10/31/2009

Illegally colored rice sold in Sri Lankan markets


(October 31, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Some unscrupulous traders in Sri Lanka have begun a new scam of coloring red raw rice with the purpose of selling them in higher prices. 

Sri Lankans traditionally prefer red rice than white rice and the rice with red crust find better prices in the market.

Coloring grains and cereals is against the law of the country. However, in Bandaragama alone, a suburban town in Western Province, 18 traders have been so far produced in courts for this offense this year, said the Public Health Medical Officer C.M. Jayalath. 

Colored rice and cereals are sold in Sri Lanka's markets freely since the authorities do not conduct raids regularly.

Police cop that publicly drowned a psychiatric patient in Colombo sea surrenders


(October 31, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Lankadeepa Sinhala daily of Sri Lanka said that the cop who was captured in a video of a TV channel in Colombo city while publicly beating a Tamil psychiatric patient until the latter drowned is one named Dimuthu with the police constable number 47749. The police officer that worked in Bamabalapitiya police station surrendered to the Colombo Crime Division.

Police says further investigations are underway to trace his accomplice.

The police officer has gone to the scene where the mad man was throwing stones at the running trains and vehicles with four others including a Police Inspector and a Sub Inspector.

The body of the deceased was recovered by Sri Lanka Navy yesterday afternoon, a day after the incident. He was identified as 26-year-old Balawarnan Sivakumar, by his brother, a resident of Rathmalana. The man had been suffering from a mental disorder since a long time, his brother told.

Galle High Court sentenced several persons involved in robbery and murder of a young woman during 2004 Boxing Day tsunami at Galle bus stand based on video witness despite the body of the victim was not recovered and a postmortem was not carried out.

Sri Lanka Department of Archeology to reserve Jaffna Fort

(October 31, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka Department of Archeology is to launch a project to renovate the Jaffna Dutch Fort located in Jaffna peninsula in the northern tip of the island.

The wall of the Jaffna fortress is now being cleared of the trees grown on it with the help of the Army. However, the Director General of the Archeological Department Dr. Senarath Disanayaka said that although the wall is repairable, the ancient Dutch church building inside the fort is beyond repair.

The cost for the reservation project is estimated at Rs. 400 million. Government of Netherlands provide assistance for the project.

Jaffna Fort was built as a small garrison by the Portuguese in 1618 under Philip De Olivera when the Portuguese invaded Jaffna. Later, on 20th June 1658 the Dutch captured it under Raiclop Van Goins from the Portuguese and expanded its location further. Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) forced the Sri Lanka Army to withdraw from the fort in 1986 and captured it. Sri Lanka Army in 1996 recaptured the entire Fort surroundings under Riviresa operation and brought it under them.

10/30/2009

A psychiatric patient beaten to drown in Colombo as police observes the crime



(October 30, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's Colombo Crime Division is investigating an incident of police or any other group assaulting a psychiatric patient compelling the latter to jump to sea and to drown.

The ill-fated man reportedly threw stones at trains running  along the coastal railway in Colombo city off Babbalapitiya railway station. Two persons suspected to be the members of either police or the security forces beat him to drown in sea in the attempt to escape from attacks. Lakbima newspaper reported that the police and a large number of others were observing the crime without taking action. The newspaper also said that a private television channel, TNL, has videoed the crime.(Watch video)

Sri Lanka Navy divers were searching for the corpse of the dead man yesterday (29) evening.

Protecting human rights of the psychiatric patients is very low in Sri Lanka. Many of the psychiatric patients are among the lowest income groups in the society and they are in extreme poverty. Lack of free medicine in public hospitals and the unavailability of viable welfare service for these persons have resulted public nuisance.

Around 2% of Sri Lankans are suffering from serious mental illnesses, according to WHO records. However, the country has 35 psychiatricians for the entire 20 million population.


Megalithic cemeteries with tombs found in Sri Lanka

(October 30, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Two cemeteries belonged to the megalithic period have been identified in the Horowpothana divisional secretary area of Anuradhapura district in the NorthCentral Province of Sri Lanka. The two cemeteries are situated near Andiyagala village of Gomarankadawala and close to Sinhalawagahaththikaweva (tank/reservoir).

These cemeteries are believed to belong to the period from 8th to 4th century BC, says the Eastern Province Assistant Director of the Archeological Department M.A.J.R. Madagammana.

The cemetery found from Andigala is spread in around 20 acres with 12 tombs already discovered. The other cemetery found from Sinhalawagahaththika around five acres large and five tombs have been discovered so far.

Sri Lanka imports rice ahead of elections


(October 30, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka government has allocated funds to import 50,000 metric tons of rice.


The imported stocks are to be used as buffer stocks ahead of the elections. Sri Lanka has anticipated rice price hikes and shortages in near future. President Mahinda Rajapakse said recently in a discussion with the pro-government trade union leaders that there is a conspiracy against the government by the traders to create an artificial rice shortage. Rice is the major staple food of the Sri Lankans.


Sri Lanka is facing a drought situation with the delay if the monsoon rains and thousands of acres of rice fields have been abandoned due to water shortage in the main rice farming areas.

From October to February, Sri Lanka's rice farming districts receive sufficient rains from the northeast monsoon for the cultivation in the main season. Excess water is stocked in reservoirs for limited cultivation in the other season in which low rainfall is recorded. 

10/28/2009

Sri Lanka Bribery or Corruption Commission probes complaints against former Chief Justice

(October 28, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka Bribery or Corruption Commission has commenced an investigation regarding the complaints against the former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva.

The former Chief Justice is accused of soliciting bribery in relation to a case in which he ordered the sale of communication equipment of CBN Sat satellite television. The accused of the case has later made a huge donation to a company to the Buddhist Channel, a Buddhist propaganda television in which the former Chief Justice is a director. It is also accused of of not mentioning his position accurately as he filed application for the registration of the company.

The Acting Investigation Director of the Sri Lanka Bribery or Corruption Commission Sarath Somaweera Lokuge had declined to comment regarding the investigation, reported 'Lakbima' Sinhala newspaper.

Three persons sentenced to death in one day in Sri Lanka


(October 28, Colombo - Lanka Polity)A Sri Lankan judge yesterday sentenced three persons to death in three separate murder cases. The verdicts were delivered by High Court judge Menaka Wijesundara in Anuradhapura High Court, situated in the North Central Province, which is a rural farming area bordering to the former war zone.

Two of the convicted are ex-soldiers. Of them, one was found guilty for gunning down five persons including two Muslim women with an automatic rifle issued to him by the government.

These persons are to be hanged on a date fixed by the President. However, the death penalty is not enacted by the President of Sri Lanka. Over 250 condemned persons are in the death row in prisons with an uncertain future while the Buddhist clergy and politicians are urging the government to enact death penalty to curb the spate of violence in the country.

Justice and Law Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda recently said he would discuss the possibility of implementing the death penalty with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

On the same day the three death sentences were delivered, a woman was arrested in connection with brutally hacking to death her 27-year old daughter-in-law with five-month pregnancy in the Central Province Mathale district..

10/27/2009

Are Sri Lankan Tamil politicians continuing the same folly?


(October 26, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's Tamil speaking political parties Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Democratic People's Liberation Front (DPLF), Ealam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) - Naba Wing, Democratic Peoples Front and the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) are to meet today to work out a common programme to form an alliance to pressure the government for a political solution for the minority communities.

The alliance is still in its infant age. However, the minority alliance seems to miss the Upcountry Tamils mostly looked down on upon by the elite Tamils due to their Indian origin and the low economic situation. Petit objectives of the minority leaders as well as the personality clashes must not interfere in this alliance formation since the broadest the alliance it is the most strong before the increasingly dominating Sinhala rulers..

On the other hand, the minorities need to open their eyes to see beyond their own nationalist narrow scopes to see how many Sinhalese have fought for the rights of the minority communities in this land. In the recent past, almost all Tamils were in the hands of either the LTTE or the Sri Lanka Government that waged war either for a Tamil Ealam or a Sinhala chauvinist Sri Lanka. The only alternate views were with the leftists and the social activists of Sri Lanka that were firm on their anti-war stand and on the basis of respecting the minority rights. The majority of the left is ethnically Sinhala although it is not worth mentioning for the leftists who prefer to consider them as internationalists.

Sinhala polity is not one single unit of ethnic chauvinists. The voice of the ethno-socialists were suppressed by the government in a brutality matched with that released against the Tamil bationalists. However, still these anti-war activists are active in Sri Lanka. For instance, who are campaigning for the release of Tamil journalist J.N. Tissainayagam who was sentenced for 20 years rigorous imprisonment for abetting terrorism, as he was charged by the state. Many of the brilliant leftist thinkers and social activists underwent severe difficulties in their struggle for peace among national polities stubbornly unyielding to the current of Sinhala ethnic supremacy in the state.

Sri Lanka's oppressed minority polities cannot win their rights through sheer minority nationalism. The effort for uniting the Tamil speaking Muslims into the Tamil speaking polity is a very positive move especially in the aftermath of the LTTE's arrogant anti-Muslim policies. In the context of the long term defeat of militant Tamil Ealamism, the best option the minorities can select is fighting for a Lankan nation that integrates the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim polities in an honorable state framework together with other minorities. A slogan of building a Lankan socialist state can unite oppressed nationalities as well as the oppressed classes and sexes etc. .

10/26/2009

Are the 'unidentified gunmen' in Sri Lanka planning the first ever killing of female journalist


(October 26, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Suspicions are mounting if Sri Lanka's 'unknown assailants' are ahead of killing the first woman journalist in the killing and intimidation spree of journalists.


The editors at The Sunday Leader say they are under threat. Last Thursday, October 22, Frederica Jansz, Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper and Munza Mushtaq, News Editor were both sent two hand written death threats by post. The two letters are identical — written in red ink and appear to have been posted on October 21.

Similar letters were received by late Editor-in-Chief of the The Sunday Leader who was shot by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles as he drove to work in the city suburbs on January 08, 2009.

On 28 September, a gang of unidentified people threatened her and tried to forcefully gain access to the property of female Journalist and media rights activist, Dileesha Abeysundera, who writes to the Sinhala language sister newspaper of The Sunday Leader. In June, Krishni Ifam, a Tamil reporter who works for media development NGO Internews was kidnapped from outside her home in the capital Colombo and held for a day by people claiming to be the police.

Sri Lanka is among the bottom 20 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. Sri Lanka jailed a Tamil journalist for 20 years under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act in September. 

At least one Tamil of Sri Lanka has backbone


(October 26, Colombo - Lanka Polity) As most of the former Tamil heroes in the mainstream have gone to oblivion with the ultimate perish of ‘boys’ they themselves spoiled with too many praises, at least one Lankan Tamil has showed his strength of the backbone in a time most of the other leaders are looking for honorable surrender to the system they once identified as apartheid and going after the Tamil Nadu leaders that back the regime created their plight.

Renowned Lankan Tamil scholar Karthigesu Sivathamby, 77, emeritus professor in Jaffna university and secretary general of the International Association of Tamil Research (IATR), chosen to head the main research session in the Tamil Nadu government's World Classical Tamil Conference due to be held in June 2010, has expressed reservations about participating in the meet, as he feels the Tamils in the island nation are not satisfied with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's response to the plight of their community.

Sivathamby has written to the Thanjavur Tamil University vice chancellor M Rajendran, who is coordinator for the international event, that Tamils in his country felt that "the chief minister has not responded well enough to the Sri Lankan Tamil crisis, and that Tamils expect a favourable response from him", reported The Times of India. "I have told him that I'm in total agreement with this position. I wanted Prof Rajendran to convey this to the CM so that he can come up with a swift and suitable response," Sivathamby said, but did not elaborate on what sort of response he expected from Karunanidhi, said the The Times of India.

Karunanidhi had named Sivathamby as the head of the committee that would select papers for the main seminar, the centrepiece of the conference.

10/25/2009

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


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

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

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

Foreign Ministry Sri Lanka in a quick response said on Thursday that the report “appears to be unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence.” It accused vested interests of endeavouring to bring the Government of Sri Lanka into disrepute, through “fabricated allegations and concocted stories.”
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10/22/2009

Western super powers become tough on Sri Lanka

(October 21, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Two Western Super powers have strongly asked Sri Lankahuman rights violations during the last phase of the offensive against the Tami rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elama (LTTE) that the state forces totally annihilated in May 2009 eliminating almost entire leadership. There is wide spread allegations regarding the violations of internatinal human rights covenanats both by state and rebel forces. However, the governemnt of Sri Lanka led by President Mahinda Rajapakse is vehemently against any kind of investigation against its toops despite the region's oldest democracy is losing its reputation and the island is being isolated by its traditional Western alies. to account for the alleged


"Accountability is an essential component of national reconciliation.  The United States looks to the Government of Sri Lanka to identify an appropriate and credible mechanism and initiate a process for accountability," US embassy of Sri Lanka said in a statement issued on October 22 in relation to a report detailing incidents that allegedly occurred during the final months of the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil rebel iberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam that might constitute violations of international humanitarian law or crimes against humanity and related harms. The United States Department of State delivered the report to Congressional Appropriations Committee staff yesterday. 


The Department of State has prepared the report pursuant to a Congressional request and also provided a copy to the Sri Lankan Embassy. The report compiles alleged incidents, as reported by a wide range of primary and secondary sources, involving both sides in the conflict.  It does not reach any legal or factual conclusions, says the US embassy adding that information concerning the majority of incidents cited in this report has originated in first-hand accounts communicated by persons from within the government-declared No Fire Zones and locations close to the fighting.  


The United States says it "recognizes a state’s inherent right to defend itself from armed attacks, including those by non-state actors, such as a terrorist group like the LTTE.  The United States also expects states and non-state actors to comply with their international legal obligations, including the obligation to protect civilians in armed conflict."


Earlier the UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for the Department for International Development, have urged Sri Lankan authorities to fulfill their human rights obligations in response to the findings of a recent EU report on the issue. They said:
'The European Commission’s report on Sri Lanka’s implementation of international human rights conventions raised serious concerns, which we shared."


The report highlighted failings in Sri Lanka’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


The report is a precursor to the Commission’s recommendation to EU Member States on whether Sri Lanka should continue to benefit from the GSP+ trade preference scheme. "We are clear that to do so Sri Lanka must respect its international human rights obligations under GSP+.We strongly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take immediate action to address the issues outlined in this report," said the UK officials.
 


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10/21/2009

Sri Lanka's minority representatives disgruntled with the move to propose former Army Commander as opposition common candidate


(October 21, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Minority political parties and activists appear dejected with the rumor that former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka will contest the future Presidential election as a common candidate of the joint opposition. Fonseka is famous as an outspoken Sinhala nationalist despite holding a top position in the multi ethnic island nation.

Democratic Peoples Front, a  Colombo based Tamil Party, said in a statement issued by its leader leader Mano Ganesan that he has told UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe that his party will not be a party to the proposed United National Alliance if General Sarath Fonseka is considered and proposed as the common candidate in the event of a presidential elections. "Tamil speaking people of this country do not have anything in common with General Fonseka for him to be our common candidate," says the media statement issued from the office of Ganesan says The statement further says that, "The name of General Sarath Fonseka is being considered by Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) as a common candidate for the presidential elections. Sarath Manemendra of Nava Sihala Urumaya too has invited Gen Sarath Fonseka to contest the presidential elections. He has spoken this from the office of Sri Lanka Freedom Party - People's Wing) (SLFP-M) leader Mangala Samaraweera. Therefore this has given all reasonable signals to the nation that the proposed alliance between UNP, SLFP(M), SLMC and DPF wants General Sarath Fonseka to contest the presidential elections as the common opposition candidate.

"This position is not shared by Democratic Peoples Front (DPF). DPF will not be a party to the proposed United National Alliance if General Sarath Fonseka is considered and proposed as the common candidate at the presidential elections. Tamil speaking people of this country do not have anything in common with General Fonseka for him to be our common candidate," says Ganeshan. 

Meanwhile, the major Tamil constituent Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the move to propose the former Army Commander that crushed the Tamil rebellion for self-determination as the opposition common candidate for the Presidential.

TNA MP N. Sri Kantha in Parliament yesterday criticized the SLFP (M) Convener Mangala Samaraweera stating that he was trying to drag military officers into politics.Speaking during the debate on the Supplementary Estimate of the Defence Ministry in the House yesterday the TNA MP said Samaraweera was trying to draw a connection between the military and politics.

Fonseka said to Canada's National Post on September 23, 2008, "I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people...We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country...We are also a strong nation ... They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue thing."

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic nation with 24% Tamil speaking community including Muslims.


 

10/20/2009

Sentenced Tamil journalist Tissainayagam says he is not regretful for what he stands for and for what he has written



(October 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity) J.N. Tissainayagam, the Sri Lankan journalist who was sentenced for 20 years rigorous imprisonment in September this year has told that he is not regretful for what he stands for and for what he has written, and that he decided to make a confession for otherwise he felt threatened that he would be subjected to torture. Besides, he had been informed by the Terrorist Investigation Department that once he signs the confession he would be released. He explained that his confession has been tampered with, to his detriment. 

He has said to a delegation of political and human rights activists that visited him in Welikada prison a month ago that he is anxious about his security, although nothing significant has yet occurred to threaten his security.

The delegation announced in a statement that they shared solidarity with Tissainayagam on the basis that the Tissainayagam case was a focal political case.  

The delegation included Dr.Vickramabahu Karunaratna, Rev. Fr. Sakthivel, Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, Mahinda Devage, Dharmasiri Lankapeli and Surendra Rupasinghe.



 

Sri Lanka pays for contempt of human rights alleging they are Western Christian concepts



(October 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Areas of concern identified by the EU's ‘Committee investigating the effective implementation of Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ are mainly related not to the government's 'war against terror' as said in most cases but to the overall human rights and democratic situation of the island. 
As reported by media EU sources had told the report showed evidence of police violence, torture and breach of labor laws, notably the use of underage children.
Police violence is wide spread in the country and in the most recent incident residents of a coastal village in the outskirts of Colombo city pelted stones at a police station since two village youths that were arrested for a minor incident were brutally killed and their bodies were dumped in the area. 
In another incident, the wife and son of a senior Deputy Inspector General were arrested for torturing an IT student in connection with a student clash in a campus where the police officers son studied. 
Both Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and the pro-government paramilitary Tamil People's Liberation Tigers (TMVP) deployed child soldiers during the war time. Many of the LTTE child soldiers are now being rehabilitated. 
Sri Lanka Labor Department still publishes advertisements of the Wages Control Boards in which the wages for the underage are defined proving the child labor charges against Sri Lanka.
“Sixteen countries receive the GSP+ benefit and comply with the standards required of them. If it is found that certain countries, for instance Sri Lanka is not complying with these standards then it puts the entire instrument in jeopardy,” EU Ambassador Bernard Savage told Daily Mirror and pointed out the domino effect of compromising on this issue.  
“Many countries not receiving the benefit will begin to question the integrity of the agreement and then go to the WTO. This will jeopardize all 16 countries that are now receiving the benefit,” Mr. Savage said.   
The EU Generalized System of Preferences is the system of preferential trading arrangements through which the European Union extends preferential access to its markets to developing countries. 
Twenty seven international conventions were needed to be ratified by the beneficiary countries by 31 December 2008 and EU provided a grace period of one year for Sri Lanka that is to be ended by the end of this year. 

The investigation identifies significant shortcomings in respect of three UN human rights conventions – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - such as to indicate that Sri Lanka at present is not effectively implementing them.  The investigation has relied heavily on reports and statements by UN Special Rapporteurs and Representatives, other UN bodies and reputable human rights NGOs. 





Sri Lankan ruling regime is observed guided by Sinhala chauvinist elements that propagate human rights are a Western Christian concepts that are needed to be replaced by Sinhala Buddhist principles. Sri Lankan rulers repeatedly mock the traditional Western allies and praise the new found friends like China, Iran and Libya. These countries buy lesser amounts of Sri Lanka's exports while exporting more to the island nation.   

Sri Lanka is a major beneficiary of the trading opportunities offered by GSP+.  In 2008, EU imports from Sri Lanka under GSP+ totalled EUR 1.24 billion.  The most important import products benefiting of these trade preferences were t-shirts and other clothing items, as well as fisheries products.  Any future temporary withdrawal of GSP+ treatment would mean that EU imports from Sri Lanka would instead be subject to standard GSP preferential treatment.  If the latter had been applied to actual import volumes in 2008, an additional EUR 78 million in import duties would have been collected.  It is not possible to forecast accurately the possible economic impact of reversion to standard GSP treatment in the EU market, since this will depend on several other factors as well as the import tariff level.



The EU accounts for 36% of Sri Lanka’s exports. Sri Lanka’s biggest foreign exchange generator garments fetched US $ 3.7 billion from EU markets and became the country’s top source of foreign exchange. Of the total exports of garments from Sri Lanka, 43% is bound EU nations and 24% is exported to US. (Remittances from expatriate Sri Lankans and tea exports brought in US $ 3 billion and US $ 1.2 billion respectively. 
EU and US are the major targets of hate campaigns of some of Sri Lanka's ruling party politicians.
Improving the country’s human rights record and strengthening the democratic institutes in Sri Lanka should be priority of any ruler and that should not depend on the bonuses of the other nations.
List of Conventions to qualify for ‘GSP Plus’ 
Core human and labour rights UN/ILO Conventions (all must be ratified and effectively implemented for GSP Plus to apply):
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (N° 138); Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (N° 182); Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (N° 105); Forced Compulsory Labour Convention (N° 29); Equal Remuneration of Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value Convention (N° 100); Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation Convention (N° 111); Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (N° 87); Application of the Principles of the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively Convention (N°98); International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.  
Conventions related to environment and governance principles (7 must be ratified and effectively implemented for GSP Plus to apply, all must be ratified and implemented by 2009:
Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer; Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal; Stockholm Convention on persistent Organic Pollutants; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species; Convention on Biological Diversity; Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961); UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971); UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988); Mexico UN Convention Against Corruption.




10/19/2009

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



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

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



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


10/18/2009

Sri Lanka President facing a 'general' problem



(October 18, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Former Sri Lanka Army Commander and present Chief of Defense Staff General Sarath Fonseka has hit the headlines due to the rumors regarding he becoming a contender for the country's all powerful executive presidency at the upcoming presidential poll. 
The President Mahinda Rajapakse is considering an early presidential poll after the completion of four years in his first tenure with a hope of adding eight more years for his career in a bid to make his hay during the sunny weather of post-war Sri Lanka. The President who expected an easy victory seems bemused with the rumors regarding his foremost general becoming his rival at the Presidential. The prominent state-owned Sinhala language newspapers ran the same story on Saturday and Sunday that said the stories about a conflict between the government and the former Army Commander were false. However, all the state media reports that declined the conflict lacked one basic proof, i.e. a statement from the relevant commander.
Fonseka who is an arch Sinhala nationalist was against the 2002 ceasefire agreement and led the Army to totally annihilate the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) that fought for three decades for the right of self-determination of Ealam Tamils. The Army eliminated the entire leadership of the LTTE in the battlefield and some media reported that the troops gunned down LTTE political leaders B. Nadesan and S.Puleethevan that came with white flags to surrender to Army.
Fonseka made many controversial statements to media as he was holding the post of the Army Commander of the multi-ethnic nation. He said to Canadian National Post on September 23, 2008, “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people...We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country...We are also a strong nation ... They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue thing.”
Sri Lanka has around 25% Tamil speaking population that is comprised of Tamils and Muslims and the Tamils have fought for almost a century for powers of ruling the Tamil dominated areas. The Sinhala majority that holds the state powers does not like to give in due to fear of losing their status as a lonely community of just below 200,000 that speak a language called Sinhala. Although they won the war against Tamils, they have so far failed to achieve peace with the minority communities. A power sharing mechanism that is vehemently opposed by minority communities is a pre-requisite for a sustainable peace.
General Sarath Fonseka was made to retire before schedule and he was appointed as the Chief of Defense Staff, a position under the control of Defense Secretary, a post held by the President’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse. He was later appointed as the secretary of the Ministry of Sports and Recreation. The general has neither assumed nor declined the post so far even after a week for the appointment.
Some media reports pointed out that the appointment was aimed at demeaning the former Army Commander and his role in the war against LTTE. Media reports that say the state media has been directed by authorities not to give publicity to the former Army Commander can be observed correct since he was seen in state media very rarely now. Government’s media machine gives less priority to the news related to armed forces now.
By weekend police Criminal Investigation Department interrogated the editor of Sinhala tabloid ‘Lanka’ about a lead story it ran this week about the conflict between the former army Commander and the government. Marist nationalist People’s Liberation Front (JVP) that owns the newspaper is promoting General Fonseka’s candidacy for the next Presidential. Reports indicate that a wide section of the major opposition United National Party (UNP) is also supporting the move.
However, the man in the limelight has still made no comment regarding these rumors.

10/15/2009

Will 58,000 IDPs be sent back to their native places before Presidential?


(October 15, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The delegation of Tamil Nadu 10-member parliamentarian that visited the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Tamil dominated Northern Province has informed the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi that Sri Lankan government has assured them 58,000 internally displaced Tamils in camps will be sent back to their native places in 15 days.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who received the delegation at the Chennai airport on Wednesday evening, announced this, addressing a press conference later at his party headquarters, reported Hindu. The remaining Tamils would be returned gradually, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said.

To a question whether the Sinhalese would be settled in areas where Tamils lived traditionally, the Chief Minister replied that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had denied it.

However, the opposition parties in Tamil Nadu accused that the tour of the Indian parliamentary delegation was an eyewash. 

There are around 300,000 IDPs in refugee camps in the Northern Province. Sri Lanka government expects to hold an early Presidential in months, according to unconfirmed reports, and the ruling regime will be happy to keep the IDPs in camps where the opposition cannot campaign. Vote of the minority communities that account 24% of the country's population is crucial for a Presidential candidate to win. In 2005, the boycott led by the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) paved way to narrow victory of current President Mahinda Rajapakse who was supported by the forces that were vehemently against a democratic solution to the ethnic problem.

(Photo: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi addresses the media in Chennai on Wednesday. With him are the MPs from Tamil Nadu who just returned from a visit to Sri Lanka.)

10/14/2009

Sri Lankan origin German linked by government to Channel-4 execution video reveals crucial facts


(October 14, Colombo - Lanka Polity) A clarification by a Sri Lankan orgin German citizen sent to Sri Lanka Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe regarding a controversial video clip aired by UK's Channel-4 television and the incidents that followed it reveals some interesting facts. 


Sri Lanka's state and pro-Sinhala media linked Sri Lankan born Ranjith Hennayaka and his wife Ms. Lochbihler, a German politician with the video since the organization that gave the video to Channel-4 was located in a house belonged to them. Immediately, the relevant organization, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) issued a statement and said that they had no link with an organization run by Lochbihlers and the latter only provided the newly formed JDS to use their address temporarily.  

In August 2009, a video film showing some armed men summarily executing unarmed, naked victims, was aired by British television Channel 4. It was described that this killings happened in Sri Lanka, and was committed by the members of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. This video film was provided by the Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), as it was reported by Channel 4.

Ranjith Hennayaka says, "This film drew immediate reaction from the Sri Lankan government in general and you in particular as the Minister of Human Rights and Disaster Management, as soon as it became public. While speaking in the Sri Lankan Parliament in mid of September you held me, my wife Barbara Lochbihler, who is a Member of the European Parliament, and the members of the International Network of Sri Lankan Diaspora e.V. (INSD) responsible for the distribution of this film. I herewith state, that we have not been involved at all in any way in acquiring or distributing this film to Channel 4 or any other media institutions. The responsibility of distributing this film purely lies with the JDS and they have issued a statement claiming responsibility and clarifying that the INSD and the persons connected to the INSD have nothing to do with it at all."

Hennayaka says that the address of the INSD was given to the JDS according to a request made by the latter, to use as a “c/o(care of)” address,  on a temporary basis, until they find a permanent address for their use. Interestingly, he adds "This is not very unusual, as many times in the past I had offered our address to Sri Lankans, whenever they were in need. For example when Mr. Godawatta, the private secretary to the then Minister of Labour, currently President Mahinda Rajapaksa, accompanied him to Geneva in the mid-90`s I offered him a similar help. He fell sick and got hospitalized. I registered him under my address in order to be able to get treatment."

Commenting on the accusations made by Sri Lankan newspaper ‘Divaina’ against him and his wife accusing that they have been supporters of the LTTE and involved in various other crimes, Hennayaka says, "These wrong accusations, manufactured mainly by the journalist KeerthiWarnakulasuriya in Divaina newspaper, started since I organised a study tour for Sri Lankan parliamentarians to Europe to study different federal systems and models for autonomy, with the intention of helping to find a political solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. This tour took place in January 2003 and visits were made to Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy. Amongst others the following persons participated and most of them are currently serving as parliament members and some as even ministers: Mr. Sarath Amunugama, Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva, Mr. John Senevirathna, Mrs. Ferial Ashraff, Mr. P. Candrasekaran, Mr. Rishad Bathurdeen, Mr. Ramaiyah Yogarajan, Mr. Jayalath Jayawardana, Mr. Kabir Hashim, Mr. H.M.H. Harees, Mr. Dr. Thideer Thoufeek and Ven. Baddegama Samitha Thero."

He appeals the Minister of Human Rights to take the necessary steps to rectify these wrong accusations while sincerely hoping that the threats against his family in Sri Lanka will end soon. He has also sent copies of the letter to the President of Sri Lanka, Minister of Foreign Affairs - Sri Lanka, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the President of the European Parliament, the Sri Lankan Embassies in Brussels, in Geneva and in Germany and the German Embassy in Colombo.

10/13/2009

Doctored Realty: am I a football Aiya?


MR: Get out! You boasted to defeat JVP. But you couldn't even make your brother on board.

VV: Ouch, my back! Am I a football Aiya?

Sri Lanka's average remittances per person reach US$131


(October 13, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's average remittances per person has reached US$131 making it a nation with the largest per capita remittances in South Asia. On average the remittances per person in South Asia is US$33. Sri Lanka's average is eight times higher than the regional average.

US$2,527 million remittances that were sent to Sri Lanka by migrant workers accounted 8% of GDP in 2007.

These facts were revealed by UNDP Resident Representative Neil Buhne when presenting the findings of the 2009 Human Development Report (HDR) based on the concept of “Overcoming Barriers: Human mobility and development” held at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations in Colombo yesterday.

Migration for employment mostly by females is high in Sri Lanka who work as domestic help workers in most Middle Eastern countries that has increasingly contributed towards the country’s remittances over the years.

Around 252,021 Sri Lankans, majority of them females, secured foreign employment in 2008 and 218,459 in 2007 according to Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau statistics. 

At the presentation of the report for 2009, there is a fervent call to reduce the transaction costs for migrants to obtain employment in other countries. 

Sri Lanka media has reported a large number of incidents the local politicians including Ministers are involved in rackets of human trafficking for lucrative gains.


Sri Lankan court aquits two journalists wrongfully prosecuted by police


(October 13, Colombo - Lanka Polity) A Sri Lankan court yesterday acquitted two journalists that were charged by police for non-divulging information vital for investigations to police.

The two journalists were the Editor of Lanka-e-News website Sandaruwan Senadheera and his News Editor Benet Rupasinghe. They were arrested by police following they took measures to inform the authorities regarding the abduction of a fellow journalist by unknown groups.

On June 01, Poddala Jayantha, the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association, was abducted by an armed group in a white van. Later he was found dropped on a roadside after severely beating him and making him to eat his own hair and beard. The journalist still walks with the help of crutches.

Lanka-e-News news editor Benet Rupasinghe was informed by an eyewitness about the abduction and he immediately took steps to inform the family of the abducted journalist and the other authorities including the President's office and the police about the incident.

However, police later arrested them and charged for non-divulging information to police. Yesterday police informed court they had not found evidence against the journalists and said further investigations were underway. However, the magistrate aquitted the journalists although police wanted to carry on the investigations.

The police action is widely regarded as a repressive measure against two disciplined citizens that acted lawfully in accordance with information they received.

Meanwhile, sources close to the two journalists said that they were not going to take legal action against the injustice caused to them. This is considered another indication of the repressive environment that prevails in the country.

(Photo: Lanka-e-News Editor Sandaruwan Senadheera with the attacked journalist Poddala Jayantha)

10/12/2009

More Sri Lankans risk lives in the efforts to migrate to Australia



(October 12, Colombo - Lanka Polity) More Sri Lankans are taking risks to migrate to Australia looking for green pastures in small fishing crafts despite repeated warnings of Australia to avoid illegal migration. Last week, media reported that Australia had hired a advertising agency to make aware the Sri Lankans on the risks of their efforts to migrate to Down Under.

However, with the trying economic conditions and the human rights conditions in the island, some people do not hesitate to pay huge sums of money to traffickers to take them to Australia in fishing craft in a very dangerous journey.

Indonesian authorities yesterday captured a group of about 260 migrants from Sri Lanka who are suspected of trying to sail to Australia, a navy spokesman said to AP Sunday.

An Indonesian warship intercepted a cargo ship carrying the group off Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands, said Lt. Col. Supriono, a spokesman for the Western Fleet of Indonesian Navy to AP.

The report further said that

He said the navy then sent three other warships to help transport them to Merak seaport in Banten province on the western end of Java. Some of the migrants refused to be taken off the cargo ship.

Harry Purwanto, head of Banten immigration office said the group, which includes some women and children, would be kept in Banten while they were identified and then would be transferred to immigration detention centers in the capital of Jakarta or other big cities.

Migrants from war-ravaged countries often sail through Indonesian waters on their way to Australia.

Last week, Indonesian police in eastern province of East Nusatenggara detained 22 illegal migrants — 19 Iranians, two Iraqis and one Afghan — who were trying to get to Australia.

Sri Lanka media highlights President Mahinda Rajapakse must have given the Nobel Peace Prize


(October 12, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka that is in a new diplomatic brawl with world super power US is moving further ahead to mock Norwegian Nobel Committee for giving US President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize instead of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Sri Lanka government's major electronic propaganda organ Independent Television Network (ITN) highlighted Canadian National Post newspaper had stated that the Nobel Peace Prize should have been given to President Rajapaksa and not Barack Obama. The state television said that the Canadian Post had told that giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize was comical. (http://www.itn.lk/news_05_20091010.html)

ITN noted that the reason is that the Sri Lankan President ended terrorism definitively at one stroke. It is one of the only times in the history of modern warfare that a terrorist movement has been utterly destroyed in such a fashion.

ITN further said quoting unnamed analysts that the Nobel Committee handled by Norway that helpeda Tamil Tiger terrorists of Sri Lanka could not be expected to offer President mahinda Rajapakse the Nobel Peace Prize.

The United States has already lodged a “strong protest” to Sri Lanka over remarks by Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, on state radio that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has forgotten the “Monica Lewinsky episode” and should “put her house in order.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, addressing the UN Security Council, on September 30, noted that rape has been used as a weapon of war in the Balkans, Burma, Sri Lanka and elsewhere and that in too many countries and in too many cases, the perpetrators of this violence are not punished, and so this impunity encourages further attacks.

The rulers of Sri Lanka whose human rights record under President Mahinda Rajapakse is being questioned by the West are pushing away the island nation from its traditional allies like US and Europe to new found bossom friends like China, Russia, Iran and Libya etc.

Sri Lanka Army killed 22,000 LTTE cadres; lost 192 officers and 5,200 men


(October 11, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Sarath Fonseka told The Island daily here on Saturday, that in the two-year-and-10-month long Eelam War IV, the Sri Lankan army had killed 22,000 fighters of the LTTE and captured over 9,000.

“This is 90 per cent of the total losses inflicted on the LTTE by all the security forces,” Fonseka said at the end of the army’s 60th anniversary celebrations.The General, who led the army to victory in the 2006-2009 operations known as Eelam War IV, claimed that the army was responsible for the destruction of 70 per cent of the assets of the LTTE’s sea and air wings also. One of the key factors, which helped the army defeat the LTTE was rapid modernisation and fresh recruitment, he said. The army grew in manpower from 116,000 to 200,000 in three years. New recruits held captured areas while experienced troops took part in the offensives.

However, the army lost 192 officers and 5,200 men and 27,000 suffered battlefield injuries.“The army bore 96 per cent of the casualties in this war,” Fonseka said. “No one can match or come close to the army’s contribution to the war,” he added.

10/11/2009

Is Sri Lanka's Rajapakse regime losing the ground?



(October 11, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Although Sri Lanka's ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) came into power in the home province of President Mahinda Rajapakse recording a massive victory at Southern Provincial Council election, the ruling alliance seems losing the firm hold five months after it defeated the Tamil's violent struggle for a homeland in the north and eastern parts of the island. 


Voter turnout was average 69.24% despite massive propaganda campaign of the ruling alliance in Southern Province. The state media propagated exaggerated statistics on voter turnout that sharply contrasted with the data issued by independent monitors right in the mid-day news bulletins in an attempt to attract more voters to the polling centers.

The government used almost all public property from the powers of the executive presidency and state-owned media to public roads for the ambitious propaganda campaign that targeted to achieve 80% votes for the ruling alliance. Mud slinging on opposition politicians were carried out by state media even on the election day. However, the UPFA could record 67.88% only while the major opposition was voted 25.09% and the Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) gained 6.11% from the province. 

UPFA amassed 72.39% votes at Uva Provincial Council election held immediately after the military victory over the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). Southern Province UPFA result was lower than the February 14th North Western Provincial Council result that gave 69.43% votes to UPFA even before the military defeat of the LTTE. 

Four Rajapakse brothers that run the country might not be happy with the result they achieved from their home district Hambanthota from where they expected gratitude for the rapid development conducted there. The government has promised a service harbor, an international airport, an international cricket stadium, rail road and many other developments to this district which is one of Sri Lanka's poorest in many terms. They could achieve 66.95% only in Hambanthota and it was the lowest percentage out of the three districts. 

Ruling alliance's former ally JVP gained 11.01% votes from Hambanthota district. JVP was the main force that ushered Mahinda Rajapakse to presidency in 2005 but they did not assume cabinet portfolios and quit the alliance soon after.




Sri Lanka ruling party wins Southern Provincial Council, but not with the expected number of seats


(October 11, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) recorded a landslide victory at the Provincial Council election in Southern Province from where the President Mahinda Rajapakse hails. UPFA won 38 seats from the Southern Provincial Council (SPC) with a breakdown of 16 from Galle district, 12 from Matara and 8 from Hambanthota. Together with the two bonus seats, UPFA owns 38 seats although it targetted more than 40 seats during the election campaign.


UPFA achieved 804,071 votes from the province, well over 500,000 votes that the opposition United National Party (UNP) that gained 297,180 votes from the Province. UNP won 6 seats from Galle 5 from Matara and 3 from Hambanthota, a total of 14 seats from the province.



Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) gained 72,379 votes from the province and secured one seat each of the three districts of the Province where the party base is located. JVP internal sources said that they targeted to place second in Thissamaharama electorate where JVP runs the local administration in Hambanthota district. But the UNP was voted double the JVP votes there. 

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