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, October 31, 2015

Meeriyabedda: One year on

On October 29, 2014, at 7:30 am, a landslide hit Meeriyabedda, Haldummulla in the Badulla district.
The landslide was one of the worst natural disasters recorded in recent times. Although 12 bodies were recovered, nearly 37 were reported missing, buried under the avalanche of mud. At least 192 people were reported missing.
Our sister publication Maatram visited the site of the disaster, one year on, and took a series of immersive photos.
The photos show the difference just one year has made; the landscape now seems eerily calm where the earlier photos taken show crumbled buildings and people combing through the mud.
Some areas still bear scars from that fateful day, one year ago.
At the time, the Disaster Management Centre in Badulla said they hadwarned villagers on Tuesday night, but they had not had time to evacuate. Meanwhile an official at the National Building Research Organisation said that its bulletin, which the disaster centre was supposed to disseminate, had not reached the villagers.
You can view the set in its entirety on Flickr. 

Sri Lanka: A Ray of Hope for those Looking for War Missing

Thavarasa Utharai son Jadusan, 14 years, holds a picture of his missing father and mother. He last saw his father in March 2009. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS
Thavarasa Utharai son Jadusan, 14 years, holds a picture of his missing father and mother. He last saw his father in March 2009. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS
By Amantha Perera-Saturday, October 31, 2015
PAVAKODICHENNAI, Sri Lanka, Oct 29 2015 (IPS) - Thavarasa Utharai’s most treasured belongings are stuck inside several plastic bags and tucked within old traveling bags.
Inside, wrapped in more plastic sheets, are old fading photographs, scrap books, legal documents and even some old bills. These are the only processions the 36 year old mother of two has to show of her husband. He went missing on March 20, 2009 while returning home after tending to his cattle. No one really knows what happened to him.
“They took him, I know they did, I know the person who did it also,” Utharai says of suspected abductors who she says were linked to government military. The abduction took place as a three decade old bloody civil conflict was drawing to an end and government forces were poised to achieve a decisive military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The separatist LTTE had fought successive Sri Lankan governments to achieve a separate state for the country’s minority Tamils like Utharai.
Utharai hails from the remote village of Pavakodichennai, in the eastern Batticaloa District about 350 km from the capital Colombo. But distance and lack of public utilities like transport and a functioning public service have not prevented her from seeking justice. She has sought the intervention of police, a Presidential Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to gain any morsel of information on her husband. So far she has hit a blank wall, except when an officer with Criminal Investigation Department suggested that if she register her husband as deceased her family would be eligible for Rs 100,000 (700 dollars) in compensation.
“Why should I? I will seek the truth, I owe it to him,” the slightly built woman says with a feisty tone.
Her circumstances however are not rare in the former conflict-zone. Tens of thousands are still looking for their missing loved ones six years after the guns fell silent. The number of the missing has remained contentious since the war ended. A Presidential Commission on Missing Persons that has been conducting interviews since 2013 has so far received over 20,000 complaints, including over 5,000 of missing members of government forces. The ICRC, which has been registering missing persons since 1990, has recorded 16,064 cases. An Advisory Panel to the UN Secretary General put the death toll during the final phase of the war at 40,000. Research by the advocacy group University Teachers for Human Rights from northern Jaffna increased that figure to 90,000.
“It really does not matter how high or how low these figures are, for each family it is vital that they get to know what happened to their loved ones,” Vallipuram Amalanayagni said. She has been searching for her husband since he went missing in February 2009. He went missing while at his paddy field.
Amalanayagni also acts as a community leader for families of the missing. She says the last six years have been some of the hardest in her life. “We were hounded like criminals because we looked for our family members.”
As the then Mahinda Rajapaksa government fought off wave after wave of international scrutiny on the conduct of the final phase of the war, it did not encourage any action that could fuel international pressure – looking for the missing or tabulating them was one of them. During the last months of his administration, Rajapaksa loosened the grip a bit but not by a lot.
All that changed in January this year, when a new president, Maithripala Sirisena, took office. The new government has renewed engagement with the UN and has pledged to strengthen efforts to trace the missing and provide compensation.
It will set up a missing persons office and also issue Certificates of Absence. Last week it also released a report by a Presidential Commission looking into allegations of abductions and disappearances. The commission has acknowledged that disappearances did take place while persons were in military custody and that military linked groups were involved in abductions.
“This is not a political gimmick, we are serious about what we have set out to do,” Minister Rajitha Senarathana, the cabinet spokesperson told IPS.
The minister said that investigating the thousands of missing cases was a pledge that President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and their loyalists made while they campaigned to oust the Rajapaksa administration
“For a nation to heal we must know the truth, however difficult and uncomfortable it may be,” Senarathana said.
Given the media hype, expectations have also risen that there could be fast tracked action. But Sri Lanka watchers caution not to raise hopes too high and to give the current government enough time to feel politically secure.
“It would be slow progress, the government has shown its inclination that it wants to act on these, it has international support right now, but it would need time to convince everyone,” Jehan Perera, Executive Director National Peace Council, a national advocacy body.
Diplomatic sources in Colombo also say that the Sirisena government is still wary of the Rajapaksa factor and the former president’s core support base of ultra-nationalists from the Sinhala majority.
For the families of the missing, there is at least a new ray of hope. “Some of us have been looking for loved ones for decades, imagine living without any kind of knowledge of your husband for over a decade, that is a terrible tragedy, at least now there should be closure,” Amalanayagni said.

Sri Lanka Moves in the Right Direction on Internet Freedom

Sri Lanka Moves in the Right Direction on Internet FreedomThe Diplomat

By October 29, 2015

Sri Lanka’s new government moves in the right direction on internet freedom, although concerns about surveillance technologies persist.

Freedom House has just released its latest report on internet freedom. Sixty-five countries were examined for this study. Broadly speaking, things are moving in the wrong direction, with net freedom in decline for the fifth straight year. According to the report, the biggest positive changes have occurred in Zambia and Sri Lanka.
For Sri Lanka, Freedom House has highlighted four major developments:
  • The election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015
  • The unblocking of various websites
  • During the period under review, rights violations have decreased significantly
  • Digital activism and citizen engagement (over important social and political topics) have increased
On internet freedom, the country is still classified as “partly free.”
The aforementioned moves should be welcomed and stand in contradistinction to earlier times when Mahinda Rajapaksa, the previous president, pushed the country down an ever more authoritarian path. That being said, there are other angles to consider. The report notes:
In spite of the new government’s commitment to freedom of expression, transparency, and right to information, privacy advocates are still cautious about how existing surveillance technology could be utilized and intensified in the future. This is particularly relevant given that security surveillance in the north and east still continues.
Sanjana Hattotuwa, the founding editor of Groundviews – the island nation’s first citizen journalism website – and a senior researcher at the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a think tank, also articulates concerns surrounding the surveillance architecture that was put in place while Rajapaksa was in power. Hattotuwa notes that it’s not clear what’s happened to all of these technologies. “What is of an enduring concern is the degree to which these investments remain in the dark,” he says. Last July, Groundviews published a compelling piece about this.
The new government’s list of unfulfilled promises is long. There are many (legitimate) doubts about how much the Sirisena administration will be able to accomplish in the coming years. While acknowledging that there’s still a lot to do and that many questions remain unanswered, small steps in the right direction merit attention.

Exodus From Jaffna, 31st October 1995

By UTHR(J) –October 31, 2015 
UTHR(J) Special Report No.6
The Exodus: Varying Claims and Perceptions
Colombo Telegraph
On the evening of 30th October 1995, LTTE loudspeakers announced in Jaffna town, “No one must take this announcement lightly. We are battling intensely and courageously against a demonic force. It will attack us from multiple directions. We too will respond likewise. Since we are going to resist every inch of the way against a state drunk with racism, you people must evacuate for Thenmaratchi and Vadamarachi this same night.” LTTE men then went from house to house and ordered people to evacuate. They were told, “Jaffna town would soon become a battle zone. We are blowing up Chemmani bridge at 4.00 a.m. If you are not out by then, you will have to remain and face the consequences.” By 6.30 p.m. Kandy Road was blocked by panic stricken people trying to leave on foot. A man who decided not to leave and went 300 yards to discuss plans with another family said that owing to the press of the multitude, the journey took him two hours.
There had evidently been privileged sections of the civilian population who had received prior notice of the exodus and had made an early exit with their moveable property. On the 30th evening people in different places were told different things. Some were told that the Chemmani Bridge (Navatkuli Bridge) would be blown up at twelve mid-night. In Uduvil people were told that the army would soon subject the area to a rain of shells. Four shells were fired into the area, which were later identified by the people as LTTE shells. People in Jaffna town were told that an army attack from Mandathivu is imminent.
Tamil Refugees In TamilnaduChemmani Bridge was never blown up as threatened. On the morning of that same day, the LTTE had made a proclamation of ‘War-time Exigency’ through loudspeakers. It was that night, after the exodus order, that the people found out what it meant.
Those in Jaffna who switched on to the LTTE’s radio bulletin that night were astonished to discover that no reference was made to the exodus that had been ordered. In the days that followed, while doing everything to force civilians to leave Jaffna, the LTTE went on denying that it had ordered people to do so.
There had been a steady exodus of people from Jaffna fleeing the fighting and the bombing and shelling, owing to the fact that the Government had failed in its duty to give confidence to the civilians that tangible measures for their safety had been taken. What is worse, it was denying or greatly underplaying civilian casualties and suffering behind a mask of censorship. By its reprimand (and subsequent suspension) of the Government Agent of Jaffna, the Government was behaving as though it was treachery to talk about such matters – an ironical position for a Government that had staked much on openness, democracy, political accommodation and human rights.
On 3rd November the Spokesman for the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali issued the following statement: “Reports of the massive displacement of the civilian population in northern Sri Lanka are a source of deep concern to the Secretary General. It is evident that humanitarian assistance on a significant scale will be essential to minimise suffering…”                                    Read More

Autumn Feast of Colour

by Victor Cherubim   
The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves, of red and gold
  I see your lips, the summer kisses
  The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I‘ll hear, old winter’s song
But I missed you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall” – Source: Nat King Cole
( November 1, 2015, London, Sri lanka Guardian) From conkers to harvesting, blustery weather and autumn leaves, there is everywhere a feast of colour, a change from the normal. This year the absence of big gales and morning frost has kept leaves on trees for longer than usual. With giant redwoods, Scots pine, blue spruce, red maple and the grand silver birch in Britain’s parks, all starting to glow with colour, change is in the air.
The leaf colour with sunnier days and cooler nights has helped to bring out the golden pigment, as well as the flaming reds of maple and cherry leaves. The main driver is the length of the day for colour changes. It’s all about chemical reactions for which the trigger is light. The pigments of yellow and reds are always there in the leaf, but as the dominant chlorophyll reduces, the radiance of the others is more visible.
Seasons change
Seasons change, feelings change, people change and nations change. There is a time and a place for everything. Who could have imagined that in a matter of ten months Sri Lanka will be on the road to recovery thanks to the foresight of our people? Who would have thought Sri Lanka is aiming to close a fiscal shortfall by raising as much as $ 5 billion over the next six months through new budget measures as it seeks to win back investors? Who could imagine that the main emphasis today is not to clean up corruption but to eradicate it altogether, a first for South Asia? Could anyone have imagined Sri Lanka co-sponsoring the Geneva HRC Resolution?
What was left for future generations to undertake was initiated by President Sirisena in his “Wana Ropa” (planting a forest) a three year program from January 2016 to increase forest cover in Sri Lanka to one thirds of the country’s land area. This is as part of the larger plan to drive sustainable development. Was it not overdue, arguably forest resources being rapidly destroyed and deteriorated over decades of war and neglect?
How the future is unfolding?
We decide how we expect the future to unfold. It is called Future Forecast. Of course no single force determines an outcome. Given the weight to multiple perspectives, we use mathematical brains to find structure amid complexity and to estimate, understand and accept probabilities; we use possibility to make our decisions, diverse estimates to make our decisions. We use fresh eyes on a complex situation.
We are not alone in making mindset change?
India is challenging China’s dominance in Africa with a promise of $10 billion in aid.
China is changing is population control policy of one child introduced and enacted between 1978 and 1980 to two children per family.
Sweden is steadily moving towards a standard six hour working day, on the premise that no one can stay focussed for 8 hours. Why spend hours at work when you can do fewer hours of quality work and spend more time with your family, exercising, or learning new skills? 
Pope Francis wins battle to let divorcees take Holy Communion after the recent Synod of the Family in Rome, when he said:”A faith that is not rooted in the life of the people remains arid rather than an oasis increases other deserts.” His reforms did encounter resistance and fierce debate among the 270 prelates who had gathered in the Vatican.
When we overcome fear, when we get rid of “being tired of being tired,” when we have the courage of our conviction that people are one, whether we live in the South or the North of Sri Lanka or any other part of the world, and we when we defeat “desire,” or wanting immediate gratification, we build purpose in our lives and change begins.

Ekneliyagoda investigation : Army obstructs CID that visited Girithale; Dialog too hampers (Video)

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -31.Oct.2015, 4.30PM) The army hindered the CID officers who went to Girithale in connection with the investigation into the abduction and brutal murder of Lanka e news journalist Prageeth Ekneliyagoda, and the Dialog Co. is also  not assisting in this direction , the CID revealed in Homagama magistrate court when the trial of this case was taken up  yesterday .
Sandya Ekneliyagoda made these disclosures today at a media briefing.The CID of the government is carrying on investigations into this Prageeth’s murder , while another Institution  of the same government , the army is through its lawyers opposing and obstructing the investigation , she added. Sandya addressing the media following the hearing today of her habeas corpus application  filed in  the appeal court, made these comments.   The lawyer Vasantha Perera PC , the State counsel who appeared on behalf of army commander informed the  appeal court  , he is prepared to render assistance towards the trial regarding Ekneliyagoda disappearance , when the habeas corpus petition filed by Sandya in the appeal court to produce Prageeth immediately before court was taken up today (30). 
The petition was heard before a two judges panel of the appeal court comprising Vijitha Malalgoda (president) and H.S.J .Madawala .
The appeal court ordered  that any objections to be raised in this regard shall be made on or before 8 th December 2015.
The video tape of the media briefing addressed by Sandya and lawyer Watagala following the appeal court trial can be viewed hereunder 
by     (2015-10-31 11:28:19)

Aluthgama Incident

By Izeth Hussain-

With his article in The Island of October 27 on addressing Muslim issues through the Geneva process, Jehan Perera has put himself in the company of two other Sinhalese towards whom most Muslims would feel that they owe a debt of gratitude. The other two are Lorna Devaraj and Mervyn de Silva. I must also express my sense of gratitude, as a Muslim, to the Friday Forum for their admirable statement of October 28 on the continuing plight of the Muslim refugees. But before proceeding with the subject proper of this article I must make an observation on a matter of the greatest importance that has been touched on in JP’s article.

In a Sri Lanka that has been rent apart by racism, one of the most important questions that we have to confront is this: how do we make the racists desist from their idiocies and brutalities? An appeal to religious principles will not suffice. A religion serves two purposes: one is to put human beings in relation to the transcendental and the other is to strength social bonds. The latter purpose has been predominant in Sri Lanka where we have transformed the four great world religions into tribal religions. An appeal to ethical principles won’t do either because an ethical system without religious underpinnings may or may not have compulsive force. I believe that the only effective appeal to the racist is to his self-interest. The argument is that the treatment of the Other as sub-human will destroy the moral sense and that will impact adversely on intra-ethnic relations as well. Jehan P provides a very convincing example that substantiates my argument. Five years after the mass expulsion of the Muslims in 1990 the LTTE ordered the evacuation of Tamils of the Jaffna peninsula so that they would not be under the heel of the invading Sinhalese army. When man’s inhumanity to man really gets going, ethnic boundaries cease to matter.

It is an astounding fact that the plight of the Muslim refugees has been virtually ignored for as long as twenty five years; all the more astounding considering all the attention lavished on the plight of the Tamils both domestically and internationally. What is the explanation? I think the blame has to be cast on both the Sinhalese and the Muslims – in my view far more on the Muslims. From 1976 to around 2002 there were anti-Muslim ructions practically every year, sometimes trivial and sometimes of a very serious order such as the Hulftsdorp riots of December 1993. I covered many of them in my writings from 1990 to 1994 and from 1998 to 2002. In every case without exception there was no fighting , only rioting in which the Muslims were always the victims. But in every case the media refused to acknowledge the ethnic aspect of the riots, insisting that they were no more than fracas between thugs which somehow ignited wider incidents. As for the Government, it failed to take the kind of punitive action that would have deterred further riots.

After 2002 the pattern of annual rioting ceased, for reasons that have not been established. It might have seemed that I had been fussy in alleging racism. There followed the Grease Yaka episodes with Muslim females being harassed with virtual impunity, and thereafter there was the abduction of Muslim businessmen for ransom with the Government doing nothing about it. And then the anti-Muslim campaign of the BBS erupted in force and fury, making it impossible to deny that anti-Muslim racism was a real force in a segment of the Sinhalese people. Furthermore it was obvious that the then Government was complicit with the BBS, as shown outrageously by the fact that BBS leaders were placed above the law. It could no longer be denied that anti-Muslim racism had become a significant factor in our politics: it played a crucial role in the downfall of the Rajapaksa regime. But it was not only the government that was anti-Muslim. This is what Jehan Perera writes: "Nevertheless, the unwillingness of the political parties to speak up and make a critique of the anti-Muslim propaganda at that time was an indication of the failure of post-war reconciliation". Understandably the Muslim refugees continued to be ignored.

Arguably the state’s attitude to the Muslims might more aptly be regarded as one of benign neglect rather than one of active racism. The Tamils, whom the Sinhalese saw as over-assertive, had to be pushed down, but the Muslims who have been among the most submissive minorities in the world, could safely be allowed to rot in peace. Therefore there was no action on the anti-Muslim rioting, the Grease Yaka harassment, the abductions of Muslim businessmen, and horrendously not even on the BBS campaign, and of course hardly any or none on the Muslim refugees. Behind it all were certain important factors. There was not even an attempt at building a multi-ethnic nation because the Sinhalese power elite was satisfied with the position that the Sri Lankan nation had already been in existence down the millennia, the Sinhalese nation. Racism has to be integral to that belief. Another important factor is that the hundred years of peace preceding 1948 bred complacency and irresponsibility in the Sinhalese power elite, and that still continues.

If it is correct that the plight of the refugees is due not so much to racism as to benign neglect, the question prompts itself whether the major responsibility for the plight of the refugees has to be borne by the Muslims themselves. The failure of the Muslim politicians to speak up for the refugees is horrifying. It is a characteristic failure because for decades the Muslim politicians have been bent on serving their Sinhalese masters rather than the Muslim people. However we Muslims must acknowledge a collective failure in having virtually ignored the refugees for a quarter century, a failure that must be seen as a dereliction of Islamic duty. But changes are taking place in the Muslim community, a sign of which are the admirably outspoken articles on the refugees by Lathif Farook and the superb article by Hilmy Ahmed which appeared a few days ago.

Jehan Perera has recommended that certain institutions being set up by the Government as part of the Geneva process be used to deal with the problem of the refugees. There can be no objection to that. But if the principle is fair play for all, what about the driving out of EP Tamils from around sixteen villages by Muslim Homeguards? That too must be investigated and restitutions be made. And what about the Tamil provocations that led to all that? The process must apply to that as well. It becomes arguable that what we are suggesting will aggravate problems between Tamils and Muslims. They certainly could, but what is the alternative? If problems won’t go away, we have no alternative to confronting them. The reason why the problems won’t go away is best understood within a paradigm of racism. With mass education aspirations to upward mobility grow, with economic development upward mobility becomes possible for more and more people, and those processes can lead to ethnic rivalry and conflict. We are caught in the toils of modernity, and there is no way of evading them.

A Historical Opportunity In Front Of Muslim Politics

By Salithamby Abdul Rauff –October 31, 2015
Dr. Salithamby Abdul Rauff
Dr. Salithamby Abdul Rauff
Colombo Telegraph
Given the track record of Muslim politics in Sri Lanka in recent times, it has consistently failed in addressing its community’s grievances, in representing its community’s legitimate aspirations, and in insulating its community’s interests. In late 1980s, when the Indo-Lanka accord Colombo and New Delhi signed to bring a permanent political settlement to the country’s prolonged ethnic question ignored Muslim community (particularly in the north-east) systematically, the Muslim politics remained brazenly muted despite Muslims expressing an overwhelming disappointment and frustration on this ignorance.
In 1990s, when some 75, 000 innocent Muslims were ethnically cleansed from entire north, the Muslim politics could not even get a recognition for these people as conflict-induced internally displaced persons (IDPs). Lack of this recognition later had dire consequences on their life, denying access to their basic needs, their right to return and their inclusion in peace talks that occurred over time.
In 2002, under international community- brokered peace initiative, when Sri Lanka’s government and Tamil Tigers sat together at peace table to reach a permanent peaceful solution that would accommodate all ethnic groups of the country and ultimately end its 30 years of armed conflict, Muslims another ethnic minority and apparent vulnerable victims of this bloody civil war sought an independent representation for their community in this solution finding effort to channel their problems and interests. The Muslim politics unfortunately was worried on how to please enough both government and LTTE at peace talks simply ignoring its community’s legitimate concerns.
In 2009, immediately after conflict termination, Sri Lankan government advanced the return of people internally displaced by the armed conflict to their places of origin implementing an “old-new IDP” return criterion, which defined displaced Muslims as old IDPs and only prioratised new IDPs’ return. When this criterion denied Muslim IDPs their return, the Muslim politics was turned a blind eye on its forcibly displaced people despite the denial being a flagrant violation of their right to return.Read More

40 tons of gold sold secretly with approval from Mahinda & Cabraal

‘Ravaya’ reports that 40 metric tons of gold has been sold with the sanction of former Governor of Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal and former President Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Japanese company ‘Suisse securities’ through another Japanese company called ‘Japuda Holdings’ via a suspicious group of middlemen.
Gold had been sold at US$46000 a kilogram and the commission paid for middlemen is US$2000 per kilogram. The whole transaction has been carried out informally and suspiciously. The gold could have been seized from KP or the LTTE. In this transaction the middleman of the Japanese company has been Rajagopal Karthiyan (ID:- 833433342 V) of 14 5?2 Gaya Road Wellawatta. The mediator for the Central Bank has been Suppiah Somasekeran (ID:- 572573389V) of No.77, Church Road, Hendala, Wattala. He had come to an agreement with 8 other persons to share the commission. The agreement had been compiled by a lawyer named Sampath Chaminda Gamage. According to the agreement each person should receive Rs.750 million.
The names of the 8 persons and their bank accounts are:-
1. W.K.E.J.A. Sawis, Selan Bank, Maharagama. Ac. No. 004031479826078
2. N.Y.C.S. Kumara Commercial Bank, Chilaw. Ac. No. 8430002649
3. K. Jeyarani, People’s Bank, Head Office Ac. No. 204-2-001-4-0004005
4. H.M.G.S.K. Seneviratna, Hatton National Bank. Ac. No.  061020042575
5. I.P.U. Karunaratna, Bank of Ceylon, Seeduwa.  Ac. No. 72013332
6. K.M.I. Samarasinghe, Sampath Bank, Maharagama. Ac. No. 1013-5020-8535
7. Y.N. Illangakone, Commercial Bank, Gampaha. Ac. No. 8440039577
8. S. Siridaran, Commercial Bank Ac. No. 8800015721
Source :- 'Ravaya' newspaper

Gamini Viyangoda rejects literature award

Gamini Viyangoda rejects literature award

Lankanewsweb.netOct 31, 2015
Renowned translator Gamini Viyangoda was given an award for the translation of the book “If this man” during the state literary award held last week. Reports reaching us conform Gamini Viyangoda has rejected the award and the prize money.

After receiving the award Gamini Viyangoda has called the literary panel secretary and told him that his book was not a novel and urged him to check whether his book falls under the category of biography works or any subject topics.
The secretary has told that there was no error and according to the selection of professors and the panel of judges the co award was presented to his book. Viyangoda has shown his disapproval and rejected the award for logging an autobiography of a person as a fiction.
The latter translated “If this man” was an autobiography of an Italian national Primmo Levy.
Gamini Viyangoda who never received a state award so far was presented the best translator award. Ananda Amarasiri received the next award.

FMM calls for Immediate Action on Police Brutality Against the Students

Sri Lanka Brief31/10/2015
Free Media Movement (FMM) strongly condemns the inhuman police attack against the students of Higher National Diploma in Engineering (HNDE) who protested asking recognition of HNDE as equivalent to the undergraduate degree and for several other requests, in front of University Grant Commission on 29th October, 2015. FMM considers this attack as a gross violation of right to protest which is one of the major means to achieve  citizens rights.
It is clear that the precious  practices of not listening, not responding to the student requests and using police force  to suppress students were followed as in the past, and media had widely reported how inhumanely students were attacked by police, when they attempted to enter to the UGC despite of the barriers erected by the police . After attacking with high pressure water cannons and teargas, police  chased the students who ran into the nearby market stalls and have beaten them. It is also reported that several students were arrested.
This incident reminds us the oppressive  past in which peaceful meetings and  protests organised to obtain due rights were brutally suppressed. It also  creates a negative picture about the country as a state which neglects global human rights standards. Also this incident should not have happened under a regime which came into power with the promise of (‘Yahapanalana’ ) the good governance. In the name of so promised ‘Yahapalanya’, (good governance) FMM strongly demands an impartial investigation into this attack from President Maithreepala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickaremasinghe and to take action against the Police who attacked the students using  disproportional power and any other higher authority who is responsible for instructing the police to behave in this manner.
(FMM press release on 31 Oct 2015)

Statement on the brutal police attack on HND (Higher National Diploma) students on 29/10/2015

Picture courtesy
Many of us issuing this statement today played an active role in the January 08, 2015 Presidential Election campaign and the subsequent General Election on 17 August. Ours was not a political involvement in the sense of playing party politics but a principled political intervention to change the culture of governance in this country. We had witnessed close to a decade of increasing authoritarianism, the shrinking of democratic space and a culture of violent suppression of dissent under the defeated Rajapaksa regime. We intervened because we wanted to see tangible change. We were, however, not so naïve as to expect a complete change in the political culture of the country and were therefore not so surprised at the appointment of a jumbo cabinet, or the nepotism that is creeping back into the functioning of the government, but we did have some minimum expectations from a new regime that campaigned almost exclusively on the theme of ‘good governance’ and a President and Prime Minister who repeatedly preach the mantra of democracy and good governance.

Politics Of Policing 

By Suren Rāghavan –October 31, 2015
Dr. Suren Rāghavan
Dr. Suren Rāghavan
Colombo Telegraph
Police departments all over the world are a symbolic power of the state over its citizens. The morale argument of law and order has never been a reality as police departments work under political and intuitional power structures essentially are hegemonic. Unlike the military such oppressive state ideology are often mobilized by police and CID departments under clear political leadership. It is for this reason that police often mounts its brutality against the most marginalize and peripherialized sections of the society. It is the female sex worker who already stigmatized by the ‘religious’ moralities that the police is eager to arrest not the male – with disposable income on sex. It is the street pick pockets the police will hunt down – not the white collar robbers at commercial banking system who even charge us for using an ATM machine to withdraw our own money we had deposited. It is the street corner drug addict the police are after not so much the drug baron who is often is well connected and powerful. Gay communities all over the world still experience less human treatment at police hands. Police brutalities against the Blacks in the US and Dalits in India are often reported but quickly forgotten. The text book terror politics of LTTE first sprang against the subhuman (mostly Sinhala speaking) policemen under pro south politicians like Jaffna major Alfred Duraiappa (major and SLFP organizer) on 27 July 1975.
police attack_1For the state- police is the agency of social coercive discipline at taming the civil spirit. It is for this reason that the police departments are powered to inquire into the minute social life of civilians from ‘correct parking’ to ‘correct park behavior’ especially in a state like Sri Lanka. The police are empowered by the state to dictate to me how and where I should (not) kiss my lover.
In Sri Lanka the every form of authority has come under ‘abnormal anti-social normalcy’ during the last 35 years of war and its emergency rule. Excessive, draconian and brutal anti liberal acts such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) has become the norm than the exception. The entire law enforcement structure has developed a culture of brutality and sub human services under Emergency Regulations. It is no secret that majority of police stations in Sri Lanka has records of arbitrary arrest and torture and even murder under custody. I do not think any serious research study has been done to detect this sub cultural control culture. It is not merely the police department alone. I have relatives/friends who had held very senior positions in the department. They confess that is the entire system that needs an overall reshaping. Every successful government in power had used the department and its subservient officials to advance its oppressive rule on the liberty of the people and the last ten years under the Rajapaksa regime it touched the zenith. Protecting corrupt politicians and their horrible act of rape, murder and violence against unarmed civilians and even visiting tourist became common incidents.
                                                              Read More

By Madura Ranwala- 

Police yesterday justified the use of force on Thursday to disperse a group of protesting students of Higher National Diploma in Accountancy (HNDA). Nine students including girls suffered head injuries at the hands of the riot police.

 Nine students were injured. Police said some of their men, too, had suffered injuries. Thirty nine students were arrested. Thirty one of the arrested protesters were bailed out yesterday as police did not raise objections; others are being treated at the National Hospital. 

At a media conference held yesterday at Colombo DIG office, Pettah, Police Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunaseaka, SSP Champika Siriwardene (Colombo Central), DIG Gamini Mathurata and Senior DIG Pujith Jayasundara emphasised that they had enforced the law to the useful degree to disperse a crowd of nearly 1,300 student protesters as they could not allow the protesters to enter the University Grant Commission (UGC), a government property, forcefully and therefore they used water cannon, tear gas to disperse them.

 SDIG Jayasundara said that there had been in the crowd an outsider, who was among the 39 arrested, "Even though he is not a student, we did not even object to him being bailed out as police did not want to harass anyone," the Senior DIG said.

Asked why the police had used batons to disperse the crowd and assaulted female students, SDIG Jayasundara said that the protesters had tried to enter the UGC by toppling the barricades placed there and the police had used required force to disperse them because the tear gas and water cannon failed to stop them.

ASP Gunasekara said the law did not bar them from using the batons to disperse crowd under circumstances of that nature; the protesters had blocked the main road by sitting in front of the UGC refusing to go away, he said.

 If the police had violated students’ human rights, they could go to the Supreme Court, Human Rights Commission and Police Commission to seek justice, Gunasekara said.

 Jayasundera said it was the duty of police to protect others’ rights, government properties and every individual and, therefore, the police had been compelled to disperse the student protesters to clear roads for patients, doctors, schoolchildren and ambulances to reach their destinations.

 SDIG Jayasundara said that he had tried his best to help students meet some officers of the UGC, but to his dismay there had not been anyone to listen to them and that was where everything went wrong..