Friday, August 31, 2012

Minister sitting tight as 'Aussie' Tamil seeks his family cinema

The Sridhar Cinema in Jaffna
The Sridhar Cinema in Jaffna has been occupied
for 16 years by Sri Lanka's Minister for Traditional
Industries and Small Enterprise Development.
IN its 1970s heyday - before war and poverty made movie theatres a luxury northern Sri Lankans could ill afford - the Sridhar Cinema was Jaffna's "A Number One" film house.

The smart new cinema, with its dress circle and regular Bollywood offerings, was hugely popular in the northern capital, as was its young owner Ratnasabapathy Mahendraraviraj, who built the theatre on family land just 1.5km from the heart of Jaffna town.
But the decline and current predicament of the once-grand Sridhar Cinema - and its now Australian-resident owner - reflects a wider problem plaguing many displaced Tamils as they return to their war-ravaged homes.

Lecturers go on strike, and the government has a drastic response

Maduluwawe Sobitha is an influential figure among Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhala population. He is also a loud critic of the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The monk’s new National Movement Against Social Injustice is, with other groups and unions, backing a university lecturers’ strike for more state spending on education. Almost 5,000 academics stopped work on July 4th. Like them, he is angry that the government spends a mere 1.9% of GDP on schools and universities.

The Disappeared in Sri Lanka

Photo from HRW

(A speech made today at a Vigil to Remember the Disappeared in Sri Lanka on The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, held from 5-6pm at the State Library of Victoria premises in Melbourne, Australia.)

I am honoured to have been asked to speak at this Vigil, to Remember the Disappeared in Sri Lanka on this important occasion, of The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
 Sri Lanka is party to diverse declarations and conventions of the United Nations on human rights. Therefore, the main responsibility of protecting peoples’ rights lies with the government of the day.

A disappearance every five days in post-war Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy WSWS

On 21st at 2.31pm, August 2012, 32 year old Vasanthamala sent a sms from her mobile to her relatives saying she had been taken by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Vavuniya. Around 8pm the same night, she made short phone calls to her mother and father, and said she was alright. When her parents had tried to find out where she was calling from, the call had been cut off and has been switched off thereafter, to date as her parents are still unable to get through to her.

When her father tried to complain to the Vavuniya Police, they had refused to accept the complaint stating that she must have eloped with a man. The complaint was only accepted once her father visited the Police station the following day along with his wife.

Denounce the police attack on students' agitation – JVP

The Political Bureau of the JVP has issued a press release condemning the attack carried out on the peaceful demonstration of university students by Rajapaksa government deploying its police force.
 The press release states, “The police using tear gas and water cannon has repressed the peaceful agitation organized by the Inter University Students Federation yesterday (29th) to demand the government to solve the issues of university academic staffs and non-academic staffs and reopen the universities immediately.

UPR Sri Lanka 2012: Progress limited; Impunity sustained; Rule of Law chellenge- SL NGOsd

Police with unconventional wepones!!
'' During the period under review Sri Lanka has been through dramatic changes, most notably the end of the twenty-year old civil war in May 2009. Over this period the Government of Sri Lanka took a number of steps to address the ethnic conflict, governance and development problems in the country, including the establishment of the Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP). However, on key issues there has been limited progress and the continuation of human rights violations and other developments which challenge the rule of law and sustain the culture of impunity, highlight the need for serious efforts to ensure a sustainable transition from post war to post conflict and the strengthening of good governance in Sri Lanka. ''

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sri Lanka: Enforced disappearances have become a permanent weapon in the arsenal of suppression of dissent - NfR

Disappered journalist Prageeth' family  still waiting after 2 years
In 2010 the United Nations declared 30 August as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.  Every   year this day is commemorated to raise awareness on the fact that enforced disappearances of persons is a crime and should not be used as a tool to deal with  situations arising out of conflicts.  This year too, when this Day is commemorated people all over the world will call for justice for the innumerable number of victims of enforced disappearances in many parts of the world   and to  end  impunity.

Riot police descend on undergrads

Police and thier armory
The police anti-riot squad yesterday fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse a protest march by undergraduates. Five police personnel were injured when some of the protesters pelted stones.
Thousands of undergraduates gathered opposite the Fort Railway Station and commenced their protest march demanding that all universities be re-opened, problems faced by the university teachers and non-academic staff be solved, education privatization plans and the Malabe Private Medical College be abolished and that all students affected by the Z–score mess-up be admitted to universities.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FTZs in dire straits: Workers leaving factories

Workers in the free trade zones (FTZs) are reportedly leaving their jobs since they are not paid a salary in line with the rising cost of living. Convener of the FTZ Workers Federation, Asela Dharmapriya Dissanayake says that with most workers leaving their jobs in the FTZ factories, the remaining employees have had to face an increased workload to meet the manufacturing targets of each factory.
He noted that the FTZ workers have not been given a decent salary increase as assured in every budget speech. He explained that the salary of each FCTZ worker has to be increased by at least Rs. 5,000 given the rising cost of living.

Prison terror moves from Vavuniya to Galle: now Sathis Kumar in coma

A Tamil inmate is reportedly in a coma situation now following a severe beating that had taken place in the Galle Prison.
It is 34 year old Sathis Kumar who is now in a coma following the incident. He is the father of a 10 year old girl. He was arrested by the army in 2008 from his residence in Kodikamam and was later handed over to the police. Since his arrest, he had not been indicted and had been held in the Magazine Prison in Colombo. He was transferred to the Galle Prison from the Magazine Prison last August 21st.

Sri Lanka Journalists Association: Journalists defeat conspiracy

Members of Sri Lanka’s Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), which has become an obstacle to the Rajapaksa government in its move to suppress the media, has managed to defeat a conspiracy to make it yet another instrument of the Rajapaksas.
The AGM and elections for the office bearers for the next year was held on the 28th at the Public Library Auditorium. The committee for next years was unanimously elected. The accepting of nominations for office bearers ended on August 10th. A group of journalists affiliated to the Rajapaksas tried tirelessly until the last minute to capture power of the Association.

Government debt tops Rs.5900bn in May

Sri Lanka’s total outstanding government debt stood at Rs.5902.2 billion as at end of May 2012, against Rs.4800.9 billion reported during the same period of 2011, the latest data released by the Central Bank showed.
Out of the total debt, Rs.3142.5 billion was domestic debt, while foreign debt component stood at Rs.2759.7, up from Rs.2733.2 billion reported in the corresponding period of the previous year.
The government has borrowed Rs.694 billion and Rs.1985.5 billion by selling Treasury bills and Treasury bonds, respectively.

Fill lacuna in LLRC action Plan with sincerity - NPC

The translation of the Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission into Sinhala and Tamil languages is an important step forward in preparing the ground for its implementation.   The National Peace Council welcomes this translation, and making the report accessible to the larger Sri Lankan population.    The translations were handed over to the government representatives tasked with taking forward the implementation of the report earlier this month who pledged to print the documents and ensure their wide circulation. 

Sri Lankan government shuts universities to break strike

By Kapila Fernando , WSWS
On August 21, Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake ordered the closure of all Sri Lankan universities, except for medical faculties, in an effort to break the nearly two-month-old university teachers’ strike.
About 4,000 teachers in 14 universities and other higher education institutions have been on strike since July 4, demanding a 20 percent pay rise, improved university facilities and an increase in education spending from 1.8 percent to 6 percent of gross domestic product. This is the third strike called by the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) since May last year, amid growing opposition among academics to the government’s rejection of their demands.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rishad Bathiyutheen and the Rebirth of the Tiger Souls

by Nadarajah Kuruparan
A rally was conducted in Colombo yesterday (27.07.12) condemning the stymie in the resettlement of Muslims in the North, particularly in Mannar. Organized by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the procession started at Vegantha Mosque and went through Kombani Road and Lake House Circle to reach the Office of the President, where the police prevented the protesters from entry using iron barricades. The banners held by the protesters had the following rallying cries:

Peace ,Normalcy and a Sense of Equity and Equality Have A long Way to Go In Sri Lankas North

By Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Until 7,000 years ago, the sea around Adam’s Bridge being 10 metres lower than it now is, the southeast coast of India and the northwest coast of Sri Lanka were umbilically linked by land.
The people of the two landmasses moved for millennia with ease, doubtless in both directions, across what is now a chain of soft islets between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar.
With seawaters rising and engulfing the land link, time made India and Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, neighbours. No country smaller than its neighbour likes to feel outsized by the large nation to its side. And no country larger than its neighbour can quite distinguish between assistance and patronage. This can be called a general principle. India and Sri Lanka provide an exception. One person who knew this intuitively, was Jawaharlal Nehru.

Rats in the cabinet arouse communalism – The President

There are ministers in the government who arouse communalism and when they come to the cabinet sit like rats that had not done any crime says the President.
Speaking at an election rally held at Samanthurai yesterday (28th) the President said certain ministers in his government arouse communalism. They go to the South and say Muslims demolish temples and when they come to the East they say the Sinhalese burn mosques. They say large extents of lands are given for temples. When they come to cabinet meetings they sit like rats who have done nothing said the President.
However, political analysts say the President gives leadership to the cabinet and ask why he doesn’t take decisions regarding such ministers.

Can Sobitha prevail where Fonseka failed? - Egypt’s Mursi sets an example of bold and decisive action

by Kumar David
A significant political development that has gained momentum this month is that a substantial and growing number of political organizations and individuals have begun to promote the candidacy of Ven. Maduluwewa Sobitha Thero, Chief Incumbent of the Kotte Naga Vihara, as a presidential challenger to Mahinda Rajapaksa. This was implicit (there was no explicit reference to a candidacy) at a meeting of the National Movement for Social Justice at the Colombo Public Library Hall on Wednesday 15 August. The meeting was well attended (the hall was full but not overflowing). General Fonseka and his stalwarts, UNP types mainly but not only from the among the dissidents, and several leftists like yours faithfully more out of curiosity than pledge, and a large contingent of Buddhist clergy made up the audience.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Public Perceptions of the LLRC in Trincomalee

President Mahinda Rajapaksha appointed the Lessons learnt and Reconciliation commission in May 2010 and after 18 months of sittings, the commission submitted its report to the President in November 2011. The report is not only about the effects of war but also about the need to depoliticize state institutions and foster good governance. However, at the time of writing, the report is not yet accessible in Sinhala or Tamil, even though it was reported in the media that Sri Lanka’s Central Bank had commissioned the translations. As Kishali Jayawardena argued, many commissions of inquiry in Sri Lanka have been political exercises rather than genuine attempts to reconcile a traumatized nation.[i]

UPFA flouts polls laws with impunity, complain election monitors

The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) yesterday accused the ruling UPFA of violating election laws at will.   CAFFE Executive Director Rajith Kirthi Tennakoon alleged that Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils A. L. M. Athaulla had been occupying a circuit bungalow belonging to the National Water Supply and Drainage Board at Akkaraipattu for electioneering purposes. He told The Island that the Elections Commissioner and the Chairman of the NWSDB had been informed that Minister Athaulla and UPFA candidates contesting the Eastern Provincial Council elections were occupying the circuit bungalow.

Wrong inference irks former regulators

“I’m no baby to be misled”, says Sugathadasa
The two former Chairpersons of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) have strongly refuted the claim made by Advertising industry specialist turned investor, Dilith Jayaweera that they might have been misled by officers within the SEC Secretariat who had their personal agendas when carrying out their duties.
“How lame for him to assume such a thing? This is irritating. I can assure you that there was no pressure at all and all that I did was through my own conscience,” fumed Tilak Karunaratne.
Meanwhile, Karunaratne’s predecessor, Indrani Sugathadasa said that she actually felt humiliated by this assumption.

Is President Directly Linked to Market Manipulation?

by Laksiri Fernando

The recent crisis in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the official regulator of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), speaks volumes of how the affairs of the country are managed or rather mismanaged by the present regime and its highest authority, the President. It was not one crisis, but one crisis after the other. On the issue of the recent resignation of Tilak Karunaratna, the outgoing Chairperson of the SEC, Frederica Jansz from the Sunday Leader asked “So the President pressured you to resign?” The answer was “I am saying that the Minister of Finance was the person.” Then Jansz asked “The President is the Minister of Finance.?” The obvious answer was “Yes.”

Another brutal attack sends Tamil political prisoner to coma

Following the attack on the Eezham Tamil prisoners in Vauniyaa resulting in the death of two and injury of many, details of the case of a new attack in the Galle prison last week, leaving a prisoner in coma status and others suspectedly injured have started trickling out now. The Tamil prisoner in coma is identified as 34-year-old Sundaram Saheeskumar, father of a 10-year-old child. He was arrested in 2007 and and without any charges filed was kept in the New Magazine prison in Colombo. Recently, he was transferred to the Galle prison on 21 August.

Borrowed surplus looming, warns Harsha

  • Given first half performance, believes several 2012 Roadmap targets will be missed
UNP MP and its chief spokesman on the economy Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday claimed that most of the Central Bank’s 2012 Roadmap targets were likely to be missed, based on below par performance on the external trade front during the first half.

He said that the revised 2012 Roadmap envisaged full-year export proceeds of $ 11.7 billion but in the first half the figure was only $ 4.96 billion and when averaged out, the full year performance is likely to be $ 9.9 billion. “This means a 15% drop from the envisaged target,” Dr. de Silva told the Daily FT.

UPR Report:Challenges abound, shows achievements

Following is an interview with Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, on how Sri Lanka is bracing itself to meet the challenges of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UNHRC, in November. Minister Samarasinghe who is also the special Presidential Envoy for Human Rights explaining how the UPR will be held this year, shrugged off Opposition Leader’s call for tabling the UPR country report in Parliament adding, “I am sure he is anxious to find out what is in the report and he would soon be able to once it is posted in the HRC website shortly.”

IDPs’ rights must be respected

article_imageR. M. B Senanayake
The Bishop of Jaffna has issued a statement setting out the ground realities in the Northern Province. We can expect the bishop to be reasonable and objective rather than be swayed by emotion and emotional attachments to ethnicity. So we hope and pray that his statement will receive the attention of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The government says that the bulk of the internally displaced people who were in government camps like the Menik Farm have been re-settled because they are no longer in such camps. But the Bishop points out that a considerable number of them who left the camps are staying with their kith and kin and in transit camps.

President’s TV show violates Polls Chief’s guidelines – UNP

The UNP yesterday alleged that the Elections Secretariat had failed to implement its guidelines, as regards media coverage given to political parties, in the run-up to the forthcoming elections to North-Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provincial Council elections.  Friday’s live telecast of ‘Janapathi Janahamuwa’, by both State-run and privately owned television stations, violated a key guideline, Deputy Secretary General of the UNP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena said in an interview with The Island yesterday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why only tourism and roads get a priority, not education? An Interview with FUTA President

Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri

The strike action by the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) started on July 4 is still continued and discussions and efforts taken to meet their demands so far have been failed.
Higher Education Ministry and University Grants Commission (UGC) had stopped their July salaries and last Wednesday (22), they closed the universities indefinitely except the medical faculties.
Meanwhile, the FUTA organized a public rally in Colombo to show their strength and they had succeeded in gathering a massive crowd to Colombo that resulted in blocking several roads. Here, the President of the FUTA Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri speaks to The Nation.

Dilith: ‘Illang kewaa’: Gotabhaya calls SEC chair on behalf of Jayaweera!!

''Calling a media conference to proclaim his innocence against allegations and reports that he was part of an alleged mafia that was controlling the stock market, Mr Jayaweera was taken to the cleaners, facing a barrage of questions on a range of issues including ‘a call made on his behalf by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Thilak Karunaratne’, political influence and political campaigns for the President, stock market probes involving his company and connections with (Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority – SLTDA) Chairperson Mr Godahewa, among others.''

IMPERATIVES FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT :More economic woes owing to global and domestic developments

By Nimal Sanderatne
The emerging global conditions are likely to aggravate the country’s economic difficulties in the coming months. The tardy economic growth of Western economies will continue to decrease export earnings. The rising oil and world food prices will increase import expenditure. These developments will affect the trade balance adversely. Sri Lanka’s trade dependent economy will once again be vulnerable to these adverse global developments.

University Security Costs Double With Rakna Lanka

The cost of providing security to the universities has doubled since it bacame mandatory to hire the services of Rakna Lanka Security Service through an order of the Ministry of Higher Education. This was revealed when Minister of Higher Education S. B. Dissanayake answered an oral question raised by UNP MP Dayasri Jayasekera in Parliament on August 22.
 The cost of security has risen to Rs 440 million in 2012 from that of Rs 220 million in 2010. In 2011 the total strength of security personnel within the universities were 1,380 which has since risen to 1,408 in 2012.

Vanni loses one seat, Moneragla gets one more

The number of Members of Parliament to be elected from the Vanni District has been reduced by one and the number from the Moneragala district increased by one, according to the latest revision by Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya.
 The number of MPs to be elected from each district is determined by the commissioner annually in proportion to the number of electors registered in each district.

The President Pressured Me To Go – Tilak

By Frederica Jansz
Tilak Karunaratne, the former Chairman for the Securities and Exchange Commission says that President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Finance brought pressure on him to resign from his post as chairman SEC.
Excerpts of the interview:
FJ: Your predecessor Indrani Sugathadasa was forced out despite being a senior highly regarded public servant and wife of President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga. In those circumstances why did you accept the appointment as Chairman of the SEC?
TK: Good question. There were two things. I knew what was happening. I had also been a long term investor in the bourse. And I have also been a keen student of what was happening in the SEC. Indrani, in my view, was at a disadvantage because her husband is Secretary to the President so whatever moves she would probably have also made would embarrass her husband. Therefore she obviously would not want to do certain things which would embarrass Lalith. So she was at a disadvantage. I did not have those disadvantages.

Study Links Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka’s Farm Belt to Agrochemicals

Reprint |  
New research on the high prevalence of kidney disease in Sri Lanka's farming areas mentions a possible link to heavy metals in the water, associated with fertiliser and pesticide use. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS
 (IPS) - A new report links the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka’s main agricultural production regions with the presence of heavy metals in the water, caused by fertiliser and pesticide use.
Over the past two decades, dozens of studies have been conducted on the large number of kidney patients in Sri Lanka’s agro-rich north-central region. However, none had conclusively identified a clear cause.

Is This Development?

| by Tisaranee Gunasekara
“….it’s a show, it’s a show”
Mookie and Sam (You Tube)
The Chinese deal to provide Sri Lanka with a communication satellite and a space-academy was one of the fastest BOI projects to get off the ground, according to the proud-boast of the state-media.
Unsurprisingly; there is an intimate connection between the Ruling Family and the space-project. “The idea of having a satellite was the brainchild of President Rajapaksa who spelt it out when he was in China recently” (The Sunday Observer – 19.8.2012). That is an extremely believable claim about the incomparable-brain which produced such winners as Mihin Air and the Magampura-Ruhuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MRMR Port).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bar Association and Mannar Bar Stand Firm Against Minister Bathiudeens Attempts to Subvert Judiciary

Stamp for Bar Asso. silver jubilee
by Mike Andree
 As expected, the Bar Association made a fortuitous turn for the better and to the relief of those who sincerely believe that the real freedom of the people lies not in their political leaders, but in an independent un-politicized judiciary.
It was not very long ago that the members of the public signed and submitted, to the Speaker, an impeachment motion, requesting the parliament to remove the then Chief Justice. One of the main protagonists of this historic motion was a prominent journalist.

Top Govt. politicos using stock market to launder money : UNP

The main opposition United National Party (UNP) yesterday accused ruling party politicians of using the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) for laundering their ill-gotten money with the help of 17 agents.
 UNP Senior Vice President and Kandy District parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella told journalists that this was how the stock market mafia came into existence.

Sri Lanka to get $1.12 billion Chinese loan for new port, railway

MR with Chinese PM
Sri Lanka will borrow more than $1.12 billion from China under concessional terms for a new port and railway construction, the government said on Friday. The $59 billion economy has been increasingly relying on China for financing and expertise required for its post-war rebuilding plans. The island nation has also been borrowing from Russia and India, but to a lesser degree.

Closure of Universities - Sri Lanka masks tyranny with selective democracy

Press Release, GTF
Global Tamil Forum condemns Sri Lankan Government’s indefinite closure of 13 of the 15 state-run universities on the island, in response to strikes over privatisation of the higher education system, politicisation of key appointments in the sector and military training of all university entrants. This latest act to undermine academic freedom and institutional autonomy is a continuation of heavy militarisation of the island to maintain social control and curb any democratic opposition. Denial of university places for qualified Tamil entrants through a discriminatory education policy in the 1970s was a major trigger of the Tamil youth rebellion.

Friday, August 24, 2012

LLRC Action Plan – Commentary by Centre for Policy Alternatives

This commentary is the  most recent initiative in a process of engagement with the  Government and   other  key stakeholders  to  develop  and   implement  the recommendations  and   provide constructive criticism  and  suggestions. 
 Read as a PDF
Bhavani Fonseka, Luwie Ganeshathasan and  Mirak Raheem (CPA)

Editorial - Writing on the blackboard for education

The vital education sector, which decides the future of millions of young people, is facing its gravest crisis since independence, with blunders and a blackboard jungle situation on various fronts. But the widely critisised Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena under heavy pressure to resign told parliament there is no problem and opposition critics hit back saying then he himself must be the problem.  The Friday Forum, one of Sri Lanka’s most respected independent groups on socio-economic issues, last week expressed concern  that the people were losing confidence in the public education service because of party politicisation, militarisation and the lack of a national education policy.

Mahinda Chinthana’ and the University Crisis

by Laksiri Fernando
 21 August 2012 will go into the history of Sri Lanka as a Black Day for the whole education system. The most stubborn Minister of Higher Education, SB Dissanayake, has decided to close down all universities, except medical faculties, exposing the government’s complete inability to resolve, clearly a straight forward salary issue and a policy dispute with the academic community.

Frustrated army harassing Tamil school girls in Pudukudiyiruppu!

According to news reaching from the former LTTE hideout in and around the north-east Pudukudiyiruppu, Vanni, military men engaged in non-combating patrols are heavily engaged in harassing the Tamil school girls. Military men on their rounds in vehicles and road patrols are targeting Tamil school girls attending evening private tuition classes. They are seen forcing chits to the girls. The girls in fear are accepting the chits fearing of consequences if they do not accept them from the gun wielding army personnel. The chits confirms the cell phone numbers and the military men are said to be asking the girls to phone them.

People should pelt stones atwhoever misuses public property – HC Judge

Provincial High Court Judge, Susantha Kumara, of the North Central Province, made an open Court observation yesterday saying, the people should pelt stones at whoever misuses public property and that such candidates should be taken care of in future by the public.  Judge Susantha made this observation while dismissing a petition filed by the ‘Api Purawesiyo’ organization alerting that the former North Central Provincial Minister had illegally assigned several official vehicles for the upcoming election.

sri Lanka:‘Save State Education’ - In solidarity with FUTA strike

A protest march and a rally organized by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) under the theme ‘Save State Education’ was held in Colombo today (23rd).

Navi Pillay due in Sri Lanka to assess progress

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will visit Sri Lanka to assess the steps taken by the government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), said External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris in Parliament yesterday.

During the debate on the action plan for the implementation of the LLRC recommendations, the minister said an official from Ms. Pillay's office would arrive in the country soon to lay the groundwork for her visit.

Trade Contraction: Sri Lanka exports fall -7.9-pct, imports -15-pct, trade deficit narrows in June

Apparel fell 6.3 percent
(LBO) - Sri Lanka's external trade contracted in June with exports falling 11.7 percent to 755.8 million US dollars and imports falling 15 percent to 1,419 million US dollars, official data showed.

Tea exports fell.6 percent to 101.4 million US dollars, apparel fell 6.3 percent to 310 million US dollars and rubber products fell 15 percent to 64 million US dollars.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Since 2005, the government slash educational expenses from 2.9% to 1.9% of GDP - Mangala

Since 1945 when education in our country was made a free service Sri Lanka was able to proudly proclaim that it had one of the finest education systems East of the Suez canal. As a result , we posses one of the highest literary rates in Asia and many of the brightest and the best who have served  our country in various fields have been products of this system - the envy of many South Asian countries. Within this, our universities provided the highest levels of education to its graduates. Even today, many of those who hold top positions in state sector as well as the private sector are products of this system.

Building defying SL governor inauguration receives crude oil attack in Jaffna

The colonial military administration of Colombo on Wednesday allegedly deployed its ‘white van squad’ to pour crude oil on the new building of Valikaamam South (Chunnaakam) civic body before it was scheduled to be declared opened by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The colonial military governor of North, Maj Gen (retd.) G.A. Chanadrasiri has been demanding that it should be he who should decide on the inauguration of the building. However, the building was declared opened as scheduled by T. Prakash, the head of the civic body of Valikaamam South. The grassroots politician of the TNA also declared that the office would start to function from Thursday in the new premises.

Mannar incident: Necessity to respond before such incidents escalate into violence - Citizen's Commission

Fishing boats, Mannar
Citizens’  Commission  on  the  Expulsion  of  Muslims   from  the
Northern Province by the LTTE; Findings of fact-finding visit to Mannar – 8th and 9th August 2012.

On 18th July 2012 there was a protest outside of the Magistrate’s Court in Mannar that turned violent. According to media reports the incident occurred in relation to a dispute regarding a fishing harbor in the Uppukulam area of Mannar.  The Citizens’ Commission on the Expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE has   been   engaging   with   the   northern   Muslim   community   since   2009.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Role of the Military in the Post Conflict Era -

GR at the at Graduation Ceremony of BICS
''The role of the military in the North and East in future will be to maintain national security and ensure that any pro-LTTE elements remaining amongst the resettled population or who are based in other nations do not have the opportunity to destabilise our hard won peace and harm Sri Lanka. The maintenance of military camps in strategic locations throughout the country is essential for the maintenance of national security. The establishment of military camps in locations such as Mannar, Palaly, Elephant Pass, Pooneryn, Thalladi, Karainagar, and Mullaitivu began in the 1950s with a view to enhancing internal security and minimise the smuggling of persons, drugs and materials in and out of the country. These concerns remain to this day.'' 
by Gotabhaya Rajapaksha

Govt. is not willing to negotiate with TNA –S. Africa

Meeting with MR
The South African government says the attempt to get the government and the TNA back to the negotiating table has failed.The Sri Lankan government stated that the delegation of South African government members had visited Sri Lanka on an invitation by the government and had left the country after extending their fullest support towards the country’s reconciliation and economic development programmes.

2 survive to tell of Sri Lankan abduction squads


The politician knew something was amiss when a suspicious white van pulled alongside him at a Colombo park and four men got out, pretending to exercise. Ravindra Udayashanta alerted his supporters, and police. Soon, the gunbattle began. 
In Sri Lanka, anyone who has crossed someone of importance is wary of white vans, said to be the vehicles of choice for shadowy squads who "disappear" opponents of powerful people. So, Udayashanta's armed supporters immediately went into action.

Trinco UPFA leaders accused of attacking NFF offices

UPFA constituent, the National Freedom Front (NFF) is on a collision course with Trincomalee-based UPFA leaders over a spate of attacks on NFF offices.A senior NFF spokesman yesterday told The Island that their campaign was on track in spite of ongoing efforts to discourage those contesting on the NFF ticket. Asked whether the NFF move could undermine the UPFA bid to regain the Eastern Provincial Council, the spokesman said that there wouldn’t have been any issue if the UPFA accommodated one NFF nominee on its Trincomalee list. Even after UPFA constituent, SLMC decided to go on its own in the East, the UPFA declined to accommodate a NFF nominee in its Trincomalee list, the official said.

Museum theft: JHUleader accuses police of trying to protect powerful politician


‘Arrests only a red herring’ ‘Drug addict story concocted’Jathika Hela Urumaya Leader Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera yesterday scoffed at police claims that the robbery of artifacts from the Colombo Museum had been carried out by a drug addict. He said Monday’s arrests were only a red herring drawn across the trail of the real culprit.
He told The Island the police were not free to conduct investigations into the robbery as a powerful politician was behind the theft.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The LLRC and the prospects of reconcilation in Sri Lanka

By Kumar Rupesinghe
It is now over three years since the LTTE was decisively defeated by the Government of Sri Lanka. Since then the government and the international community have been grappling with the issue of winning peace, addressing the causes which gave rise to the deadly conflict, issues of accountability, and reconciliation. These issues have dominated the Sri Lankan debate in the last few years.

Military presence in north should not be judged – Japan

The Japanese government said yesterday that the military presence in the North should not be judged at the moment since it was a moving process and noted that the presence of the security forces was decreasing.
“The military presence was decreasing in the north; however it is too early to judge it because it’s a moving process,” Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Nabuhito Hobo told Daily Mirror yesterday. He made this remark after the signing of a grant contract, in Colombo yesterday, to provide Rs. 11.7 million in agricultural assistance to the Vavuniya District.

GMOA docs targeted for harassment? - Wreath placed at residence of a doctor

file photo
A wreath had been placed at the entrance to the residence of Dr. Palitha Rajapaksa, the GOMA branch secretary in Badulla, by some unknown persons.  Dr. Rajapaksa told police that he found the wreath when he was about to leave his residence on Saturday morning.  Apart from that Dr. M. D. Ajith, attached to the Badulla hospital and Dr. Rajapaksa had also received anonymous telephone calls threatening them with death, the GMOA said.

Govt.behind attack and threats to doctors, charges FSP

The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) has charged that the Government was behind the threat to Dr. Lalantha Ranasinghe by throwing a hand grenade at his house. Dr. Ranasinghe who is an active member of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) was openly against the privatisation of hospitals and was a critic of the Government.
Issuing a news release on this incident the FSP condemned the Government stating that the authorities were trying to toy with the education and health sectors in Sri Lanka regardless of the protests of the public.

Militarization in North-East Denotes Military Involvement and Interference in the Daily Lives of the People

SL Army
By M. A. Sumanthiran M.P.
In October last year I submitted to Parliament a 30-page report on the situation in the North and the East. I did not criticize the mere presence of military bases. ‘Militarization’ is not so passive a word as to denote only the military’s existence in a given zone. Instead the term ‘militarization’ describes the military’s enterprise, that is their involvement and interference in the daily lives of the people who inhabit those zones.

TNA Leader Sampanthan to Move Motion Pertaining to North – East Situation in Parliament

''The release by the Government of Sri Lanka of a National Plan of Action to implement the recommendations of the L.L.R.C. This Action Plan has not been formulated after due consultation with Parliament or the democratically elected representatives of the affected people.  It is in this background that this whole issue in its totality-which is directly linked to genuine reconciliation, goodwill and harmony amongst the different peoples that constitute the Sri Lankan polity, becomes an issue of urgent national importance that needs to be kept under the close and continuous scrutiny of the country’s democratically elected supreme legislature.'

Reflections on the FUTA Strike Action from an Undergraduate

By Sanjayan Rajasingham
University students have different opinions about the strike action by the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA). Some oppose it, and went to court to get lecturers back to work. Others have expressed support. However almost all are annoyed at the time lost.
In writing this I do not intend to exhaustively analyse the demands of FUTA. Rather, I want to discuss the issues arising out of two of its primary demands: the salary increase and an increase in government spending on education.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Moving from ‘Tamil Eelam’ to ‘Eelam Tamil’

by Col R Hariharan
Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi seems to have quietly acquiesced to New Delhi’s pressure to shift the focus of his widely publicized “Eelam Tamils’ Rights Protection Conference” on August 12 from ‘Tamil Eelam’ to ‘Eelam Tamil.’
The exercise was more than semantics; except for two – Thol Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthai Katchi (VCK) and Veeramani of the Dravida Kazagham (DK) – other mainline speakers hardly made a reference to an independent Tamil Eelam. Even Thiruma’s speech was mostly devoted to redeem Karunanidhi’s reputation damaged during the Eelam War-4.

Village, jungle adjacent to Mu’l’livaaykkaal grabbed for Sinhala militarisation

The locality of Keappaapulavu
and the former airstrip of the LTTE
2,500 acres of land by the side of the Nanthik-kadal lagoon, comprising of the village Keappaa-pulavu and nearby jungle, where the last stages of the Vanni war was fought and prohibited weapons were allegedly used against the LTTE by the genocidal Sinhala military, is now permanently grabbed for use of the occupying military, news sources in Vanni said. The grabbed land in Mullaiththeevu district is divided between Sri Lanka’s Army and Air Force and the original villagers of 700 families detained from resettling are forced to accept lands away from their village.

Education policy and FUTA’s mandate: some thoughts

by Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Member AFTA, University of Colombo
Some people have made an argument that FUTA has exceeded the mandate of a trade union when it demands the government to allocate 6% of the GDP to education. This argument emanates from the position that trade unions have no business with government’s fiscal policy. According to the advocates of this position, deciding priorities and policies of allocating government expenditure is entirely the job of the government and its policy-making officials.
This essay is only supplementary to the excellent response earlier circulated by Shamala Kumar of Peradeniya.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

‘Divineguma’ Bill: Disempowering Provincial Councils via Legislative Measures is a Permanent Fixture on Rajapaksa Agenda

By Tisaranee Gunasekara
 “….everything that was ever invented by knavery to impose upon imbecility”.Voltaire (A Philosophical Dictionary)
 The Rajapaksas are world class, and more, when it comes to building innocuous facades to hide insalubrious realties.  Who would expect a bill regarding the self-employment scheme sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Development, a bill harmlessly, even trifle boringly, titled ‘Divineguma (Uplifting Lives), to be a front for an insidious attempt to dismantle devolution?

TESO and Political Parameters in Sri Lanka

I finally went to Chennai and participated in Tamil Eelam Supporters Organization (TESO) conference and the public meeting. The whole thing was effective in raising the plight of the Eelam Tamils. Even for a Marxist revolutionary there was a space to intervene with out conceding any principle.
Though near 90 years of age, DMK leader Karunanidi, is very alert and active. From a wheelchair he was guiding the whole operation; keenly following the entire discussion. His son Stalin led the organizing of the event. He reminded me of late Vijaya, handsome and charming. Obviously it was a bourgeoisie event.

SLMC girds its loins following grenade throwing incident

The powerful Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), following a grenade-attack on the home of a respected senior surgeon-cum-SLMC member, has called an emergency meeting tomorrow to decide on a course of action, the Sunday Times reliably learns.

This came amidst an assurance by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa that SLMC members under threat would be provided protection and the medical fraternity reacted with shock and horror after a hand-grenade was lobbed at the Dehiwela home of Consultant Surgeon, Dr. Lalantha Ranasinghe attached to the Colombo National Hospital, on Thursday (August 16) morning.

While police investigations intensified after the Government took serious note of the incident, many were of the view that the threat was to silence Dr. Ranasinghe as he has boldly voiced strong views with regard to certain issues ailing the medical system in Sri Lanka. One of these issues concerns private medical education in the aftermath of the developments surrounding the controversial private medical college at Malabe, it is learnt.