Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How do people 'escape' from the refugee camps in Sri Lanka unless they are internment camps?

(September 30, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Wording in some of the statements of the state officials reveal the true nature of the status of the refugee camps in Northern Province of Sri Lanka where around 300,000 internally displaced, mostly Tamil civilians are held.
Sri Lanka's Sinhala nationalist English daily 'The Island' today published this report:

At least 20,000 of the nearly 300,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Vavuniya camps had escaped, SSP for Kandy Ranjith Kasturiratna said at the Kandy District coordinating committee meeting, chaired by Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake, on Monday.
SSP Kasturiratne said special police teams from Kandy had been dispatched to the IDP camps in the North to conduct investigations.

Police investigations had revealed that about 20,000 had escaped from the camps. They were believed to be LTTE cadres.

Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) MP Vijitha Herath pointed out today at a press conference held in Colombo that these places are not detention camps for people to 'escape'.

However, it is  well known fact that the mobility of the inmates of these camps are thoroughly restricted. Government under pressure from the international community to release these refugees, only recently decided to allow selected refugees to stay with the relatives that live outside. However, media reported that there were many flaws in application process. Human trafficking is also taking place in large scale. Many youths that were suspected of associating the Tamil rebels were abducted and they had simply disappeared.

"Government told a blatant lie to the world stating that it had resettled 6000 refugees of the Menikfarm in their villages although they had been re located at Kaithady and Mirisuvil in Jaffna, said JVP parliamentarian Vijitha Herath. About 40,000 of the Jaffna residents are still in the refugee camps, he said adding that around 2000 have been settled on the borders of Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Land Sri Lankans fought for homelands is now in foreigners' hands

(September 29, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils fought almost three decades for land in Sri Lanka where the land is being acquired by foreign businessmen following the end of the civil war with total annihilation of Tamil rebel forces. This land acquisition both in land of the 'Sinhalese Lions' ain the southern parts of the island as well as the Tamil homeland in northern and eastern areas previously the de facto state of the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels existed.

Sri Lanka has a span of 6.5 million hectares and 80% it belong to government, that restricts foreigners from buying land. But the state cannot block the 20% private land be sold to foreigners despite the government levies a tax of 100%. In most cases the selling price is undervalued in deeds and the state loses much of the tax revenue while the local land owners, most of them ardent patriots supporting the present system, do not disclose the real amounts they gained through deals with foreigners.

Much of the private land in ancient Dutch Fort in Sinhala dominated Southern Province is now sold to foreigners, said a resident of the picturesque location adjacent to Galle harbor. Altogether, 10,000 acres of land island wide has been purchased by foreigners so far, says the Minister of Land and Land Development Jeevan Kumarathunga.

Meanwhile, the government is also looking for investors for state land. "Delegates from the Sri Lanka board of investment met with executives from Omaxe in New Delhi and others seeking investments and have liberal rules governing businesses," reported The Economic Times of The Indian Times.

It further said:
“With the civil war over, we are seeing a huge demand for housing,” said Puravankara group MD Ravi Puravankara. The group is planning to launch a villa project in Colombo. “We have already initiated the land acquisition process,” he added. It is aimed at the Sri Lankan diaspora who may return to enjoy the long-desired peace. But, it will cost them around $2 lakh each.

L&T has already laid the foundation stone for its commercial park in Colombo and is all set to invest around $150 million for its residential and commercial projects in country with a population of around 20 million, about a fifth of Maharashtra.

The commercial complex, a 51 storey building in Colombo city with 15 lakh square feet, will be called the Diamond Tower. “We plan to make this the tallest building in Sri Lanka,” said C Ignatius, director of the Sri Lanka board of investment. Larsen declined to comment for the story. 

The Sri Lankan government is doing its best to attract overseas investors, especially from India, and has made the foreign direct investment rules simple. For an Indian real estate company to build complexes, all it needs to invest is Rs 2 crore. Also, there is no lock-in period for the investors. They can cash out and repatriate the money to India anytime they want.

“We have carried out an extensive research in Sri Lanka and our research shows that the country has huge potential for the developers,” Omaxe chairman and MD Rohtas Goel told ET. But, the company is yet to finalise its plans.

Sri Lanka, with many plantations, beaches and a colonial past, could draw global hospitality and manufacturing companies. “Many multinationals could also enter the country which would again increase the demand for commercial and office space,” said Cushman & Wakefield executive director Kaustuv Roy.

Government has demarcated an entire residential area in Sampur that was liberated from the Tamil Tigers a high security zone and thousands of residents of the villages still languish in refugee camps despite the government 'freed' them from the hold of the Tigers. Sampur is a Tamil residential area located close to Trincomalee natural harbor in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.

Emptied Sampur is given to India's National Thermal Power Corporation to build a 1000 MW coal power plant.

Government of Sri Lanka encourages local and foreign investors to invest in state land in the fields of agriculture, industry and tourism etc. It is targeting an FDI of $2 billion by 2010. According to government statistics, Sri Lanka received $889 million in FDI in 2008 and $400 million, so far, this year. The Board of Investment declined to comment on how much it expects the Indian real estate developers to invest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Norway, Solheim helped establish LTTE-Eritrea links for arms deals - Sri Lanka's Sinhala nationalist newspaper

(September 27, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's leading Sinhala nationalist English daily The Island reported today that the former peace facilitator Norwegian government helped the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) to establish relations with Eritrea, which allowed the group to purchase arms, ammunition and equipment from China on Eritrean end-user certificates and other documents needed to legally buy weapons, according to 'well informed sources'. 
The rest of the feature is as follows:
Sources said the tripartite understanding had been reached in Norway as far back as 2002-2003, when it facilitated negotiations purportedly aimed at ending Sri Lanka’s war. Sources said the on-going investigations had revealed that Norway facilitated the meeting between Eritrean representatives and the LTTE.
Responding to The Island queries, sources said the then Sri Lankan government had not been aware of Norway’s surreptitious move to strengthen the conventional fighting capability of the LTTE. Sources added that some members of the LTTE negotiating team, too, had been involved with the Eritreans. Government sources said that the international community should investigate the Norwegian role in destabilizing a UN member state.
The interrogation of Kumaran Padmanathan aka ‘KP’ captured by Sri Lanka over two months ago had confirmed the Eritrean deal, sources said.
India is also seeking to interrogate ‘KP’ though New Delhi never allowed Sri Lanka access to LTTE terrorists arrested during eelam war IV. Over 90 per cent of all heavy equipment, including a range of artillery pieces and 14.5 mm four barrelled anti-aircraft guns captured by the army were of Chinese origin.
Sources said ‘KP’, though unable to shed light on terrorist operations in Sri Lanka could help expose the vast international network of supporters, including the direct involvement of Norway in supporting terrorism. According to sources, the Norwegians, during bilateral talks with the LTTE had promised the outfit to develop ocean resources. Discussions had centred on oil exploration as well as the fisheries sector, sources said adding that the far reaching Norwegian project was believed to have started as far back as the arrival of NORAD in Sri Lanka.
Sources said that the LTTE had used Eritrean and also North Korean end-user-certificates to procure arms from China and smuggled them in several consignments before the Sri Lanka Navy destroyed eight floating arsenals on the high seas between September 2006 and October 2007.
Sources revealed that the Norwegian embassy in Colombo had gone to the extent of contacting the Maldivian government in May 2007, when the Maldivian Coast Guard intercepted a trawler carrying LTTE cargo. But, the Norwegians failed to save Sri Krishna, belonging to Indian fishermen from destruction and the SLN intelligence got an opportunity to question captured LTTE cadres as well as the Indian Captain of the vessel.
The then Chief Norwegian facilitator Erik Solheim had been directly involved in forming the Eritrean-LTTE relationship, sources said. An official said that the bottomline was that Norway had eyed Sri Lanka’s ocean resources and ministers, who had represented Sri Lanka in negotiations, had been totally unaware of what was going on behind their backs.
Sri Lanka recently decided to establish diplomatic relations with Eritrea. Although the former Navy Chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda revealed the LTTE relationship with an African country shortly after the killing of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon in May, in an interview with the ITN. The Island was the first to name the country.

Sri Lanka President vows not to betray the people for US $ 150 million GSP Plus concession

(September 28, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse vowed not to betray the nation for US $ 150 million concession received through GSP Plus tariff relief scheme of the European Union. "I will earn that amount in another way and safeguard the industries," he said addressing lower rank government officers and village level elite of Southern Province at his ancestral home in Medamulana in Hambanthota district.

Rajapakse showed that he was clever to obtain the IMF stand-by arrangement that was also in balance one time. He boasted that as a man born in southern Sri Lanka, he was well versed in dealing such matters.

The President pointed out that one third of the land and two third of the sea given to Tamil rebels under agreements were united to the national economy.

Sri Lanka is about to lose the GSP Plus tariff concessions given to it by European Union to recover from the damages of 2004 Boxing Day tsunami due to criticism on its human rights conduct and the government's reluctance to investigate such issues.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sri Lankan journalists rally to protest Press Council and to get Tissainayagam released

(September 27, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Several leading media organizations of Sri Lanka call for all citizens who value freedom in all its forms to staunchly oppose the reactivation of the draconian Press Council and to agitate for the release of our colleague J.S. Tissainayagam who was branded a terrorist and sentenced for 20 years under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
"We can achieve these objectives only through a show of commitment and solidarity. Hence, a large gathering of journalists, civil society activists, political parties, artistes, religious leaders and civic minded citizens who wish to fight for a just and free society will come together on September 29 at the Jayewardene Center, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 07 (opposite Vihara Maha Devi Park) at 4 pm. 

"We intend initiating a people’s petition against the reactivation of the Press Council and invite you in your capacity as a socially conscious citizen who wishes to safeguard democracy in our motherland to join hands with those likeminded others at this event," says the media organizations in a statement. 

 The organizations that convene this meeting are:

The Editor’s Guild of   Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association
Federation of Media Employee's Trade Union
Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum
Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance
Free Media Movement
National Forum of Journalists

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New tactics of Sri Lankan legislators to undermine freedom of expression for the MPs

(September 26, Colombo - Lanka Polity) In Sri Lanka's deformed democracy, the honorable Members of Parliament are now suspected of deliberately boycotting parliament to disrupt each others freedom of expression.

On last Tuesday, the opposition United National Party (UNP) MP Ravi Karunanayaka showed at the adjournment debate that the house has no quorum. As a result, the Deputy Minister of Highways W.B. Ekanayaka lost the opportunity to deliver the government answer of the debate on a major road development project the opposition accused of having massive mismanagement and misappropriation.

Later the Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardhana said the opposition move was a breach of an agreement not to raise the quorum issues at the adjournment. Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera apologized.

However, on Friday, the government Minister of Transport Services Lasantha Alagiyawanna blocked UNP MP Ravi Karunanayaka proposing the adjournment debate by showing there was no quorum in the house. The Deputy Speaker Piyankara Jayaratna failed to summon the quorum and the meeting was adjourned prematurely. Only 17 members had responded to the quorum bell while Alagiyawanna, who initially pointed out the absence of the required number of members, too, left the Chamber. Deputy Foreign Minister Hussain Bhaila, the only government representative present in Parliament said that they were still four short of the stipulated number.

There are 225 MPs in the parliament. The minimum number needed to maintain the quorum is 20. Most of the MPs do not attend the parliamentary meetings regularly although they enjoy lavish perks with public money. On the days the parliamentary meetings are held, the roads in Colombo city are closed time to time to provide safe passage to the MPs to come and go. A massive sum of public money is spent for each parliamentary meeting.

Sri Lanka Marxists question the ethics of raising money from soldiers to felicitate themselves

(September 26, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka oppsition People's Liberation Front (JVP) parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Disanayaka says that the Army has deduced Rs. 1800 (around US $ 16) each per a personnel from their salaries for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Army.The MP queried the meaning of felicitating the soldiers with their own money.
The MP further pointed out to the parliament yesterday (25) that no house has been granted to war heroes (fallen soldiers) from the 'Api Wenuwen Api' housing fund that raised massive funds from public. Some Rs. 45.6 million (US $ 400,000) collected from the employees of the state-owned Transport Board has not still been transferred into the accounts of the aforesaid fund. 

Army has organized a massive celebration to mark its birthday that falls immediately after the war victory against the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). They include Army Exhibition at BMICH (Oct 3-7) and the Army Tattoo (Oct 17-23) at Kettarama Stadium.

The Army Exhibition beginning at 10.00 a.m. (except on the opening day) is open till 10.00 p.m. on all seven days and expects a crowd of about 100,000 spectators every day. The Army Tattoo at Kettarama Stadium beginning on 17th October is expected to attract at least 20,000 visitors each day, depending on the number of seats available at the venue. The Tattoo will remain open between 5.30-10.00 p.m. on all seven days until the final day, 23rd October.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sri Lankan Minister seeks UN permanent investigative commission to look into human rights violations of US

(September 25, Colombo - Lanka Polity) National Heritage Party (JHU), a Sinhala Buddhist ethno-religious party in coalition with Sri Lanka's ruling alliance is going to commence a petition campaign against US.

The JHU expects to collect a million signatures since next month denying breach of human rights since the inception of US and urging for UN permanent investigative commission to look into them, said ruling alliance Minister of Agriculture, Agrarian Development, Irrigation, Livestock Production and Development, Trade and Environment in Western Provincial Council at a press conference held in Colombo yesterday.

JHU move is considered an effort to counter the international pressure to investigate the human rights violations in the last leg of the war against the Tamil Tigers.

Sinhala Buddhist nationalist JHU is a party that handles the ideological stand of Sri Lanka government. It vehemently opposed the peace process and mobilized forces to militarily defeat the Tamil separatism in the north and eastern parts of the island.

Restructuring of Sri Lanka's internal defence; new security forces headquarters in south

(September 25, Colombo - Lanka Polity) As another step of restructuring and strengthening the internal defence of Sri Lanka, the state has taken steps to set up new headquarters of security forces that are in the process of southern areas of the island.

The new headquarters set up in Panagoda military complex will coordinate the security of the areas other than the Northern and Eastern Provinces. These areas are dominated by ethnic Sinhala majority of the country and they are relatively free of revolts.

"This new security forces headquarters commands 11 Division in Panagoda, 112 Brigade in Polhengoda, four Area Headquarters in Kandy, Hambantota, Galle and Diyatalawa, two Sub Area Headquarters in Ratnapura and Kurunegala and Operation Command Colombo (OCC) covering the largest area of the country with approximately 77% of the country’s total population," says Army.

Sri Lanka Defense Ministry has already set up security forces headquarters in Jaffna, Vanni and East. Following defeating the Tamil Tigers two new headquarters of the security forces have been set up in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu, former nerve centers of the rebels. Five of the six security forces headquarters are situated in Tamil dominated areas.  Tamils account to 12.7 percent of the country's population.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Corrupt ex-secretary of Finance Ministry of Sri Lanka granted permission by Supreme Court to re-enter public service

(September 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Supreme Court of Sri Lanka granted today the ex-secretary of the Finance Ministry Dr. P.B. Jayasundara to revoke an affidavit he submitted promising not assume any state office in future.

Seven-member bench of Supreme Court chaired by Chief Justice Asoka De Silva and comprised of judges Dr. Shiranee Bandaranayake, Saleem Marsoof, Jagath Balapatabendi , K. Sripavan and A. Ratnayake ruled to invalidate the affidavit filed by Jayasundara only Dr. Shiranee Bandaranayake dissenting the judgment.

Supreme Court previously found Dr. Jayasundara guilty of committing damage to the state through his acts in a deal to sell a state land belonged to Ports Authority to John Keells Holdings. Jayasundara was fined Rs. 500,000 for his offense and the former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva directed to submit the aforesaid affidavit.

Jayasundara said in a motion filed in Supreme Court that he was asked by the President Mahinda Rajapakse to assume the post of the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the affidavit he submitted under influence was an obstacle to proceed.

Jayasundara is a close associate of President Mahinda Rajapakse. The fundamental rights petition in which Jayasundara was found guilty was filed by veteran leftist Vasudeva Nanayakkara who is also a close associate of the President and a President's adviser too.

Israel will learn a good lesson if it attacks Iran, says state-owned newspaper of Sri Lanka

(September 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Israel will learn a good lesson if it attacks Iran, says the editorial of Sri Lanka's state-owned Sinhala daily Dinamina newspaper.

The newspaper that propagates the foreign policy of Sri Lanka charged that the recent statements of Israel officials to attack Iran is the voice of US.

Pointing out that the President of Iran will never surrender to US, the editorial says that both Israel as well as US must understand that the world forcing are uniting to respond the malicious attitudes of US.

The editorial also explains that US economy is run with money borrowed from China and Israel depends on aids of US. This paradigm will change if Israel is attacked, says The Dinamina.

Rabies among elephants in Sri Lanka

(September 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Veterinary doctors of Sri Lanka have identified two elephants that were infected by rabies. This is the first time the decease was identified among elephants, said Sri Lanka's virology research institute chief Ochala Wimalaratna addressing a seminar held yesterday.

The infected elephants are tamed ones that live in Colombo municipal limits, she said.

Sri Lanka is among the ten leading countries in the world that report highest death rates from human rabies and animal bites requiring post-exposure treatment. Dogs are the main reservoir and transmitters of rabies in Sri Lanka.

Each year a total of about 75 human deaths are reported on the island, according to WHO reports. 

Ex-official challenges former Chief Justices judgment in Sri Lanka

(September 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity) A seven member bench of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka is to consider a motion by the former Secretary to the Ministry of Finance appealing to revoke an affidavit filed by him promising not to assume any government post in future.

P.B. Jayasyndara, former Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, was ordered by the former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva to submit the aforesaid affidavit as he was found linked to illegal privatization of public property.

Jayasundara now states that the President Mahinda Rajapakse has invited him to assume the post of the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the affidavit he submitted unwillingly under pressure is a obstacle to it. 

Many of the controversial judgments delivered by the ex-Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva is legally challenged now.

No liquor policy of Sri Lanka increases state revenue

(September 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity) "Fullstop to alcohols," a policy of the President of Sri Lanka, has opened new revenues to the cash-strapped government, according to the police chief of the state.

Inspector General of Police Jayantha Wickramaratna says that the police conducted 17639 raids within the last two years and the fines imposed to the culprits were well over US $ 260,000.

Sri Lanka state imposes over 100% excise on all kinds of alcohol. However, home-brewed illegal spirits can be purchased from all nooks and corners of the island despite regular raids of the police and excise officials.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Park and ride service in Sri Lanka displays the corporate responsibility of the business class

(September 23, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Transport authorities of Sri Lanka in March this year introduced a service called Park and Ride City Liner on Galle Road from the outskirt of Colombo to the city heart.

The vehicle park on Galle Road near the Angulana Junction at Katubedda provides parking for around 150 vehicles and is serviced by the first CityLiner Coach Service for which a permit has been granted to E.C.D. Global Ltd by the Western Provincial Road Passenger Authority on the recommendation of the National Transport Commission for operating between Moratuwa and Fort via Nawam Mawatha.

The Transport Ministry website says, "This service provides a facility that allows commuters and other people wishing to travel into the city center, to leave their personal vehicles in a secured car park and transfer to a luxury coach which will take them as close as possible to their destinations. Initially the Katubedda-Fort service will be operated every 30 minutes between 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. hours. Those wishing to use this City Liner Services can either park their vehicles at Katubedda which is free of charge at present or board the City Liner Coaches en route. However, passengers will need to have purchased a ticket before boarding the bus and cannot hail it on the road and get in. A seat will be guaranteed for every passenger and passengers will be able to choose which vehicle they wish to travel in according to the available time table. It is expected that the City Liner would operate through the day as the demand picks up and will operate at 10 minutes frequencies during the peak hours."

Around 750,000 people travel by road to Colombo daily. Of them, 65% arrive in 12,000 buses and trains with the balance 35% traveling in 200,000 cars, vans, motor cycles and three wheelers. The Urban Transport Strategy aims at reducing the number of private vehicles to 175,000 by the year 2010. Private vehicles presently take up around 65% of the road space. Thus for every 1% reduction in private vehicles, current speeds are expected to increase by 1%.

However, the Park and Ride facility and the City Liner that was expected to save both time and fuel for the user as well as for the non-user has become a white elephant. Minister of Road Passenger Transport Lasantha Alagiyawanna said to state-owned Dinamina Sinhala language newspaper that only 12 passengers used this facility since March to September. However, the number has increased to 40 now.

The NTC has also selected a site to develop for a Park and Ride in Kadawatha on Colombo - Kandy highway. Places in Talangama and Werehera have also been identified on some other highways.

The cold response of Sri Lanka's upper middle class officials and businessmen to this business class facility clearly portrays the nature of the corporate responsibility of this social strata.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Peep into the democracy of Sri Lanka through Southern Provincial Council election

(September 22, 2009 - Lanka Polity) The Southern Provincial Council election is providing the world a panoramic window to peep into the state of the democracy in Sri Lanka. These days, a candidate of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Mahinda Rajapakse is hitting headlines. The candidate, Nishantha Muthuhettigama is seeking representation from Galle district vowing to be the next Chief Minister of the Provincial Council by hook or by crook.

Talking about his qualifications for the post, he says that he will be the second Chief Minister who can fire guns with both hands. The first, he says, is Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan who was a child soldier in Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

Muthuhettigama is now in remand following publicly blaming police at a press conference last week and Criminal Investigation Department is to grill him over his statements. This man's brawls are not with opposition. He clashes with two candidates of his own party prominently. One is former Miss Sri Lankan 22-year-old Anarkali Akarsha, who has obtained the SLFP ticket reportedly with the backing of the President Mahinda Rajapakse's eldest son Namal Rajapakse. The other candidate is the ex-CEO of the state-owned budget airline Mihin named after the President, Sajin Vaas Gunawardhana who uses even a helicopter for his campaign although he should be responsible for massive loss of public money due to the losses of the airline. He is directly supported by the President and poised to win with huge majority. Muthuhettigama is accusing that Presidential Security Division personnel are in his campaign.

The ruling alliance has not named a Chief Minister candidate and the person that achieves the highest percentage of preferential votes is likely to be given the post. There are Galle, Mathara and  Hambanthota districts in the Southern Province and a close relative of Rajapakse family is contesting for Mathara district with the widest possibility of becoming the next Chief Minister.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's favorites can easily be elected to the Provincial Councils and they immediately be given portfolios to start a fast growing career. They are to be the handpicked candidates of the Rajapakse regime at the upcoming general election. They pose a severe threat to the political  existence of the old political stalwarts of the SLFP.

During the past years, the ruling party that started with a single vote majority in the parliament has bought MPs from major opposition United National Party (UNP) and almost all the other political parties representing the parliament. The majority of the MPs in many districts are now government ministers and they will have to fight tooth and nail among themselves to be elected for another term.

Government uses all public property including state-owned media for its election campaigns and the opposition cannot match with it. People normally like to vote to a winning party and the UNP lacks luster to build up confidence among the voters. However, there is a possibility of drastic crossovers from the government ranks to the opposition at a future election since many a seniors of the SLFP are disgruntled with the party leader President Mahinda Rajapakse's policy of favoring a few handpicked and letting loose the rest to kill each other for preferential votes.

Meanwhile, reliable sources say that the President is considering to hold the Presidential before the parliamentary election to seek election for the second time after clearing that he may not lose years from his first term due to premature election for the second term. There are talks among the opposition parties to field a viable opposition common candidate to give a fight to the President Mahinda Rajapakse who is selling the war victory over Tamil rebels to the Sinhala majority voters. No wonder if the opposition common candidate will be another war hero.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ex-Chief Justice of Sri Lanka to be grilled by bribery investigators

(September 20, 2009 - Lanka Polity) For the first time in history, a group of concerned citizens of Sri Lanka  have lodged a complaint against an ex-chief justice.  The complaint was recorded on September 17 before the Bribery or Corruption Investigation Commission against former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva.

Silva, under whose authority the country's judiciary took a new turn, was publicly blamed by 'Ravaya' Sinhala newspaper editor-in-chief Victor Ivan in his book titled 'Unfinished Struggle' regarding a number of malpractices and misconducts. However, the retired Chief Justice who was appointed in 1996 to the post by then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga bypassing other senior judges, remained silent without denying the charges or taking legal action against Ivan.

Sarath N. Silva was considered an ardent loyal of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga. Later he changed sides to current President Mahinda Rajapakse. Several judgments delivered by the ex-Chief Justice were crucial for Rajapakse on his path to be elected as the President.

The ex-Chief Justice's conduct was very controversial and in August 2001, the International Bar Association (IBA) concluded that there was "an overwhelming need for an independent credible judicial system" in Sri Lanka. It detailed instances of lack of accountability, breach of natural justice and potential for undue interference and pointed out that institutions which should be protecting the rule of law, including the President, government and the Chief Justice, were acting to undermine it.

He survived a a parliamentary opposition impeachment motion to remove him in June 2001 since it was restrained by the Supreme Court, which he himself headed.

Silva retired in June 2009 with a better image following delivering several judgments against the misuse of public property and there were moves to field him as the common candidate of the opposition in an upcoming Presidential election.

However, Silva may have to pass difficult hurfles before he can qualify to be the opposition common candidate since the government will browse the old files that can raise misconduct issues against him.

In the latest incident, some 'concerned' citizens have initiated legal action against him in relation to a controversial 'offering' done by a plaintiff of a case he heard in Supreme Court. Muhunthan Carnagey, the CEO of the CBN SAT sattelite television company whose business was suspended by the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission regarding a licence problem was granted some kind of relief by the Supreme Court and later the CEO offered a staggering Rs. 65 million to a company in which Silva was a director.

The company runs a television channel called 'The Buddhist' from a temple in Colombo city to propagate Buddhism and Silva is one of the main contributors in programmes.

Sarath N. Silva's 13-year career provides a cross view of Sri Lanka's judiciary system that is accused of being highly politicized and corrupt.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tamil leaders, drop your error of considering the Sinhala polity as a single chauvinist element

(September 18, 2009 - Lanka Polity) “We cannot achieve anything through disunity and violence. There is a pressing need for us to unite under one umbrella. This is essential. In such a situation, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and other Muslim parties should also be accommodated,” said R. Sampanthan, the leader of the Sri Lanka’s major Tamil constituency in parliament, Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
We consider this as a progressive proposal made in the context of total disarray of the minority political parties in Sri Lanka whilst the majority Sinhala polity has united at least in one aspect, i.e., not granting the rights of the minority communities.

Sri Lanka government totally annihilated the rebel Liberation Tigers for Tamil Ealam (LTTE) that fought a bloody battle for national liberation for three decades and eliminated the entire local leadership in May this year. The executive-President led government has taken control of the entire island now and the limited devolution of power under Provincial Councils has become a mockery. The Tamil dominated Eastern Provincial Council that is administered by ex-rebel Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan is taking the brunt of the anti-devolution policy of the President Mahinda Rajapakse as the Province is governed either by the President’s brother Basil Rajapakse, MP, or by the Governor, an Army official, designated by President Mahinda Rajapakse instead of the Provincial Council. The Northern Province where most of the population is displaced and held in refugee camps with blocked mobility is also under a military Governor.

Almost all in the world were blaming the ultra-nationalist LTTE for the plight of the Tamils and the entire Sri Lankan polity and the Sinhala chauvinism went unheeded amidst the pandemonium. Now the LTTE is no more and the blamers have the responsibility to render their yeoman services that were blocked by rebels to the polity.

But the Tamil leadership is divided into molecules and atoms. Even the pro-nationalist elements like LTTE’s international wing and the TNA are now speedily departing. TNA should first of all try to unite the Tamils before they stretch their hand to the Muslims who were once thrown out of the Tamil lingual unity by the LTTE with the silent approval of the other Tamils.

Sri Lankan Muslims are also in total disarray and not only the political parties but also the religious community is divided under petit inclinations. A severe rift can be seen among the followers of ‘orthodox’ Islam and the newly erupted chapters. Two persons were killed and more than 100 were arrested by police recently in Beruwala, a Muslim coastal town in Western Province, due to clashes between Islam groups.

One thing is too sure now. In the post-LTTE context, as the entire polity is held by a new tyranny upheld by the Sinhala chauvinist majority, the minority communities will never have their rights without uniting and fighting. It is true that the violence will take them nowhere sans further destruction in the context the violence of the rulers is unmatched in any way.

Minority parties like TNA should not forget that there is a Sinhala minority too. That is comprised of leftists, workers, progressives and liberal democrats who really need the unity of nationalities with respect to each other. There are Sinhalese that wish to accept minority communities as equals with the same dignity. They want share power as well as life with Tamils, Muslims and other minority communities.

Minority community leaders should drop their long-held error of considering the Sinhala polity as a single chauvinist element.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sri Lanka garment workers are to be made guilty of the wrongs of the rulers

(September 17, 2009 - Lanka Polity) European Union is likely to discontinue the GSP Plus tariff concessions that had been granted to Sri Lanka to recover from the damage of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
The trade sanctions, as some identify it despite it is retraction of preferences, is aimed at roping in a nation led by an arrogant regime that is rapidly drifting away from its traditional allies like Europe and US to the hands of the anti-Western block led by China.
The regime led by President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brothers has vowed to look into new markets in China and India etc. for Sri Lanka's garment exports. Sri Lanka produces good quality, cheap garment and 52% of them are exported to European Union countries. The withdrawal of tariff relief will increase the price of the garments by 10% and Sri Lanka is likely to lose the market for cheaper exports from countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam. 
Sri Lanka government has pledged to assist the garment industry to look into alternatives. However, industry experts say it is most unlikely to find new markets out of the traditional buyer zones. Around 250,000 workers, majority of them women that are one of the poorest sections of the society are employed in garment industry and around a million of the 20 million population of the island depend on garment industry. 
Sri Lanka that is already in a severe economic crisis will be definitely hit hard by the loss of GSP Plus. However, the rulers are supercilious to go ahead with its plans not to bow to the pressure from West and the UN to investigate the severe human rights violations in the recent past especially during the last phase of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) that was fighting for a Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island.
Several months ago, Sri Lanka could defeat an attempt by West to move a probe on the human rights violations in the country at UN Human Rights Council with the support of the nations with similar records on human rights issues. The pro-government media and the ultra nationalist allies of the ruling coalition maintain a high level of ant-Western propaganda that is manipulated by the regime to muster support from the country's Sinhala majority. 
The government won a series of minor elections in recent past with a broad majority although the people are dissatisfied with the escalated prices of almost everything. Most of them people say that they are grateful to the President Mahinda Rajapakse for his service in wiping out terrorism. But they are unhappy about the seemless corruption in the system.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

At UNHRC Sri Lanka promises to create a new multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious state

(September 15, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka promised to create a new multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious state before the international community although the Sinhala nationalist elements in the ruling coalition had challenged this 'multi' factor strongly. "We have to rebuild our institutional foundations to foster and preserve the new multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious Sri Lanka that we wish to create. Our vision is the creation of a new Sri Lankan identity which acknowledges and cherishes the wonderful diversity that characterizes our society." Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said. 

On Monday, 14 September 2009, Sri Lanka Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe addressed the Twelfth Session of the UN Human Rights Council which began its 3-week long session on that day.  
"Since June this year, when we last addressed this forum, Sri Lanka has made significant strides towards a lasting and durable solution to our long-standing conflict." the Minister said adding President Mahinda Rajapakse is doing its utmost to restore, rebuild and renew the foundations of a democratic social order throughout the territory of the Sri Lankan nation.
"We have taken note of the concerns expressed with regard to the internally displaced Sri Lankan civilians by the High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier today. She chose, in her statement, to characterize the relief villages and welfare centres housing internally displaced Sri Lankans, as being no more than internment camps. This is furthest from the truth.  The reality in post-conflict Sri Lanka is very different," he said.

Before his speech, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillai made several references on Sri Lanka in the opening statement of the session. "Conflicts continue to exact a tragic toll in Afghanistan, Colombia, the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere. An intolerable number of displaced persons continue to live in camps. In Sri Lanka, internally displaced persons are effectively detained under conditions of internment. Humanitarian agencies’ access to these camps remains restricted, and the mandates of relief agencies are increasingly coming under threat," she said.

The Minister said that protection issues were also a concern given that the Government possessed information that some LTTE cadres had infiltrated the ranks of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and posed a significant threat. "You will appreciate Mr President, that the Government of Sri Lanka has a responsibility to guarantee the human rights of the entirety of the population – not only the rights of the conflict-affected IDPs. Allowing LTTE cadres, masquerading as ordinary civilians, freedom of movement would have posed a grave threat to people in the rest of the country."
Minister Samarasinghe also said that It was the government position that the IDPs could and would be permitted to leave the relief villages and welfare centres once they are screened and their bona fides established. 
"As at 06 September 2009 167,908 IDPs representing 75,009 families have been registered, with 110,000 temporary identity cards being handed over to the authorities for distribution." 

"Since the end of successful armed operations to rescue the civilians in the theatre of conflict in May 2009, over 14,500 persons have been cleared to live with relatives. Over 31,000 persons have been reunified with members of their families who were separated during the military operations. Resettlement has commenced with limited returns being made possible by demining. In the period July to August 2009, a total of 5,331 IDPs representing 695 families have been resettled from sites in Vavuniya to Ampara, Batticaloa, Jaffna and Trincomalee Districts. A further total of 9,994 persons are to be returned to their places of origin in the East and Jaffna during a two week period. Of this total, the first set of returns took place on 11 September with approximately 2,800 persons from Vavuniya IDP sites being returned to their places of origin in Ampara, Batticaloa, Jaffna and Trincomalee Districts. This included 60 university students who were sent to Jaffna. Of the older category of persons displaced between 2006 and September 2008 during the Eastern Humanitarian Operations, 2,828 persons from 762 families have been resettled in Musali DS Division, in the Mannar District.  Further “go and see visits” are being organised for the rest of the IDPs to ensure that eventual return and resettlement is voluntary based on informed choice. "

In response to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who spoke of access to humanitarian actors, the Minister said along with the several Governmental agencies working for IDP welfare, there are over 50 agencies including United Nations, international and national non-governmental organizations working alongside the government to support and supplement our efforts. 

Commenting on the controversial video telecast by UK's Channel-4 depicting Sri Lanka Army officials executing Tamils, the Minister said the initial impact of this fake video was devastating to the extent that even the Secretary-General aired his grave concern to me when the Minister met with him ten days ago in Geneva on the sidelines of the World Climate Conference. "I am now pleased to announce that four separate investigations conducted in respect of this video footage have now scientifically  established beyond doubt that the video was a fake. We have shared these scientific findings with the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner, among others, and we will be taking appropriate steps to ensure that this kind of unverified broadcast is prevented from happening again." Sri Lanka vowed to defeat these forces who cannot be allowed to tarnish and bring disrepute to the image of my country.  
"For those remaining in the relief villages and welfare centres, health has been identified as a priority sector. At present, a total of 81 doctors are working in camps in Vavuniya and 18 doctors are working in the Cheddikulam hospital close to the main relief village site known as Menik Farm......Examinations Department established 10 special examination centres in Vavuniya for 1,236 displaced candidates to enable them to sit the G.C.E Advanced Level examination. It is significant that 166 ex-child combatants also sat for the examination held last month." 

"The Government's programme could be summarized under the 5 heads of relief, reconstruction, resettlement, reintegration and reconciliation.......According to the initial survey carried out by the Information Management System on Mine Action, it is estimated that approximately 1.5 million landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contaminate an area of 402 sq km."
The Minister also did not forget to speak about the sentencing of Tamil journalist  J.S. Tissanayagam for 20 years rigorous imprisonment by a Sri Lankan court under draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. "Much has been said about the arrest, detention, trial and conviction of Sri Lankan journalist Mr J.S. Tissanayagam. What to my mind is most important in regard to this matter is that due process was observed and he was detained and tried in accordance with the law within a period of approximately 18 months. While the merits of the case and the interpretation of substantive aspects of the law are purely a matter for the courts to decide upon, as a member of the executive and Minister for Human Rights, my first concern is to see that the law is observed. I already understand that measures are under way by his legal team to file an appeal before the appellate courts of Sri Lanka and am confident that the judicial process will mete out justice to this individual. Indeed, in comparison to journalists who have been detained for over two years in some cases and released without ever being charged in other conflict situations, Mr. Tissanayagam’s trial and conviction by the regular courts of the country is less odious and offensive to human rights norms and standards."  

In the opening statement the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said, "We should all be dismayed by the recent sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment imposed on Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, who had been critical of the army’s treatment of Tamil civilians. His conviction raises serious concerns about respect for the right to freedom of expression."

Execution video of Channel-4 causes chaos in political circles related to Sri Lanka

(September 15, 2009 - Lanka Polity) A video aired by UK's Channel-4 has caused lots of chaos in Sri Lanka's local and international political arenas.

The relevant video, said to be recorded in January this year was given to Channel-4 by a new media group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS). JDS was formed in July this year by a group of media persons exiled in various countries. The group said in a press release that more than 50 Sri Lankan journalists are in exile. A large number of them are the majority Sinhalese journalists that were sympathetic towards the right of self-determination of the Tamils. The group did not declare the names of the leaders but the government says that a Sinhalese newspaper editor that is in exile in Germany is the leader of this organization. The government also links JDS to the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) international wing.

The video shows Sinhala speaking personnel clad in Sri Lanka Army uniforms execute persons suspected to be ethnic Tamils. Channel-4 said that it could not verify the authenticity of the video while the JDS later said that it was given to them by an Army official.

The government says the video is doctored and the state troops has never engaged in executing people. The Foreign Ministry summoned the Colombo diplomats to clarify that the video is fake. Indicating the reports of the volunteer and hired experts the officials said that the video was not recorded in a mobile phone. It further said that the sound track in which Sinhala utterances can be heard was dubbed to the video separately. The gunshot was heard extraordinarily late and the way the deceased fall, the blood marks and a number of other movements are not genuine, they pointed out.

Several childish arguments set forth by the state officials were proved false by JDS in a later programme of Channel-4. They showed pictures of Army officials wearing white T-shirts under their uniforms although the government said the soldiers wore only the green color T-shirts. The government also said that the Army officers did not sport grown hair but the JDS pointed to the pictures the President Mahinda Rajapakse himself was flanked by Special Forces personnel sporting grown hair and beard. Another comic argument of the government is that the victims shown in the video were fairer than the Tamils in north. Sinhalese and Tamils are mostly alike in physical appearance although the Sinhalese are in an illusion that they are fairer than the Tamils. Fair skin is venerated in this former colony of white Britishes.

However, JDS remained silent without attempting to counter the government that was going the extra mile to prove that the video is fake. Sri Lanka government has vowed to sue Channel-4 for discrediting the image of the country.

The video came in a bad time as the European Union was considering whether they would extend the GSP Plus tariff concessions for Sri Lanka's exports. The island's industries including the biggest income generator garment industry will affect if the tariff concession is revoked. The exports from Sri Lanka will be bare to severe competition from China despite the communist world power is the new ally of the Indian Ocean island which is rapidly drifting away from its traditional allies in West.

JDS is also campaigning for the release of Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam who was jailed for a sentence of 20 years rigorous imprisonment by a Sri Lankan High Court on terrorism charges framed under draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act based on his writings in a pro-Tamil English magazine namely North Eastern Monthly. However, they released the controversial video to Channel-4 a week before the judgment was delivered in August. It is not clear why they released the video that was said to be recorded in January in a time the judgment of Tissainayagam case was to be delivered in few days. However, we cannot find any direct link between the incident and sentence given to the Tamil journalist.

Meanwhile, the same video is now circulated in Facebook with faked Tamil sound track with the title LTTE torturing & killing Sinhala Prisoners of War.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

ICJ Condemns Misuse of Anti-Terrorism Laws to Prosecute Sri Lankan Journalist, J. S. Tissainayagam

(September 12, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Yesterday the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) released its Trial Observation Report ( regarding proceedings before the Colombo High Court in the prosecution of J.S. Tissainayagam, a Tamil journalist. On 31 August 2009, Mr Tissainayagam was convicted under anti-terrorism laws and sentenced by Judge Deepali Wijesundara to 20 years “rigorous imprisonment.”

This is the first time that anti-terrorism laws have been used in Sri Lanka to prosecute and convict a journalist for exercising freedom of expression, despite these laws being on the books for decades. The ICJ appreciates the cooperation of the Government of Sri Lanka and the presiding judicial officer in enabling the Observers to attend the trial, meet with the Attorney General and with Mr Tissainayagam and his counsel, and generally conduct their work without interference.

The Trial Observation Report focuses on describing the procedural aspects of the case and does not include a substantive assessment of the anti-terrorism laws. It raises a number of concerns regarding fair trial standards, including the judge’s interlocutory decision to allow into evidence what counsel for Mr Tissainayagam described as a forced confession, and subsequent denial of the accused’s right to appeal this decision. The Observers also expressed concern that Judge Wijesundara is the sister of the officer who signed the Indictment against Mr. Tissainayagam. While outside the general scope of this report, the Observers raised broader concerns about the Government’s unprecedented decision to prosecute Mr Tissainayagam on terrorism charges, especially in the context of attacks and threats of attacks against journalists and critics of Government policy, including public accusations by persons associated with the Government that equate such critics, and the lawyers representing them, as terrorists and traitors, for example, in commentaries posted on an official website of the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order.

The ICJ has previously highlighted the dangers to rule of law posed by Sri Lanka’s broad array of draconian emergency laws (see Briefing Paper: Sri Lanka’s Emergency Laws (March 2009), These laws give sweeping powers to the Government to criminalize dissent and paint otherwise lawful speech as terrorism, potentially undermining the foundations of rule of law and democratic governance in the nation. The case of Mr Tissainayagam illustrates this danger.

“The real damage of the Tissainayagam case does not lie only in one judge’s interpretation of the law, but in the fact that the legal system is now seen as carrying out a political agenda of criminalizing anti-Government speech,” stated Roger Normand, ICJ Asia-Pacific Director. “That the Government has chosen to aggressively pursue this case against a prominent Tamil journalist even after the conclusion of the military conflict sends a chilling message of political intolerance and casts doubt on its commitment to justice and national reconciliation.”

Mr. Tissainayagam was arrested by police from the Terrorism Investigation Division on 7 March 2008. Three months later, on 25 August, he was charged with three counts under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1979 (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations 2006 (ER 2006), in relation to his criticism of the Sri Lankan Army’s treatment of civilians in two articles published in North Eastern Monthly magazine in June 2006. Following
High Court proceedings observed by the ICJ in 2008 and 2009, Mr. Tissainayagam was found guilty on 31 August 2009 of two counts of intending to “cause communal disharmony” (PTA, s.2), with mandatory minimum sentence of five years each, and one count of receipt of monies “in the furtherance of any act of terrorism” (ER 2006, reg.6), with mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. In total he was sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment.

“The protection of national security and public order is a legitimate aim, but the Government in this case relies on emergency and anti-terrorism laws that are vague and over-reaching, when international law requires that they be precise and strictly necessary,” emphasized Wilder Tayler, Acting Secretary-General of the ICJ. “Where the Government’s intent is to punish expression, as in the case of Mr. Tissainayagam, there
must be a direct and immediate connection between the expression and likely violence and the intent to cause such violence.”

Sri Lanka is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Restrictions on the right to freedom of expression on the ground of national security, as contained in Article 19 (3) ICCPR, must be:
  • provided by law, with sufficient precision to enable citizens to comply with the law; necessary to protect a legitimate national security interest;
  • the least restrictive means possible to protect that interest; and,
  • compatible with democratic principles.
The ICJ is deeply concerned that the case of Mr. Tissainayagam indicates that the integrity of Sri Lanka’s legal system is at risk of being undermined through an unwarranted reliance on emergency laws. Criminalizing written expression without evidence of resulting violence, equating terrorism with an intention to cause feelings of ill will, stripping accused persons of basic rights, admitting into evidence confessions while in police custody and shifting the burden to the accused to prove coercion, mandating harsh minimum sentences – all of these factors pose a threat to the rights of citizens to express controversial views, a pillar of a law-based democratic society.

“The independence and professionalism that has characterized the Sri Lankan judiciary for decades is being undermined by reliance on overbroad security laws that threaten fundamental rights,” stated Roger Normand, ICJ Asia-Pacific Director. “At the heart of this case is whether the Government of Sri Lanka will abide by the rule ‘of’ law or choose to rule ‘by’ law through unjust measures exemplified in the PTA and Emergency Regulations 2006.”

During the brutal decades-long war, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam practiced violent suppression of dissent. To effect genuine national reconciliation, the ICJ calls on the Government to reverse the attitudes of distrust between communities by relying on rule of law to uphold basic freedoms on an equal basis for all citizens, rather than using emergency laws to cast a wider anti-terrorism net.

-11 September 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Terror suspects languish in Sri Lanka's prisons for more than 10 years without trial, human rights lawyer points out

(September 11, 2009 - Lanka Polity) C.J. Weliamuna, one of Sri Lanka's leading human rights lawyers says that some Tamil Tiger rebel suspects languish in the island's prisons for 10 to 15 years without being convicted or acquitted.

The judges cannot grant them bail as they are either indicted or detained under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), said Weliamuna delivering the keynote address of a seminar held in Colombo Center for Society and Religion yesterday on PTA and the imprisonment of media person J.N. Thissanayagam for 20 years on charges framed under PTA.

Almost all of these ill-fated persons are ethnic Tamils, he said. In many other cases persons are held for years under PTA and they are released later without charges. The Defense Secretary has wide powers to arrest and detain persons under PTA that is needed to be amended, according to the human rights organizations of the island.

Responding to Mr. Weliamuna's speech, a women activist said that her organization was trying to unite a woman who was acquitted recently by courts after holding her for many years in prison, with her husband that lives in Jaffna in the Northern Province. The woman still lives in jail with her seven or eight years old daughter since no person affords to accept her in Colombo since citizens are in fear of being suspected as the sympathizers of the defeated Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka introduced PTA in 1979 initially as a temporary measure to curtail the activities of the Tamil separatist organizations. However, it exists even three decades after too while government has introduced terrorism prevention measures under emergency regulations as well since recently.

Sri Lanka's biggest drug dealer is a minister, says former Foreign Minister

(September 11, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, a dissident of the ruling party, says that that the Police Narcotics Bureau has informed him that the country’s biggest drug dealer is a minister.

He pointed out that racketeers are spending millions of rupees of black money in their polls campaigns in recent Provincial Council polls aiming to obtain ruling party ticket in the upcoming general election.  

He said the Parliament of Sri Lanka would soon become a center for the racketeers to launder black monies. Samaraweera pointed out that some close associates of President Mahinda Rajapakse that are contesting to the Southern Provincial Council election are spending massive amounts of money and one person even uses a helicopter. He also said that President Rajapakse's nephew Shashindra Rajapakse that contested for the Uva Provincial Council election spent a colossal amount of money well over Rs. 75 million (over US $ 650,000) for his campaign.

Samaraweera was the campaign manager of current President Mahinda Rajapakse at the 2005 Presidential. He was a senior cabinet Minister since 1994 sans a brief period from 2001 to 2004. He defected from the ruling regime in 2007 and appeared with the opposition since then. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ninety-one suspects die in police custody in Sri Lanka under current President Mahinda Rajapakse

(September 10, 2009 - Lanka Polity) The number of suspects died while they are in police custody is increasing rapidly after present President Mahinda Rajapakse assumed duty including the portfolio of Minister of Defense, a report submitted by the government in the parliament said.

Government Chief Whip Dinesh Gunawardhana in response to a question asked by Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) said that 91 suspects died in police custody since November 2005 to 16 August during the tenure of the present Minister of Defense.

The number increased drastically as 11 persons died in 2006, 20 in 2007, 26 in 2008 and 32 in 2009 so far.

A considerable number of suspects were killed recently by police citing that they were killed as they attempted to attack police and to escape whilst they had accompanied police to recover hidden weapons. Human rights organizations claim that this kind of police action amounts to extra-judicial killings.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Probe on Sri Lankan journalists in suspicion of ploy to kill the President

(September 08, 2009 - Lanka Polity)  Sri Lanka state has begun an investigation on a newspaper company in relation to a ploy to assassinate the President or any other VIP including his brothers following three journalists of the newspaper were arrested near a mansion being constructed by the brother-in-law of the President Mahinda Rajapakse, reliable sources say.

The mansion is constructed in a picturesque area in Deniyaya in the Southern Province and three journalists have been in investigative reporting on if the public property is being misused in the construction, newspaper sources say. Police arrested the three journalists and brought them to Colombo for further investigation detaining them under emergency regulations.

The newspaper named 'Lanka' has close links with the Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) and the party that is supporting to the government to crush the Tamil nationalist rebellion has vowed to reconsider the support to pass the emergency regulations following this arrest.

Criminal Investigation Department questioned the editor of the newspaper Chandana Sirimalwaththa on Sunday and they visited the office of the newspaper to interrogate the entire editorial on Monday.

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...