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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Foreign judges for war crimes tribunals: BASL on the fence

Timor-Leste's Parliament
The Sunday Times Sri Lanka
Sunday, November 29, 2015
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) yesterday took a non-committal stand on the issue of foreign judges sitting on war crimes tribunals expected to be set up soon.
It stated that these must inspire the confidence of “stakeholders” and be within the country’s Constitution, a position the Government has also taken.
A statement issued by the BASL admitted that Sri Lanka’s existing judicial and prosecutorial systems have “not met the confidence of many concerned”.
Having considered the UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka, along with the reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Paranagama and Udalagama Commission reports, the BASL states they point to the need for further inquiries into crimes that allegedly occurred during the ‘war years’.
The BASL recognises the need for a broader process of reconciliation, and offers its services towards this end, the statement adds.
Meanwhile, the Government on Friday appointed a retired High Court Judge as High Court Commissioner to expedite cases under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations.
Irangani Perera was recommended by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, approved by President Maithripala Sirisena and sworn in before the Chief Justice.
The appointment raised protests from the BASL which said a retired judge was unnecessary when there were High Court judges in the present cadre who could be considered.
The President has been asked to revoke this appointment in order to ensure the efficient administration of justice.
The functions that the High Court Commissioner will be expected to carry out “can be performed by High Court Judges appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Judicial Services Commission”, the BASL said in a statement.
“There is no justification in appointing a High Court Commissioner for this purpose”.
There are presently four vacancies in the High Court, BASL President Geoffrey Alagaratnam said. These must be filled and a suitable judge selected from amongst them to hear cases under the PTA and the Emergency Regulations as a matter of priority.
He said the appointment of a retired judge as High Court Commissioner amounted to “undue interference” and should have been done only under exceptional circumstances.

War Crime Investigations, a necessary step towards

Tamil-protest-abductions_slg_fileThe following statement issued by the People for Human Rights and Equality based in Clayton, Victoria, Australia
( November 30, 2015, Clayton- Victoria, Sri Lanka Guardian) People for Human Rights and Equality (PHRE) supports the Sri Lankan government’s effort to carry out a judicial probe as necessitated by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 30 on Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka adopted on 1 October 2015 with the support of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL).
This UN Resolution was a follow-up of the formal presentation of the Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. In
March 2017, the GoSL is expected to report back to the UNHRC on the timetable for the implementation of the Resolution. To ensure the credibility of the justice process, the Resolution crucially calls for the involvement of international judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators.
The Report’s recommendations include security sector reform; return of private land; ending military involvement in civilian activities; a political settlement on the devolution of political authority; accountability for attacks on journalists and human rights defenders; and the repeal of specific legislation such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act. However, the Resolution, instead of an ad hoc hybrid special court, calls for a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism.
Sinhala nationalists interpret the UN investigation as being for the sole purpose of reversing the military defeat of the LTTE separatist forces. On the other hand, Tamil nationalists have expressed their disillusionment with a domestic Sri Lankan mechanism on the grounds of Sri Lanka’s dubious track record of domestic accountability. They are of the view that it is the very absence of a credible national process of domestic accountability that has created the need for an international mechanism that should follow up to the UN investigation.
PHRE notes that Sri Lanka has been both unwilling and unable to investigate war crimes allegations against its own forces, or hold perpetrators of grave human rights violations to account, including the perpetrators of atrocities in the South during the JVP uprising in the late ‘80s. After denials and rejections for many years, the former regime promised domestic inquiry with the help of three of the best war crimes prosecutors which were seen as little more than an attempt to deflect international pressure. By co-sponsoring the Resolution, the current GoSL has taken the initiative to implement its recommendations. The resolution notes  not only the passage of the 19th Amendment and its potential contribution to promoting good  governance, but also highlights the steps the government has taken to improve life for the  war-affected people of the North and East. It also acknowledges the progress made in rebuilding infrastructure, demining, returning land taken over as high-security zones and resettling displaced persons.
This replacement of emphasis given to the hybrid judicial mechanism provides the GoSL a greater measure of credibility in dealing with the local nationalist sentiments. However, any accountability process needs an international component for it to have any credibility and to provide the necessary judicial skills and expertise. Ensuring that victims and their families are genuinely consulted in uncovering truth and achieving justice, and undertaking a wide range of institutional reform, including strengthening witness protection legislation are also required.
We consider this UN Resolution and the establishment of appropriate mechanisms for the proper investigation into the alleged serious violations of human rights by all parties to the armed conflict in Sri Lanka as an important step for reconciliation between its peoples. For the reconciliation of the Sri Lankan society and the wellbeing of its people, ascertaining the truth with regard to what happened during the armed conflict is necessary. It is also important to implement the other recommendations of the UN resolution. In light of the previous negative experiences on such investigations the involvement and participation of international investigators, prosecutors and judges in Sri Lanka’s justice processes are an essential condition for ensuring the fairness of any domestic inquiry. If the Resolution and its underlying commitments of Sri Lanka’s government are implemented in potential to bring justice to the victims and closure to their suffering.

10 Special Projects to Boost Living Conditions in Former Conflict Areas

Sri Lanka Brief30/11/2015 
With the end of the conflict in the Northern Province, many concerted and coordinated efforts are being made by the Government to move forward the reconciliation process to ensure sustainable peace in the country.
In this context, the Government, in consultation with the Northern Provincial Council, identified and decided to implement a high impact project which could significantly contribute to improving the quality of life of resettled people and enhance their livelihood and income generation opportunities, said V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs.
In this context, 10 high impact generating projects were identified by the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs in close consultation with the governor, chief minister, ministers and planning authorities of the Northern Provincial Council. The total cost of these projects amounted to around Rs. 2,000 million. A Cabinet paper was submitted by D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs to obtain approval from the Cabinet of Ministers to proceed with these high impact targeted projects to uplift the living standards of the resettled people in the Northern Province.
The Cabinet Paper was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 18 November 2015 and an additional provision of Rs. 2,000 million was allocated under the medium term budgetary framework, said Sivagnanasothy.
The 10 high impact projects include the construction of a bridge and causeway across the sea between Kayts and Karainagar town;
the construction of a new passenger boat with a 100-passenger capacity like the kumudini boat;
the construction of a jetty in Delft and the restoration of a jetty in Elluvaithivu, Kayts;
the renovation of roads from Velanai to Kayts; the establishment of a clinical waste management system in five districts of the Northern Province;
the establishment of the disposal system for human excreta in Vadamarachchi, Thenmarachchi and Valikamam in the Jaffna District;
systematisation of the collection and segregation of solid waste in the Jaffna Municipal Council area;
seaweed farming in the coastal areas in the northern Province;
livelihood and income generation projects covering value addition and marketing of milk products, Vathiri leather industries and Karmarchi Ambal light engineering industries in Kopay.
Islands of Jaffna
Islands of Jaffna
The Jaffna peninsula is surrounded by over 15 islands comprising Kayts, Delft, Punkuduthivu, Nainathivu, Analaithivu and Mandaithivu. These islands are out of the reach of many people due to poor inter-connectivity with the mainland due to inadequate infrastructure facilities.
Nearly 75% of the islanders are engaged in fisheries, agriculture, livestock and palmyrah based products for their livelihood. Moreover, these targeted projects will also help to achieve inclusive development in the Northern Province while supporting the resettled communities to achieve durable solutions as envisaged in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s (LLRC) Report.
The Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs is formulating a mechanism to implement the above projects with the active involvement of the Northern Provincial Council. The 10 special projects will be steered and monitored by a committee co-chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Prison Reforms,
Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs and Chief Secretary, Northern Provincial Council with the active involvement of District Secretary, Jaffna and other district and provincial officers, said V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs.
– FT

President Undermined Through Jaffna’s Purchased Professorships

VC/Jaffna with the President (13 Nov. 2015)
VC/Jaffna with the President (13 Nov. 2015)By Sabapathy Krishnakumar –November 29, 2015
Dr. Sabapathy Krishnakumar
Dr. Sabapathy Krishnakumar
I am very happy that President Maithripala Sirisena and other members of the government have been repeatedly calling on expatriates to return and contribute:
    Colombo Telegraph
  • My Government will establish a special bureau under my directive to coordinate the expatriate Sri Lankans who wish to return to the motherland and we will offer a red carpet welcome to them. I would like to remind them that now it is time for us to work in unity for the betterment of the country, casting side political differences – President M. Sirisena, Policy Statement from Parliament, 1 Sept. 2015.
  • President Maithripala Sirisena from Thailand has called on Sri Lankan expatriates to return home and render their services as democracy has been restored. (TNLRN News Radio, 2 Nov. 2015)
  • Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday invited Sri Lankan diaspora to return to the island as dual citizens. (Lanka Business Online, June 12, 2015)
  • The PM also joined the chorus at the dual citizenship ceremony on 17 Nov.
Predatory Journals: Fast Track to Professor (A paper in 3 days)
Predatory Journals: Fast Track to Professor (A paper in 3 days)
However, laudable policy remains empty words as the government’ own officials undermine policy. We badly need the services of expatriates. With the education budgets promised a huge increase, we will have only new buildings and landscaped staff without teachers to teach as remarked by Rajan Hoole in his article on the scandalous state of our universities (Colombo Telegraph, 29 Oct. 2015). That well-intended money will be money down the drain unless the UGC wakes up and the President notes how he is being undermined.
The North-East more than any other needs rebuilding and for that we need expatriates to return. But till recently, many ordinary persons were ensconced in powerful administrative positions for which they did not qualify. We now badly need bright outsiders to come in.
What I write, I write as person who was once Dean of Applied Science at the University of Jaffna. At that time, I saw no future and preferred to move to the South after seeing tussles over a period of 2-3 years when supporters of the then government were recommended as computer applications assistants but they could not pass the qualifying test insisted on by the staff. The VC was keen to appoint them, we were not. This was reported on, in The Sunday Island by Dasun Edirisinghe (31 July. 2014).Read More
Australian Senator calls for end of Sri Lanka's military occupation of Tamil homeland
Lee Rhiannon
 Australian Senator for New South Wales, Lee Rhiannon
29 November 2015
Australian Senator for New South Wales, Lee Rhiannon called on the new Sri Lankan government to show its commitment to a reconciliation process be de-militarising the Tamil North-East. 

Addressing Australia’s Tamil community at an event for the commemoration of Maaverar Naal, Ms Rhiannon said, 

“If the new regime is genuine about reconciliation then there must be an immediate end to the military occupation of the Tamil homeland.”

Pledging support to the Tamil struggle for self-determination, she added, 

“I pay my respects to the fallen heroes and everyone that continues to survive the ongoing genocide in the Tamil homeland.” 

Full speech produced below.

Acknowledge traditional owners

Dear friends, We meet again on this very sacred day for Tamils all over the world.

I thank you again for welcoming me so warmly into your community and into your struggle for freedom, self-determination, justice and a homeland. 

I pay my respects to the fallen heroes and to everyone that continues to survive the ongoing genocide in the Tamil homeland. 

I pay my respects to the mothers and fathers who lost their children as a result of the war and pay my respects to the family members in the crowd that have lost their loved ones and to those who have had to flee Sri Lanka. 

And I apologise sincerely to everyone that has been incarcerated in Australia’s immigration prisons.  I hope that one day soon you will be reunited with your families and find peace and hope in new home.  

I spoke a few weeks ago in Parliament about the Tamil political prisoners that were on hunger strike.  Yesterday I learned of an 18 year old student in Jaffna who tragically took his life in protest against the President’s continuing incarceration of Tamil political detainees.

I am going to read you ONE sentence in the letter he has left behind for all of us. 

Not a single Tamil political prisoner can remain imprisoned any longer. 

This young man who wrote these words is no longer with us. And this is very very sad. But let such a tragedy never happen again. No more Tamils must sacrifice their lives for freedom and justice. 

Your community has already lost too much.

Although these prisoners have temporarily ended their hunger strike, their plight must not be forgotten.  The must be given a general amnesty and the Prevention of Terrorism Act must be abolished. I will continue to speak about them in the Australian parliament. 

Now more than ever we need to come together to honour the sacrifices your children, your brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers have made.

I feel like your struggle is at a critical juncture. The defeat of the Rajapakse government has seen a shift in geopolitical interests. Understanding how to respond to the new complexities that you are facing will be challenging. 

If the new regime is genuine about reconciliation then there must be an immediate end to the military occupation of the Tamil homeland. 

I urge you to continue to mobilize politically both domestically and internationally and to continue to be a strong, united and unwavering voice for justice. In your unity there is strength. In your youth there is freedom. 

The resolve and commitment of your community can not be underestimated. You overcame the enormous stigma and difficulties you faced in 2009 to win broad based international recognition of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the Tamil people. Your community stopped Canada’s conservative Prime attending an international conference and publically advocating for a boycott.  This is an enormous achievement and it is because of your courage and your hard work.  

You have a lot to be proud of as you navigate through the next phase of your struggle. 

As we remember today the tens of thousands of Tamils who have sacrificed their life in the 26-year-long struggle for freedom and a homeland I stand with you as a friend and a sister.  Always. 

Budget for Business: A red flag for the people

Finance Minister presents the budget.
The 2016 Budget has been welcomed by the business and economic establishment. The big question is whether economic policies good for business are necessarily good for the economy and the people? To what extent are the economic policies in the 2016 Budget and the Prime Minister’s Economic Policy Statement different from the crisis-prone economic policies of the past?Economic policies in recent decades have been dominated by a neoliberal vision of transforming the economy to ensure the greater accumulation of profits by finance capital. Neoliberal capitalism does not only depend on profits through the increasing exploitation of labour in production as with intensive farming and industrial factories, but also through creating business friendly conditions for financialised speculation of people’s savings and the grabbing of their assets such as land. This budget and the economic policies it reflects are certainly business friendly and neoliberal in character. However, as with so many neoliberal economic policy packages around the world, they can also become the ground for repeated economic crises as with the Western Economic Crisis of 2008 and the Asian Economic Crisis a decade before that.
Neoliberal waves
Neoliberal economic policies are not new to Sri Lanka, one of the first countries in South Asia to liberalise its economy. The open economy policies of 1977 constituted the first wave of liberalisation in Sri Lanka. In subsequent decades, economic scholars argued that the period from 1989 to 1993 under the Premadasa Government represented the second wave of liberalisation, which was characterised by financial, trade, tax and exchange rate liberalisation. The period from 1996 to 2000 under the Kumaratunga Government carried forward the liberalisation agenda further with an emphasis on privatisation.That a major shift of economic policy occurred in 1977 is accepted across the spectrum. However, I would argue that this first wave of neoliberalism continued into subsequent decades. The conditions to embark on a second wave of neoliberalism were encountered in 2002 with the internationalised peace process and the Wickremesinghe Government in power. However, acceleration of neoliberal policies does not only depend on the regime in power, but equally, if not more, on economic conditions both nationally and globally. Between 2002 and 2004, the Wickremesinghe Government failed at a second wave of neoliberal economic transformation for the very reason that the previous regimes could not attempt it. Neither the national stability nor the conditions for the global inflow of capital existed as the country was embroiled in a protracted war.
Thus it was left to the Rajapaksa regime, in its second term after the end of the war in 2009, to launch the second wave of neoliberalism amidst authoritarian national stability and favourable global financial flows. Indeed, there are many parallels between the high growth years of the late 1970s and the period of accelerated growth starting in 2010, particularly in relation to the inflow of capital and the boom in construction. The Rajapaksa regime carried forward the ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ policy package of the previous Wickremesinghe Government, albeit piece-meal and to suit its own political and economic priorities. Indeed, it is with this second wave of neoliberalism that we have seen tremendous financialisation as well as massive infrastructure and urban build-out. The increasing indebtedness of Sri Lanka over the last many years that has become a major topic of discussion in recent months, is not an aberration, but the very manifestation of neoliberal integration with global capital and markets.
Corruption to the fore
The question is whether there is a difference between the neoliberal push of the Rajapaksa regime and the new Government. To the extent that they both consider financialisation and urbanisation as central to economic growth, there is no difference. By the beginning of its second term in 2010, the Rajapaksa regime had consolidated an oligarchic vision with a group of actors eager to share the spoils by committing to the regime’s political and economic project. The somewhat disjointed moves lacking a forceful ideological stance on neoliberalism had to do with the Rajapaksa regime’s social base; a populist appeal to placate the rural constituencies even as the regime attempted to take financialised urbanisation full steam.
The new Wickremesinghe regime, on the other hand, is still in the process of consolidation. Whether and how, President Maithripala Sirisena and his SLFP base, will or will not be integrated with the interests of the new regime will greatly affect its consolidation. Here I use ‘regime’ with reference to those at the helm of state power with particular ideological and economic interests. In any case, through its budget, the Wickremesinghe Government has sent a clear message to the business class, specifically finance capital. Although there is a difference in the specific actors who may benefit from the substance of the neoliberal policies favoured by the Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa Governments, the larger class interests are essentially the same. Furthermore, the new Government is just not shy about its open embrace of business and the market.
The central theme in the contemporary phase of the second wave of neoliberalism is financialisation and urbanisation. The Rajapaksa regime ensured an IMF Standby Facility at the outset in late 2009, floated sovereign bonds, propped up the stock market, attempted a process of financial consolidation including the merging of banks and moved on the beautification of Colombo. The new Government is going to do more of the same with financialisation, including the merging of banks and the promotion of capital markets, and the massive urban transformation of the Western Province into the Megapolis. In fact, these initiatives will be augmented with labour reforms, market oriented land policies and changes to state institutions, with the assurance that these measures will be undertaken wearing cleaner shirts.
The other side to this story is the continuing abandonment of the rural sectors such as agriculture and fisheries; despite the lip service of the new Government as with the Rajapaksa regime, there is a steady decline in budgetary allocations. The Rajapaksa regime promoted pawning and leasing by banks, and thus facilitated the siphoning off of the meagre liquid assets of the rural people by finance capital. The new Government recognising the problems for banking, with increasing non-performing assets, is pushing the banks to reject pawning and leasing. However, they are creating a grander game on the speculation of land, the largest fixed assets of ordinary people, where converting their lands into marketable private lands and simultaneously promoting Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that opens the door for speculation by finance capital and the eventual dispossession of people’s homes and land.
Over the last year, the public wanted to see the previous regime prosecuted for its obscene and large scale corruption, but the new Government has been slow in moving on such prosecutions. In many ways, it is the continuing attention on the excesses of the Rajapaksa Government that serve as an effective cover for the economic policies launched over the last month by the Wickremesinghe Government. The Rajapaksa regime should have been prosecuted for corruption months ago, but the long-drawn process has been not only a relief to the previous regime but also a cover for the regime in the making. Indeed, the public was fed doses of the Avant Garde scandal even as far reaching economic policies were unveiled. It is this grand deflection through the discourse on corruption that may facilitate the dangerous neoliberal transformation with labour reforms resulting in easy hire and fire of workers, land policies that make it a resource for capital and state institutions that work for business through public private partnerships.
Precarious future
The economic situation is not all that rosy for the Government. Five years into the second wave of neoliberalism, the conditions for crisis have matured in the country. The increasing national indebtedness, the falling foreign exchange reserves and the looming balance of payment problems are both conditions for financial crisis and also for global finance capital to abandon Sri Lanka; this is what happened with repeated financial crisis around the world including more recently in Southern Europe. In 2010, the Rajapaksa regime was fortunate to be placed in an opportune moment following the 2008 Western Economic Crisis, with a flush of capital to the “emerging markets”. Now, with the US Federal Reserve increasing interest rates, there has already been a reversal of the flow of global capital. Given the Wickremesinghe regime’s neoliberal push for national economic growth through the inflow of global finance capital absorbed in urban construction, the new Government will have to do more to make the local market inviting. This will involve dispossessing people of their assets, including land, savings and pensions, which can be channelled into the market for speculation by global finance capital.
Indeed, repeated financial crisis around the world have also opened opportunities for neoliberal transformations. These changes have been accompanied by repression and dispossession. While these dangers await the people of Sri Lanka, they are overlooked in most public commentaries on the budget and the Prime Minister’s Economic Policy Statement. Would even the provisions for greater educational investment, the only potential gain for the people in this budget, withstand the cycle of neoliberal capitalist crisis and dispossession once it is unleashed? In the weeks and months ahead, not only debates on concrete issues like land, work, and social protection, but peoples’ struggles will be important to protect what they have in the face of neoliberal dispossession.
Mixed Electoral sysytem for Sri Lanka


The results of General Election 2015 by percentage of votes and seats were as follows -

It would appear that there was a discrepancy in the proportion of votes against seats, particularly between the JVP and the TNA.
It is obvious that it is the difference between a concentrated minority party and a dispersed minority party.
It is this disparity that a mixed system like MMR seeks to rectify, and why it is used in New Zealand and Germany. It gives a dispersed minority a means of being represented in parliament.
Using the Sainte-Lague Formula of PR used in New Zealand, the 17th August Result would have been.
UNF                - 105 seats
UPFA              -  98
JVP                 - 11
TNA                - 11

The SLMC and EPDP may have won a seat each and the parliament would have been increased to 227  if each member had been ELECTED to a

Suggested Form of MMR

Sri Lanka could adopt MMR (Mixed Member Representation) on the basis of 125 constituencies electing members on the First Past the Post Method and 100 members from the parties’ nomination lists.
There are 15,044,490 registered voters in the country.  This would mean 125 constituencies of 120,000 each.

On this basis the distribution of constituencies according to the registered voters by district would be as follows –
There should be TWO separate Ballot Papers – One for electing a member for the constituency and the Second a vote for a Party. This is less confusing than selecting preferences. It consists of marking an ‘x’ against a candidate on one ballot paper; and marking an ‘x’ against a party on the other. 
The ballot papers could be of different colours and placed in separate boxes.
At the close of voting, the Party votes are counted and those getting less that 5% of the vote are eliminated, unless they have won a single seat.
Those Parties which have won a single seat or polled more than 5% of the vote are then entitled to the number of seats in parliament in proportion to the votes they received.

Assuming a party gets 45 % of the vote. It will be entitled to 45% of 225 seats ie – 101 seats. If  it has got 85 members by election, then it will be entitled to nominate 16 members from its list to make up the 101. If it has won 102 elected members, it is NOT entitled to any nominated members, but can keep the extra member and  parliament is enlarged by 1 for its term. ( This is a 
rare event!)
If a party does not win a single elected member, but gets 5% of the vote it is entitled to 5% of the seats – 11 seats, and nominates them from its list. It is in this manner that dispersed minority parties can get representation, by having a separate ballot paper for selecting a Party.

In this system, each voter will have a member of parliament and in this manner parliament will reflect the vote of the electorate, and will not have the discrepancy seen in the recent elections.

It is time that the people regarded themselves as Sri Lankans and had an electoral system that was NOT based on ethnic, caste or religious factors, but on the pure fact of the number of voters, irrespective of other considerations.
Optimistic Psephologist 

Sri Lanka's attempts to humour western powers cause unease among its military

File image of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. AFP
File image of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. AFP

By Sunil Raman-Nov 30, 2015 
In the third week of November, Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena summoned top army generals who were involved in the campaign against LTTE. The Army Chief was not invited. The discussion focussed on how the government should respond on the setting-up of a commission that will investigate human rights violations in the months leading to the end of a 25-year-old bloody civil war in 2009.

Queen who did not attend Rajapakses’ CHOGM warmly welcomes Maithripala at same conference in Malta -6.6 million pounds aid promised

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News - 29.Nov.2015, 11.30PM)  The 24 th commonwealth conference under the theme ‘Commonwealth is a new strength to global value ’ was commenced  in Malta day before yesterday forenoon (27) . The conference was chaired by the Queen Elizabeth the second.
President Maithripala Sirisena of SL who is the present chairman of the commonwealth ceremonially handed over his   post to Malta for the next two years.Heads of states and representatives  of 53 countries which are members of the Commonwealth participated in this conference.
When this Commowealth conference was held in SL , it was Mahinda Rajapakse who was the president of SL. The Queen Elizabeth who was the head of the Commonwealth  did not attend it, and did not come to SL.Only Prince Charles arrived. However the Queen arriving in Malta to chair the Commonwealth conference is  something of special  significance.
Nevertheless , when the president of SL Maithripala Sirisena elected by the people of the rainbow revolution attended the conference in Malta , he received a warm special welcome from the Queen.
Yesterday , British P.M. David Cameron met with president Maithripala Sirisena . At the discussions , Cameron admired the resilience shown by SL after a long drawn out war.In recognition of the long term ties between the two countries , Cameron confirmed  , sterling pounds 6.6 million as aid will be granted  by Britain , towards building stability and self sufficiency of SL. This aid will include providing training by Britain in connection with re  settlement of families displaced during the war , and the re construction relating to  the SL security camps of the forces.
Meanwhile president Maithripala said , his resigning the chairman post of the Commonwealth while the Queen Elizabeth is the exclusive chief  of the conference who is held in high esteem by all is something that gives him great delight .
The homes of two billion people belong to the commonwealth .He is aware that the commonwealth is contributing to the alleviation of poverty  and economic porsperity , apart from creating an important environment for trade and investment .’Yet in respect of  our country , selling our  raw materials out should  cease ,and  attention shall be focused on providing aid  to develop our own valuable  Industries ,’ the president pointed out.
Meanwhile Mangala Samaraweera the minister of foreign affairs who is attending the Commonwealth conference in Malta signed the agreement  yesterday to launch a commonwealth  trade fund . This fund  aims at providing  funds towards smaller countries . Agreements between SL and India , Malta  and Mauritius were signed by the respective foreign ministers, Mangala Samaraweera revealed.

by     (2015-11-29 20:39:26)

The Commonwealth, Climate Change, and a Tsar-Sultan standoff in the Middle East 

by Rajan Philips-November 28, 2015, 8:16 pm

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta this weekend is being seen as a rehearsal for the Climate Change conference starting tomorrow in Paris. And Paris will be hosting the Climate Change conference just two weeks after the deadly ISIS attacks. France is still under Emergency rule, and the City chock-a-block with security details to protect nearly 150 Heads of State/Government and 5,000 delegates who will be attending the conference spread over two weeks. The Paris conference is also set to stage a potential sideshow face off between Turkish President Reep Tayip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who have been verbally sniping at each other from a distance after the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter jet for allegedly violating its air space while bombing targets in Syria. Turkey is a NATO country and other western NATO members have not criticized Turkey, while officially standing by their ally. But no one is ready to go to war over this except perhaps Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Putin. President Obama has called for cooler heads while others in NATO have more than raised eyebrows that someone could shoot down an aircraft for an alleged aerial violation that apparently lasted 17 seconds.

In the midst of this international kerfuffle, Sri Lanka quietly passed the Commonwealth baton to Malta, thereby ending Sri Lanka’s two-year chairmanship of the institution. The meeting in Colombo years was part ‘showgm’ of the Rajapaksa government, as the wags in Colombo appropriately abbreviated, and was part a fractious affair between President Rajapaksa and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The Queen was in Malta to open the conference but sent Prince Charles to do the honours in Colombo. India’s Manmohan Singh and Canada’s Stephen Harper both boycotted Colombo, and both are gone now from office. And so has President Rajapaksa. He lost two elections after hosting the 2013 CHOGM, and it fell to the man who defeated him, President Sirisena, to hand over the baton in Malta. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be setting a new Indian pattern by staying away from Malta and sending his Foreign Minister instead. Perhaps, Mr. Modi needs more time at home to lick his wounds after the mauling he and his ruling party received in the Bihar state election. But sensitive old Indians, who would remember Jawaharlal Nehru’s towering presence in the Commonwealth, may not be amused seeing their diminutive Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, being relegated to the last row for the official group photograph.

In fairness to the Rajapaksas, they did put up a good show for the Commonwealth and the country when Sri Lanka hosted the 2013 CHOGM. But the show was not good enough to carry them through the presidential election that Mahinda Rajapaksa prematurely called a year later. The proceedings went well with the added drama of Prime Minister Cameron’s historic - depending on the viewer’s eye - visit to Jaffna. Jaffna has been receiving more than its quota of foreign visitors after becoming war-ravaged. Last week, it was the turn of Samantha Power, well-known author, human-rights intellectual and US Ambassador to the United Nations. It would have been a routine visit but for our Foreign Minister’s over enthusiasm in welcoming American officials, and the hyper-criticisms of his detractors who sometimes get their protocol knickers twisted a bit too much. On the other hand, for the school girls in Jaffna who thoroughly enjoyed themselves playing ‘round-race (elle)’ with Dr. Power, they have pictures to cherish and to inspire them to do well as students.

Climate Change and Security

Unlike in 2013, the British Prime Minister appears to be in charge of the Malta agenda, with its twin themes of climate change and international security. For the first time a French President has been invited to address a Commonwealth summit. The idea was to give French President Francois Hollande the podium for a prep-talk on climate change as segue to the Paris conference. Malta was also been planned as a useful occasion for backroom discussions and reaching consensus on climate change targets among the 53 Commonwealth leaders ahead of the Paris conference involving three times as many leaders. The ISIS attack in Paris has placed an additional and admittedly more urgent burden on President Hollande to discuss security everywhere he goes and mobilize support from whichever quarter he can. And Prime Minister Cameron seems more than ready to join any attacking bandwagon in the Middle East. Between them and other Western leaders, they will also face the difficult task of mediating between Putin and Erdogan and lowering the heat of power politics in the Middle East, even as they try to reach some consensus on reducing global warming.

In more sense than one, Putin and Erdogan are behaving like aberrational reincarnations of the old Tsar and the Ottoman Emperor spoiling for a fight abroad to please their subjects at home. Putin dreams of a Russia precedent to the Bolsheviks and Erdogan longs for a Turkey that was there before Kemal Ataturk modernized and secularized it. Ironically, it is Lenin’s insightful theory of ‘unevenness’ in socio-economic development that seems writ large over every human action and reaction in politics. Even as world leaders are being challenged to come to grips with the planetary consequences of global warming in the post-industrial age of human habitation, many of them are still driven by the more primitive urges to go to war. The end of the Cold War and the absence of two countervailing superpowers has given the long leash to the more local dogs of war. Humankind might be relatively safe from the risk of a nuclear war, but hapless people are being caught in the crossfires, killed and displaced in their thousands day in and day out.

"The caprice of nature conspired with the hate of man", wrote Frank Moraes of the old Times of Ceylon fame, to describe the cumulative catastrophe of the floods in Punjab and the partition of India. After nearly seventy years of decolonisation, there is still no adequate antidote to the hate of man (except promoting more progressive women in politics), but we seem to be getting a better understanding of the caprice of nature, at least scientifically speaking. It is now generally accepted that the current phase of climate change – manifested by significant atmospheric warming, is mostly attributable to physical and social changes brought about by modern industrialization. Rising atmospheric temperatures and the recurring incidents of extreme weather changes are both the results of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The Climate Change Conferences that began in Barbados, in 1994, are an attempt to reach global consensus in regard to targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

The warning from science is that these reduction targets, even if agreed upon and achieved, will only slow down the rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG) and the extent of global warming, but will not prevent them. Even a ‘heroic’ 20% reduction of GHG emission over 50 years will only delay the doubling of the GHG concentration by 10 years – 2075 instead 2065. The global target after Paris, if successful, is to be an ‘unheroic’ 3% reduction in GHG emissions (or limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius) below the 8% rise that would happen under a business-as-usual scenario. The heroic reduction is virtually impossible, for a 20% reduction would mean US, Europe and China, now respectively emitting 17, 7 and 6 tons of GHG annually, will have to reduce their emissions to the current levels of countries like Haiti, Yemen and Malawi! At the same time new GHG additions will be coming from economically advancing developing countries and the rise in global population from 7.3 billion to 9.7 billion by 2150.

The consequences of global warming are already being experienced. Extreme weather changes over the last two decades have caused 600,000 deaths, 4.1 billion injured and/or displaced, and an economic toll of $1.9 trillion dollars. Continentally, floods have the scourge of Asia, droughts in Africa, heatwaves in Europe, wildfires in the US, and storms everywhere. Continued global warming, melting glaciers and rising sea levels will swallow more than half a dozen small islands and damage the coastal and inland areas primarily in the Americas, China, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Scientists are advocating adaptation as well as significant reductions, and the Paris conference is billed to address both. Adaptations, such as sea-walls and drought-resistant crops might be politically more sellable than reaching consensus on reductions. Adaptations will invariably become another example of ‘unevenness’, with the rich countries and the rich in poor countries adapting better to climate change than the poor everywhere. But under no circumstance will there be a justification for business-as-usual to continue. The irony is also that the Paris conference is coming on the heels of the biggest consumption weekend in the US, following the American Thanksgiving holiday and now globalized through online discount prices.

Tamil poet barred from visiting Sri Lanka to attend book launch

The Sri Lankan government has stopped an internationally renowned Tamil poet from visiting the island to attend the launch of his latest book in the northern town of Tamil speaking Jaffna on Sunday.
Tamil poet and award winning film actor VIS Jayapalan's  application for a visa to enter Sri Lanka has been turned down this week.
'Strange reason'
Jayapalan says that the Sri Lankan authorities gave a 'very strange' reason for refusing the visa.
"The authorities say that I cannot apply for a visit visa claiming that I possess a Sri Lanka resident visa," he told JDS.
"It is really strange as I don't have any type of visa for Sri Lanka and when I asked whether I could apply for it after entering Colombo, that was also turned down".
Jayapalan was due to launch 'Sekku Gona',  the translation of three of his Tamil novellas  to Sinhala.
Arrested & deported
The event in the public library was to be addressed  by visiting Sinhala academics and writers who were in the forefront of the campaign to elect the present government to office.
Oslo based Jayapalan was arrested and deported by the former government in 2013 November when he visited his traditional hometown in the north after decades  in exile.