Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sharing experiences of Sri Lanka's war against terror

(January 30, 2011,  Lanka PolitySri Lanka is to hold an international seminar to share experience on its victorious  fight against terror.

The details of the seminar was revealed recently by the Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya at a media conference held in the Army Headquarters.

The international seminar is to be held on May 31, June 1st and 2nd of 2011 at Colombo Galadari Hotel focusing on counter measures against global terrorism, terrorist trends, predominance of both political and military efforts, rapid resettlement, reconciliatory moves, nation-building and threats to national and international security concerns, the Ministry of Defense says.

Contributors and participants in the sessions are to be drawn from all corners of the world along with the representatives of different government, International Non Governmental Organizations, Non Governmental Organizations and professionals, academics and military officials.

The Defense Ministry says that the delegates representing about 54 countries are also expected to dwell on strategies, needed for nation-building while endeavouring to explore adequate measures for countering, with special relevance to the Sri Lankan perspective in counter terrorism.

The seminar is to review how the Sri Lankan approach transcended beyond the traditional approach and succeeded in defeating the LTTE with learning from years of fighting insurgency.

The Sri Lankan delegates, composed of war veterans while sharing their knowledge on counter terrorism, will enumerate all other contributory factors in military defeating the LTTE. The seminar simultaneously expects to broaden understanding and shares knowledge in effective counter terrorism strategy, operational and tactical level lessons, evolution of tactical level training, role of Human Rights in counter insurgency operations, rehabilitation of ex-combatants, preventive measures against resurgence of violence, introduction of political reforms, re-evaluation of the traditional model and the Sri Lankan experience.

When sharing experiences of Sri Lanka's war against LTTE, we think the following basic points are also needed to be discussed if the seminar is to be placed in a broader perspective.

  • Did the war achieve sustainable peace?
  • Did the military victory pave way to national reconciliation?
  • Is Sri Lanka wisely using the opportunity created by the military victory over LTTE?
  • Are the people of the country enjoying benefits of peace?
  • Are the circumstances that led the war time Army Commander to be imprisoned fair?
  • How did the state military deal with the world's insistence on ethical issues of war during the war time?
  • How can the price for the 'liberation' paid by the people of the LTTE held areas rationalized in regard of their life after the war?

There can be many more similar issues that can be raised.

Some might say that Experience is a comb which nature gives us when we are bald.

'Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced,' Henry David Thoreau said after all.


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Galle Literary Festival that has no Galle

(January 23, 2011,  Lanka PolityGalle Literary Festival (GLF) will begin this week for the fifth time.

Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and a few other writers together with Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) have urged the writers to keep away from the GLF due to alleged Freedom of Expression issues in Sri Lanka.

Most of the Sri Lankan writers actually keep away from GLF every year not because of the 'alleged Freedom of Expression issues in Sri Lanka' but simply because they are unaware of such a magnanimous literary event is held in Sri Lanka.

The so called big literary event is represented by just one or two actual local vernacular writers. The only name I saw among the participants as a recognised Sinhala language writer is Liyanage Amarakeerthi, a university lecturer, writer and critique.

The Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka is at least not in the list of sponsors although it is not essential the government sponsor the event. Interestingly, the state Tourism Promotion Bureau is among the prominent sponsors instead.

The literary festival that uses the name and the cultural significance of Sri Lanka's Southern Province capital Galle seems to have concrete base in Galle at all and in Sri Lanka too. For Sri Lankans and for the so called literary figures also that are in thie organization structure, this seems a mere tourism event. 

Literature sans people is something extraordinary definitely. While appreciating the efforts rendered by the organizers to make this event 'a favourite of participants and audiences alike; named the best literary festival in the world' as mentioned in the GLF website, we beg them to make this an actual Sri Lankan event by getting down to earth at least to make it nationally known.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

An eye witness describes the cowardly attack against Dr. Vickramabahu on December 17

(January 07, 2011,  Lanka Polity
I was informed by Dr Vickramabahu Karunarathne that he has been
invited to participate in the 88th Birthday Remembrance celebration of
Pro. Reg Goodwin, a former Dean of Darwin College of Cambridge
University, held on 04th December. I knew that Vickramabahu as one,
who read for his Ph.D (Electro Magnetic theory) at Cambridge during
Goodwin's tennre, accepted an invitation from Goodwin’s Family members
and left for London on 21st of November 2010. As a leader of the Nava
Sama Samaja party I monitored the schedule of Vickramabahu and I knew
that he took the opportunity also to meet with the NSSP London Branch
as well as London-based supporters and sympathizers of the NSSP. He
addressed several meetings at the request of the NSSP London Branch.

Back home, false and fabricated reports were published in some
sections of the media to say that Vickramabahu participated in a
demonstrations and meetings held in December 2010, in London;
reportedly organized by some sections of the Diaspora to promote
terrorism and division of the country. 6. I was informed by
Vickramabahu that he would arrive on 7th December 27, 2010 in Qatar
air ways, plane no QR 302 arriving around 4pm. I went to the Airport,
and there were around 40 persons comprising leading Party members,
Lawyers, some members of the clergy etc, at the airport to greet him.

Coming out of arrivals while Vickramabahu was proceeding towards his
vehicle, a gang of persons, some of them wearing uniforms with their
official identity cards hanging from their breast pockets, started
shouting “Tiger”, “Kotiya” etc. against him. They said he betrayed the
Motherland to Tamils. Vickramabahu countered that it was the Rajapaksa
Government which has betrayed the country with its subservience to the
dictates of neo-liberal global forces, the IMF etc. at the expense of
the poor masses of this country. He then got into the vehicle; and
left the airport followed by 4 vehicles carrying most of those that
received him at the air port.

However, the last vehicle with my self and several others inside was
prevented by the Police from leaving the Airport premises. Those who
were in the van were pressured to lodge an entry with the Airport
Police before they left. The Police rejected their refusal to do so.
So the process of recording statements took well over 2 hours and it
was past 7.30 PM. by then and there were visible signals of threat to
their security and physical safety. However no Police protection what
so ever was given despite assurance given by the DIG Dayananda.

When this last vehicle no 253 - 7286 Town Ace left the Airport it
was at once chased on the heels by 2 vehicles. I saw clearly
intention to attack our vehicle. On the way the chasing vehicles tried
their utmost to block and attack our vehicle. At a certain point
between Ja-ela & Kandana where there was a brief traffic jam,
occupants of the two vehicles alighted and came in front of our
vehicle and blocked it. Those who blocked our vehicle, with iron rods
and an axe, mercilessly attacked our vehicle causing extensive damage.

No sooner than the traffic jam eased, with my instructions our vehicle
was driven through at break-neck speed to escape from those enemy
vehicles. We arrived at the party office in Colombo around 9.00 pm

V Thirunavakarasu

Political bureau member of the New Sama Samaja party

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Bitter story of sugar of Booker Tate to be re-written in Sri Lanka

(January 06, 201,  Lanka Polity, Ajith Perakum JayasingheSri Lanka Board of Investment (BoI) says that British firm Booker Tate is to come to an agreement this month to invest US$ 110 million to establish a sugar factory in Moneragala.

Environmental Impact Assessment is being carried out now, reports say.

Booker Tate, a subsidiary of Tsb Sugar International, will be collaborating with IMS Holdings along with an individual party in Sri Lanka to establish the plant that is to be named as “Bibile Sugar.”

The Cabinet has already approved the allocation of 200 hectares to build the factory and a sugar cane nursery. The company has planned to implement an out grower system.

Sugarcane cultivation may destroy remaining forest cover in the island since sugarcane is a mono-culture which requires land to be dry when the crop matures. Sugar cane is also a crop that is associated with poverty that repeatedly failed in the island.

The proposal of the IMS holdings and Booker Tate sugar project to set up this factory came in 2007. But the government had to take it back due to protests from the environmentalists and social activists.

In 2007, cabinet approved to allocate 20,000 hectares in the Uva region for sugar cultivation and another 3,000 for a seed farm. Two hectares each was to be given to settlers. However, C. W. Jayasekera, Managing Director of IMS Holdings said to The Island newspaper on July 29, 2007 responding to a statement by Prof. Gananatha Obeysekara, "there was no allocation of land of the extent mentioned by Prof. Obeysekera to Booker Tate or any other company. They have requested only 200 ha. of land for the factory site on lease to the project and this land will be leased to the BOI approved Bibile Sugar Industries Limited."

Jayasekera said that he wished to enlighten Prof. Obeysekera and readers with accurate information about the proposed project. The Plantations Ministry has projected that 23,000 ha. of land was the basic area of sugar cultivation necessary to justify the erection of a factory complex of the capacity they are looking at.
Of this land, 3,000 ha. will be allocated to the people in the area for sugar cane growing with guidance and support by the factory to ensure the best cultivation practices.

The valued Nilgala forest reserve is near the area considered for cane. Though assurances have been given that Nilgala would not be touched, the impact of a mono-culture and draining of water from a vast area around it was a severe concern.

Booker Tate created a black mark in Sri Lanka history as it established Pelwatte Sugar Industries - a white elephant that cost the country billions in subsidies and made all Sri Lankans pay more for their sugar.

"Companies like Booker Tate get their money from management fees. In Pelwatte Sugar it put only 10 percent of equity while the government put billions of poor people's money as subsidies. After a while it sold out and left the country, leaving others to hold the baby," said Lanka Business Online in 2007.

Sri Lanka imports 90% of its sugar consumption spending round Rs. 35 billion per annum. But sugar industry of the country is a failure.

Sevenagala and Pelawatta are the only two sugar producing factories operating in Sri Lanka. But Sevenagala is struggling and Pelwatte is running with indirect state support. Pelwatte makes some money from alcohol and is trying to get into other profitable businesses.

"Meanwhile the Government has brought in the private sector to revive the Kantale Sugar factory and the Hingurana Sugar factory. Hingurana factory is a private public partnership, which the Government owns a 51% stake," says News 360 website.


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