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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6/14/2011

Thirty Sri Lankan migrate workers have commenced a fast unto death in Al Amara, Iraq, reported a local TV station.

They say they urge the authorities to pay them the 19 months arrears of the unpaid salaries and allow them to return to Sri Lanka. The relevant employees began a fast unto death previously also but suspended the action as the officials of the Iraq government pledged to grant them solutions, reported the TV station.

A spokesman of the Lebanon embassy of Sri Lanka said to the TV station that the officials are trying hard to solve the issue.

However, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) said that it was unable to directly intervene to resolve the issue of these migrant workers.

Due to the volatile conditions in the country, the Sri Lankan government had brought the country's migrants back to the country and stopped sending any new workers to Iraq, said SLFEB Chairman, Kingsley Ranawana adding that Sri Lankan migrant workers who are on a fast unto death in Iraq had however, illegally entered the country.

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Sri Lanka media reported that the police narcotic bureau officials that arrested a large haul of heroine yesterday are under death threats.

Bureau director J.P.U. Jayasinghe and the officials in the squad that conducted the raid to confiscate the seven kilo heroine stock that was hidden in a house in Rajagiriya are under threat, local media said.
Police sources say the narcotic investigators are on the hunt of a person named Thotalanga Japan Chooti who is believed the king pin of Colombo drug scandals.

The suspect is in the protection of a powerful politician of Colombo district and even uses a vehicle belonged to the politico, sources say.

Police recently arrested a wealthy person known as Lalithra whose statements led to the recovery of the heroine stock. Media reported that the said politician attempted to get the man released before the suspect himself showed police the safe house where heroine was hidden yesterday.

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A coalition of Sri Lankan trade unions has complained to the International Labor Organization (ILO) seeking an intervention against the restrictions imposed by the government on trade union activity.

The complaint has been lodged by Thushara Ilangakoon of Health Services Trade Union Alliance, Anton Marcus of Trade Union Confederation and Saman Ratnapriya of Government Nursing Officers Association.

They allege that the fundamental rights of the workers to strike has been curtailed and activists are regularly intimidated in violation of the principles of the ILO conventions.

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Two new Supreme Court judges took oaths before the President Mahinda Rajapaksa today at the Temple Trees.

The two new judges are the former Chairman of Court of Appeal Sathya Hettige and former Solicitor General President's Counsel W.P.J. Dep. Presidential Secretary Lilith Weerathunga was also present at the official swearing in of the two Supreme Court judges.

Meanwhile, Deputy Solicitor General Ms. Eva Wanasundara was promoted as the Solicitor General, Ministry of Justice sources said.

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6/13/2011

The first passenger ship of the ferry service relaunched between Sri Lanka and India following the end of war will sail from Tutokorin today.

The ship is to arrive in the Colombo harbor tomorrow.

The nine story ship has seating arrangements for 1044 passengers. It also has a 250 seat auditorium, restaurants, recreational facilities and medical facilities.

The shipping agent Arugambay Travels says that 10% is levied from the children up to two years of age, 50% up to 12 years of age and 40% from the senior citizens.

One way ticket is around 60 US dollars. A passenger can carry up to 100 kilos of baggage.


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Sri Lanka police arrested a person believed the main distributor of heroine in Colombo city.

Police also found a stock of over seven kilos heroine worth of Rs. 40 million in the man's custody.

A woman associate and a luxury vehicle belonged to him was also taken into custody. She was the custodian of a safe house where heroine was stocked.

The suspect is known as Lalithra. He is believed a close associate of a government MP of Colombo district.

Police say the MP tried hard to get the suspect released from police custody.

Police said the suspect had imported heroine directly from Pakistan and sold in Sri Lanka.

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6/07/2011

A Sri Lankan who was found guilty for selling liquor in a public place in Taif city Saudi Arabia while being drunk has been subjected to 430 lashes, reported Emirates 24/7 news service said yesterday.

The Emirates did not report the name of the person. However, the man was apparently a migrant laborer. Thousands of Sri Lankans work in Saudi Arabia as unskilled and skilled laborers. Of them, the vast majority is housemaids.

Of the 400 lashes, 80 is for being drunk, reported the news service. SEventy lashes are to be repeated five times for selling liquor. The man is also sentenced for five years and he is to be deported from Saudi Arabia after his punishment is over.

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6/02/2011

People's Liberation Front (JVP) of Sri Lanka has organized a massive protest campaign today in Colombo in protest of the killing of Free Trade Zone employee Roshen Janaka by police.

The protest is to be held at 3 p.m. today at at Lipton Circus, said a JVP spokesman.

JVP was to hold a public lecture today on government's bifurcate police before the international pressure at the Viharamahadevi Indoor Stadium but cancelled it to go to the massive protest, a party spokesman said.

Roshan Janaka, a 22 year old employee of Free Trade Zone was critically injured in police fire on Monday and succumbed to injuries last evening.

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6/01/2011

(June 01, 2011,  Lanka PolitySri Lanka's local media reported that a young man injured in the clash between the police and the agitators on Monday in Katunayaka Free Trade Zone is in critical condition.

Sinhala daily The Divaina newspaper reported that 22 year old Free Trade Zone employee Roshen Shanaka has sustained gun shot injuries near his waist.

The man's kidneys are not functioning and his right leg has been amputated, says the newspaper. The patient depends on life saving machines, some other media reported.

The patient Roshen shanaka is a resident of Minuwangoda. He is the fourth of the five siblings of the family and joined an employment in the Free Trade Zone four months ago, family sources said to media.

Meanwhile, BBC Sinhala service reported that another Free Trade Zone employee who pleaded to police not to harm him because he had undergone a by-pass surgery has also been attacked by police.

A left oriented News Service UPU said based on ground sources, "The problem started on Monday 30 June, with the arrival of several ministers including Sarath Gunaratne and Priyadarshani Fernando claiming to distribute leaflets to the factories to make the workers aware of the benefits of the proposed pension scheme. They have come with a large group of security personnel. NSSP leaders of the area informed UPU news that the arrival of these ministers at a time when the government has announced that the pension will not be applicable to the free trade zones is quite strange. Workers were provoked into hooting and work stoppage. Police who came with the ministers wanted to stop hooting and that started the clash which ended with one worker critically injured. Trade union activists of JTUA shut down free trade zones after clashes between police."

Health Services Trade Union Alliance Chairman Saman Rathnapriya said that over 300 employees of the Free Trade Zone were injured and treated in hospitals. Of them, around 20 are critically injured, he said.

The employees of Free Trade Zone agitated against the government proposal to set up a pension fund for private sector employees with additional deductions from their salaries and other benefits.

Chairman of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Jayanthi Bandaranaike said to media that the Free Trade Zone of Katunayaka that was closed since yesterday would be reopened as usual since tomorrow.

Several factories have sustained damages, a foreign manager of a factory said to BBC Sinhala Service appearing anonymous. The Chairman of the BOI said that out of the 50,000 workers of the 84 factories of the Katunayaka Free Trade Zone, 4500 employees of six factories joined the agitations. The unrest was spreading to other factories, the official said.

The Joint Trade Union Alliance that comprised of 26 trade unions including powerful Lanka Bank Employees' Union, Ceylon Mercantile Union and Free Trade Zone General Employees' Union says that they have decided to launch a token strike in protest of the proposed private sector pension fund.

The Joint Trade Union Alliance is to hold an agitation today noon before the Colombo Fort railway station to protest the police attack at the Free Trade Zone employees yesterday.

Joint Trade Union Alliance says that it has also taken measures to file a fundamental rights petition against the assault that took place on Monday in Katunayaka Free Trade Zone.

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