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விவசாயி விக்

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  1. Rohingyas out China in January 29, 2020 Columns, feature, Swadesh Roy by Swadesh Roy writing from Dhaka My friend, author and journalist Gajalakshmi Paramasivam, headlined one of his articles ‘Tamils out and China in’. Gajalakshmi writes about the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils almost daily in newspapers, portal and blogs. There are many descriptions of the Tamil genocide of the largest genocide of this century, in the book 'Naan Australian' by Gajalakshmi. One of the best,who has done good work about the Tamil genocide, is writer and journalist friend Francis Harrison.Before reading her stupendous work 'Still Death Counting', I could not imagine that there are so much details of the genocide that could be worked on. Coincidentally, they both are women. But they did not accept any gender in bold. The work of Francis Harrison indicates portray of genocide unabashedly. Gajalakshmi herself is a Tamil. For this reason her writing may seem a bit biased. But the combination of the two works gives a clear idea about the matter.How brutally human beings are killed and become refugees for economic or business interests? After Chinese President Xi Jinping's January 5 visit to Myanmar, I think writing a column about his visit. Whose headlines will be ‘Rohingya’s out China in’; but the title of Gajalakshmi is preventing the conscience from imitating or stealing the idea that we are about the same age in journalism and writing, maybe my education is a little lower than the other two, but why is it less in sense of responsibility? The MoU signed between China and Myanmar for the construction of ‘Kyaukpyu Deep Sea Port’inthe Bay of Bengal, on the outskirts of the Arakan state, and at the same time the MoU was signed for the construction of a ‘Kyaukpyu Economic Zone’. China has long been talking about the ‘New Silk Route or the Twenty-first Century Silk Route’. They are talking about the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. I have always kept an eye on these topics for professional reasons.I try to read more or less about China's ‘One Belt One Route’. It is a complex topic in reality.Many Indian economists and strategists disagree on this subject. There are various opinions about the implementation of this route in China as well.Together these have come out of China and India's own discourse, trying to reconcile that Asia, which will be the key regulator of the economy by the end of this century, what are the necessities of this silk route?It seems that if China wants to emerge as a subsidiary of Asia's multipolar economy without becoming another USA, and think abouta Silk Route, then that supposed not to be bad, but good.But the Sri Lankan government and the Myanmar government, which killed and made people refugee in Sri Lanka and Myanmar for the Hambantota and Kyaukpyu Deep Sea Port and KyaukpyuEconomic Zone, committed not just a black wound on human rights but a brutal aspect of the economy. This brutality can never happen to innocent people in the 21st century, especially in this century of technology. Gajalakshmi is exactly the same judge who wrote 'Tamil out and China in', the same trial saying that what happened in Arakan state of Myanmar by putting the economy zone and deep sea port in front of "Rohingya out China in".But the major failure of our Bangladeshi writers and journalists, including myself, is that we have not done any detail work on this aspect of economic aggression. Even as Harrison worked on the Tamil genocide, no one did the details on the Rohingya genocide.This is not exactly what professional researchers need most;working with journalistic eyes like Gajalakshmi or Francis Harrison would have made that clear. Because, here is a lot of things that come out of information about China's investment in theKyaukpyueconomic zone and the direction of the future trade line. I wrote different times and told in the talk show that this deep sea port is the root cause of the Rohingya upheaval. As this seaport will reduce the distance of goods from Indian ports to China by five thousand kilometers, so it will increase China's dominance in the Bay of Bengal. China is building a huge oil reservoir near the sea port. From there, they will take oil to their country through pipeline. According to the experience of Hambantota, Myanmar will also be forced to lease the entire area to China once it joins the port, oil reserve and economy zone. Myanmar will never be able to return the invested money by China through the profit of this port. Following this policy of 'buildup infrastructure and occupy it ', China has been successful in many areas like Sri Lanka, Laos and many countries in Africa before. So they will be successful in Myanmar too. Another aspect of this economic expansion of China is that Chinese citizens gradually settle in wherever they invest. As a result, their citizens can enjoy the majority of the employment that they invest. Chinese citizens will also come to Arakan in the future.The Rohingya’s have been ousted by Myanmar's army to create the context. While many may disagree at this moment, China's trusted friend Pakistan has given way to Myanmar's army an excuse for doing so. The backbone of Myanmar's military attack on the Rohingya was made by Pakistani military intelligence agency ISI, being a trusted friend of China. The intelligence agency formed an extremist militant group called the 'Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)' within the Rohingya of Arakan. And with militant groups they launched one or two attacks on the police. Excluding that, Myanmar's army began indiscriminate genocide, rape of women. The main purpose which was to kill the Tamils of Sri Lanka, just as the empty soil was extracted, to do the same here.If Bangladesh's leader, Sheikh Hasina, did not open the border with immediate decision, at least one million Rohingya would have been massacred. The evidence of the greater power associated with this economic aggression was attributed by the United Nations to Muslim refugees who came to Bangladesh as refugees. This is a new tactic of the West. The Middle East has been in turmoil for the past few decades. The unrest has been created by the West. As a result of this turmoil, millions of Libyans, Lebanese, Syrian, and Iraqi people are being called refugees in the West, not calling them on countries or nations, such as Iraqi or Syrian refugees. They say Muslim refugees. That is what happened to the Rohingya all over the world, including Bangladesh. The reason for this is that it is very straightforward to see a little vision. Whenever the Myanmar refugees or Iraqi refugees are called, they will have full access to the common people as refugees. On the other hand, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West has introduced the Muslim population to the whole world in a way that means Muslims are terrorists. So whenever a group of refuge was called Muslim refugee, the ordinary people would assume that they are not worthy of such sympathy because they are terrorist groups. Rohingya refugees found in Bangladesh have been identified as Muslim refugees and pushed into the same line. Before they came here, Pakistan helped them in the name of ARSA identified as militants. Looking around the Rohingya camp now and looking intensively, no longer looking ARSA for a mirror.What is available now is that they are being made into different types of militants through various groups. And this is also helping China's trusted friend, the Pakistani intelligence service ISI, and the money that is terrorizing a group of Muslims in the Middle East who have their money. The primary purpose of the Rohingya militancy is clearly seen. One, making them militants can be used to destabilize many countries, including India in South Asia - that will weaken economic competitors. Two, if the Rohingyas are identified as militants, no one can pressurized Myanmar the return of them to Arakan. Myanmar will tell the world that they are, in fact, a militant group, so the issue of Rohingya repatriation will then be covered in militant costumes which called `militant Al Khella’. And with that Chinese investment in Arakan within that time, the Chinese will also be able to enter. This is why Gajalashami's title has to be replicated to express the truth; in fact, 'Rohingyas out China in'. Swadesh Roy, Senior Journalist, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is a highest state award winning journalist and can be reached at swadeshroy@gmail.com http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2020/01/rohingyas-out-china-in.html?m=1
  2. Sri Lanka confirms first case of coronavirus -health official Reuters January 27, 2020 11:46 AM EST COLOMBO — Sri Lanka has confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the country, a senior Sri Lankan health official said on Monday. “A Chinese lady, who is in her 40s, arrived on the 19th as a tourist and fell ill on the 25th and was confirmed as having the coronavirus following a test on Monday,” Sudath Samaraweera, the chief epidemiologist with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health, told Reuters, adding that this marks the first confirmed case in the island nation. The new flu-like virus, first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 80 people and infected more than 2,700 others. Although most cases identified remain in China, more than a dozen other countries have so far reported cases. (Reporting by Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo; Writing by Euan Rocha; Editing by Alex Richardson)
  3. Basketball great Bryant dies in helicopter crash Reuters US basketball legend Kobe Bryant has been killed in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California. Bryant was travelling in a private helicopter when it burst into flames, according to media reports. The LA County Sheriff's department said five people died in the helicopter crash on Sunday, with no survivors. Confirming the death, the City of Calabasas confirmed the news with "great sadness". It said "nobody on the ground was hurt". Eyewitnesses told news site TMZ they heard the helicopter's engine spluttering before it went down. The cause of the crash is being investigated. Five-time NBA champion Bryant, 41, played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He retired in April 2016. Bryant's achievements include being the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also two-time NBA scoring champion and a two-time Olympic champion. He also won an Oscar for best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball, a five-minute film based on a love letter to the sport he had written in 2015. Kobe Bryant's career in numbers https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51256756
  4. Radical Islamists were armed by Sri Lankan govt in Civil War; urge India to do more for Hindus: Siva Senai Dhairya Maheshwari New Delhi January 24, 2020 19:52 IST Making a strong pitch for the inclusion of Sri Lankan Hindus under the amended Citizenship Act, Jaffna-based rights’ activist and former United Nations advisor Dr Maravanpulavu Sachithananthan told India TV in an exclusive interview that New Delhi must either create pathways for citizenship for Sri Lankan Hindus or negotiate their rehabilitation in Sri Lanka with Colombo. He also heads an outfit, Siva Senai, involved in fighting “coercive conversion” of Sri Lankan Hindus to other religions, including Christianity and Islam. He was in New Delhi for a two-day visit last week, during which he caught up with India TV's Dhairya Maheshwari. Advertisement Edited excWhy should Sri Lankan Tamil refugees be included in the ambit of the Citizenship Amendment Act? The Sri Lankan government says that efforts are on to rehabilitate the war refugees, mostly Tamilian Hindus, in the wake of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 is a great boon to the refugee Hindus. Hindus from the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where there have been reports of persecution of minorities, will finally have a state to call their own. In the case of Sri Lankan refugees, approximately 1.5 million refugees, mostly Tamilian Hindus, have migrated to 40 different countries. More than a lakh Tamilian refugees in India have been living in refugee camps for almost 35 years now. Besides India, all the other Sri Lankan refugees who have gone to these 40 countries are in a state to exercise their rights as citizens, or permanent residents, of their respective countries. They even have the facilities to travel back to Sri Lanka. They have become ministers. They have become mayors. They have become members of parliament in their new homelands. Sadly, in the case of Sri Lankan refugees in India, they have failed to realise their full potential because of their inability to hold full-time jobs. They do not even have permission to travel around India freely. Even in Sri Lanka after the end of the Civil War in 2009, refugees were eventually released from the confinement of camps and rehabilitated into the mainstream. But the refugees in India are stuck in limbo. They can’t apply for government jobs. They can’t apply at universities. About 20 per cent of those refugees were born here. They don’t even know anything about Sri Lanka. While the Indian government’s consistent position has been that all these Sri Lankan refugees must return to Sri Lanka one day, the fact remains that the political, emotional, economic and educational climate for their return is not conducive enough. New Delhi has been unable to push the Sri Lankan government to accept the provisions of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord of 1987, which called granting more autonomy to the provinces. In this backdrop, New Delhi must either grant citizenship to Sri Lankan refugees under the CAA or facilitate their return to Sri Lanka. I would like to reiterate that Sri Lankan refugees could only return to their homeland if the 1987 Accord is implemented in letter and spirit. At present, we are faced with a situation where the traditional homeland of Sri Lankan Tamils has been split. However, they can’t stay here as stateless people as well. A solution, therefore, must be arrived at soon. Overall, how receptive has India been to these concerns of Sri Lankan Hindus? Well, there is no other country that the Sri Lankan Hindus look up to for support other than India. India is involved in a significant way, politically and economically, in re-developing the war-ravaged northern region of Sri Lanka. Most of the commitments made to Sri Lankan Tamils during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Jaffna in 2015 have or are being fulfilled. The Indian government also believes that there has to be a pathway for citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees currently residing in camps. India is like a big brother and it will continue to remain so for the Sri Lankan Hindus. How would you characterise the current situation of Sri Lankan Tamils living in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka? Sri Lankan Hindus are in a state of despair. While the war is no more, the post-war situation is traumatic, to say the least. Lakhs of them have been displaced. Our schools are in shambles. The health system is in a state of disrepair. The overall infrastructure is broken. The push to resettle the war refugees is not happening as planned, which is mainly because the 1987 Rajiv Gandhi-Junius Jayewardene is not being implemented fully by the Sri Lankan government. Unfortunately for the Sri Lankan Hindus, Christian missionaries and Islamic preachers are taking advantage of the deplorable situation since the war ended back in 2009. They are poor. They are displaced. So, the money from overseas, mainly channelled from the Gulf region and the West, is being used to lure them towards these religions. At present, there are some 560 Christian missionary groups in Sri Lanka who are converting the Sri Lankan Hindus to Christianity. The constitution of Christians as part of overall population has increased from six to eight per cent. Muslims now make approximately 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population, up from seven per cent. On the other hand, the number of Sri Lankan Tamils have come down from 25 per cent of overall population to just 12.5 per cent at present. Could you also throw some light on the impact that the Easter Bombings of April 2019 have had on the overall political landscape of Sri Lanka? Let me state one thing from the outset. The radical Islamist groups were armed by the Sri Lankan government during the Civil War. They were provided with all sorts of assistance so they could help the Sri Lankan armed forces in fighting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). So, after the war ended, these radical Islamist groups emerged so strong that they started asserting themselves, politically as well as through other ways, in the northern and eastern provinces, which had been the traditional homelands for Sri Lankan Tamils. The effects of this policy of helping the Islamist groups has resulted in the Muslim population in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka registering a steep rise, from just three to four per cent in 1901 to over 40 per cent at present. What’s the purpose of your current visit to Delhi? I am here to appeal to the Indian government to resume the ferry service from the northern part of Sri Lanka to the southern part of India. The ferry service from the Talamanier pier of Sri Lanka was shelved a few years ago but efforts have been on to resume the services. I met several Indian lawmakers and appealed to them to begin the service, which would help in building people-to-people ties between people of Sri Lanka and India. https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/world/radical-islamists-sri-lankan-govt-civil-war-india-more-sri-lankan-hindus-shivai-sena-582402
  5. VERIFY: ‘Coronavirus patents’ are from older viruses, not current strain POSTED 10:47 PM, JANUARY 24, 2020, BY RICK LESSARD VERIFY: `Coronavirus patents` are from older viruses, not current strain v A bit of confusion around the names of certain coronaviruses has led to larger claims that governments have known about this virus for years. Author: VERIFY, Jason Puckett (TEGNA), David Tregde, TJ Spry Jr. Published: 8:25 PM EST January 24, 2020 Updated: 8:56 PM EST January 24, 2020 Have governments and researchers known about this new strain of coronavirus for years? Claims online point to patents as proof that they have. 1,425 people are talking about this 4,966 people are talking about this A similar claim was sent to our VERIFY team by viewer Bruce C. “The coronavirus is man-made and patented,” he wrote. “CORONAVIRUS PROTEINS AND ANTIGENS Publication number: 20160339097.” It's a real patent titled “Coronavirus proteins and antigens,” and was requested in 2014. RELATED STORY VERIFY: Headlines comparing the coronavirus to Spanish flu are missing context There’s also this patent, from Justia patents, filed in 2015. It also talks about coronavirus. But there’s a key misunderstanding to these claims and social media posts. THE QUESTION: Are there patents showing that the coronavirus was known about and being studied by governments for years? THE ANSWER: The term “coronavirus” is actually a classification for a bunch of viruses in the same family. It’s not the name for one specific virus. SARS, MERS and the new virus “2019-nCoV” are all strains of a coronavirus. The patents above and others like them were submitted by multiple governments and research groups to study vaccines and detection methods of past coronavirus strains. Put simply, the patents are real, but they are about other coronaviruses, not the one that’s currently spreading. WHAT WE FOUND: Corona means crown in Latin. According to the CDC, this family of viruses is named because of the spikes that form a crown-like ring around the body of the virus. Any virus in that family is called a coronavirus. The virus spreading from China is a coronavirus -- but it’s not the only one that exists. Think of it like a company name compared to a product name. Any car built by Ford is a “Ford,” but the individual models, like F-150, Escape, etc., are different. It’s the same with viruses. “Coronavirus” is the name for all types of similar viruses, but each individual virus has its own name and distinct properties. The CDC identifies seven that can infect humans. The list includes SARS in 2003, MERS in 2012 and the current strain that’s infecting people: 2019-nCov. That stands for 2019 Novel Coronavirus. It’s a more medical sounding name because no one has given it an official one like SARS or MERS yet. CDC That brings us to the patents. Hospitals, researchers and governments have patented strains of viruses in the past so they can work on developing vaccines and ways to detect specific strains. And that’s the key part. They’re different strains. None of the patents that are being shared online are for the current 2019-nCoV strain. That was only discovered a few weeks ago. We can VERIFY: Patents for previous coronavirus strains exist. But they’re for vaccines and detection. And they’re not for the current, new strain that doesn’t have an official name yet. https://fox61.com/2020/01/24/verify-coronavirus-patents-are-from-older-viruses-not-current-strain/
  6. Sri Lanka faces EU ire after government breaks UN war obligations Rajapaksa's stance risks country losing favored trade status with European bloc January 25, 2020 12:09 JST BANGKOK -- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa faces his first test of diplomacy three months into his inaugural term, as he seeks to dilute the country's postwar commitments, possibly flouting U.N. resolutions. Rajapaksa plans to make his case to the United Nations Human Rights Council which is holding sessions in Geneva from late February, running the risk of raising the ire of the European Union, a major trading partner of the South Asian nation. The new government, formed in November, wants to roll back commitments made by the previous Sri Lankan administration in an October 2015 resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council to heal the wounds of the 30-year civil war through "transitional justice." Those obligations include the setting up of an office for missing persons and establishing legal mechanisms to investigate alleged war crimes as part of "promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights." The Rajapaksa government now wants the Office of Missing Persons to shutter operations and has also revealed plans to seek parliamentary approval for a new law to grant immunity to Sri Lankan soldiers who had allegedly committed war crimes during the conflict. A Sri Lankan woman holds up a poster of a family member who disappeared during the civil war at a silent protest to commemorate the missing in Colombo, in August 2016. © Reuters The issue was brought into focus this week when Rajapaksa made a rare admission, during a meeting with U.N. Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer in Colombo, that the people missing for over a decade since the war ended were in fact dead. A government-appointed commission in 2013 put the number at 23,586 people. His admission marked a major shift as Sri Lanka had in the past denied that the thousands who had been reported missing were dead. "President Rajapaksa outlined his plans to address the issue of missing persons," according to a statement released after the president met with Singer. "He explained that these missing persons are actually dead." The civil war ended in May 2009 after over 100,000 people were killed as government troops fought the separatist Tamil Tigers, who were also alleged to have committed war crimes. Referring to Rajapaksa's move, Sri Lankan human rights lawyer Sudarshana Gunawardana said: "These are the first steps to dismantling the transitional justice architecture. It is also sending a message that they [the Rajapaksa government] are going to break from the past." Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers carry the coffins of dead colleagues killed in a claymore bomb explosion at their northern stronghold of Kilinochchi in July 2007. © Reuters But in a terse tweet this week, the EU reminded Colombo that breaking away from human rights commitments would cost the country economically. Sri Lankan exporters benefit hugely from the preferential trade access to the EU through the Generalized Scheme of Preferences, or GSP+, arrangement. "GSP+ is not automatic," the EU tweeted. "It is granted only if there is continued and effective implementation of 27 international conventions, related to human and labor rights, environment and good governance. The EU monitors this implementation closely." The tweets came after Prasanna Ranatunga, industrial export and investment promotion minister, said last weekend that the EU has "assured Sri Lanka it will continue with the GSP+ tax concessions until 2023." Diplomatic sources in Colombo said that the Rajapaksa government must take the EU seriously. "The government's spin is not going to get them far, and getting a break at the council may not be easy," said a Western diplomat. The EU is a major destination for Sri Lankan textile exports, which rose 5.1% to $5.1 billion in 2019. The EU absorbed $2.2 billion of those exports, a 5% increase over 2018. The EU reinstated its GSP+ trade preferences with Sri Lanka in 2017 and the impact was immediately felt. By 2018, the island's total export value rose to a record $17 billion, with nearly a third of foreign exchange earnings from the EU market. A family member of a soldier who died in the civil war cries in front of the wall with war heroes names at the war memorial, during a commemoration ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the end of the armed conflict between Tamil Tigers and government troops, in Colombo, May 2019. © Reuters The EU had blacklisted Sri Lanka and frozen GSP trade preferences in 2010, due to the country's dismal human rights record under the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya's elder brother. That regime struck a combative note at the U.N. Human Rights Council and objected to pressure by Western governments to build in postwar accountability mechanisms. The U.N. had said that Sri Lanka had the worst record for missing persons after Iraq. Tens of thousands of people disappeared during bloody clashes triggered by a Marxist group and its ultranationalist allies, most belonging to the island's Sinhala-Buddhist majority in the south, between 1987 and 1990. The war in the north and the east was fought on ethnic lines, with the Tamil Tigers waging a battle for a separate state of Tamil Eelam. In August 2013, a government-appointed commission received 23,586 reports of people who had disappeared during the war. The numbers also included the names of some 5,000 government troops who were unaccounted for. Rajapaksa was one of the architects of the military's victory over the Tamil Tigers, as defense secretary to his brother Mahinda then. Not surprisingly, his admission that the people reported missing were actually dead prompted troubling questions. "He must explain how they died since he seems to know that they are dead," said Mathiaparanan Sumanthiran, a member of parliament for the Tamil National Alliance, an opposition party. Another TNA parliamentarian disputed Rajapaksa's statement, saying that most of the missing surrendered to the military in the final stages of the war. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Sri-Lanka-faces-EU-ire-after-government-breaks-UN-war-obligations
  7. Sri Lanka’s first floating solar plant opens in Kilinochchi with Norwegian assistance Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 10:15 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka. Jan 24, Colombo: The Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Trine Jøranli Eskedal, opened Sri Lanka’s first floating solar plant in Kilinochchi Friday. The launch of the 42KW floating solar plant took place this morning at the Faculty of Engineering, Kilinochchi Campus, University of Jaffna. The floating solar plant, installed under Capacity Building and Establishment of Research Consortium Project, is a result of the research collaboration since 2017 between the University of Jaffna and the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Colombo. The partnership between universities and Norwegian private companies have been crucial to realize this project, the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo said earlier. Current Solar AS is the Norwegian developer of floating PV solutions under the trade name “Norwegian Solar floats™”. Norwegian Energy group Equinor and Innovation Norway, which is the Norwegian Government’s instrument for innovation and development of Norwegian enterprises and industry have also supported the project. The floating solar power plant project is based on Norwegian marine knowhow from offshore and aquaculture industries and combines well-known features with innovative use of composite beams for the mounting of the solar panels.
  8. Masked Gunmen Assassinate Iranian Commander in Front of His Own Home January 22, 2020 at 7:35 am Written by Middle East Monitor Share442 Tweet Pin (MEMO) — Earlier today, masked gunmen assassinated a local commander of the Basij paramilitary security forces in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province in front of his house. Abdolhosein Mojaddami was shot dead by two unknown persons who were riding a motorcycle according to the official IRNA news agency. Mojaddami, who headed the local Basij force in the town of Darkhoein, was said to be an associate of the recently slain top general Qassem Soleimani. The Basij is a volunteer organisation operating under the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and is used for internal security and other tasks such as clamping down against dissent. See Evan Kohlmann's other Tweets Separately on Sunday, an IRGC base in the capital Tehran, the Mohammad Rasoulollah base was attacked by “defiant youth”, according to the website associated with the terrorist group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), the following day, a police building in Mashhad in the country’s north-east was also targeted with footage emerging online of explosions at the site. It is not clear if there were any casualties or if the MEK was directly responsible. 52 people are talking about this A bulk of the community is currently based in NATO-member Albania, estimated to be 3,000 strong. Former national security adviser to the Trump administration, John Bolton has links to the MEK and has served as a powerful advocate for the group in Washington. However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earlier this month called on US diplomats to avoid direct communication with MEK and other violent Iranian opposition groups, as they could prove “counterproductive” to Washington’s chances in negotiations with Tehran. Creative Commons / Middle East Monitor / Report a typo This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.
  9. Sri Lanka: Saving Gotabaya January 21, 2020 Ameer Ali, Columns, feature by Ameer Ali Nearly two months have passed since Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) was elected to the presidency. Although it is too soon to make any informed judgement on his administration, his achievements so far, in improving efficiency and productivity in public administration are credit worthy. His own preference for making his office less pompous and ceremonial is an example to be followed by every holder of public office, including the Prime Minister and cabinet of ministers. His tight control over public purse has saved millions of precious dollars, which should make it at least little easier the imponderable task of balancing the national budget. The country actually needs not balanced but surplus budgets for years to come. Yet, with his simplicity and discipline, GR is proving to be a workaholic and a hard taskmaster. The more efficient and productive the public sector becomes stiffer will be competition from the private sector. Together, the two sectors can pull the country and its economy to a higher level. A clean government with an internationally competitive private sector is the best combination a country should look for. GR seems to understand this. Needless to say, this is one of the secrets behind Singapore’s success. All these are positive signs for good governance in the long run. However, there had been some populist measures like ad hoc reduction in taxes and tariffs apparently to reduce the cost of living, but without giving any consideration to the negative impact those measures would have on the revenue side of public finance. Until now, no countervailing measures to enhance government revenue have been announced, except to repeat the neoliberal mantra of the debunked ‘trickledown effect’. The argument is that tax and tariff reductions would stimulate economic activities, promote growth and income, and would eventually improve the revenue side of public finance. The time lag between fiscal stimulus and economic growth is fairly long, and in an open economy adverse impacts of international turbulence and uncertainties will certainly affect domestic growth expectations. Besides, the problem with the trickledown theory is that the so called trickling does not go right down to the bottom layers of society, but stops short somewhere at the upper middle level. This may be the reason why PGR announced programs of food security to low income families by providing essential food items. This measure of public subsidy, although to be welcome, will be costly given the parlous state of government revenue. With all this, where is the expected reduction in cost of living? Let the president go to the street and ask the shoppers. In actual fact, when one looks at these populist measures one would see that PGR’s stimulus was not targeted directly at the economy and cost of living, but more importantly at the forthcoming General Election in which he wants SLPP to achieve victory with two-third majority. There is more politics than economics in this stimulus. Herein lies the darker side of GR’s presidency. It is now public knowledge and GR himself has accepted that his victory last year was entirely made possible by the overwhelming support he received from Sinhala Buddhists. However, behind this mass of Sinhala Buddhists was an army of supremacist foot soldiers under the command of militant members of the Sangha, who campaigned with communal hatred and religious zealotry to get GR elected so that they could achieve their Buddhist Valhalla. GR is indebted to this army and commanders, and he wants to see that they work with the same gusto to achieve victory with a two-third majority for SLPP at the next General Election. GR, because of political necessity, has become a virtual prisoner of this group. What do these supremacists want? The political agenda of the supremacists goes far beyond protecting Sri Lanka’s unitary state, its sovereignty and constitution. The role of a militant clergy is totally outside the historic mission of bhikkus in this country, who in the past worked with the monarchs to ensure virtuosity in governance, without destroying the plural makeup of Sri Lankan society. Buddhism flourished as a result and the country prospered. These supremacists instead are essentially anti-democratic and anti-pluralist, and aspire to convert Sri Lanka into a homogenised nation with one religion, one culture, one law, and if possible, one race, all woven round their politicised Buddhism. To achieve this objective they need an all-powerful president, protected by a loyal security machinery, a Prime Minister with less powers and a cabinet of ministers to carry out presidential orders. It is always easier to manipulate one person than to deal with an entire cabinet of ministers and members of their party. Hence, the need to change the constitution and do away with the 19th amendment. That could be done only with a two-third majority vote in the parliament, which the current caretaker government does not have. Hence, the crucial importance of the coming General Election. With a two-third majority in parliament and with one brother as Prime Minister, the supremacist’s agenda would walk through easily for implementation. The big question is, does GR realise the hidden danger in this pernicious agenda and his own future if he fails to go along with supremacist demands. For instance, GR’s rejection of power sharing with minorities by implementing the 13th amendment, which he agreed to do in front of the Indian Prime Minister in Delhi, but backed down after returning home and argued that the ‘majority’ was unwilling, shows PGR’s sad predicament. He did not say that he was not willing but the so called ‘majority’, and hiding behind that majority is the powerful supremacist minority. It is this minority that also wants the national anthem sung only in Sinhala, and it is this minority that demands all madrasas be closed. When the Government decided to register the madrasas, militant bhikkus were up in arms criticising that move and demanded nothing less than total closure. GR is well and truly trapped into the supremacist net and once they secure him his desired two-third majority at the General Election they will have a stranglehold on the President. That is where the danger lies to the country and GR. Supremacists’ relentless attack on the minorities cannot go on forever without provoking retaliation. It appears that even after a 30-year civil war and last year’s Easter massacre of colossal magnitude, both costing the country incalculable losses, these supremacists have not learnt their lessons. This may be the reason why GR has strengthened the security forces and its intelligence branch, through purge, promotions and recruitment. The decision to employ 100,000 young men and women from poor families also appears to have a military tinge. His deployment of the military to all districts, in the name of turning ‘swordsmen into ploughmen’, is the soft face of militarising the country. He has to do this because he realises the danger of domestic convulsions arising out of supremacists’ reckless demands and lawless behaviour. If this continues unchecked the country will have no alternative but to become a police state, and that is not going to bring GR’s ‘prosperity and splendour’, but misery and mayhem. What if GR rejects the supremacists? SWRD tried to do that in 1957 and paid with his life. Does the country want that history to repeat? SWRD was socialist minded and was not a born racist. He wanted to take the country on a new direction and took the cause of Sinhala language and Buddhism purely to win an election, and brought in the clergy to campaign for his victory. “Here were the best election agents any politician could wish for – 12,000 men whose words were holy to over 5,000,000 people, campaigning for the downfall of the Government, zealously and, what is more gratis,” wrote the veteran journalist, Tarzi Vittachie (Emergency ‘58: The Story of the Ceylon Riots, London, 1958, p. 19). Once he took the genie out of the bottle he could not put it back. Similarly, with a military background, an exposure to life in the democratic melting pot of USA, and with some grasp of how the Asian Tigers over the last few decades became economic power houses, Gota also wants to take Sri Lanka in a new direction for ‘prosperity and splendour’. He has plenty of constructive ideas and some of them have been translated into action already. However, like SWRD, political necessity has made Gota also to fall into the hands of supremacists. He should be saved from their clutches, and the best way to save him is to deny the two-third majority he is looking for. Mother Lanka should feed her baby not with what the baby wants, but with what she thinks is best for the baby. (The writer is attached to the School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia.) http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2020/01/sri-lanka-saving-gotabaya.html?m=1
  10. Sri Lanka finally admits 20,000 missing Tamils are dead Joe Wallen, New Delhi Tamils have long campaigned for the government to release information on the whereabouts of the 20,000 people who went missing during Sri Lanka's Civil War Credit:HO/Reuters The new Sri Lankan president has finally admitted the 20,000 missing Tamils who vanished during the nation's civil war are dead. Gotabaya Rajapaksa - who was then defence secretary - led government troops to victory over Tamil soldiers, but his forces were accused of carrying out mass disappearances and executions. It is the first time the government has admitted its complicity despite the conflict ending in 2009. The move crucially comes as he is about to introduce legislation granting immunity to those who carried out abuses, according to local media reports. Mr Rajapaksa made the announcement during a meeting with a United Nations envoy in Colombo, the country's capital, and has said official death certificates will be issued. He said the admission would bring closure to families and he hoped Tamil politicians would not use it as an opportunity to cause unrest. Sri Lanka's bloody civil war began in 1983 and raged for 26 years, claiming an estimated 100,000 lives. It was fought along ethnic and religious lines and ended with victory for the Buddhist Sinhalese-majority government at the expense of the Hindu Tamil-minority which was fighting for independence. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is also reportedly about to announce legislation offering immunity to those who carried out human rights abuses Credit: Harish Tyagi/REX While atrocities were committed on both sides the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported how government troops carried out unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and gender-based violence en masse against Tamils. Atrocities carried out by government forces in the final year of the conflict are considered some of the worst human rights abuses in history. Mobile phone footage documented government soldiers systematically executing bound and blindfolded civilians. Heavy artillery was also repeatedly launched into a 'no fire zone' resulting in the deaths of up to 70,000 largely Tamil civilians, according to the UN. Human Rights Watch has documented the continued disappearance and torture of Tamil activists and journalists after the end of the conflict. Local media reported today that Mr Rajapaksa is also set to introduce new laws which will grant immunity to members of the government accused of human rights abuses during the war. Tamil activists say they must be held accountable but Mr Rajapaksa says this will impede the post-Civil War peace process. Mr Rajapaksa is considered a hero among the Buddhist Sinhalese-majority as his heavy-handed approach finally brought the war to an end. He was elected as the new Sri Lankan President on the back of this popularity surge in November. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/terror-and-security/sri-lanka-finally-admits-20000-missing-tamils-dead/
  11. Sri Lanka civil war: Rajapaksa says thousands missing are dead 1 hour ago Share this with Facebook Share this with WhatsApp Share this with Messenger Share this with Twitter Share Image copyrightREUTERS Image captionMore than 20,000 people were missing at the end of the country's civil war Sri Lanka's president has acknowledged for the first time that more than 20,000 people who disappeared during the country's civil war are dead. Gotabaya Rajapaksa made the remark in a meeting with a UN envoy in the capital, Colombo. Steps would be taken to issue death certificates for those missing, a statement from his office said. Hundreds of families of the missing have been attending rallies demanding to know where their loved ones are. Many have held out hope that their relatives were still alive and in the hands of the security forces, a view rejected by the government. These families meet and hold daily vigils to protest and to keep their relatives’ memories alive. What's the background? The Sri Lankan army defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 after 26 years of bloody conflict. The war divided Sri Lanka along ethnic lines - pitting the majority Buddhist Sinhalese-dominated government against Tamil rebels who wanted a separate state. The fighting killed an estimated 100,000 people and left about 20,000, mostly Tamils, missing. President Rajapaksa was Sri Lanka's defence secretary at the time and played a leading role in crushing the rebels. He is hailed as a hero by many in the Sinhalese population but deeply distrusted by the Tamil community. Media captionHow the army finally crushed Tamil Tiger rebels after 25 years of bloody war At the end of the war, the United Nations accused both sides of atrocities, especially during the conflict's final stages. There were numerous accounts of Tamil forces being killed as they tried to surrender, or after being taken into custody. The government strenuously denied such claims despite compelling video evidence. Enforced disappearances continued in the years after the war as businessmen, journalists and activists seen as opponents of Mr Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, who was then president, were rounded up and never seen again. The Rajapaksa government denied any role in the disappearances. Earlier this year, Gotabaya Rajapaksa told the BBC that war crimes allegations against him were "baseless" . Media captionThe BBC has been to the northern town of Killinochi to talk to those Tamil families still waiting for answers What has the government said? The statement, on the president's meeting with UN resident co-ordinator Hanaa Singer, said most of the missing had been conscripted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). "President Rajapaksa outlined his plans to address the issue of missing persons. He explained that these missing persons are actually dead," the statement said. "The families of the missing attest to it. However, they do not know what has become of them and so claim them to be missing," he said. Under Sri Lankan law, not having death certificates means that families cannot access property deeds, bank accounts or inheritances left by those missing relatives. 'Why can't you find our sons?' Mass grave: Dozens of skeletons found in Mannar The broken survivors of Sri Lanka's civil war The UN and other rights groups have pressed the Sri Lankan government to establish a war crimes tribunal to investigate allegations of human rights abuses - both by the military and the Tamil rebels. Successive Sri Lankan governments have resisted such attempts, saying it is a domestic issue and the allegations should be investigated internally. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51184085
  12. US official delivers Trump’s threatening message to Sri Lankan president By K. Ratnayake 20 January 2020 US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G. Wells delivered a letter from President Donald Trump to President Gotabhaya Rajapakse during a one-day trip to Sri Lanka last Wednesday. The letter, according to the media, emphasised the White House’s “commitment and interest in furthering and deepening [its] partnership” with the island nation. Wells held discussions with President Rajapakse and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, as well as Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Tamil National Alliance chiefs R. Sambandan and M. A. Sumanthiran, and “civil society” leaders. Wells was accompanied by Liza Curtis, the Senior Director for South and Central Asia on the US National Security Council and Aliana Teplitz, the US ambassador to Colombo. Significantly, Wells’ trip—part of a nine-day South Asia tour—followed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Sri Lanka, which began last Monday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was also in Colombo on Wednesday. Gotabhaya Rajapakse (AP Photo) These high-level visits underscore the increasing rivalry over influence in the Indian Ocean region, primarily between the US and India, Washington’s key ally in South Asia, on one hand, and China and Russia, on the other. Strategically-located, Sri Lanka straddles important Indian Ocean sea lanes. In its attempts to maintain world hegemony, the US is deepening its military buildup and trade war measures against China. Washington’s concerns over Sri Lanka have deepened with Rajapaske’s election as president and his appointment of his brother, a former president, as prime minister. The US considers both men to be pro-China. While the US previously backed Mahinda Rajapakse’s anti-democratic government and its brutal war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Washington was hostile to Colombo’s close relations with China. In late 2014, Washington initiated a regime-change operation to remove Mahinda Rajapakse, who was ousted in the January 2015 elections and replaced by Maithripala Sirisena as a pro-US president. Wells told the media that she discussed with Gotabhaya Rajapakse “a wider and safer Indo-Pacific region [and] other issues of mutual interest.” The US wanted to strengthen ties by “expanding cooperation on economy and trade, counter-terrorism, security, military-to-military engagements, transitional justice and human rights.” These are code-words to justify the increasing build-up of US military forces across the region. According to media reports, Wells reiterated Washington’s opposition to Beijing’s influence in Sri Lanka. She voiced concerns about Chinese investments and denounced the Hambantota Port agreement as “unsuccessful and an injustice to the Sri Lankan people.” In 2018, Sirisena’s government signed over Hambantota Port to a Chinese company in a 99-year lease as part of a deal to phase-out massive loans from Chinese banks for the facility’s construction. Wells’ message from Trump was clear. Washington will not tolerate any weakening of the military and political relations it built-up over four years under Sirisena. Wells praised increasing US-Sri Lanka military cooperation and hailed last year’s 18-ship US visit and the ever-closer integration of the Sri Lankan military into the US Pacific Command. Washington is pushing for a renewal of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) it secured with Sri Lanka in 1995, but with new provisions. The new clauses would permit American military bases and provide free access and immunity for all US forces operating in Sri Lanka. The Trump administration also wants Colombo to sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement, a US foreign policy aid deal. During the recent presidential elections, Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna criticised the MCC and SOFA in an attempt to capitalise on popular anti-imperialist sentiment. But once Rajapakse took office, he established a special body to assess the MCC’s “merits and demerits.” Wells thanked Rajapakse for setting up this review committee but asked for an early response to its findings. She said “any concerns” about the SOFA could be discussed after the Sri Lankan parliamentary elections, due to be held in about four months. The US, Wells warned, “is Sri Lanka’s largest export market and this was a partnership beneficial to both the countries.” She told the media that she discussed Colombo’s commitment to the UN Human Rights Council, the return of land seized during the war with the LTTE, the provision of information to relatives of missing individuals, and concerns by Tamils and other minorities and opposition parties over accountability. This is a thinly-veiled threat that numerous issues can be exploited to force Sri Lanka to toe the US line. The Obama administration cynically used human rights violations by Mahinda Rajapakse’s regime to pressure Colombo to distance itself from Beijing. A day earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang had met with the Sri Lankan president, telling him that Beijing’s attitude toward Sri Lanka had always been consistent and that China would continue to be a “reliable” friend. “As Sri Lanka’s strategic partner, China will continue to stand by Sri Lanka’s interests,” Wang declared. “We will not allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka.” Wang did not name the “outside influences,” but clearly was referring to the US and India, which are seeking to scuttle Colombo’s relations with China. The Sri Lankan government, which faces massive debt repayments and a deepening economic crisis, is seeking international financial assistance, particularly from China. President Rajapakse, who is due to visit China early next month, responded to Wang’s remarks by declaring that he was “an admirer of President Xi Jinping” and “followed his speeches and statements closely.” Wang indicated that China would offer financial help, including the phasing-out of debt repayments, and “meet with necessary parties that can help Sri Lanka in the areas of technology, tourism, infrastructure and other related fields.” Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov met with Gunawardena, his counterpart, and voiced his readiness to strengthen relations with Sri Lanka. Lavrov said Russia would “provide the Sri Lankan forces with all the weapons they need for security” and wanted to boost annual bilateral trade—currently $US400 million—to $700 million. Russia, which also faces aggressive US military encirclement, last year held joint military exercises with China and Iran. The three countries are targets in Washington’s over-arching military strategy to dominate the oil-rich Middle East and Eurasia. Amid these developments, India is engaged in strenuous efforts to keep Sri Lanka under its strategic dominance. Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar visited Sri Lanka three days after Rajapakse’s election, and Rajapakse then visited New Delhi to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last week, Foreign Minister Gunawardena visited India to meet his counterpart and a business delegation. In early February, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse is scheduled to visit India at Modi’s invitation. Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who has rapidly elevated key military figures into his administration, demagogically claims that he will maintain a “neutral foreign policy.” But under conditions of intensifying great power rivalry, the whole Indian sub-continent is being sucked into a geopolitical maelstrom and the danger of a catastrophic war between the nuclear-armed US and China. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/01/20/slus-j20.html
  13. An update on Sri Lanka’s lost opportunities The book suggests that Sri Lanka’s foreseeable future will be a fascinating interplay of continuity and change and therefore, well worth watching. By P.K.Balachandran Colombo, January 20 (Ceylon Today): “Annihilating the Demons of Sri Lanka: An Unfinished Story” by veteran Indian journalist Apratim Mukarji (Konark Publishers New Delhi-Seattle 2019) updates Sri Lanka’s “lost opportunities” to pull together, solve its national ethnic question and move on to making itself a genuinely integrated democracy. Almost everything written in the 214-page book is meticulously sourced and presented in a reader-friendly and stylish way by Mukarji who had served in Sri Lanka as Correspondent of the New Delhi-based daily Hindustan Times for six years in the 1990s. But what he has written is not on the events of the 1990s but what happened since. He had visited the island several times, breathed its air, and sensed its mood in-situ, although an overwhelming reliance on secondary material is apparent. Although the contents are gloomy and the forecast for Sri Lanka is none too bright, “Annihilating the Demons of Sri Lanka” is a very useful chronicle of, and a reference book on, recent events in the island nation. It even has a bit about the follow up on the April 21, 2019 Easter Sunday bombings. As the title “Unfinished Story” suggests, Mukarji sees Sri Lanka has an evolving phenomenon with new factors coming into play. He has touched upon the entry of China and the impact of that on Indo-Lankan relations. Relations with India had been the pivot of Lanka’s foreign policy till the advent of China in 2010. He has also written on the new phenomenon “Islamophobia”. The author has critiqued the performance of the “Yahapalanaya” or the “Good Governance” regime led by President Maithripala Sirisena Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe between 2015 and 2019 and predicted the return of the nationalist Rajapaksas to continue the Sinhala-majoritarian trend in Lankan politics. The book suggests that Sri Lanka’s foreseeable future will be a fascinating interplay of continuity and change and therefore, well worth watching. This reviewer is sure that Mukarji, who has already written two books on Sri Lanka, will return to write more. A quote from Luxika Nagendiran (Isolation) sums up Mukarji’s dismal assessment of the current situation and the future of Sri Lanka: “I too have my dreams and desires, but my only visitor is disappointment.” The prologue is titled: “ Sri Lanka: A Suicidal Plunge”. After recounting the events running up to the Presidential election, the author concludes by saying: “ The Tamils, Muslims and Christians have sensed the coming of bad times and they are definitely free of any illusion. Sri Lankan history contains too many tell-tale lessons for them to make any further mistake.” In the Introduction, where the author describes the failed October 2018 coup, staged by President Sirisena against his own Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, he says that even that failed coup which tarred the image of former President and short-lived Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, actually helped the latter as it brought out the deep cleavage in the ruling coalition between the United National Party (UNP) of Wickremesinghe and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of Sirisena. In the chapter entitled “”Counting of Wounds” the author talks about Rajapaksa’s tactics to stage a comeback. Noting that the Rainbow Coalition government depended on support from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) formed by the Rajapaksas, started linking the TNA with the LTTE and spoke about the revival of the LTTE in the Tamil-majority Northern Province with the help of the TNA. This absurd allegation was combined with some solid work at the ground level by the SLPP in the Sinhala-dominated areas in the South. Under the leadership of Basil Rajapaksa, former Economic Development minister under his brother and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SLPP was mapping out the needs of villagers throughout Sri Lanka. Data on each and every village was collected under the supervision of experts. They were computerized and interpreted by experts. With such detailed data, the SLPP hoped to cater to the felt needs of the people if and when it comes to power. Even the government would not have such comprehensive data at the click of a mouse. In the chapter entitled “Why do wounds fester?” Mukarji talks about the growing tension between Hindu Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims. He perceived some North Indian influence among the Hindus which sharpened the existing Tamil-Muslim divide. Like the Sinhalese Buddhists, the Hindu Tamils were developing a fear psychosis about a “sudden attack” by the Muslims. They were also wary about Muslims setting up their own university which they suspected could be a Wahabi Trojan Horse to prepare students for a Jihad of sorts. In the multi-ethnic Eastern Province, a coalition of Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Sinhalese was talked about to resist alleged Muslim expansionism. Commenting on this, Mukarji says: “A veritable communal cauldron, far more complex than what had been experienced so far, could well be on the boil.” The sharp divide between the Tamil North and the Sinhalese South is described in fascinating detail in the chapter entitled: “Colombo and Jaffna- One Nation, Two Worlds.” The disdain that the Northern Tamils have for Colombo’s path to reconciliation through development of war-destroyed infrastructure is expressed in a quote from Luxika Nagendiran.She writes in “Voice of an old woman on victory day”: “One day we too will celebrate our Victory Day. Not your demolitions and reconstructions, but our freedom to honor without fear.” The reference was to the ban on the Tamils’ mourning their dead including LTTE cadres on “Martyrs’ Day.” Mukarji says that while Sinhalese and Muslims had also been killed in the war and LTTE terrorist bombings, Tamils had suffered more casualties and “so, the issue of delayed transitional justice carries a much deeper sense of agony for theTamils.” Mukarji quotes a report of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice to say that despite some “significant improvement” in the human rights situation under the Yahapalanaya government after 2015, “much remains to be done to break the legacy of authoritarianism”. The report warned that the “measures adopted by the Sri Lankan security agencies in the name of preventing violence may in fact be hastening its return.” There is a whole chapter on Islamophobia. It is the most recent addition to the witches’ brew. It is a fresh challenge to the Sinhalese leadership but Mukarji’s assessment of what might happen is not very encouraging. “The call for peaceful coexistence may never be heeded”, he warns. “Reconciliation: Hopes fading away” is the heading of another chapter. Mukarji deals with Indo-Lanka relations with special emphasis on the dispute over fishing rights and China’s appearance on the horizon challenging a long standing Indian monopoly over Sri Lanka. Based as it is mainly on secondary material interspersed with personal interviews with minority and liberal persons, the book, like most others by foreign authors, is somewhat one-sided. The materials garnered for the book are from the English language media which generally reflect the concerns of the minority Tamils ( and lately of the minority Muslims too). Therefore, the book, like most others in the English language, does not take into account the majority Sinhalese’s views and arguments, fears and apprehensions, and hopes and aspirations, though it is the majority Sinhalese’s view of themselves and their place in the island, the region and the world, which have determined State policy in Sri Lanka ever since universal adult franchise was introduced in the island in 1931. An empathetic appreciation of the majority community’s psyche is necessary to find a realistic, homegrown and durable solution to the communal question in Sri Lanka. (The picture at the top shows Tamils demonstrating on the issue of the missing. They feel little has been done to trace the war-time missing youth) https://newsin.asia/an-update-on-sri-lankas-lost-opportunities/
  14. India moves to seek closer military ties with Sri Lanka India offered $450m in aid to Sri Lanka during President Gotabaya's visit to New Delhi last November [File: Altaf Hussain/Reuters] Sri Lanka and India have pledged to strengthen military ties and widen maritime links with neighbours after security talks, the president's office said on Sunday, as New Delhi moves to counter Chinese influence in the region. China, a longtime regional rival of India, has been widening its footprint in the region, including building ports and expressways and upgrading airports in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met on Saturday with recently elected Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and discussed setting up a maritime research coordination centre, Rajapaksa's office said in a statement. It did not give details of the proposed centre but said other nations in the region should be included as observers. It said the two countries also discussed closer military and coastguard cooperation. 'Geography a big advantage for India' "Sri Lanka-India military ties go back a long way so it's nothing new, but what is important is clearly a greater incentive for these ties because of the China factor," said Jabin Thomas Jacob, Associate Professor at Shiv Nadar University in Noida, India. "India cannot match China in terms of economic clout but geography is a big advantage for India, therefore India's neighbours have to take that into account." The meeting followed Gotabaya's visit to New Delhi last November for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who offered $450m in aid to Sri Lanka after his landslide victory in the presidential election. Sri Lanka has been facing an economic and debt crisis, and a series of attacks last April wiped out its vibrant tourism sector plunging the South Asian island nation into further economic and security uncertainty. Local media reports said Gotabaya will travel to China - his second foreign visit since coming to power - while his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will visit India on his first overseas trip. No exact dates have been announced, but official sources said it could happen within weeks. Chinese investments in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka has traditionally been allied to India, but China invested and loaned billions of dollars to the island nation during the decade-long (2005-2015) reign of Gotabaya's elder brother, Mahinda, who presided over the defeat of Tamils separatists in 2009. Sri Lanka’s foreign policy was tilted heavily towards China under Mahinda, who fell out with the West over human rights and allegations of war crimes at the end of the civil war. Chinese investments had grown under the previous Colombo government too. On Tuesday, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with President Gotabaya during a brief transit stop in Colombo and the two men discussed the president's impending Beijing visit. "As Sri Lanka's strategic partner, China will continue to stand by Sri Lanka's interests," Gotabaya's office quoted Wang as saying. The visit will focus on technology, tourism and infrastructure as well as other areas, the president's office said last week. Gotabaya in December warned India and Western nations that Sri Lanka would be forced to seek more finance from China if they do not invest in the island. Sri Lanka was forced to hand over the strategic Hambantota port south of Colombo to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease after the government at the time said it was unable to repay loans taken to build it. Bilal Kuchay contributed to this report from New Delhi https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/india-moves-seek-closer-military-ties-sri-lanka-200120062906351.html
  15. Sri Lanka: Who damages the judiciary? January 18, 2020 Columns, feature, Victor Ivan by Victor Ivan The collection of recorded telephone conversations of Ranjan Ramanayaka can be said to have become a kind of collection of short films that reveal the degeneration of the entire institutional system of the country while conveying the message of it to the people in a simple and straightforward way. The reading habits of both politicians and the public of Sri Lanka are limited. They read very little. Therefore, the service that can be rendered by serious books or articles is limited. But, it is easy to understand the short footage of Ranjan’s voice recordings. They even contain the element of obscenity or vulgarity which generally people are fond of. These voice recordings while revealing the nakedness of the entire institutional system and the extent of its degeneration, make the public feel the stench emanating from it. In this backdrop, perceived from a historical sense, the country appears to be fast moving towards anarchy. The content of these short video clips can be said to have accelerated the speed of the move towards anarchy. I have long been a critic of the degeneration of the institutional system of the country and the need for structural reforms to rectify it. I have written a considerable number of books and articles on this subject. It does not require a great knowledge like rocket science to understand this decay and degeneration. A serious mistake might become a difficult issue to put right when it is not addressed immediately, as and when it happened. A thing that can be nipped in the bud, after some time, might become difficult even to cut with an axe. It is this lackadaisical approach that overshadows the political arena of Sri Lanka, which has caused the entire institutional system to fall into the current state of pathetic degeneration. In this article, I hope to explain the background of the degeneration of the institutional system based on the unique experience I have gained of the judiciary of Sri Lanka. Though the short videos of Ranjan’s telephone conversations might help to get a glimpse of the degeneration, it, however, will not lead to an in-depth understanding of the magnitude of the issue. If the system is to be redeemed from the present predicament, it is essential that Sri Lanka must have a deep knowledge and understanding of the issue. Galtung’s vision I wish to begin this analysis quoting some comments made by Professor Johan Galtung about Sri Lanka at a discussion I had with him. He is a mathematician and a sociologist, and one of the most respected theorists in the field of conflict resolution, in the world. He must be around 70 years old and has written more than 100 books. The book titled ‘Gatum Nirakaranaya Pilibanda Siddhi Adhyanayak’, published by the Ravaya is the sinhala translation of the book – ‘A case study of conflict resolution’ authored by Professor Johan Galtung. I must say that the Ravaya translated and published it at his request. He has been to Sri Lanka more than 20 times. He came to Sri Lanka when the country was struck by the tsunami in 2005. One evening, at his request, I met him at the place where he stayed in Colombo. He initiated a fairly lengthy discussion on Sri Lanka based on the book titled ‘Nonimi Aragalaya’ (An unfinished struggle) authored by me. He said that he found a copy of the English translation of the book and had read about half of it and made a brief commentary on Sri Lanka based on what he had learnt from the book. “I couldn’t read your book completely. I have read about half of it. The Supreme Court of any country is ranked as the highest point of the institutional hierarchy; it is like the peak of a high mountain. All the other institutions are presumed to be lying below the Supreme Court. Therefore, if the Supreme Court is overwhelmed by flood, then it goes without saying that all the other institutions which lie below cannot escape being submerged ,” he said. The observation of the professor was absolutely correct. The Rapist Magistrate I got involved in the judicial crisis described in the above book as a result of an accidental encounter of an incident in my professional career. I was compelled to inquire into, and report on an incident in which a magistrate had sexually abused the wife of a defendant in a case heard by him, by prolonging his detention in the remand custody, contrary to the law. Upon inquiry into the matter, I was able to detect that the Magistrate in question, prior to joining the judiciary, had worked in the Insurance Corporation and been dismissed from the service following a formal investigation held into a financial fraud committed by him. The said Magistrate, on the advice of Sarath Silva, the Attorney General, filed a complaint against me at the CID to initiate a criminal defamation case against me. An investigation was begun against me, but on account of the facts revealed during the course of the inquiry, it took a different turn and became an inquiry against the magistrate himself. Accordingly, the investigators obtained a statement from the women who had been raped by the magistrate. They also found out the facts about his dismissal from the Insurance Corporation. After the investigation was over, the CID sent its report to the Attorney General for further advice. If the Attorney General had an iota of sense, after reading the report, even if he had ignored the rape case, he should have taken stern action against the Magistrate for joining the judiciary by not disclosing his past record of employment in which he had been dismissed from service over a financial fraud by his former employer. Instead, what the Attorney General did was to hold back the investigation report and sit on it. The vicious role of the AG Later, I complained about the matter to Prof. G.L. Peiris, the then Minister of Justice. The Minister inquired, in writing from Sarath Silva, the Attorney General about the report of the inquiry. In response, the Attorney General sent a confidential report to the Minister of Justice. This led me to conclude that, like Magistrate Lenin Ratnayake, the Attorney General Sarath Silva also must be a corrupt person. This prompted me to delve into the personal character of the Attorney General. It was in consequence of this searching that I came to know about a divorce case filed by one Jayasekera, a Chemical Engineer against his wife naming Sarath Silva, the Attorney General also as a co-respondent. Sarath Silva, contravening the law, manipulated Upali Abeyratne, the District Judge who heard this case to oppress Jayasekara, the plaintiff of the case, outrageously. Jayasekera, in turn filed a complaint against Upali Abeyratne, the District Judge, with the Judicial Service Commission. In response to the complaint made by Jayasekara, the Judicial Service Commission investigated the matter and Upali Abeyratne was found guilty, and the report of the investigation was sent to the Attorney General to initiate legal action against him. Tissa Bandaranaike and Mark Fernando were the two Supreme Court judges who had conducted the investigation. It was around this time that Sarath Silva who worked as the President of the Court of Appeal was appointed Attorney General by President Chandrika Bandaranaike after the government change in 1994. Sarath Silva, following his appointment as the Attorney General, swept under the carpet, the report sent by the Judicial Service Commission, to protect Upali Abeyratne, the District Judge who acted on his advice, contrary to the law in the case filed by the chemical engineer naming him (Sarath Silva) also a co-respondent of the case. Mediation of Bar Association Upon finding this information, without limiting my struggle against Magistrate Lenin Ratnayake, I had to change my stance, and raise my voice against the District Judge Upali Abeyratne and Attorney General Sarath Silva also. Finally, Romesh de Silva, the head of the Bar Association, convened a conference of former presidents of the Bar Association to seek their advice on the policy of the Bar Association in regard to the reports I had published in respect of the Attorney General and the two judges. Along with the letter sent to the invitees, the Bar Association had sent photocopies of the reports I had published about Attorney General Sarath Silva and the two Judges – Lenin Ratnayake and Upali Abeyratne. This special meeting of the Presidents of Bar Association was held at the residence of H.L. de Silva, the most distinguished and respected celebrity among the lawyers. The decision reached at this meeting was as follows. 1.The charges against the two judges should be investigated. 2.If the allegations against the two judges were proven, they should be strictly prosecuted and the allegations levelled against the Attorney General should be investigated. Consequently, the Judicial Service Commission headed by the Chief Justice was compelled to appoint two Committees consisting of the Judges of the Court of Appeal to investigate the allegations levelled against the two judges by me. Two committees of investigation The investigation against Lenin Ratnayake was initiated with my testimony. I had to produce the two women who were sexually abused by the Magistrate, and their husbands as witness. One woman had been raped at Gampola rest house coaxing her that the magistrate wanted to take a statement from her. The other woman had been raped in the Magistrate’s chamber itself; the lawyer who appeared for the defendant in that case was guarding the entrance to the chamber while the Magistrate was inside with the women. Perhaps, no one has ever heard of an occasion in which a woman connected with a court case was raped by the Magistrate who heard the case, inside his official chamber itself, appointing the lawyer who appeared on her behalf, to guard the entrance to the chamber. The committee of investigation had to summon two lawyers of the Court as witnesses to testify the truth of the case. One such person was Balagalla who later became the Governor of the North Western Provincial Council. Lenin Ratnayake came before the committee of inquiry, accompanied by a large group of lawyers led by a leading President’s Counsel. However, the Defendants’ attorneys were unable to refute the testimony of the two women and their husbands, who came from poor rural background and were not educated. The lengthy cross-examination of the witnesses further confirmed the authenticity of their statements. Later, the husband of one woman, to avenge his wife’s rape, hurled a polythene bag filled with human excreta at the Magistrate while his case was being heard in the courtroom. The other had made a vain attempt to murder the Magistrate. Lenin Ratnayake testified before the committee of inquiry, but he did not appear before the committee of inquiry to be cross-examined. In the end, the committee of inquiry proceeded with the inquiry ex parte and found Lenin Ratnayake guilty of all the four charges. As the District Judge Upali Abeyratne did not challenge the allegations against him, the committee of inquiry recommended to the Judicial Service Commission to send him on retirement from the Judicial Service with immediate effect. Thrusting the AG to the wall After winning these two investigations, I wanted to bring to the fore an investigation against Attorney General Sarath Silva following the recommendation made by the former presidents of the Bar Association. I lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court requesting it to strike the name of the Attorney General Sarath Silva off the Roll of Attorneys-at-Law for his gross misconduct of concealing the misdemeanour of the corrupt Magistrate Lenin Ratnayaka and protecting him. The Chief Justice (GPS de Silva) had submitted my complaint to the Supreme Court judges, in the order of their seniority and informed them to express their opinion as to whether my complaint should be investigated or not. Only three judges namely Priyantha Perera, D.P.S. Gunasekara and L.G.H. Weerasekera were of the opinion that it should not be investigated. All the other judges were in favour of an investigation. Meanwhile, chemical engineer Jayasekera who filed a divorce case against his wife making Sarath Silva, a co-respondent of the case, also lodged a petition in the Supreme Court demanding that the name of the Attorney General Sarath Silva is revoked from the Roll of Attorneys-at-Law. Finally, the Chief Justice entrusted Amir Ismail with the responsibility of inquiring into my petition while that of Jayasekera’s petition was assigned to Shirani Bandaranayake. Mark Fernando was entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating both investigations. G.P.S. De Silva retired from the post of Chief Justice when the investigations of the two committees had been commenced and were in progress. President Chandrika Kumaratunga considered the judiciary as an anti-government entity as the Supreme Court had ruled out several activities conducted by the Government which were contrary to the law. She had concerns for a new constitution and a presidential election for a second term. She considered that it was essential to bring the Supreme Court to a level where she could control it and overcome the legal obstacles. Attorney General Sarath Silva was a close confidante of her, who was trapped in a quandary at that time facing inquiries before the Supreme Court. She decided that the best way to wield her power over the Supreme Court and overcome the legal restrictions on her plans would be to help Sarath Silva to get over his problems and appoint him as the Chief Justice. It is not befitting for the head of the state to appoint a person against whom an inquiry was being conducted by the Supreme Court, as the head of the Supreme Court. It can be considered an extremely preposterous act that the head of the state shouldn’t have done at all. Apparently, she had done this against the advice of H.L. de Silva and K.W. Gunasekara, her legal counsellors, who had urged her not to do that. Param Kumaraswamy, the topmost UN official on the subject of judiciary, also condemned her action. Chief Justice Sarath Silva The arduous struggle that I launched against Chief Justice Sarath Silva and was nearing a logical end of it was all of a sudden plunged into an anti climax by this indecorous act of the president. I expressed my protest by reporting this news as a black issue in the front page of the Ravaya newspaper with the caption ‘demise of the independence of the judiciary’ and featuring the picture depicting the new chief justice taking oath before the president, up side down. Thereafter, three activists including me filed a fundamental rights case against the Chief Justice challenging his appointment as the Chief Justice. The case was filed not because we expected to have justice meted out by a judiciary controlled by him, but to indicate that we would not abandon the struggle that had been launched. It became the focus of international attention. The International Lawyers Association sent a retired Chief Justice of Kerala, India on the days of its hearing to observe the proceedings. After seizing the judicial power, the Chief Justice turned the judiciary topsy turvy. The first thing he did was to come to the rescue of Upali Abeyratne. Consequently, the person who had been recommended to be sent on compulsory retirement from the judicial service eventually retired as a Judge of the Supreme Court. Although he tried to protect Lenin Ratnayake, it was not entirely successful. The damage done to the judiciary The damage done to the judiciary by the Chief Justice is immense. He deprived the judiciary of its solemnity and respect and made it a stinking place. He expelled the judges who refused to fall in line with him from the judiciary. Those whom he could not expel were made to be redundant and judges of no use. He distorted the system of governance in the country; passed judgements creating a system in which the members of the opposition can join the ruling party without losing their parliamentary seats; (mis)used judicial power to punish innocent people and imprison them. The chief justice of the country had close ties with certain people in the underworld. They spoke to the Chief Justice over the phone. He also used to talk to them over the phone. In a moral sense, he made the judiciary a desert. Once, the Chief Justice was caught by the police, while staying, half naked with a married female lawyer in a car parked near the Diyawanna Oya. The bust, the upper portion of his body was covered with a shirt and a tie while the rest of it was naked and without a trouser. Although this incident caused a great uproar in the country, both the ruling party and the opposition took it as a matter of joke and a source of fun and they did not consider the importance of safeguarding the dignity and the sanctity of the judiciary. The powerful and important people of the country, all of them remained aloof in the face of distortions created in the judiciary, leaving them to take root and become solidified. Nobody wanted to rectify the distortions that he caused to the judiciary. Instead, different parties exploited him to the fullest for their personal gains. Even the political parties like the JHU and the JVP obtained legal rulings favourable for their fame. The owners of the media institutions who came to his rescue during the difficult hour got their cases settled through the back door. Every one of them defended this man who had sacrileged the judiciary, as best as they could. After him, several other people held the post of Chief Justice. But none of them had made an attempt to cleanse the ugly dirt scattered on the sacred altar of judiciary. Not only the judiciary, but every other institution in the country is in a putrid state. Each of them has a story of its own that explains how they had become so. What Ranjan Ramanayaka has done, knowingly or unknowingly was to tear the curtains that concealed the ugly dirt scattered all over and everywhere and expose them. Sri Lanka’s rulers lack the discipline to act promptly and correct serious transgressions as and when they occur. As a result, the entire system of institutions has become corrupt and the transgressions and wrongdoings have been left to become crystallised and transfixed. If Sri Lanka wants to recover from this rotten mess, it is necessary that we go for far reaching structural reforms for all sectors. It is not something that the political parties alone can do. It should be a change that is made by the public with their direct involvement.