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விவசாயி விக்

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  1. Sri Lanka: Justice Undone for Massacre Victims Presidential Pardon Shows Rajapaksa’s Indifference to Army Atrocities March 27, 2020 10:20PM EDT Expand Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, sings the national anthem during an event to mark the anniversary of country's independence from British colonial rule in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. © 2020 AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena (New York) – Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s pardon of a soldier convicted of massacring eight civilians, including children, shows the administration’s disregard for justice for the worst abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. The conviction of former Sgt. Sunil Ratnayake had been one of the very few cases of security force personnel being criminally punished for civil war-era atrocities, despite the huge number of credible and extremely serious allegations. Ratnayake, who was pardoned on March 26, 2020, was found guilty in 2015 of killing eight civilians, including a 5-year-old, at Mirusuvil, in northern Sri Lanka, in 2000. The bodies of the victims showed signs of torture. The conviction had been upheld by Sri Lanka’s court of appeal. “The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government couldn’t make it any plainer to victims and their families that it opposes any form of justice for even the worst atrocities,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “Concerned governments need to take the government’s own message on board and respond appropriately to uphold basic human rights protections and prohibitions on war crimes.” Both government forces and the successionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were implicated in numerous abuses during the conflict, which ended with the LTTE’s defeat in 2009. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was defence secretary during the final stages of the civil war, when the United Nations has found that tens of thousands of civilians were killed, hospitals were shelled, and prisoners were summarily executed. He came to office as president in 2019, promising to release “war heroes” who had been imprisoned on “false” charges. “The Presidential pardon is an affront to victims and yet another example of the failure of Sri Lanka to fulfil its international human rights obligations to provide meaningful accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross violations of human rights,” noted a statement from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Pardoning one of the sole convicted perpetrators of atrocities committed during the Sri Lankan conflict further undermines the limited progress the country has made towards ending impunity for mass human rights abuse.” Since taking office, President Rajapaksa appointed army chief Shavendra Silva, who faces credible allegations of war crimes, as his chief of defence staff. In February, Silva was banned from entering the United Statesdue to the allegations against him. Rajapaksa has also appointed retired general Kamal Gunaratne, who is implicated in alleged war crimes committed by the army’s 53 Division, which he commanded, as defence secretary. Gunaratne is currently leading the government’s task force to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, the Sri Lankan government withdrew from its commitments under a UN Human Rights Council resolution that included provisions for justice for abuses committed by both sides during the civil war. That resolution, which was passed by consensus in 2015 and reaffirmed as recently as 2019, represented the commitment of UN member states and their strategy for upholding international human rights and humanitarian law for civil war-era violations. “The Rajapaksa government has appointed alleged perpetrators of war crimes to high office while pardoning one of the few soldiers convicted for a terrible offense,” Ganguly said. “It should be clear that to deliver justice for victims and to deter future atrocities, an international justice mechanism is needed in Sri Lanka.”
  2. Sri Lanka pardons soldier who killed Tamil civilians Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was to be hanged for murdering eight members of the Tamil minority in 2000. 6 hours ago President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has 'instructed the Ministry of Justice to release Sgt Ratnayake from prison', a spokeswoman for his office said [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters] Sri Lanka's president on Thursday pardoned and released an army officer sentenced to death for slitting the throats of Tamil civilians, including four children, during the island's bloody ethnic war. Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was to be hanged for the December 2000 killing in a case held up by previous Sri Lankan governments as an example of rare accountability over abuses during the conflict. More: Sri Lanka says it will withdraw from UN rights resolution How the UN failed Tamil civilians in 2009 Sri Lanka's Tamils are at imminent risk after Rajapaksa's return A court convicted him of murdering eight members of the Tamil minority, including a five-year-old and three teenagers after a 13-year trial. They were killed as they returned to their bombed homes to salvage what was left of their belongings and their bodies were found buried in a cesspit near an army camp at Mirusuvil on the Jaffna peninsula. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the officer's appeal and upheld the death penalty last year. But President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has now "instructed the Ministry of Justice to release Sergeant Ratnayake from prison", a spokeswoman for his office said. See Amnesty International South Asia's other Tweets Human Rights watchdog Amnesty International condemned the pardoning and said it was "reprehensible" to use the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to release those convicted of heinous crimes. "After many long years, the victims of the Mirusuvil massacre ... finally got a semblance of justice in 2015. It is despicable to have that justice reversed through an arbitrary executive decision," Amnesty's regional director Biraj Patnaik said in a statement. Rajapaksa, a retired army officer, came to power in November promising to free military personnel jailed for a string of offences during the previous administration. He and his brother Mahinda, now serving as prime minister, are adored by the island's Sinhala majority for spearheading the defeat of separatist Tamil rebels to end the country's 37-year Tamil separatist war in 2009. The armed forces were internationally condemned for atrocities committed during the conflict, but Sri Lankan soldiers have seldom been tried in civilian courts. Government troops are alleged to have killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final stages of the war - an allegation the Rajapaksas have denied. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka's main political party for the minority community, condemned what it said was an "opportunistic" decision to release Ratnayake
  3. Sri Lanka’s PM hints of new anti-conversion bill in face of “threat” to “traditional Buddhist families” Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa hinted that he is prepared to introduce an anti-conversion bill to “save this country” from falling into deep difficulties. On 2 March, Rajapaksa, a leading member of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community and brother of the country’s president, spoke shortly before the announcement of a general election, due to take place on 25 April but now postponed because of the coronavirus. Addressing the annual convention of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, a network of 324 councils responsible for running Buddhist Dhamma schools, Rajapaksa outlined the “threats facing the Sinhala Buddhist nation”. He identified the conversion of “traditional Buddhist families to other religions” as a major “threat”. The Prime Minister said that he had recently attended a wedding of a friend where the family, which had been Buddhist for generations, had converted to another religion (which he did not name). Rajapaksa’s own wife, Shiranthi, is a practising Roman Catholic. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Rajapaksa implied that an anti-conversion bill could be introduced after the parliamentary elections if the Sanga Sabawa (Monks’ Council) unanimously agreed. “There are many that oppose it and that is why we don’t want to touch it,” Rajapaksa told his audience. “If you want it you must bring it forward unanimously otherwise it will be my neck on the line,” he added. The “unethical” conversions issue resonates with the nationalist slogan of “rata, jatiya, agama” (country, nation, religion) that is promoted to identify Theravada Sinhala-Buddhism. The 2009 draft bill stated an attempt to convert a person from one religion to another would be punishable with a jail sentence of up to seven years and a maximum fine of LKR500,000 (£2,220; $2,700; €2,400). The 2005 draft bill, which had proposed similar penalties, but lower maximum fines, was struck down by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court as being “inconsistent” with the constitution. Christian leaders in Sri Lanka say the latest proposal is part of the government’s pre-election campaign. “They are using extremism to be popular,” said a pastor. “They have already started to collect information regarding churches through local government authorities. I believe they are strategically working out something against the house church movement.” Another pastor added, “By pleasing the monks and voters, the government will try to get the majority seats in the next general election. The government has already started gathering data at the grassroots level. It is frightened to see the growth of the local churches in rural areas.” Anti-conversion legislation would criminalise conversions “by force, fraud and allurement”. This would be similar to the anti-conversion laws in place in several states of neighbouring India. These Indian laws, ironically called “Freedom of Religion” laws, ban the use of force, fraud or allurement in conversion. Their vague terms make Christians actively sharing their faith vulnerable to false accusation and many Indian Christians have been harassed and persecuted under these laws.
  4. The Sri Lankan Civil War, a murdered photographer and the after-life come together in Shehan Karunatilaka's latest By Aarushi Agrawal, Mar 24, 2020 10:18:47 IST The book’s vivid third-person narration is often marked by wry humour and hidden messages for readers. “I think humour is just a reaction to absurdity. In Chats, it’s the absurdity of our multi-pronged conflicts and of a disorganised afterlife. In Chinaman, it was the absurdity of sport and the importance placed on it,” he says. While Chats has a deeply political bent, his debut Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathewrevolved around an alcoholic journalist determined to track down a missing cricketer, commenting heavily on Sri Lankan society through cricket. “I’m guessing it was a reaction to all the cricket I was imbibing after Chinaman came out,” says Karunatilaka about this shift for his second novel. “People wanted to know which sport I’d write about next and I wanted to go as far from cricket and drunks as I could go. I began with the notion of writing a Colombo ghost story, and when I found out it had to be set in 1989, the political charging was inevitable,” he adds. In 2010, when Chinaman came out, Karunatilaka wasn’t certain he’d be read. However, his debut went on to win the Commonwealth Book Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, among other awards. This time around, while working on Chats, the main difference was that the author knew he’d be read. “You always feel pressure when writing something. You want it to not be boring and to be better than your last and as good as the other guy’s,” he says. He’s also aware that he has no say in whether his book will get short-listed or critically slammed. “So you have to get yourself to a point where you are satisfied that this is the book that you set out to write, regardless of whether everyone hates it. Easier said than done,” he adds. Finally, though, irrespective of critical response, he has a simple way of measuring success. “If you can write something that a total stranger can read and enjoy, I think that’s the real success. Everything else is marketing.” This meticulousness reflects in Karunatilaka’s writing process with Chats. While now the book makes for an easy read with a fast-paced plot, he had an earlier draft titled Devil Dance, full of philosophy and politics, too many characters, and too little plot. “That ate up three years and when I finally had the courage to come back to it, I began by constructing a plot to make sure that I had a robust enough story to hang all the politics, philosophy, and jokes on,” he says. And even as Chats has been 10 years in the making, Karunatilaka now has a third novel planned, which he hopes won’t take as long. https://www.firstpost.com/living/the-sri-lankan-civil-war-a-murdered-photographer-and-the-after-life-come-together-in-shehan-karunatilakas-latest-8155111.html
  5. Sri Lanka likely to record negative economic growth this year Contraction in economic growth for first time in 19 years Blowout budget deficit of close to 10% of GDP Economy set to go through “extremely bumpy ride” Extreme austerity appears to be need of the hour Sri Lanka’s economy is not spared by the massive shocks delivered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and due to the current multifaceted vulnerabilities, the country is likely to witness negative growth. Pointing out that Sri Lanka posted a negative growth last in 2001 (-1.4 percent), the first contraction since the country gained independence, JB Securities Managing Director and economist Murtaza Jafferjee said, “It is likely that 2020 will also be one of negative growth. With this shock, it is highly likely we will have a year of negative growth and will have an absolute blowout budget deficit of close to 10 percent of GDP.” Jafferjee made these comments while sharing with Mirror Business the impacts the national economy would go through as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. While the first big hit is to economic growth, Jafferjee said the second big hit would be on the country’s fiscal situation, since with the massive tax cuts that came into effect a few months ago, together with the slow growth the country was already witnessing, the tax revenue is set to further decline. Jafferjee said this comes at a time when the government has to increase expenditure to support the vulnerable population. “Sri Lanka needs money at a time when the poorest population is most vulnerable. We have a large amount of debt that has to be rolled over by the latter part of the year. Firms will go into losses in March that will spill into April. “Furthermore, although oil prices have come down, Sri Lanka’s import bill has not reduced; we will have to have significant curbs on imports to maintain the balance of payments (BoP),” he said. Jafferjee cautioned that the economy would go through an “extremely bumpy ride” and what could precipitate a bigger disaster is that due to a pending election, the usual prudent fiscal measures would be held back because of political consequences. “We need extreme austerity, a set of political-economic policies, to conserve foreign exchange, which would entail quite a bit of hardship to the population. But, when you factor in, the current government has to have the election soon, they may not do it and this could worsen the problem,” he warned. JB Securities is a Colombo-based equity brokerage and research house. The Central Bank earlier this month said Sri Lanka’s economic growth could slump to 3.5 percent this year, from earlier projected over 4 percent growth, as revenue from exports, tourism, remittances and logistics, would be hit by the recent escalation of the coronavirus outbreak to a ‘global health emergency’, spreading beyond China. The Central Bank was earlier projecting the country’s subpar economic growth to recover in the range of 3.7-4.5 percent, driven by fiscal and monetary stimulus. (SAA)
  6. Sri Lanka delays tax and debt collections, state to intervene in financial markets Tuesday March 24, 2020 03:59:12 COOPERATION – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa wants Sri Lankans to come together ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a statement said host of new relief measures to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have been implemented, including delays to tax collection, a new debt moratorium and interventions in money markets. On Monday evening, President Rajapaksa directed the central bank, ministry secretaries, provincial councils and financial institutions to carry out the relief measures with immediate effect, amid the number of positively tested coronavirus patients rising to 97. The deadline for collection of income tax, value added tax, driving license fees, water bills and assessment tax of less than 15,000 rupees has been extended till April 30, an official statement said. Collection of credit card bills under 50,000 rupees have also be delayed till end-April. Sri Lanka is currently under island wide curfew. Meanwhile, state-owned Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank and National Savings Bank, the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, and the superannuating Employees’ Provident Fund and the Employees’ Trust Fund, will intervene in the government securities market. The state institutions and public funds will be used to invest in Treasury Bonds and Bills and stabilise the money market rate at 7 percent. In addition, a six month debt moratorium has been be granted to the tourism, apparel and SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) businesses, with the moratorium costs borne by the central bank. The tourism industry is at a standstill amid the government stopping all arrivals to contain the spread of the virus, while the apparel sector, Sri Lanka’s largest exporter, is hit by disruptions to global value chains. The new suspension in loan collections comes amid the President halting the collection of working capital loans and asking banks to provide new working capital loans at 4 percent. Further, a 12-month SME sector moratorium which was planned at end-2019 to help stimulate the economy was about to launch at end-March. Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa on Monday also suspended the collection of lease payments for three wheelers for six months. Recovery of loans from salaries of government and private sector employees has been suspended till May 30. The president directed banks and finance companies to suspend collection of personal loans below one million rupees for three months. The full list of new relief measures follows: 1. A grace period for the payment of income tax and VAT, driving licence renewal fee, water bills and assessment tax less than Rs. 15,000, monthly credit card bills less than Rs. 50,000, be extended until April 30th. 2. Suspend the leasing loan repayment of three wheeler owners for a period of six months. 3. Suspend the recovery of loans from the salaries of government employees, private sector employees until May 30th. 4. Suspension of loan repayments for personal loans less than one million borrowed from banks and finance companies for three months. 5. The Rs. 20,000 allowance for the graduates chosen to follow the training programme will be credited to their bank accounts. 6.The Agrahara insurance benefits for health workers engaged in Corona prevention activities, Police, Civil Security personnel and other government employees to be doubled. 7. A six month debt moratorium will be granted to the tourism, apparel and SME for which the Central Bank will bear the cost of the moratorium. 8. When the Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, National Savings Bank, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Employees Provident Fund and Employees Trust Fund jointly invest in Treasury Bonds and Bills, thereby stabilizing the money market at 7% interest rate. 9. A maximum of 15% interest rate has been stipulated for credit card domestic transactions up to Rs. 50,000 and a 50% reduction in minimum monthly charges. 10. All bank branches to remain open during non-curfew hours providing maximum service to customers. 11. Sri Lanka Ports, Customs and other regulatory bodies must continually issue essential food, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals and fuel to the relevant individuals continuously. 12. Samurdhi beneficiaries and Samurdhi card holders to be offered an interest free advance of Rs. 10,000 through all Samurdhi Banks. 13. Exempting Lanka Sathosa and Cooperative stores from VAT and other taxes. 14. Samurdhi Authority should issue title certificates to Samurdhi and low income families immediately for issuing nutritious food items to low income persons. They should be provided with rice, dhal and salt on a weekly basis with their food cards. 15. In the face of the current Covid-19 threat, the Bank of Ceylon has opened a special account at the Presidential Fund to provide relief to health and social care. 100 million [rupees] has been allocated from the Presidential Fund for this purpose. Tax and foreign exchange control restrictions have been lifted for all local and foreign donors who contribute. Sri Lankan Government donated $ 05 million to the SAARC Corona Fund.The President has instructed his Secretary to immediately implement these directives. (Colombo/Mar24/2020)
  7. Sri Lanka turning ex-Voice of America relay station into COVID-19 hospital Saturday March 21, 2020 20:45:25 ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will turn the building of a former Voice of America relay station into a COVID-19 hospital, as part of efforts to accommodate an increase in patients, a high level task force that drive Coronavirus control activities in the country said. Sri Lanka has designated 18 hospitals to accept COVID-19 patients, but most of the confirmed patients are treated at the main infectious disease hospital in Colombo. Mulleriyawa hospital, which is close to the IDH has also been turned into a COVID-19 treatment centre. Sri Lanka is turning decommissioned Voice of America facilities into a COVID-19 treatment centre with the help of the military, a statement from the anti-COVID-19 task force quoted, Director General of Health Service Anil Jasinghe as saying. The Voice of America relay station in Iranawila was built under heavy opposition from the Catholic Church. The VOA paid rent for the land and handed over facilities free of charge to the government. VOA also handed over its old transmitters in Ekala and the land to the government when the new relay stations was built. Meanwhile expectant mothers who are suspected of having COVID-19 are treated at a ward in Neville Fernando hospital, under the direction of doctors at Castle Street Hospital for women. A 30-bed intensive care unit was being readied at the Kothelawala Defence University in Werahera. Sri Lanka has only about 600 ICU beds with ventilators which are needed to treat older patients who get complications. A small proportion of patients get severe pneumonia like condition requiring ventilator support to keep the patient alive long enough to fight off the virus without having respiratory failure. Most of the patients die due to the lack of ventilators to keep them alive long enough. Sri Lanka has about 600 ICU beds with ventilators Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association ha said. Jasinghe has said that broken ventilators are now being fixed. China first notice the disease when patients with a pneumonia like condition began turning up at Wuhan in December. Since only a tiny proportion gets such symptoms, already thousands more may have been infected by that time.
  8. Shooting at Sri Lanka prison kills 1 inmate, wounds 4 One prisoner was killed and four others wounded when guards opened fire after tensions flared during a protest by prisoners in a facility in north-central Sri Lanka ABC News 21 March 2020, 11:51 2 min read COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- One prisoner was killed and four others wounded Saturday when guards opened fire after tensions flared during a protest by prisoners in a facility in north-central Sri Lanka, police said. Tensions erupted when prison guards tried to control the protest in Anuradhapura prison, police said in a statement. In the commotion, some attempted to flee the facility, and guards opened fire to prevent them from escaping, the statement said. Five prisoners were wounded and taken to a hospital, where one of them died, the statement added. Police said no inmates escaped and security at the prison has been strengthened by deploying additional police teams, including commandos. Senaka Perera, president of the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, or CPRP, said the prisoners were protesting congested conditions amid coronavirus fears. He said prisoners were also protesting the poor quality of meals after the government banned visitors for two weeks to prevent the spreading of the virus inside prisons. Visitors often bring home-cooked food when they visit inmates. Sri Lanka's prisons are highly congested, sometimes housing 5,000 prisoners in a facility capable of holding 800, according to CPRP. The Indian Ocean island nation has confirmed 77 coronavirus cases. Anuradhapura prison is located 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital.
  9. டொனால்ட் டிரம்ஸ்பெல்ட் 200 மில்லியண் டொலர் டாமிபுளூ மருந்து செய்து காசு பார்த்தார். அப்போது புஷ் பறவை காய்ச்சலால் 2 மில்லியன் மக்கள் சாவார்கள் என்று புரளி கிளப்பினார். மக்கள் செத்த பறவைகளை கண்டு பயந்து ஓடினார்கள்.
  10. (CNN)Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and his wife sold as much as $1.7 million in stock last month ahead of the sharp market decline that's resulted from the novel coronavirus global pandemic, according to Senate documents. Two weeks later, the North Carolina Republican sounded a blunt warning in February about the dire impact of the novel coronavirus during a private event in Washington, according to audio obtained by NPR, which contrasted with President Donald Trump's public statements at the time that suggested the virus would disappear. Burr's committee has received periodic briefings on coronavirus as the outbreak has spread, but the committee did not receive briefings on the virus the week of Burr's stock sales, according to a source familiar with the matter. A week before his stock sell-off, Burr authored an op-ed with GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee titled, "Coronavirus prevention steps the U.S. government is taking to protect you." Burr has also worked on legislation aiding US preparations for pandemics for years. On February 13, Burr and his wife sold between $628,000 and $1.7 million in stock in 33 transactions, according to Senate financial disclosure records. Burr and his spouse also sold between $80,000 and $200,000 of stock on January 31, and purchased between $16,000 and $65,000 of stock on February 4. The majority of the sales were from Burr's wife, the records show, between $520,000 and $1.2 million. The stock sale was first reported by ProPublica. "Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak," a Burr spokesperson said in a statement. "As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy." There's no indication that the stock sales were made on the basis of any inside information Burr received as a senator, or that he broke any Senate rules by selling the stock. Congress passed the Stock Act in 2012 that made it illegal for lawmakers to use inside information for financial benefit. Burr was one of three senators to vote against the bill. On February 13, as the coronavirus was spreading, it had yet to hit the US in a manner that's sent the markets into a tailspin and sparked warnings of a recession. That day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 29,436. Ten days later, it began a downturn that's sent the average down to 20,087, a loss of more than 31%. The average loss in the value of the stocks Burr sold from February 13 until Thursday has been about 39%, according to a CNN analysis. Global cases of coronavirus had topped 65,000 on February 13, the vast majority of which were still inside China. At that point, there were a reported 570 cases in 25 countries outside of China. The global death toll was nearly 1,500, all but three of which had occurred in China. Two weeks later, the virus was spreading, but the President was downplaying the threat and predicting it would not have a large impact in the US. "It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear," Trump said on February 27. "And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows." A day earlier, Trump predicted the number of cases in the US could quickly drop to zero. "When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done," Trump said on February 26. Burr had a different message when he spoke the same day Trump said the virus would disappear to a private North Carolina state society event. In the speech at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, a private GOP social club, Burr warned attendees they might have to alter their travel, schools could close and the military would get involved in the response inside the US, according to audio of his remarks obtained by NPR. "There's one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," Burr said, according to the recording obtained by NPR. "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic." Burr continued: "There will be, I'm sure, times that communities, probably some in North Carolina, have a transmission rate where they say, 'Let's close schools for two weeks. Everybody stay home,'" he said. Burr responded to NPR's story in a series of tweets taking issue with the characterization of the event as being for donors. "Attendees also included many non-members, bipartisan congressional staff, and representatives from the governor's office," he said on Twitter. Burr said that the message he delivered at the speech "is the one public health officials urged all of us to heed as coronavirus spread increased: Be prepared." Burr and his committee have been briefed on the coronavirus outbreak as it has spread, but Burr's February warnings were based primarily on his experience working on public health preparedness and pandemics, as well as the warnings already coming from public health officials, according to two sources. Vice President Mike Pence had just been tapped to lead the coronavirus task force, there had been increased warnings about the outbreak in Italy and travel restrictions in China had already been in place for weeks. Burr is also an author of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which was first enacted in 2006 and was renewed last year. Publicly, Burr did not issue such dire warnings about the coming impact to the US due to the coronavirus outbreak, though he did talk about the need for the government to respond to the virus. Burr wrote the op-ed with Alexander on February 7 outlining the steps the US government had available to combat coronavirus. At a March 3 Senate hearing, Burr questioned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials on the issues with producing tests for coronavirus. "Senator Burr has been banging the drum about the importance of public health preparedness for more than 20 years. His message has always been, and continues to be, that we must be prepared to protect American lives in the event of a pandemic or bio-attack," Burr spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll said in a statement when asked about the NPR recording. "Since early February, whether in constituent meetings or open hearings, he has worked to educate the public about the tools and resources our government has to confront the spread of coronavirus. At the same time, he has urged public officials to fully utilize every tool at their disposal in this effort." This story has been updated to include Burr's stock sell off.
  11. Why political crises are inevitable in Sri Lanka The mathematical probability is that this government too will be a government of crisis management if not conflict management, and like all the others will have an endgame and an exit that is nothing like the bold, brisk, breezy beginning – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara I cannot remember a single government in this country that did not end in crisis. I was born in 1956 and have no memory of the assassination of SWRD but we know that’s how it ended. I do recall every other government though, and each of them was governing in a situation of crisis fairly shortly after it commenced its term. Several had internal crises as well. Many had violent conflict and worse on their watch. In my lifetime there were no exceptions. In the history of Independent Sri Lanka there was only one, and that was the first post-Independence government of D.S. Senanayake. The mathematical probability is that this government too will be a government of crisis management if not conflict management, and like all the others will have an endgame and an exit that is nothing like the bold, brisk, breezy beginning. If every government we have had, barring one, and that too in the infancy of our post-Independence life as a country, ended in a situation of national crisis, and many experienced violent conflicts, then surely the crisis was common to all governments and was older and larger than any single government. To re-state, if all but one post-independence government experienced crisis then the chief causation could not have been each government. Crisis combo Each of our governments got into a different type of crisis, while there were some conflicts that continued under several governments. The difference in the crises of each government reveals that in addition to a common crisis there were specific crises, unique to each administration. So, either the common overarching crisis took different forms, mutated, or in addition to the common crisis enveloping every government and into which every government is born, there are individual crises. It’s a combo: there is a common crisis, and within that there are individual crises specific to each government. The interface ignites conflict. This is easier to understand if we take as an example, Marx’s notion of the capitalist system in which there is an underlying contradiction lodged within the system and its logic as a whole – that between the famous ‘relations’ and ‘forces’ of production—as well as the specific smaller crises of the business cycles and their ‘boom-bust’ rhythms. Each Sri Lankan government has its specific ‘boom and bust’ cycle, but every one of them, barring, arguably, that of DS Senanayake, were enveloped in a circumambient crisis: ‘meso’ (medium-scale) or ‘micro’ crises within a ‘macro’ or ‘mega’ crisis. The two types of crises are probably related, with the macro/mega crisis being the deeper, underlying causative one, and the crises of the individual governments being manifestations of this underlying crisis. Each government, though different from the other given their specific cyclical or situational crises, all wind up in crisis and often in conflicts because they are enveloped in the matrix of a larger, longer crisis.If this explanation sounds intelligent, I have to say it’s not mine, and if the explanation sounds complicated, I have to say it is the simplest rendition of which I am capable, of a far more complex model which is hardly mine. The credit goes to the thinker who made the finest contribution to political theory and political science in the 20th century, namely Antonio Gramsci. He opined that some societies find themselves in a crisis that lasts for several decades, which means that the crisis is ‘structural’. However, political players react to this structural crisis in various ways, trying to survive it, intervene in it and change it this way and that to their benefit, and these situational reflexes and initiatives often trigger crises of their own which are episodic, have a specificity and shorter life cycle, or to use his words, are ‘conjunctural’. You have two dimensions of crises then: longer term, general, ‘structural’ and shorter term, specific, situational or ‘conjunctural’. The “conjunctural” dimension of the crisis operates in the here and now, creating the concrete situation which is currently dominant, while the “structural” dimension operates as the determinant (as distinct from the immediately dominant) factor but that too only in the final analysis. When applied to Sri Lanka we can deduce the existence of the ‘structural’ crisis by the fact that it has lasted for decades and successive governments have invariably, almost inevitably, found themselves in deep crisis, however promising their beginnings. The specific nature of the crises of each government, readily traceable to their individual policies and practices, provides us with the ‘conjunctural’ crises, which when taken together with the structural, have often ignited political conflict and even violent political conflict leading to ‘complex political emergencies’ (as they are classified). Asymmetric political architecture Here is what I regard as the most lucid definition of the crux of the crisis by the most cerebral political leader we ever had, while he was still in his late 20s, and had just founded the attractively-titled but short-lived Progressive Nationalist Party. Though we are aware of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s early prescription of federalism, what is omitted or forgotten is his far more impressive diagnostic reasoning that led to that incorrect prescription. Addressing a special meeting of the Jaffna Youth Congress in late 1926 on the federal form of government, the young SWRD said: “If one considers past history, one would see that the three communities, the Tamils, Low country Sinhalese and the Kandyan Sinhalese, have lived for over a thousand years in Ceylon and had not shown any tendency to merge. They preserved their custom, language and religion. He would be a very rash man who would pin his faith on the gradual disappearance of the differences. The moment they began to speak of taking the government into their own hands then the differences that are lying dormant smouldered forth. A centralised form of government assumed a homogenous whole. I know no part of the world where a government was carried on under such conflicting circumstances as would be experienced in Ceylon.” Obviously SWRD was in error on a secondary point, when he refers to the “Low country Sinhalese” and “Kandyan Sinhalese” who did merge for all intents and purposes, but they were divided only by one—and the most mutable -- of his three markers, namely “custom”. Going by the two ‘structural’ markers in this text, of those “language and religion”, the Tamils will never merge into the Sinhala community, and by the same token, nor will the Muslims, though they may both fully integrate into the Sri Lankan community provided they do not face discrimination and have adequate, irreducible political space. Young SWRD was arguing that he knew of no communally heterogeneous society anywhere which had successfully sustained a centralised form of political rule or state (which he called ‘government’) and conversely, no centralised form of political rule which had coexisted successfully with a communally heterogeneous society. The operative conceptual point in the passage is “…A centralised form of government assumed a homogenous whole. I know no part of the world where a government was carried on under such conflicting circumstances as would be experienced in Ceylon.” He proved prophetic. What SWRD was warning about was a huge flaw in the blueprint of the political architecture. He spotlighted the need for the social/demographic “base”, i.e. the domestic geopolitical substructure, and the political “superstructure”, i.e. the structural form of political rule, to fit as closely as possible. This required a political system or structure that was not excessively “centralised”. That a pluralist societal base cannot sustain a monist form of rule and a monist form of rule cannot successfully, sustainably govern a pluralist society, was a dialectical insight of genius. The same diagnosis as that of the young SWRD was articulated later by an even more refined and consistently progressive mind, fully acquainted with Ceylon-- Leonard Woolf. Bandaranaike and Woolf shared a common perception of the problem looming in Ceylon and its similarity to that which had been resolved in Switzerland. “…Circumstances very similar to those in Ceylon, i.e., the coexistence in a single democratic state of communities of very different size, sharply distinguished from one another by race, language or religion.” (Woolf, 1938) In his 1938 memorandum to the Labour Party on the independence of Ceylon, Woolf “recommended that provision be made for the protection of minorities” and suggested that “consideration be given to the possibility of introducing a large measure of devolution or even of introducing a federal system on the Swiss model...” Folded away in SWRD’s early remarks obscured by his strident advocacy of federalism, was his argument for “autonomy for the provinces”. He would develop this theme in later years and it formed the basis of the non-federal Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact (1957) which overlapped completely with one of Leonard Woolf’s two suggested options—the non-federal one, namely “a large measure of devolution”. Significantly, Frederic Spotts, the editor of The Collected Letters of Leonard Woolf, identifies in a footnote in that volume, the congruency between Woolf’s recommendations and the content of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 which made for provincial autonomy and thereby vindicated Woolf. The B-C Pact of 1957 and the Indo-Lanka Accord (plus 13th amendment) of 1987, exactly thirty years later, were on a continuum. Blocked exits Sri Lanka had a series of real chances to exit the long labyrinthine crisis once the war had been won. These were the rapid fulfilment of the promise to India to implement the 13th amendment and build it up to 13+ by adding a Senate; resume and continue the process of negotiation with the TNA suspended in 2011; the promise to both India and the TNA after the swearing in the new Northern Chief Minister in 2013 to replace the ex-military Governor with a (Sinhala) civilian at the end of the incumbent’s first term; leverage South African President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of ANC star (presently the country’s President) Cyril Ramaphosa as facilitator on political reconciliation with the TNA. If this last option had been activated, Sri Lanka would have been buffered from calls for federalism and self-determination by the fact that South Africa itself had a non-federal model of autonomy, and that the very considerable international and diplomatic “soft power” of South Africa worldwide (BRICS, NAM, Commonwealth), would have shielded Sri Lanka and legitimised a ‘final status’ political settlement facilitated by that pivotal power. The players who resisted all these exit options due to their ideological allergy to any devolution of political power, are no longer behind the scenes fighting a rearguard action as in the immediate postwar years, but are today in positions of dominance. Their mentality and perspective of denial/obstruction/rejection of political devolution is now hegemonic in Sinhala society and the ruling coalition. The old centre-left no longer exists as a politico-ideological space. The ruling coalition has shifted or surrendered to the ideological, if not yet the politico-organisational, hegemony of the nationalist New Right, a networked power-elite which now occupies the commanding heights of the state apparatuses, and which does not regard the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact as a tragically lost opportunity which should be revisited and pushed through, but is glad and proud that it was thwarted by the ultranationalist religious Right of the day (led by the UNP). More than three decades of waste by the Tamil leadership of the space provided by the Indo-Lanka Accord and the system of Provincial Councils, when it could have occupied, dug in and developed the devolved institutional base as did the Sinn Fein and SNP, but in its colossal folly chose not to, has now left the field open for an ultraconservative restorationist reshaping of the postwar political order, extrapolated and generalised from the military ‘command model’.For the first time we have a leadership which openly espouses a paradigm which had hitherto been a fringe perspective at least since post-July 1983 because the political mainstream had outgrown and abandoned it, shocked into realism by Black July and its external repercussions. The current leadership holds that the Tamil problem is not primarily or at its root, political, but economic, and the solution to that problem is security, development and modest decentralisation, not political dialogue and consensus. The new official doctrine negates the conclusion and definition arrived at after considerably thorough and transparent effort by the blue-ribbon panel of high officials with considerable experience in managing the political, legal and diplomatic aspects of the war, appointed by the war-winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa to comprise the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Its Chairman, CR de Silva, a long standing and trusted friend of MR, was not only the Attorney-General during the war years, but also a veteran of the defence of Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council and its predecessor the UN Human Rights Commission. The LLRC’s identification of the crux of the problem is in the Report’s core segments entitled ‘Grievances of the Tamil Community’ ‘The Historical Background relating to Majority-Minority relationships in Sri Lanka’ and ‘The Different Phases in the Narrative of Tamil Grievances’ (pp. 291-294, 369-370): “The Commission takes the view that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people. The country may not have been confronted with a violent separatist agenda, if the political consensus at the time of independence had been sustained and if policies had been implemented to build up and strengthen the confidence of the minorities around the system which had gained a reasonable measure of acceptance. A political solution is imperative to address the causes of the conflict…” (p 291, articles 8.150, 8.151) The path to sustainable stability is in the Report’s Preamble: “… To this end, the success of ending armed conflict must be invested in an all-inclusive political process of dialogue and accommodation so that the conflict by other means will not continue…” (Preamble, pp.1-2) As a political scientist familiar with comparative politics, I would add that “I know of no part of the world” (SWRD’s 1926 phrase) from Nigeria to Nicaragua, Russia to the Philippines, Canada to Vietnam, Ireland to China, Switzerland to Ethiopia, in which a problem generically related to/ homologous with the Tamil problem has been solved or successfully managed by a policy based purely or primarily on economics and an appeal for assimilation/integration, and has not had at its very core, an autonomy-based political settlement. As the young SWRD predicted and warned, our political architecture is very wrong. The LLRC Report identified the resultant deep deficit and deficiency of our political system and how to bridge it, but our new leadership is looking in exactly the opposite direction. This renders inevitable the recurrence of political crisis, which will arrive faster in what Thomas Friedman calls ‘The Age of Acceleration’. [Dr. Jayatilleka is the author of ‘Long War, Cold Peace: Crisis and Conflict in Sri Lanka’ (2014, Vijitha Yapa, Colombo) and ‘Sri Lanka: The Travails of a Democracy: Unfinished War, Protracted Crisis’ (1995, Vikas Publications, New Delhi).]
  12. Sri Lanka declares curfew to fight Coronavirus in Puttalam BY MAHADIYA HAMZA AND CHANKA JAYASINGHE |Wednesday March 18, 2020 13:56:53 Sri Lankan police women wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus take part in a rehearsal parade in Colombo on March 18, 2020. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has declared police curfew in several areas in the Puttalam district a day after military chief who heads an counter Coronavirus task force said there were over 800 un-quarantined returnees in the area. Police curfew had been declared in 11 areas in Puttalam, 7 in Chilaw from 1630 hours as well as Kochchikade. Acting police chief C D Wickremeratne had ordered curfew in Mundalama, Kalpitiya, Vanathvilluwa, Anamaduwa, Puttalam, Saliyawewa, Palaman, Nawagaththegama, Karuwalagaswera, Norochcholai, Udappuwa in Puttalam police area. There will be also curfew in Wennappuwa, Koswatte, Marawila, Chilaw, Madampe, Arachcchikattuwa, Dankotuwa police areas. General Shavendra Silva told state television Wednesday that more than 4000 persons who had arrived in the country before quarantine began or the countries were not added to the list had called to register and the defence ministry and they were quarantined. General Silva told reporters on March 18 that 800 unregistered Italian returnees were running loose in the Puttalam district and they have to ‘do something’ unless they registered. He said Wednesday that some of the 800 had called to register. There were 2,228 persons in 16 quarantine centres and a group of 57 people had arrived in the morning. Sri Lanka is halting all arrivals from abroad until March 25 from 0400 on March 19 till March 25. (Colombo/Mar18/2020)
  13. புத்திசாலி தனமான வேண்டுகோள். ராஜபக்ச சகோதரர்களுக்கு 6 மாதங்களுக்குள் எதிர்ப்புகள் சிங்கள பகுதிக்குள் தொடங்கிவிட்டது. முன்பு சிறுபான்மை இனம் தேவை இல்லை என்றவர்களும் இப்போது யோசிக்க தொடங்கி இருக்கிறார்கள். கொரோனா பொருளாதார அடி சுற்றுலா துறை மீண்டும் தலை தூக்க விடாமல் முடக்கி விட்டது. இன்னும் காலம் தாண்டி போனால் 2/3 வெற்றி பெறுவது கடினம்.
  14. * Sri Lanka Tamil party requests government to postpone parliamentary elections amid coronavirus pandemic Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 07:55 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka. Mar 16, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) today expressing concern over the coronavirus pandemic requested the government to postpone the general elections scheduled for 25th April. The TNA issuing a statement consequent to all party leaders of the Tamil National Alliance consulting together, said the party is concerned about the threat posed to the people by the possible spread of the COVID19 virus in the country. “The safety of the public is our paramount concern. We call on the government to take all steps to prevent the spread of this virus,” Spokesperson for TNA former MP MA Sumanthiran said, offering “fullest cooperation in this regard.” “For this reason, and for the reason that all democratic aspects cannot be property be adhered to in this abnormal situation, we request the postponement of the General Elections due to be held on 25th of April 2020,” TNA said.
  15. Sri Lanka President angry at “irresponsible citizens” in fight against COVID19 Tuesday March 17, 2020 18:50:33 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa vented his frustrations Tuesday morning at irresponsible behaviour by Sri Lankans in the face of the COVID19 threat, videos released by the Presidential Secretariat showed. Addressing the Presidential Task Force assembled to deal with the coronavirus threat the President appeared visibly angry at several events. “I asked them not to play the Royal-Thomian Big match,” the President said. “But they said the Royal-Thomian must be played and they went ahead.” Health officials later revealed that one of the patients who had tested positive for COVID19 yesterday had been at the match and had had at least 40 contacts during the event. Police and health officials were now trying to trace these contacts, Police spokesman Superintendent Jaliya Senaratne said. The President also said that some of the people who had been detected had not been truthful and responsible towards officials. He recalled the case of the spouse of a Sri Lankan diplomat who been in Germany and tested positive for the virus. “I asked the officers to immediately find his partner. But we found that the partner had switched his phone off and was unreachable.” “This was very irresponsible of him. He had also visited three different hospitals. I want that person prosecuted for being so irresponsible,” the President said. Another returnee who had been found at Kuliyapitiya, and had agreed to self-quarantine with his immediate family, had failed to inform officials that he had visited his father in Galle after he came back to Sri Lanka. “The father is sick now. Why couldn’t he have told us about visiting the father?” The President was also upset that large crowds continue to throng at Sripada Adam’s Peak. “What’s the use of us closing everything else down?” he asked. The President was discussing issues around the COVID19 threat with the Task Force which is headed by Army commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva and includes Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi and the Director-General Health Services Dr Anil Jasinghe. The Task Force is now installed in a new office in Rajagiriya. -Arjuna Ranawana Editor's Picks Opinion & Analysis