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Showing posts from November, 2009

Sri Lanka’s Presidential; a battle between conservatives and liberal democrats

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By Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe - Sri Lanka is heading towards an early Presidential in which President Mahinda Rajapakse faces an unexpected challenge from his ex-Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka. Not far back, the merciless political and military leadership shared by these two associates led the state to wipe out the 26-year separatist threat from the violent Tamil nationalists. Their military action is highly criticized especially by Western super powers on human rights aspects and US State Department has listed 170 war crimes allegedly done by both Sri Lanka government and the defeated rebel organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).  Both Presidential candidates of the ruling coalition and the opposition alliance are criticized for human rights violations and corruption. Both were arch Sinhala nationalists during the period of war and disliked devolving power to the minorities. Both needed the country to be maintained war footed and freedom of expression was nonse

Sri Lanka needs democratic ruler; neither ‘General’ nor ‘King’

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( By Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe, November 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity )  It is now confirmed that Sri Lanka's former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka will contest the Presidential anticipated to be held in January. He has got the obstacles cleared to be the opposition common candidate as the major opposition United National Party (UNP) as well as the Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) have agreed on conditions to prop up him. Fonseka has agreed to abolish the executive presidency within an undisclosed time frame and JVP has also consented to Ranil Wickramasinghe to be the Premier of the caretaker government that will hold power during the transition. Fonseka has further consented to appoint two MPs each from JVP and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Reportedly, President Mahinda Rajapakse was told by his intelligence sources and the political informants in the UNP hierarchy that Wickramasinghe would contest in the Presidential since JVP would not consent

Crucial conference of Tamil speaking politicians of Sri Lanka in Zurich

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(November 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) A highly important conference of Tamil speaking political parties of Sri Lanka is now being held in Zurich, Switzerland. The conference started yesterday and it is scheduled to end tomorrow. The conference attended by the political parties that are 'no further engaged' in the agenda of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) is organized by the Tamil Information Center. However, the organization website had no information regarding the conference signal ling that the conference is a hurried arrangement. Franlyn R. Sathyapalan writes to The Island, "The London based Tamil Information Centre, which was an alliance of Tamil militant groups, was founded in 1984 and had its head office in India. It became dysfunctional following the Indo-Lanka Agreement in 1987 and subsequently got amalgamated to the pro LTTE Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO). After the defeat of the LTTE it had been taken over by the Tamil Di

The Hindu : Ranil wants Indian form of democracy in Sri Lanka

B. Muralidhar Reddy - As Sri Lanka awaits a formal announcement on dates for a Presidential and Parliamentary election, separately or together, the leader of the newly-floated 18-party United National Front (UNF), Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday advocated switch over from the present Presidential to a model akin to the Indian system. A booklet in Sinhala titled “Anagatha Abiyogaya” outlining the shift from the Presidential to Parliamentary form of democracy with an Executive Prime Minister and President as head of the Constitution was presented by Mr. Wickremesinghe to monks at a Temple here. Earlier, he had said the alliance headed by him could consider nomination of the just retired General Sarath Fonseka as a consensus Presidential candidate to take on the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa only if the former Army chief endorsed a 10-point common minimum programme with abolition or substantial dilution of powers of the Executive Presidency as a key component. A formal announc

Amnesty International urges Commonwealth Heads of Government to press Sri Lanka on rights of displaced

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(November 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) In an open letter to the heads of government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, scheduled to be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago on November 23-26, 2009, Amnesty International asks to use the upcoming meeting as an important opportunity to urge the government of Sri Lanka to address, in particular, the following urgent concerns: ·         Restore the rights of Sri Lanka’s displaced people to liberty and freedom of movement, ensuring that those held in Sri Lankan displacement camps are there voluntarily; ·         Ensure independent access to, and monitoring of camps housing internally displaced people to protect them against human rights abuse, and ensure that their humanitarian needs are being met; ·         Institute a consultative process with displaced people that allows them to make informed and voluntary decisions about return and resettlement; ·         End arbitrary detention; ensuring that all “sc

The latest conspiracy theory

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By Kath Noble - It has taken less than six months for Sarath Fonseka’s relationship with Mahinda Rajapaksa to break down. One moment they were congratulating each other on their spectacular victory over the LTTE, and the next the former Army Commander was giving up his post as Chief of Defence Staff with invitations in hand from both the UNP and the JVP to run against the President in the upcoming election. They have gone from the closest of partnerships to what looks like developing into a bitter rivalry with very little in the way of warning. The falling out has been so spectacular that the reasons behind it are now one of the hottest topics of debate in Colombo, and it is quite fascinating. We all love conspiracy theories. Mahinda Rajapaksa hasn’t said much about it as yet, but Sarath Fonseka’s resignation letter claims that it all began with suspicions that he was planning to overthrow the Government. He was moved on in an unseemly hu

Sri Lanka falls further in world Corruption Perceptions Index

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(November 18, Colombo - Lanka Polity )  Sri Lanka shared the 97th position with Liberia among 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2009 of the Transparency International. The world’s ten least corrupt countries are as follows: 1. New Zealand 2. Denmark 3. Singapore 4. Sweden 5. Switzerland 6. Finland 7. Netherlands 8. Australia 9. Canada 10. Iceland The world’s ten most corrupt countries: 1. Somalia 2. Afghanistan 3. Myanmar 4. Sudan 5. Iraq 6. Chad 7. Uzbekistan 8. Turkmenistan 9. Iran 10. Haiti In 2005, Sri Lanka was the 78th among 158 countries. In 2006, she was placed 84 of 163 countries. In 2007 Sri Lanka was the 94th among 179 countries. The country was at 92nd place in 2008 among 180 countries. Bhutan achieved the best position in the index among the South Asian nations securing the 43rd place. India is at 84 while Pakistan and Bangladesh shared the 139th position. Nepal is at 143 while Maldives is at 130. China

Amnesty International takes action for Sri Lanka displaced

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(November 18, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) Activists and supporters of Amnesty International will launch a week of action on Monday highlighting the continued detention of thousands of displaced civilians in government camps in Sri Lanka. Activists in more than 10 countries will take action as part of the Unlock the Camps campaign. Events include a ‘Circle of Hope’ in Canada, a street march and signature campaign in Nepal, a poetry reading in Switzerland and solidarity actions in  France, Germany, Mauritius and the United States. Throughout the week, Amnesty International activists based in London and participating sections  will write blogs about the events taking place across the world.. Six months after the end of the war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka continues to confine people who fled fighting in the north to closed displacement camps in uncomfortable and sometimes hazardous conditions. Releases fro

Sri Lanka President to hold general election prior to presidential

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(November 17, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse who earlier wanted an early presidential to extend his term for eight more years manipulating the popularity he earned via the victory over the Tamils' violent struggle for homeland is now changing his mind, sources say. The President is likely to postpone the presidential and the parliamentary elections are to come soon as the term ends in April next year. The President anticipated a one horse race with the shattered opposition until the former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka who was a kingpin of the government's war victory came into the scene as a possible common opposition candidate in an upcoming presidential. Fonseka retired from the post of Chief of Defense Forces on November 16. He said to media that he would expose his plans for future within a couple of days. Major opposition United National Party (UNP) and Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) have pledged co

Tamil detainees attacked in Sri Lanka prison

(November 17, Colombo - Lanka Polity )  Sri Lanka's opposition political parties led by the Democratic People's Front and the United Socialist Party demonstrated today in front of the Magazine Prison in Colombo against an incident of assaulting the Tamil detainees brutally within the prison. The organizers of the agitation say they have reports that a member of prison staff who belongs to the majority Sinhala community has led some other Sinhala prisoners to attack the Tamil detainees. One prisoner has sustained severe spinal injuries while another prisoner has lost front teeth in the attack. At least ten others have sustained injuries. Sri Lanka prisons have a history of massacres of Tamil prisoners by majority Sinhala community prisoners with the connivance of the prison officials. In one such incident, 52 Tamil prisoners were beaten to death in Welikada prison in Colombo in 1983.

Sri Lanka appoints military intelligence officer as ambassador for Eritrea to curb LTTE activities there

(November 15, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) Following the recent exposures from the recently arrested leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam rebel movement, the government of Sri Lanka has decided to appoint a senior military intelligence officer as Sri Lanka Ambassador for Eritrea. The New Ambassador previously acted as the Director of Military Intelligence of Sri Lanka Army. According to local media, the captured LTTE leader Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias Kumaran Pathmanathan  revealed that the LTTE had obtained support of Eritrea for its international arms procurements and fund raising activities. Sri Lanka government eliminated the founder and leader of the LTTE Velupillai Prabakaran on May 18 in the battlefields in northern Sri Lanka decimating the rebel apparatus that led for a 30-year war in the country. LTTE, that fought for a Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern parts of the South Asian island mustered massive support from Tamil diaspora worldwide. However, LTTE

Sri Lanka prevents UN rapporteur on freedom of opinion visiting Sri Lanka

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(November 14, Colombo - Lanka Polity )  Frank La Rue, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression he is "perplexed" by Sri Lankan government's reluctance to allow him for a fact finding mission despite unofficially agreeing for the visit months ago. He says to BBC that he has been making the request unofficially since March this year and sent an official letter seeking permission to visit Sri Lanka in August or September but for no response from Sri Lankan mission in Geneva. Sri Lanka government, as well as the defeated Tamil rebel organization LTTE, are accused of curtailing press freedom during the decades of conflict. The government earlier admitted that at least nine journalists had been killed since January 2006. Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, an organization of self-exiled Sri Lankan journalists say that more than 50 journalists have fled the country in fear of their lives. A Sri Lankan court recently s

Provide access to NGOs to assist resettlement - National Peace Council

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(November 13, Colombo - Lanka Polity )  Sri Lanka's National Peace Council urges the Government of Sri Lanka to permit both international and local NGOs who have staff that is experienced in responding to humanitarian and resettlement needs of affected communities to work in partnership with affected communities and government structures at the local level to accelerate the resettlement process.  " Since the provision of basic humanitarian needs is a primary function of civil society, we request the Government to maximize the use of civil society resources to meet urgent needs through mechanisms such as mobile health clinics, psycho-social support and house building. We urge the Government to facilitate the efforts of civil society groups to rebuild trust and establish a base of continuous dialogue so that both can work efficiently together to assist the displaced. Showing concern for IDP needs by providing them with basic requirements for survival and sufficient tools to r

Significant new sandakadapahana recovered from Anuradhapura

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(November 13, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) A new sandakadapahana or moonstone has been recovered from the ancient Anuradhapura city. Sandakadapahana is a unique stepping stone with artistic carvings on it and it was widely used at the entrances of the shrines in Anuradhapura era that spans up to 10the century AD. However, the recovery had been made spontaneously as a base pit was dug to build a shrine near the ancient Sri Maha Bodhiya, the sacred bo tree believed to hail from the tree that provided shade to Lord Buddha.. The sandakadapahana was observed significant in its artistic and archaeological value. However, the Department of Archaeology has decided to bury this invaluable monument as it was until a systematic archaeological excavation is carried out.

Sri Lanka's food imports up despite government rhetoric on self-sustenance

(November 12, Colombo - Lanka Polity )  Rhetoric of the Sri Lanka government to achieve self-sustenance through a a new green revolution named 'Let Us Cultivate and Develop the Country' is highly contrasted with some of the statistics revealed in the parliament last week. According to information revealed in Sri Lanka Parliament by the Minister Bandula Gunawardane last week in response to a question by People's Liberation Front (JVP) MP for the Anuradhapura district Ranaveera Pathirana , the government imported 52,800,209 kilos of milk food accounting for 89.1 percent of local demand in 2005, but this amount had seen an increase up to 62,518,062 kilos last year.  It was 90 percent of the local requirement. The country had imported 57 percent of its potato requirement in 2008, and it had been a sharp rise against 33.9 percent imported in 2005. In 2006, the government had imported 37 percent of the country’s potato requirement and 52.6 percent in 2007. Big onions had re

Pope talks on Sri Lanka

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(November 12, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) At the end of his general audience today, Pope Benedict XVI noted that, six months after the end of a civil war, Sri Lanka is on the road to recovery. However, he continued, there is still much work to be done. Sri Lanka has been torn by an armed conflict between the government and a rebel group, the Tamil Tigers, for the last 27 years. The conflict finally ended in May and authorities are taking steps to ensure that the displaced refugees, many of whom are Tamils from the north, are returned to their homes. The Pope strongly encouraged “an acceleration in this process” and requested “all citizens to work towards rapid pacification in full respect for human rights, and towards a just political solution to the challenges still facing the country.” Earlier in the year, the Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Oswald Gomis commented on the situation in his country, saying “We have to realize the fact that we are a multi-ethnic, multi-religious an

Ground clearing for Sri Lanka's former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka to vie for the Presidency

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(November 11, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) Sri Lanka's former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka that spearheaded the total annihilation of the Tamil liberation struggle of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) now looks comfortably securing the candidacy for the upcoming Presidential of Sri Lanka. General Fonseka, a US Green Card holder, returned to Sri Lanka earlier this month rejecting the attempt of the US Home Security Department to interview him over allegations on war crimes in the last phase of the war. Ever since, the ground can be seen clearing for him to tender himself as a candidate for the all powerful executive Presidency of the South Asian nation. Both major opposition rightist United National Party (UNP) as well as leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP), the king maker in recent times, have pledged support to his candidacy setting forth conditions basically to abolish the dictatorial executive Presidency and to empower the legislature. General Fo

Sri Lanka's Platform for Freedom call for change launching the Declaration of the Platform for Freedom

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(November 11, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) Platform for Freedom, a civil society movement in Sri Lanka has organized handing over of declaration titles Commitment for Change to the leaders of the newly formed United National Alliance on 12th November 2009 in a ceremony to be held at the Jayewardena Centre, Colombo07. The Leaders of the UNF including Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasignhe, MP Mangala Samaeaweera, MP Rauf Hakeem and MP Mano Ganesan are expected to participate. Platform for Freedom announced "The Declaration was discussed at district level delegates’ conferences before finalizing. The programme of action to rebuild the country and transform the governance process will be based on the 5 precepts contained in this document." Convener Attorney J.C. Weliamuna states that this document will be presented to the Tamil National Alliance, the United Socialist Party and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna at a subsequent day as the Platform for Freedom is calling for the form

Noam Chomsky: no change in US 'Mafia principle'

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by Mamoon Alabbasi (source: MWC ) As civilised people across the world breathed a sigh of relief to see the back of former US president George W. Bush, top American intellectual Noam Chomsky warned against assuming or expecting significant changes in the basis of Washington's foreign policy under President Barack Obama. During two lectures organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, Chomsky cited numerous examples of the driving doctrines behind US foreign policy since the end of World War II. "As Obama came into office, Condoleezza Rice predicted that he would follow the policies of Bush's second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style," said "But it is wise to attend to deeds, not rhetoric. Deeds commonly tell a different story," he added. "There is basically no significant change in the fundamental traditional conception that we if can control Middle East energy r

Editor of Tamil weekly held on criminal defamation charge in India

(November 06, Colombo - Lanka Polity ) Reporters Without Borders condemns journalist A.S. Mani’s detention in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu on a criminal defamation charge. Mani, who edits the Tamil weekly Naveena Netrikkan, was arrested in the city of Chennai without arrest warrant, on 25 October, as a result of libel suit by a local businessman. “Mani is the latest victim of Indian laws that criminalise defamation,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Misuse of the laws governing defamation and slander pose a permanent danger to Indian journalists. These laws are contrary to international press freedom standards and must be amended without delay.” Reporters Without Borders has registered a growing number of cases of arrests of journalists and censorship in India in the past two months, including the arrest of another Tamil journalist ( http://www.rsf.org/Tamil- Nadu-edito ...), a refusal to issue a visa ( http://www.rsf.org/No-visa- for-Germ ...) and the detention of a journali