7/30/2009

(July 30, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's rulers are entangled in a knot of cultural issues in a multiplity of sectors and taking various measures according to their whims and fancies creating a vicious circle.

In one scenario, the government has decided to ban the 'adults only' movies even for the adults of Sri Lanka. Before that, the government also initiated legal action against 12 websites the CID had identified containing 'obscene' material. It was not clear why these sites were handpicked among the hundreds of the thousands of websites of that genre. Some critics said that they were the mostly visited sites by the CID officials.

Meanwhile, the state-sponsored commodity worship that is highly exhibited via the ways the mobile phones are used in Sri Lanka took the life of a grade 9 student of Museus Girls' College, a leading private school in Colombo city. The girl was caught by school prefects with a mobile phone in her possession and the sources say that it contained some 'obscene' images. The embarrassed girl hanged herself in a school toilet and was admitted to hospital to succumb a day after.

The Ministry of Education issued a circular banning mobile phones in schools by students.

Meanwhile, the education sector came under severe criticism with the great number of errors in the mid-year test papers provided by the Education Departments of the Provincial Councils. The test papers were full of errors and the testing process also had many faults. Media and the critics pointed the fingers to the highly politicized bureaucracy in the education sector. The government is completely failing to uphold the standards of the education sector since most of the administrators and the senior educators are counter-productive political henchmen.

The government's 'pious' policy is questioned also in its war against the underworld goons sparing one section that is known run by a notorious Minister close to the highest echelon of the rule. Many criminals including the underworld goons are being killed by police and the 'unknown groups' while the people have resorted to street justice against certain offenders.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Justice is polishing the old dialogue on the need of the implementation of the death penalty. Sinhala Buddhist religious leaders are also backing this policy that is condemned by the civilized world. They are ignoring the non-violent principles of the Lord Buddha as they did in many other cases also.

In this context, no wonder they are cruel to elephants as media reported two elephant cubs that were forcibly separated from their mothers living in Pinnawala elephant orphanage had been chained in a garage in Temple of Tooth in Kandy. The reports angered the chief prelates of the Buddhist Malwaththa and Siyam chapters and they accused the environmentalists that raise voice against cruelty against animals are the elements against the Buddhist cultural practices like holding parades for which the elephants are needed. Sri Lanka has only 120 tamed elephants while 90 of them are aged and the cabinet had approved offering the two elephant cubs, the chief prelates said in a statement.
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7/26/2009

(July 26, 2009 -Lanka Polity) Two people were killed and around 40 were injured in a clash between two groups of Muslim sects in Beruwala. The clash was between the laymen of the ancient Buhari mosque (Jamaeth of Buhary Thaikiya) and the new Rahuman mosque (Sunnath Ansaary Jamaeth).

"Buhari mosque had its 135th annual Kandoory on last Wednesday and the Rahuman mosque apart from criticising the Kandoory had also conducted the Friday Jummah prayer (Sermon) on this issue angering the Buhary Thikiya Jamaeth party.The party of Jamaeth of Buhary Thaikiya went to the Masjidul Rahmaniya mosque of Sunnath Ansaary Jamaeth at the Mahagoda road in Beruwala and attacked the mowlavi who conducted the Friday Jummah prayer and others who were with him. Later they set fire to the mosque," reported Lanka Muslim Guardian website.

Weekend English newspapers reported the incident highlighting various causes that are contradictory to each other. 

The story of the Sunday Times was different from the Muslim Guardian. "clashes erupted over critical remarks made by an Imam (a cleric) who was leading Friday's Jumma prayers at the Buhari mosque against a Muslim group who style themselves as Thawheed. The group's members are strongly opposed to Muslim shrines and the conduct of feasts in mosques and are calling upon traditional followers of Islam to shed those habits," it said.

The Nation newspaper said, "Muslims who were attending Buhari Mosque had been holding a pooja for three days with the participation of a mass of devotees from 18 areas. Apparently, Muslims from Rahuman Mosque had questioned why Buhari Mosque was not allowing Muslim women to participate in the pooja that was being held there. And both partied had argued over the matter, which ultimately culminated in a clash that left two people dead and eight others injured."

According to Lakbima News, "The clash is the latest showdown in a long standing rivalry between the two Islamic sects, identified as Ahal Sunnat Jamaat and Thauhid. The latter strictly adheres to Islamic fundamental principles and regularly complained against the Ahal Sunnat Jamaat, which practices a ritual related to alms-giving involving meat, at a Mosque situated near the seaside."

Police imposed curfew to control the situation. Meanwhile, some people blame police for its inaction to control the situation.
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(July 26, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Today's Sunday Leader reproduced a document that explained some vital facts related to oil hedging deal between the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB). The affidavit filed on July 24 by Kimarli Fernando, formerly of Standard Chartered Bank, in the Supreme Court last week was published by Sunday Leader with the permission of Ms. Fernando.

In the affidavit, Ms. Fernando cites that the SCB local office projected a commission of approximately one billion rupees in Sri Lanka, and looked at commissions to be booked at one billion rupees overseas.

Recalling her discussions with Mr. Asantha De Mel, the former Chairman of CPC at his office on the 24th of October 2007, Ms. Fernando says that he informed her that he had no appetite to lose money and he had no interest on one year structures and looked for short tenors. He also had said that he expected the banks to guide him daily to ensure that the transaction had value and profits.

However, she cites, "I noticed that the CEO Mr. Clive Haswell was very adamant that the oil hedging deals were concluded as soon as possible given the commissions for the bank. This was mainly because the bank’s earnings are directly linked to the CEO and the other top management’s bonus. I was aware that the CEO Mr. Clive Haswell did not have prior experience of working in risk management, corporate or as a CEO and explained to him at least the following as I recall.

"The oil hedging transaction can expose CPC to unbearable losses if the oil prices decline because there was no down side protection for CPC. I explained that CPC did not have the understanding and expertise to consider the risks involved.

"I highlighted that CPC and Sri Lanka can be exposed to severe foreign exchange exposure and repayment will need capital outflow from the country, which requires the approvals of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as per exchange control guidelines.

"I explained that no sensible private sector company will enter into such risky oil hedging instrument which appeared to me one sided and that to me the transactions appeared extremely speculative.

The affidavit is filed as directed by the Suprem Court in relation to Case No. 404/2009 filed on May 25th 2009, by public interest activist Nihal Sri Amarasekara. The petition states regardless of specific directions given in or about December 2008 by the CB’s Monetary Board, Standard Chartered Bank has remitted in valuable foreign exchange a sum exceeding US$100 million between December 2008 and April 2009, and was endeavouring to remit a further sum exceeding US$20 million on ‘Back to Back Agreements’ entered into with one or more foreign parties.

In another petition filed in June 2009, Nihal Sri Amarasekara seeks an interim order from the Supreme Court to restrain the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the Treasury Secretary from participating in any arbitration proceedings or litigation with any of the banks involved in the hedging contracts until a final determination is made on the application. He is also asking that the interim order be converted into a permanent order upon the final determination of the application.

Mr. Ameresekere cited that he understood Standard Chartered Bank had instituted legal action in the UK High Court, making a claim against CPC, while Deutsche Bank has filed for arbitration in the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in the US, and Citibank has instituted arbitration proceedings in the U.K, in the London Court of International Arbitration. He said that to date, he understood the arbitration (defence) alone had amounted to around Rs.25 million which is public money.
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7/25/2009

(July 25, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sweden, one of the main development partners for Sri Lanka in the 1980s has decided to to close down its embassy in Colombo. 

The Swedish Embassy in Colombo is scheduled to be closed by March 31, 2010, said Xinhua news agency quoting diplomatic officials.

Sri Lanka and Sweden were embroiled in a diplomatic row in April this year when Sri Lanka denied visa for its Foreign Minister Carl Bildt who was intending to join British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in a visit to Colombo during the last stages of the government's military campaign against Tamil Tiger rebels. 

The Sri Lankan government claimed Bildt was welcome to make a separate visit.
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(July 25, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Indian filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma boasted that he shot his upcoming film "Agyaat" in Sri Lankan forests at a time when the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) was on.

"We shot when the war against LTTE was on in Northern part of the country. My unit was naturally scared. Btut, I told them that if we had to die, it can happen while we are dining at the Taj hotel in Mumbai as well," the filmmaker told PTI.

However, the film was shot in Sigria jungles of central Sri Lanka, hundreds of miles far away from the real battle field.

The film, which revolves around a group of people stuck in a jungle while they struggle to survive an unknown entity, is slated to release on August 7, reported PTI.
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7/24/2009

(July 24, 2009) M.M.C. Ferdinandos, the Secretary of the Ministry of Power and Energy says that the high tension power lines of Northern Province that were demolished during the period of conflict will be renovated with the assistance of the Japan (JAICA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Tenders are to be called before September, he says.
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(July 24, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Immediately after the IMF emergency loan was approved for Sri Lanka, the newly appointed United States Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Eric P. Schwartz is to arrive arrive in Sri Lanka tomorrow (25), US Embassy in Colombo announced. US was earlier accused of delaying the loan for Sri Lanka.


Schwartz has worked with Sri Lanka earlier as UN Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery from 2005 to 2007. 

He is scheduled to visit the IDP camps in the North and will meet with senior government officials and civil society representatives.

This tour is significant as Sri Lanka looks improving its diplomatic ties with US and the West that are worried about the developing close ties of the island nation with China.

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7/23/2009

Another 50 scribes in self-exile
(July 23, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), a newly formed expatriate journalists' association says that people of Sri Lanka are deprived of their right to information and media and journalists are forced to practice unprecedented level of self censorship.
JDS points out that thirty-four journalists and media workers have been killed with no recourse to justice since the present United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government came into power in April 2004 . Out of 34 killed three were Sinhala journalists, one Muslim and 30 were from the Tamil community, JDS observes. In addition, 10 journalists and media workers were abducted.
The tense situation in Sri Lanka resulted in more than 50 journalists leaving Sri Lanka fearing persecution: They now live in the following countries:
Austria 01; Australia 03; Canada 03; Denmark 01; France 12; Germany 04; India 05; Malaysia 01; Netherlands 02; Nepal 02; Norway 02; Switzerland 16; UK 10; USA 02.
RECORDED LIST OF KILLINGS OF JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA WORKERS
APRIL 2004 – MARCH 2009 (Tamil rebels are accused for killings of some of hese journalists - Editor)

2004
1. Aiyathurai A. Nadesan – Journalist / 31 May
2. Kandaswamy Aiyer Balanadaraj – Writer / 16 August
3. Lanka Jayasundera – Photo journalist / 11 December

2005
4. Dharmaratnam Sivaram – Editor / 28 April
5. Kannamuttu Arsakumar – Media worker/ 29 June
6. Relangee Selvarajah – Journalist / 12 August
7. D. Selvaratnam – Media worker/ 29 August
8. Yogakumar Krishnapillai – Media Worker / 30 September
9. L. M. Faleel (Netpittimunai Faleel) – Writer / 02 December
10. K. Navaratnam – Media worker / 22 December

2006
11. Subramaniam Suhirtharajan – Journalist / 24 January
12. S. T. Gananathan – Owner / 01 February
13. Bastian George Sagayathas – Media worker / 03 May
14. Rajaratnam Ranjith Kumar – Media worker / 03 May
15. Sampath Lakmal de Silva – Journalist / 02 July
16. Mariadasan Manojanraj – Media worker / 01 August
17. Pathmanathan Vismananthan – Singer and musician / 02 August
18. Sathasivam Baskaran – Media worker / 15 August
19. Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah – Media owner / 20 August

2007
20. S. Raveendran – Media worker / 12 February
21. Subramaniam Ramachandran – Media personnel / 15 February
22. Chandrabose Suthakar – Journalist / 16 April
23. Selvarasah Rajeevarman – Journalist / 29 April
24. Sahadevan Neelakshan – Journalist / 01 August
25. Anthonypillai Sherin Siththiranjan – Media worker / 05 November
26. Vadivel Nimalarajah – Media worker / 17 November
27. Isaivizhi Chempian (Subhajini) - Media worker / 27 November
28. Suresh Limbiyo - Media worker / 27 November
29. T. Tharmalingam - Media worker / 27 November

2008
30. Paranirupesingham Devakumar – Journalist / 28 May
31. Rasmi Mohamad – Journalist / 06 October

2009
32. Lasanntha Wickrematunga - Editor / 08 January
33. Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy - Journalist / 12 February
34. Sasi Mathan – Media worker / 06 March



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(July 23, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka Minister of Women's Affairs Sumedha G. Jayasena represents Monaragala district, one of the poorest areas of the island.

The district is in the Uva Province and the election for the Provincial Council is to be held on August 08. Although Mrs. Jayasena, a powerful politician in Monaragala district, is the Minister of Women's Affairs the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) nomination list represents no women.

Interestingly enough, the Minister herself is urging for 33% women's representation in parliament.

However, she has fielded several male relations in the UPFA nomination list.

Not only the UPFA, the opposition United National Party (UNP) that speaks progressively about women's rights and the Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP) that accepts equality of women have failed to field any female candidate in their nomination lists.
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7/22/2009


(July 22, 2009 - Lanka Polity) A mass scale land encroaching is reported from areas like Welioya (Manalaru), Kokkuthudai, Kokilai etc. in the northeastern terrain of Sri Lanka. Civilian activities were restricted in these areas for a long period of time due to the fighting between the Army and the Tamil Tiger rebels that claimed for a Tamil homeland in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. However, following the Army’s victory over the Tamil Tigers, demining and rapid development is taking place in the area and ambitious and mostly well-to-do Sinhala people in Welioya and Padaviya colonies are reportedly grabbing land.
When we asked about this from the Residential Project Manager of Welioya Mahaweli zone P. G. Dayananda, he rejected that encroaching is taking place. He said that the residents of the area are given permission to cultivate in state land. The residents of Welioya pay Rs. 750 per acre and the other persons pay Rs. 1000 per acre to state as tax. Permission is limited to five acres and only for the coming Maha season, he said. He said that the expected outcome would be paddy harvest worth of Rs. 30 to50 million in the coming season. He emphasized that this permission would not be material for any future claim to land according to the agreement.
However, our observations pointed to the fact that new use of state land has not limited to the system declared by the Mahaweli Authority and encroaching that is taking place is not in full control of the authorities. There are reports that some individuals are grabbing huge lands of the size of ten to twenty acres and even bulldozers are used in clearing jungles. 
(map courtesy of Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority)


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7/21/2009


(July 21, 2009 - Lanka Polity) The Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama is likely to lose the portfolio due to allegations on extravaganzas including excess foreign tours and lavish spending during tours. 
Meanwhile, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights is reportedly vying for the Foreign Ministry and expressed what he planned to do if the post is given to him in an interview with Sri Lanka Guardian. 
However, sources say that Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has the uncompromising support of the Buddhist religious leaders, a fact the President considers seriously.
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(July 21, 2009 -Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's foreign currency reserves have risen to more than $1.7 billion from $1.44 billion at the end of May and $1.27 billion by the end of March, the Central Bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said on Monday.

However, although the urgency for the $ 1.9 billion loan is ebbing as the Central Bank governor says, the bank signed a list of promises to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a proposed lending agreement to repay debt and rebuild the island economy.

“We have set out our intentions, which do not differ from the macroeconomic policy thrust that we have been following,” central bank governor said in a telephone interview today to Bloomberg. But he seemed evading divulging the promises.  
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7/20/2009

(July 20, 2009 - Lanka Polity) A new office to be set-up soon at the former JOC (Joint Operations Command)for the newly appointed high power Chief of Defense Staff General Sarath Fonseka.

The new office is to be titled the Office of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS). It will oversee a massive overhauling of the three armed forces in the coming months. According to media reports the the new Office of the CDS will have a staff of 300 including seven major generals, one rear admiral, and an air vice marshal. The staff include Chief of Staff, a Director General Joint Planning & Defence Development, Director Joint Intelligence, War Assistant to the CDS, War Secretary to CDS, and Director Research & Development.

In the restructuring, the land forces and sea-borne forces will be combined with air superiority. The three armed forces are to be restructured as one force with superficial boundaries between the Army, Navy and Air Force.

According to the CDS Bill published on June 1, the CDS’ duties include a whole gamut of tasks connected with providing strategic direction to the armed forces, development of doctrine for joint employment of the armed forces and facilitating the preparation of strategic plans for the armed forces. He also has responsibilities relating to the co-ordination of intelligence within the three services of armed forces. The CDS will also undertake operational assessments to facilitate planning, coordination, and implementation of joint plans in the three services.
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(July 20, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka defense sources say that the attempts to purchase a fleet of Mig-29 aircraft are now permanently put off following the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka now moves towards reconciliation and reconstruction and the defense needs are moving from a purely operational perspective to strategic, military sources say.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Navy has proposed to set up a maritime border patrol with helicopter and UAV operations from the larger bodied off shore patrol craft.
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(Lanka Polity - July 20, 2009) Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) system provided to the Department of Meteorological by Japan (JICA) following the tsunami in 2004 is reportedly malfunctioning and giving out wrong weather data, reliable sources say.This system was handed over to the Ministry of Disaster Management officially on July 13 in a grand ceremony attended by the Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and the Japanese Ambassador of Sri Lanka. .

This system provides data such as air temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, rainfall etc. These data are proved erroneous and the Department is not currently using them for forecasts, sources say.

However, the department pays a satellite bill of millions of rupees monthly, in addition to the high  maintaining costs for this Automatic Weather Stations system .

This project was worth Rs. 650 million. The project bore a large cost as the expenses like five star hotel bills etc. for the Japanese staff that came for installation. Some equipment imported for this system under investigation and the experts say that some equipment imported from China are low quality and cause much of the errors in data.
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(Lanka Polity - July 20, 2009) International media reports and unofficial local reports say that Sri Lanka government's military strategy to suppress the nationalist sentiments among the Tamils displaced from the formerly rebel-held Vanni in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka is under pressure due to international human rights concerns, lack of resources to hold people for long period of time and also due to the unrest among the inmates of the military-run refugee camps.

The government tirelessly counters media and other reports regarding the situation in the refugee camps. Government officials presented facts last week to prove that the skeptical media reports on the mortality rate in the camps were inaccurate and the rates were within the accepted parameters. However, the government has pressed the aid workers to sign agreements to prevent leaking out information regarding the camp life to media. The government has to permit the aid workers to enter into the well guarded camps since they are a vital part for running them. The inmates of the camps are restricted to move out and the outsiders sans the permitted individuals are allowed into them.


The camps cost nearly $400,000 (over Rs. 45 million) a day to operate. The U.N. called for $270 million in aid to Sri Lanka this year, but only $96 million has been promised. "The lack of funds forced aid groups have cut back on fruit and vegetables for the camps, leaving many with little more than rice and lentils," AP reported.

In January, the government asked international donors to help build five camps — with 39,000 semi-permanent homes, 7,800 toilets and 390 community centers — to hold civilians for up to three years. This proposal came under heavy criticism from the Western nations. The government says to India and other international players that the majority of the refugees will be resettled within this year.


In June, chicken pox was rampant and cases of typhoid, tuberculosis, skin and respiratory infections, hepatitis A, scabies and diarrhea have begun cropping up, according to U.N. reports. The camps currently have only about 9,215 toilets while 15,000 are needed, UN officials said. There is not enough suitable land to build more toilet, they point out. 

More than 35 percent of children under 5 are suffering from wasting, or acute malnutrition, according to a July 3 government presentation leaked to the AP.

The Sunday Times reported on July 19 that 14 new encephalitis cases were detected in the Vavuniya General Hospital over the past week. With that, Vavuniya-based United Nations staff providing relief services to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been advised to keep away from the hospital due to the outbreak of meningitis and encephalitis, the paper said. Sunday Times further said while the fatality rate of meningitis cases treated in all government hospitals in Sri Lanka from 2000 to 2005 had dropped to less than five percent, the fatality rate in the Vavuniya General Hospital is about 50 percent.

"Tents meant for five are packed with up to 15 people, water is scarce and the seasonal rains expected in the coming weeks could create a health nightmare, several foreign aid workers said. Relatives are not allowed to visit, although many gather at the barbed wire fence hoping to get messages to their loved ones. Opposition lawmakers are barred as well, and independent journalists are only allowed in on rare, military-guided tours.
Signs of unrest are growing. Several weeks ago, inmates held a protest demanding they be reunited with family members in other fenced-off sections of the camp, aid workers said. Military troops shot in the air to disperse the angry residents," AP reported.

Several hand-written posters were put up in a part of the camps supporting the militarily defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) several weeks ago alerting military intelligence regarding the developments among the camp inmates.

Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapakse said in an election rally in Uva Province last week that the authorities released 3000 over 60 years of age people from the camps and a number of aged LTTE supporters got freedom with them.

Sinhala majority of the country widely support the government's policy on the displaced Tamils and the ruling party is slated a landslide victory in the upcoming elections.
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7/19/2009

(July 19,2009) The traders of Sri Lanka seek freedom for trade to and from Jaffna peninsula. They point out that the producers as well as the consumers may benefit if the high transport cost can be reduced.The licensed lorries that transport between Jaffna and Colombo levy high charges. For instance, the transport charge of a 15 ton lorry is over Rs. 130,000 and the Jaffna - Colombo traders say this can be reduced to Rs. 75,000 if their lorries are given permits.

The government has provided limited access to the A-9 highway from Vavuniya to Jaffna after clearing the Vanni areas from the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The lorries to and from Jaffna are unloaded and checked at Omanthai check point and the operation costs tens of thousands of loading and unloading costs per a lorry. Further, it takes hours for a lorry to be unloaded, checked and reloaded.

All private vehicles from Northern Province are banned entry to the Southern areas of the country beyond Medawachchiya checkpoint in Anuradhapura district. The traders have to change lorries from there.
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In Sri Lanka, the leaders try to appear as kings and actually act as God.

This phenomenon was clearly seen in Prabakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

Today, the President Mahinda Rajapakse is appearing as King of this country.

But in West, with the paradigm shift in which Obama came into power, the leader is depicted more and more as a human being.

But we are anti-Western and think we have better values.

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(July 19, 2009) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse is displaying ex-revolutionary People's Liberation Front (JVP) member and present leader of the National Freedom Front (JNP) Wimal Weerawansa in a way the revolutionaries get frustrated about their one time idol.

Rajapakse accompanies Weerawansa in his entourages to foreign countries and media give wide publicity to Wimal's participation.

Observers say that the President is trying to show that the ex-revolutionary has become an obedient partner of his bandwagon.

The President similarly petted the militant leaders like Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) leader Champika Ranawaka and ex-military wing leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) Karuna Amman till their image was tarnished and dropped them later.

Meanwhile, New Minister of Tourism Nandana Gunathilaka (JNP) who is not in good terms with Weerawansa has issued a poster in which he appears before the President Mahinda Rajapakse who is bending before him taking both of his hands. This body language is displayed in a poster that is said published by the friends of Peradeniya University.

 
  
 
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7/17/2009

(July 18, 2009) Sri Lanka government has fired diplomat turned scholar Dr. Dayan Jathilaka from his post as permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva.

The government has informed him by fax that his contract will be terminated effective August 20, 2009.

Reliable sources say that the reason for his removal from the post is his views supportive to the 13th amendment to the constitution. The Sinhala chauvinist forces have succeeded in the government in pressurizing the President to sack him since he is considered one of the foremost academics that strongly upholds the implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution in the post-LTTE era.
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(Juy 17, 2009) Sri Lanka Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka said that the state had declared war against drug dealers, ransom takers, thugs and murderers following the victory against terrorism. He made this statement addressing a ceremony held to declare open a new building in Mulleriyawa police station. 


A direct link between the killing of a number of underworld goons during the recent past and this declaration of war against underworld can be guessed. 


Over 100 individuals suspected to be the members of underworld gangs were arrested recently from Maligawaththa of Colombo city. One person named Fajee said to be a leader of an underworld gang has reportedly fled from the country as a member of his gang was killed this week in Colombo. 


Anamalu Imitiaz, the leader of the rival gang was abducted and killed last week.


These underworld gangs supported the candidates of both the ruling party and the opposition United National Party (UNP) at the past Western Provincial Council election especially in Central Colombo electorate. 


However, another underworld gang that is supported by a powerful government politician is enjoying impunity from this so called declaration of war, observers say. 


A section of this underworld gang that is active centering to Bloemandhal area in Colombo city abducted, tortured and assassinated one Ranjith Rupas Fernando, a fisher community businessman for ransom taking. His son is still in hospital due to serious injuries committed to him by the goons. This gang is reportedly linked to a number of assassinations in recent past.




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(July 17, 2009) The websites the Sri Lanka government accuses of 'slinging mud' at it will face a situation that they 'will be automatically shut down.'

Media spokesman on National Security Minister Keheliya Rambukwella made the warning as reported by the defense reporter of the state-owned Dinamina Sinhala daily. 

A team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) led by Deputy Inspector General Nandana Munasinghe has started identifying such websites using multiple technologies since yesterday according to the newspaper report.  

Lanka News Web, a website accused by the government politicians and the pro-government media of 'slinging mud at the government' cannot be accessed from Sri Lanka since July 11. However, the Minister of Information and Media Anura Priyadarshana Yapa denies any involvement of the government in such filtering. Pro-LTTE Tamilnet website is also blocked since years and the government does not admit the responsiblity of that act too.  

Sri Lanka Telecom, a company with 51% state stake is the major internet service provider in Sri Lanka. 

(In the map above, the countries in black are the most heavily censored nations regarding internet access. The countries in green maintain a surveillance; the countries in yellow have some sensorship while the blue countries have no censorship.)


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7/15/2009

  (July 16, 2009) The 10th annual awards ceremony to honor excellence in journalism jointly organized by Sri Lanka Editors' Guild and the Sri Lanka Press Institute was held on Tuesday (24) in Mount Lavinia Hotel with much grandeur but turned out to be a farce as the internationally recognized investigative journalist and slain founder editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge was completely forgotten at the event.

A minute’s silence was observed in memory of all the journalists who died during the past year. Reliable sources said that the Editors' Guild was reluctant even to mention Lasantha Wickramathunga's name in the function.

Reportedly, the organizers of the event collected material from Leader Publications Pvt Ltd prior to the event with a promise of a small video presentation on the life and times of Wickrematunge, a pledge never accomplished. Reliable sources say that the Editors' Guild is in the view that the Sunday Leader is not a quality publication, and does not stand by standard journalism ethics. The organizers of the journalism awards ceremony did not accept nominations from the Sunday Leader and Morning Leader, last year and this year. However, Mohanlal Piyadasa the editor of Irudina, the Sinhala language sister paper of Sunday Leader, is an executive committee member of the Editors' Guild. Irudina depends highly on the translations of investigative reports of the Sunday Leader. Regarding ethics, no other Sri Lankan newspaper is better than the Sunday Leader, according to our point of view. If the Leader is notorious in war reporting, the other newspapers are notorious in many other criteria like gender, ethnic and religious biases etc.

Lasantha Wickrematunge was murdered in broad day light on a busy highway on January 08, 2009 as he was driving his vehicle to the newspaper office. Editors' Guild praised him in their obituaries although it took a different stand at the journalism excellence awards ceremony. It said that what the country was witnessing was an ongoing campaign against the dissemination of information to the citizenry and democratic dissent. “An adversarial relationship between any government and the media is good for governance and Lasantha epitomized this. It is also the inalienable right of the people to be kept informed and to decide on the choice of media,” the Editors’ Guild said then.

However, the N. Vidyathran, the Editor of Tamil publications, Uthayan and Sudar Oli and his staff were honored at the ceremony for reporting under special circumstances. A posthumous award was offered on MTV/MBC correspondent Rashmi Mohammed who was killed in a bomb attack on October 6, 2008 at Akuressa while covering a political meeting.

Sri Lankan Minister of Labor Mervyn Silva has meanwhile publicly claimed responsibility for ‘eliminating’ Lasantha Wickrematunga while the President Mahinda Rajapakse said to The Hindu Editor-in-chief N. Ram during an interview that Lasantha Wickramathunga was friend and the deceased had made his last call was made to the President. He said he was unable to reply it since he was in shrine room at the moment.


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(July 15, 2009) The special Commission of Inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka submitted an incomplete report to the President and wound up its operations.

The commission chaired by the retired Supreme Court Judge Nissanka Udalagama exonerated Army from the allegations leveled against them by various sections including the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and the Jaffna University Teachers for Human Rights regarding the killing of 17 employees of the French NGO named Action Against Hunger (ACF) in Muttur and the killing of five students in Trincomalee in 2006. But the probes did not extend to investigate the perpetrators of the crimes.

The commission admits the investigation is incomplete and recommends the President to probe the incidents further. Udalagama said to the BBC that it lacked resources for video conferencing with the witnesses that have sought asylum in foreign countries. The commission did not record evidence of one eye witness who escaped from death in the student massacre of Trincomalee. One woman laborer who was the last to visit the ACF office before the massacre and a policeman who had seen the whole episode were not testified. These persons have obtained political asylum in foreign countries now. Udalagama also said that the commission had no adequate time for the investigation.

"With regard to the disappearance of Rev. Nihal Jim Brown at Allaipidi in August 2006, inspite of all the effort we were unable to find his body or find anyone who saw the body. An inquiry into it would have become a futile exercise because we cannot recommend it to the High Court because the Court will not take up a case where there is no body," the Chairman of the commission said to Sunday Times on June 21.

The government appointed this presidential commission and an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to assist and monitor the presidential commission due to international pressure on the spate of serious human rights violations. IIGEP was a group of individuals nominated by international donor countries and the government of Sri Lanka, vested with a wide mandate to observe all investigations and inquiries conducted by and on behalf of the Commission of Inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. The following individuals were members of the IIGEP: The IIGEP chaired by former Chief Justice of India P.N.. Bhagawathi questioned the independence of the commission and the members resigned prematurely terminating its operations in April 2008. Since then the commission lacked luster and no one seemed looking forward for a remarkable outcome from the commission.

"In an IIGEP press briefing On April 22 2008, three members of the IIGEP clarified matters relating to their resignation. Sir Nigel Rodley characterized some of the communications to the IIGEP, including to its chairman as 'very disrespectful', and added that the latest AG response to the April 14th IIGEP public statements contained baseless allegations that the IIGEP were working according to a secret agenda in order to force UN Human Rights Monitoring onto Sri Lanka in defiance of Sri Lankas sovereignty. The IIGEP Chairman, P.N. Bhagwati, outlined that the allegations that the IIGEP did not understand the Sri Lankan legal system were irrelevant, as IIGEPs mandate calls for the group to comment on whether the proceedings conform to international standards, not Sri Lankan standards. Professor Yozo Yokota reminded the press corps that, contrary to government statements, the IIGEP is not a European group, but consists of experts from all over the world.

Main concerns of the IIGEP were as follows:
  • A lack of political will from the Government of Sri Lanka to support a search for the truth.
  • A conflict of interest in the proceedings before the Commission, with officers from the Attorney General playing an inappropriate and impermissible role in the proceedings.
  • Lack of effective victim and witness protection
  • Lack of transparency and timeliness in the proceedings
  • Lack of full cooperation by State bodies
  • Lack of financial independence of the Commission"
(Wikipedia)
The term of the commission came to an abrupt end in June with hearings into only seven cases concluded.
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7/14/2009


(July 14, 2009) The Director General of Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority Dharmasiri de Alwis has told the state-owned Dinamina newspaper today that 2500 families will be settled in Nedunkarni in Mullaithivu district under the Welioya project of the Mahaweli L-zone. Each family will be granted one acre for paddy cultivation, half an acre for coconut growing and one acre for the home garden. 
Nedunkarni is a Tamil dominated area centered by a small town and the residents are now internally displaced in camps in Vavuniya. Dinamina report does not mention anything about the ethnicity of the settlers in the new colonies. 
We consider this as a very sensitive political issue that should be handled with utmost care. Mahaweli Authority should not be the sole competent authority in this regard. 
The idea that the Sinhala invaders are colonizing their land is one of the basic tools manipulated by the Tamil nationalists to fuel the passion on the homeland among Tamils. This phenomenon presented as Sinhala colonization was vehemently resisted by Tamils. 
In the early colonization process, the traditional dwellers of the lands as such in Galoya etc. were integrated to the new colonies. The ethnic ratio among the settlers was also considered. But this situation gradually changed later.  
In the late 1950s, Pihimbiyagollewe Dhammaloka Thero, a young Buddhist monk who had settled in Padaviya blocked Tamils being settled in the Eastern parts of the Padaviya colony with the auspices of the Sinhala politicians. Entire Padaviya settlement was tuened to a Sinhala colony and later in 1980s the traditional Tamil villagers like Thennamaravadi in the Eastern coast off Padaviya were also wiped out. 
Through this process, a wall of Sinhala villages was erected in between the Northern and Eastern Provinces. It can be observed that the colonization process in the age of the D.S. Senanayaka aimed at undermining the separatist trends among the minorities. But the late colonization were attempts to spread Sinhala chauvinism. 
Herman Malinga Bandara, a civil servant engaged in colonization in Welioya  has clearly hinted in his book ‘For a sovereign State' that Sinhala chauvinist interests were behind the setting up of Welioya colony in the northeastern parts of Sri Lanka.
Before Welioya colony was set up, this area was dominated by the farms like Dollar, Kent and Ceylon Theaters Farm etc. that were set up in long leased crown land. An NGO called Gandhiyam Movement had settled some Tamils that had been displaced from the southern parts of the island due to ethnic violence in the abandoned land of these fams. Militant groups like PLOTE led by Uma Maheswaran were also active among these displaced persons. Ill-famous Dollar and Kent Farm massacres of Sinhala settlers and the retaliatory massacre of Tamil villagers in nearby Othiyamale were a beginning of a new era of bloodshed in this zone that took hundreds of lives of Sinhala and Tamil peasants.
Welioya was later earmarked as Mahaweli L-zone. Under the original plan, 39,000 hectare land belonged to Anuradhapura, Vavuniya and Mullaithivu administrative districts were divided into six zones. They include Sampathnuwara, Janakapura, Kokilai, Nedunkarni and Nayaru areas but only two zones were developed so far, say the Mahaweli Authority. The other zones could not be developed due to the unsafe conditions. There are settlements in Nikaweva, Ehetugasweva, Kiribbanweva,  Janakapura , Kalyanipura, New Monaraweva and New Gajabapura areas. People were settled in some other areas of Gajabapura, Monaraweva, Helambaweva, Kambiliweva, Konweva, Veheraweva and parts of Kalyanipura but they vacated those areas due to security concerns.
Mahaweli Authority says that 5000 families were settled in Welioya area during the past 22 years. 3364 of them were settled in legally allocated land and the others were squatters. They were leaving and coming back time to time due to security issues.
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(July 14, 2009) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked at a recent article posted on the website of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence, branding as “traitors” five lawyers appearing in a case of contempt involving the Sunday Leader newspaper.

The article, titled “Traitors in Black Coats Flocked Together”, names five lawyers who appeared for the Sunday Leader at a hearing in the Mount Lavinia court near Colombo as having “a history of appearing for and defending” separatist guerillas of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The article features pictures of three of the lawyers.

“We have observed in recent times that this manner of public vilification of individuals for being supposed sympathisers of the LTTE has often provoked physical attacks on them by vigilante groups,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

“The IFJ calls upon the Sri Lankan President to publicly repudiate the sentiment expressed in the article and ensure that it is removed from the official website of the Defence Ministry.”

The Sunday Leader, edited by Lasantha Wickramatunge until his murder in January, has for long been locked in a defamation case brought by Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse.

After Wickramatunge’s murder, the newspaper agreed during a hearing of the case that it would not publish material similar to that which had brought the action against it.

The contempt case that the Sunday Leader now faces reportedly involves another report involving the Defence Secretary, though on a different subject.

“It is a principle of natural justice that the newspaper should be able to seek sound advice and be represented by competent legal counsel in this case,” White said.

The IFJ stands by the strong stand taken by its affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), and other professional bodies in Sri Lanka on the matter.

“We urge Sri Lanka’s President to turn the page on the bitterness of the long civil war against the LTTE and actively seek to restore the freedoms that have deteriorated alarmingly in recent years.”
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7/13/2009


(July 14, 2009) Sri Lanka's opposition political parties are reportedly trying to field an intractable candidate for the upcoming Presidential to challenge the powerful President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Rajapakse is marketing his role as the overall commander of the three armed forces in the war to maintain his power and many political strategists opine that only a person who acted a superior role in war can challenge his candidacy for the Presidency.

It is reported that there is an attempt to bring a figure that acted a major role in war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) as the common candidate of the opposition in the next Presidential.
A leftist party that acted the role of king maker in the past elections has initiated this move, sources say. Although this party has no strong vote base day, it is very well organized and clever in political campaigns. Some say they can teach the Sri Lankans that the crow is white if they want to do so.
The major opposition is also backing this move, reliable sources say.

Informed sources say that the President has stated that he will hold the Presidential election before the general election and apparently it will be scheduled by the end of this year or the beginning of the next year.
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(July 13, 2009) Here we post two photos of slain son of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabakaran.

In the first photo adapted from the Sri Lanka Defense Ministry website the caption given is "Killer's Love."

The second photo was posted in several websites recently as the photo of the dead body of the assassinated Balachandran Prabakaran, a minor.

We do not write a caption here and leave that to you. But we can say one thing. The caption you write will reveal you; not this minor.

 
 

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(July 13, 2009) The website of the Sri Lanka state-owmed Dinamina newspaper has been reported as an attacking site that tries to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.

Meanwhile, the authorities have also taken steps to block the Lanka News Web (www.lankanewsweb.com) in Sri Lanka since July 11. This site published both in Sinhala and English post news that thoroughly criticize the government, its allies and the pro-government media. It was started in February and came under criticism from the pro-government lobby since the beginning.

The editors of the website are believed live in UK. Some media persons supected to be the reporters of this website are also under threat.

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7/12/2009

(July 12, 2009) Sri Lanka has asked the ICRC to scale down its operations in the island and the ICRC has in response shut down two of its offices in the Eastern Province and the expatriate staff was withdrawn.

Sri Lanka government and the Sinhala nationalists that support it always suspect of a Western conspiracy against the nation and try to shy away from the humanitarian and other world organizations. The phobia created in the minds of the people help them to get the people maintain them to save the nation from the Western conspirators despite the high cost they have to pay for it.

No one can deny their can be Western influence in these organizations. It is crystal clear that they are run in line with the Western ideology on humanitarianism. That is the very fact that make the Sri lankan authorities tremble before them. On one hand, they are guilty of their conduct in relation to the modern ideology and on the other hand they have no alternates to the Western ideology at least to rationalize or legitimize their conduct.

The true Sinhalese must not be afraid of the West. Instead, they must cultivate more positive ideologies that can show the loopholes in the Western ideologies. On the other hand , why can't our people show more humanity than the West in principles?
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7/11/2009


(July 11 2009) Sri Lanka is failing to provide concrete proof of the death of Velupillai Prabakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and Pottu Amman, the intelligence chief of the outfit who are wanted by India to wind up the case regarding the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The sources say that Sri Lankan authorities are unable to provide scientific proof for the deaths of these Tiger leaders. Although a corpse said to be of Prabakaran's was displayed as the government declared he was killed on May 18. No corpse of Pottu Amman's was shown so far. 

The situation has triggered claims from the ardent Tamil Ealam nationalists that their elusive leader is still alive and will appear in public in right moment. The admittance of the expatriate leadership of the LTTE has also gone unhindered among these arch nationalists.

In theater-crazy Tamil Nadu, the politicians are manipulating the mystery for their gains where the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi told the State Assembly of a story of a “hero's escape on a horseback with none in the know of his whereabouts” inferred here to mean LTTE leader V Prabhakaran.

“Mr Prabhakaran had been announced as dead in the past too atleast four times in 1984, 1987, 1989 and in 2004. This is the fifth time the announcement has come. Similarly four wars of independence have been fought in Sri Lanka. The fifth war for independence for Eelam (the area of Tamils in Sri Lanka) will commence and our respected Mr Prabhakaran will lead that war,”said Tamil Nadu politician P. Nedumaran, close associate of the elusive LTTE leader who has known him for decades.

“In connection with the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, a formal request for an official confirmation of the deaths of Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman, the chief of the intelligence wing of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), has been made to the government of Sri Lanka,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told parliament, when asked whether India had sought the death certificate of Prabhakaran.


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