Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Looking at the cold, bare facts of state torture

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A fracas has arisen over a recent investigative news report (Associated Press) finding credible claims of Tamil torture victims that they had been raped and branded by Sri Lanka’s security and policing agencies.

Not something to be dismissed with a casual shrug

Let me be unequivocal on this point. Take the issue away from the hysteria of ‘international interventions’ and let us look at the cold, bare facts. The use of torture as an interrogation method in regard to ‘ordinary’ criminals or ‘terror’ suspects, (as well as those believed to be falling into each of these two categories), by law enforcement agencies is a fact.

That has been affirmed by none other than this country’s own Supreme Court following exhaustive legal inquiries into the facts of each case, case by horrifying case. In some instances, palpable mistakes committed by the police in ‘believing’ someone to be a criminal or a terror suspect due to simple cases of mistaken identity have been highlighted. In many of these cases, the victim had been beaten so severely as to cause death or life-long injuries.

So the matter of endemic torture as a part of the law enforcement machinery in Sri Lanka is not something that can be dismissed with a casually cynical shrug. It has torn apart communities and wreaked unimaginable grief on individual lives. None of these instances can be dismissed as the prejudiced outpourings of Western journalists or for that matter, extravagant claims by United Nations observers engaging in whistle-stop tours. As a lawyer who was directly involved in taking these cases to the Court at the time, I can vouch for that fact.

Eschewing propaganda on both sides

But on the other hand, assessing this problem only as a concern for victims of Tamil ethnicity is as equally subversive as dismissing the allegations on the basis that they have been fabricated by desperate asylum seekers. Certainly, this subversion of the debate does not help Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people on the frontlines of facing risks of torture as opposed to those comfortably ensconced in their corners of privilege, overseas or in Colombo.

So to drive home this point with force, state-inflicted and racially-motivated torture of Tamil victims is enabled by the general environment of brutalized law enforcement of which a Sinhala or Muslim man or woman is as much a victim. This is the reality though it may not comfortably fit into propaganda paradigms of protagonists in this stinging war of words. An inane and bland statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mouthing useless platitudes in response to the AP report did not help matters either.

Political hot air must be dispensed with. A serious and sober discussion of systemic reform must commence even at this late stage. The criminal justice system must be taken away from the iron grip of politicians. Left to itself and even with all its manifest shortcomings, it will work once the canker of political control is taken away. And the police service must be headed by a competent man or woman. The incumbent in the position of the IGP only demonstrates the singular ineffectiveness of the Constitutional Council-headed process on the appointments to these high offices as he is not, by any means, a fit and proper person to hold this post.

His public statement this week that ‘indecent police officers must resign’ ought to be addressed right back at himself with the caution that grabbing a lift operator by the collar because that unfortunate man did not attend meditation sessions as mandated by the IGP falls into the classic category of ‘indecent behaviour’ measured on any standard.

Deplorable truths in issue

Along with this, institutions that are meant to operate as a control on these excesses of the law must not only be staffed with independent and credible members but must have the necessary legal powers and the resources.

Reeling from the degradation of the Rajapaksa era, one might have expected 2015 to signal a sharper and more critical engagement. But fundamental failings in that regard did not stop Western embassies in Colombo investing heavily in useless exercises without actual change in state structures. The funding circus that went on from 2015 on security sector reform is one example. So the blame is not solely on the shoulders of the Sri Lankan political establishment.

And there are stronger truths to be acknowledged. Sri Lanka got itself into an unpleasant bind by promising to replace its Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with a ‘modern’ counter-terror law. The problem however is that most of the ‘modern’ counter-terror laws in the West are scarcely good examples to go by. By opening that Pandora’s box with no regard for the consequences, it has been difficult to put all its miseries back in. As the former Minister of Justice Wijayadasa Rajapaksa protested in faux innocence over protests regarding a problematic draft Counter-Terror law that has now been withdrawn for further consideration, ‘we are only following the example set by the UK.’
And Western journalists who write on Sri Lanka’s accountability crisis may be advised to engage in more forceful investigative reporting into the blatant use of euphemistically named ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods as part of counter-terror strategies by their own Governments, specifically the US and the UK.

Extinguishing of life in the polity

In sum, dealing with the ‘torture mindset’ of law enforcement can only be through reform of the criminal justice system in this country. Other glamorous or even sensational options are short-lived. That logic holds true in other instances as well. The so-called Bond Scam Commission of Inquiry is a perfect example. For months we have been variously entertained and outraged by the disclosures before the Commission. The good justices who served on this Commission will no doubt deliver a competent report. But the question remains as to what action will be taken against implicated individuals where the law is concerned? Yet another Parliamentary sub-committee has issued a report on laws delays in the criminal justice system and we are told of a special court that will hear corruption cases.

But this systemic breakdown extends to virtually every area of functioning. We are now informed by a Cabinet Sub-Committee of Inquiry that the unprecedented fuel crisis recently was due to failure on the part of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation officials to maintain adequate stocks of petroleum. That revelation aside, there is nothing to prevent this same crisis re-occurring.

While one breathes, there is hope as the old promise goes. But the problem is that the vitality of the Sri Lankan polity is slowly being extinguished, but by painful bit.

‘A prisoner in Indian jail on Eelam soil’

By Manekshaw-2017-11-18

Veteran Journalist, S.M. Gopalaratnam, popularly known as Gopu and known by his initials as SMG, is no more. Gopalaratnam passed away at the age of 87 on Wednesday (15) at his residence in Batticaloa.

Beginning his career in journalism in the early fifties in Virakesari he later joined Jaffna's regional daily Eelanadu as its News Editor under the iconic Editorship of late

K. P. Haran. In the early seventies Gopu became the Editor of Eelanadu which was founded in 1959 by the late K. C. Thangaraja who had been a highly acclaimed Chairman of the now defunct Eastern Paper Mills Corporation in Valaichchenai.

For nearly twenty years Gopu remained as a pillar of strength in bringing out Eelanadu, Jaffna and making it a popular tabloid daily covering national as well as the regional issues comprehensively.
Gopu's tenure as Editor of the Eelanadu newspaper came to an end with hooligans setting on fire the newspaper building the same night the Jaffna Public Library was set on fire on 1 June 1981.

It was during Gopu's period that the popular Tamil national dailies found it difficult to make inroads into the North and the East and the Eelanadu Jaffna became popular even in Colombo and other parts of the Island.

Gopu had trained several young journalists and they presently serve with the tag as the disciples of Gopu in various media institutions locally as well as abroad.

Tough but the amiable qualities of Gopu made him popular with leading political figures on the Tamil political scene and he remained popular even in the Southern media circles in the Island.

At the early stages of Eelanadu, to promote the newspaper Gopu and his editorial colleagues had even carried the newspaper bundles and distributed them in the Jaffna town.

Being a very popular journalist among the Jaffna readers, Gopu's humble lifestyle was very much similar to the renowned Kerala writer Thagali Sivasangarapillai's whose novel 'Chemmeen' had turned into a popular movie in Malayalam.

On a bicycle wearing dark glasses

Gopu moved around on a bicycle wearing his dark glasses and he was seen talking to people of all walks of life sitting on a bench outside a tea kiosk or enjoying a drink in a pub.

When the Tamil militancy was emerging gradually with several militant outfits competing with each other for supremacy, Gopu once said that he had found it very difficult as an editor to deal with the militants who had come to his newspaper office and insisting on him to give prominence to their stories on the attacks they carried out.

So Gopu had to be extremely cautious and tactful in dealing with the gun toting militants and he once even said that because they were young and immature handling them was a 'tight rope walk'.
Gopu was the Editor of Eelamurasu when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) arrived in the North.

The IPKF which was deployed to implement the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord first targeted the newspapers which took a stand against the Accord.

The IPKF identifying itself as peacemakers and from a democratic country went on destroying the newspaper offices which criticized the IPKF presence and the Indo-Lanka Accord.
Two newspapers Murasoli and Eelamurasu were destroyed by the IPKF soldiers, with the help of the paramilitary groups, with high calibre explosives.

Gopu as the Editor of Eelamurasu with his editorial staff were taken into custody and detained behind bars inside the Jaffna Dutch Fortress.

He was detained at Jaffna fortress by the IPKF for two months. On his release from detention he wrote a book titled 'An Indian Prison on Eelam Soil' detailing the experience he had with the IPKF and dealing extensively on the Indian Army's presence in the North.

As present day Jaffna could be very well described as a media hub in the Island with nearly four newspapers published in the city, one of Gopu's favourite disciples S.S. Kuhanathan, operating the country's first regional television DAN (Dish Asia Net Work) in the city.

While Gopu was an iconic figure instrumental in strengthening 'the Fourth Estate' in the North, the Tamil moderates and hardliners from the time Gopu entered journalism have failed badly in giving leadership in fulfilling the political aspirations of Tamils in the North and the East.

So while Gopu's life and times highlight the changes that had occurred in the socio-political atmosphere in the North, his legacy leaves an imprint of the nature of the Jaffna society.

Blinking Judges & The Constitutional Hoax

By Kamani Jayasuriya –Friday, 17 November 2019

The 19th Amendment gave us hope. Even those people who lived in remote villages and did not have a proper roof over their heads believed that the continuous legacy of contriving to win elections had ended. Other than the many other political reforms that the 19th Amendment brought forward, it was the formation of a Constitutional Council, an Independent Council; specially engaged in the appointments to high offices, including the appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, was the highlight. The judges who have no independent voices, cried foul as they worked very hard to come to the High Court and then, irrespective of their seniority and competence, other political consideration held sway for the selections of Judges to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Judges were made to appear as people without any rights and what did happen if they by accident or by chance, they acquitted or convicted PIP (Politically Important Persons), depending on which side of the divide the accused fell and which Government was in power; one would be promoted or promotions denied. The judges suffered in silence. No one complained. They retired at the end of their High Court career.

But today, after two years of experimenting, the present Constitutional Council has become a farce and much worse than the appointments that were being made by one person, the President of the Republic. The very composition of the Constitutional Council with politicians in it, especially the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and Leaders of other minor parties, is an open testimony for politicization of the appointments. This curse of political hegemony gave room to worse politicization in the history of the appointment of judges and other high officials.

Though there were legal luminaries like Shibley Azis PC, a Member of the UNP Executive Committee and a former President of the Bar Association, he has not even turned a pebble to formulate rules as provided in the 19th Amendment.

Nearly two years have passed after the adoption of the 19th Amendment and no one has ever seen such gazette notification. So, the noble intentions, which were publicly proclaimed, have been flouted by the very Constitutional Council headed by the Speaker.
It is not surprising that there came into existence the worst form of canvassing. To quote one example, for the post of IGP the nominee of the President was DIG Wickramasinghe, head of the PSD, who was from Polonnaruwa. But the UNP managed to shoot down this nomination and instead of which Pujith Jayasundara was appointed. When they found their mistake it was too late. UNP’s Sagala Ratnayaka warned the IGP several times but he continues with his eccentricities. Sometimes his jocularity could be equated to Peter O’Toole in the film ‘Becket’ portraying the debauch King, Henry II.

But what happened recently is almost unbelievable and unforgivable. Piyadasa Ranasinghe, High Court Judge Colombo, who retired on the 12th November 2017, did something unimaginable to get himself promoted to the Court of Appeal. He worked round the clock to get his name nominated by the President, to the Constitutional Council. When even Ministers complained that they could not have access to President Maithripala Sirisena, he maneuvered his way through to the Presidential Secretariat and got his name recommended by the President himself and it was hand delivered to the Constitutional Council.

Mr. Piyasena Ranasinghe was the former Commissioner General of the Bribery Commission. Before that, he was a junior Magistrate. When he was appointed to this very senior position, the then Chief Justice Mr. Sarath N. Silva asked the then appointing authority, Chandrika, what made her to appoint such a junior magistrate as the Commissioner General of Bribery? The answer was typical of Chandrika Bandaranaike or CBK. The manner in which she treated the country and the people is reminiscent of what she said. “This fellow is from our village. He belongs to the ‘R……. caste’.  You know Sarath, we can get anything done through him as he is obliged to the Walauwwa”. Sarath Silva fell out with Chandrika and supported Mahinda’s bid to become the President. Mahinda became the President. Piyasena Ranasinghe, after the advent of Mahinda Rajapaksa, was removed as the Commissioner General and he had to appeal to his old adversary Sarath N. Silva.  Sarath N. Silva, considered Piyasena Ranasinghe’s application and approved it on one condition, that he would not claim seniority. He is the 24th in the list of High Court Judges, on seniority.

People wonder how Piyasena Ranasinghe managed to get his nominations when the Chief Justice and the Attorney General were out of the island. But there was one snag for his elevation to the Court of Appeal. The snag was that there was no vacancy in the Court of Appeal. Our Messiah, was destined to deliver justice with the help of a previous mentor, Madam Chandrika who decided to create the vacancy by promoting M. S. Gaffoor to the Supreme Court. Everything was arranged in double quick time before the date of retirement. Another letter of recommendation from the President’s Office was delivered to the Constitutional Council, recommending the promotion of M.S. Gaffoor to the vacancy that arose when Upali Abeyrathna retired.

Gaffoor was the 4th in the Seniority List in the Court of Appeal. The manner in which M.S. Gaffoor got his promotion cannot be spelt out in a short article like this. It is another sordid saga. The Presidential Secretariat, worked overtime to ensure that his name was submitted to the Constitutional Council even without any recommendation from the Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, or Jayantha Jayasuriya the Attorney General, or the present Minister of Justice, Ms. Thalatha Athukorala. 

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Sri Lanka Brief17/11/2017

6. The recommendations formulated during the interactive dialogue listed below have been examined by Sri Lanka and enjoy the support of Sri Lanka:

7. The recommendations formulated during the interactive dialogue listed below have been examined by Sri Lanka and have been noted by Sri Lanka:

7.1. Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (Montenegro), (Spain);
7.2. Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Poland);

Burying history

Sanjana Hattotuwa- 

Over four years ago, I wrote an article on mass graves in Sri Lanka that could be seen using Google Earth imagery, serving as a solitary, virtual witness to what happened on the ground. The article focussed in and around Nandikadal – the sliver of land where the war came to an end in 2009. At the time, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) had published a report, unsurprisingly vehemently contested by the Ministry of Defence, highlighting both the level of shelling and through image analysis, where it likely originated from. My interest in the report focussed on very specific geographic locations that had been very clearly identified as mass graves, and how these areas had changed over the following years.

As I noted at the time of writing, "three years after the end of the war, the mounds of earth for each grave have disappeared and there is scrub vegetation dotting the site. Without reference imagery from the past, it is impossible to determine that this is a grave site for hundreds looking at the imagery from 2011 alone". There is another dimension I chose to focus on. In the years after the end of the year, war tourism reached its peak. Thousands from the South and other parts of the country went to the North – many for the first time. As these domestic tourists on sight-seeing trips captured selfies and other photos of the deleterious debris of war, they were on occasion walking, running or dancing very near, and possibly on top of, mass graves. Again, as I noted, "The imagery from Google Earth is a unique and sombre reminder of war’s human toll… Five, ten, fifteen years hence, with new development in these areas and the clearing up of war debris, it is unclear what will become of these grave sites and skeletal remains. They are already erased from the public conscience".

All this is in the North, largely out of sight, out of mind for many in the South.

Yet, as recently as May this year, skeletal remains were uncovered by heavy earth digging machinery in a construction site in Colombo. That site is today the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, ceremoniously opened by President Maithripala Sirisena last week. The site had apparently been used by the British as a cemetery and until 2012, was also the headquarters of Sri Lanka’s Army. News reports in May indicated that after a Magisterial inquiry, Police investigations were underway. Not a single update or word on the human remains found on the site has been published in the mainstream media since. It’s almost as if this story itself, like the bones beneath, was better buried.

As I noted on Twitter, "Quite remarkable how a 5-star hotel opened by the President, on site where human skeletal remains were found & the location of former Army HQ, generates not a single critical reference or question in media on ascertaining origin, date or fate of the buried". Leading journalists from the domestic and international press present at the opening of the hotel with the President lost no time posting selfies on Facebook of themselves enjoying a free lunch at the hotel. Not a single article or question before, on or after the occasion even remotely referenced the skeletons discovered under the foundations of the Shangri-La Hotel.

The phenomenon of mass graves in Sri Lanka isn’t new or anchored just to the end of the war. A simple Google search for the uninitiated will suffice. Sri Lanka is dotted with known mass graves all over, dating back to the time of terror in the late 80’s. There is even a story around the discovery of a mass grave by a family as they were clearing out their garden. Brick and mortar establish above ground visual, tactile facts that over time, mask inconvenient, hidden truths buried underneath. In 2011, the new headquarters for the 51 Division of the Sri Lankan Army, in Kopay was unveiled amidst, as the Army’s website notes, "religious rites and rituals". What’s tellingly not noted on the Army’s website but reported by the BBC at the time was that the new headquarters is built on top of an LTTE gravesite of around two thousand bodies and about twice as many memorial stones, razed to the ground after the war.

Architecture and construction is used here, and indeed, elsewhere, in the service of completely erasing what otherwise would have been very challenging to countenance by way of memorialising the dead who once fought against the Army. Trevor Grant’s book, ‘Sri Lanka’s Secrets: How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder’, expands this point and notes that ‘the desecration of graves continued around the North and East of the country after the war, with at least twenty-five Tamil war cemeteries, containing about 20,400 graves, [were] deliberately bulldozed by the Sri Lankan army’. In February 2014, the International Crimes Evidence Project published a report that citing eye-witness testimony alleged ‘systematic destruction of civilian mass burial sites in the post-conflict period’. The report went on to note that the ‘allegations are very serious and there is an urgent need for further investigation to determine their veracity’. To date, there is no information in the public domain around even a sham investigation by the State, under successive governments, into these disturbing claims.

What to many is commonly associated as a phenomenon that is prevalent in the North, or is anchored to the UNP-JVP’s time of terror in the late 80s, also now colours the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Renowned artist Jagath Weerasinghe, lamenting the destruction of ‘The Shrine of Innocents’ – a memorial for the lives lost between 1998-1991 in the South of Sri Lanka – to make way for what is now Diyatha Uyana and the original location of The Good Market, cogently captures Sri Lanka’s inability to really remember the horror of mass killings. "We murdered thousands of innocent people for political reasons in this country; and then we built a memorial for them, and then we ‘murdered’ the memorial too. A society bent on amnesia, and blinded by the chimera of consumerism needs no memorial to remember victims of its recent history; it only needs monuments for rulers, kings, politicians, heroes and vulgar consumerism."

As journalist and psychologist Daniel Goleman notes, ‘societies can be sunk by the weight of buried ugliness’. The very foundations of Colombo’s beautification and Sri Lanka’s development writ large is a violence the magnitude of which isn’t taught in school, isn’t recorded in history, isn’t memorialised in any way, isn’t respected or treated with dignity or empathy, isn’t subject to robust criminal investigation and isn’t really important or urgent, to anyone in power. Truly countenancing the macabre nature and horror of what lies beneath gleaming tower, luxury hotel or Army camp is an existential challenge many deeply fear and thus, unsurprisingly, create, believe in and vehemently promote any fiction to avoid.

It is a fiction that gravely risks the country revisiting the horrors of the past.

Ban on LeN is by an ‘unidentified individual’ says Cabinet spokesman Dayasiri based on his (il)legal knowledge (video)

(Lanka-e-News- 18.Nov.2017, 12.25AM)  Sri Lanka which has become ‘Sirisenapooruwa’ is a most strange country ! Believe it or not! Even the cabinet spokesman does not know how the accessibility of the Lanka e news website had been obstructed within SL 
LEN logoWhen the journalists questioned cabinet spokesman minister Dayasiri Jayasekera at a cabinet media briefing lastday , he said  he read that  in another news website. First he said , LeN is not banned. Then he said , he does not know who imposed the ban . Dayasiri who is a lawyer then went on to utter a profusion of lies confirming  that there is rhyme and reason to call  him a damn lawyer cum liar. He went on  blabbering instead of explaining that Lanka e news is not civilized;  President was criticized; and Lanka e news did not report on the Bond issue .

It is only now we know a ban can be imposed on a news media because it did not report on a subject. That is based of course only on the (il)legal knowledge of so called lawyer Dayasiri.
 This is now a  country where  savagery and criminality of the rulers co exist with the docility and gullibility of the innocent people.
The video footage of the mendacious utterances   made most irresponsibly and  uncaringly based on the (il)legal knowledge of  Dayasiri pertaining to the ban imposed by an ‘unidentified individual’ is hereunder 

by     (2017-11-18 06:57:46)

Video: Petrol Bomb Hurled At Gintota Meeran Mosque Despite Curfew And Sagala’s Assurance

Friday, 17 November 2019

Despite the assurance and red notice issued by Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayaka, video evidence clearly shows a pillion rider on a motor cycle hurling a petrol bomb at the 113 year old year old Gintota Meeran mosque on Galle Road around 6:55 pm last night, during curfew hours, Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.

The Law and Order Ministry’s media unit released a communique earlier yesterday, stating that the communal tension in the Gintota area was brought under control after a 12 hour curfew period was enforced at 9 pm on the 17th November. This was after additional Police battalions, the Police Special Task Force, the Anti-Riot Squad and Military were called in to bring the situation under control.

The communique sent out by the Minister Ratnayaka also issued a stern warning to rumour mongers which read “I am aware that some political groups are now on a desperate mission to turn this minor brawl into a Sinhala-Muslim clash. I urge the public not to be misled by their false propaganda. The same elements are now in the process of disseminating false videos and news on social media platform to stir up communal sentiments. I reiterate that stern action will be taken against everyone, irrespective of their positions and political affiliations, attempting to resort to racist propaganda. The same will apply to the rumour-mongers trying to capitalise on this opportunity to achieve petty political gains.”

However despite the curfew being re-enforced at 6 pm for a further 12 hour period, the hurling of the petrol bomb by a pillion rider on a motor cycle which took place at 6:55 pm, was whilst the curfew period was in effect.
Fortunately no harm was done to anyone or the Meeran Muslim Mosque, as the petrol bomb fell in the garden of its premises where no one was present.

The tense situation initially erupted on the 13 November 2017 over a bike accident involving a Sinhalese youth who had knocked down a Muslim child. The situation was amicably settled after the bike rider paid off the victims.

However on the 16 November 2017 a Sinhalese group of youth had assaulted two Muslim motor bike riders whilst reminding them of the incident that had taken place on the 13 November 2017. After one Muslim victim was hospitalized, a group led by a former Muslim Urban Council Member attacked two houses belonging to Sinhalese. One Sinhalese man was hospitalized due to the attack.

 The Police arrested the former Muslim Council Member and the two Sinhalese youth who assaulted the Muslim bike riders.

Thereafter prior to the situation being brought under control, the Muslim youth in the area had also gathered, raising communal tension, as they feared a similar attack on their community may take place as witnessed in Aluthgama and Darga Town in August 2014. The police have arrested 16 Sinhalese and 3 Muslims.

Meanwhile Deputy Minister of Foreign Employment and MP for Galle District, Manusha Nanayakkara told media “BBS Chief Gnanasara Thero played a key role in defusing tensions in Gintota today meeting all parties”. “More than 62 homes & businesses, around 10 vehicles were damaged due to last night violence in Ginthota,” he told media.

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Image: Police curfew imposed in Gintota to control the unruly crowds.(Daily FT photo)

Sri Lanka Brief18/11/2017

A minor incident took place between individuals of Sinhala and Muslim community had  erupted in to ethnic clash in the southern town of  Gintota, Galle district quickly showing the ethnic distrust and tensions remain in the multi-ethnic Sri Lankan society.

Ironically the incident took place on 17th November , the day  that Sri Lanka was reassuring UN member states at the Universal Periodic Review 28th session  in Geneva that country is in the right path to reconciliation and the government is committed to protect rule of law.

Sri Lankan daily Daily FT  report on 17th Nov. offers some incites into the incident.

“According to the Vice President of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, the incident had begun on Thursday when a man identified as a Sinhalese had knocked a man who was identified as a Muslim with his bike. Thereafter an alleged gang of Muslims had attacked the Sinhala man.

This was followed with the Sinhalese individual returning with a gang of his own, Ahmed said, which erupted in a scuffle that led to the turmoil that encompassed the Gintota area.

At the time of writing, the Police media unit told the Daily FT that a Special Task Force Team along with the police riot squad had been deployed to the area. Police and the STF had used tear gas to disperse the unruly crowd.

Several houses had been set alight while the local mosque too was damaged, the Police reported.”

Daily Mirror 
on 18th November reports that situation is under control, several suspects.

“The tense situation which occurred in Gintota last night is completely under control, with law and order being established in the area, Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said today.

In a statement, he said that additional Police battalions, the Police Special Task Force, the Anti-riot Squad and the military were called in last night to bring the situation under control.

“Under the instructions of the President and the Prime Minister, curfew was imposed in the area from last night until 9 am this morning. I am aware that some political groups are now on a desperate mission to turn this minor brawl into a Sinhala-Muslim clash. I urge the public not to be misled by their false propaganda,” he said.

He said the same elements were now in the process of disseminating false videos and news on social media platformss to stir up communal sentiments.

“I reiterate that stern action will be taken against everyone attempting to resort to racist propaganda irrespective of their positions and political affiliations. The same will apply to the rumour-mongers trying to capitalise on this opportunity to achieve petty political gains,” the Minister said.

The IGP has instructed the CID to identify the personnel who misuse social media to spread false news over the incident and to take stern action against them.

Meanwhile, police said that 19 suspects were arrested so far over the tense situation reported in the area yesterday.

Quoting  the Police Media Spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara Daily Mirror gives a different version of the  the first incident had taken place on November 13.

“On November 13, a Muslim woman and her daughter were hit by a motorbike driven by a Sinhalese man. All three were injured and hospitalised. They were discharged after treatments and the issue was settled outside the Police as the bike rider had given Rs.25,000 as compensation to the woman and her daughter. Thereafter, bike rider was released on police bail,” he said.

On Thursday, an attack had taken place in retaliation over the accident. “However, no one with links to the accident was present at the scene which took place on Thursday in which one Muslim was injured,” he said.

Later on, two houses owned by Sinhalese persons had been attacked and one Sinhalese individual had been injured. The chain of events had then escalated and was brought under control by Friday with the help of politicians and religious leaders.

“However, another violent incident broke out last evening. As a result, the curfew was imposed,” he said adding the situation was under control now. (Lahiru Pothmulla)

Curse Of Racism Now Raises Its Ugly Head In Gintota

By Latheef Farook –Friday, 17 November 2018

Sinhalese and Muslims wanted to live in peace; However racist mercenaries think otherwise
On Tuesday 14 November 2017 a Sinhalese teenager riding a motor bike, some suspect without a valid license, knocked down around a 55 year old Muslim woman who was injured.
That issue ended there peacefully without any hatred.

On Thursday 16 November 2017, around 6.30 PM some Muslims boys who were returning home after playing football in the same locality were attacked by some Sinhalese boys. Muslims went home brought people and attacked the Sinhalese boys who attacked them. In the process Muslims also attacked a Sinhalese house which they later admitted was a mistake and repented.

However since then tension began to rise and Pradeshiya Sabha member Kiyas who usually takes active part in community issues went to meet prominent Sinhalese in the area to stop the rising tension amicably.
On Friday 17 November 2017 representatives of two mosques and Sinhalese people in the area met and decided to settle whatever the issue peacefully. People agreed to a peaceful settlement. However the Buddhist monk in the area, supposed to be a close associate of racist outfit Bodu Bala Sena general secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera, accused Kiyas of inciting the problem, got him arrested and refused for a peaceful settlement.

Result was rising tension which many Sinhalese and Muslims believe was uncalled for.
All went home and there was relative calm in the area.

In the midst around 7 pm two bus load of people, all face covered, all outsiders and none from the area, suspected to be armed, arrived at Gintota junction together with four Buddhist monks. In view of the rising tension there was increased police force and STF personnel at the Gintota junction. However police and STF personnel were withdrawn after Friday prayers at around 1.30pm for reason not known to the public. Now they question why the forces were removed despite prevailing tension.

The mob started moving into less populated areas first. Later they started throwing stones and attacking a small mosque called Thkkiya in the Gintota junction. From there they started stoning and attacking houses and shops. Some of these were shops were robbed and the mob emptied goods there.
They started their attacks in full swing around 8.30 pm and continued for one long hour until 9.30pm. From 8.30pm onwards the mob moved into areas such as Kurunduwatta, Maha Hapugala, Welipitimodera, Ukwattha and Piyadigama to continue their attacks.

They attacked in the darkness and there were people pointing at Muslim houses and shops saying “meeka thmbigi ge, meka thambige kade’. While these attacks were continuing Muslims tried  to contact the police. All their frantic efforts failed as there was no response.

According to Muslims in the area the mobs attacked two mosques, 34 houses, 13 shops and eleven vehicles.

Muslims in the area suspect that the absence of police till 9.30 pm gave the mobs sufficient time to continue their attacks on Muslim houses and shops. While the mob went on rampage the two buses which brought the mob were parked in the mainly Sinhalese areas.

Till the police arrived, Muslims in the area were at the mercy of mobs. Realizing the failure of police to come on time Muslim men gathered around the mosque to protect themselves. Muslims suspect that the mobs were hiding in the temple where the monk who refused peace talks live.  

Some Muslims claim that they had seen police vehicles using head light which facilitated the attacks while other said that they had seen police vehicles moving slowly while the mob attacked Muslim owned properties. They didn’t make any attempt to stop the attack.

It appears that the racism, and racist politics had caused damage to the country. It was racist politics which divided communities and paved the way for the 30 year ethnic war which virtually destroyed the country’s economy, communal harmony, and political stability besides the killing innocent people from all communities.

Only this week, Tuesday 14, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that the 30 year war might have cost Sri Lanka US Dollars 400 Billion. This is certainly a colossal amount of money which, if used for the development of the country, the country would be paradise in all respects today.

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The MMDA and Muslim Women’s Right to Shape an Egalitarian law

Featured image courtesy Maatram


This is an attempt to engage with the current arguments and counter arguments, debates and contestations over Muslim women’s rights in Sri Lanka and the need to reform Muslim Personal Law in light of the mandate given to the Muslim Personal Law Reforms Committee appointed by the cabinet in 2009 and headed by Justice Saleem Marsoof. After more than 8 years of deliberation, we are concerned that this Committee is still unable to conclude its work and keeps extending the date of the release of its final report.

We write from the perspective of the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum (MWRAF), a Muslim women’s organization which has a long engagement with Muslim Personal law in Sri Lanka, including research, publications, training of Quazis, para-legal trainings and legal counseling. Moreover, we write in solidarity with a number of other progressive individuals, groups and organizations who are calling for reform of Muslim Personal laws to ensure equality and justice for Muslim women in Sri Lanka. Our work of more than 35 years with community women and men across the country and our knowledge of the workings of Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) – its inherent weaknesses – provide us with ample ground evidence that the MMDA needs to be reformed.

The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, which is at the centre of these debates and contestations is now almost 65 years old.  For more than three decades of struggle to bring reforms to the MMDA in line with Qur’anic justice and women’s lived realities, we have experienced many missed
opportunities due to successive governments abdicating its responsibility to uphold Muslim women’s rights to so called leaders of the Muslim community. We are again confronting the same – recurring,  ‘traditional’ arguments by the Muslim extremist lobby to thwart the efforts of progressive voices thus suppressing Muslim women’s legitimate access to rights and justice.

We focus here on the historical roots of Islamic jurisprudence, the diversity and plurality of Muslims laws in local contexts, and the rights of Muslim women to shape the laws that affect their lives and destiny and the ways in which reform of Muslim laws are being resisted primarily by politically powerful male members of the Muslim community through selective interpretation of Qur’anic verses.

Diversity Across the Muslim World and Understanding Muslim and Islam

The several schools of thought of Muslim laws were started more than 100 years after the revelation of the Qur’an and the death of the Holy Prophet.  These are not direct divine revelations but developed through human judicial- reasoning. The 4 main Sunni schools of Fiqh/thought [Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi] were formed through personal allegiance to legal scholars/jurists. Though those scholars had no intention of making their views final and binding on all Muslims, gradually the freedom and the science of interpretation (Ijtihad) were closed.

Moreover, the Muslim Law obtaining in countries such as Sri Lanka has to be traced to colonial law making processes. The codification of laws by the colonial powers involved a process of selective interpretation and application leading to distortion and even elimination. They made the mistake of treating some of the classical texts on Islam as binding legal texts. In Sri Lanka, it is during colonial times, that Shafi Law came to be recognized as the predominant school of law. It is an accident of history that all Sri Lankan Muslims  are presumed to be adherents of the Shafi school of thought.

Therefore, Muslim personal laws have varied histories, according to different schools of law, local customs, colonial codifications and solutions by judges based on the realities of their time and space. Let us take the example of polygamy and the multiple positions and opinions on it. The spectrum extends from the progressive Tunisian Family Code (Maliki school, which has banned polygamy) to the direct application of medieval Hanbali law as in Saudi Arabia where polygamy is allowed.  In between this, we have the middle ground where polygamy is conditional upon formal permission based on specific conditions through an Arbitration Council or court, as in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh & others.  In Sri Lanka, we have minimal regulation and enforcement is weak, as registration/non registration does not make the marriage valid/invalid.

Let us consider the question of Kaikuli in Sri Lanka. Dowry is not recognized in Muslim Jurisprudence or any schools of thought. Yet how is it recognized by the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act in Sri Lanka?  The simple answer is that it has been a customary practice that became recognized by law.

Thus, we have to understand that the texts have come down to modern Muslims wrapped in layers of interpretation.  Progressive scholars have recognized that family law is man-made and changeable in the light of changing social conditions and better understanding of religious sources.

Muslim Family Laws and Women’s Demands for Reform

We all know that personal/family law regulates the closest ties of men, women and children.  We also recognize that while other laws have been changed/codified –  especially areas of commerce, public service, administrative, army,  it is only family law that is retained by many    countries that follow Islamic Jurisprudence. as it symbolises an overarching ‘collective Muslim identity’. But what is problematic is that this collective identity is dependent on women’s unequal status, justified on selective interpretations of the Qu’ran and Hadiths. We have enough examples across the Muslim world where religious tenets/interpretations that support women’s rights are overlooked, ignored or left suspended in relation to the appointment of female Quazis judges, Matah, consent, etc. Moreover, when state law and custom and religious tenets have different opinions, in practice the one least favorable for women is applied and maintained, and privileges given to men are retained.

Reform of discriminatory laws to ensure equality and justice for Muslim women all too often tends to be resisted on the basis that the law is God given. But who is resisting reforms and who is demanding for reforms? Whose demands are to be privileged and whose ignored? Are men’s voices to be privileged over the larger community of women’s voices?

We know only too well that for many centuries and generations, stereotypical beliefs [which are irrational, dependent, impulsive] that women are the inferior sex emanates from a patriarchal reading of socio-cultural- religious norms and fundamental social and political assumptions. These are deeply rooted in Islamic jurisprudence too. Yet, we argue that the  Qur’anic ethos and ethic was to gradually ensure full-fledged citizenship to Muslim women.  The Qur’anic philosophy is based on the principle of gradualism in social change and also on wisdom thus fostering human democracy ie, – society’s collective ability to make own choices.[1]

Shariah literally means – the path or the road leading to the water – the way to a good life based on the values of justice, equity (is-tihsan), kindness, common good (maslaha), and wisdom. These are absolute tenets, and whatever action whether in the legal, economic, or social field should observe these principles. It is now widely agreed and accepted that these principles are best realized when many people as possible have the ability to exercise their political rights in a democratic way. Today, many scholars of Islam, both men and women are reading the sacred texts to give effect to these fundamental principles. They include scholars such as Ziba Mir Hosseini, Asma Lamrabet, Amina Wadud, Farid Esack, Khaleed Masud and Fazlur Rahman. What MWRAF is  looking at is the manifestation  of these ideals in practice. Wherever these principles are negated reform is necessary as in the case of the MMDA.

This is the fundamental right of Muslim people, including Muslim women. A few religious leader/s or jurist/s who purport to represent the views of the majority of the community do not have the prerogative or birthright to dictate terms to the whole community, much less on matters which overwhelmingly concern women. Women’s voices, as those who are most affected by the MMDA must be taken into account in the reform of Muslim Personal Laws.

The logic of usul-al- fiqh – (Islamic jurisprudence, its roots and its basic principles of reasoning) and fiqh[2] – Islamic laws, and women’s role, involvement and contribution to Islamic jurisprudence has been radically abrogated through centuries of patriarchy and its pervasiveness. The law and the judiciary have become the domain and privilege of men.  During the time of the prophet, women were actively involved in every aspect of lifeIt will be a shocking revelation for many a Muslim woman and man to know that they were even warriors. In the ensuing years women were also active as jurists and religious leaders. Most interesting is that many of the great jurists of Islamic history were women or taught by women including Imam Shafi’, the father of the Shafi School of thought.[3] Today, we are seeing an increasing trend taking over Muslim countries and communities to deny women’s rights and capacities. Sri Lanka is experiencing this same pattern, which has to be challenged. This is not simply a religious question. It is a question of power and privilege and a question of democracy and citizenship. The final arbiter on the question of reform of the MMDA has to be the Sri Lankan state.

Editor’s Note: For more content, including personal narratives from women impacted by the current discussions around Muslim personal law, click here

[1]   Azizah al Hibri. (1997). Islam, Law, Custom: Redefining Muslim Women’s Rights, American University International Law Review 12(1): 1- 44, Qur’an 2:256

[2]  Fiqh – means human understanding/interpretation of Sharia  – rules regarding human transaction and worship. 

[3] al Hibri, (1997).

Political Democracy, Progressive Economics and Social Liberalism: The Essential Triad

Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago

Tisaranee Gunasekara- 

"Fear a too unequal division of wealth resulting in a small number of opulent citizens and multitude of citizens living in misery."

Denis Diderot (Quoted in A Revolution of the Mind by Jonathan Israel)

The latest Global Wealth Report is out. Its most salient finding is that the richest 1% owns 50% of world’s wealth.

In ‘Raised from the ground,’ his semi-autobiographical novel, Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago wrote, "There can be no justice when some have everything and others nothing..." No stability either; such imbalances are breeding grounds for discontent and conflict. As American entrepreneur Nick Hanauer warned his fellow plutocrats in an open letter, "Some inequality is intrinsic to any high functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day... If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us."i

This month, the pitchforks were out, in Poland. The far right, in their tens of thousands, disgorged on to Warsaw’s streets, their metaphorical pitchforks aimed not at plutocrats, but at the racial/religious ‘Other’. They demanded a pure Poland and a white Europe, dedicated to God. Inquired about the fascist overtones of the march, Poland’s right wing Interior Minister said, it was a beautiful sight.

Poland is a classic case of what happens when economic growth and income equality head in opposite directions. According to a study conducted in 2010, most Poles were unhappy with the growing income disparities and wanted the government to implement ameliorative measuresii. There was no racial/religious taint in their discontent, not then. But the government’s failure to alleviate the imbalance caused a gradual erosion of trust in national institutions. The far right stepped into the resulting breach and used it as a path to power.

Martin Luther King once warned about politicians who feed their constituents with "the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism."iii In 2017, the bread of hatred and meat of racism is enticingly fresh. The failure of the moderate centre to understand the essential nexus between political democracy, social liberalism and progressive economics is strengthening racial extremism and religious fundamentalism across the globe. Democrats and liberals have conceded the space of popular economics to fascists. The rollback of basic political and social rights, the undermining of democracy itself, would be the price of that abandonment.

Budget 2018: Something Good, Something Not

This month, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a second letter to humankind (the first was in 1992), warning of the bleak fate awaiting us if environmental degradation continuesiv. Last week, people of Delhi caught a glimpse of that future when the Indian capital became enveloped in a toxic smog. Schools closed, construction work stopped, some areas of the city was banned to vehicles and the United Airlines cancelled all its flights until the air turns ‘less lethal’. A desperate government is hastening to do what it should have done years ago: introduce cleaner, less toxic fuelsv.

Mangala Samaraweera’s first budget is timely in this important sense. It is environmentally friendly, and unabashedly so. As the Indian experience proves, saving environment is a public good, a goal from which all of us, including those who are opposed to such measures, will benefit. If Minister Samaraweera’s green policies are implemented, they might save Colombo from the fate of Delhi (and of Beijing).

Minister Samaraweera’s budget also addresses, to some degree, socio-economic preconditions for genuine reconciliation. Monies have been allocated to provide housing for those affected by the war, and for those living in line houses. Relief has been promised to those mired in debt in the North and the East (the tragic story of a badly indebted mother who poisoned her children and committed suicide is emblematic of the plight of the poor in war-torn areas). The budget also includes measure to help young people and empower women economically.

The new budget is green; it is inclusive. But these progressive measures are built on shifting sands. The budget contains within it a fatal flaw which can undermine it – and the government. It has failed, attitudinally and actually, to move away from the path of extractive taxation – indirect taxes which harm the poor and the middle classes and widen income disparities. Minister Samaraweera has not even tried to escape the trap of Rajapaksa economics. His budget, progressive and forward thinking in many ways, continues to maintain the highly punitive 20:80 ratio between direct and indirect taxes.

The problem with such an imbalanced ratio is far from an esoteric one. It has immediate and real socio-economic-political consequences. Such heavy reliance on indirect taxes "shifts the burden of taxation onto the poor," the UNDP warnedvi the Rajapaksa government four years ago. "As long as the revenue from direct taxation remains low, this ratio will prevail and this in turn means that the bulk of the burden of indirect taxation will be felt by the poor people." Dr. Saman Kelegama, the then head of the Institute of Policy Studies, pointed out.vii The ideal ratio of direct to indirect taxes would be 40:60, he maintained.

Sri Lanka experienced high levels of economic inequality in the mid 1980’s. The poorest 10% accounted for only 0.4 of the income while nearly 50% of the income was bagged by the richest 10%. The JVP manipulated the resulting discontent, giving it an anti-minority, anti-devolution form. Income disparities lessened during the Premadasa years, but his efforts to create a more balanced economy was abandoned after his assassination. The gap between the rich and poor started widening again, reaching alarming levels by 2013. "This trend can undermine economic sustainability and threaten social cohesion," the ILO warnedviii.

The Rajapaksas ignored the warnings (including a very perceptive one from Minister DEW Gunasekara) and continued with their strategy of extracting wealth from ordinary Lankans through indirect taxes to maintain a wasteful, extravagant and obese state. The 2013 budget gave a 300% tax break to super racing cars. The 2014 budget gave tax breaks to designer goods. Both budgets increased existing taxes or imposed new ones on essentials including wheat flour, vegetables, fruits, mosquito coils, gauze, cement, sprats, chickpeas, green grams, canned fish, Maldive fish, dried fish and coriander. VAT exemptions on paddy, rice, wheat, some spices, rubber, coconut, tea, rice flour, eggs, milk, tractors, machinery for tea and rubber industry, plant and machinery for firms, and some pharmaceutical preparations were removed.

The result was a scissors-crisis in living conditions of ordinary Lankans, caused by falling real incomes on one hand rising prices on the other. According to the Department of Census and Statistics, 53% of the urban population, 73% of the rural population and 81% of the estate population did not receive the minimum income necessary to pay for food and other basic needsix. By late 2014, the electorate was hurting, hopeless and ripe for change.

The CPA’s 2014 opinion survey, Democracy in Post-War Sri Lanka, created a word-picture of this mood of discontentx. 42.7% of Lankans (and 43.1% of Sinhalese) said that they had to cut back on the quantity/quality of the food they purchased. 54.1% Lankans (and 54% of Sinhalese) thought their own household economy got little or lot worse in the last two years. 45.1% of Lankans (and 43.5% of Sinhalese) thought that the national economic situation got little or lot worse in the last two years. 66.3% of Lankans (and 67.4% of Sinhalese) thought that the government should prioritise cost of living.

The Rajapaksas did not prioritise cost of living. They thought wrapping themselves in the lion flag and Buddhist flag, and scapegoating this or that minority would suffice. They were wrong, fortunately so. A majority of Lankans opted for hope over fear. They believed the vision of a democratic, progressive and inclusive society held aloft by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe. They voted for change, for betterment. By clinging to Rajapaksa economics, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration is failing them. Minister Samaraweera’s budget, for all its positive features, is, most seminally, a symbol of this failure.

Two Economies, Two Existences: Recipe for Political Disaster

Ray Dalio, billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, recently made a comment which should be memorised by every democratic politician. "We talk of the economy. Recognize that you can’t talk about the economy. There are two economies. If you look at the economy of the bottom 60%, it is a miserable economy.... so we have two parallel existences."xi

In Sri Lanka, the gap between these parallel economies and parallel existences are growing fast, not least because of environmental factors. According to official sources, close to two million Lankans are severely affected by the crippling droughts. Poverty and indebtedness are growing in tandem with failing harvests; hunger is on the rise as are school dropout rates and internal migration. Measured against this reality, spending billions on new expressways – which incidentally might create new environmental problems and force more people into poverty/debt trap – seems unimaginably unrealistic and unforgivably self-defeating. It is the kind of tone-deaf inanity the Rajapaksas excelled at, which should have been laid to rest with their ouster.

Political progress and social progress are not sustainable if accompanied by retrogressive economics. A democratic polity and an open society needs an economy which doesn’t marginalise large swathes of people and generate simmering despair. "...Inequality can undermine progress in health and education, cause investment reduction, political and economic instability and undercut the social consensus required to adjust in the face of shocks and thus it tends to reduce the pace and durability of growth," warned a famous IMF study titled, Redistribution, Inequality and Growthxii.

It is an old myth, that of rich Tamils, rich Muslims and rich Christians, all of them crafty, all of them preying on poor naive Sinhala-Buddhists. The myth, probably rooted in the Dharmapalian resurgence, was used to justify the disenfranchisement of Up-country Tamils (depicted by populist Sinhala politicians as ‘privileged’), Sinhala Only, Black July and the rising tide of anti-Muslim hysteria. The Rajapaksas made use of this myth to stay in power. They will return to this myth to regain power.

That the government is unwilling to face local/provincial elections is no secret. The UNP and the SLFP are not alone in their trepidation. Rajapaksa-led JO too would be nursing its own set of anxieties. At the next Local Government election, the UNP is likely to come first in terms of total number of votes (albeit with a much depleted tally, compared to its 2015 performance). The JO will have to jostle not for the first position but for the second position. Even if the JO wins the contestation with the SLFP – which seems possible – for the Rajapaksas it will be a pyrrhic victory. It will give the lie to their constant boast that the electorate is waiting for a chance to vote the Family back to power.

So for the Rajapaksas, the best and the fastest route to power would be via a change in parliamentary balance: engineer defections from the SLFP and the UNP, make Mahinda Rajapaksa the Prime Minister, impeach President Sirisena, repeal the 19th Amendment, and, Abracadabra, the Family would be back in control. This non-electoral route is preconditioned on an explosion of popular discontent. SLFP and UNP parliamentarians will change sides only if they see a tempest of popular anger against the administration. Hopefully, the planned labour reform in the budget will not ignite just such a situation. If flexible working hours is an Orwellian term for lengthening the working day, massive strikes and demonstrations will ensue. Faced with the wrath of the workers, what would the government do? Create another Roshain Chanaka (the FTZ worker gunned-down while demonstrating against the Rajapaksa pension plan) and, in doing so, inflict on itself a mortal political wound?






vi Sri Lanka – Human Development Report - 2012

vii The Island – 9.6.2013

viii Asia Pacific Labour Market Update – April 2012

ix Question Time reveals colossal waste of public funds while masses struggle – Chandani Kirinde – The Sunday Times – 27.7.2014




Nobody has right to ban Lanka e News ; we totally oppose as Convener of trade unions- Saman Ratnapriya !

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News - 18.Nov.2017, 11.30PM) Nobody has the right to ban Lanka e news, as  joint convener of Trade union movement and leader of Citizen’s Force we absolutely oppose it,  said Saman Rathnapriya.
Rathnapriya responding to questions posed by Lanka  e news reporter Menaka Ambepitiya revealed  as follows …..
“As members of the civil society we do not under any circumstances concur with the unofficial ban imposed on Lanka e news. As Trade union movement too  , our view is the same.  Banning a media is not an appropriate action. The news reported by the media , may be sometimes bearable sometimes  unbearable. 
If the reports are unbearable those can be questioned and legal action can be taken. Instead of that imposing bans are unbecoming within a civilized society . In addition such action is not in consonance with Democracy and good governance .
Besides , Lanka e news is a most popular website which is in the vanguard of bringing about changes in the country’s political landscape presently. It is a media website that contributed indefatigably towards that. People can express diverse views about it. Yet it is a media that was committed to bringing about the salutary political upheavals in 2015-01-08  and in 2015-08-17. Moreover , after the new government was formed , it not only stood by it all along , but also exposed its faults. We believe that is a responsibility of a dependable responsible media. 
We too do not conceal the faults. We too contributed towards the formation of this government . Our need was more to send the government in power out more than installing a government. Hence , we think it is our responsibility  to point out the wrongs, if any of this government.
Therefore , while that being the  situation , we do not condone this ban at all. This ban should be lifted immediately. Nobody has the right to impose such a ban . There are no ethical or moral  grounds for that. One of the basic tenets of Democracy is to permit the media to function freely sans bans. It is our opinion that situation should prevail .”

Discussion with Menaka Ambepitiya 

by     (2017-11-18 18:12:33)