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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Unprecedented diaspora Tamil meeting with young cross party Sri Lankan parliamentarians

Written By Sri Lanka Guardian on October 31, 2012

by Our London Correspondent Geeta Vamadevan
Sri Lanka Guardian( October 31, 2012, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The second successful meeting of the well intended cross party Sri Lankan parliamentarians and the representatives of the different political parties was held in South London on 27 (Saturday) October 2012. The meeting was the follow up of the fact finding mission of the young Sri Lankan parliamentarians in December 2011.

The engagement is the joint effort of the One Text Initiative, The Royal Commonwealth Society and the International Alert. Tamil Information Centre (TIC) was the co-hoister of both the meetings. Vasantha Senanayake MP (SLFP/UPFA), Harin Fernando MP (UNP) and Ragu Balachandran (TNA) participated in the latest follow up meeting.
In the climate of hate, prejudices, misconduct, misinterpretation and unwanted suspicions rampant in the conflict ridden and polarised Sri Lankan community that has its roots in the un-accommodative politics practice since independence and the unprecedented arm rebellion of the Tamil people for nearly thirty years, this meaningful engagement facing the traditional lopsided criticisms must be considered as a step in the right direction.
The latest meeting held in the South London considered the recommendations of the representatives who undertook the 2011 visit. The end product of the 2011 meeting was the thirteen points recommendations to the government and it was widely circulated by the TIC before the meeting. In the hard talking meeting of 27/11, multitudes of matters were discussed and the Diaspora Tamils and Sinhalese had the opportunity to air their views and dissect the socio-political-war crimes-good governance issues. The recommendations of the parliamentarians were:

         Accountability – If proper investigations followed by perpetrators of acts contrary to aforesaid rules of engagement are prosecuted, greater confidence will be achieved.
Insufficient and inadequate circulation of positive measures taken by the Government – In this context the Government information centers, the Diplomatic Missions and media units have to be more proactive and aggressive.
Furnish more comprehensive information – It is vital to know who is still in Governmental custody, and in some instances to know who is declared dead, as this can bring closure to some families still living with uncertainty. 
Resettlement of IDPs – Even though this has been accomplished to a great degree it has not happened in its entirety due to
various reasons. In this context, the issue of long term displaced Muslims from the North and East, camped in Districts like Puttalam, in some cases for over two decades, is also very urgent.
Language issues – A practical means of educating both communities in both languages with an added advantage of English education as well is recommended. 
The Government should make direct overtures to the Diaspora – While making direct overtures to the Sri Lankan
Diaspora, the Government should be aware that while it should educate the Diaspora on what is happening in the country, they should also be prepared to listen, sometimes even to criticism which can be constructive. 
A Ministry/Department to handle and co-ordinate Diaspora affairs – Such a Ministry should be created and a person with sensitivity to such matters appointed to head such an institution. 
A day of National Remembrance – Despite the President’s National Message immediately after the war had ceased; many
Tamils are of the view that the grand victory celebration held yearly appears to them as a victory of Sinhalese over Tamils. 
Preservation of the Tamil identity – Be particularly sensitive to Tamil cultural identity and accordingly introduce local administration and mechanisms having adequate powers of protection to keep their heritage intact. 
Military presence – Create a fair balance in which the overwhelming military presence is reduced to give a greater degree of independence in day-to-day activity including commercial activity to Northern civilians.
To engage in discussions – It would be prudent to discuss with all relevant parties to arrive at the most appropriate manner in which some form of devolution should take place. 
A more conducive environment for investment – Such an environment to be facilitated within Governmental Departments, particularly, where foreign investment is concerned. A more effective anti-corruption policy and more efficiency be created within Government institutions.
LLRC Recommendations- Implement the recommendations without much delay.

The report was well received by the audience, whilst few privately expressed their reservations that the recommendations will not achieve anything with the entrenched mind-set of the government that will undermine any effort like many other recommendations and dialogues of the past.

At the meeting, criticisms were levelled at the government of Sri Lanka on variety of issues ranging from systematic state backed Sinhala settlements in the Tamil areas, militarisation, war crimes, victory celebrations and many other issues that are frustrating the peaceful transition to good governance practices in Sri Lanka.

Both parliamentarians made positive notes about the need for a broader reconciliation process and their personal feelings of one community celebrating the victory over the others downfall. They expressed their personal experiences and opinions of regret about the war victory celebrations in May 2009.

The parliamentary delegates said that their recommendations have been presented to the political leaderships with their personal engagement and have been sent to the leaderships of the Provincial Councils. Further efforts will be made to widen the engagement with the cross sections of the Sri Lankan community and the diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka.

In responding to a question of producing a one page report, the parliamentarians said that they prepared a brief document with the view to impact on the decision makers, as a long winded report would not have been read and only been shelved. They said that the media has picked up their recommendations already and there is wider debate in Sri Lanka on the recommendations.  

In the climate of hate, prejudices, misconduct, misinterpretation and unwanted suspicions rampant in the conflict ridden and polarised Sri Lankan community that has its roots in the un-accommodative politics practice since independence and the unprecedented arm rebellion of the Tamil people for nearly thirty years, this meaningful engagement facing the traditional lopsided criticisms must be considered as a step in the right direction.

Ever-ready mechanisms and individuals are there to give unwanted spins to subvert any meaningful efforts. The key board tap campaign mechanism of the modern day is there to pounce and savage any good mission and the meaningful efforts of the young Sri Lankan parliamentarians had its lacklustre grinding of the vested interests that are determined to derail any process of goodwill efforts. 

ICE orchestrates once again to deviate from crux of the matter

TamilNet[TamilNet, Wednesday, 31 October 2012, 10:29 GMT]
Following deliberations by Norway’s Erik Solheim, ICG’s Alan Keenan and the UNSG panel member Yasmin Sooka at Frances Harrison’s book launch in London earlier this month, the Emeritus President of the ICG and former foreign minister of Australia, Gareth Evans on Friday was harping on war crimes of both sides, accountability of the remaining side and post-mortem on the UN, but omitting the ultimate culprits and deviating from the crux of the matter– the genocide and the national question in the island. He is now advisor to International Crimes Evidence Project, a recently established outfit in Australia. While Dr. Radha D’Souza exposes the deviatory tactics of such orchestrations, Tamils have to think of alternative international mobilisation of opinion. 

The ICG President Emeritus, writing on Friday on “Remembering Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields,” was aiming for a showdown at Geneva in March 2013, which seems to be the agenda of the newly formed International Crimes Evidence Project.

The agenda, coming from the premises of ‘war crimes of both sides’ and expecting the remaining side to accept its share of responsibility, will seal off the matter with it. 

The independence aspiration of genocide-affected Eezham Tamils will then be ‘part of the war crimes’ and that will be stigmatised and shelved.

The other part of the agenda is to scapegoat the UN, ostensibly to absolve the ultimate culprits from the crimes.

This is an internationally orchestrated project on the island and one may find almost the same people, same Establishments and same ‘development’ agencies involved in the outfits such as the ICG, International Alert and various other foundations and institutions that handle the orchestration.

Gareth Evans was upholding three publications for his crime-pursuing mission: The UN panel report, “The Cage” written by Gordon Weiss, the former UN spokesperson in Colombo during the war, and “Still Counting the Death,” by former BBC journalist Frances Harrison.

None of them accept or bring out the genocidal nature of the war.

Evans ignored the Dublin Report, Norway’s report that found fault with the ‘peace facilitators’ and Malathy’s recent book.

The ICG had a campaign responsibility in facilitating the genocidal war in the island.

Gordon Weiss, whose book was launched by Gareth Evans, is answerable for the way he carried out his duties as UN spokesperson during the war. 

Frances Harrison, in the introduction of her book, was just parroting what Erik Solheim has been telling. The most controversial of them is her assertion that “At the height of the mayhem, the rebels turned down an internationally mediated surrender plan brokered by Norway that would have stopped the killings. It could have saved thousands of life.”

Solheim was telling earlier that there was a solution on the table that was turned down by the LTTE. Now he says this. If there was any genuine plan why has that not been told to hundreds of thousands of Eezham Tamils who took to streets at the height of the war is the question of ordinary people.

It should definitely be a matter of welcome for Eezham Tamils if there is going to be any genuine international effort, beginning with pursuing war crimes accountability. But past experiences have shown us that both the ICE and India in their own ways are more concerned about buying time for them and giving time to the genocidal state in the island than delivering justice. 

There could be no justice to Eezham Tamils unless the matter is addressed as a national question and annihilation of a nation, resulting from a prolonged and on-going genocide.
* * 
On the question of genocide, for those who argue that it is a lengthy legal process to establish, Dr. Radha D’Souza has come out with an apt answer, while commenting on the speeches at Frances Harrison’s book launch event.

“It was ingenious in what they were trying to say because the genocide dimension in international law is quite explicit in the definition of what is the meaning of genocide. It says, if any state makes a deliberate, knowing […] steps to exterminate, or to oppress, or to deny any group of people their language, their culture, their history, their existence then it amounts to genocide. […] The genocide convention is very very clear on this, there is no ambiguity, and what they tried to say was “oh we are not lawyers and we can’t really talk about genocide.” Dr. D’Souza said.

“This was the position of the United Nations representative. If the United Nations representative on human rights does not know the meaning of genocide what can people expect from them?” 

“Now Solheim’s position was again very ingenious, he was saying, let us forget the genocide issue. But the real reason why the Tamils want the genocide issue is because they want to connect it to Eelam. Well, they were trying to directly connect it to Eelam. But he had no answer, other than making it as a political rouse of the Tamils.” 

“He could not answer the question: was it genocide, was it not genocide? None of the three panellists answered that. It was a very straightforward question.[…]The UN person very clearly said no, it’s not genocide. So one wonders what is genocide, if this is not genocide…under the definition. The others dodged the issue completely. They did not answer, yes or no. It was a very simple question,” Dr. D’Souza commented.

ICG’s Alan Keenan sounded like that it is the task of somebody else to prove the genocide and the on-going genocide.

Those among the Eezham Tamils who want to provide logistical, factual, institutional and other kinds of support to the war crimes accountability model may do so, but it is not going to bring them the justice they envisage.

Eezham Tamils should have their own agenda, coupled with noble norms of humanity. For this purpose they should mobilise their own support group of international civil society rather than getting hooked with outfits working for the agenda of the very Establishments that deny them justice.

The following verse of Thirumoolar of 5th century CE is for the benefit of Tamil readers:

குருட்டினை நீக்கும் குருவினைக் கொள்ளார்
குருட்டினை நீக்காக் குருவினைக் கொள்வர்
குருடும் குருடும் குருட்டாட்டம் ஆடிக்
குருடும் குருடும் குழிவிழுமாறே.

Kuruddinai neekkum kuruvinaik ko'l'laar
kuruddinai neekkaak kuruvinaik ko'lvar
kurudum kurudum kuruddaddam aadik
kurudum kurudum kuzhivizhumaa'rea

Making it worse, the guides are not blind preceptors, but who pretend to be blind.

AI index: ASA 37/011/2012
30 October 2012
Sri Lanka: Continuing impunity, arbitrary detentions, torture and
enforced disappearances
On Thursday 1 November, the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in
Sri Lanka will take place – the first such review since May 2008, when the government was
engaged in an armed conflict with the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in the country’s north.
Amnesty International notes the lack of progress on a number of human rights issues highlighted in
the first review four years ago, and has raised these concerns in a submission to the UPR.
While the government of Sri Lanka has defeated the LTTE, it has failed to implement commitments
to enhance human rights protections and to account for past violations.
It has yet to repeal oppressive anti-terrorism legislation which is used to justify abusive practices
including arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of expression. A lack of witness protection
laws and continued lack of independence of the National Human Rights Commission had added to
a culture of impunity for human rights violations.
Amnesty International continues to receive reports of enforced disappearances, torture and other illtreatment in detention, which the authorities refuse to investigate. Security forces’ use of arbitrary
arrests and detentions have targeted members of armed groups, political opponents and journalists.

Further information:
-        Amnesty International spokespeople will be present in Geneva observing the UPR session and
are available for interviews.
-        Link to Amnesty International’s submission on Sri Lanka to the UN Universal Periodic
Review, October-November 2012:
-        The Sri Lanka UPR session on 1 November at 14:30 CET will be live streamed here:
-        Amnesty International will put out a statement with a reaction following the review of Sri
Lanka, and take part in a civil society debriefing in Geneva on 2 November.
-        On 5 November at 16:15 CET in the Press Room of Palais des Nations, Amnesty
International, Action Contre la Faim and the International Commission of Jurists will co-host a press
conference in Geneva. Dr Manoharan, whose son Ragihar was shot dead by Sri Lankan security
forces in 2006, will also be present at the press conference.
To arrange an interview or for any other information, please contact Olof Blomqvist, Amnesty
International Asia Pacific Press Officer, at / + 44 207 413 5871 / +44
7904 397 956
Olof Blomqvist
Press Officer Asia/Pacific
Media Programme, Amnesty International – International Secretariat
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7413 5871
Mobile: +44 (0) 790 4397 956

Out of hours Press Mobile (7pm GMT – 9am GMT and weekends) +44 (0) 777 847 2126
Sri LankaContinuing impunityarbitrary detentionstorture and ...

Nepotism in judiciary

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 
Former Chief Justice Asoka de Silva who is now advising the President to impeach present Chief justice and former supreme court judge Jagath Balapatabendi are close relatives.
Asoka de Silva’s daughter is married to the son of Jagath Balapatabendi. Jagath Balapatabendi is the present chairman of bribery and corruption commission of Sri Lanka. Balapatabendi’s son , Isuru Balapatabendi is a State counsel working at the Attorney General’s department. He has married Asoka de Silva’s daughter.
During the wedding reception. Mahinda Rajapakse offered a gift of a diplomatic posting to the young couple. So Isuru Balapatabendi was posted to Sri Lanka Embassy in the Netherlands as First Secretary for 03 years. This appointment was approved by the Cabinet which is just a rubber stamp of Mahinda Rajapakse. The young couple moved to Netherlands in 2008. In Netherlands Asoka de Silva’s daughter studied for a LLM degree and the husband spent time at the Sri Lanka embassy doing nothing but receiving salaries at tax payers expense. Due to these obligations Asoka de Silva and Jagath Balapatabendi are indebted to Mahinda Rajapakse. Therefore, they will do anything assign by MR.
The case of recently appointed Appeal Court Judge Jayatilake is also interesting. He is a close relative of Lalith Weeratunga. Jayatilake’s son Deeptha Jayathilake was also appointed as a Clerical Officer in the Sri Lanka Embassy in Sweden. According to patriotic Sri Lankans living in Sweden Deeptha Jayathilake has worked in the Embassy for 03 years until 2012. Deeptha Jayathilake was also appointed by the rubber stamp Cabinet. So, the country cannot expect any justice from the newly appointed Appeal Court Judge Jayathilake.
According to legal experts it is highly unethical for serving judges or officials in the judiciary to accept bribes like above as these judges and officials are expected to be neutral and serve justice to everybody equally. But MR and family has been able to give them incentives like diplomatic postings – to their sons and daughters and change discharge of justice.
The present Chief Justice will be framed both by Asoka de Silva, now presidential advisor and by Jagath Balapatabendi who is Chairman of Bribery Commission. Not only that her husband will also face a tough time due to Bala’s high post at the bribery commission.
Further, the wife of Public Trustee Senevirathne – who is regarded by all right minded people as a serious crook – Indira Senevirathne was recently appointed to a diplomatic post in the Sri Lanka High commission in Delhi by the Rajapaksa regime. It is also understood that moves are underway to appoint sons and daughters of district judges and magistrates to all diplomatic missions around the world.
Sadly it is only in Sri Lanka judges accept bribes for their kith and kin. So, god (if there is any) bless Sri Lanka!

Impeachment Against Chief Justice’s “Improper Behavior” Is To Be Handed Over To Speaker

By Colombo Telegraph -October 31, 2012 
Impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake is to be handed over to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa within next few days.
Chief Justice Bandaranayake
Colombo TelegraphThe leaders of the ruling coalition parties had decided to bring forth this motion at a party leader’s special meeting yesterday (30).
According to our sources  that the motion revolves around the Chief Justice’s “improper behavior” and six other accusations.
The government had collected 118 signatures from MPs for the motion and according to Section 107 of the Constitution, before an impeachment motion is presented to the speaker, at least a third of the members in the parliament must sign the motion, a third being 75 MPs.
The Bribery and Corruption Commission has aleady filed a case against the former National Savings Bank Chairman and  the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake‘s husbandPradeep Kariyawasam for alleged corruption in the The Finance Company (TFC)-NSB share transaction deal.
Related posts;

Impeachment moves against Sri Lanka chief justice may be politically motivated says IBAHRI

Wednesday, 31 October 2012-Plese listen to speech
The Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association (IBAHRI) says that the reported attempt by the Sri Lanka government to impeach Chief Justice is perceived as a politically motivated move to curtail the independence of the judiciary.
IBAHRI co-chair Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC, has told BBC Sandeshaya that IBAHRI regards the recent physical assault on JSC Secretary Manjula Thilakarathne, the constitutional challenge against Divi Neguma Bill and the attempts to impeach the Chief Justice as events that are linked to each other.
Elaborating further, Baroness Kennedy has said that although any government has a right to take action against the senior judges, under the current circumstances in Sri Lanka in which the judiciary has come under increasing threats and intimidation, whatever action taken by the government against the judiciary will be perceived as politically motivated.
At a time when the president and the chief justice are at loggerheads it might be perceived as an attempt to remove the Chief Justice as the government does not like what the judiciary is doing, she said.
IBAHRI sincerely hopes, she said, that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will take serious note of the concerns raised by the world body representing lawyers worldwide.
She said although the Sri Lankan government has initiated investigations against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake’s husband’s alleged financial mishandling, the CJ’s conduct and that of her husband are unrelated affairs.
In a confidential letter sent to Sri Lanka President last week, IBAHRI has expressed serious concern over the threats and intimidation against the judiciary in the island.

Stock Market Crisis and Oligarchic Interests


by Ahilan Kadirgamar-August 25, 2012
The resignation last week of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairperson Tilak Karunaratne, after he blamed "a mafia of high net worth investors and their crony stockbrokers" for mobilising political pressure, has further exposed the crisis in the stock market. Over the last year, there has been much discussion of two aspects of this crisis. First, the collapse of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) from one of the best performing markets in the world two years ago - when the market value of the CSE quadrupled from the end of the war to its peak within two years - to one of the worst performing markets this year. Second, reports of increasing political interference, market manipulation with the resignations of SEC Chairperson Indrani Sugathadasa late last year and now Karunaratne. The first aspect of the crisis relates to the returns from financial investments and the second to the regulations that are in place to ensure the so-called smooth functioning of the stock market.

A crisis reveals contradictions. A crisis also invites for good or bad interventions by various actors attempting to consolidate their interests, including those claiming to resolve the crisis. The difficult question is how such crisis relate to the unravelling and consolidation of regimes.
Boom and Bust                          

Sri Lanka: A look at the Rajapaksas prior to the UPR


Guest Column:  By Usha Sriskandarajah-Dated 29-Oct-2012
As Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) gets underway on November 1, 2012, the Rajapaksas seem impregnable, their grip on power stronger than ever before.
The Rajapaksas have so much at stake at Sri Lanka’s UPR what with "credible allegations" of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity hanging over their heads and an awful human rights record to defend, with a poor ‘action plan’ that would not end or investigate abuses. It’s obvious the administration is doing everything to impress the key players selected for the review process but thus far their submissions show that the administration has made very little progress in implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the main thrust of the resolution passed at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).
The Rajapaksas wield absolute power in Sri Lanka, Theirs is essentially a ‘one family rule’ bolstered by political patronage and the unwavering support of the Sinhala Buddhist Sangha; a dictatorship that has now embraced the extremist Sinhala Buddhist supremacist philosophy as a means of survival; the JHU and JVP now playing only second fiddle.
Nepotism and corruption are the norm in Sri Lanka.
The last ‘US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ made particular mention of the ‘family rule’ in Sri Lanka : The government is dominated by the President’s (Mahinda Rajapaksa) family; two of the President’s brothers hold key executive branch posts as defence secretary and the minister of economic development, while a third brother is the speaker of Parliament," the report said.
Additionally Namal Rajapaksa the son is now known to be the anointed successor to the father, Mahinda.
The Rajapaksa brothers and their families together control 70% of the country’s budget. The ‘Divineguma Bill’ that has created much controversy, apart from the much resented 18th amendment, is in itself designed to bolster the executive presidency over provincial councils, increase avenues for amassing more wealth and to fortifying the family’s hold on power.
A statement by the former US Assistant Secretary of State for public affairs, Philip J. Crowley expressing his view on the 18th amendment bulldozed through parliament by the Rajapaksas within a span of day, illustrates the extent of that power: (The 18th amendment) "eliminates term limits for the president and expands the power of the president over independent institutions, including the elections, police, and human rights commissions, as well as the judiciary. The United States is concerned that this constitutional amendment weakens checks and balances and thus undermines the principles of constitutional democracy. The United States calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to promote the principles of good governance, democracy, and independent State institutions.  The United States looks to the government to take measures that will strengthen democracy including appointing appropriately qualified officials to bolster independent institutions, increase transparency, enhance power sharing and dialogue, and promote national reconciliation," the statement held.
During his recent visit to Sri Lanka in September, Robert O’ Blake, the US Assistant Secretary of State expressly mentioning corruption, has called on
Sri Lanka to "cut corruption and create transparent processes for investors and also avoid unpredictable actions such as expropriating property." The resignations of Securities and Exchange Commission Chief Tilak Karunaratne and his predecessor Indrani Sugathadasa are indicative of the corruption that is endemic everywhere in the country. Ahilan Kadirgamar in his article ‘Stock Market Crisis and Oligarchic Interests’ explains the crisis in the stock market, quoting Tilak Karunaratne as blaming "a mafia of high net worth investors and their crony stockbrokers" for his resignation.
Tisaranee Gunasekera for the Sunday Chronicle in an article ‘Corruption as a Tool of Rajapaksa Rule’ exposes some of the irregularities the Rajapaksas and in this case Basil Rajapaksa is involved in: Basil Rajapaksa and "Maga Neguma" (Improving Roads) are accused of by the "Committee on Public Enterprises" (COPE) for "defaulting road-contractors of "a massive Rs 1.2 billion". She writes, "The defrauded contractors have not sought legal redress because they fear Rajapaksa’s ire, according to a COPE member.
The Rajapaksa family rules with an iron fist. Most at the receiving end are frightened to speak openly of the anomalies, Tisaranee explains: The officials of Maga Neguma act as if they are above the law. They do not submit their accounts to the Auditor General; according to a COPE member, "they even produced letters from the Attorney General’s department to support their argument that the COPE has no powers to probe them". Such arrogant insouciance is natural in a familial state. Lankan officials, like Lankan politicians, know that they can break laws and contravene rules with impunity, so long as they do not commit the cardinal sin of opposing the Rajapaksas.
The Rajapaksas still basking in their victory against the LTTE use that victory as their rallying point, the Sinhala South blinded to the prevailing Rajapaksa autocracy. With Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the helm at the Défense Ministry and the biggest allocation from the 2013 Budget going to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development amounting to nearly Rs. 290 billion" showing an increase of nearly Rs. 60 billion from what was allocated for defence in 2012, the Rajapaksas have the loyalty and the might of the army behind them.
In an article "Near site of LTTE’s last stand, a victory memorial that Tamils don’t visit" for The Hindu, Nirupama Subramanian writes about the victory memorial that has been erected in the very spot "where thousands of Tamil civilians are believed to have been killed during the military’s last successful push against the LTTE," which she adds, "…stands as a powerful assertion of that victory." This demonstration of triumphalism pursued to further entrench the family’s hold on power is not going to bring about the promised reconciliation.
In a troubling development, the Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has appointed select school principals as "brevet colonels," which could be implemented across the board to all schools island wide. "This curious militarization of state schools" according to press reports "involves selecting school principals after 10 days of armed training and appointing them as "brevet colonels", complete with uniform and title.
The Rajapaksas have not allowed international human rights organisations or the international media free access into the country especially to the North and East. They have muzzled local journalists to the extent that those who have dared to speak out against the administration have been murdered, disappeared or forced to go into self exile.
The ‘White Van’ abductions that are common place in Sri Lanka is a method widely used to stifle and silence their opponents.
The Rajapaksas have not spared the judiciary either. The independence of the judiciary is under threat in Sri Lanka with the Rajapaksas showing real contempt for the rule of law attacking a Supreme Court ruling relating to the ‘Divineguma Bill’ resulting in the Chief Justice being summoned by a government minister that’s quite unheard of under the principles of separation of powers. Recent attack on the judiciary in Mannar by a Cabinet Minister and assault on a District Judge Manjula Tillakaratne by unidentified persons are clear examples say The Friday Forum, a group of legal and political luminaries, of the "erosion of democracy and judicial independence" in Sri Lanka under the Rajapaksas.
The fraudulent Eastern Provincial Council Elections saw the Rajapaksa’s whole government machinery and support systems including intelligence personnel being utilized to rig the elections. It has been reported by the leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that at least five Tamil candidates were offered cash and other material incentives to switch allegiance.
The ‘US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ commenting on the last "presidential and parliamentary elections as problematic," further held that "Both elections were fraught with violations of the election law by all major parties and were influenced by the governing coalition’s massive use of state resources. There were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control," the report said.
These fraudulent election practices are ominous of things to come and do not augur well for future free and fair elections; a trend that is seen as firmly establishing Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family dynasty in power indefinitely.
In an article Remembering Sri Lanka’s Killing FieldsGareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister for eight years and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group, currently Chancellor of the Australian National University and co-chair of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, has homed in on what he termed as "mass atrocity crimes" committed in Sri Lanka in 2009 chiding the world for "selective memory":
One of the worst atrocity crime stories of recent decades has barely registered in the world’s collective conscience. We remember and acknowledge the shame of Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. We agonize about the failure to halt the atrocities being committed almost daily in Syria. But, at least until now, the world has paid almost no attention to war crimes and crimes against humanity comparable in their savagery to any of these: the killing fields of Sri Lanka in 2009.
Despite this clarion call to the governments of the world by Gareth Evans, the Rajapaksas who have set themselves up in power in such a way, guaranteeing for themselves a hold on the presidency in Sri Lanka for life are not going to be willing to hold themselves to account through a credible domestic mechanism; they will not lend themselves to international independent scrutiny in this UPR or 2013 UN HRC Sessions either– unless the UN HRC is ready to act decisively.
The views expressed are author’s own. She can be reached at  e-mail:

WikiLeaks: US On Sri Lanka’s 2008 UPR Strategy At UN

By Colombo Telegraph -October 31, 2012 
Colombo Telegraph“Samarasinghe is an important interlocutor, especially in the conext of the Consultative Committee on Humanitaria Access (CCHA), which he chairs. Our recent intractions with him on human rights issues have beenless productive, with Samarasinghe often appearing to be engaged in simple damage control efforts. Defending Sri Lanka’s spotty human rights record is a difficult task, and Samarasinghe in this meeting appeared uncharacteristically nonplussed. The upcoming UPR will constitute a major opportunity for member states to question Sri Lanka on its failure to address human rights concerns. Samarasinghe is well aware of this and is seeking to use this to prod action on the Constitutional Council and perhaps other concerns.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.
Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Samarasinghe before a special session of the Human Rights Council. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferre/United Nations
A classified diplomatic cable which details a meeting then US Ambassador to Colombo Robert Blake has had with Human Rights Minster Mahinda Samarasinghe on January 25, 2008 The Colombo Telegraph found the related cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “Confidential” signed by Robert Blake on February 11, 2008.
Ambassador Blake wrote  ”Ambassador met Human Rights Minster Mahinda Samarasinghe on January 25 to discuss a range of U.S. concerns about Sri Lanka’s human rights situation, including recent incidents. Samarasinghe explained Sri Lanka’s strategy for engagement with the UN Human Rights Council, emphasizing the GSL’s resistance to a separate office for the staff of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), but expressing willingness to accept technical assistance for Sri Lanka’s national Human Rights Commission. Samarasinghe made clear that Sri Lanka was opposed to discussing its human rights performance in a Special Session of the HRC, but was preparing its submission for the Universal Periodic review in mid-May. Samarasinghe appeared at times to be at a loss to account for discrepancies in government accounts of several human rights incidents and recent developments.”
“Minister Samarasinghe told Ambassador and Pol Chief on January 25 that the GSL was engaged in a full-press effort to prepare for the Universal Periodic review (UPR) of Sri Lanka in mid-May 2008. Samarasinghe said Sri Lanka welcomed the opportunity for a discussion of its human rights record “in a controlled atmosphere,” indicating that the GSL would resist any effort to place Sri Lanka on the agenda of a Special Session. Sri Lankan government entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Human Rights Commission were all working on Sri Lanka’s submission to the UPR, which would be due in March. Samarasinghe said he had exhorted his colleagues to try to make progress on the international community’s concerns between now and May, confiding that he would not be comfortable going into such a review based on the current state of play. ‘I told them they need to give me something to work with.’” Blake further wrote.
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October 31, 2012 
Inland Revenue employees demand pay riseThe Inland Revenue Employees’ General Union staged a protest today (31) demanding a pay rise to meet the increasing cost of living. The protest took place in front of the Inland Revenue Department. (Pic by Manjula Charantha)

Government Questioned Ahead Of UPR

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

  • Total of 99 countries to speak on Sri Lanka
By Easwaran Rutnam
Several countries have submitted advance questions to Sri Lanka on human rights issues and the Northern Provincial Council elections, ahead of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Sri Lanka to be held in Geneva on Thursday.
The United States, Britain, Canada, Spain, Denmark, Mexico, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands are among the countries which have submitted questions to Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile a total of 99 countries have been listed to speak on Sri Lanka during the review, with each country having a minute and 12 seconds.
The report on Sri Lanka will then be adopted on Monday, November 5 after the views of the government and other countries are taken into consideration.
In its questions submitted in advance, the United States has asked why there is a delay in holding elections for the Northern Provincial Council, and what can the government do to move the election date up from September 2013.
The US has also asked what the status is of the Witness and Victim Protection Bill that the Government committed to passing during the 2008 UPR first cycle.
It also questioned the status of the investigations into the Channel 4 video, the assassination of five students in Trincomalee (January 2006), the execution of 17 ACF aid workers in Muttur (August 2006), the murder of 10 workers in Pottuvil (September 2006), the assassination of The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge (January 2009), and the disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda (January 2010).
“Given that not all the recommendations of the LLRC report were included in the LLRC Action Plan, what will happen to those recommendations that were not included? Will the recommendations not included in LLRC Action Plan be implemented at a future date? How does the Government propose to carry out an independent assessment on the progress of the activities in the LLRC Action Plan?” the United States asked.
Meanwhile Canada noted that although the Menik Farm IDP camp was closed in September 2012, not all IDPs were able to return to their original homes, and there are concerns that relocations were not done in accordance with international standards.
Canada has asked when the Government of Sri Lanka will enact a Right to Information Act to ensure greater transparency for its citizens and what the Government has done to implement devolution of powers stipulated in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Britain has meanwhile sought an update on the progress made by the Court of Inquiry appointed by the Sri Lankan Army to investigate allegations of war crimes and if the deliberations of that Court will be made available to the public.
“We would be grateful to know whether the government of Sri Lanka will issue an invitation to the six UN Special Procedures that have outstanding requests for visits.  If so, when?” the note sent by Britain said. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Sri Lankan government have already submitted their reports for the UPR on Sri Lanka.
The UPR involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years.