Showing posts with label Mahinda Rajapaksa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mahinda Rajapaksa. Show all posts

Friday, November 20, 2020

Budget deficit figures in 2021 budget proposals in Sri Lanka wrong - FactCheck

FAct Check budget deficit 2021
Fact Check Sri Lanka stated that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's statement on the budget deficit for 2019 increased to 9.6% of GDP was wrong. 

Quoting annual reports from the Ministry of Finance, Fact Check Sri Lanka said, "It is incorrect to compare a value of 5.7% in 2014, which does not account for unpaid claims, against a figure of 8.4% in 2019, which accounts for unpaid claims. It is also inaccurate to calculate the budget deficit by considering unpaid claims in expenditure without applying the same basis to revenue".

Rajapaksa said in the budget speech, "…the budget deficit which my government brought down to 5.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014, has increased to over 9.6 percent of the GDP by 2019… outstanding unpaid bills amounted to Rs. 243 billion, while the foreign debt financed expenditure amounted to Rs. 212 billion remained unaccounted […which] resulted in the reported budget deficit for 2019."

Opposion MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said in a tweet that the Secretary to the Treasury was finally responsible for this kind of errors. He pointed out that he had raised it with him at the Committee on Public Finance while the official tried to justify it."

Read the Fact Check report here >>

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Sri Lanka government and opposition lock horns over the renovation of Deegavapi stupa

Sri Lanka major opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) accused today to the government that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has removed a foundation stone laid by the previous government and laid a new foundation stone ceremoniously. 

Addressing press conference held in the Opposition Leader's office today, Opposition SJB MP Harshana Rajakaruna said that present Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa as the Minister of Cultural Affairs had started the renovation of historic Deegavapi stupa in Ampara district on 31 August 2019. He further pointed out that the then Minister allocated Rs. 853 million for the project.  

The MP said that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa ceremoniously started the same renovation project of Deegawapi stupa on November 11, 2020. 

In April 2019, the cabinet approved a proposal presented by Minister of Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs Sajith Premadasa to procure the special type of bricks required to re-construct the Deegavapi stupa. 

Deegavapi is a Buddhist sacred shrine believed built by King Saddhatissa. It was declared an archaeologically protected monument in 1947.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hambanthota port sold but loan still paid - Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Mahinda
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that although the previous government had sold the Hambanthota port to China, they had not settled the loans with the money earned.  

Prime Minister and Minister of  Finance Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed these views in the parliament at the Second Reading and the Committee Stage Debate on the Appropriation Bill 2020.

"Annual debt service for the Hambanthota port is $ 90 million. The previous regime sold the port for $1,200 million. However, the money was not spent to pay back the loans and used for day to day budget expenses. Still, the Treasury of Sri Lanka annually pays that loan to the EXIM Bank of China," Rajapaksa said. 

The Prime Minister stated that the government had settled all the loans in contrary to the Oppoisition's speculations that Sri Lanka would default. 

The annual debt services of Sri Lanka is around $ 4.2 billion since this year, the Prime Minister said. He reported to the parliament that all foreign and other debt of 2020 had been settled. 

The government proposed to increase the upper ceiling of debt of 2020 by Rs. 180 billion. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Salman Khan's pathetic stunt in Sri Lankan politics

Khan with President's son Namal Rajapaksha
Bollywood super star Salman Khan who arrived in Sri Lanka on December 28 on a dubious tour has left the island without much hype.

Khan was seen in the political rallies of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is
rapidly losing popularity and in the path of possible defeat at January 08

On the day the President and his all powerful elder son Namal Rajapaksha welcomed Salman Khan and appeared in rallies with him, a group of young and popular Sri Lankan artists were brutally assaulted by the goons connected to the government.

Several artists were hospitalized due to this attack led by a ruling party
Provincial Councillor.

Opposition claimed Salman Khan has been paid Rs. 700 million for his public
appearance in President Mahinda Rajapaksha's Presidential campaign.

However, the government said Khan had come to Sri Lanka to donate eye lenses and explore the opportunities to help the flood victims. Minister Dallas Alahapperuma said that he had come with his own expenses.

However, Khan's tour wrongly scheduled ended promptly on December 29th adding misery to the President's failing campaign.

One of Salman Khan's escort vehicles ran over two children, reports say, seriously injuring them.

In one of the rallies ruling party MP Thilanga Sumathipala wrongly introduced
Salman Khan as Sharuk Khan.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The article that made The Economist barred entry to Sri Lanka

(August 21, 2010, Colombo - Lanka Polity)The following article was published in 'The Economist' on August 19.

It is a half-baked unprofessional journalistic piece, that portrays half truth regarding present situation in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.

But it is published in prestigious The Economist that can have an influence in the minds of the possible investors in Sri Lanka.

Overall image created by the article is that Sri Lanka under Mahinda Rajapaksa regime is anti-Tamil, undemocratic, corrupt and nepotist although the country is recovering and on the development path under his rule. The article ended with the following sentence.

The country may be developing after the war, but democracy still looks frail.

Sri Lanka Customs has stopped release of all the copies of The Economist magazine, says the distributor in the island Vijitha Yapa Bookshop.

The government is yet to clarify if it is a formal confiscation under the draconian emergency regulations.

Similar action was taken last year and then the government banned sale of India's popular Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan and even arrested the manager of the distributor company Poobalasingham Bookshop, Colombo.

Sri Lanka's post-war recovery

Rebuilding, but at a cost

Sri Lanka is developing again. But not all can celebrate

WEARING a crisp blue shirt, Kumaraswamy Nageswaran gestures dejectedly to a towering fence that keeps him from his village and his three acres of farmland on the Trincomalee coast. Five years ago, as Tamil Tiger rebels fought desperately with the Sri Lankan army, thousands of families fled Sampur and adjoining villages. They returned in the six months to January this year, only to find themselves victims of post-war development plans.
Sampur fell within an area demarcated during the war as a “high-security zone”, in an effort to keep fighters from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam at bay. The rebels were defeated in May 2009, but nearly 6,000 people still cannot get to their homes and lands, as the security zone remains in place.
Today, inside the fence, Sampur is being cleared for a 500MW coal-powered plant in a joint venture between India and Sri Lanka. Also planned are a jetty and a special economic zone. The government has started a construction spree. The short journey from Kinniya to Mutur still requires arduous travel over potholed tracks and three short trips by rudimentary ferries with spluttering outboard motors. But roads are being tarred and bridges will soon replace the tedious boat rides.
Along the way, towns and villages are limping back to life. Mutur, a predominantly Muslim township near to Sampur, was the site of a particularly bloody battle in 2006. Gradually it is lifting its head: new buildings, including a school, are rising; paint has been daubed on walls. With a bit more aid money, the recovery would move faster yet. Elsewhere in the district, officials have marked out vast stretches of pristine beach-front for tourist development and plush hotels.
The authorities say that land will be dished out through open tenders. But local leaders fear plots will instead be handed to henchmen of the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, most of whom come from the Sinhala-dominated south. Demands for preferential treatment for the inhabitants of Trincomalee, whether Tamil, Sinhala or Muslim, may fall on deaf ears.
Mr Nageswaran tries to organise locals, as the president of a welfare group for displaced people. The government has allocated them alternative land, he says, but it is poor, lacking decent soil or water for cultivation, and without the sea to fish in. Nobody asked them before making plans and they have no access to the “family that governs Sri Lanka” to explain their plight.
Ministers know what is happening. A soldier on the road to Mutur says government officials visit regularly, adding disgustedly that he is forced to salute the likes of Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, a former LTTE leader who is now deputy minister of resettlement, whereas “war heroes” like the former army commander, Sarath Fonseka, languish in jail.
Mr Fonseka, the country’s only four-star general, led the war against the rebels. He was cashiered on August 13th after a court-martial convicted him on three counts of using “traitorous” words and of a failure “to obey garrison or other orders”. The stripping of his rank, medals and decorations was endorsed by the president, whom he had dared to challenge at an election in January.
A wider crackdown against the opposition seems to be under way. Also on August 13th two MPs from Mr Fonseka’s Democratic National Alliance were arrested during what they called a “pro-democracy” protest. Police wielding batons and firing tear gas charged the demonstrators. The country may be developing after the war, but democracy still looks frail.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

What victory are we celebrating in Sri Lanka?

(June 18, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka celebrates the war victory marked by killing of Tamil rebel leader Velupillai Prabakaran on May 18, 2009 a year and a month later. The victory celebrations were postponed a month ago since the floods displaced around half a million people, a large number from Colombo itself.

Yesterday an ethnic Sinhala man was arrested by police for enlarging a photo of Velupillai Prabakaran. Police intelligence officials are now interrogating him to identify may be his mindset. It seems having a photo of Prabakaran in possession a sin if not an offence in post-war Sri Lanka.

It is not a bad idea giving another holiday to Sri Lankan workers. But, the government need to tackle the issue of a large number of employees especially in the public sector idling on working days as well.  

Even an year after the war, the only change perceivable in Sri Lanka is the relative peace of being free from frequent bomb explosions. Ethnic polities are still as much divided as they were in the war time.

No person with a sense can say that the country is in the path of development about which the government boasts. No serious rapid growth of investments and growth of tourists that will be effective to achieve the goal of being Asia's Wonder.

One thing happening in Sri Lanka is the development of infrastructure with the funds raised from the open financial market at relatively higher interest rates. Massive rackets of commissions and other malpractices haunt this 'development.'

The nation is entangling in a crisis of debt day by day.

The most crucial issue of Sri Lanka at the moment is the number of terms the President can hold the post and the successor of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, either his son or one of his powerful brothers.

We, the Sri Lankans, have got up late on Wednesday and in front of the television watching the victory parade lazily sipping tea.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Police to save Sri Lanka President's family goodwill; no police can protect your good name but yourself sir

(March 05, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Media reports say that a special police team of investigation has been appointed to probe the complaints received by the police headquarters regarding several organized unscrupulous groups that are engaged in frauds covering to the good names of the members of the ruling Rajapaksa family.

According to reports, these groups have used the names of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakasa and the Chairman of the Tomorrow for Youth Namal Rajapaksa and police have begun investigation since yesterday. Basil Rajapaksa's name was not in reports.

This unit is under the direct supervision of the Deputy Inspector General of Police Mahinda Balasuriya, under monitoring of Senior Deputy Inspector General N.K. Ilangakoon and it is administered by the Deputy Inspector General in charge of crime and organized crime Anura Senanayaka.

Police headquarters says that has received a complaint regarding a shocking incident of a person appearing a close associate of the President’s son Namal Rajapaksa molesting a young woman in addition to swindling Rs. 4.5 million promising to purchase a motor vehicle tax free.

Police says that this organized group has cheated money from people promising employment, land deals etc. using the goodwill of the President and his immediate family.

This special police unit has roused criticism of the opposition since it is assigned to protect the good name of one family. But the serious issue is not that. Why did this family, that claims to have made history in Sri Lanka need special police to protect their good name?

Rajapaksas have to think seriously about why this happened. No police can protect what they can do for themselves.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What a President are we going to re-elect in Sri Lanka?

(January 25, Colombo - Lanka Polity) January 22nd dawned with the news of a bomb explosion in the house of Sri Lanka opposition activist Tiran Alles. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ally Wimal Weerawansa was quick to say that it was a conspiracy of the opposition to beg for sympathy votes. But yesterday Alles spoke to media and said he wanted to make an exposure since there is a threat to his life.

Alles said he witnessed President's brother Basil Rajapaksa who is an appointed MP and an adviser of the President now giving Rs. 180 million in cash to a leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in his presence under the guidance of then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The grant was an appreciation for the LTTE to lead a boycott of Tamil votes in the 2005 Presidential. Mahinda Rajapaksa, backed strongly by Sinhala chauvinist elements was able to deprive the victory of the opposition candidate Ranil Wickramasinghe thanks to this boycott that prevented Tamils expressing their conscience. LTTE reportedly bought boats with these funds and later used them to kill many Navy personnel and to transport deadly weapons.

Alles, who was a close ally of Mahinda Rajapaksa during his 2005 Presidential campaign defected from the ruling alliance later and he had to face terrorism charges later. He says he revealed all what he knew to the Terrorist Investigation Department of Police to be recorded by them. Embarrassed police later released him without framing charges.

The President was saved of being sued for breach of trust regarding tsunami aids received from abroad thanks to the official impunity of the Presidency under Sri Lankan law. His governance is ill-famous for corruption from top to bottom and his extended family is alleged of amassing huge wealth through corrupt deals.

However, the President is a hero among many Sri Lankans that belong to the majority Sinhala community due to the war victory against Tamil nationalist liberation movement. He, together with his brother Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, present opposition presidential candidate ex-Commander of Army Sarath Fonseka and other service commanders led the state forces supported by the public to totally annihilate the Liberation Tigers.

But Rajapaksa failed to lead the reconciliation process in post-war Sri Lanka. No political process was initiated. However, his regime was in an illusion that they are to rule the country for many years ahead until the long lasting democracy produced a powerful contender for his post. The nation was on the verge of the patience regarding corruption, bad governance, dictatorial rule and anarchy.

The 2010 presidential is the tensest political battle in the history and it is also earmarked as the most corrupt one. The President was shameless to manipulate each and every public property for his propaganda campaign and the opposition was deprived of all opportunities he could block. However, the tide is so high against the President and he is likely to lose the post irrespective of how corrupt the election is.

Sri Lanka needs a leader that can lead the post-war reconciliation. The President needs to fight corruption and to introduce good governance, democracy and rule of law. The President must restart the political process to seek permanent solutions for the woes of the minority communities.

Opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka has pledged a good life. He is also a man with a questionable past. However, he has been able to muster the support of many who need a change in the system. However, we have to wait to see if the vote will express the sentiments for a change. 

(Photo: Emil Kanthan, the LTTE leader that obtained money from Basil Rajapaksa, according to Tiran Alles, posing with President's son Namal Rajapaksa)

Friday, January 22, 2010

The phase of extreme violence begun in presidential campaign of Sri Lanka

(January 22, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The much anticipated most violent phase of Sri Lanka's Presidential began this morning with the spread of the news of bombing the house of opposition activist Tiran Alles situated in close proximity to the Colombo city limits. Alles was unhurt although his house and the vehicle were badly damaged.

Alles is a wealthy businessman and an activist of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (People's Wing) led by break away ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera. He is the son of the respected founder principal of D.S. Senanayaka College. He contributed the presidential campaign of Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005 before he lost favor and subjectd to repression. He was kept in custody under terrorism charges. Mawbima, a popular Sinhala newspaper run by him was forced to close by Rajapaksa.

Couple of days ago, government campaigner Vimal Weerawansa spoke of an opposition ploy to get themselves bombed to win the sympathy votes. With this statement, many anticipated the begining of the extremely violent phase of the presidential in which President Mahinda Rajapaksa is facing the risk of losing to his ex-Army chief Sarath Fonseka.

The battle is so severe that the government is using almost all public property in addition to violence to prevent the defeat. In the past week, the government ordered the public schools to hold parents' meetings and the people's representatives of the ruling coalition adressed the parents and asked to vote to President Mahinda Rajapaksa blatantly violating the election regulations.

The government is shamelessly manipulating public media and other assets in support of one candidate and the breaking of law is fathomless as the President's brother Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Navy junior officer President's son Yoshitha Rajapaksa who are public servants that have no rights for politics are also adressing propoganda meetings of Rajapaksa.

Most of the actions of the government  display the fear of losing. An opinion poll conducted by pro-government lecturer of Mass Communication in Kelaniya University Dr. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa pointed to the loss of popularity of President Mahinda Rajapaksa by 13% within two weeks. In the first opinion poll publicised by state media on January 08, Rajapaksa was likely to win the presidential with 73% of votes. The result of the latest poll was that only 60% said that the next President should be Mahinda Rajapaksa for the well being of the country.

Our observation is that Rajapaksa still has a chance to win but not with such unbelievable majority. But he should have obtained at least 60% of the votes to proclaim victory in a presidential that is most corrupt in the history due to the illegal and unethical state support to one candidate.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Presidential fear of a teledrama

(January 12, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Upeksha Swarnamali is an actress cum dancer that became popular acting the role 'Paba' in a mega teledrama telecast by public-owned Independent Television Network of Sri Lanka.

She is popular although she is not a clever actor. However, she is a brave woman who is not afraid to express her conscience publicly regarding the presidential breaking the taboo in the field she is employed. She appeared in the platform of opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka and expressed support to him outraging the state media bosses that subsequently imposed an unofficial ban on her.

A scene that alluded she was kidnapped was shot and Upeksha Swarnamali simply vanished from the teledrama. The melodrama did not end from there; public-owned print media propaganda organ of the Rajapaksa regime, Dinamina Sinhala daily ran a concocted story in which Upeksha Swarnamali's mother Nirmalee de Silva had reportedly blamed Fonseka's campaigners for misleading the 'ignorant' actress.

However, the mother and the daughter appeared before media yesterday and denied the report published by The Dinamina.

Many of the popular artistes appeared in the advertisement series of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's son Namal Rajapaksa that urge people to vote to a 'sensitive leader'. Reportedly, they were compelled to appear in the advertisements by making a fear psychosis of tarnishing the future of their career if they failed to support Mahinda Rajapaksa. The punishment given to Upeksha Swarnamali is believed a lesson taught to the rebels in the art field.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Blatant misuse of public property in a tough battle for the presidency of Sri Lanka

(January 07, Colombo - Lanka Polity) A written complaint lodged by the All Sri Lanka Harbor Workers' Common Union leader Chandrasiri Mahagamage before the Election Commissioner points to shocking revelation of blatant misuse of public property for the presidential campaign of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Minister in charge of the Ports Authority  is Chamal Rajapaksa, the elder brother of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The complainers  say that 300 workers and 70 vehicles of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority have been deployed in presidential propaganda and election violence. The union has exposed the names of the employees and the numbers of the vehicles.

The personnel  have been stationed in three places in Colombo, Embilipitiya in south and Dambulla in north for election operations.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is using or rather misusing  the platforms of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority for his rallies. Ports Authority employees have been deployed in erecting the stages with overtime and bata allowances violating the election laws, the union points out.

The President  has not spared a single pebble unmoved in the state sector in a tough presidential battle with his ex-Army chief Sarath Fonseka. Senior public servants like his powerful brother defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who has no right for party politics due to his public-paid position is also running a series of seminars in support of his brother blatantly violating the election laws and the establishment code of the public service. Even the President's Secretary, a senior civil servant is also talking in public in support of Rajapaksa. Thousands of people are summoned to a massive tent set up in the Prime Minister's place now he occupies for meetings and they are treated with  food and beverages. Nobody knows who bears the costs as the government says no public funds are used for them.

On the New Year eve, the President  delivered an SMS to all 12 million mobile phone users via the service providers. Many identified the act as an infringement of the privacy of the phone users and the President's unauthorized New Year greeting finally turned to be a spam.

The use of pubic media for the President's propaganda and for slinging  mud at his major opponent was so irresistible to the Election Commissioner and he took measures to ban five programmes of state TV for its notorious content.

Police also came under criticism  of the Election Commissioner for not removing the illegal mega billboards with the images of the President at every nook and corner of the island.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sri Lanka's never-ending post-tsunami disaster

(December 26, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Five years ago, on December 26, world wept with tens of thousands of Sri Lankans as tsunami hit the island taking at least thirty thousand lives with the deadly wave. I lived in an area in the southwestern plains many miles away from the coast and the news of sea waves rushing overland did not rouse my enthusiasm as I had never heard of tsunami although I was entering into the fourth decade of my life.

Herath, a friend of mine came in a motorcycle with worried face since his mother was bound Galle in a train while rumors were spreading that a train had been toppled by sea waves. Later, in the evening, I, my wife Esha, Herath and one more friend went on two motorcycles to Paiyagala where our relations lived and we had no information on their fate since telephones were out of order. Their house was invisible in debris. Nihal, one of our relatives was pulling out a mud-soaked mosquito net from the wreckage. Luckily, none of them were hurt although the van they had just started to go for a wedding was found drifted away for hundreds of meters. Few people died in the villages around Paiyagala. But many of the other coastal villages were not so lucky.

Herath later discovered that his mother had reached her destination safely in the train that left earlier than the ill-fated one. However, he left with his video camera to capture the scenes of the disaster, many of what were later punished in the newspaper that we both were working.

While, I was returning home with my wife late in the evening, a night wedding party was underway close to my village and a band was playing 'baila' as the guests were dancing as if they had not heard the news. They had probably watched the TV but it was an auspicious day for weddings. After all Sri Lankans did not weep as much as the big and small philanthropists in other countries did. Sri Lankans transited to the post-tsunami period so lightly.

Even school kids of some countries sent their savings to Sri Lanka to help rebuild the lives of the victims of tsunami. Non-governmental organizations did all sorts of nonsense from buying sports utility vehicles to manage the post-tsunami operations to publishing thousands of copies of numerous reports that had no effect on the lives of the tsunami victims.

Media began to publish heart rending stories and Baby 81 is the best example of media fiascoes. (Photo above: Abilash's grief-stricken parents in hospital / Photos below: Abilash now and a music album that sold his name)

He was brought to the hospital by a villager who found him and, since he had no identification, was named after his hospital admission number: Baby 81.
After his injured parents got out of another hospital two days later and went to claim him, a media storm erupted, which eventually forced Abhilash's parents to go to the police and courts to get their son back.
They were even arrested when they tried to force their way into the hospital to get their son back and could only bring him home after the father supplied a DNA sample -- six weeks after the tsunami.
Subsequent accounts have pointed out the real story was blown far out of proportion -- there were no other couples trying to claim the child.
A TV crew filmed Baby 81 and the rushes were seen by a wire agency reporter. Whether it was a mistake in translation or some other kind of misunderstanding is unknown, but a report then ran that "nine desperate heartbroken women" were all claiming the child as their own.
But for Abhilash's father, Muruhappillai Jeyaraj, the unrelenting media hullabaloo over a vast misunderstanding has been a personal experience almost worse than the tsunami itseslf.
"I wish we all would have died in the tsunami," he told Reuters, holding Abhilash, 5, in his lap. "I would not have to tell this story again and again. Nobody will believe that there is no change in our lives."
Abhilash and his family were flown to the United States for a 13-day trip with an interview on NBC's Good Morning America not long after the tsunami. They were never paid for the appearance, Jeyaraj insists.
An American alternative rock band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club called their 2007 album Baby 81 and sold 14,000 copies in its first week.
What should have brought in help, only brought harm, said Jeyaraj, a barber by profession.
"Abhilash has become a dole for all the media, just to get his picture or visual and give publicity. But that publicity has been useless for him or us," Jeyaraj said.
People assumed he was getting rich off the publicity and began hounding him. He could not get local aid because charities believed he had been paid for the trip to New York. He moved the family from their village in Kalmunai to the city of Batticaloa, on Sri Lanka's east coast. (Reuter)

Politicians were also in the receiving end of the benefits in the post-tsunami period. Their associates, some are even not the victims of the tsunami disaster have received two, three houses and they have rented them now. Many actual victims of the disaster still live in half-built houses while thousands of people still languish in refugee camps in Colombo district. Any traveling along the Galle Road can see such camp in a state building in Blind and Deaf School Junction, Rathmalana in the city outskirts. A dirty two-story building that is near collapse stands shabbily with cloth lines everywhere and people gushing out of it like ants.

In 2005,the Criminal Investigation Department sought permission from the courts to investigate the accounts alleging that there was a breach of trust concerning nearly 83 million Sri Lankan rupees (approx 820,000 US dollars).Sri Lankan media had alleged that money sent by international donors to the Prime Minister's national relief fund was credited to the privately run "Helping Hambantota" fund. The lawyers of the Prime Minister told the Supreme Court that the Cabinet of Ministers were informed of the monies in ‘Helping Hambantota’ fund, which is monitored by Secretary to the PM, Lalith Weeratunga.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Sarath Silva (see photo) ordered Criminal Investigation Department to temporarily halt the investigation after considering a petition by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.

The Prime Minister then is the President now and the Secretary to the PM is the Secretary to the President now. Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva retired and some of his court rulings have been challenged legally.

Even the populist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and the People's Liberation Front (JVP) misappropriated the funds raised in the name of the tsunami disaster. Nobody knows what happened to the monies they collected world wide and island wide. Many of those from international donors to local businessmen who lavishly delivered promises to help the victims now remain silent after getting publicity for their philanthropic ideas that did not materialize.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gen. Fonseka does a volte-face over charges against Army

by B.Muralidhar Reddy

Less than 24 hours after his sensational statement that Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa had instructed a ground commander in the battle zone during the last phase of the Eelam War IV (May 16 to May 19) to shoot all LTTE leaders that had come out waving a white flag with the intention of surrendering to the military, the retired General and contender for the January 26 presidential poll, Sarath Fonseka did a volte-face.

At a hastily convened news conference on Monday afternoon, the former Army Chief said he is responsible for all the actions of the security forces commanders and forces on the ground throughout the war against the LTTE and no field commander acted in violation of any international law.

The retraction of Gen. (retd) Fonseka came after the government not only categorically denied the charges levelled by the commander turned politician as ‘motivated’, but also said that it was examining the contents of the interview for possible legal action. According to a senior government functionary, the statement, made in the course of an interview for an English weekly, has been referred to the Attorney General for his legal opinion.

True import of comment

Media Secretary to the former Army Chief, Ajit, told The Hindu, “At the hurriedly convened press briefing, the General explained the true import of his comment in his response to a question on the sequence of events during the last days of the war and talked about how senior functionaries in the government are hurling cooked up allegations against him by misinterpreting a media statement made by him.”

Political circles here believe that Gen. (retd) Fonseka chose to distance himself from the controversial statement in the course of the interview after senior opposition leaders pointed out to him that it would not only deprive him of the plank of ‘sole hero’ of the war against the LTTE, but would also be self-inflicting, as he cannot disassociate himself from the actions of the military he led.

The controversy triggered by the remarks of the retired General in the interview and the response of the government has left many in the island nation worried about the dangers of further politicisation of the military and the already divided polarisation of the ethnic communities.

Dominant sentiment in English daily

The dominant sentiment was captured by the English daily, Island in its editorial titled ‘An attempt at hara-kiri’. “There is a high octane performance on the part of government propagandists and their Opposition counterparts engaged in a ruthless mud-slinging contest. The government used to boast that it had ensured there were no irregularities in military purchases unlike in the past. But now, we are being told that while Fonseka was the army commander, his son-in-law was involved in some questionable business deals with the army.

“In the aftermath of Prabhakaran’s death, Fonseka pooh-poohed allegations of war crimes against the army. When asked, at the inaugural press conference after entering politics, to comment on moves being made in some quarters to press war crime charges against the Sri Lankan military, Fonseka said those who wanted to do so had to make specific charges with times, dates, locations, etc mentioned –– the implication being that the allegations levelled against Sri Lanka were baseless. He has also claimed on more than one occasion that he personally handled the successful ground operations which decapitated the LTTE.

“Now, we have Fonseka saying he has information that Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa ordered a ground commander to kill the LTTE leaders who tried to surrender (The Sunday Leader, Dec. 13, 2009). As much as the government's allegations against Fonseka and his son-in-law are tantamount to a self-indictment, Fonseka's charge against Gotabhaya has seriously affected his own credibility, in that, he contradicts his much advertised claim that he alone commanded the victorious army. If Fonseka says that his ground commanders who steered the army to victory took orders from someone else, how could he justify his attempt to promote himself in politics as the man who won the war and seek the executive presidency in return, as it were?,” the paper asked.

Low note

With December 17 set as the D-day for filing of nomination papers to a keenly watched contest between the major opposition parties’ candidate retired General Sarath Fonseka and the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa, charges and counter-charges were anticipated but no one had expected the campaign to hit such a low note at this early a stage.

Several senior opposition leaders are privately discussing the possible adverse repercussions of the controversial interview of the retired General and consulting among themselves on ways and means to limit the damage. The retired General, who, during the day, filed three separate Fundamental Rights petitions before the Supreme Court seeking fair coverage for his campaign by the government media, is hosting a get together to select group of journalists later on Monday evening.

In the The Sunday Leader, General Fonseka has contended that he had no information communicated to him in the final days of the war that three key LTTE leaders had opted to surrender to the military.

“Fonseka charged that communications were instead confined between the LTTE leaders, Norway, various foreign parties, Basil Rajapaksa, Member of Parliament and the powerful senior adviser to the President, and such information was never conveyed to him as he supervised the final stages of the war,” the weekly reported.

The three LTTE leaders he is referring to are Balasingham Nadeshan, a former police constable of Sri Lanka police and the political head of the LTTE. Seevaratnam Pulidevan the head of the “LTTE peace secretariat” and Ramesh, a senior special commander of the military wing.

Fonseka told the weekly that he later learnt about what exactly had taken place as a result of journalists who had been embedded at the time with forces in the battle field.

Predictably the government hit back at the retired General. At a special news conference, Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister, Mahinda Samarasingha had said, “The interview of the retired General is a great betrayal of the nation, people of Sri Lanka and his former colleagues. Since the end of the Eelam War IV in the fourth week of May, there have been so many attempts by so many quarters to defame the security forces of Sri Lanka on charges of human rights violations but the simple truth is up to now no one has been able to prove anything.”

Contradicting himself

Mr. Samarasinghe maintained that the charges made by Gen. (retd) Fonseka are a contradiction of his own statement on July 10 at a function where he was facilitated for successfully leading the forces to militarily defeat the LTTE. He said that the contents of the speech have not only been reported by the local and international media but found a place in the 68-page U.S. State Department report of October 22 to the Congress on the war between the security forces and the LTTE.

The U.S. State Department report says, “July 10 – A media outlet reported on July 18 that at a celebratory event in Ambalangoda, Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka stated that the military had to overlook the traditional rules of war and even kill LTTE rebels who came to surrender carrying white flags during the war against the LTTE.”

Quoting from the media reports on the July 10 speech made by the then Army Chief, the Minister said that Fonseka at the function had gone to the extent of saying that he was under tremendous pressure from several quarters to order the ground troops not to shoot at the LTTE cadres and had taken the position that soldiers in the battle field who have staked their lives are the best judges to decide on such matters.

“It is instructive for every one to remember that Sri Lanka has emerged after 30 years of protracted war and there are forces still out there working for destabilitation of the island nation. We are sad and disappointed that Gen. (retd) Fonseka is wittingly or unwittingly working on their script,” the Minister said. - coutesy: The Hindu -

Monday, December 14, 2009

JVP's 2000 meetings in support of Fonseka to turn the table among rural Sri Lankans

(December 14, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The pragmatic Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) that backs the presidential candidature of Sri Lanka's ex-Army chief Sarath Fonseka, has planned an enviable 2000 meetings ranging from mass rallies to in-house discussions, JVP parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Disanayaka says.

The first national joint rally where all parties supporting general Sarath Fonseka will participate will be held on December 18 in Kandy, he said. Subsequent rallies will be held on 19th in Ambalangoda and on 21st in Anuradhapura. Sarath Fonseka is expected to participate in about 60 rallies and 30 of these will be JVP events.

Fonseka already entertains strong backing from urban areas. The series of JVP meetings will be vital to change the mindset of the rural masses from whom President Mahinda Rajapakse enjoys comfortable support.

JVP is highly effective in opinion building among rural masses.  In 2005, they ushered Mahinda Rajapakse to presidency from nowhere although the latter later undervalued the JVP's potentials.

Monday, November 30, 2009

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

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 nonsense to them.

Sri Lanka changed its outlook as a non-aligned nation after 2005 under the reign of President Mahinda Rajapakse and alienated from its traditional Western allies and drifted towards China. Rajapakse was not an ardent conservative but his pragmatic approach towards the Tamil problem pushed him to a war that violated many of the warring traditions. He embraced China and other countries like Iran, Libya and Myanmar to save his face from international isolation. China, an emerging super power in the region has invested in a number of massive development projects in Sri Lanka including the construction of a harbor in Hambanthota, close to a major international shipping line. Other projects are in the fields of power, highway construction etc.

However, Sri Lanka is a socially westernized country where English is widely used as second language and most of the countrymen perceive development as a way forward towards the social situation in West. However, the ideologists of the middle class elite preach nationalism and Orientalist dogma to gain political advantages in power echelon and Sri Lankans appear as split humans with one part in Western world of practical life and the other part in the ideological Oriental dreamland.

This split can be seen in politics as the middle class dominated conservative elements ally in the ruling coalition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) while the capitalist and proletarian elements appear to unite in a new opposition coalition in the making with liberal democratic principles.

Comprador United National Party (UNP) and the proletarian People’s Liberation Front (JVP) have shed their traditional rivalry to support ex-Army chief Sarath Fonseka who recently showed his miraculous metamorphosis as a liberal democrat from his apolitical military role of Sinhala Buddhist Army Commander.
In the press briefing that he handled solely at the Jaic Hilton where he announced his candidature formally, he appeared for individual freedom, open economy, freedom for the private sector, power devolution to grant ethnic equality, abolition of dictatorial Presidential system, reinstating the power of the legislature and the much needed good governance.

Many opposition liberal and leftist thinkers dislike his military-like personality and suspects he will move towards totalitarianism once he is vested in the super powers of the Executive Presidency. Conservative pro-government elements try to portray him as an egoist while almost all of them should be unquestionably belong to the same category. They try to show him as a disloyal betrayer and a traitor of the ‘nation.’ The ‘nation’ eventually means a forming aristocratic dynasty surrounded by a bunch of greedy opportunists that sup with what trickles down through the fingers of the kings and princess.

Nevertheless, President Mahinda Rajapakse, flanked by his brothers is al powerful and knows the pulse of the polity too well. He is fighting back the new threat with all the state powers in line with the traditions of the Presidents vying for second term. It is not easy to defeat him in rural areas where he is popular thanks to his outgoing personality that none of the practicing politicians can match.

No one can predict what will happen on January 26, the day of the Presidential and the days after that. But Sri Lankan polity looks dividing apart the line of conservatism and liberal democracy. Every Sri Lankan has two souls; a conservative and a liberal democrat. The winner of the Presidential will be the one who will address most forcefully to either of these souls.   

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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

(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 Fonseka agreeing to appoint Wickramasinghe as the Prime Minister of the caretaker government. Without knowledge of the latest developments that came through discussions in chambers that were shut for Rajapskse’s informants like UNP National Organizer S.B. Disanayaka, the President signed the gazette to call for the Presidential that he was delaying for several weeks.

Rajapakse might lose two years from his mandate if he loses the Presidential. However, he is a born fighter and has already commenced his campaign with vigor and shrewdness. As the supporters of Fonseka are highlighting him as an uncorrupt soldier who devoted himself for 40 years unblemished service in Army, the President hired some prominent Tamil writers to unveil some crucial facts related to Fonseka. The first cannon was fired by Canada-based political analyst D.B.S. Jeyaraj and the pro-government Asian Tribune editor K.T. Rajasingham took a gung ho turn hitting harder to Fonseka to lure Rajapakse. Pro-war Asian Tribune headlined its story as Every bullet fired at innocent Tamil civilians fetched kickbacks to Gen Fonseka family in which the kickbacks said earned by Fonseka’s son-in-law or the Fonseka family as they articulate, through military supplies are outlined.

Both Rajapakse and Fonseka can claim equally for the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. The leadership of these two personalities combined with the Defense Secretary, President’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse was crucial for the conquest of the Tamil Tigers that actually reined the northern and eastern parts of the island for nearly three decades. Now it is history and the country needs restoration of democracy and good governance so that the country achievs rapid growth to solve the people’s problems.

Rajapakse is surrounded by a bunch of shrewdest political opportunists whom he himself does not trust at least to support him in a Presidential held after the general election. Now, he has given them the bait either to support him in the Presidential or to perish. His extended family and friends that hail from the village gentry that had less opportunity in the past among the political and economic elite is extremely ambitious to manipulate his prowess to achieve their targets. One of his economic managers is a crook who was punished by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court and the economists have failed to put the country into a track that the war achievements will result in growth that trickles down to poor masses that are still burdened with massive taxes brought in the war time. However, Mahinda Rajapakse is still popular among people mainly due to his outgoing characteristics irrespective of all the nonsense his associates commit.

The main doubt the opponents of Rajapakse have regarding the retired General Fonseka is his military characteristics. They suspect the bird of freedom and democracy they are trying to portray in Fonseka will ultimately backfire as a military dictator. Still he is General for Sri Lankan media despite he is changing into national suit he is not familiar with although he is very handsome and matured looking in it.

The Tamil writers like D.B.S. Jeyaraj and are so eager to expose the egoistic traits of Fonseka’s character to point out that he is unfit for the post of Presidency, an argument nowhere ever proved since almost all the state heads in Sri Lanka as well as in the world have shown this attribute in various levels.

What the progressive polity needs from a future President of Sri Lanka is neither the ‘General’ quality nor the ‘King’ quality demonstrated by Fonseka and Rajapakse, but a principled democratic ruler that can restore ruined rule of law, democracy and good governance. Sri Lankan voters will decide in January whose head is fit for the cap.    

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sri Lanka President to hold general election prior to presidential

(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 conditional support to Fonseka and both parties have sought the abolition of the executive presidency. However informal sources say that Fonseka has asked for a period of two years to go before the abolition of the executive presidency.

However, with the possibility of holding a general election before the presidential, Fonseka, the UNP and the JVP will have to rethink their strategies. At the moment, Sarath Fonseka appears more popular than the President, according to an online survey conducted by our sister Sinhala website

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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

(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 Fonseka has neither commented nor denied the news. He is still the Chief of Defense Staff, a newly created post that some critics say, aimed at sidelining him after the defeat of the rebels. Armed forces members cannot contest for the Presidential under Sri Lanka's law and many associates have reportedly advised the President not to accept resignation of the Chief of Defense Staff to avoid his candidacy.

However, the President himself cleared the doubts stating to a group of Ministers that he would accept the resignation of the Chief of Defense Staff if he wants to run for the Presidential election. However, he has reportedly assigned arch Sinhala nationalist Wimal Weerawansa, the leader of the National Freedom Front to mobilize a Buddhist force to prevent Fonseka coming to the contest.

Fonseka is a Sinhala hardliner who said to Canada's National Post in September 2008 quite openly that Sri Lanka belongs to the majority Sinhala community. (I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people...We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country...We are also a strong nation ... They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue thing.)

There are doubts if the 25% minority whom he wants "under the pretext of being a minority, not demand undue thing" will support him despite they have clear reasons to vote Rajapakse out since he suppressed their struggle for rights without granting them any. However, Colombo based Tamil politician Mano Ganeshan of the Democratic People's Front has already pledged support to Fonseka depicting the frustration and the need of the Tamil community to get rid of Rajapakses by hook or by crook. 

Opposition leader Ranil Wikramasinghe has announced that he will set forth additional condition of granting a cabinet portfolio for the major Tamil constituency of the northern and eastern Tamils, Tamil National Alliance, under Sarath Fonseka's Presidency. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sri Lanka President's tour in Vietnam utilized for anti-US propaganda

(October 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity) This photo published by Sri Lanka's state print media propaganda organ Sunday Observer is clear evidence that the President Mahinda Rajaakse's official tour to Vietnam is aimed at propagating his defying policy towards Western super powers that are questioning the human rights conduct of the country under him.

The caption went as "President Mahinda Rajapaksa observing the photographs of Western war crimes displayed at the Museum of War Remnants in Vietnam during an official visit to the country,"

A 68 page report prepared by the War Crimes office in the State Department and presented to Congress on Thursday lists 170 incidents in Sri Lanka between May 2 and 18. It is based mostly on internal reports to Washington from the US Embassy in Colombo, satellite imagery, international relief organizations and media outlets.The report alleges that thousands of Tamil civilians were gunned down by Tiger guerrillas seeking to use them as human shields or killed in what it calls “indiscriminate government shelling.” Stephen Rapp, the US Ambassador at large for war crimes issues has said that the Government of Sri Lanka should investigate the allegations.

Foreign Ministry Sri Lanka in a quick response said on Thursday that the report “appears to be unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence.” It accused vested interests of endeavouring to bring the Government of Sri Lanka into disrepute, through “fabricated allegations and concocted stories.”
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Monday, October 19, 2009

'Condom theory' of Sri Lanka's ruling regime extended beyond borders

(October 19, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Opposition critics of Sri Lanka have coined a new phrase called 'condom theory' to the political jargon to describe a political principle of the current President Mahinda Rajapakse. The President ranked by his four brothers is accused by opposition of using people for political gains and disposing them afterward like birth control condoms.
Rajapakse's campaign manager of the 2005 Presidential, Mangala Samaraweera identifies himself as a victim of this ‘condom theory’.
Former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka was recently appointed as the secretary of the Ministry of Sports and Recreation. He neither assumed nor rejected the post. Opposition critics pointed out that the posting meant to demean the General who was a kingpin in Sri Lanka government's defeat of Tamil rebels that fought for self-determination for three decades. A former rebel leader Vnayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman holds a ministerial portfolio in the President’s panel of Ministers.
Sri Lankan rulers appear to have extended this ‘condom theory’ into international politics as well taking an anti-Western stance forgetting the long history of assistance from Europe and US to the former British colony that was traditionally close with the Western block. Recently, the Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka thoroughly rebuked the US State Secretary Hilary Clinton for a statement regarding Sri Lanka's use of rape as a weapon of war.  He said rape took place right inside the White House as Clinton’s husband was the President of US. US angered by the Prime Minister’s statement summoned the Sri Lankan ambassador in New York to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked if it was the state’s official stance. 

Former US President Bill Clinton visited Sri Lanka after 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and extended US and world support for the distressed island nation to recover from the massive loss of lives and damage to the economy.

Before that, Udaya Prabath Gammanpila, a federal Minister of Sri Lanka government, accused that the US Army raped a large number of women during Vietnam War. He too recalled that rape took place right inside the White House as Bill Clinton; the husband of US State Secretary Hilary Clinton was the President.
In the recent most incident, the General Secretary of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance, Susil Prema Jayantha who is also the Minister of Education angered Pakistan by stating “Look at Pakistan. The country is in a total mess since military strongman Zia ul Haq took over rule in a coup from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the mid seventies and the trend of destabilization is still in that country totally disrupting the civilian life and the economy. Even at this very moment nobody knows when and where a bomb will go off. The people of this country do not want that kind of situation.”
The Pakistan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, who was in Colombo to represent Pakistan at the two-day Asian Co-operation Dialogue conference at the BMICH, told a dinner hosted by Sri Lankan Deputy Foreign Minister, Hussein Bhaila in his honor at the Colombo Hilton on Friday night said “It is very unfair to say that as your Government benefited most from that military regime.” 
Pakistan was a long time ally of Sri Lanka and provided arms and ammunition including heavy armory that other countries denied to supply during the war against the Tamil rebels. Rebel Liberation tigers ofTamil Ealam (LTTE) even attempted to assassinate Pakistan High Commisioner in Colombo.

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...