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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Buddhist monks appropriate 100 acres of land in Akkaraippattu
TamilNet[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 September 2012, 22:05 GMT]
A group of one hundred Buddhist monks, backed by the Sri Lankan state in Colombo, visited Moddaik-kal-malai in Akkaraippattu division of Ampaa'rai district five days ago, declaring 100 acres of Tamils land surrounding the rock as a ‘sacred zone’ of Buddhists. Tamil civil officials in the area complain that Colombo and its Buddhist monks were planning to create a Sinhala colony in the lands that belong to Tamils. 

The visiting Buddhist monks have claimed that the image of Lord Buddha is carved out in the rock in the area. 

However Hindus in the area, disputing the claims by the Buddhist monks, say that the image is of Lord Vishnu and not of Lord Buddha.

The Saivite organisations in the three districts of Eastern Province have been complaining that the Sinhala Buddhist state in Colombo is waging an accelerated campaign of Sinhala Buddhist colonisation by destroying historic Hindu shrines in the East.

DDoS attacks on TamilNet foiled

Attack details 26th September[TamilNet, Saturday, 29 September 2012, 22:47 GMT]
TamilNetFollowing persistent Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks on TamilNet in late February that coincided with the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, the site was once again intensively attacked this week by sources originating from various countries. Most of the co-ordinated attacks on 26 September originated from India, Malaysia, Israel and Germany. The attacks have also come from Thailand, Georgia, Brazil and Pakistan. This time, the cyber attacks on TamilNet coincided with its exclusive coverage exposing resettlement farce in Vanni, while Colombo and its abettors in the International Community of Establishments and in the international organisations, were projecting the closure of the IDP camp in Vavuniyaa as marking the successful completion of resettlement, ostensibly for the bailout of Colombo and continuation of the deceptive LLRC roadmap. 

“The attackers had IPs from many different countries, and multiple attack sources were from India. It is difficult, or perhaps sometimes impossible, to trace who hosted the attack, as the atttacks are normally commanded from a single source to many different hacked mach
Normal TrafficTamilNet was able to sustain the service without interruptions. 

TamilNet is thankful for the support it has received from its readers in materially enabling it to meet the technological challenges dealing with DDoS and other types of cyber attacks. 

Established in June 1995 as an electronic mailing list, TamilNet emerged into a newswire service with dedicated reporters, special correspondents and feature writers since it launched its web-based newswire service on 07 June 1997. 

It now completes 15 years of service as an independent and not-for-profit newswire.

Sri Lanka is blocking the site inside the island since June 2007, but many savvy Sri Lanka users have since used free services available through proxies to access TamilNet.

TamilNet now plans to interact with its readers in the diaspora through direct meetings to strengthen its independent news coverage and necessary infrastructure arrangements. 

The above tables show the peak number of connections per hour from the top 15 most computers accessing TamilNet. From a single computer session, the average connections per hour is in the order of 200 to 400 connections. The attacking computers attempt to overwhelm the servers by trying to create tens of thousands of connections (per hour).
Issues behind President’s tussle with the judiciary
The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

= Weeratunga writes second letter to CJ explaining reasons for the meeting with Rajapaksa
= Ministerial team and Government lawyers appointed to work out course of action
Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake receiving her letter of appointment from the President
Last Monday evening, actress Malini Fonseka was leaving the hallways of “Temple Trees,” once the home of British businessmen, an editor, colonial rulers and later for decades by democratically-elected leaders of Sri Lanka. I walked in to greet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and sit down for a 90-minute conversation.
Present was Bandula Jayasekera, President’s spokesperson. Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga was to join in later. If he sat in a chair placed in the middle, chairs in two rows on his left and right, on the floor that has seen how the country’s history has been shaped by its leaders over the years, were empty. “My commitment to ensure an independent judiciary is uppermost. I cannot understand why there should be such unfounded accusations against me or my government,” the President said. He was alluding to the statement issued by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) Secretary on Tuesday September 18. The full text of the statement appeared in The Sunday Times (political commentary last Sunday), for the first time in an English newspaper.
Only moments earlier, Rajapaksa had diffused a crisis after Ms. Fonseka, the heart throb of cinema lovers in Sri Lanka, was asked to step down as MP. She quit only to be told by Rajapaksa that she should withdraw her resignation. It was too late. Hence, she will soon be sworn in as a new MP.
Needless to say the break would affect her claims to a parliamentary pension. The JSC in what appeared to be an unprecedented statement claimed there was “baseless criticism” of it and on the judiciary by the electronic and print media. It said, “various influences have been made” regarding decisions taken by the Commission and cited disciplinary action against a judge as an example. What was more disconcerting to UPFA leaders was a paragraph which said “�. an attempt to convince the relevant institutions regarding the protection of the independence of the judiciary and the JSC over the attempt to call for a meeting with the chairperson of the JSC, who is the Hon. Chief Justice and two other Supreme Court Judges, was not successful. The JSC has documentary evidence on this matter.” JSC Secretary Manjula Tillekeratne said “I have been instructed by the Commission” to issue the statement.
“I wanted them to be present for a discussion in the light of the next budget. I wanted to make sure their financial requirements and other needs are met when the budget is presented in Parliament. I also wanted to discuss how foreign scholarships and other training programmes for judges had to be enhanced,” Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times. In the past, he said, those who held the office of Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court had heeded calls to attend such meetings and did not in any way consider that “an interference in the judiciary.” He added, “It is incumbent on me to ensure the smooth functioning of the judicial system in the country. I can only find out the shortcomings by asking them what they need and what steps have to be taken.” He said he would place all the facts before the public when he meets editors of national newspapers and heads of electronic media on Thursday.
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Tamil Militants in Prison in Sri Lanka - Are They Still Alive?
Sri Lanka's Controversial Menik Farm IDP Camp Closes- As POW's Remain Missing
Sri Lanka's Controversial Menik Farm IDP Camp Closes- As POW's Remain Missing
One of the camps used to hold Tamils after the end of the decades-long war in 2009.
One of the camps used to hold Tamils after the end of the decades-long war in 2009. Courtesy: Green Left
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Very serious questions about captured Tamil Tiger fighters linger in the wake of the violent end of Sri Lanka's long-running civil war.
While it may never be possible to determine an accurate assessment of Tamil casualties, it may not be too late to save many who languish today in prison camps located in secured areas inaccessible to family or media.
That is what people located on the ground there have said for years. There are photos of imprisoned Tamils and there are prisons and prison camps that are not undisclosed, like Menik Farm, the IDP Camp that will be closed following its final release of prisoners by tomorrow, 30 September 2012. My friend Muthamizh Vendhan in Chennai, sent these videos to our newsroom several weeks ago and while I meant to publish them then, I realize now that this day when a notorious prison camp is closing, has perhaps even more significance.
When the government violence against in Sri Lanka finally subsided, 300,000 Tamil Hindu and Christian Sri Lankans qualified as internally displaced persons (IDPs). Those who had survived were transferred to camps in Vavuniya District and imprisoned against their will. This process, together with the conditions inside the camps and the slow progress of resettlement in 2009 became a focus of a great deal of criticism from inside and outside Sri Lanka.
By the 7th of May in 2009, Sri Lanka announced plans to resettle 80% of the IDPs by the end of 2009. But them when the war was over, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured foreign officials that most of the IDPs would be resettled in accordance with the 180 day plan. The camps were opened on 1 December 2009 but IDP's were only offered limited freedom. The
Then on 29 December 2009 the government of Sri Lankan (GoSL) announced that there was no deadline for the resettlement of the IDPs. The pace of resettlement increased in 2010 and by July 2011, most the IDPs had been released or returned to their places of origin,Wikipedia states, with about 7,500 still living in the camps. These quite interestingly, are people from areas in Mullaitivu District, which is heavily contaminated with landmines. That sad aspect of war goes on killing long after the battlefield goes quiet.
The article Sri Lanka: A nightmare for Tamils by Ash Pemberton for Green Left states:
    Tamil political prisoners also face harsher treatment, with the defence secretary ordering their transfer to the notorious Boosa prison in Galle, said on July 25. The government has reneged on its promise to release details of all Tamil prisoners, with claims of secret detention camps holding Tamil prisoners of war.
    While there has been some international criticism of the Sri Lankan government, it has sought to deflect this through its “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission” (LLRC), composed of government-appointed officials, ostensibly to investigate claims of human rights abuses during the war.
    However, its report largely exonerated the government and talked up “reconciliation” between the two sides.
    Academic RM Karthick said at on June 18: “The real message of the devisors of the LLRC seems to be that Tamils have learnt a lesson and must reconcile to the fact that they are a minority at the tender mercies of the state, not a nationality, and that the there is no imagination beyond the unitary Sri Lanka.”
    However, the underlying cause of the conflict -- ethnic discrimination -- still remains.

This war will not really be over until all information is released on missing people. We have reported many times the terrible cruelty suffered by Tamils in the final stages of the war, which wound down just as the summer of 2009 began heating up. Now the GoSL needs to keep moving forward and do everything possible to restore balance, and that again, is all about accountability and full disclosure.
The FUTA Protest

FUTA put up a good show on Friday, as well it might, given the support it drew from disparate opposition forces hoping that the long-drawn struggle of university academics would be the incubus of regime change. Many motorists and other commuters in the city cursed the disruption and the traffic jams caused as a result of the several processions converging on Colombo from different directions. The police unsuccessfully sought a court order to ban a procession in the interest of preventing the inevitable chaos but most people, even those worst affected, were glad that the right to protest was upheld. Given that the police never invoke judicial intervention when incumbent regimes have their various carnivals to the detriment of the general population, it was refreshing that opponents of the government were granted the opportunity of having their say.

Most people do not believe that the demand that six percent of national GDP be spent on education is FUTA’s primary objective. That demand was cannily attached to the salary increase the academics are pushing for themselves to ensure wider support for their cause. They’ve certainly won a level of public support they might not have anticipated given the pathetic state of so-called free education in the country today. Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake claims that the total education spend is a much higher proportion of GDP than commonly believed. He is right if expenditure by non-State actors including various private participants like international schools, the various organizations offering higher education in a multiplicity of disciplines, what is drawn into the monolithic private tuition industry and daham pasalas, Sunday schools and Madrasas are all taken to account. The ``pearl of great price’’ that Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara bequeathed this nation is now old hat. Education is anything but free with many parents, particularly those aspiring to send their children to university, having to cough out rupees they can ill afford to pay for their children to go from this tuition class to that. Even a few of those university dons, striking for higher salaries, are part of that industry with some reportedly earning very big bucks from their `private practice.’

It is not only education that is no longer free in this country which once prided itself on a well-funded free education system from primary schools right through university. We once boasted the highest level of literacy in the region but today many rural schools are being closed and admission to the better equipped and funded schools has become a racket about which the less said the better. The once vaunted free health care is today anything but free with patients in government hospitals being compelled to obtain drugs, tests etc. from outside. We allowed our English language skills to be severely eroded; well-run State assisted denominational schools providing a useful service were undermined. It is clear that the FUTA struggle has resonated in the public mind the way it has largely on account of the progressive deterioration of welfare services, particularly education and health, in recent years. It is true that we are not a resource rich country and some economists believe that we have paid a heavy price in the lack of development by adopting unaffordable welfare expenditure. These are all matters that are debatable but it is inescapable that what is offered to the people today, especially in the spheres of health and education, is but a shadow of what was previously available; and the increase in population by no means tell the whole story.

Although the war ended three years ago, we continue to incur huge defence expenditures ostensibly for security reasons. While infrastructure must undoubtedly be developed for economic advancement, there are questions on whether mega projects like the Hambantota port and the international airport at Mattala will yield the anticipated returns. The money poured into Mihinair is a scandal and there are strong doubts on whether the airline will ever earn its keep. The people are not blind to the money the political establishment spends on itself with a jumbo cabinet of over a 100 ministers in office and more to come as various political arrangements are finalized. It is difficult to determine how well money has been spent on various mega projects and whether the cost-benefit ratios make sense. Public dissatisfaction on several fronts has resulted in the FUTA demands getting wider support than they otherwise would have.

The government says that university dons will get higher salaries from October but the figures released for public consumption lump salaries and allowance together. The Mahanayakes of Malwatte and Asgiriya have offered to mediate and there is yet no word either from the government or from FUTA whether this offer would be accepted. Meanwhile the strike has dragged on for over three months and the marking of GCE `A’ level answer papers have not begun. With academic activities disrupted, delays in students completing their course will be inevitable. The feisty Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake says there were more university students than academics in Friday’s protest. He alleges that the whole business is politically motivated and claims that senior professors are among the best paid public servants in the country with some drawing more than the chief justice. He says that talks are possible once the strike has ended. Given the tone and tenor of the speeches at Friday’s protest and the dons’ perception that they enjoy public support, the signs are than an early end to the deadlock is unlikely. The academics have already forgone three months salary and though the minister says that he’s received letters from many expressing a desire to return to work, it looks very much as though they are willing to go on longer.

Massive loan from China to rebuild roads

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka
President works out US$ 500 m deal; two consultancy firms to get billions for supervisory services

China will provide Sri Lanka a loan of US$ 500 million (Rs. 64.6 billion) for the second phase of the Government’s Priority Roads Project in the north and the south.
As a prelude to the project getting under way, the Government will obtain consultancy services. The Cabinet last Wednesday approved a proposal by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as Minister of Ports and Highways, to award two local firms multi million rupee contracts for such services.
The firm handling the Southern Region — Consulting Engineers & Architects (Private) Limited — will receive Rs. 3,376,160,000 (excluding VAT) whilst the one handling the Northern Region – Resources Development Consultants (Private) Limited — will receive Rs. 401,404,000 (excluding VAT). The two firms have been picked by the Cabinet Appointed Consultants Procurements Committee (CACPC) after four firms were shortlisted.
President Rajapaksa has told his ministers in a Cabinet memorandum that the Government of Sri Lanka and the China Development Bank Company Limited (CDB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a framework for cooperation. In terms of this MoU, the CDB has agreed to provide credit facilities to finance, inter alia, “infrastructure development projects with great significance to economic development.”
Stemming from this MoU, he has said, that the CDB has agreed to finance the Priority Roads Project to be implemented by the Road Development Authority under the Ministry of Ports and Highways.
With the US$ 500 million provided by the CDB, President Rajapaksa has told his ministers, 19 civil works have been awarded. These civil works are intended to rehabilitate 504.9 kilometres of roads in the Western, Southern, Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa, North Western and North Central Provinces and 85 kilometres of provincial roads in the Nuwara Eliya District.
Two new flyovers at Hambantota are also to be constructed with the same funding. The Ministry of Ports and Highways has grouped the work to be undertaken into two regions — Northern and Southern. President Rajapaksa has said the Road Development Authority intends to employ separate local consultancy firms for construction supervision of the project in each region. The funds required to incur the cost of such consultancy are to be drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

India trying to undermine post-war reconciliation says senior official

Media blitz influenced by decision makers

September 29, 2012

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lankan government yesterday alleged that an influential section of the Indian media at the behest of decision makers there was making an attempt to undermine post-war reconciliation process.
The GoSL asserted that the one-time LTTE mouthpiece, the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi a.k.a Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which in late 2001 declared the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people was spearheading the campaign here, whereas the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) pursued an international campaign.

A senior GoSL official was responding to The Hindu editorial of Sept. 28 titled ‘Plain speaking to Colombo’ and GTF appreciating India emphasizing the urgency to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in achieving lasting political solution to the Tamil National question.

The GTF issued the statement on Sept. 27 following its leader Rev Father S. J. Emmanuel making representations to South Africa and Switzerland as regards an international war crimes inquiry in Sri Lanka.

Having claimed a critical Indian diplomatic role in Sri Lanka’s defeat of the LTTE, the Indian media had asserted that New Delhi felt betrayed by President Rajapaksa’s failure to settle the Tamil National Question due to what it called Sinhala triumphalism.

The TNA decision to boycott the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), too, was blamed on Sri Lanka citing the stopping of work undertaken by previous committees.

The GoSL said that it was unreasonable to compare President Rajapaksa’s initiative with any of the previous attempts. In fact it was not only unjust but foolish as all previous Sri Lankan and Indian governments had been forced to deal with the LTTE except at the onset of the negotiating process in the early 80s, when the TULF and several other Indian trained Tamil terrorist groups were involved.

Commenting on The Hindu assertion that the ITAK was skeptical about the PSC process, the official said that Trincomalee District MP R. Sampanthan’s party was in the limelight today thanks to the Sri Lankan military.

Recalling how the UK, France and India had intervened to stop the military offensive on the Vanni east front in early 2009, the official said that if LTTE leadership comprised Prabhakaran, Pottu Amman (intelligence chief) and Soosai (Sea Tiger leader) had survived, the international community wouldn’t have bothered with the ITAK/TNA.

The LTTE would have remained the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people, the official said. The formation of the GTF and the return of ITAK/TNA to active politics wouldn’t have been a reality without eradication of the LTTE’s conventional military power, the official said.

He reminded that the LTTE didn’t at least allow other Tamil political parties and groups, including the ITAK to freely engage in political activity even after the signing of the CFA under Norwegian auspices.

"Today two of the main beneficiaries of the LTTE’s destruction are demanding an international war crimes inquiry. On one hand, the GTF came into being due to eradication of the LTTE in May 2009. And on the other hand, the ITAK is free to take decisions on behalf of their people today. We challenge the ITAK to reveal just one decision it took without consulting the LTTE."

"When the LTTE was running the show, the ITAK meekly accepted its orders. In the run-up to parliamentary polls in late 2001, MP Sampanthan called a media briefing in Colombo to declare the LTTE as the sole representative of Tamil speaking people. Then the ITAK had to allow the LTTE to decide on its nominees for the parliamentary polls.

``About a week ahead of the Nov 17, 2005 presidential poll, the ITAK called a media briefing in Kilinochchi on behalf of the LTTE to urge Tamil speaking people not to exercise their franchise.

``In May 2008, the ITAK didn’t contest the first Eastern Provincial Council election as it feared to earn the wrath of the LTTE. However, it contested the second election for the Eastern PC on Sept 8, 2012 due to absence of LTTE threat. Instead thanking the GoSL, the ITAK is today trying to play the LTTE role in a different way."

The GoSL insisted that it didn’t need the Indian media to advice as regards the first election for the Northern PC. President Rajapaksa has assured that Northern PC poll would be held in September next year, the GoSL said. As a public announcement, too, had been made, there was no need GoSL’s part to give additional assurance to those acting as if the LTTE never existed, the GoSL said.

Issuing a statement from London, the GTF emphasized that only an international, independent investigation could secure truth and accountability, as recommended by the UN Panel of Experts in their report, in order to lay the foundations for meaningful reconciliation between all communities in Sri Lanka. In this regard, GTF would continue to engage internationally until justice is served.

Reiterating its commitment for a negotiated political settlement for decades long Tamil national question through a process of dialogue and engagement, the GTF said: "In this respect we are encouraged that as reported in the media recently, the Indian Prime Minister has emphasized the urgency to President Rajapaksa in achieving lasting political solution to the Tamil national question."

Those who talk disparaging of Sri Lanka’s track record as regards the Tamil national question had conveniently forgotten how India created a monster in Sri Lanka in the 80s, the GoSL official said.

Responding to Tamil Nadu political parties’ position on the Tamil National issue and that of the center, the official said that India’s plight was obvious. Those leading protests against Sri Lanka had also interfered with the Indian judicial process as obviously revealed in the case of LTTE operatives found guilty for Rajiv Gandhi assassination not being executed.

 Commenting on India throwing its weight behind the US-led resolution in Geneva at the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Feb-March 2012, the official pointed out that the UN had made a spate of allegations targeting India over accountability issues. Interesting the position on India was made known soon after vote on Sri Lanka.

The UK based Channel 4 which produced two unsubstantiated documentaries, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ and ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War crimes unpunished’ had telecast a similar documentary on human rights violations by the Indian government.

The Indian media and ITAK were playing politics with many issues, the official said. "A case in point is poaching in northern Sri Lankan waters on a massive scale by the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet. ITAK politicians, who criticize the GoSL for not doing enough for post-war economic revival of the economy in the northern and eastern regions, are silent on destructive bottom trawling operations by the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet. In spite of a large section of Tamil speaking people here depending on fishing, the ITAK is yet to take up this issue."

Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics

By Emil van der Poorten -September 30, 2012 
Emil van der Poorten
One cannot but be fascinated by the material appearing in the media, particularly information released by The Regime’s disseminators of propaganda.
Colombo TelegraphWe had one poll, conducted within goodness knows what parameters, that said that Mahinda Rajapaksa had in excess of a 90% approval rating.  Yet, even in elections in which the opposition parties have, according to the same sources, been decimated, the total opposition vote has not reflected that “fact.”  This kind of reporting is typical of the local media which, by and large, has proved to be among the world’s most supine in their efforts to curry favour with those who wield power. Pray tell me how you arrive at a 90%+ approval rating by the population at large when the enthusiasm for a “hugely popular” President is demonstrated by a 60% turn out at the most recent polls and the President’s party, leave alone garner over half that vote, does in fact poll barely over 50% of the opposition’s?  The math just does not make sense unless, of course, you were tutored by an academic of the quality of Dr. Mervin!
And talking of minorities, what about the minorities that are engaging in protests against the anti-social conduct of this lot, risking life, limb and incarceration?
We have the university students launching protests left right and centre, their leaders, literally, at risk of paying the ultimate price, against the chaos that is post-secondary education in this country.  In fact, theInter-University Students’ Federation have claimed that the most recent deaths of two of their leaders was not, as claimed, as a result of an “accident” and one newspaper reports that a vehicle had “swayed” (sic) at them forcing them off the road and on to a post resulting in their deaths.
We have the Federation of University Teachers, foregoing their salaries in a strike that has already gone on for nearly three months, resisting legal manoeuvres to paint them into a corner and force arbitration upon them.  One must also remember that this strike is driven primarily, not by an “industrial dispute” about wages and conditions of employment but by the necessity for allotting an adequate portion (6%) of the national budget to education.  Efforts to classify this struggle as one purely for a wage increase have failed, though for how long the government will resist the temptation to cut loose their usual extra-legal response in a losing battle is something known only to the decision-makers at this time.
You have the parents of students, monumentally wronged in the “Z Score” fiasco and in the Grade 5 Scholarship tests, going to the courts, seeking redress of terrible wrongs and demonstrating their anguish and dissatisfaction in a manner that even our “national media” cannot avoid reporting.
You have the doctors launching one token strike after another in protest against their colleagues being assaulted by government politicos.
These are only some of the formal protests and withdrawals of labour that one sees. The servile media of this country does not adequately report what sick people are going through by virtue of totally inadequate facilities in the hospitals, by state-supplied sub-standard drugs, by a paucity of trained staff leading to the shutting down of entire hospital wards.  Note also that these are the most dramatic events in our medical services to which the occasional reference is made in the media.  Don’t ever lose sight of the fact that, when you are referred to a specialist in one of the major hospitals in your district, you’d better be ready to line up outside his clinic before daybreak or, literally, sleep outside the building until the numbers are given out to those to be seen in the morning.  And if you are unfortunate enough to be the forty-first on a day when the doctor is going to see forty people?  Tough luck, buddy, go home and come another day!
What about drugs and medications in general.  If, in the doubtful event that the prescribed drug is available in the medical institution from which you are seeking treatment, there is the very real possibility that it is sub-standard, thanks to some “higher up” being on the take in the matter of drug purchases for the state!  This, of course, makes for an interesting situation in which the patient takes the drugs prescribed and when his condition worsens hears, via the grapevine, that drug X is little other than coloured chalk!  “Average patient” has no one to complain to and if he or she does, how would they substantiate their complaint?  They will not have access to any testing system because if they do, they’d belong to the affluent class that can afford to buy name-brand drugs at astronomical prices. Remember that all of this is under a government loudly proclaiming its “empowerment of the common man!”
What has been referred to in the preceding paragraphs is what keeps emerging from the less-silent majority when our gutless media deigns to report such dissatisfaction.
Consider the “silent ones” – I shan’t call them “the silent majority” because that would be statistically impossible when 90%+ of the population has been described as being, to all intents and purposes, charter members of the President’s fan club and subscribing to the belief that he and his government are infallible!  The “silent ones” are in every village and town, bearing the brunt of an escalating cost of living driven to the levels it has by corruption and simple mismanagement.  Of course, thanks to the monumental lies of those issuing “statistics,” people are told that they are paying less for essentials and living a life of luxury in every village and town in the Miracle of Asia.
Some have asked why people are seeking to cross the largest ocean in the world in leaky fishing boats to get to Australia, selling all their worldly possessions and, literally, mortgaging their futures to do so. I am sure everyone believes the official explanation that “these are economic refugees, mistakenly, believing that there is a pot of gold at the end of every down-under rainbow!”  Simple explanation and if the interviewer insists on suggesting that things must be pretty bad for these people to risk their very lives on these perilous journeys, they are met with the suggestion that they must be out of their minds to abandon paradise on earth for someplace at the bottom of the planet!
At this point, let me emphasize the fact that I have only made reference to groups largely made up of the Sinhala majority.  I have barely mentioned the minorities except in the matter of the “boat people.”
What should and obviously doesn’t concern this arrogant outfit is that, at some point (inevitably?) what they choose to term as “infinitesimal minorities” realize that they have a common enemy and choose to make common cause.  While the concept of “critical mass” should have crossed the minds of anyone at elementary political science levels, it has obviously not occurred to this bunch or, in the alternative, it has only resulted in their readiness to fall back on a solution that was demonstrated in the Free Trade Zone of Katunayake or when the fishermen protested against the increase in boat fuel prices: the use of the gun to put down anything resembling dissent or resistance.
I have often been accused of being among the more pessimistic of columnists.  Suffice it to say on this occasion that it is hard to abandon that view of the Sri Lanka situation when one is faced with the national tragedy unfolding before a nation whose government’s only response is suppression of dissent and the dissemination of fabrications.
Grant Indian citizenship to Lankan Tamil refugees: Sri Sri
September 29, 2012
Rediff.comSpiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Saturday said the Centre and the state government must take steps to make thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils, who are living as refugees in camps across Tamil Nadu, Indian citizens.
"Sri Lankan Tamils living in India [ Images ] as refugees for more than 25-30 years is not something Tamil Nadu can be proud about," he told reporters, referring to those from Bangladesh and Nepal who have got Indian citizenship.
Grant citizenship to Lankan Tamils - Sri Sri Ravi ShankarContending that it was India's responsibility to see that on "humanitarian" grounds the Lankan Tamil refugees get their due rights and are able to work, he said "we cannot see these people forever in camps."
Elaborating on his organisation 'The Art of Living's contribution to this cause, he said it was running a signature campaign and has already got more than eight lakh signatures.
"We want to get at least one crore signatures before we give it to the Centre and the state government," he said,
"We have done that (granting citizenship) to a lot of Bangladeshis and people from Nepal as well. When that is the case, why can't we give it to Tamils from Lanka," he said.
Asked about the stand-off between the Centre and anti-nuke activists over commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, he said, "I go with the opinion of Abdul Kalam [Images ], our former President. He is an authority on the nuclear field. I know he cares for our people."
Kalam had earlier vouched for the safety of the plant.
Asked whether he was behind the split between anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal, he said, "I have only made bridges and not tried to split anybody. Even now I am ready to build bridges between them."

Executioners for Sri Lanka

The hangman isn't hanging

Sep 30th 2012

The EconomistWHEN the prisons department recently advertised for hangmen, several shortlisted hopefuls asked an unexpected question of its board of interviewers: What, pray, would they be expected to do?
When the duties of an executioner were laid out, the more fainthearted among the applicants turned the corner and didn’t come back. Officials later wondered whether these applicants hadn’t knownvadhaka, the Sinhala word for executioner.
Or perhaps they weren’t sure such a position still existed and had merely been drawn to the promise of a coveted government job. After all, Sri Lanka hasn’t hanged a man in 35 years.
Although suspended in 1977 (the last execution took place the previous year), capital punishment remains in the statute books. There are currently 369 convicts on death row while a further 471 have appealed their sentences.
With nothing happening at the two gallows, the prisons department wasn’t rushed to find replacements when one hangman retired and another was promoted, a year ago. But a wave of serious crime, including the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, has reopened the debate on capital punishment.
The end of the war with Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 has also led to more reporting about the breakdown in law and order. To divert attention from the inefficiency of its politicised police force, the government has been keen to heed the populist call for executions to resume.
In June a government spokesman claimed that “the public, cabinet and members of parliament” have “reached a common belief” that the death penalty should be implemented against child molesters and drug lords.
This rhetoric hasn’t yet translated into Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president, actually authorising an execution. The law requires him to sign the death warrant. Nevertheless, prison officials, not wanting to be caught out, hurried to advertise for hangmen. As P.W. Koddipili, the commissioner general of prisons, explained, they had to be ready.
The notice, published only in the state-owned Sinhala-language newspaper, drew 178 applications. Among them was a man with one eye, who was disqualified. Other hopefuls included auto-rickshaw drivers, retired military men, labourers and a university student whose many attempts at securing other employment had failed.
Ten aspirants were rejected, mostly because they were outside the age limit of 18 to 45 years. One was a woman. The position is closed to women, as they have been deemed too emotional for the work. No other qualifications were required, beyond eighth-grade education; prisons officials worried that a more erudite class of executioner men might be tempted to chuck this job for another.
In the end, only 65 of the applicants turned up for interviews. Of these, two candidates have been identified to fill the vacancies but their names haven’t been released.
Ironically, neither of the two previous executioners hanged anybody during their tenure. Training the new recruits, therefore, poses a challenge. Indeed the question remains whether the hangmen will ever have to use their skills (supposing they are somehow acquired).
Every few years since 1977, successive governments have resolved to revive the death penalty. The reasons raised are the same as those Mr Rajapaksa’s regime is now noticing. In each of the previous instances, however, presidents have steadfastly declined to sign death warrants.
There is no reason to believe this executive will buck the trend. The mere promise of an execution or two has already tempered public outcry—as it has done in the past.
The familiar arguments that are raised against judicial executions are also getting wide publicity. Critics urge the government to strengthen law enforcement before it turns to the gallows for help. How, they ask, can you hang anybody when the criminal-justice system is so riddled with deficiencies?
Ministers are keeping silent on the matter. It wouldn’t look right to be pushing for the death penalty just weeks before coming up for peer review at the UN Human Rights Council in November. And besides everything else, the more you bang on about the need to start executions, the more you defeat your own argument that “there is no crime wave”.
This all points in one direction: a lot of hanging around in the future of the new hangmen.
Third Meeting of States Parties (3MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), Oslo 2012
(Lanka-e-News -29.Sep.2012, 6.30PM) Third meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) was held in Oslo – Norway from 11th to 14th September 2012.

111 countries are signatories to this, out of which 75 countries have ratified the Convention already. 84 countries of the world are yet to become signatories and that includes U.S.A, China, Russia, Pakistan and India.

Sri Lanka participated in this as an observer, as our country also has not been a signatory yet.

Participants discussed sufferings caused by cluster munitions (C.Ms) as indiscriminate killings and untold hardships to civilians.

A comprehensive ban is the only way to resolve this problem, it was agreed, a larger number of diverse groups attended this meeting, totaling about 700 delegates.

Some countries have already taken action to destroy C.Ms in their countries, so members were happy that now the Convention is working.
Several Ministers, Deputy Ministers and a large number of Ambassadors attended this and Foreign Minister of Norway, Mr.Jonas Gahr, opened the Conference. Ambassador Mr.Steffen Konsgards of Norway was elected as the Chairman.

Mr.C.V.Rajapakse, The Deputy Chief of Mission, Sri Lanka Embassy in Oslo, Norway was the Head of the delegation from Sri Lanka for CCMs Oslo - 2012 and Air vice Marshal Wasantha Balasuriya was the Deputy of the delegation.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Can The Judiciary Resist The Rajapaksa Familial Rule

By Tisaranee Gunasekara -September 29, 2012
“…the real tyrant is a man who sacrifices a whole nation to his ideal or his ambition’. Camus (Caligula)
Colombo TelegraphSeparation of powers and power-devolution are alien to Rajapaksa thinking and inimical to the Dynastic Project.
History’s watershed moments are generally identifiable only with hindsight. Sri Lanka might be experiencing an exception to this rule, as a government scheming to ‘overstep its proper powers’ is being resisted by a Judiciary trying to retain its constitutional role and democratic relevance.
Gathering all reins of power into Familial hands is a central tenet in Rajapaksa thought. Measures to empower the Siblings by disempowering Lankan citizens and institutions have been a ubiquitous feature of Rajapaksa rule.
The 1978 Constitution created an all powerful presidency with just two shackles. The PR system was expected to deny the executive a complete stranglehold over the legislature. The term-limit provision prevented the über-powerful president from staying on beyond two terms. J. R. Jayewardene had to leave after two terms. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s attempts to elongate her political life were defeated by the PR system.
The Rajapaksas have overcome both constraints. A concoction of managed elections, inducements and compulsions has enabled the UPFA to obtain a two-thirds majority in parliament. The 18th Amendment removed the term-limit provision while empowering the Presidency still further. The Ruling Siblings’ appetite for power is limitless.  The next (interrelated) goals are to subjugate the Judiciary and to emasculate the 13th Amendment by repossessing the powers of the provincial councils. Thus the immediacy and import of theDivineguma Bill.
The Divineguma Bill is the successor to several failed attempts to empower the Rajapaksas at the expense of provincial/local authorities. These included amending the Town and Country Planning Act to enable the regime to expropriate any piece of land by declaring it a sacred area; setting up a ‘Corporation’ under the purview ofGotabaya Rajapaksa to take-over the functions currently allocated to CMC and several other municipal councils; and the Jana Sabha Bill aimed at rendering the elected provincial councils and local government authorities subservient to the unelected Jana Sabhas, controlled by Minister Basil Rajapaksa. The regime had to abandon each of these measures due to judicial intervention and public opposition.
In 2010, the Supreme Court approved the 18th Amendment, which re-conferred a lethal level of power on a president unimpeded by term-limits. The Chief Justice who oversaw that cardinal error acknowledged it obliquely, just before his retirement. In an April 2011 interview with the BBC, Asoka de Silva emphasised that Sri Lanka needs a system in which one person does not have the ‘discretionary powers’ to make top judicial appointments. The 17th Amendment removed this ‘discretionary power’ but it was ‘re-established by the 18th Amendment’ he admitted.
Last week Wijedasa Rajapaksa, the President of the Bar Association, made a similar point: “There is too much power concentrated on the executive. The leaders have become arrogant. They seem to think that everybody should succumb to their power…” (Daily Mirror – 25.9.2012).  Mr. Rajapaksa also identified the recent Supreme Court determination on the Divineguma Bill as the immediate reason for the executive’s current ire against the Judiciary.
The assertion makes sense. The Divineguma Bill is aimed at further extending the already extensive economic empire of Basil Rajapaksa. Public funds amounting to Rs. 80 billion will reportedly be allocated to the Divineguma Department and a policy of total secrecy imposed on all its employees. The Bill will also denude the provincial councils of quite a few powers. Thus the Bill, if enacted, would constitute a great leap in the anti-devolution and anti-democratic direction.
Just hours after his Brother, the Speaker, announced the Supreme Court decision regarding the Divineguma Bill, Minister Basil Rajapaksa “assured hundreds of agitators that the proposed Divineguma Department would be established under an Act of Parliament irrespective of whatever the constraints were” (Island – 18.9.2012). Given the disarray in the opposition and the supine conduct of the SLMC, the only really existing constraint before the Divineguma Bill remains the Judiciary. Thus subjugating the Judiciary would be a matter of priority for the Rajapaksas.
Fernand Braudel in his seminal work, ‘A History of Civilisations’ posits that the word ‘civilisation’ in its plural form is used to denote ‘the characteristics common to the collective life of a period or a group’.
The Rajapaksa civilisation is characterised by Rajapaksa power manifested as Familial Rule. For instance, in a normal lawful democracy, Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be just a senior bureaucrat. As the President’s brother he may enjoy some privileges but that biological fact would not entitle him to super powers. But under Familial Rule, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the de jure bureaucrat is almost as powerful as the President.
Soon after the parliamentary election of 2010, Mr. Rajapaksa, in a thought-provoking interview, expressed “concern that a section of officialdom could help the separatist cause by trying to appease foreign governments and some funding agencies” and highlighted the “pivotal importance of the Judiciary, particularly the Attorney General’s Department, in supporting the government’s efforts to suppress terrorism” (The Island – 17.4.2010). These opinions indicated a future time when not just the democratic opposition and peaceful dissent but also any manifestation of independence and constitutional fidelity by the bureaucracy or the Judiciary will be conflated with treason. That time is here.
The Divineguma Bill will be approved by all UPFA-controlled provincial councils. It will encounter impediments only in the East and the North. The Eastern outcome will depend on whether Rauf Hakeem is willing to do irreparable harm to fellow Muslims by obeying the Rajapaksa-dictat and voting for the Bill. The North will present a far more dilemmatic logjam. There is no elected provincial council in the North and short of a large-scale daylight robbery the UPFA will not be able to win an election there. So the regime will insist that its hand-picked Governor has the power to approve the Bill, in the absence of an elected council. Eventually the issue will have to be decided by the Supreme Court. Thus the urgent Rajapaksa need to suborn the Judiciary.
According to media reports, the regime is planning to move against the Judiciary for its insistence on playing its constitutionally mandated role as a coequal pillar of the Lankan state. “The battle between the government and the Judicial Service Commission is likely to intensify, in the wake of certain decisions taken at an emergency meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa had with several ministers and presidential advisors… According to highly placed government sources, one of the recommendations made at the meeting was for the President to take stern action against certain JSC officials…  the emergency meeting was called as a response to a statement issued by Secretary of the JSC, Manjula Tilakaratne, alleging various elements were exerting pressure and influence on the JSC…” (Ceylon Today – 26.9.2012). The Rajapaksas’ Southern modus operandi constitutes not of generalised offensives but of targeted attacks, to render silent/inactive the more vocal/active members of the entity they seek to control. The reported plan to target the Secretary of the JSC fits in with this mode.
Will the Judiciary save itself from irrelevance by preventing the further erosion of democracy and rule of law?