rapp claimed Rajapaksa had told him so when he met the latter in Colombo.

There was absolutely no basis for Rapp’s claim, the President’s Office said when The Island sought President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s response to the former Ambassador’s accusation. The President’s Office questioned the former US official’s motive to make such a statement seven years after leaving office.

The allegation was made on Friday (12) at an online panel discussion organised by a group of organizations targeting Sri Lanka led by the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) on Justice and rule of law in the run-up to the 46th sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council. Rapp recalled a conversation with the then Defence Secretary and now President Gotabaya Rajapaksa regarding LTTE leaders who surrendered to the army. Rapp said the government “hated the LTTE”.

“I remember raising this issue with defence secretary Gotabaya, now President Rajapaksa when I was there,” Rapp said at the webinar.

“I remember the defence secretary saying, “Oh, trials, trials, you know they go on so long and people get off”. And then he said, “I killed them, I killed them, I killed them,” Rapp recalled.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa’s Office Strongly Denies Allegation by Ex- US Ambassador for War Crimes and Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp that Gotabaya as Def Secy had admitted to Killing LTTE Surrendees saying ““I killed them, I killed them, I killed them,”’ »

UN’s failure to act on Sri Lanka could spur a global pandemic of impunity Warn Former Top UN and US Officials During 150 Minute Webinar titled Sri Lanka: Quest for Justice, Rule of Law and Democratic Rights Watched World -Wide on 12 February.


The UN’s failure to act on Sri Lanka could spur a global pandemic of impunity, former top UN officials and human rights experts warned during a widely publicised webinar last week, ahead of a key Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

A webinar titled Sri Lanka: Quest for Justice, Rule of Law and Democratic Rights was held on 12 February. It was co-hosted by the Global Tamil Forum, the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice of the New York University, the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice and the Canadian Tamil Congress. In addition to Sri Lankan activists and politicians, the webinar featured pre-eminent global experts on human rights and transitional justice including the former UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice, Pablo de Greiff.

All of the international experts cautioned against pinning hope on the United Nations to achieve justice and reconciliation in Sri Lanka and advocated for systems and institutional structures to be put in place that would foster a reckoning with Sri Lanka’s legacy of war, and prevent a recurrence of violence.

Continue reading ‘UN’s failure to act on Sri Lanka could spur a global pandemic of impunity Warn Former Top UN and US Officials During 150 Minute Webinar titled Sri Lanka: Quest for Justice, Rule of Law and Democratic Rights Watched World -Wide on 12 February.’ »

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Speaking in the Tamil Nadu State Capital Chennai Reiterates that India is always committed to ensuring that the Tamils in Sri Lanka live with equality, justice peace and dignity

(The Following remarks are Extracted from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Chennai on 14 February 2021.He was speaking at the inauguration/handing over/laying of Foundation Stone of various projects of Chennai.)

Friends,

Our Government has always taken care of the welfare and aspirations of our Tamil brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.It is my honour to have been the only Indian PM to visit Jaffna.

Through development works we are ensuring welfare of Sri Lanka’s Tamil community.

The resources given by our Government for Tamils have been much more than in the past.

Continue reading ‘Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Speaking in the Tamil Nadu State Capital Chennai Reiterates that India is always committed to ensuring that the Tamils in Sri Lanka live with equality, justice peace and dignity’ »

Sri Lanka will next week sign an agreement with China for a Currency swap arrangement amounting to US$ 1.5 billion to be paid back within three and half years..

By Damith Wickremasekara

Sri Lanka will next week sign an agreement with China’s Central Bank — the People’s Bank of China — for a swap arrangement amounting to US$ 1.5 billion.

The move came as the Government is looking at measures to bridge the gap of another US$ 1 billion. The Sri Lankan Central bank was expecting this from India, but it is now unlikely, a senior Central Bank official said.

Under the swap arrangement with China, the funds are expected to be made use of to maintain the foreign reserves and for imports from China, the official said.

The money is to be paid back within three and half years.

A currency swap is a transaction in which two parties exchange an equivalent amount of money with each other but in different currencies. The parties are essentially loaning each other money and will repay the amounts at a specified date and exchange rate.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka will next week sign an agreement with China for a Currency swap arrangement amounting to US$ 1.5 billion to be paid back within three and half years..’ »

Sri Lanka hits back at United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s 17 page report with a 30 page Response saying UN Human Rights Chief’s is based on “speculative, presumptive and unsubstantiated opinions.”

By The “Sunday Times” Political Editor

Sri Lanka has hit back at the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s latest report calling for targeted sanctions, saying it is based on “speculative, presumptive and unsubstantiated opinions.”

It came in a 30-page response to her report which called for targeted sanctions — asset freezes, travel bans and the reference to International Criminal Court of those responsible for violating human rights and international human rights laws. For this purpose, the UN agency wants governments to use “extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction.” There is not a semblance of evidence, it asserted.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka hits back at United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s 17 page report with a 30 page Response saying UN Human Rights Chief’s is based on “speculative, presumptive and unsubstantiated opinions.”’ »

Ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Embarrasses Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa over the controversial “Cremation Only” policy for COVID-19 dead issue

By Sandun Jayawardana

Not often does a Government make a complete fool of its own leaders but the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) did that in spectacularly farcical fashion this week by embarrassing Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa over the controversial “cremation only” policy for COVID-19 dead.

The bizarre saga unfolded in Parliament after Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Colombo District MP S.M. Marikkar raised a point of order on Wednesday to draw the House’s attention to an answer given by COVID Control State Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle the day before. Mr Marikkar reminded that the State Minister had stated that there was no evidence that COVID-19 was transmitted through groundwater. If that was the case, Mr. Marikkar wanted to know whether the Government would allow the burial of COVID-19 victims.

The Government has repeatedly cited fears of groundwater pollution as the main reason why it does not permit the burial of those who die of COVID-19.

Continue reading ‘Ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Embarrasses Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa over the controversial “Cremation Only” policy for COVID-19 dead issue’ »

“Pottuvil to Poligandy” Protest March Covers Over 250 km in Two Days To Reach Trincomalee

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

There has been a lot of political excitement in the Tamil speaking areas of the Eastern Province for the past two days (Feb 3rd and 4th) due to the launching of a protest demonstration named “Pottuvil to Poligandy” or “P2P”. This was to be a long march on foot and in vehicles from the Eastern town of Pottuvil in the Amparai district to the Northern town of Poligandy in Jaffna district. The four – day journey was to be along the roads of the Eastern and Northern Provinces. Beginning on February 3rd in Pottuvil, it was scheduled to end in Poligandy on February 6th. However it has now been extended by another day to Feb 7th. The objective is to protest the various acts of alleged oppression and discrimination being perpetrated against the Tamil and Muslim people of Sri Lanka and draw the attention of the world to those.

via: #P2P

The protest march or demonstration was initially organized by committed Tamil civil society activists in tandem with Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) parliamentarians Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran and Shanakkiyan Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam. The campaign was officially supported by the Tamil National Alliance(TNA). Soon other Tamil organizations as well as political parties like the TamilNational Peoples Front (TNPF) also lent support. As the protest got underway there was a spontaneous upsurge of support by Tamils as well as the Tamil speaking Muslims of the East.

Continue reading ‘“Pottuvil to Poligandy” Protest March Covers Over 250 km in Two Days To Reach Trincomalee’ »

Excluding National Anthem in Tamil on Independence Day

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

It was widely reported in the media early this week that the National Anthem would be sung in Sinhala only at the official celebrations of Sri Lanka’s 73rd anniversary of gaining independence from Britain.

Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne made it unambiguously clear at a press briefing that the National Anthem would not be sung n Tamil at the official freedom day event.

Even though Tamil is the language spoken by around 25% of the island’s population comprising the Sri Lankan Tamils, Muslims and Up Country Tamils and is a Constitutionally-approved official language of Sri Lanka, the language was to be excluded at the official celebrations of conducted by the State.

The official announcement by Gen. Gunaratne made it clear to the Tamil-speaking of people in Sri Lanka that their language would only be afforded inferior status in their own motherland.
Continue reading ‘Excluding National Anthem in Tamil on Independence Day’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Warns he will be Compelled to Call for a Probe by an International Court if Justice is not Meted out to the Victims of The Easter Bombing Carnage; Catholic Prelate Says he is not satisfied with the investigations carried out by some, including the CID.

By

Yohan Perera

Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith today said he will be compelled to call for a probe by an international court over the Easter Sunday attacks, if justice is not meted out to victims of the mayhem and their families.

Cardinal Ranjith told a press conference that he is not satisfied with the investigations carried out by some, including the CID.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Warns he will be Compelled to Call for a Probe by an International Court if Justice is not Meted out to the Victims of The Easter Bombing Carnage; Catholic Prelate Says he is not satisfied with the investigations carried out by some, including the CID.’ »

Though Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Stated Burials of COVID Victims Will be Permitted, State Minister Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle Says the decision on the matter would be made by a technical committee that comes under the Ministry of Health.

There was confusion in Parliament yesterday over the Government’s position regarding its policy on mandatory cremation of COVID-19 victims after State Minister of Primary Health Services, Pandemics and COVID Prevention Sudharshini Fernandopulle, said that the decision on the matter would be made by a technical committee that comes under the Ministry of Health.

“The Health Ministry does not take personal decisions on policy matter, but it is done through a technical committee. We have to present this to the technical committee, and we will have to act according to their decision,” Fernandopulle said, a day after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told the House that the Government would allow burials. The State Minister made the remark after SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman asked when the government was planning to issue the Gazette notification revoking its cremation-only policy.

Following Fernandopulle’s comments SJB MP Rauff Hakeem questioned as to who in the “so-called” expert committee was blocking this.

Continue reading ‘Though Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Stated Burials of COVID Victims Will be Permitted, State Minister Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle Says the decision on the matter would be made by a technical committee that comes under the Ministry of Health.’ »

“It is wrong to describe our attempt to restore security of MP Sumanthiran as an attempt to give security to a terrorist. Then what about the security accorded to Karuna Amman and Pillayan? Who is Pillayan? Sumanthiran was always against terrorism. It is unfair for you to lump him with the terrorists.”- Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday announced that TNA parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran’s complaint that he had been wrongly accused of evading sessions of the Presidential Commission of inquiry into political victimisation would be referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

The Speaker said that a motion could be permitted to refer to the privilege matter raised by MP Sumanthiran on Nov 28, 2020.

Continue reading ‘“It is wrong to describe our attempt to restore security of MP Sumanthiran as an attempt to give security to a terrorist. Then what about the security accorded to Karuna Amman and Pillayan? Who is Pillayan? Sumanthiran was always against terrorism. It is unfair for you to lump him with the terrorists.”- Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka’ »

Wages Board Takes Historic Decision with 11 to 9 Majority Vote to Approve Rupees 1000 Daily Wage for Plantation Workers Consisting of Rs 900 Basic Salary and Rs 100 Budgetary Allowance.

By Uditha Jayasinghe

The Wages Board yesterday approved the Rs. 1,000 daily wage for the plantation sector, ending nearly two years of dragging discussions between Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) and trade unions, clearing the way for the Labour Minister to gazette the salary increase within a week.

Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon hailed the breakthrough, which came after a marathon discussion lasting several hours between the RPCs and unions. He also said steps would be taken to gazette the decision before next Monday.

Since the issue could not be resolved amicably during the Wages Board meeting, Labour Commissioner General Prabath Chandrakeerthi had called for a vote and the salary increase had carried, receiving 11 votes in favour from Wages Board members with nine against.

Continue reading ‘Wages Board Takes Historic Decision with 11 to 9 Majority Vote to Approve Rupees 1000 Daily Wage for Plantation Workers Consisting of Rs 900 Basic Salary and Rs 100 Budgetary Allowance.’ »

Special Task Force Personnel Providing Security to TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran Withdrawn rom February 7th 2021 Without Prior Notice Being Given

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

The STF personnel providing security for TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran had been withdrawn last Sunday (7) evening.

Sumanthiran said, no reasons have been given to him prior to the move. He claimed, the security officers informed him they have been recalled from duty.

The MP participated in the four-day ‘Pottuvil to Polikandy’ protest parade with several other Tamil politicians and civil society members.

Continue reading ‘Special Task Force Personnel Providing Security to TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran Withdrawn rom February 7th 2021 Without Prior Notice Being Given’ »

USA Under President Joe Biden will Re-engage with the Geneva based UN Human Rights Council as an Observer now and Re-enter UNHRC as a Full Member in Due Course

The Biden administration is set to announce this week that it will reengage with the much-maligned U.N. Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago, U.S. officials said Sunday. The decision reverses another Trump-era move away from multilateral organizations and agreements.

U..S. officials say Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior U.S. diplomat in Geneva will announce on Monday that Washington will return to the Geneva-based body as an observer with an eye toward seeking election as a full member. The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservative lawmakers and many in the pro-Israel community.

Continue reading ‘USA Under President Joe Biden will Re-engage with the Geneva based UN Human Rights Council as an Observer now and Re-enter UNHRC as a Full Member in Due Course’ »

Sri Lankan minister Godahewa says Adani Group offered to invest in West Container Terminal, as a ‘commercially better option’, but with the same equity ratio (85%/15%) given to China at CCIT.


By

PADMA RAO SUNDARJI

The row has intensified and diplomatic relations have frayed ever since Sri Lanka unilaterally cancelled an agreement with India and Japan over the East Container Terminal (ECT) of Colombo port.

Now, a Sri Lankan minister has added a new twist to the controversy by claiming that the main Indian investor, the Adani Group, has itself indicated that it would be willing to put its money in the West Container Terminal (WCT), since it could be a better commercial prospect.

“We were on the verge of a national crisis because trade unions were threatening a national strike, if the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the ECT is not cancelled,” said Nalaka Godahewa, state minister for urban development.

“We asked them (Adani Group and its local partner John Keells) for other options. They themselves asked us whether we could look at WCT, but, with the same equity ratio (85%:15%) that was given to China to develop the Colombo Cargo Container Terminal (CCIT) of the port. Commercially, it would be a better option, they said.”

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan minister Godahewa says Adani Group offered to invest in West Container Terminal, as a ‘commercially better option’, but with the same equity ratio (85%/15%) given to China at CCIT.’ »

It is primarily in Colombo’s Interest to find a compromise formula to salvage The East Coast Terminal deal With India and Japan that has far-reaching consequences for the region-“The Hindu”

(Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Hindu” of February 6th 2021 under the Heading “Terminal declined: On Sri Lanka reneging on Colombo East Container Terminal”)

India and Japan are important donors, and Sri Lanka must try and salvage the ECT deal

The Rajapaksa government’s decision to overturn Sri Lanka’s tripartite agreement to develop Colombo’s East Container Terminal is a setback to India and Japan. The project, worth an estimated $500-$700 million, was a key marker for infrastructure investment in the island nation where Chinese projects are most prominent. More than two-thirds of trans-shipment at this port is tied to India, making it an important trade and connectivity link.

Continue reading ‘It is primarily in Colombo’s Interest to find a compromise formula to salvage The East Coast Terminal deal With India and Japan that has far-reaching consequences for the region-“The Hindu”’ »

“Concerns Raised”By India Over Sri Lankan Govt Approving Proposal to install “Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems” in Joint Venture With “Sinosoar-Etechw”of China in Three Northern Islands Located 50 Km Away From Tamil Nadu Coast

By

Meera Srinivasan

The site’s proximity to the Indian coastline can be a cause for concern
Sri Lanka’s recent decision to pull out of the East Container Terminal (ECT) deal with India and Japan is not the only challenge to New Delhi’s interests emerging this year.

“Hybrid A week before reneging on the 2019 Colombo Port terminal agreement, Sri Lanka cleared a Chinese energy project in three islands off Jaffna peninsula that are barely 50 km from the Tamil Nadu coast.

On January 18, the Cabinet approved a proposal to involve Sinosoar-Etechw in Joint Venture in China to install ‘hybrid renewable energy systems’ in Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu, and Analaitivu, located in the Palk Bay. The islands are connected to the Jaffna peninsula by a limited ferry service, managed mostly by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Continue reading ‘“Concerns Raised”By India Over Sri Lankan Govt Approving Proposal to install “Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems” in Joint Venture With “Sinosoar-Etechw”of China in Three Northern Islands Located 50 Km Away From Tamil Nadu Coast’ »

India Lodges Strong Protest Raising Security Concerns Over Three Renewable Energy Projects in the Northern Islands of Neduntheevu(Delft), Nainatheevu and Analaitheevu Being Given to Chinese Company by Sri Lanka Despite their Proximity to the Indian Coast

By S. Rubatheesan

India has lodged a strong protest with Sri Lanka on the award of a tender to a Chinese company to set up three renewable energy projects in outlying islands off the Jaffna peninsula.

The protest, the Sunday Times learnt, came even before the Cabinet of Ministers decided not to give India and Japan the East Container Terminal in the Colombo Port. This also provoked a strong protest from India.

The protest was triggered by the Department of Information releasing the decisions of the Cabinet. The renewable energy project was approved by the Cabinet on January 18.

Continue reading ‘India Lodges Strong Protest Raising Security Concerns Over Three Renewable Energy Projects in the Northern Islands of Neduntheevu(Delft), Nainatheevu and Analaitheevu Being Given to Chinese Company by Sri Lanka Despite their Proximity to the Indian Coast’ »

Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay in successive Meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena Urges Sri Lanka to Adhere to its Commitments Stipulated in the Tripartite Agreement of May 2019 Between Sri Lanka, India and Japan

By

Meera Srinivasan

In a flurry of meetings a day after Sri Lanka backed out of an agreement with India and Japan, to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Tuesday, official sources told The Hindu.

The thrust of the Indian envoy’s message to the Sri Lankan leadership, sources said, was that Colombo must adhere to its commitments in the tripartite agreement of May 2019, to jointly develop the strategic terminal with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) holding 51 % stakes, and India and Japan, holding 49 % together. The Adani Group from India, along with Japanese companies, was to invest in the project expected to cost upto $700 million, as per official estimates.

Continue reading ‘Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay in successive Meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena Urges Sri Lanka to Adhere to its Commitments Stipulated in the Tripartite Agreement of May 2019 Between Sri Lanka, India and Japan’ »

Japan says the decision by Sri Lanka to scrap a 2019 agreement with India and Japan for operating the East Coast Terminal (ECT),is “unilateral and regrettable”


By

Suhasini Haidar and Meera Srinivasan

Two days after Sri Lanka decided to scrap a 2019 agreement with India and Japan for operating the East Coast Terminal (ECT), Japan says the decision was “unilateral and regrettable.” Japan’s Ambassador Akira Sugiyama also met with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to discuss the issue on Wednesday, after a flurry of meetings between the Indian High Commissioner to Colombo Gopal Baglay and the top leadership of Sri Lanka, including Mr. Gunawardena, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to protest the decision. The ECT project was expected to showcase India-Japan cooperation in a part of South Asia, where Chinese infrastructure projects have been prominent.

In Delhi, an official of the Japanese Embassy said the Japanese government was “looking into the details” of the announcement made by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa after a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Continue reading ‘Japan says the decision by Sri Lanka to scrap a 2019 agreement with India and Japan for operating the East Coast Terminal (ECT),is “unilateral and regrettable”’ »

Lawyers for SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake file an application in the Court of Appeal seeking a Writ of Prohibition against the Secretary General of Parliament to prevent the official from filling his seat in the legislature until a hearing and final determination is made on his petition before the Supreme court..

On the heels of an unprecedented appeal filed in the Supreme Court, lawyers for SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake filed an application in the Court of Appeal on Monday (1) seeking a Writ of Prohibition against the Secretary General of Parliament, to prevent the official from filling his seat in the legislature.

Ramanayake is also seeking interim relief from the Court of Appeal restraining the Secretary General of Parliament from filling his parliamentary seat until a hearing and final determination is made on his petition before court.

Continue reading ‘Lawyers for SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake file an application in the Court of Appeal seeking a Writ of Prohibition against the Secretary General of Parliament to prevent the official from filling his seat in the legislature until a hearing and final determination is made on his petition before the Supreme court..’ »

Convicted actor-politician Ranjan Ramanayake’s lawyers have filed a historic appeal in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka Seeking a Review of the Decision by a Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court by a Larger Divisional Bench of the Apex Court


Convicted actor-politician Ranjan Ramanayake’s lawyers have filed a historic appeal in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka using provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)that guarantee every person convicted of a crime, the right to appeal.

The appeal filed on Monday (1) cites the petitioner in Ramanayake’s contempt case Ranawaka Sunil Perera as ‘petitioner respondent’ and makes the Attorney General a respondent.

Ramanayake’s appeal before the Supreme Court hinges on a provision in the ICCPR Act No. 56 enacted by Parliament in 2007, which stipulates that every person convicted of a criminal offence is entitled to an appeal against his conviction in a higher court.

Continue reading ‘Convicted actor-politician Ranjan Ramanayake’s lawyers have filed a historic appeal in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka Seeking a Review of the Decision by a Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court by a Larger Divisional Bench of the Apex Court’ »

“Nagaichuvai Mannan” Nagesh: The Comedy King of Tamil Cinema

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Naghaichchuvai Mannan” (King of Comedy) Nagesh passed away in Chennai on Jan 31st 2009. His 12th death anniversary is being commemorated this year. He was born on September 27th 1933.

Nagesh in "Iru Kodugall"

Nagesh in “Iru Kodugal”

Nagesh was the undisputed king of comedians in Tamil cinema from the early sixties to mid-seventies of the previous century. After a “lull” the versatile actor re-entered Tamil cinema in a new “avatar” playing character and villain roles. Even during his stint as comedian, Nagesh acted in quite a few lead roles too.
Continue reading ‘“Nagaichuvai Mannan” Nagesh: The Comedy King of Tamil Cinema’ »

Renowned Film Maker Dharmasena Pathiraja was the “Enfant Terrible” of Sinhala Cinema.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

January 28th 2021 was the third death anniversary of famous film maker Dharmasena Pathiraja. The renowned academic cum film director, referred to as “Pathi” by almost everybody he interacted with, breathed his last on the morning of 28 January, 2018 at the Lakeside Hospital in Kandy. He was 74 years and had been ailing for some time. The funeral of Dharmasena Pathiraja took place at the Mahaiyawa cemetery in Kandy on the evening of 28 January itself.Pathi, who lived a full life as a free spirit according to his own rules, had wanted a swift and simple funeral sans speeches and religious rites. His wishes were adhered to. Pathi leaves behind wife Malani Kusumalatha and two children Sumedha and Milinda.

I intend this week to commemorate the third death anniversary of Dharmasena Pathiraja in this column . I have already written about him immediately after his demise. This column would therefore be a modified version of that article. The heading of this article refers to Dharmasena Pathiraja as the “enfant terrible”of Sinhala Cinema.

Continue reading ‘Renowned Film Maker Dharmasena Pathiraja was the “Enfant Terrible” of Sinhala Cinema.’ »

India Opposes Unilateral Sri Lankan Attempt to Exercise Sole Control Over Colombo Port East Coast Terminal Development Project:Indian High Commssion Spokesman Wants Sri Lanka to Honour Tripartite Memorandum of Cooperation Signed by Sri Lanka, India and Japan in May 2019.

By

P.K. Balachandran

Reacting to signals from the Sri Lankan government that it is opting out of the May 2019 trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between Sri Lanka, India and Japan to build and run the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port, the Indian High Commission said on Monday that it expects all parties to adhere to the MOC.

“ I would like to reiterate the expectation of the Government of India for the expeditious implementation of the trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed in May 2019 among the Governments of India, Japan and Sri Lanka for the development of ECT with participation from these three countries,” a statement issued by the spokesman of the High Commission said.

“The commitment of Government of Sri Lanka in this regard has been conveyed several times in the recent past, including at the leadership level. The Sri Lankan cabinet also took a decision three months ago to implement the project with foreign investors. All sides should continue to abide by the existing understandings and commitment,” the spokesman added.

Continue reading ‘India Opposes Unilateral Sri Lankan Attempt to Exercise Sole Control Over Colombo Port East Coast Terminal Development Project:Indian High Commssion Spokesman Wants Sri Lanka to Honour Tripartite Memorandum of Cooperation Signed by Sri Lanka, India and Japan in May 2019.’ »

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Sri Lankan Cabinet Unanimously Decides to Abrogate Tripartite Agreement With India and Japan on the Strategic Sri Lankan Harbour East Coast Terminal Development Project Despite Nearly 70% of Port’s Transhiment Business Being Linked to India.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Reneging on a 2019 agreement with India and Japan, Sri Lanka has decided to develop the strategic East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port on its own.

The Sri Lankan government would instead offer the West Container Terminal to India for possible investments, a senior government source told The Hindu.

The decision was taken at Monday’s Cabinet meeting helmed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, when members “unanimously” agreed to proposals submitted by the Minister of Ports and Shipping, the source said.

It comes amid mounting pressure from Port union workers against any foreign role or investment in the ECT project, where nearly 70% of the transhipment business is linked to India.

Asked about the development, a senior Indian source said: “We would hope that Sri Lanka does not unilaterally decide on this matter, as there is a tripartite agreement on it.”

For New Delhi, the strategic ECT project in Colombo has been high on priority.

It has figured in talks at the highest levels, including when External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visited in January. A week after his visit, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told agitating Port worker unions that the Adani Group – Government of India’s nominee – would invest in the terminal, and that the Terminal would not be “sold or leased” to any foreign entity, signalling that his government was taking forward the 2019 Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC).

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Cabinet Unanimously Decides to Abrogate Tripartite Agreement With India and Japan on the Strategic Sri Lankan Harbour East Coast Terminal Development Project Despite Nearly 70% of Port’s Transhiment Business Being Linked to India.’ »

Feeling of Helplessness Under Gota’s Rule Makes Tamil Parties Close Ranks and Escalate Demands at UN in Geneva

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Only God can save the Tamil people now” (Thamil Makkalai Inik Kadavul Thaan Kaappaatra Vaendum) was the anguished response of respected Sri Lankan Tamil political leader Samuel James Veluppilaai Chelvanayakam after the results of the 1970 Parliamentary Elections were known.

The United Front (UF) led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike had swept the polls with a two-thirds majority. The UF constituents – Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and Communist Party (CP) had obtained 91, 19 and six seats respectively in a Parliament of 157 MPs. The chief opposition United National Party (UNP) had been reduced to 17. The Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchiknown in English as the Federal Party led by S.J.V. Chelvanayakam got 13 seats.


R. Sampanthan, CV Wigneswaran and Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam

Chelvanayakam’s “resort to divine providence” was due to the sense of utter helplessness felt by the chief Tamil political party of north-eastern Tamils after the elections. The past years had seen the ITAK/FP engage in a political strategy of “agitate cum negotiate” to win back the lost rights of the Tamil people. In a situation where the two major Sinhala-dominated parties were more or less evenly matched, the Tamil party usually had the third largest number of seats in Parliament. Thus the ITAK would hold the balance of power with its bloc of MPs and utilise that clout to negotiate with the UNP and SLFP.
Continue reading ‘Feeling of Helplessness Under Gota’s Rule Makes Tamil Parties Close Ranks and Escalate Demands at UN in Geneva’ »

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Rebukes Sri Lankas UN Envoy Mohan Pieris at UN interactive Session in New York saying “If the(Sri Lankan) Govt and its people took the need for reconciliation and accountability seriously, it would reduce the interest of other entities to directly involve themselves in those issues

The Sri Lankan Envoy to the United Nations in New York unprecedently raised the country’s human rights issues at the UN General Assembly last Thursday (28 January), charging that defeated terrorists were using international rights mechanisms to unleash a different kind of terrorism, a serious broadside to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

In his maiden address to the General Assembly, Pieris, a former controversial Chief Justice, appeared to question whether a recent report on Sri Lanka by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet was an “exercise in regime change”.

“It appears today that vanquished terror groups and terrorism is making use of very civilised mechanisms to unleash a different kind of terrorism. To walk themselves into the very mechanism that protects a civilised world,” Ambassador Pieris said, alluding to the United Nations and its instruments, such as the Human Rights Council based in Geneva.

“Should our mandates extend to interfering with local processes such as perhaps an exercise in a change of regime which is being critiqued in a recent report from the human rights council?” Ambassador Pieris asked the General Assembly.

Continue reading ‘UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Rebukes Sri Lankas UN Envoy Mohan Pieris at UN interactive Session in New York saying “If the(Sri Lankan) Govt and its people took the need for reconciliation and accountability seriously, it would reduce the interest of other entities to directly involve themselves in those issues’ »

Military Seizes Control of Myanmar(Burma)in Coup Alleging Fraud in Last Year’s Elections;Aung Sa Sun Kyi and Other Senior Ruling Party Leaders Detained; Power Transferred to Army Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing; Emergency Declared


By

Rebecca Ratcliffe South-east Asia correspondent, and Guardian staff in Yangon

Myanmar’s army has taken control of the country in an apparent coup and declared a state of emergency, hours after it detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling party.

Phone and mobile internet services in Yangon were down on Monday morning and military trucks, one carrying barbed-wire barriers, were parked outside City Hall. State-run MRTV television said it had been unable to broadcast.
Military television later reported that the army had taken control of the country for one year, with power handed to commander-in-chief General Min Aung Hlaing. It said the army had detained senior government leaders in response to fraud during last year’s general election.

The military’s actions brought swift condemnation from leaders and human rights experts around the world.

US president Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said in a statement: “The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.”

US secretary of state Antony Blinken called for the release Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees, and said the US expressed “grave concern and alarm” over reports of the detention of government officials and civil society leaders.

Continue reading ‘Military Seizes Control of Myanmar(Burma)in Coup Alleging Fraud in Last Year’s Elections;Aung Sa Sun Kyi and Other Senior Ruling Party Leaders Detained; Power Transferred to Army Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing; Emergency Declared’ »

Crisis Caused by Opposition to tripartite govts-to-govts deal involving Sri Lanka, India and Japan Regarding East Container Terminal (ECT) in the Colombo Port is likely to result in economic, political and diplomatic fallout for Sri Lanka

By Nisthar Cassim

Dissent over the deal on East Container Terminal (ECT) in the Colombo Port has erupted, triggering likely economic, political and diplomatic fallout for Sri Lanka as the Government and officials were busy devising an amicable way out of the crisis.

Trade unions have refused to give up their demand that the Government must abandon the tripartite governments-to-governments deal involving Sri Lanka, India and Japan. Politically, the members of the Government too are divided whilst the private sector and shipping industry though mere bystanders are watching the under currents over ECT with serious concern.

As per the Memorandum of Cooperation signed by the three countries in mid-2018, the agreement was to develop ECT via Terminal Operations Company consisting of operators/investors from the three countries on the basis of 51% owned by Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and the rest by private sector from the three countries.

Following competitive bidding conducted during the Yahapalanaya Government, the consortium of Adani, India’s largest private sector operator of Port terminals, its local partner John Keells Holdings (JKH) and Japanese investors were selected.

Following the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Government on the promise among others that no State asset would be sold to foreigners, the SLPA in October last year rushed to operationalise, a partly completed ECT with an investment of around $ 80-100 million.

However with Indo-Lanka ties gathering new momentum in tandem with China’s own sustained vigour, the tripartite deal on ECT resurfaced sparking protest from trade unions.

Continue reading ‘Crisis Caused by Opposition to tripartite govts-to-govts deal involving Sri Lanka, India and Japan Regarding East Container Terminal (ECT) in the Colombo Port is likely to result in economic, political and diplomatic fallout for Sri Lanka’ »

President Rajapaksa Angered by “Unprecedented and Unconventional” Report on Sri Lanka by UN Human Rights High Commissioner: Strong Reply Sent to UNHRC Through Envoy in Geneva C.A. Chandraprema;Gota to Personally Speak to Leaders of 47 UNHRC Member States and Explain Position.

(Excerpts from the Political Column By the Political Editor in the “Sunday Times” of January 31st 2021)

A head-on confrontation between the Government and the UN system has become inevitable, judging from the latest report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The UNHRC Report calls upon member states to refer the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC), resort to; “actively pursue extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction” and “prosecute “international crimes committed by all parties in Sri Lanka”. It has also called for “targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel ban against State officials and other actors credibly alleged to have committed or be responsible for grave human rights violations or abuses.”

Hard on the heels of the Report on Sri Lanka, making matters worse for the Government, is that the UN High Commissioner’s Office has resorted to sensitising the world (on the Report) through a video campaign. It seems to be a new manner in publicising a country situation report. It is based on visuals of the separatist war, highlights the “suffering” of civilians and calls for support to enforce human rights. Does one need to say anything more that the odds are being stacked against Sri Lanka?

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Angered by “Unprecedented and Unconventional” Report on Sri Lanka by UN Human Rights High Commissioner: Strong Reply Sent to UNHRC Through Envoy in Geneva C.A. Chandraprema;Gota to Personally Speak to Leaders of 47 UNHRC Member States and Explain Position.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa receives first batch of the 500,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVISHELD vaccine donated by India from Indian High Commissioner Dr.Gopal Baglay in “VaccineMaithri” Handover Ceremony at Katunayake airport

The first consignment of 500,000 doses of COVID–19 vaccines donated by the Government of India was officially received by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday, marking a breakthrough in the country’s fight against the pandemic that has gripped the world.

The handover, following the arrival of the air freighted vaccine at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), was by the Indian High Commissioner Dr. Gopal Baglay, reflecting sound bonds of neighbourly ties and goodwill between India and Sri Lanka.

The vaccine doses were donated to Sri Lanka following a request made by the President to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to use among frontline health workers. India branded the donation as ‘VaccineMaitri.’

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa receives first batch of the 500,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVISHELD vaccine donated by India from Indian High Commissioner Dr.Gopal Baglay in “VaccineMaithri” Handover Ceremony at Katunayake airport’ »

“The UN High Commissioner’s report highlights Sri Lanka’s egregious record of complete impunity for appalling crimes, and very disturbing developments under the Rajapaksa administration” -Human Rights Watch


(Text of Press Release Issued by the Human Rights Watch on January 29, 2021)

The United Nations Human Rights Council, at its upcoming session, should act on the recommendations of the UN high commissioner for human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. The council should adopt a new resolution to enhance scrutiny of Sri Lanka’s deteriorating human rights situation and pursue accountability for past and recent violations.

In her report released on January 27, 2021, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said she was “alarmed” by Sri Lanka’s deteriorating human rights situation and set out steps that the Human Rights Council should take to confront the growing risk of future violations. Since the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has withdrawn its support for the 2015 consensus resolution seeking justice and reconciliation, and shown general disregard for upholding basic human rights, the council should act to protect those most at risk and advance accountability for grave international crimes, Human Rights Watch said.

“The UN high commissioner’s report highlights Sri Lanka’s egregious record of complete impunity for appalling crimes, and very disturbing developments under the Rajapaksa administration,” said John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch. “The Human Rights Council has given Sri Lanka every opportunity to address these issues over many years, and now greater international involvement is needed to help protect vulnerable groups and hold those responsible for grave international crimes to account.”

Continue reading ‘“The UN High Commissioner’s report highlights Sri Lanka’s egregious record of complete impunity for appalling crimes, and very disturbing developments under the Rajapaksa administration” -Human Rights Watch’ »

Canadian Tamil Congress welcomes the OHCHR Report on Sri Lanka and calls for timely response from the Canadian Government.

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the Canadian Tamil Congress on January 2(th 2021)

The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) strongly welcomes the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Sri Lanka and calls for immediate and effective actions from the Canadian government to address its recommendations.

This highly critical report lists Sri Lanka’s litany of failures – both related to the current human rights situation, as well as the commitments made by Sri Lanka to address serious international crimes committed during the war that ended in 2009.

Continue reading ‘Canadian Tamil Congress welcomes the OHCHR Report on Sri Lanka and calls for timely response from the Canadian Government.’ »

Unbowed and Unafraid, Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge Spoke Truth to Power

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Twelve years ago on 8 January 2009, Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge, the Editor of The Sunday Leader in Colombo, was killed by “unknown” assassins. He was my colleague, Editor, friend and above all a kindred soul. How I miss him!

There is a huge vacuum in the media scene after his departure. It is yet to be filled adequately. I doubt that it will ever be filled.

A dozen years have passed since his demise but his killers are yet to be brought to justice. This is to be expected in a land where those suspected of being responsible for his murder strut about pompously in the corridors of power. Lasantha Wickrematunge was one who spoke truth fearlessly to power regardless of who was ensconced in the seat of power. Hence there was no real or genuine progress or interest shown by those in bringing to book the perpetrators of the crime.

Continue reading ‘Unbowed and Unafraid, Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge Spoke Truth to Power’ »

“Pillayan Out. Ranjan In”: Arrest and Release of TMVP Leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan Alias “Pillayan”

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

On January 12th 2021, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court imposed a sentence of four years rigorous imprisonment on Sadda Vidda Rajapakse Palanga Pathira Ambakumarage Ranjan Leo Sylvester Alphonsu alias Ranjan Ramanayake finding him guilty of the offence of Contempt of court. Prior to being taken away in a prisons dept vehicle to jail, the film actor cum Parliamentarian made an interesting comment to media representatives. Ranjan Ramanayake said that “he had not committed murder or theft, but he had been sentenced to jail while MP ‘Pillayan’ was being released”.

The reference was to the acquittal of Batticaloa District Parliamentarian Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias “Pillayan” from charges related to the murder of former Tamil National Alliance MP Joseph Pararajasingham. The Tamil Makkal Viduthalip Puligal(TMVP) leader together with four others had been indicted over the brutal assassination which happened fifteen years ago. On Jan 11th the A -G ‘s decision of a “Nolle Prosequi” was conveyed to court. It was obvious that Pillayan was going to be acquitted. Ranjan contrasted his incarceration with that of Pillayan’s impending acquittal with the pithy observation “Pillayan out.Ranjan in”.

Continue reading ‘“Pillayan Out. Ranjan In”: Arrest and Release of TMVP Leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan Alias “Pillayan”’ »

US Vice President – Elect Kamala Harris’s Key Sri Lankan Tamil Aide Rohini Lakshmi

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

An overwhelming feeling of relief has descended upon the world – not merely the US- after the Presidential elections of the United States of America ended. Joseph Robinette Biden jnr known as Joe Biden is the new US President-elect. Biden’s creditable, credible electoral triumph has ensured that decency, dignity and decorum will once again return to the Oval office of the White House. A double delight in the 46th US President to be’s victory is that of the shattering of glass ceilings by his running mate Kamala Harris. The new US Vice President- elect would not only be the first US woman vice-president but will also be the first person of Afro-Caribbean origin and South Asian descent to be elected to that post.

56 year Kamala Devi Harris known as Kamala Harris will be the 49th Vice President of the USA on January 20th 2021. She was born on October 20th 1964 in Oakland,California as the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother. Both her parents were immigrants . Her mother Shyamala Gopalan came to the USA in 1958 while her Father Donald Jasper Harris did so in 1961 . They were post- graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley where they met, loved and married.

Kamala Harris, right, with her mother Shyamala Gopalan at a Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco in 2007. via FB: Kamala Harris)


Continue reading ‘US Vice President – Elect Kamala Harris’s Key Sri Lankan Tamil Aide Rohini Lakshmi’ »

Army’s LRRP Ambush of LTTE’s Military Intelligence Chief Col. Charles.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

A news report in the “Daily Mirror” last August stated that the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol(LRRP) of the Sri Lankan army’s Special Forces has been ranked the third most dangerous Special Forces in the world by the military ranks.info. The United States Navy SEALs was ranked as the most dangerous Special Forces Unit in the World while the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation was second. The top ten lethal outfits named by militaryranks.info are as follows –

1. .United States Navy SEALs

2. .Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

3. .Sri Lanka Army Special Force LRRP

4. .United States Army Special Forces

5. .British Special Air Service (SAS)

6. .Sayeret Matkal

7. .France’s National Gendarmerie Intervention Group

8. .Unidad de Operaciones Especiales

9. .MARCOS

10. .Pakistan Army Special Service Group.

Sri Lanka’s Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol(LRRP) is known in Sinhala as the “Digu Dura Vihidum Balakaya” and in Tamil as the “Aazha Ooduruvithaakkum Padaiyani”. It is also called the Deep Penetration Unit(DPU) and “Mahasonon Brigade of the Army. The LRRP Is basically a specialized military intelligence unit utilized for black ops. A black operation or black op is a covert or clandestine operation by a government agency, a military unit or a paramilitary organization. Key features of a black operation are that it is secret and is not attributable to the organization carrying it out. The usage of specialized military intelligence units to assassinate the enemy has been practised by different states and different armies in different situations.

Continue reading ‘Army’s LRRP Ambush of LTTE’s Military Intelligence Chief Col. Charles.’ »

“Given the demonstrated inability and unwillingness of the (Sri Lankan) Government to advance accountability at the national level, it is time for international action to ensure justice for international crimes” States UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michele Bachelet in UN Report on Sri Lanka Released to Public


(Text of Press Release Issued by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on January 27th Regarding the UN Report on Sri Lanka by UN Human Rights High Commissioner Ms. Michele Bachelet Titled “Sri Lanka on alarming path towards recurrence of grave human rights violations”)

A new UN report published on Wednesday warns that the failure of Sri Lanka to address past violations has significantly heightened the risk of human rights violations being repeated. It highlights worrying trends over the past year, such as deepening impunity, increasing militarization of governmental functions, ethno-nationalist rhetoric, and intimidation of civil society.

Nearly 12 years after the armed conflict in Sri Lanka ended, impunity for grave human rights violations and abuses by all sides is more entrenched than ever, with the current Government proactively obstructing investigations and trials, and reversing the limited progress that had been previously made, states the report, mandated by UN Human Rights Council resolution 40/1.
The report urges enhanced monitoring and strong preventive action by the international community, warning that “Sri Lanka’s current trajectory sets the scene for the recurrence of the policies and practices that gave rise to grave human rights violations.”

Among the early warning signals the report highlights are: the accelerating militarization of civilian governmental functions, reversal of important constitutional safeguards, political obstruction of accountability, exclusionary rhetoric, intimidation of civil society, and the use of anti-terrorism laws.

Continue reading ‘“Given the demonstrated inability and unwillingness of the (Sri Lankan) Government to advance accountability at the national level, it is time for international action to ensure justice for international crimes” States UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michele Bachelet in UN Report on Sri Lanka Released to Public’ »

US Ambassador Alaina B.Teplitz Urges Sri Lankan Govt to Come Up come up with a meaningful plan at the next session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

By

Kelum Bandara

U.S. Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz, who commented on the development of the East Container Terminal of Colombo Port, said the involvement of an Indian company in this exercise was essential for Sri Lanka’s maritime future, obviously with India being the beneficiary of Sri Lanka’s port facilities or rather transshipment activities.

She said it was important to have the private sector involvement in this case, and Sri Lanka could look for the best in its economic arrangement.

She made these remarks during a virtual round-table discussion with a group of journalists.

Continue reading ‘US Ambassador Alaina B.Teplitz Urges Sri Lankan Govt to Come Up come up with a meaningful plan at the next session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’ »

Amnesty International Wants UK to Take Lead in Getting the UNHRC to Pass a Strong Resolution Against Sri Lanka Urging Full Implementation of Key Proposals in UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet’s Report

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the International Human Rights Organization Amnesty International)

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) must take urgent steps to address the worsening human rights situation in Sri Lanka Amnesty International said today, following the release of a damning UN report on the country’s efforts to ensure accountability for crimes committed during the civil conflict.

Almost 12 years on from the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, the report, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), warns that the Sri Lanka’s persistent failure to address historic crimes is giving way to ‘clear early warning signs of a deteriorating human rights situation and a significantly heightened risk of future violations.’

Continue reading ‘Amnesty International Wants UK to Take Lead in Getting the UNHRC to Pass a Strong Resolution Against Sri Lanka Urging Full Implementation of Key Proposals in UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet’s Report’ »

“The US believes partnerships between countries should be open, transparent and mutually beneficial. And, if this is what embodies Sri Lanka’s relationship with China, we continue to encourage it,” – US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz


By Asiri Fernando

A level playing field and working with diverse partners could see more beneficial foreign investment come in to Sri Lanka, US Ambassador for Sri Lanka and Maldives Alaina B. Teplitz said yesterday.

The US Ambassador made the comments at a roundtable discussion held online, the first such discussion since the Biden administration took office in Washington. Teplitz said that in spite of change in administration in Washington, the US remains committed to enduring polices on democratic values, free and open navigation of the Indo-Pacific and economic progress.

Continue reading ‘“The US believes partnerships between countries should be open, transparent and mutually beneficial. And, if this is what embodies Sri Lanka’s relationship with China, we continue to encourage it,” – US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz’ »

UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet Comes Down Hard on Sri Lanka in Report to the UNHRC; Proposes Referral to International Criminal Court, Invocation of Universal Jurisdiction for Crimes and Targeted Sanctions Such as Asset Freezes and Travel Bans Against Alleged Human Rights Violators

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed strong criticism of the prevailing human rights situation in Sri Lanka and urged member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to consider imposing punitive measures on the country including a referral to the International Criminal Court.

The UN Human Rights Commissioner has also suggested that member states of the 47 member UN Human Rights Council could actively pursue investigation and prosecution of international crimes committed by all parties in Sri Lanka before their own national courts, including under the principles of extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction.

The UN Human Rights Chief has further recommended targeted sanctions by member states such as asset freezes and travel bans against State officials and other actors credibly alleged to have committed or be responsible for grave human rights violations or abuses in Sri Lanka.

The Human Rights Commissioner has outlined these proposed measures in a 17 page report prepared ahead of the forty-sixth session of the UNHRC from February 22 to March 19, 2021. Copies have been sent to the Sri Lankan Govt which is expected to make its response on or after January 27th 2021.

Continue reading ‘UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet Comes Down Hard on Sri Lanka in Report to the UNHRC; Proposes Referral to International Criminal Court, Invocation of Universal Jurisdiction for Crimes and Targeted Sanctions Such as Asset Freezes and Travel Bans Against Alleged Human Rights Violators’ »

Four Persons Aboard Indian Fishing Boat Killed in Mid Sea Collision with Sri Lankan Navy Vessel: Strong Demarche Issued by External Affairs Ministry to Sri Lankan Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi; Indian Envoy Lodges Strong Protest to Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in Colombo

(Text of Press Statement issued on January 21st 2021 in New Delhi by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Regarding the incident involving loss of lives of Indian fishermen)

We are shocked at the unfortunate loss of lives of three Indian fishermen and one Sri Lankan national following a collision between their vessel and a Sri Lankan naval craft.

Continue reading ‘Four Persons Aboard Indian Fishing Boat Killed in Mid Sea Collision with Sri Lankan Navy Vessel: Strong Demarche Issued by External Affairs Ministry to Sri Lankan Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi; Indian Envoy Lodges Strong Protest to Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in Colombo’ »

Allegations About a Massive 10 Billion Rupee Sugar Tax Cut Fraud and the Govt’s Failure to Offer an Explanation Could Tarnish the Reputation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Says Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya

The apolitical National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairman Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday that the failure on the part of the Government to explain the massive fraud of Rs. 10 billion that had allegedly taken place due to the cut in the sugar tax was a serious blow to the confidence that the people of this country had in the President.

Addressing a press conference, Jayasuriya said the Chairman of a Government institution who resigned recently was suspected of being either involved in or aiding such a massive fraud but he still continued to head another institution which comes under the purview of the President.

Continue reading ‘Allegations About a Massive 10 Billion Rupee Sugar Tax Cut Fraud and the Govt’s Failure to Offer an Explanation Could Tarnish the Reputation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Says Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Appoints three-member commission to Probe findings of the preceding Commissions and Committees that probed human rights violations and identify what progress has been made in the implementation of their recommendations in terms of the existing law.

By Chandani Kirinde

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a three-member commission to identify the findings of the preceding Commissions and Committees that probed human rights violations and what progress has been made in the implementation of their recommendations in terms of the existing law and what further steps need to be taken in line with the present Government policy.

The Commission is headed by Supreme Court Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz and its other members are Retired Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando and Retired District Secretary Nimal Abeysiri.

The Gazette notification appointing the Commission was issued last night under the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Act by Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Appoints three-member commission to Probe findings of the preceding Commissions and Committees that probed human rights violations and identify what progress has been made in the implementation of their recommendations in terms of the existing law.’ »

“And I pledge this to you. I will be a President for all Americans, all Americans. And I promise you I will fight for those who did not support me as for those who did.”-46th US President Joe R. Biden jnr


(Text of Inaugural Address by US President Joe R Biden on January 20th 2021)

Chief Justice Roberts, Vice-President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice-President Pence. My distinguished guests, my fellow Americans.

This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested a new and America has risen to the challenge. Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, a cause of democracy. The people – the will of the people – has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.

We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and, at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed. So now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundations, we come together as one nation under God – indivisible – to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.
As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on a nation we know we can be and must be, I thank my predecessors of both parties. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter, who I spoke with last night who cannot be with us today, but who we salute for his lifetime of service.

I’ve just taken a sacred oath each of those patriots have taken. The oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On we the people who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation, we are good people. And over the centuries through storm and strife in peace and in war we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go.

Continue reading ‘“And I pledge this to you. I will be a President for all Americans, all Americans. And I promise you I will fight for those who did not support me as for those who did.”-46th US President Joe R. Biden jnr’ »

“I am the counsel who appeared for Hon. Ranjan Ramanayake in the supreme court.I was privileged to appear for a clean, honest politician in a court and I am proud of that”- M. A. Sumanthiran MP

(Text of Intervention made in Parliament by TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran regarding Ranjan Ramanayake MP)

……..I want to flag one or two issues concerning the responsibility of the parliament in this regard. But before I do that I am bound by law and tradition to disclose my interest in the matter.

I am the counsel who appeared for Hon. Ranjan Ramanayake in the supreme court, I was privileged to appear for a clean, honest politician in a court and I am proud of that, nevertheless he has been convicted and sentenced.

Continue reading ‘“I am the counsel who appeared for Hon. Ranjan Ramanayake in the supreme court.I was privileged to appear for a clean, honest politician in a court and I am proud of that”- M. A. Sumanthiran MP’ »

India to Begin Supplying COVID-19 Vaccines from Jan 20th to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles While Awaiting Confirmation of Necessary Regulatory Clearances to do so from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius.

(Text of Press Release Issued by the High Commission of India in Colombo on January 19th 2021)

1. The Government of India has received several requests for the supply of Indian manufactured vaccines from neighbouring and key partner countries. In response to these requests, and in keeping with India’s stated commitment to use India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity fight the Covid pandemic, supplies under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles will begin from 20 January 2021. In respect of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius, we are awaiting their confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances.

Continue reading ‘India to Begin Supplying COVID-19 Vaccines from Jan 20th to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles While Awaiting Confirmation of Necessary Regulatory Clearances to do so from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius.’ »

Tamil political parties, members of the Tamil victim communities and Tamil civil society organizations write Joint Letter to 47 Member States of UN Human Rights Council Requesting a new Course of Action Regarding Sri Lanka Including the setting up of an International Independent Investigatory Mechanism

(Text of Letter sent to all heads of missions of 47 Member states represented in the United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) by leaders of Tamil national political parties, members of the Tamil victim communities and Tamil civil society organizations)

15 January 2021

Heads of Missions
Missions of the 47 Member States represented in the UN Human Rights Council

Your Excellencies,

Call for decisive action at the 46th Session of the UNHRC

We, the elected representatives of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, leaders of Tamil national political parties, members of the Tamil victim communities and Tamil civil society organizations write this letter in the lead up to the 46th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) when the situation in Sri Lanka is to be evaluated.

We note that within a week of the end of the armed ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, a joint communiqué by the Government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations was issued at the conclusion of UN Secretary-General’s visit to Sri Lanka on 23 May 2009 with the following:

“Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations. The Secretary-General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances”

Continue reading ‘Tamil political parties, members of the Tamil victim communities and Tamil civil society organizations write Joint Letter to 47 Member States of UN Human Rights Council Requesting a new Course of Action Regarding Sri Lanka Including the setting up of an International Independent Investigatory Mechanism’ »

Jaffna Varsity Violence: What Really Happened and Why!

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(This article written for the “DBS Jeyaraj Column” appeared first in the “Daily Mirror” of Jul 23, 2016.It was subsequently posted on this blog and is being re-posted here again without any changes to the original heading or content. This article recounts in detail the clashes that took place in the Jaffna campus some years ago and the commendable efforts taken to resolve the issue by the current vice-chancellor who was thent he Science Faculty Dean)

Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016 when student groups fought each other within the Jaffna varsity precincts in Thirunelvaeli known generally as Thinnaivaeli. It was basically a confrontation between two undergraduate factions of the University of Jaffna. There was also an ethnic dimension to the incident as one of the clashing factions was Sinhala and the other Tamil. The Government for very commendable reasons downplayed the ethnic factor and referred to the incident as factional strife while others for their own reasons played the communal card and described it as a racial conflict. However the truth as in most matters of this type lies somewhere in between.

image

Degree Award Ceremony ~ March 2016 ~ Pic via: University of Jaffna

The past few days has been quite hectic for me in contacting a wide range of sources in Sri Lanka from Canada. I was able to speak on the telephone or communicate through electronic mail with a cross section of Tamil and Sinhala undergrads, members of the Jaffna varsity academic staff, law enforcement authorities, political leaders and informed residents of Jaffna and gather much information about the incident and its aftermath. My column therefore will focus on this sensitive topic and attempt to share as much information as possible in this regard .

"Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016"

“Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016”

It is necessary to delve briefly into the historical background of the Jaffna University in order to understand the genesis of the current clash better. A University for Jaffna had been the desire of Northern Tamils for several years.

Sirima Bandaranaike

Sirima Bandaranaike

The United Front Govt of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike set up a campus in Jaffna in 1974. Under the higher education set up at that time there was only one Sri Lankan university with several campuses at different places. When Mrs. Bandaranaike visited Jaffna to ceremonially open the campus, the Tamil United Front (TUF)opposed it and staged black flag demonstrations. The ordinary people of Jaffna welcomed the move. The “Sirithiran”magazine hailed it as “Valavukkul Valaaham” (Campus in the compound).
Continue reading ‘Jaffna Varsity Violence: What Really Happened and Why!’ »

Kandy-born Actor-Politico “MGR” Reigned Supreme in Tamil Nadu Cinema and Politics

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(Popular Tamil Nadu Film Actor cum Political Leader M.G.Ramachandran known as “MGR” was born in Kandy on January 17th 1917.. This article written earlier for the “Spotlight” Column of “Daily Financial Times” is reproduced here to denote MGR’s 104th Birth anniversary)

MGR T

There was a time when the magical initials MGR were a household name in the Tamil-speaking homes of countries with a substantial population of Tamils, including India and Sri Lanka. The initials referred to swashbuckling actor M.G. Ramachandran, who starred as an action hero in over 100 Tamil films. MGR, as he was popularly known, had a huge following of fans in Sri Lanka during the time he sparkled on the silver screen. Among his fans in the island were a large number of Sinhalese and Muslims too.

MGR whose full name was Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran had a Sri Lankan connection! He was born in Sri Lanka! Though MGR was an actor of Malayalee ethnicity who made a name for himself in Tamil Nadu, he was born in Hantane, Kandy. His father, a native of present day Kerala state in India, was at that time teaching in an estate school in Kandy. MGR, the youngest child, was born at home in Hantane on 17 January 1917. He grew up in Kandy till he was two. In 1919 the family returned to India.

Rags to riches tale

It is indeed remarkable that MGR born in Kandy to Malayalee parents later made a name for himself as an actor in Tamil films and followed it up by becoming the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state.

MGR who started acting in minor roles from 1936 got his major break as lead actor in 1947. Thereafter for 30 years till 1977 he was the uncrowned king of Tamil cinema as the biggest box office attraction of them all. He also took to politics and was first elected as a member of the Legislative assembly in 1967.
Continue reading ‘Kandy-born Actor-Politico “MGR” Reigned Supreme in Tamil Nadu Cinema and Politics’ »

“Collapse of Joseph Pararajasingham murder case is a failure of justice in Sri Lanka” States Amnesty International.

(Text of Press Release Issued by Amnesty International on 13 January 2021)

Responding to the acquittal today of MP Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan and four others in the 2005 assassination of Tamil MP Joseph Pararajasingham, following an announcement by the Attorney General’s Office that it would be dropping the charges against the suspects, David Griffiths, Director of the Office of the Secretary General at Amnesty International, said:

“The collapse of this case marks yet another sorry milestone in the Sri Lankan authorities’ continued failure to ensure justice for crimes committed during the armed conflict. The Attorney General’s Office has not indicated any interest in re-opening the investigation into the murder.Without accountability, Sri Lanka will never be able to turn the page on this dark chapter ”

Continue reading ‘“Collapse of Joseph Pararajasingham murder case is a failure of justice in Sri Lanka” States Amnesty International.’ »

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Situation has Seriously Deteriorated under the Administration of President Gotabaya Rajapaks States “Human Rights Watch” in its World Report 2021.

(Text of Chapter about Sri Lanka in Country Reports Section titled “Sri Lanka:Events of 2020″in the annual “Human Rights Watch” 2021 World Report 2021)

Fundamental human rights protections in Sri Lanka came under serious jeopardy following Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election as president in November 2019. In February 2020, Sri Lanka withdrew its commitments to truth seeking, accountability, and reconciliation made at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2015.

Human rights defenders, victims of past abuses, lawyers, and journalists, faced intimidation and surveillance from government security forces. Muslims and Tamils faced discrimination and threats.

President Rajapaksa transferred responsibility for large areas of civil administration to the Ministry of Defense, including the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Following his party’s victory in parliamentary elections on August 5, the government passed a constitutional amendment that removes constraints on presidential power.

After postponing parliamentary elections twice during the coronavirus pandemic, Sri Lanka in August, Sri Lanka successfully held polls with Covid-19 protection guidelines and reported a 71 percent turnout.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Situation has Seriously Deteriorated under the Administration of President Gotabaya Rajapaks States “Human Rights Watch” in its World Report 2021.’ »

Evolution of Agriculture and the ‘Thaipongal’ Tamil Harvest Festival

By Thulasi Muttulingam

The Tamil month of Thai was ushered in on Monday Jan 14. It marks the end of the harvesting season of rice for the Tamil farmers who will be celebrating that harvest with their famous festival of Thai Pongal.

Pongal means ‘boiling over’. To signify that they have had a bountiful harvest, the people allow the milk in which they pour the rice to boil over – as a pot bubbling over with its fare is a sign of abundance.
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” We insist that all those responsible for the destruction of the monument apologize unreservedly and that it be reconstructed immediately.”- M.A.Sumanthiran MP

(Text of a Statement issued by Jaffna District MP and Tamil National Alliance Spokesperson Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran PC on the demolition of the memorial monument at the University of Jaffna )

The demolition of the memorial monument in the University of Jaffna is an act of savagery that cannot be condoned by any right thinking person. To say that it is an unauthorised structure and therefore ought to have been broken down, is to further accentuate this barbarism. War memorials do not need local authority permission. Or else all the war memorials that have been constructed in the North-East by the military must be brought down. There are numerous such structures in Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass, Puthukudiyirupu and several more in Mullaitivu. It is true that a few thousand soldiers were killed in this war and they must be remembered; but what about the scores of innocent civilians who died? Then there is the other side. What about remembering them too?

Continue reading ‘” We insist that all those responsible for the destruction of the monument apologize unreservedly and that it be reconstructed immediately.”- M.A.Sumanthiran MP’ »

‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils

By P. Krishnaswamy

After the Christmas and New Year festivities, the focus is now on the Pongal harvest festival, popularly known as Thai Pongal, celebrated in the first four days of the month of Thai in the Tamil-Hindu calendar.

Traditionally, it is the festival of farmers who depend on Mother Earth, the sun, rain, other natural elements and cows and buffaloes for a bountiful harvest of their staple food, rice.
Continue reading ‘‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils’ »

Three-member bench of the Supreme Court Sentences Samagi Jana Balawegaya Gampaha District MP Ranjan Ramanayake to four years rigorous imprisonment Finding him guilty to a charge of contempt of court.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court yesterday sentenced Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Gampaha District MP Ranjan Ramanayake to four years rigorous imprisonment after finding him guilty to a charge of contempt of court.

The Bench comprised Justice Sisira J. de Abrew, Vijith K. Malagoda and Padman Surasena.

“We convict him for the offence of contempt of court punishable under Article 105(3) of the Constitution and sentence him to a term of four (4) years rigorous imprisonment,” the Court said in its judgment and directed the Registrar of the Court to issue a warrant committing Ramanayake to prison to a term of four years rigorous imprisonment.

The case stems from remarks made to the media by Ramanayake on 21 August 2017 after a parliamentary group where he alleged that the majority of Sri Lankan judges and lawyers were corrupt and these comments were telecast over a private television station.

Continue reading ‘Three-member bench of the Supreme Court Sentences Samagi Jana Balawegaya Gampaha District MP Ranjan Ramanayake to four years rigorous imprisonment Finding him guilty to a charge of contempt of court.’ »

President Rajapaksa Appoints eight-member Presidential Task Force Headed by Presidential adviser Lalith Weeratunga to Implement the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 vaccine .

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed an eight-member Presidential Task Force for National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 vaccine which will be headed by Principal Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga.

Its other members are Secretary, Health Ministry Secretary Major General Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, State Ministry of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Secretary Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva, State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Secretary K.R. Uduwawala , Sri Lanka Army Commander and COVID-19 Task Force head Major General Shavendra Silva, State Pharmaceuticals Corporation Chairman Dr. Prasanna Gunasena, Government Medical Officers’ Association President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya and Health Services Director General Dr. Asela Gunawardena.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Appoints eight-member Presidential Task Force Headed by Presidential adviser Lalith Weeratunga to Implement the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 vaccine .’ »

Jaffna Mayor Election Defeat Triggers Crisis in TNA-ITAK

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Tamil National Alliance(TNA) is the premier political configuration representing the Tamils of North -Eastern Sri Lanka. The TNA comprising the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK),Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization(TELO) and Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam(PLOTE) has ten MP’s in the present Parliament. Of these nine are elected parliamentarians while one was appointed as a National list MP. Six including the nominated MP are from the ITAK while the TELO and PLOTE have three and one MP’s respectively. The TNA contests polls under the House symbol of its chief constituent the ITAK.

Although the TNA tally dropped drastically from 16 in 2015 to 10 in 2020, the alliance continues to retain its dominant position in Tamil electoral politics. Parties opposed to the TNA such as the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party(EPDP), Tamil National Peoples Front(TNPF), Tamil Peoples National Alliance(TPNA),Tamil Makkal Viduthalaip Puligal(TMVP), Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna(SLPP) have together eight Tamil MP’s from the North and East in Parliament. While being lesser in numbers to the TNA, these MP’s are themselves politically divided and seemingly incapable of aligning as a united bloc to challenge the TNA.

Continue reading ‘Jaffna Mayor Election Defeat Triggers Crisis in TNA-ITAK’ »

US Justice Dept Charges Three Sri Lankan Nationals With Suspected ISIS Links For Alleged Involvement in Terrorist Attacks on April 21st 2019 that Killed 268 Persons Including 5 US Citizens and Injured Over 500.


(Text of Press Release No 21-29 Issued by the US Department of Justice,Office of Public Affairs on January 8th 2021)

The Justice Department announced today that three Sri Lankan citizens have been charged with terrorism offenses, including conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS). The men were part of a group of ISIS supporters which called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka.”

That group is responsible for the 2019 Easter attacks in the South Asian nation of Sri Lanka, which killed 268 people, including five U.S. citizens, and injured over 500 others, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed today.

The complaint outlines the defendants’ roles in the conspiracy and the events that led to near-simultaneous suicide bombings in the Sri Lankan cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on April 21, 2019. One of the U.S. citizens killed was a Department of Commerce employee who had traveled to Sri Lanka on official business.

Two days after the attacks, ISIS claimed credit for the terrorist acts, attributing the murders to “Islamic State fighters.” In late April 2019, the then-leader of ISIS praised the attackers for what he called a retaliation against “the West” for defeating ISIS the prior month in Baghuz, Syria.

Continue reading ‘US Justice Dept Charges Three Sri Lankan Nationals With Suspected ISIS Links For Alleged Involvement in Terrorist Attacks on April 21st 2019 that Killed 268 Persons Including 5 US Citizens and Injured Over 500.’ »

Ahimsa ,Daughter of Slain Sri Lankan Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge Files Complaint against the Government of Sri Lanka with the United Nations Human Rights Committee on 12th Anniversary of her Father’s Assassination

(Text of Press Release issued by the Center for Jutice and Accountability on January 8, 2021)

The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP—acting on behalf of Ahimsa Wickrematunge, the daughter of acclaimed Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge—filed a complaint today against the Government of Sri Lanka with the United Nations Human Rights Committee, seeking accountability for the Government’s role in Mr. Wickrematunge’s 2009 assassination.

Twelve years ago today, Mr. Wickrematunge was brazenly killed by a group of military assassins on the streets of Sri Lanka’s capital, as part of a systematic attack on the free press by government and pro-government groups. Over the past year, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has overseen a concerted resurgence in the persecution of journalists.

Continue reading ‘Ahimsa ,Daughter of Slain Sri Lankan Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge Files Complaint against the Government of Sri Lanka with the United Nations Human Rights Committee on 12th Anniversary of her Father’s Assassination’ »

Murder in the Cathedral: Christmas Killing of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

‘Murder in the Cathedral’ is a drama written in verse by the great poet, essayist and playwright Thomas Stearnes Eliot known to the literary world as T.S. Eliot. It is based on the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in December 1170 during the reign of King Henry II. Eliot had relied heavily on the eyewitness account of the murder by a monk Edward Grim published later.

‘’Murder in the Cathedral,’

I first came across TS Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ when I was a student at Jaffna College, Vaddukkoddai. The Chief librarian Sebaratnam Thambiah was an aficionado of drama who often produced and directed plays. Trying to stage ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ was one of his ambitious ventures. A few of us students and some teachers were roped in and given copies of the verse drama. I liked it very much then. We attended a few rehearsals but the project never got off the ground. However the abortive attempt helped instil in me a deep, abiding love for Eliot’s poetry.

Continue reading ‘Murder in the Cathedral: Christmas Killing of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham’ »

“It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled. That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan Government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.” -Indian Foreign Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar

(Text of Remarks made by Indian External Affairs Minister Dr.Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Joint Press Conference held in Colombo with his Sri Lankan minister of Foreign relations Mr.Dinesh Gunawardena on January 6th 2021)


My esteemed colleague and friend the Honourable Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Dinesh Gunawardenaji,

Senior officials, Friends from media, Good afternoon.

Let me begin by wishing all of you and all our friends in Sri Lanka a very happy 2021. I am delighted to visit Sri Lanka once again, and to be amidst you today. A visit to this beautiful country, with which India has civilizational ties going back thousands of years, is always a matter of great pleasure – both professional and personal.

2. I am grateful to my counterpart for his invitation and for welcoming my delegation and me with typical Sri Lankan hospitality. He extended this invitation to me when he was in India almost exactly a year ago. But due to the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic, it was not possible for me to visit earlier. But I am glad that I am starting 2021 with a visit to India’s closest maritime neighbour and partner.

3. I visit Sri Lanka at a time when both our countries are faced with daunting and common challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, I think Covid has given us an opportunity to collaborate even more closely. Reflecting our Neighbourhood First policy, India has supported Sri Lanka’s efforts to tackle Covid through timely medical assistance. I should also place on record my appreciation to the Sri Lankan Government for its assistance and facilitation in evacuation of Indian nationals who were stuck here. We are now looking at post-Covid cooperation and I carry back with me Sri Lanka’s interest in accessing vaccines from India.

Continue reading ‘“It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled. That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan Government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.” -Indian Foreign Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar’ »

“Joyful Christmas and Happy New Year To All” – Seasons Greetings From D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Joyful Christmas and Happy New Year To All”
– Seasons Greetings From D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Christmas is you, when you decide to be born again each day, and let God into your soul.

The Christmas pine is you, when you resist vigorous winds and difficulties of life.

The Christmas decorations are you, when your virtues are colours that adorn your life.

The Christmas bell is you, when you call, gather and seek to unite.

You are also a Christmas light, when you illuminate with your life the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity.

The Christmas angels are you, when you sing to the world a message of peace, justice and love.

The Christmas star is you, when you lead someone to meet the Lord.

You are also the wise men, when you give the best you have, no matter who.

Christmas music is you when you conquer the harmony within you.

The Christmas gift is you, when you are truly friend and brother of every human being.

The Christmas card is you, when kindness is written in your hands.

The Christmas greeting is you, when you forgive and re-establish peace, even when you suffer.

The Christmas dinner is you, when you served bread and hope to the poor man who is by your side.

You are, yes, Christmas night, when humble and conscious, you receive in the silence of the night the Saviour of the world without noise or great celebrations; you are a smile of trust and tenderness, in the inner peace of a perennial Christmas that establishes the Kingdom within you.

A very Merry Christmas to all those who look like Christmas!”

– Pope Francis

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

2020 was the year of doctors. Which profession would it be in 2021?

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

One year ago, so-called astrologers took to two television stations to tell the nation what to expect in 2020. A person going by the name Chandrasiri Bandara explained that the stars were so moved by political developments in Sri Lanka that 2020 would be an extraordinarily prosperous year. At the same time, someone called Manjula Peiris was on TV explaining that the election results caused a planetary alignment that would open the floodgates of foreign investment in 2020. Indeed, Bandara was so specific as to say that that bulk of the prosperity would come after March 2020. To put it mildly, either they or their planets seem to have got their wires crossed.

There is no shame in forecasting the fate of the nation based on a political perspective or ideology. Indeed, many Sri Lankan professionals and businesspeople also predicted that 2020 would be a good year for our country. The difference is that their conviction flowed from faith in a leader untarnished by politics who they saw as a breath of fresh air, and anticipation of a political culture that would shake up the public service.

Their miscalculation and disappointment could have been lessened if not for the pandemic, but this article is not intended to chronicle the many failures of the government. The fact is that no one could have predicted the economic devastation and paralysis that Covid-19 would cause not just in Sri Lanka but throughout the world. Success has been the exception, not the rule. Outside of Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and Japan, it is hard to find a country that has not been ground to a halt by this deadly virus.

With over 40,000 people testing positive in Sri Lanka and nearly 200 fatalities, there is no gainsaying we could have done better. However, the same could be said of nearly every country in the world. What we do know is that if not for the knowledge, courage and professionalism of our frontline workers and first responders, we could easily have had over 10 times as much suffering.

Continue reading ‘2020 was the year of doctors. Which profession would it be in 2021?’ »

Muslims in Sri Lanka;Unwanted, dead or alive -The Economist

The government is forcibly cremating Muslims who die of covid-19
Outside a hospital in southern Sri Lanka on December 22nd, a handful of Muslim men bowed their heads against the rain, chanting prayers as an unpolished coffin was loaded into an ambulance. They were given just minutes to pay their respects to the deceased, who, doctors said, had tested positive for covid-19. But that was not the most distressing part of it. Against the wishes of his family, his body was being rushed not to a cemetery, but to a crematorium.

Muslims make up nearly one in ten Sri Lankans. Their religiously ordained practice of burying the dead has rarely caused problems, even though the island’s two biggest religions, Buddhism (the faith of some 70% of Sri Lankans) and Hinduism (13%) practise cremation. With the pandemic approaching last spring, the government issued guidelines that permitted burial of those infected provided the grave was at least six feet deep and the water table low enough not to get contaminated. However, when the disease claimed its first Muslim victim on March 31st, hospital workers defied the victim’s family and had him cremated.

Continue reading ‘Muslims in Sri Lanka;Unwanted, dead or alive -The Economist’ »

‘Abolishing provincial councils is like playing with fire.You cannot develop the country when the sentiments of minority communities are hurt,’ Warns Former Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.


by

Meera Srinivasan

Former President Maithripala Sirisena, who broke away from the Rajapaksas and secured a historic election win in 2015, is back with the Rajapaksa brothers, sitting with their Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna [SLPP or People’s Front] in Parliament — ruling party with 145 seats in the 225-member legislature — since the August 2020 general elections.

The SLPP came into existence by absorbing much of one of the oldest and foremost parties of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), whose rump — 14 MPs — Mr. Sirisena now leads. Thirteen out of those 14 legislators contested polls under the SLPP symbol, leaving only one MP to represent the SLFP in the House. In an interview to the The Hindu at his Colombo residence, the former President spoke about the future of the SLFP, devolution, minority rights, and democracy.


Excerpts…

You recently remarked that the SLFP faced a “huge injustice” in the parliamentary elections and have hinted at possibly contesting the provincial council elections separately. Would you do that?

Continue reading ‘‘Abolishing provincial councils is like playing with fire.You cannot develop the country when the sentiments of minority communities are hurt,’ Warns Former Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.’ »

The Gotabaya regime is mimicking Trump/Netanyahu by boosting the hardcore chauvinist base by pandering to its worst prejudices and maintaining rigidly hawkish policies.

By Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The ultranationalist Buddhist clergy has commenced a two-pronged campaign: (a) against burials and for cremation of COVID-19 victims, a policy that is mandatory only in a handful of the UN’s 193 countries, and (b) against Provincial Councils and the holding of Provincial Council Elections before the promulgation of a new Constitution. Justice Minister Sabry was a target of the agitated monks.

These formations of the Buddhist clergy have long been part of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s support base, by their own public admission and easy public (facial) recognition. They are also close to radical-nationalist Cabinet Ministers.

It is one thing to dog-whistle racism and religious chauvinism when you are an Opposition personality (JR against the B-C Pact 1957) or are in the Establishment, with extra-systemic religio-racist fans whose campaigns are amplified by the local Fox News while someone else is the Presidential human shield taking the electoral rap.

It is another thing, as President Jayewardene realised (1983-’87) having indulged racist Minister Cyril Mathew, when Sinhala-Buddhist racism unchecked by you rears up and lashes out violently at minorities, on your watch. Whoever you may try to pin the rap on after the conflagration (JRJ pinned it on the JVP), the frame-up lacks credibility and ricochets as rebellion.

Continue reading ‘The Gotabaya regime is mimicking Trump/Netanyahu by boosting the hardcore chauvinist base by pandering to its worst prejudices and maintaining rigidly hawkish policies.’ »

Controversy over the “anti-COVID-19” potion popularly dubbed “Dhammika Paniya” Raises Questions Regarding its Scientific Basis, Concepts of Indigenous Medicine and Association With Goddess Kali

By P.K.Balachandran

The controversy over the “anti-COVID-19” potion popularly dubbed “Dhammika Paniya” after its discoverer and promoter Dhammika Bandara, a Shaman at the Sri Weera Badra Kali Devalaya in Hettimulla, Kegalle, has three aspects.

Firstly, questions are being asked about the scientific basis of the potion as per Western standards of inquiry. Secondly, there are questions over the place accorded to indigenous medicinal concepts in a globalized medical world which has a bias towards Western concepts. Thirdly, there is the issue of the potion’s association with the Goddess Kali, which, according to Dhammika Bandara, gives it a spiritual potency lacking in Western cures.

The moment masses queued up to get a quarter bottle of Bandara’s potion and government MPs too imbibed it giving a hint of State patronage, the powerful Western medical fraternity condemned it and portrayed it as a danger to public health. Unnerved, the government assured that scientific tests were being conducted in Western medicine hospitals and that the potion had been approved only as a food supplement to increase resistance.

But supporters of traditional medicine asked whether it was fair to subject indigenous medical concepts and preparations to Western testing as the two systems rested on different principles. Pointing out the danger in this, a Sri Lankan researcher at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, Dr.Nirekha de Silva, said that if this were to go on, the survival of traditional knowledge in Sri Lanka, an invaluable heritage, will be in question.

Continue reading ‘Controversy over the “anti-COVID-19” potion popularly dubbed “Dhammika Paniya” Raises Questions Regarding its Scientific Basis, Concepts of Indigenous Medicine and Association With Goddess Kali’ »

The matter of devolution and provincial councils has been on the political anvil in this country for a long time and is not a foreign imposition but a home grown one.

By Dr. Nrmala Chandrahasan

The Provincial Councils, like the windmills in Cervante’s Don Quixote, are having brickbats thrown at, and cantankerous knights tilting at them. In this piece I would like to answer some of the criticisms made against the Provincial Councils. But before I do so I note that the Prime Minister has announced that the Provincial Council elections will be held once the ground situation is ready for it. This welcome statement puts paid to all the critics, it being generally acknowledged that the Prime Minister as an experienced and consummate politician would know the political climate in the country and act accordingly.

One of the frequent criticisms is that the Provincial Councils were imposed upon the Sri Lankan polity by the Government of India. To recapitulate the sequence of events, following upon the July 1983 pogrom (riots) against the Tamil citizens of the Country and the outbreak of civil unrest in Sri Lanka, the then Prime minister of India, Shrimathi Indhira Gandhi sent an envoy as part of a diplomatic initiative to find ways of bringing the country back to normalcy. A process of negotiations was begun between the Governments of India and Sri Lanka with India playing the role of an interlocutor bringing the Tamil parties and the Government of Sri Lanka to the negotiating table, in order to solve the ongoing insurgency by Tamil militants and the ethnic problem in the island through Constitutional proposals.

The outcome of these negotiations were the India –Sri Lanka: Agreement to Establish Peace and Normalcy in Sri Lanka, i. e. the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord in July 1987, and the drawing up of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the Provincial Councils Act no: 42 of November 1987. By virtue of these two Acts Provincial Councils were set up. The opponents of the Provincial Councils argue that it is not a homegrown institution but one imposed by a foreign power. In this connection I would refer the readers to a very informative and well-researched article by Professor Gamini Keerawella in The Island newspaper of 16th September 2020 titled “Genealogy of Concept and Genesis of 13th Amendment”, in which he traces the genesis of Provincial Councils from the Donoughmore Commission Recommendations in 1931 ,through the Regional Councils of the Bandaranaike –Chelvanayakam pact 1956 , the Dudley Senanayake –Chelvanayakam agreement, and even the promised but not forthcoming Devolution proposals made by the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Government before the 1975 bye-elections in Kankesanthurai. This proves that the matter of devolution and provincial councils has been on the political anvil in this country for a long time and is not a foreign imposition but a home grown one.

Continue reading ‘The matter of devolution and provincial councils has been on the political anvil in this country for a long time and is not a foreign imposition but a home grown one.’ »

Tamil Film superstar Rajinikanth opting out of electoral politics in due to his delicate health brings Tamil Nadu politics back to square one.


By P.K.Balachandran

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth’s declaration on Tuesday that he is opting out of electoral politics in view of his delicate health, has brought Tamil Nadu politics back to square one.

The South India State will remain a bastion on Dravidianism, Tamil nationalism, secularism and social justice, with the main contestants being the two Tamil nationalist parties, namely, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DNK).

The prospect of the Hindu nationalistic Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s getting into Tamil Nadu politics in the April-May 2021 State Assembly elections with Rajinikanth splitting the votes of the ruling AIADMK, no longer exists.

The BJP had been trying to prop the popular actor in the hope that, through his brand of “spiritual politics”, he would pave the way for its rule. Tamil Nadu has so far been stubbornly resistant to the BJP’s aggressive Hindu-nationalism.

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Tamil Cinema Superstar Rajinikanth says he will neither enter politics nor launch a new political party


Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth Tuesday announced that he would not be entering politics owing to his ill health and the pandemic situation. His announcement came two days before he was to reveal details of the launch of his political party.

In a three-page statement on Twitter, the actor expressed regret and said it pained him to make such an announcement after having said he would contest the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections in 2021. “It is with profound regret that I have to say that I will neither be launching my political party nor entering politics. Nobody can understand my pain in making this decision,” he wrote.
Rajinikanth, 71, was briefly hospitalised in Hyderabad three days ago for minor fluctuations in blood pressure. He was discharged on Sunday.

Rajinikanth, whose political entry has been rumoured since 1996, acknowledged that he had promised to enter politics even if there was a risk to my life. However, in his statement Tuesday, he said he did not want to sacrifice the lives of others by taking the plunge.

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Full text of Tamil Cinema Super Star Rajinikanth’s letter explaining why he is not entering politics as announced earlier

Actor-turned-politician
Rajinikanth Tuesday announced that he would not be entering politics owing to his ill health and the pandemic situation. In a three-page statement on Twitter, the actor expressed regret and said it pained him to make such an announcement after having said he would contest the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections in 2021.

Here’s the full text:

Heartfelt greetings to my beloved people of Tamil Nadu,

After announcing that my political party will start in January, I went to attend the shooting of ‘Annaatthe’ in Hyderabad despite the advice of doctors. The Film Unit consisted around 120 people who daily underwent Covid Tests, isolated themselves from each other, wore face masks & shields and much more. Inspite of the various precautionary measures taken, 4 people from the crew came in contact with the virus. The shooting was immediately called off by the Director & everyone present there were tested, including me.

My test results were negative, but my blood pressure was not stable and constantly fluctuating. As per my medical conditions, I should not have constant fluctuations in blood pressure, as it would severely affect my transplanted kidney. Therefore, under the supervision & advice of my doctors, I was hospitalized for three days.

Considering my health, our film’s producer Mr Kalanithi Maran postponed the rest of the shoot.

I consider this as a warning given to me by the Lord.

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2020 Data shows No Emergency: Why is WHO promoting Covid-19 vaccines in Tropical countries?

By

Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake

The currently available Covid-19 vaccines have been authorized for emergency use. This is due to what has been termed a Health Emergency as winter advances and Covid-19 cases spike in the northern hemisphere or Euro-America. Highly advertised Covid-19 vaccines are being produced rolled out by powerful Pharmaceutical and bio-technology companies headquartered in Euro-America under the “warped speed” operation. These vaccines are being marketed on global media and news channels, like CNN, BBC, AL Jazeera and even India’s NDTV to the rest of the world, although they have not gone through a full trials process and their long-term impacts on populations are as yet unknown.

On average it takes over 5-10 years to systematically trial vaccines. Nor have these vaccines been trialed in the GLOBAL SOUTH where the health and nutrition status of people are different than in the global north where larger volumes of processed food are consumed and non-communicable diseases that constitute the co-morbidities profile for Covid-19 are also far more widespread than in tropical countries, especially those where rice is a staple food.

In several tropical Asian and African countries, the 2020 country-specific data shows that there is NO Covid-19 health emergency. In Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, Tanzania and Uganda there is very low incidence of Covid-19 as in Sri Lanka, where questions arise as to why national health authorities are being urged by the WHO, UNICEF and World Bank to spend billions and buy vaccines at this time, especially when it is claimed that there are not sufficient doses for populations in North America and Europe where there is a Covid-19 emergency?

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The promise of ‘prosperity and splendour,’ the very basis on which President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and his Government was brought into power, has been badly betrayed by its flag bearers

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

After relentless political patronage of a covid-healing ‘miracle’ syrup brewed by a ‘kapurala,’ (keeper of a temple cum witch doctor), who chants that he is possessed by the Goddess Kali, it is the height of unseemly irony for Sri Lanka’s Health Services Director to threaten legal action against the ‘kapurala’ and his despairing followers for creating a public disturbance in violation of quarantine regulations.


The law should operate in the reverse

If so, legal action may also be contemplated against a Government patronised private electronic media channel whose television anchors heedlessly propagated this syrup. And what about the culpability of the Health Minister herself, the country’s Speaker and other mindless Ministers who shamefully swallowed this concoction prior to authentication, leading to the upsurge of credulous belief in its powers? In law, the principle of reasonable causation or foresee ability is applicable on all fours here.

This legal test simply asks if the person causing an injury could have reasonably foreseen the general consequences that would result.

By that logic, are not all these individuals reasonably and ‘forseeably’ responsible for the tumult which continues to be caused by the charlatan witch doctor and his syrup?

Continue reading ‘The promise of ‘prosperity and splendour,’ the very basis on which President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and his Government was brought into power, has been badly betrayed by its flag bearers’ »

All State Employees Have to Begin the New Year 2021 by Taking an Oath to Serve the Public and to Implement President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election manifesto — “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour “

When state employees begin their work on January 1, 2021 (next Friday), they will be taking a fresh oath not only vowing to serve the public but also to implement President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election manifesto — “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour “. This will be a new inclusion to the affirmation of the public service.

According to the Public Administration Circular issued by the Ministry of Public Services , Provincial Councils and Local Government, a brief ceremony should be held at each state institution where the head will lead the oath-taking ceremony.

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M.G.R.: From Tamil Film Hero to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The recent announcement by Tamil Cinema Superstar Rajinikanth that he would be forming a political party to contest all 234 seats in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly at the forthcoming May 2021 elections has led to much speculation and excitement. An immediate consequence of Rajinikanth’s political announcement was the inevitable comparison with the yester-year actor turned politician M. G. Ramachandran known generally as M. G. R. While Sivaji Rao Gaekward alias Rajinikanth has been dominating Tamil cinema for the past four decades, Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran a.k.a.MGR ruled the Tamil movidom for three decades until becoming Chief minister of India’s Tamil Nadu state in 1977. MGR served as chief minister (CM) for ten years until his demise in 1987. His 33rd death anniversary will be commemorated this week on December 24th.

Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran (17 January 1917 – 24 December 1987),

Although there are many superficial similarities between MGR and Rajinikanth, equating both could prove to be a false analogy. There are many crucial differences including that of age. MG Ramachandran entered active politics in the fifties of the last century. He was elected to the state legislature in the sixties and became CM in the seventies. When he died after 10 years of being Chief minister in 1987, MGR was 70 years of age, Rajinikantha on the other hand has no active political experience as was never a member of any political party so far. Moreover Rajinikanth celebrated his 70th Birth anniversary on December 12th this year. Thus Rajinikanth is entering party politics as a “fresher” in his 70th year whereas MGR after a hectic political life of many years passed away at the age of 70.

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Five of my Favourite Christmas Carols – How they Originated and Became Widely Popular

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year Friends!

Nativity scene at St Augustine’s church, South Brunswick, NJ, 2018 💒

It’s Christmas season again!

Only this year the COVID-19 Pandemic has restricted the fun,frolic and festivity. Let us all hope and pray that the world withstands and recovers as soon as possible. The Christmas spirit however will remain despite the changed situation.

An integral part of Christmas is the singing of Christmas carols in churches as well as at events celebrating Christmas.

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The Many Faces of Christmas – Shaped Wooden Puzzle from Sri Lanka ~ Photographed at an exhibit of over 900 nativity scenes hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Eugene, Oregon, USA-pic-by Mary Harrsch

There was a time when carolling was an important part of Christmas. ‘’Carol parties” including someone dressed as Santa claus would visit the homes of church members during night and sing carols.Refreshments would be served at each and every home. A few firecrackers too would be lit.

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

This practice of carolling has become near extinct but happily the tradition of conducting special carol services and carol festivals continue. Most church services relating to Christmas feature the singing of carols.Christmas dinners and parties too witness loud carol singing though not tuneful at all times.

Even though large gatherings at home and elsewhere are not possible this Christmas the singing and playing of carols is still possible albeit on a limited scale.

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Life and Times of Anton Stanislaus Balasingham the LTTE Political Strategist

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Anton Stanislaus Balasingham the political strategist of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) and political adviser to tiger leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran died 14 years ago in his South London residence, His death was not unexpected as it was known, the doctors had given him four to six weeks to live. Bala ‘Annai’ (elder brother) as he was generally known among Tamils was diagnosed with bile duct cancer , a rare and aggressive malignancy of the biliary system. LTTE supremo Prabhakaran conferred the title “Thesathin Kural” (Voice of the nation)upon him posthumously. “I am proud to bestow the title of ‘Voice Of The Nation’ on Bala Annai.” Stated the LTTE chief and went on to say “Bala Annai has not left us. He will live permanently in our thoughts. ”

Anton Balasingham & Adele Balasingham

The life and times of Balasingham is interesting . He was a colourful yet controversial figure. He was admired by some and despised by others. This writer’s relationship with Balasingham too has had its up’s and down’s. I have both criticised and praised him depending of course on the issue at hand. I have written about this man and his role in Tamil affairs on several occasions. I shall rely on some of these writings while focusing on the occasion of his 14th death anniversary. I shall however abide by the dictum “De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est” (of the dead nothing is to be said except good!) while writing about him at this point of time.
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Tamil Cinema Superstar Rajinikanth’s Political Party Plunge

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Tamil Nadu, the Indian State closest to Sri Lanka, is gripped by a great deal of political excitement these days. Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections are due in May 2021. All political parties active in the State – from the ruling All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK/ADMK) to the chief opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) – are gearing up in election mode to face polls next year. Polls will be held on the first past the post winner system to 234 Constituencies. One more MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) will be nominated to represent the Anglo-Indian community.

The advent of a general election always leads to much enthusiasm and anticipation. The forthcoming election however has been enlivened further by an additional factor. The leading Tamil actor Rajinikanth known as “Superstar” has indicated that he would be forming a new political party in January 2021 to face the hustings in May. Rajinikanth has said that the name of the party and its official launch date in January would be announced on 31 December this year. Since Rajinikanth would be celebrating his 70th birth anniversary on 12 December there is speculation that the popular actor may reveal more details about his future political plans on that red letter day ahead of 31 December.

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“The denial of the right of the Muslim people to dispose of their dead bodies in keeping with the tenets of their religion is a violation of their fundamental right and should not continue” – TNA Spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has called on the Government to discuss the issue of mandatory cremation of bodies of those who succumb to COVID-19 with Muslim leaders and come to a reasonable and just decision without any further delay.

“The denial of the right of the Muslim people to dispose of their dead bodies in keeping with the tenets of their religion is a violation of their fundamental right and should not continue,” TNA Spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran said in a press release.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa Says Provincial Council elections will be held when the ground situation in the country is conducive to go ahead with the polls;“We cannot make predictions but remain optimistic of holding the elections when the coast is clear” States Prime Minister

by Norman Palihawadana

The government is contemplating holding the Provincial Council elections when the ground situation in the country is conducive to go ahead with the polls, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Friday.

He was responding to a query on whether the government has reached a decision on pushing ahead with the polls as opinion in the country is divided with strident calls from some quarters to abrogate Provincial Councils.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Says Provincial Council elections will be held when the ground situation in the country is conducive to go ahead with the polls;“We cannot make predictions but remain optimistic of holding the elections when the coast is clear” States Prime Minister’ »