Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sri Lanka: Pledge to End Police Abuse Not Met

Repeal Prevention of Terrorism Act, Prosecute Torture

Members of the Sri Lankan police march with an elephant during Sri Lanka's 69th Independence day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka February 4, 2017.© Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte
sri lanka 20170220 PG
heraldscotland.comPolicepolice attack_1
Brutality claims: Hakmana residents stage a street protest on Monday over the wounded boy's claims he was badly assaulted while in police custody

Human Rights WatchFEBRUARY 20, 2017
(New York) – The Sri Lankan government has not met its pledge to curtail police abuses prior to the March 2017 session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said today. Security sector reform was one of 25 undertakings by Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council resolution adopted by consensus in October 2015.
The Sri Lankan government has failed to repeal the abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act or take serious measures to reduce torture in custody.
“It’s crucial that the Human Rights Council consider closely whether Sri Lanka made progress in the security sector as well as its other commitments such as transitional justice,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Nearly 18 months after making important promises to the council, Sri Lanka’s leaders appear to be backtracking on key human rights issues, including reforming the police.”
Reform of the security sector has lagged behind action on the council resolution’s four pillars of transitional justice: accountability, the disappeared, truth-seeking, and reconciliation. A recent report from the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, highlighted the ongoing “culture of torture” in the country. A 2015 report by Human Rights Watch also found that Sri Lankans routinely face torture and other ill-treatment by the police. In the vast majority of cases, the victims were unable to obtain any meaningful redress.
The government has also yet to repeal the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which has been used to arbitrarily detain terrorism suspects and others without charge for years. During the country’s 26-year-long civil war, the government asserted that the PTA was a necessary tool in its battle against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Yet, nearly eight years after the war’s end in May 2009, the PTA not only remains on the books but continues to be used to arrest and detain people.
Lawyers and relatives of PTA detainees told Human Rights Watch in May 2016 that police arrests were still being made in the notorious white vans used by the previous government, creating fear of a return to a culture of enforced disappearances. The practice has abated somewhat after an outcry from the rejuvenated national Human Rights Commission and rights lawyers. Lawyers, families, and the Human Rights Commission report having access to PTA detainees, an improvement from past practice.
Curtailing torture in Sri Lanka requires serious reforms of the security sector, prosecutions of those responsible, and sustained political will from the top. 

Brad Adams

Asia Director

“A number of those arrested in 2016 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were implicated in committing or plotting terrorist crimes,” Adams said. “Yet there was no good reason for not using the regular criminal code rather than an abusive law that should have been repealed years ago.”
The Special Rapporteur on torture, following a May 2016 visit to Sri Lanka, found that torture to produce confessions, including beatings, sexual violence, extreme stress positions and asphyxiation, was being committed in police stations, military facilities and detention centers throughout the country.
Human Rights Watch’s own investigations found that police routinely use torture to compel confessions for even minor offenses, such as petty theft and making illicit alcohol, and this affected all ethnicities and social groups. The Special Rapporteur described a “worrying lack of will within the Attorney General’s Department and the judiciary” to investigate and take action against those considered responsible for torture, noting that authorities kept repeating to him that there had been no complaints of ill-treatment or torture, and consequently no investigations.
“Deeply embedded practices linked to the war, like police torture, don’t just go away once the war is over,” Adams said. “Curtailing torture in Sri Lanka requires serious reforms of the security sector, prosecutions of those responsible, and sustained political will from the top.”
In June 2016, President Maithripala Sirisena issued a directive to the police and military to refrain from torture but the impact of the directive has gone unreported. Legal provisions in violation of international law remain on the books, such as permitting criminal liability at the age of 8. Ensuring the right to counsel at all stages of detention has also not been remedied.
The upcoming Human Rights Council session provides an important opportunity for UN member countries to closely examine the Special Rapporteur on torture’s report and the problem of torture and other police abuse in Sri Lanka. They should press the government to address these concerns as part of the overall reform efforts underway under the Human Rights Council resolution. And they need to be careful not to endorse measures that would set back human rights protections, such as earlier draft counter-terrorism bills to replace the PTA.
“The Mendez report on torture maps out a detailed reform proposal that the Sri Lankan government should embrace and implement,” Adams said. “The Human Rights Council can rev up this process by addressing torture and police reform in its review of Sri Lanka’s compliance with the council’s resolution.”

Shylock’s Error & The Resolution Of Conflicts

By R S Perinbanayagam –February 21, 2017 
Prof. R S Perinbanayagam
“Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best” ~ Otto von Bismarck
Colombo TelegraphI had written this short essay some time ago  and was not quite sure where to publish. After reading Prof.Laksiri Fernando’s recent essay “An Appeal To Tamil Political Leaders On The ‘New Constitution” I have concluded it should appear in Colombo Telegraph.
Drama is founded on conflicts of one kind or another.  It typically begins with the presentation of various characters who soon find themselves in a situation of conflict and as the drama precedes this conflict is developed and leads either to a resolution or to a tragedy. Insofar as drama is based in conflict, it is possible for others to learn something about conflict from various dramas.
One of the most sociologically interesting plays in the world of theater is Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Its focus is on the ethno religious conflict of western civilization: Jews versus Christians. In addition, it presents a crisis in European thought and culture about money and usury: the Catholic Church prohibited the lending of money at interest while the emerging trading circles among the Catholics needed credit for the conduct of their businesses. The coming of Protestantism eventually solved this problem – but the conflict between Jews and Christians endured.
In addition to these features about the play, there is another one that is of particular interest: the style and manner with which Shylock conducted his conflict with Bassanio and the cost he had to ultimately bear. If one considers the structure of the play as it develops, it will be seen that Shylock, from a position of moral strength from the very first movement of the play, to legal and political power and strength in the middle, ends up losing all.
In the opening movement, Shylock makes his famous speech declaiming the humiliations that he received from Antonio
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gabardine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help:
Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
‘Shylock, we would have moneys:’ you say so;
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold: moneys is your suit
What should I say to you? Should I not say
‘Hath a dog money? is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?’ Or
Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key,
With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this;
‘Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn’d me such a day; another time
You call’d me dog; and for these courtesies
I’ll lend you thus much moneys’?
Even at this juncture, Antonio the Christian is unrepentant: He says:
I am as like to call thee so again
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.
Even in the midst of a monetary exchange — a transaction — Antonio’s attitudes remain true to type. He does not want the money transaction as one between friends, but as between enemies. Insofar as the transaction between enemies – tribal and personal –it was morally worthy of Shylock to ask for the extraordinary bond: no interest will be charged but if there is a default, a pound of flesh will be taken instead. The mythic associations of this are clear enough: allusion to human sacrifice, no doubt practiced in Judaic society at one time – vide the story  of Abraham and Isaac and God’s command, etc. There is a nice symmetry between the overbearing arrogance, incivility and bigotry of Antonio’s attitude and Shylock’s   exorbitant demand.
In what I will call the second movement of the play, Shylock is still on good ground: the bond has been forfeited and the sanctity of the law demands that it be fulfilled:
Shylock: An oath, an oath: I have an oath in heaven: Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?  No, not for Venice.
The central episode here is the trial and it begins in an ironic note. The judge says to Antonio:
I am sorry for thee. Thou art come to face a strong adversary, an inhuman wretch; incapable of pity, void and empty of any dram of mercy.
Words that apply well, indeed better, to Antonio and his ilk for their treatment “The Jew”.  It is here that the play reaches a fulcrum. Portia enters the courtroom as a lawyer and both she and Bassanio offer to pay double the money owed. What should Shylock do? What could he have done? He is after revenge for untold humiliations, not only against him, but against his tribe as well.  He could demand the forfeit of the penalty and execute Antonio or he could relent now that his point has been made and take the money. The demands of tragic drama, the exigencies of character and situation created within the paly as well as the humiliations his people had suffered ensures that he rejects the money and opts for blood. In the end the Christians in turn do not show any mercy to the Jew: they deprive him of ducats, daughter and religion too by forcing him to become a Christian.

13 SIDE EVENTS PLANNED ON SRI LANKA DURING UNHRC 34; GOSL SIDE EVENT ON 1ST MARCH.

Image: Sri Lanka FM Samaraweera will address a side event on ‘Developments in Sri Lanka’ on 1st March.(c) s.deshapriya.

Sri Lanka Brief22/02/2017
There are 13 side events planned  during the 34 session of the Human Rights Council on the situation in Sri Lanka. The 34th session of the HRC will start on 27the February and end on 24th March.
Sri Lanka will be one of the case studies of the side event organised by the OHCHR on Transitional Justice.
There are three African organisations who have booked rooms for side events on Sri Lanka. Those are Tourner la Page and Association of World Citizens; or on three established “African” organisations focusing on Sri Lanka (or South Asia): Association Solidarite Internationale pour l’Afrique; International Association for Democracy in Africa and Society for Development and Community Empowerment.
Many Tamil diaspora groups want to establish that the HRC resolution 30/1 has failed and to demand that Sri Lanka be  referred to the International Criminal Court. They want UNHRC process on Sri Lanka to end  and UN General Assembly to take over and to refer Sri Lanka to ICC. A few INGOs too may likely to support that position although such a eventuality is highly unlikely.

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN and Other International Organizations in Geneva has now made a public invitation  to a  briefing on  ‘Developments in Sri Lanka’. This side event will be held on  Wednesday, 1 March 2017 form  1500 to 1600 hrs at the  Room XXI of  the Palais des Nations.
Leading civil society figures of the Consultation Task Force established by the Prime Minister will arrive in Geneva in the coming days to engage in human rights advocacy. Some of them accompanied the TNA spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran to Geneva last week in order to lobby diplomatic missions re the Sri Lanka situation.
It is estimated that more than two dozen activists and politicians from Sri Lanka will attend the HRC 34 session.
The draft time table issued by the OHCHR: HRC34-1st draft NGO side events calendar

Army spies arrested over Lasantha Wickrematunge murder

Five arrested military intelligence officers are suspected of killing prominent anti-establishment newspaper editor.

Lasantha Wickrematunge was the chief editor of the Sunday Leader [File: Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP]
Lasantha Wickrematunge was the chief editor of the Sunday Leader [File: Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP]
President retracts his illegal order not to arrest criminals of the Navy amidst lawful pressures !

20 Feb 2017
Sri Lankan police have arrested five military intelligence officers on suspicion of killing a well-known anti-establishment newspaper editor and orchestrating attacks on other journalists and dissidents under the former regime, according to a legal source.
Lasantha Wickrematunge, a sharp critic of former President Mahinda Rajapakse, was assasinated by unidentified gunmen while driving to work in the capital Colombo in January 2009.
His killing sparked an international outcry and shone a spotlight on violence against members of the press in Sri Lanka.
The source involved with the investigation said on Monday that the five men were taken into custody over the weekend - initially over the May 2008 abduction of journalist Keith Noyahr, who had criticised military leaders.
"Detectives have found evidence to show that the group which abducted Noyahr was also involved in the assassination of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and several other attacks," the source told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
Detectives told a magistrate on Sunday that the five accused had operated a military death squad led by a top defence official who has not yet been named.
More senior people are likely to be arrested in the coming months, the source said.

Reaction to arrests

Free Media Movement, a rights group, gave a cautious welcome to the arrests, urging the government to ensure an independent investigation into the allegations and resist "undue influence" from the powerful military.
President Maithripala Sirisena has publicly criticised police for holding military suspects for long periods, and another group of army intelligence officers arrested in 2015 over the abduction of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda was later given bail and reinstated.
Rajapakse, the former president, and several members of his family are under investigation for large-scale financial fraud and murder during his 10 years as president, in which 17 journalists and media workers were killed.
All deny any wrongdoing and in turn accuse the new government of a political vendetta.
Wickrematunge, an investigative journalist who wrote about corruption, had accused Rajapakse's defence secretary and brother Gotabhaya of taking kickbacks in arms purchases, and was due to testify in court when he was killed.
He was attacked with sharp objects by a group of men on motorcycles who blocked his vehicle.
Wickrematunge's remains were exhumed in September under a court order after police investigators sought permission for a new examination due to contradictory medical and post mortem examination reports..
A retired army intelligence officer was found hanged at his home in October with a note claiming responsibility for the journalist's death.
But police have said they do not believe the claim and are treating the officer's death as a murder.

Maj. Gen. Karunasekara summoned to CID! 

Maj. Gen. Karunasekara summoned to CID!
- Feb 21, 2017

The CID has summoned Amal Karunasekara, then a colonel and Army intelligence chief and now a retired major general, in the coming days to record a statement, as the next step in its investigation into the abduction, detention and assault of ‘The Nation’ co-editor Keith Noyarh in May 2008.

The retired officer has been summoned on the basis of the revelations made by the Army intelligence officers presently in remand custody over their role in the incident. Soon after Noyarh was abducted, Maj. Bulathwatte, who had led the abductors, informed Karunasekara about the incident. Karunasekara in turn informed the then national intelligence chief Kapila Hendavitharana, who notified the then defence secretary Nandasena G. Rajapaksa, it has come to light by the analysis of telephone conversation data. Gota directly spoke to Bulathwatte and gave him instructions.
On the attorney general’s department advice, the CID has nicely build up the circumstantial evidence, which is adequate to arrest the ex-defence secretary without a warrant, but it could not happen due to yet another political deal, lawyers say. Gota is doing his best to prevent his arrest, say sources close to him.
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IUSF ‘s face of terror unmasked ! 8 Peradeniya students abducted and tortured for not participating in anti SAITM protests ! -15 terrorizing students remanded


LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -21.Feb.2017, 9.15AM) 15 raggers  of the  Inter University students federation (IUSF) were arrested by the Peradeniya police when they conducted a raid on a house. This group had held  8 freshers of the Peradeniya university captive for a whole night in a rented house after abducting the victims from  the Peradeniya University premises  , and while they were being tortured by the raggers , the police had been able to arrest the suspects ,who were remanded  until the 2 nd of March after being produced before Kandy additional magistrate Rangani Gamage .
Because these  8 freshers had not participated in the protests staged against SAITM , they were subjected to this  torment and torture  by the raggers.
The victims of the torture are students of Peradeniya University agriculture faculty , and the raggers are supposed to be second year students , but according to the police there could be outsiders too  in that terror group. Hence a certificate has been requested from the University  to confirm that the suspects are University students in fact. 
The least number of students who attended the anti SAITM protest is of the agriculture faculty , and are first year students. 
Following a complaint made by the University administrator in charge of discipline to the police that the students  have been abducted , the Peradeniya police  conducted the raid on the house  at about 2.00 in the early hours of the morning yesterday. Even at that time the 8 victims were being tormented by the senior students of the IUSF .
This house situated at Hindagala Megoda, Kalugama , Peradeniya where this torture was being inflicted had been taken on rent for two months only. If a University student is to take a house for his lodging , that house should have been taken on rent for at least a period of one year .Therefore ,in this case this house has not been taken for that purpose , and it has been  exclusively used for the illegal ragging and torturing activities of the IUSF mafia , according to the Police.
The victims of ragging had been ruthlessly assaulted so much so that they  had to be  hospitalized. Two of the students are still in hospital taking treatment. 
Attempts are being made to camouflage  these  terror activities   , and describe those as  part of  ‘ragging’ of freshers , though  it is very evident it is not , and are actions  aimed at  taking revenge on the victims  because two months have already elapsed since the University opened . The  police sources also revealed ,the victims who suffered at the hands of the seniors are scared to  disclose  the truth  to the police . 
On the same day  , two girl students had been made to kneel down and forced  to march on their knees , as a result of which their knees have sustained injuries .The students or their parents have not lodged a complaint with the police out of fear.
Meanwhile , Lanka e news reported a day ago that the   students too while learning in the University are also  being taught how to make a fast buck via  venal and sordid activities at this young age itself , by payments being made to each student who gets remanded at the rate of Rs. 100,000.00 to Rs. 200,000.000 . In addition , the convener of the IUSF is paid Rs. 1 million each time he gets himself remanded. 
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by     (2017-02-21 03:54:08)

FCID’s Unintended Consequences; Resulting In Bureaucratic Quagmire!


Colombo TelegraphBy Vishwamithra1984 –February 22, 2017

In a free society, the ‘vision thing’ is left to private individuals; civil servants are kept on a tight leash, because free people understand that a ‘visionary’ bureaucrat is a voracious one and that the grander the government…the poorer and less free the people.” ~Ilana Mercer
A lackluster, sluggish and thoroughly uncreative bureaucracy has been waiting for an excuse. And they got it- FCID. For the most inexcusable delay in getting things done, the Sri Lankan bureaucracy which was merely a ready, willing and handy and convenient tool in the hands of politicians in the standard (or sub-standard) of the last regime of the Rajapaksa’s, has become one of the most powerful yet caustic and encumbering forces in the present government, not as a positive driver of policies, nor as an exemplary force in government administration upon which hundreds of thousands of general masses depend, but as an authoritative, negative force in obstructing the general movement of businesses directly or vicariously related to government.
As per Wikipedia, ‘Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) is the law enforcement agency of the Sri Lankan government. It is tasked within Sri Lanka for financial crime investigations and law enforcement; it is a subsidiary agency of Sri Lanka Police Service’.
Apart from drilling fear and shame into the minds of corrupt politicians, FCID has also been responsible for creating a very apathetic and negative sensation in the present crop of civil servants, if we can call them such, a crop of bureaucrats that is primarily accountable for the circulation of a narrative that the current government led by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is gipped with its own ineria of impotence and not capable of getting ‘things done’. However, it must be mentioned here that major part of the blame surely belongs in the laps of the Cabinet of Ministers too. While not making an iota of excuse for the political machinery of the current government, a more severe part of the blame must go to the officials who are charged with the actual execution of the jobs. Not that the last regime of the Rajapaksas had a more solid and energetic set of bureaucrats. They had this same lot. But what was absent from that past regime is what is embedded within the concept of ‘Yahapalanaya’, good governance. Here again, I must say that there isn’t any tangible evidence of Yahapalanaya to write home about.
Instead of beginning the day with a positive mindset- discovering an excuse to win, finding an excuse how to do the job, our civil servants are apparently bogged down in a pit of unwillingness to learn how to do a job! They are not here to solve issues relating to atomic research, nor are they engaged in rocket science, though some in the Ministry of Science and Technology may be. But as a vast majority of our present bureaucracy has not realized the truism that if you fail, never mind, do it again and again and again until you get it right and moving. Every man’s lifelong ambition is an expression of that eternal yearning, find an excuse to excel.
But in what context is this excellence needs to be attained? Whether the context is positive or negative, the action taken within that context has to be shaped and molded to produce positive results. No SLAS seminar or workshop would teach that primary mindset of an officer who needs to have to execute a job. If all they have is what they have inherited from their parents, teachers, friends and associates, then the game is lost, the whole enchilada is rotten and uneatable. The professional training would lend one the objective material in order to do a job; it may lend the training how to proceed from A to B in a given context. But it would not lend the inner strength that one has to use to turn that training into results. What is missing from beneath the so-called efficient exterior is that inner strength, that creative mindset, that craving to exceed excellence. And that is indeed sad and tragic.
Keith Noyahr’s assailants should be brought to book - EDITORIAL

2017-02-21
Nine years later, in two separate incidents five army personnel were arrested during the past few days for the inhuman assault on former Daily Mirror  Deputy Editor and The Nation Newspaper  Associate Editor Keith Noyahr on May 11, 2008. This follows similar arrests of Army intelligence officers after the defeat of the former regime at the presidential election on January 8, 2015 for the brutal killing of former Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickramatunga, the disappearance of Lanka e-news journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda and the attempt on the life of former Divaina and Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon among others. 

Noyahr and Tennakoon are still living whereas Ekneligoda’s fate is still unknown. Hence, only the two of the four former senior journalists can throw some light as eyewitnesses in identifying the assailants, who had attacked them in case they are among those arrested. Tennakoon and his wife have already identified several of those arrested as being among those who attempted to kill him. Noyahr, who is domiciled in Australia is yet to identify any of his assailants whether they are among those arrested.   
When Ekneligoda went missing in 2009 many pointed fingers at an individual who was a minister in the previous regime as well as in the present. Breaking his silence after more than five years, even a former close buddy of that minister, after breaking ranks with him soon after the present government assumed office, called for an investigation into the fate of the web journalist for obvious reasons. But when the CID tracked several Army intelligence officers in connection with the case, the Opposition including that the former buddy of the said minister suddenly found the stripes of an LTTE cadre in the journalist. Some of those who accused the minister had also described the turn of events as a conspiracy against the war heroes who fought the LTTE in defence of the Motherland.   

Upali Tennakoon cannot be described as a LTTE sympathizer, just because he had identified security forces personnel who made an attempt on his life. Throughout his journalistic career, he has been a Sinhala nationalist and a strong adversary of separatist forces. Nobody can justify the assault on Tennakoon just because the suspects are Army personnel, who may have personally dedicated and sacrificed their youth in the battlefront. For than matter even Noyahr was also a respected journalist who had never sided with or sympathized with the LTTE or any other secessionist elements.   
There clearly seems to have been a far cry between the collective efforts of the security forces in fighting the separatist forces and some of the illegal actions of individual soldiers which had been carried out either for personal gains or on orders of higher ups with vested interest. During the well-known Chemmani case or Krishanthi Kumaraswamy rape and murder case nobody was able to justify the crime merely because the culprits were Army personnel with the entire country standing against them.   

Validating our point further, during the previous regime 12 STF personnel were arrested in connection with the famous “Trincomalee five case” or the cold blooded killing of five students on the Trincomalle beach on January 6, 2006. Besides, the leaders of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government said the service rendered by former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka in defeating the LTTE cannot be offset by his personal actions and he was cashiered without even his pension and his medals, when he politically challenged President Rajapaksa as the then common opposition’s presidential candidate.   
 Needless to say that the security forces including the police and the Civil Security Department must be respected and given the due credit for their unparalleled dedication and sacrifice during the war against the dreaded LTTE. However, those arrested for attacks on the journalists including former Daily Mirror Deputy Editor and The Nation Newspaper Associate Editor Keith Noyahr should be brought to book.

India will not press for merger of north, east Sri Lankan provinces: Jaishankar

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar. |AFP
By P.K.Balachandran-20th February 2017
COLOMBO: India will not be pressing Sri Lanka to merge the Northern and Eastern Provinces to form a single Tamil-majority, Tamil-speaking province as envisaged by the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, the Indian Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar told the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) here on Monday.
He was reacting to a demand made by the leader of the Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) Suresh Premachandran, that India should honor its promise to keep the North and East united. It had even said that it would not allow a referendum to be held on the issue. When the united province was de-merged in 2006 by a Supreme Court order, India did not protest saying that it was for the Sri Lankan government to appeal against the judgment. India had clearly lost interest in the issue. Its interests lay elsewhere in Sri Lanka.
Jaishankar told Premachandran that much water has flown down the bridge since 1987 and as the situation has changed it will be better for all concerned to make use of the various windows of opportunity which have opened up recently with the change of regime in Colombo and secure the rights of the Tamils.
He argued that it would not be wise to hold every other matter hostage to one issue - the merger of the North and East.
However, he added that India would not mind if the Tamils kept the issue alive and kept it on the table for talks with the Sri Lankan government.  
Premachandran had highlighted the issue of the merger of the North and East partly because it had been the main theme of the Ezhuga Tamil rally held recently in the Eastern town of Batticaloa. Premachandran is a key member of the Tamil Peoples’ Council which  organized the rally.
The merger of the North and East is considered important by the Eastern Tamils because it helps them face the Muslims who tend to dominate them economically and politically. If the East were to be merged with the North, the Tamils will be in an overwhelming majority and can run the province as per their wish, and also bargain with Colombo more effectively for more powers.
But the Muslims are opposed to the merger as their proportion would be reduced from 35 % to 12%. At any rate, successive Sri Lankan governments have been against a merger as they fear that a strengthened and united Tamil province will be in a better position to secede from Sri Lanka. It was to destroy the unification of the North and East wrought by the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 that some Sinhalese and Muslims, enjoying tacit government support, challenged the merger in the Supreme Court and got a favorable verdict in 2006.
Premachandran pointed out that India has a moral responsibility to ask the Sri Lankan government to re-merge the North and East as it is part of the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987. If the Accord is still valid, every part of it should be deemed to be equally valid and implemented, he argued.
He recalled that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had solemnly promised that the merger would remain and that the proposed referendum would not be held. He also recalled that the EPRLF had fully cooperated with India on the implementation of the Accord, and like the Indian Peace Keeping Force, had lost many men in the fight against the LTTE which opposed the Accord. India has a moral responsibility to keep its promise and persuade the Sri Lankan government  to re-merge the North and East, Premachandran said.
Court finds film activist guilty for showing Sri Lanka war documentary without approval


Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
BY KAMLES KUMAR-Tuesday February 21, 2017
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — Activist Lena Hendry has been found guilty by the Magistrate Court today for allegedly screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war without the approval of the Censorship Board.
Magistrate Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris found the Pusat Komas programme manager guilty of censorship charges after the defence failed to prove reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case.
He did not hand out any sentence after Hendry’s lawyer New Sin Yew requested for a written submission to be handed in.
“He found her guilty but he has fixed sentencing for another day. He wants a written submission by first of March,” New told reporters after the case today.
New added if convicted, Hendry would face up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000, under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act, 2002.
Mohd Rezan also set March 22 for the next hearing and for the sentencing to be done. The prosecution was represented by Nor Akma Farhan Aziz.
Hendry meanwhile said she was disheartened by the decision and said it was done without any proper evidence against her.
“I’m very disappointed, I don’t think so there was any proof. The conviction was based on the lawyer’s allegations,” she said adding that her legal team would be filing for an appeal.
The High Court in September last year reversed the acquittal of Hendry, who was charged in September 2013 under the Film Censorship Act 2002 for screening No Fire Zone without approval from the Censorship Board, and ordered her to enter her defence.
She was alleged to have screened the documentary without authorities permission at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce Hall on July 3, 2013 at 9pm. 

China's 'New Silk Road' Is Derailed In Sri Lanka By Political Chaos And Violent Protests

TOPSHOT - Sri Lankan police tryo to hold back demonstrators during a protest against the proposed sale of a stake in a loss-making port to a Chinese company in Colombo on February 1, 2017.Protesters led by the leftist Peoples Liberation Front, are opposing plans to sell an 80 percent stake in the $1.4 billion deep sea port of Hambantota to China Merchants Port Holdings Company. Image: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images.
It was supposed to be a great new catalyst of transportation, manufacturing, and trade that would be used to stimulate growth in Sri Lanka’s remote Hambantota district. The dream was for Sri Lanka, China, and other nations to join together in the building of a new international city that would rise up from the southern jungles that could complement booming Colombo, a 250 kilometer driver to the northwest. Instead, Sri Lanka found itself with an array of cash-hemorrhaging, half-developed infrastructure projects that are on the verge of becoming white elephantslarge amounts of international debt, and a highly unstable political and social social situation.
It is now looking as if Sri Lanka's biggest partner in the Hambantota endeavor, China, is pulling back from what seems to have become an all out fiasco. While a deal was supposed to be formally signed on January 7th that would have seen China take over an 80% share of the struggling Hambantota port for 99 years in exchange for $1.1 billion of much needed debt relief, this agreement has now been put on indefinite hold due to internal political strife and violent public demonstrations.
Sri Lanka began building this strategically-located deep sea port in 2008 with over $300 million in Chinese loans, which the country has subsequently struggled to repay. This was partly due to the poor economic performance of the port itself, which was originally intended to be run in tandem with a nearby industrial zone. However, this part of the project was never built.
Prevailing logic states that a bulk cargo port without a corresponding industrial zone is like a bicycle with one wheel — it just doesn’t go. So regardless of how much development occurred on the port itself, the bulk of maritime traffic would continue passing it by for lack of a reason to go there — i.e. a manufacturing area where they could drop off and pick up raw materials and other cargo.
The Chinese takeover of the Hambantota port and 15,000 acres of land for the accompanying industrial zone was meant to be a way for the project to be taken to fruition amid Sri Lanka’s dire financial situation. Instead, the country erupted in protest and political controversy.
In January, as news of the impending transfer of 80% of the Hambantota port to the China Merchants shipping company became known locally and speculation that villages and farms would be requisitioned to build the industrial zone became rife, violent protests broke out in the region. The melee brought the issue to the national forefront, and trade unions and some opposition politicians led by Mahinda Rajapaksa — Sri Lanka’s former president who originally began the Hambantota development — began making things very difficult for these deals to actually happen. Eventually, a lawsuit intending to stop the impending debt-for-equity transfer was filed by a Sri Lankan legislator against the current government.
Sri Lanka responded to the heat by delaying the signing of the port and industrial zone deals, much to the chagrin of China, who had previously promised to invest $5 billion in the Hambantota area within the next five years.
China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang, claims that while President Xi Jinping and himself are prepared to exercise patience with Sri Lanka, investors may not be so accommodating. According to the ambassador, he had already rounded up over ten big Chinese companies who would be willing to invest $3-5 billion in Hambantota over the next two or three years, if it wasn’t for the political strife on the ground.