8/06/2011

North Central Provincial Council of Sri Lanka has planned to hold clinics in October at village level to identify the patients with kidney diseases.

Minister of Health of North Central Provincial Council Peshala Jayarathna says that the number of unidentified kidney patients in the Province can be over 100,000.

The number of identified patients with kidney diseases in the Province is over 8000. The Minister said that the people were reluctant to come to the clinics.

The Provincial health authorities have also planned to give opportunity to the public to voluntarily produce themselves for tests regarding kidney diseases.

The cause for the kidney disease in the North Central Province is still bizarre since various groups of researchers have cited various reasons. Recently, a group of academics led by extremist Sinhala Buddhist  nationalist Nalin de Silva caused controversy in the society by stating that they had found through super natural powers the cause as arsenic content in water.



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Sri Lanka's first networked solar power project located in Gannoruwa in Hambanthota district is to be commissioned officially on August 08.

The Ministry of Power and Energy says that the project will generate 500 kilowatt.

The project was implemented with the assistance of South Korea government. The government of South Korea provided Rs. 412 million for the project.

The Gannoruwa solar power plant is a part of the solar power project of Hambanthota district. The Japanese government also provides assistance to the project.

The entire project will add over 700 kilowatts to the national grid.

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8/05/2011

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open a new district headquarters of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in Gampaha district at 9.30 a.m. yesterday.

The headquarters located in Gampaha town is expected to benefit the UPFA members of the Gampaha district.

It was built according to a concept of the Gampaha district chief organizer Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of the President and the Minister of Economic Development. The building is a symbol of his power and ambitions.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa laid foundation stone for the construction of the building on November 01, 2010.
The UPFA headquarters of Gampaha district is the first district headquarters building of the ruling coalition.

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The non-academic staff of the universities of Sri Lanka launched a protest demonstration before the Ministry of Higher Education yesterday demanding the removal of salary anomalies.

The non-academic staff of the universities say the increase of the salary of the university academic staff has created new anomalies and injustice.

The protest demonstration organized by the Inter University Non-academic Staff Federation was held during the lunch interval. The protestors dispered after the lunch hour peacefully.

Later, the Ministry of Higher Education had a discussion with the trade union representatives of the non-academic staff. The employees gave time until August 10 to solve the problem, a trade union activist said.

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The elections of 23 local government bodies of Sri Lanka that were postponed due to the cricket World Cup and other reasons are to be held on or before October 17, the Election Secretariat says.

The nominations for the elections are to be called between August 18 and 25. The gazette regarding the call of nominations is now released.

The term of these councils was to end on March 31 this year but postponed to December 31 under emergency regulations.

Colombo Municipal Council is one of these local government authorities and it was reinstated this week from the control of the Special Commissioner.

There are 17 Municipal Councils and one Urban Council among the local government bodies the elections are held.

Still, the Election Commissioner is undecided if the elections of Puthukudiirippu and Weralabadapattu will be able to be held. The elections of these councils were postponed due to de-mining.

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8/02/2011

The Leader of Opposition and Sri Lanka's major opposition United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickramasinghe has decided to cut short his tour in UK.

Accordingly, he is to return to Sri Lanka today. He was expected to stay in UK until August 04.
The urgent return of the UNP leader is due to the developments in his party against his leadership. UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya has agreed to accept the party leadership on the invitation of the other deputy leader Sajith Premadasa who openly fought against Wickramasinghe's leadership.

Meanwhile, Karu Jayasuriya who was in India and who was to stay there until August 05 is also to return romorrow to the island, UNP sources say.

Meanwhile, one Sinhala newspaper The Divaina reported today that the UNP leadership had planned to initiate disciplinary action against three MPs representing Southern and Western Province districts. The reporter famous for reporting internal politics of the UNP did not divulge the names of the MPs.

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7/18/2011

Sri Lanka government's new regulations regarding the vehicle import shows that the rulers are in need of making the car a luxury item that is restricted to affluent classes.

A new directive stipulates that only cars less than two years old could be imported. This comes on top of the increase of the effective total tax rate for petrol cars with standard engines with capacities below 1,000 cc from 95 percent to 120 percent. These cars are the type that is affordable for most of the lower middle class people.

The government increased the duty for poor man's trishaw also from 38 percent to 50 percent.

Motor Traffic Chief B.D.L. Dharmapriya said to the Sunday Times that with per capita income increasing rapidly, the government might soon impose a total ban on the import of used vehicles. He said a similar policy was enforced in Singapore which no longer imported used vehicles.

But does the increase of per capita income really show the development? Simply, it increases the income disparities more than it develops the country?

For instance, are the public transport systems developing per se the said increase of per capita income?

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7/17/2011

(Adopted from The Weekend Leader)

The ‘hidden hand’ in the ‘Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ exposed: It’s India

  By M G Devasahayam
  Chennai
17 Jul 2011
M G DevasahayamPosted 15-Jul-2011
Vol 2 Issue 28
The air has been full with the "Killing Fields of Sri Lanka", the Channel 4 documentary. The visuals showed naked Tamil prisoners shot in the head, dead bodies of naked women who had been raped and dumped on a truck and other atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the final moments of the brutal civil war. World has never seen such barbarian brutality. Anyone who saw the documentary was numb with disbelief.
The authenticity of the footage has been confirmed by a forensic pathologist, forensic video analyst, firearms evidence expert and a forensic video expert of international repute and the images are horrific.
Meaningful silence: While worldwide protests have condemned Sri Lanka’s atrocities against Tamil minorities, India has maintained silence giving the impression it has endorsed Rajapaksa’s massacre of Tamils. (Photo above shows a demonstrator from May 17 Movement in Chennai holding a placard calling for boycott of Sri Lanka)  
While the world seethes in anger, India has been silent. Not surprising, given the fact that fresh from his ‘victory’ over Tamils in Sri Lanka in May 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he had fought 'India's war'. He was ecstatic of the fact that his victory coincided with Sonia's electoral victory. The ecstasy appeared to be mutual.
Given the venal Indian mindset, Tamils in post-war Sri Lanka have been progressively reduced to serfs of the Sinhalese. This is endorsed by David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, former foreign ministers of Britain and France respectively, when they wrote after a recent visit to Sri Lanka: “Tamil life is treated as fourth or fifth class citizens. If foreign policy is about anything, it should be about stopping this kind of inhumanity.”
There is an untold story about how New Delhi became instrumental in the brutality and the present inhuman sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils. In the 2005 presidential election, Rajapaksa of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), a known hawk, won by the narrowest of margins. As President he wanted to outlive his image of a hawk and establish rapport with the Indian government and leadership, but was repeatedly rebuffed and in fact snubbed.

This made Rajapaksa realise the importance of involving civil society in Tamil Nadu to resolve the intractable ethnic problem in his country and act as a bridge between the two countries.
After much persuasion by Colombo, a small core group of retired civil servants, senior journalists and military veterans was formed with myself as the convener. The group held its preliminary meeting in Chennai on 10 May, 2007, with a senior adviser to President Rajapaksa, participating. It was unanimously agreed that a mutually acceptable political package was the only lasting solution to the ethnic crisis.
The group met President Rajapaksa and his high-level team in Colombo on 17 July, 2007. Throughout the long discussions, Rajapaksa was very much involved and positive. He fully endorsed the group’s opinion expressed by me that the solution to the crisis should emerge from within Sri Lanka and refined through international opinion, particularly from India. After these parleys Rajapaksa made a public statement hinting at a merged, autonomous North-East, a solution just short of Tamil Eelam.

Following this, the core group had a series of meetings with Rajapaksa’s team of ministers and officials and agreed upon many steps to resolve the conflict. A crucial conference was held with President Rajapaksa in Colombo on 25 March, 2008, followed by meetings with Sri Lankan Minister for Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, Chairman of Official Language Commission, and others. An action agenda was set.

The Indian High Commission in Colombo got wind of the group’s activities and the Deputy High Commissioner, A Manickam, sought an appointment with me and it was fixed at 5 p.m. at the hotel I was staying in.

Manickam never kept his appointment but the Indian High Commission later reprimanded the Sri Lankan presidential team for holding peace talks with ‘unauthorised’ persons.

To fortify these initiatives I wrote to TKA Nair, my former colleague and presently principal secretary to Prime Minister on 01 April, 2008. The letter outlined the progress made by the group and the action agenda that has been set for political resolution and Confidence Building Measures.
It requested the government to support the initiative taken by the group to end the long-festering political and humanitarian crisis in the island. But there was no response.

Had New Delhi taken cognizance of this initiative and acted in concert by putting some pressure on President Rajapaksa, the issue would have been resolved and Tamils would now be living in the island with honour and dignity.

But instead, pursuing somebody’s personal agenda of ‘Sicilian Revenge’, New Delhi minions with a well-synchronised Network in Colombo, New York and Geneva, actively assisted the brutal Sri Lankan genocide. No wonder, Delhi is deafeningly silent today on Sri Lanka’s excesses.

Time is not far when Rajapaksa & Co is hauled up before the International Court of Justice for war crimes and genocide. In the event, New Delhi minions cannot escape responsibility for this inhuman horror. The bell is tolling!

M G Devasahayam is a retired IAS Officer


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7/14/2011

The flags have been waved, the anthem has been sung, and the new currency will be in circulation next week: the Republic of South Sudan has been launched, and is off to who knows where?

Perdition, probably, for it is a “pre-failed state,” condemned by its extreme poverty, 15 percent literacy and bitter ethnic rivalries to more decades of violence and misery. But what about the country it leaves behind?

It’s telling that there is a South Sudan, but no North Sudan. What’s left is still just Sudan. It’s still the second-biggest country in Africa, and it still has four-fifths of the people it had before the south broke away. But it has lost a big chunk of its income: almost three-quarters of the old united country’s oil was in the south. It’s also an Arab country run by a leader who has been in power for 22 years. So we know what comes next, don’t we?

President Bashir seized power in a military coup in 1989, and he is the first serving head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. In 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in his conduct of the war in the rebellious province of Darfur. It added three counts of genocide last year. But he’s not all bad.

He inherited a much bigger war, between the north of the country and what is now South Sudan. It was a squalid, dreadful affair that killed about two million southerners and drove another four million — about half the southern population — from their homes. Bashir has a lot of blood on his hands. But he eventually realized that the south could not be held by force, and he had the wisdom and courage to act on his insight.

In 2005 he ended the fighting by agreeing that the two parts of the country would be run by separate governments for six years, after which the south would hold a referendum on independence. He knew that the south would say “yes” overwhelmingly — in the end, 98.83 percent of southern Sudanese voted to have their own country — yet he never reneged on the deal.

“President Bashir and (his) National Congress Party deserve a reward,” said Salva Kiir, now the president of South Sudan, after the votes were counted in February. And Bashir said: “We will come and congratulate and celebrate with you...We will not hold a mourning tent.” His decision made him very vulnerable politically in the north, but he stuck to it for all these years, and as a result many tens of thousands of people who would have died are still alive.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that north-south relations will be smooth after the South’s independence. Most of the oil is in South Sudan, but the new country is landlocked: the oil can only be exported through pipelines that cross Sudan proper to reach the Red Sea. Yet there is not a deal on revenue-sharing yet, nor even on the border between the two countries.

The dispute over the province of Abyei flared into open fighting between northern and southern forces last week, although there is now agreement to bring in an Ethiopian peacekeeping force. There is no agreement, however, on the referendum that was promised for the province but never held.

Abyei’s permanent population is mostly Dinka Ngok, who are Christian or animist by religion and “southern” in their loyalty. The north, however, insists that the Misseriya, Arabic-speaking Muslim nomads who bring their herds of cattle into Abyei to graze during the dry season, also have the right to vote in the referendum. Deadlock.

Such ethnic quarrels will persist and proliferate: at least five rebel groups are fighting the new southern government, and Bashir’s regime faces big rebellions in Darfur, South Kordofan and Nile Province. South Sudan will almost certainly end up as a one-party state that spends most of its revenue on the army — “the next Eritrea,” as one diplomat put it — but the future of Sudan itself is harder to foretell.

Bashir’s immediate problem is economic. The deal to split the oil revenue equally between north and south lapsed with South Sudan’s independence, and he is bringing in harsh austerity measures and a new currency as part of a three-year “emergency program” to stabilize the economy. But the price of food is already soaring in Khartoum as confidence in the Sudanese pound collapses.

Unaffordable food was a major factor in the popular revolts against oppressive Arab regimes in recent months, and Bashir is trying to insulate himself against that by promising stricter enforcement of Islamic law in Sudan. That may win him some support among the Muslim, Arabic-speaking majority, but by the same token it will further alienate the north’s remaining religious and ethnic minorities. So more rebellions in the outlying regions.

On top of all that, Bashir will forever be seen, however unfairly, as the man who “lost” the south. His status as an indicted war criminal does him no harm with the majority population at home; his failure to crush the southerners by force is what really undermines him. So he may soon have to go abroad and live with his money.

He did one good thing in his life, and no good deed goes unpunished.

© 2010 Arab News

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7/06/2011

Sri Lanka Cricket announced that the Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage directed the new Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket Interim Committee Jayantha Dharmadasa to express his views on the content of ex-captain Kumara Sangakkara's 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture.

The Minister has directed the Sri Lanka Cricket interim Chairman to look into if Sangakkara's criticism on the Sri Lanka cricket administration amounted breach of sports law of the country.

Stating "In Sri Lanka, cricket and politics have been synonymous", Sangakkara went on to say "After 1996 the cricket board has been controlled and administered by a handful of well-meaning individuals either personally or by proxy rotated in and out depending on appointment or election. Unfortunately to consolidate and perpetuate their power they opened the door of the administration to partisan cronies that would lead to corruption and wonton waste of cricket board finances and resources.

"It was and still is confusing. Accusations of vote buying and rigging, player interference due to lobbying from each side and even violence at the AGMs, including the brandishing of weapons and ugly fist fights, have characterised cricket board elections for as long as I can remember.

"The team lost the buffer between itself and the cricket administration. Players had become used to approaching members in power directly trading favours for mutual benefits and by 1999 all these changes in administration and player attitudes had transformed what was a close knit unit in 1996 into a collection of individuals with no shared vision or sense of team."

Sangakkara further says, "We have to aspire to better administration. The administration needs to adopt the same values enshrined by the team over the years: integrity, transparency, commitment and discipline.

"Unless the administration is capable of becoming more professional, forward-thinking and transparent then we risk alienating the common man. Indeed, this is already happening. Loyal fans are becoming increasingly disillusioned. This is very dangerous because it is not the administrators or players that sustain the game– it is the cricket-loving public. It is their passion that powers cricket and if they turn their backs on cricket then the whole system will come crashing down.

"The solution to this may be the ICC taking a stand to suspend member boards with any direct detrimental political interference and allegations of corruption and mismanagement. This will negate the ability to field representative teams or receive funding and other accompanying benefits from the ICC. But as a Sri Lankan I hope we have the strength to find the answers ourselves."

Daily Telegraph that posted the full speech delivered by Sangakkara quoted, "Kumar Sangakkara delivered an exceptional speech in his 2011MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture, touching on the history, culture and opportunties for Sri Lankan cricket as well a moving recounting of the terrorist attack on their team bus in Pakistan."

Martin Niemoller's poem we mentioned in the topic is as follows:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

This is what Wikipedia says about Martin Niemoller:


Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984) was a German anti-Nazi theologian[1] and Lutheran pastor. He is best known as the author of the poem First they came....
Although he was a national conservative and initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler,[2] he became one of the founders of the Confessional Church, which opposed the nazification of German Protestant churches. He vehemently opposed the Nazis' Aryan Paragraph,[3] but made remarks about Jews that some scholars have called antisemitic.[4] For his opposition to the Nazis' state control of the churches, Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen andDachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945.[5][6] He narrowly escaped execution and survived imprisonment.[7] 

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7/05/2011

The following report signals that the conflict between Sri Lanka and India over the fishing activities in the Palk Straits have reached to a decisive point.

Reacting strongly to incidents of Indian fishermen being detained by Sri Lankan Navy, India today said a senior official of the External Affairs Ministry will soon visit the island nation to resolve the issues as such acts ''cannot go on''.

"I think this cannot go on like this. I think we will have to come to some firm understanding with the government of Sri Lanka," Krishna told mediapersons here.

His comments came after reports that Sri Lankan Navy detained 14 fishermen from Tamil Nadu for allegedly fishing in their waters earlier in the day. They, however, freed the fishermen hours later on sighting an Indian Navy vessel near the International Maritime Boundary Line.

Krishna said he will be deputing an MEA Joint Secretary to go to Sri Lanka and "prepare some kind of a ground so that such unpleasant incidents do not frequently occur." Krishna noted that international water is a "tricky issue" and that fishermen don't recognise international maritime boundaries.

In today's incident, the fishermen were taken into custody when they were near the third sand dune between Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka, and Arichalmunai in the sea off Rameswaram, where another group of 13 fishermen were detained by the island navy and released recently.

Fishery department officials, quoting four released fishermen, said the armed Sri Lankan Navymen came in two boats and asked the 18 fishermen to surrender. They took 14 fishermen into custody and towed one boat away with them while releasing four fishermen and another boat. The 14 fishermen were handed over to Indian Navy who would bring them back.

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6/26/2011

Sri Lanka government is to have another round of talks with the major Tamil constituent Tamil National Alliance (TNA) today in Colombo, unconfirmed sources say.

This discussion was scheduled following the last dialogue held on June 23 in the Presidential Secretariat.

Today's discussion is believed an extension of the dialogue on the talks on the implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution.

Reports say the TNA has proposed amendments to the concurrent list of the 13th amendment under which the central government and the Provincial Councils share equal powers in certain matters.

However, an earlier report said that TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran had told the government was expected to respond to their proposals regarding power sharing within a week.

Earlier reports said that the next round of talks were scheduled for July 9.

Despite the talks with the TNA, the President told the main opposition United National Party’s co-deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya on Friday that the UPFA government’s official position was that the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee would determine whether the 13th Amendment should be part of a settlement for Tamil grievances.

President Rajapaksa’s remarks came when he met Jayasuriya when the two leaders attended the Higher Ordination Ceremony of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya (including all its 22 sectors) at the Kandana, Walpola Sri Wimalaratanarama Vidya Nivasa Pirivena, as reported by the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported, "President Rajapaksa is learnt to have told Mr. Jayasuriya that he had already conveyed to India the UPFA government’s position that a settlement of whatever Tamil grievances would be determined by a Parliamentary Select Committee represented by all political parties. He had told Mr. Jayasuriya the three member Indian delegation that visited Sri Lanka had been informed of this position. The delegation comprised National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar."

Government appears to go back to 2005 in which year the Rajapaksa regime summoned an All Party Conference (APC) to seek the so called consent of all parties for a solution. The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) that was appointed by the APC first rejected a set of proposals submitted by an expert panel appointed by it and then went on discussing more than 100 times. Nobody knows what happened to the report submitted by the APRC to the President. The Marxist opportunist Lanka Sama Samaja Party leader Thissa Vitharana, Minister who chaired APRC that wasted public money and time remains tight-lipped.

The proposed Parliamentary Select Committee will be another move of the old tactic of taking time for which India appears granting consent to the move as it did since 2005. But what will be the outcome of this move? Who will benefit eventually?

First and foremost Tamil moderates will be a set of failures once again and militancy will be proved once again the only way the Tamils have.

All efforts of building a Lankan nation through negotiated settlement with minorities will be tarnished. Minorities will continue their struggle for ceding.

With the deepened alienation of the Tamils from Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan state, the government will further estrange with the international community.

The legitimacy of the Tamil struggle will boost and the Sinhala polity as a whole and the government leaders as a unit will face severe pressure at the international front.

The repercussions will create a situation that will make drastic changes in the polity and the perpetrators will have to reap whatever they are sowing now.

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6/22/2011

A group of trishaw drivers held a protest demonstration yesterday at the Hyde Park, Colombo against the Tata Nano taxi cab service.

The self-employed trishaw owners sought the government to intervene to safeguard their livelihood. They say their livelihood is under threat due to this taxi cab service.

Their protest was focused to the taxi cab service launched by Nano cabs Company, of which a major shareholder is reportedly a Colombo district MP of the ruling United People's Freedom alliance.

Reportedly, the company has received a tax concession to import 200 Nano cars at two third the normal market price in Sri Lanka.

The cheapest Nano car costs Rs. 925,000 in Sri Lanka, three timesmore than double the price in India due to heavy taxes.



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Pakyasothi Saravanamuttu, a leading civil society figure in Sri Lanka filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court yesterday citing his civil and political rights were violated due to non holding of the election for the Colombo Municipal Council.

The petitioner has cited Election Commissioner, Colombo District Deputy Election Commissioner,Municipal Administration and the Attorney General as respondents.

Executive Director of Centre for Policy Alternatives Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu filed a fundamental rights petition on May 10 also in the Supreme Court seeking the holding of election for the Colombo Municipal Council immediately.

The election for the Colombo Municipal Council was postponed repeatedly under emergency regulations and finally it was placed under a competent authority that is neither an elected member nor a public official, cited the petitioner.

Later, he withdrew the petition due to faults in it to file a new one.

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6/19/2011

“When the American forces entered the room that Bin Laden was in they first shot his wife. Then they shot bin Laden. At this point both of them were unarmed. But none of us, or the international community is questioning this,” said Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at a meeting held in Nugegoda on June 17, as quoted by News First.

“But the Channel 4 video, we don't know if it is accurate or not, shows LTTE terrorists being arrested by the army. They are being questioned. But later they show the body. They make it out to be a big thing. But they don't show who this terrorist is,” pointed out the Defence Secretary.

“This terrorist is the terrorist who brutally murdered our Buddhist priests in the Eastern Province in cold blood. This is the person who killed 600 unarmed police officers after tying their hands. This is the person who killed the innocent women and their children in in villages in cold blood. None of this is mentioned about these people in the documentary,” said the Defence Secretary.

This statement raises several questions. Does the senior government official know the identity of the said dead man whose body was shown in the Channel 4 film?

Does the Defense Secretary attempt to justify the killing, stating that the dead man is a terrorist?

If so, the official seems to play into the hands of his enemies who seek a war crimes probe against him. The charges against Sri Lanka government leaders are related to extra judicial killings allegedly committed during war. This kind of statements or arguments amount to admitting the charges.

Do the Sri Lankan leaders think that this is the way to face the situation in which they are really in trouble?

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Watch Channel 4 video Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

Jon Snow presents a forensic investigation into the final weeks of the quarter-century-long civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the secessionist rebels, the Tamil Tigers.

With disturbing and distressing descriptions and film of executions, atrocities and the shelling of civilians the programme features devastating new video evidence of war crimes - some of the most horrific footage Channel 4 has ever broadcast.

Captured on mobile phones, both by Tamils under attack and government soldiers as war trophies, the disturbing footage shows: the extra-judicial executions of prisoners; the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps; and dead female Tamil fighters who appear to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered.

The film is made and broadcast as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faces growing criticism for refusing to launch an investigation into 'credible allegations' that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes during the closing weeks of the bloody conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

In April 2011, Ban Ki-moon published a report by a UN-appointed panel of experts, which concluded that as many as 40,000 people were killed in the final weeks of the war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces.

It called for the creation of an international mechanism to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by government forces and the Tamil Tigers during that time.

This film provides powerful evidence that will lend new urgency to the panel's call for an international inquiry to be mounted, including harrowing interviews with eye-witnesses, new photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage, and satellite imagery.

Also examined in the film are some of the horrific atrocities carried out by the Tamil Tigers, who used civilians as human shields.

Channel 4 News has consistently reported on the bloody denouement of Sri Lanka's civil war. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields presents a further damning account of the actions of Sri Lankan forces, in a war that the government still insists was conducted with a policy of Zero Civilian Casualties.

The film raises serious questions about the consequences if the UN fails to act, not only with respect to Sri Lanka but also to future violations of international law.

You can follow the programme on Twitter using #KillingFields

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields will be shown to MPs and parliamentary officials at a special showing in the House of Commons next week.

If you wish to contact your MP directly on this or any other matter you can go to Theyworkforyou.com (you can click on the link at the left hand side of this page) to find out who your representative is and how to contact them.

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6/17/2011

Research conducted recently by a group of scientists of universities in Sri Lanka has shown that there is arsenic poison in rice produced in the country and that around 20,000 farmers in Rajarata have become ill and have died due to arsenic poison that is in the rice produced in the country. The research has revealed that this was due to the arsenic poison mixed in the agrochemicals used in Rajarata.

Agribusiness corporations have become very upset by this revelation and have published a full page advertisement with 20 such corporations coming together . It denies this and has the caption that “ scientific truth that protects agriculture will ever prevail”. In the mean time the Hon Minister of Agriculture issues a statement saying that “There is no arsenic in t he rice produced in the country”. He says that “28 varieties of agrochemicals were tested and there was arsenic present only in two of those”.

During the last 20 years there were around 20,000 farmers in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts who were killed by this mystery Kidney disease ( axiology /origin – CKDu ) which baffled the doctors. Last week a group of scientists comprising of chemists, phamocologists, botanists, medical doctors, forensic doctors of the universities of Kelaniya and Rajarata fond the following facts. In this research done for six months they found that the disease was connected with the agrochemicals that the farmers were using. This was linked with arsenic poison. The farmers had this suspicion for quite a long time and now it has been proved with evidence conclusively. However, the perpetrators have not yet accepted this . These scientists have investigated 8 varieties of agrochemicals The hard water in this region converts the arsenic in agrochemicals into Calcium arsenate ( Ca3( AsO4 )2 , which is a highly poisonous chemical. This dissolves in water. Due to the hardness of water in Rajarata this becomes even more dangerous. “We are 100 sure that there are dangerous quantities of arsenic in the agrochemicals imported into the country. We have to continue our reaserch a little more to show that this is linked to the CKDu disease in Rajarata” says the head of the research team Prof. Nalin De Silva.

We invited the importing agrochemical companies to look at the research that we were doing. Three of them came and they have not challenged our researches. In testing these agrochemicals it was proved that they contained between 100 to 3,000 micrograms per kg. This is a dangerous lethal quantity of poison that can kill a human person. Importing of agrochemicals that contain arsenic is against the Sri Lankan law.

It takes time for symptoms of arsenic poisoning to appear. So patients find it too late for treatment Arsenic poisoning can cause heart attacks, diabetes, weakening of body immunity etc. frequent attacks of viral diseases occur. It is also causes cancer. It can cause deformed babies too. In Padaviya out of a population of about 10,000 over 500 people suffer this disease. In this area 40% of the people who die are due to this disease says the doctor in charge of Padaviya hospital.

The important question is this. All agrochemicals are poisonous. They are poisonous to animals, poisonous to plans, poisonous to microbes in the soil, poisonous to insects. T here is no doubt that they are poisonous to the human body in diverse ways. It is impossible to completely get rid of pests with chemical pesticides. It only leads to breeding of more resistant pests and creating pest epidemics of larger scale.

So, what is “the scientific truth that protects agriculture that will prevail”. Agriculture is something given by nature free of charge. Sunlight given free of charge, CO 2 gas also given free, and water given free is absorbed by the leaves of trees. The required minerals are transformed by the microbes and earthworms of the soil. This all happens free. What we do by using agrochemicals is the killing of this free process given by nature. We kill nature, kill animals, plants and finally humans. This is an unscientific falsehood that destroys agriculture and nature. Therefore what we need to do is to give up this entire destructive process of chemical farming.

Mr. Olivier De Schutter, the special Rapporteur on the right to food of the United Nations submitted a report to the Human Rights Council of the UN on 17 December 2010 titled “Agro ecology and right to food” (Report no. A/ HRC/ 16/ 49 ) where he says that the way to solve the hunger crisis of the world is by adopting agro ecology. He says that states must pay serious attention to reorienting their agriculture systems towards a mode of production that are highly productive, highly sustainable, and contribute to the progressive realization of human right to food and that this can be done by adopting agro ecological methods. What we need to do today is to save the scientific truth of agriculture from the agribusiness TNCs that propagate the unscientific farming with poison for increasing their profits.

Sarath Fernando

MONLAR ( Movement for Land and Agriculture Reform ), 1151/58A, 4th Lane Kotte Road, Rajagiriya e-mail : monlar@sltnet.lk and sarathfdo@sltnet.lk



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The second programme of leadership and positive attitude training programme of the new university students of Sri Lanka is to commence today.

The programme handled by the military is to be held in 29 centers island wide.

10,032 students have been called for the programme. Registration of the participants started at the respective centers yesterday.

9848 students participated in the first programme that was held in 28 centers. Two new centers have been added to the list of centers. They are the Kothalawala Defense Academy and the Medawachchiya Punewa Navy camp. The training programme will not be held this time at the Elpitiya Police Training School.

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Jaffna peninsula is in the hands of the Sri Lanka state security forces since 1995.

However, even after the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) was defeated in two years back, still the normalcy does not appear to prevail in Jaffna.

Excessive military presence and their high handedness prevents people enjoying the democratic rights at least to the level enjoyed by the people of the other parts of the country.

Following report is from Daily Mirror:
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Mavai Senathiraja accused the Army of dispersing a meeting they held at the Alawetti Mahajana College in Jaffna last evening using excessive force.
“More than 100 soldiers came to the College and said that we cannot hold the meeting here and subsequently began removing the microphones before assaulting the participants. When our bodyguards, who are also policemen, intervened they too were assaulted”, he said. “Several people had been injured and a complaint was lodged with the Thellipala police and also the Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe”, he added.
The TNA held the meeting to introduce their candidates to the public for the forthcoming Local Government Elections. Parliamentarians Mavai Senathiraja, Suresh Premachandra, M.A Sumanthiran, A. Vinayagamoorthi and E. Sarawanabawan participated in the meeting.

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6/16/2011

We adopted the following news story from the People's Liberation Front (JVP) affiliated Lanka Truth website.

The 'We are Sri Lankans' is also a human rights initiative of the JVP.

We identify this trend of the JVP as a unique phenomenon. JVP backed the war that was the main reason for the violation of human rights of the Tamils.

‘We are Sri Lankans (WESL)’ an organization agitating for the release of Tamil political prisoners said Tuesday(14) Tamils held in prisons and detention camps countrywide were allegedly being abused and neglected by prison authorities.
WESL Executive Committee member Udul Premaratne told a media briefing they had received information that individuals who were arrested on suspicion of having links to the LTTE were being harassed by inmates and prison officers.
“These detainees are being mistreated simply because they are ‘Tamil political prisoners’. However, it is an act of injustice to allow them to languish in detention camps without filing charges against them. So far the government has even failed to release the names of those being detained in such centres,” he charged.
Referring to a statement made by Minister Dinesh Gunawardena that at present only about 700 are being detained as LTTE suspects, Mr. Premaratne said the number was quite different to that released by government sources earlier. “According to the government, some 1,700 identified as hardcore LTTE cadres at detention camps. If these figures are accurate, how can the number now suddenly decrease to a mere 700? What happened to the others?” Mr. Premaratne asked.
He said the relatives of some of these individuals were mistreated and even sexually harassed by prisons officials during their visits to the prisons. “A large number are continuing to be detained because of the language barrier and the lack of means for legal support,” he added.
Mr. Premaratne said if the government was genuinely interested in restoring peace in the country, it was vital for it to focus attention on the issue of political prisoners and establish a mechanism to ensure that individuals without any charges are released.

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A special investigation team from the Netherlands that has arrived in Sri Lanka to probe the terrorist activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in relation to Netherlands is to inquire ex-LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP.

Sri Lanka defense sources say that the government of Sri Lanka has granted permission to the Netherlands investigators to record statements from KP who is now under the government protection.

The group especially will inquire into the fund raising and supply of weapons by the LTTE during the period from 1983 to 2009, reported state media.

Spokesman of the investigating team Jacho Birents says statements have already being recorded from around 90 persons.

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"Footage of alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, with its echoes of Srebrenica, means the international community is more likely to act, a top lawyer tells Channel 4 News. But is prosecution possible?" Channel 4 questioned in its website yesterday as the government of Sri Lanka denied the one hour video aired by Channel 4 TV stating it was a a mere ‘collection of visuals previously aired through LTTE websites and a minuscule section of the international media, at the behest of parties with vested interests to undermine the present efforts at reconciliation and development taking place in Sri Lanka.'

Documenting the final weeks of the bloody civil war when an estimated 40,000 people died, the Channel 4 documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields reveals shocking new evidence of serious war crimes.
The film includes footage of government soldiers executing bound prisoners; the dead bodies of naked, abused women dumped in a truck; and the bombing of civilian hospitals.
The barbaric images were captured on mobile phones, many apparently by government soldiers filming grim trophy videos.
The faces of a number of the soldiers can be seen while conversations are heard as the killings are discussed.
In one video, a soldier admits he would like to mutilate the corpse of a dead naked woman "if no one was around".
While pressure builds on the international community to answer calls for an investigation, a top international lawyer has told Channel 4 News the use of new technologies has created a sea change in the reporting of serious crimes.
Mobile phone footage, pictures and testimony distributed online has seen information become instantly accessible to a global audience.
"There has never been a greater awareness of these types of crimes than right now, and it is because of the use of social media," Mark Ellis, chief executive of the International Bar Association, told Channel 4 News.
"It is much more difficult for the international community to stay silent when facing this onslaught of evidence shown by the social media process - it increases the likelihood that the international community must act." (Channel 4)

The video shown at UNHRC

The statement of the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka:

“This document, like the Darusman Report, does no more than put together a sequence of events and images, to justify a conclusion arrived at in advance. The origins of this footage are yet to be established, and no one has so far taken responsibility for its contents. It is a mere collection of visuals previously aired through LTTE websites and a minuscule section of the international media, at the behest of parties with vested interests to undermine the present efforts at reconciliation and development taking place in Sri Lanka. The views expressed in the film are without any guarantee of authenticity.
“This is one of the matters before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which is scheduled to complete its work by mid-November 2011.
“When Minister Burt telephoned the Minister of External Affairs during the afternoon of June 14, 2011, Prof. Peiris emphasized that the Sri Lankan Commission is entitled to the space and time to complete its work. He took the opportunity to brief Minister Burt on the significant progress that has been made in a variety of fields.
These, he pointed out, include the demining of vast tracts of land, the resettlement of displaced persons, the reintegration into society of former combatants including child soldiers after exposure to programmes of training, the return to their rightful owners of lands previously included in High Security Zones, and the revival of the economy of areas affected by military operations and restoration of livelihoods of those who, for many decades, had been under the yoke of LTTE terrorism.
It must be noted that, in the interest of transparency, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission invited INGOs who have been aggressively critical, to give evidence before the Commission, but this has been publicly rejected by these organizations.
It is much to be regretted that Minister Burt has taken no account of the Sri Lankan Government’s strong refutation of the suggestion that the Government of Sri Lanka deliberately targeted its own civilians, as alleged in the video.
This is in stark contrast with the visible standards maintained by the Sri Lankan Army during a three year long operation to liberate the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the menace of the LTTE, including bringing to safety 300,000 innocent Tamil civilians being held as human shields by the LTTE which has been proscribed as a terrorist organization in 32 countries.
At this crucial time what Sri Lanka needs from its friends is not threats but the space and support for restoration of what was lost over three decades and the opportunity to move rapidly forward towards reconciliation and economic development.”

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