Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Taking Igbo out of Nigerian bondage

What Igbo people want is to leave Nigeria

by Osita Ebiem-
( March 21, 2017, New York City, Sri Lanka Guardian) On the 29th of May 1966 the Igbo irreversibly renounced their colonially imposed Nigerian citizenship. That date marks the official beginning of the 1966 Pogrom of Igbo people in Nigeria. So, it goes without saying that what the Igbo want is to cut clear and exist sovereignly, politically and territorially independent of the Nigerian state.

Sri Lankan Government Fails on Promises – Oakland Institute

The following press communique issued by the Oakland Institute
(March 21, 2017, Boston, Sri Lanka Guardian) As the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meets to discuss transitional justice and human rights in post-war Sri Lanka, a new report from the Oakland Institute, Justice Denied, exposes the many issues that continue to plague land release and resettlement in the country, and the failure of the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its international commitments to transitional justice. The Sri Lankan military continues to occupy large quantities of land; land released by the government is often of poor quality, hindering the ability of many to rebuild their livelihoods; there is a vast and unmet need for housing and infrastructure for those displaced during the civil war; and ever-changing timelines for resettlement have bred mistrust in the government.
Although the war ended in 2009, the country’s military budget has more than doubled since then, raising serious doubt about the government’s intent to demilitarize the North and East. “It has been nearly eight years since the end of the civil war, but tens of thousands remain displaced in the country and there are still over 100,000 Tamil refugees in India,” commented Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.
“In these conditions, it is appalling that the military continues to occupy land for army camps and to run business ventures and luxury tourist resorts in the North and East.” Justice Denied also examines the actions of the Sri Lankan government over the past 16 months to fulfill its commitments to transitional justice made under UNHRC Resolution 30/1.
The Resolution was an attempt to initiate a process that would bring justice for war crimes – including numerous alleged cases of rape, torture, kidnapping, and the mass killing of civilians, prisoners, and relief workers – that have gone unpunished and unaddressed by the justice system. It also addressed the issue of the tens of thousands of civilians who remain unaccounted for or missing years after the end of the war. “This examination paints a dismal picture of justice denied and highlights the culture of impunity in the country. The government has back-tracked on its promise to include international legal experts in a war crimes court, and even threatened with legal action anyone alleging war crimes by the military. Meanwhile, the Prevention of Terrorism Act is still in force,” continued Mittal. “This is not progress towards transitional justice. The attitude of the Sirisena administration makes a mockery of its international commitments. It is imperative that the international community hold the Sri Lankan government accountable to ensure that justice is delivered.”
Justice Denied is the Oakland Institute’s fourth report examining land issues and human rights abuses in post-war Sri Lanka.
Full report reproduced below;

We demand justice mechanism with international judges - Tamils protest across North-East

21 Mar  2017
Protests were held in various locations across the North-East last Thursday demanding a justice mechanism with international judges.
Organised by North-East Coordinating Committee, Tamils, including victims and the families of the disappeared, called for international involvement in accountability as well as calling on Sri Lanka to move on pressing issues such as demilitarisation and the issue of the disappeared.
Protestors in Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Mannar handed over an open appeal to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to participants of the 34th Human Rights Council Session.

Read More

Yet another imaginative proposal to privilege the police

Sunday, March 19, 2017
The Sunday Times Sri LankaThe tortuous dance of some in Government to ensure that a suspect in police custody is not allowed legal counsel at the earliest opportunity is indeed painful to observe. The latest amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act suggested by the Ministry of Justice reflects this reluctance exceedingly well. Now, instead of the earlier harebrained proposal that the access to legal counsel can be given to a suspect only after police interrogations are concluded, we have another equally imaginative proposal.
Better to retain the status quo

This amendment issued earlier this month in the form of a Bill, states in one of its sub-clausesthat an attorney-at-law shall, if he so, requests, be allowed to have access to the person in custody, ‘unless such access is prejudicial to the investigation being conducted.’ I can only marvel at the sheer disingenuousness of this proposal. Even in the context of reforms of laws pertaining to civil liberties traditionally being reduced to a game to give rights with one hand and take away with the other, this particular clause is manifestly beyond the pale.
For the question that arises is immediate and glaring. Who determines the fact of legal counsel being ‘prejudicial to the investigation being conducted’ in order to decide whether to afford this basic right or not? The simple answer to that would be, the police itself, of course. So what flows from the right to counsel being subject to such a preposterous condition?
Effectively the suspect would be in no better condition that if he or she did not have that right available under the law.Indeed, if there is any serious possibility of this passing through the House, it is far better not to have this amendment at all and to retain the status quo as it is.
Discarding of that judicious balancing of interests

This is quite as bad as that other wonderful idea urged by a former police spokesman taking great pride in his badge of honour as an attorney-at-law who suggested blandly in a recent television interview that if legal counsel is afforded to suspects at the point of arrest, then confessions made by suspects to police officers must also be admissible.
The fact that the entire weight of Sri Lanka’s criminal procedure jurisprudence since independence had stood stoutly against the very notion, in general circumstances, of confessions being admissible not only to police officers but also to any person standing in a position of authority was airily relegated to the background. It was of no consequence that these principles had been developed by judges of stern mettle who judiciously balanced the interests of law enforcement with civil liberties and made sure that neither suffered in the result.
But waving these aside with a quick brush of the hand, our garrulous representative of the police force could only proclaim pompously that ‘well, they want counsel and if so, we should have our confessions since lawyers are representing them.’ These are the absurd depths of discussions on national television with the news anchors gaping foolishly.
Entrenched in the same State power mindset

In fact, the displacing of liberty protections in the ordinary law by anti-terrorism statutes institutionalising the use of torture is unquestionably the greatest tragedy to visit Sri Lanka’s legal system. From a difficult weighing of the scales even in the face of civil conflict soon after independence, we toppled down the authoritarian precipice.
State officers were given free rein to do whatever they wished with terrified suspects for whom the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty meant nothing in effect.That mindset has been reinforced by certain prosecutors who, despite whatever government in power, firmly believe in the ideology of State power and State ability to brutalise human beings and not be accountable.
This is in line with the cynical thinking that the ‘greater good’ is served even if innocents are killed by the State. And this is precisely why, despite the ending of active conflict and a new Government coming into power, we remain firmly entrenched in that same old mindset.
The ‘soft soap’ of the amendment Bill

Other sub-clauses of the March Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill state that lawyers shallbe entitled to have access to the police station in which the suspect is being held to meet the officer incharge (OIC). Problematically here also the right is stipulated as not allowed to affect theinvestigations that may be conducted.
The Amendment Bill also replicates practices already in place on intervention by the Supreme Court. Thus, a lawyer is to be permitted entry into the police station, to be treated ‘cordially and courteously’(is there a difference pray, between the two?) and ‘be given a fair and patient hearing’ by police officers. Further, such lawyer may ascertain from the officer in charge, relevant details regarding the offence in issue and ancillary information, provided that this does not ‘adversely affectthe conduct of further investigationsand the interests of justice.’
But that is all ‘soft soap’ as that pithy idiom puts it. If that clause of this Criminal Procedure Code amendment giving authority to the OIC of the police stations to decide if legal counsel should be allowed or not is retained, the rest of the amendment will be reduced to mere rhetoric. For that regression will veritably eat away at everything else.
A relentless rolling back of civil liberties

And the point is that we are not talking of rights in the abstract here. Let us be quite clear on that. Sri Lanka has an endemic problem of torture, used as the commonest law enforcement method of interrogation. Those practices are inflicted on hapless victims from the North to the South at the very earliest point of arrest as countless studies have shown.
This has been heightened by the lack of effective magisterial intervention, the inadequacy of proper medical examinations and the collusion of prisons officials who, in the traditional meaning of the term, was supposed to ensure that ’fiscal custody’ would provide a safe haven for suspects. Longer arrest periods have changed all that. Relentlessly, all our normal civil liberties protections have been rolled back.
That is the core problem which has to be tackled, not through trainings for police officers (again, more of the ‘soft soap’) but through firm legal safeguards that exist as a matter of right in every developed jurisdiction.

It is quite a simple issue really.

Reflections On Governance, Politics Of The Bourgeoisie & The Role Of Progressives In 2007

Colombo Telegraph
By Siri Gamage –March 21, 2017
Dr. Siri Gamage
Kumar David’s article (Colombo Telegraph, 01.01.2017) reflecting on events in 2016 points to some of the global challenges facing us in 2017 and the need for the left to unite if we are to avoid returning to the ghosts of the past. This is a message – though not unfamiliar in the annals of Sri Lanka’s political history – which we need to take seriously in 2017. Constitutional discussions and any moves made by the government to devolve further powers to the provinces (justifying the claims of nationalist political forces) have the potential to derail the whole process and even the very existence of the SLFP-UNP national government unless handled very carefully. The lack of a vibrant popular discourse and a popularly understood vision and justification about the need for constitutional reform can haunt those leading the process if it hits a snag without being able to muster the necessary votes in the nation’s parliament.
Given the manner that the joint opposition has evolved to be a significant political force within and outside the parliament, reducing public confidence in the government due to factors including the manner it has handled corruption cases, big government and expensive lifestyles of the ruling class in a context of severe foreign debt, cost of living pressures, planned alienation of large tracts of land to a Chinese company in Hambantota – it is highly likely that there can be defections from the governing coalition to the joint opposition in 2017. This may happen before, during, or after the local government elections. Nonetheless, it will take another year or so for such defections to make a real impact on the ability for Sirisena- Wickremesinghe government to govern effectively. It is also possible for defections to occur the other way at a smaller scale. i.e. from joint opposition to the government.
What is important to notice is that the joint opposition is building its political platform again as the protectors of the nation, its territorial boundaries, Buddhism, and Sinhala people’s rights. This is a platform that resonates with rural masses and middle to lower class urban Sinhalese in the South Western belt, Central and North-Central provinces, Sabaragamuwa etc. Irrespective of corruption charges against his family, as they have not been proven via a credible legal process thus far, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is actively rebuilding his profile and popular persona travelling around the country and abroad. His constituency in the Sinhalese heartland is likely to accept symbolism couched in nationalist language plus raw emotions and pardon him for any past mistakes when the time comes.
In the meantime, ruling politicians from both major parties seem to have settled into their ministerial and other roles comfortably oblivious to this evolving trend in the mistaken belief that the public at large is still with them, and they can hold legitimate power until the next elections. Until then their main focus seems to be to govern the country’s affairs with the help of local and foreign technocrats and bureaucrats. This is visible largely in the economic arena.
It appears that no leader in the present government seems to be able to generate a national following in the majority Sinhala constituency or the minority Tamil- Muslim constituencies either in terms of a single issue of national significance or a set of such issues. They seem to govern almost by default. If they wanted to organise a national discourse that has resonance among Sinhala Buddhists and others, they would have used the language, critique, issues, and constructive suggestions, espoused by the late Maduluwave Sobhita Thera. But those associated with the organisation Rev. Sobhita led are leveling charges against the government for abandoning the principles that he espoused.
How do we understand this conundrum? How do we understand the need for the left and/or progressives to unite? Whatever the claims and justifications pronounced by the nation’s leaders, the current alliance between the SLFP and the UNP is to be understood as ‘a marriage of convenience’ of the bourgeoisie elements of the ruling class. Beyond that there is no overarching vision, discourse, language, symbols, or images that bind those with loyalty to the present government or even unify them. Some from the educated literati seem to understand the importance of maintaining loyalty to the present government due to the manner it came to power two years ago and by comparison to the threats people faced in their civic life at the time including in human rights arena. But they seem to be a minority. A government formed by a bourgeoisie consensus engineered by Chandrika-Sirisena-Wickremesinghe troika with the technocratic layers and other petty bourgeoisie elements from the capital city and provinces devoid of a powerful and easily understood discourse and vision for the future of the country with a potential to generate a mass following – is destined to unscramble by its own actions or inactions giving the political and moral advantage to the joint opposition in coming years. When or if it happens, it will be too late to address the consequences or indeed the causes of such an event.
The main political, economic, and social forces behind the government that I describe as bourgeoisie (capitalist) can be understood by the terminology of a ruling class. Political leaders are joined by mega capitalists to achieve economic returns from their activities that require government sanctioning. In the absence of a true Yahapalanaya, curtailment of privileges afforded to the ruling class, prosecution and punishment to those who embezzled public money in the previous government, what the average citizen sees is only the replacement of one set of politicians in place of another. In the eyes of the average citizen, the government and the ruling class seem to have lost their legitimacy already – though they may enjoy ‘formal power’ for another few years. It is no surprise that the bourgeoisie come together to achieve economic and other benefits under any government. What is surprising is the inability of the left or progressives to come together for a common cause, vision, and a political platform as Kumar David has alluded to. David has followed up with further articles on this subject in Colombo Telegraph (e.g. CT March 19, 2017).
Common Platform for the left and progressives
What should be the defining features of their political platform? Around which issues should they come together? Here I identify several of these issues that can form the basis for a common political platform.


Image: Members of a Sri Lankan civil society organisation participate in a candlelight in memory of the slain editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper Lasantha Wickrematunga, in Colombo on January 15, 2009. The editor of Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader newspaper, Lasantha Wickrematunga, was gunned down just outside the capital on January 8, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI.
Sri Lanka Brief21/03/2017

It is now over two months since the constitutional reform process effectively went into abeyance, with the indefinite postponement in January of the submission of the Steering Committee’s Interim Report to the Constitutional Assembly for debate. Substantial work was undertaken during 2015, including the work of the Public Representations Committee, the Subcommittees of the Constitutional Assembly, and the Steering Committee. But the fact that there has been no progress at all on constitutional reform during the first quarter of 2017 is now cause for increasing anxiety.
Constitutional reform was the central rationale for both the change of government and the formation of a government of national unity in 2015. The current distribution of parliamentary representation is also one of the most propitious for building the political consensus necessary for long-needed constitutional reforms. For both these reasons, dissipating – the still available but fast diminishing – window of opportunity for constitutional reform would be a mistake of historic proportions. If it is missed, then it is unlikely we would get another for at least a generation: to reduce executive dominance and centralisation, to enhance the role of parliament, to strengthen constitutional rights and freedoms, and to ensure both devolution to the periphery and power-sharing at the centre.
These reforms are badly needed to ensure democracy, constitutional government, and reconciliation, and to re-lay the foundations for a strong, stable, united, and peaceful Sri Lanka. It is clear that these basic reforms require a new constitution. Piecemeal reforms would be wholly inadequate. A new constitution requires a referendum – which must be won by the government for its own survival –  and this in turn underscores the scale of the project.
We do not assume constitutional reform is an easy task. Even with the cooperation of all and the best will in the world, constitution-making involves the negotiation of difficult questions and disagreements. It would seem therefore that efforts must be redoubled towards restarting the deliberations in the Constitutional Assembly process. The President and Prime Minister must give decisive leadership to this process. As the first step, they must ensure completion of the Interim Report, which should set out the general principles that would guide the drafting of the new constitution. Once this is debated and approved by the Constitutional Assembly, the painstaking task of drafting a Constitution Bill can begin.
Alongside the recommencement of the official process, there are a number of matters to which the government must urgently address itself. The most important task is to develop and implement a strategy of political communication on constitutional reforms. It is abundantly clear that a vast section of the Sri Lankan public has no awareness of what is transpiring in respect of constitutional reform. It is unclear to what extent even elected politicians beyond those directly involved are aware of what is going on. This generates public apathy and allows anti-reform forces to control the political narrative. It is alarmingly clear that these forces are re-grouping, and if they are allowed to succeed, they would hold back the social, political, economic, and constitutional progress of our country for decades. The government must act fast to regain the initiative in this regard and ensure conducive conditions for the constitutional referendum to come.
The President and Prime Minister must work together to ensure that their respective parties are fully behind the government’s programme, and that all members of the government speak with one voice on constitutional reform. They must act as a government of national unity at least until the historic purpose of delivering a new constitution is achieved. Civil society supported the electoral changes of 2015 on the premise that a government of national unity would ensure the constitutional reforms outlined above. We remain committed to supporting a process for a new constitution. However, it is now time for the President and the Prime Minister to infuse a sense of purpose, direction, and urgency to this task.
Download this release, with full list of signatories, in EnglishSinhala and Tamil.

Malaysia’s censorship of Sri Lankan civil war documentary

Malaysia’s censorship of Sri Lankan civil war documentary
- Mar 21, 2017

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) condemn human rights defender Lena Hendry’s conviction on appeal of violating Malaysia’s censorship legislation by organizing a public screening in Kuala Lumpur in 2013 of a film about the Sri Lankan civil war.

She is due to be sentenced tomorrow following a hearing last month at which she was convicted under article 6 (1) (b) of the 2002 Film Censorship Act of screening British journalist Callum Macrae’s documentary “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” without the Malaysian Censorship Board’s approval.

The law provides for a possible three-year jail sentence and a fine of 30,000 ringgits (4,000 euros).
The public screening that Hendry organized on 3 July 2013 was interrupted by police, who arrested her and two other activists. Unlike Hendry, the other two activists were released without being charged.
Hendry was acquitted at the original trial before a Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court on 10 March 2016 but the prosecution appealed. During the hearing, the defence submitted several documents indicating that the Sri Lankan government put political pressure on the Malaysian authorities to prosecute Hendry.
“As the lawyers for the defence showed, Lena Hendry’s conviction was a political reprisal,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.“Instead of encouraging the screening of a key documentary about the civil war in Sri Lanka, in which thousands of civilians lost their lives, the Malaysian authorities let themselves be pressured by the Sri Lankan government into censoring a subject of public interest and punishing those who made it available to the public.”
Ismaïl added: “We urge the judicial authorities to quash Hendry’s conviction, which constitutes a grave violating of her fundamental rights – the right to inform and the right to free speech.”
Since its release in 2013, “No Fire Zone” has been screened in Europe, the Americas and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region without any form of censorship. It was even screened subsequently in Kuala Lumpur during an International Anti-Corruption Conference in 2015 and a special screening was organized for Malaysian parliamentarians and civil society members.
“Citizens throughout the world who seek the truth must support Lena Hendry and call on the Malaysian authorities to put an end to this political witch-hunt,” JDS coordinator Bashana Abeywardane said.
“By convicting Hendry, the Malaysian authorities are dealing a severe blow to freedom of expression and the right of access to information, as well as covering up the truth about the major atrocities by the Sri Lankan security forces against Tamils during the civil war.”
RSF and JDS also call for the repeal of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Act, which ­criminalizes the right to inform and thereby promotes self-censorship and grants inordinate powers to the Censorship Board, a regulatory body created by the act that is under the government’s full control.
Malaysia is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

Name Dropping Argument

by Laksiri Fernando- 
( March 21, 2017, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) From the very first sentence of his confused response to my article “A Ray of Hope from Australia: Lessons for Sri Lanka,” Vinod Munesinghe today (The Island, 21 March 2017) has revealed his ideological orientation of ‘servitude to political regimes’ and ‘xenophobic nationalism’ which are regrettably unhealthy, in my opinion, for a democratic political culture in Sri Lanka.
He says, “Perhaps symptomatic of the extent to which the Yahapalanaya regime has failed to fulfil its promises is that its supporters [Laksiri Fernando] among the intelligentsia are now distancing themselves from it.”
Servile Orientation
He is at least surprised in his ‘servile orientation’ to political regimes that I am critical of the present regime although supported political change in January 2015! He should know that my first critical article of the present regime came in May 2015 on the bond issue (“Cabral is no excuse for Mahendran,” Colombo Telegraph, 23 May 2015).
Let me raise another similar point. It is well known that I did support Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 2010 elections. Does that mean that I should have continuously supported MR or his regime? That is what he implies. This is what I mean by ‘servile thinking’ inimical to democracy. People should be able to take independent positions, at times taking unequivocal political decisions.
He repeats six times an unfounded accusation against me that “One of the principal reasons why intellectuals such as Fernando, who were associated with the international non-governmental organisation (INGO) sector, threw themselves so heartily into the Yahapalana camp.” These are cheap propaganda with political motives. It is a common tactic to call NGO names to discredit people. Didn’t Mahinda Rajapaksa once accused Dayan Jayatilleka also working on a NGO agenda?
As a matter of fact, I have never been associated with NGOs in Sri Lanka or INGOs, although I have worked as a professional (Secretary for Asia-Pacific) for the World University Service (WUS) in Geneva during 1984-1991. WUS was an international association of academics all over the world, although sometimes called a NGO. There were so many different Sri Lankan academics who were associated with WUS and I don’t want to mention their names unnecessarily.
Moreover, I don’t see anything wrong in anyone associating with NGOs or INGOs as far as they represent the national or the international civil society. One can be supportive or critical of them, depending on the issues and their activities. Therefore, I do consider the point-blank opposition to NGOs or INGOs as an anti-democratic trend and part of ‘insular/extremist nationalist policies’ whether it is from the Joint Opposition or others.
Our Bunyips!  
Drawing of a Bunyip in 1890
I was amused to hear about Moonesinghe’s interpretation of ‘Bunyip’ Aristocracy in Australia! He says “Far from being nationalist, the right wing of the Australian political spectrum is the remnant of the Bunyip Aristocracy, which fought tooth and nail against separation from Britain – only achieved in 1986.”
There is/was no such a real Aristocracy in Australia. It was a term coined in 1853 by Daniel Deniehy to ridicule those who pretended that they were of aristocratic ancestry. It is an indigenous name for a mythical creature. There can be similar pretence in Sri Lanka. I really don’t know whether Moonesighe likes to consider some of the people in the Joint Opposition (at the top) as Bunyips, because they are also pretending. Only difference being that the Australian Bunyips pretended to be linked to the British aristocracy and our Bunyips pretend to be linked to ancient royals or ‘radalayas.’ Take for example, the bizarre song “Ayubowewa Maha Rajaneni” by Saheli Gamage, otherwise sung in a sweet voice. This is axiomatic of our Bunyips.
The right wing in Australia, when we refer to them in political terms, is based mainly on ideology and policies. The National Party is such a party traditionally representing the regional interests and conservative politics. Their policies on migration (particularly Asian), ethnic minorities and multiculturalism are both right wing and nationalist. However, when compared to the ‘Australia First’ or ‘One Nation’ of Pauline Hansen, they appear to be quite ‘soft.’ To Moonesighe, the right wing is not nationalist; just aristocrats. Is it the same in Sri Lanka? According to him, even Paulin Hansen is not an extremist nationalist, but a Bunyip aristocrat. The main political banner of Hansen today is against Muslims and Islam.
Extremist Views    
Let me set aside his slight that “Fernando… is not quite au fait with the politics of his chosen domicile.” But his attempt to say, apart from Bunyian business, that Australia achieved independence or separation only in 1986 is spurious. Yes, there were past links (still are) and technically there were possibilities for the UK to legislate for Australia or an appeal from Australia to go to a British Court. But those were not in operation. They were formally terminated through the Australia Act 1986.
However, to argue that Australia didn’t have independence until 1986 is quite an extreme point of view. It is like arguing that Sri Lanka only achieved independence in November 1971, after the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council, or in 1972 with the New Republican Constitution. I am sure Moonesighe’s line of argument is in that direction which I call ‘insular/extremist nationalism.’ At the next turn, he might even suggest to readjust Sri Lanka’s independence-day. These are unnecessary political arguments to confuse people and arouse nationalist emotions. Any drive for independence of any country takes different steps and stages.
Name Dropping
What a load of name dropping that Moonesinghe has unleashed to painfully argue that I have equated ‘anti-colonial struggles’ with ‘far-right racism.’ That is his own imagination and not mine. I am not sure whether he was even born when I wrote “Jathika Viyaparaya, Viyavastha Vardenaya and Vamansika Viyaparaye Upatha” (Nationalist Movement, Constitutional Development and Origins of the Left Movement) in 1974. But to me, anti-colonial struggle is not an ethno-nationalist struggle, Sinhala or Tamil, in the case of Sri Lanka.
To come back to his name dropping, he talks about Louis Farrakhan, Frantz Fanon, George Padmore, Steve Biko, Marshal Tito and then comes to Sirimavo Bandaranaike and to Anagarika Dharmapala. He goes around countries like America, South Africa, Kenya, Vietnam, Palestine, Czechoslovakia, Uganda, Serbia, and India in a confused virtual sojourn in responding to simple and direct article. When he comes to Sri Lanka, the following is what he says.
Dangerous Pronouncements
To quote him: “The British Empire used Sri Lanka as something of a test-tube in this [sic]: before settling on the Burghers, North-East Tamils and the Muslims, they experimented, with little success, with introducing classes of Chinese and Thanjavur Christian landholders into the mix.”
What a nonsense of historical garbage? It is well accepted that the British used ‘divided and rule’ strategies to keep the colonial people under subjugation. This is accepted by their own historians. But the claim that the ‘Burghers, North-East Tamils and the Muslims’ were settled in this country by the British is not only nonsense, but also dangerous in terms of politics. He has not quoted any historical source.
I would like to ask whether the Joint Opposition subscribes to these views.
This kind of a theory could lead to xenophobic nationalism, ethnic cleansing and already has clear traits of racism.

17-ALViyath Maga was a tribal war dance. In primitive tribes the war dance was about appropriation of power. The Viyath Maga event was also about appropriating power. The old chief was present. The new chief was in charge. The old tribe in the years 2010-2015 transformed the tribe and embraced modernity in the form of co-opted corporations and academics

logoWednesday, 22 March 2017

Yes. Disraeli said that it is easier to be critical than to be correct. He also said that ignorance never settles a question. 

We live in politically perplexing times. On 8 January 2015 we ousted a regime that was corpulently corrupt, rapaciously racist and intuitively intolerant of dissent.

Racism Still Haunts Humanity Despite International & Constitutional Guarantees

Colombo Telegraph
By Lukman Harees –March 21, 2017
Lukman Harees
Racism is a scourge affecting every element of conflict with dramatic, often uncontrollable consequences. Only together and fighting relentlessly on all fronts can we destroy these seeds of hatred sown in the minds of men, seeds which flourish in times of economic unease, social exclusion and psychological despair.”- Koïchiro Matsuura(former Director-General of UNESCO) -Message of 21 March 2003 (extract)
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination falls on March 21. The General Assembly of the UN on that day calls on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
A focal point in history in this regard has been what made March 21st the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which is being observed annually. On that day in 1960, police shot and killed 69 people (including eight women and ten children) and injured 180 at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa. More than 80% of those killed had been shot in the back. 7,000 individuals had gathered to rally against apartheid and its “pass laws,” which required all Africans to carry a Pass Book, enabling the South African government to restrict and monitor their whereabouts. Anyone found without a passbook could be arrested and detained for up to thirty days. It was this day which rekindled the conscience of the global community to fight this ugly menace.
Wirathu – Gnanasara
Throughout its history the United Nations has worked to eliminate racial discrimination. The UN Charter adopted in 1945 proclaimed equality among the Member States. Three years later the Universal Declaration of Human Rights –UDHR, adopted by the General Assembly (GA) raised a new consciousness around the world about the human equality and the rights possessed by individuals. This new consciousness about the protection of human dignity reached full expression in 1963 when the GA adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The follow-up to this important, but not legally binding, Declaration was the adoption of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1965(ICERD).ICERD supports achievement of one of the main purposes of the United Nations: promoting and encouraging universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all global citizens, regardless of race, sex, language, or religion.
It has been a fact that there has been notable progress in making real many human rights enshrined in the UDHR – but racial discrimination and hatred, including hate-motivated actions and crimes, remain far too prevalent across the world we live in. These threats are compounded by deepening inequalities, and rising exclusion and marginalisation, which weaken the fabric of societies. Racial discrimination violates the inherent rights and dignity of women and men. It holds back entire societies from lasting peace, and it sets obstacles before inclusive, sustainable development. Emerging trends, racism and a lack of accountability for racist acts continue however to occur worldwide despite protection guarantees rooted in international laws. We are living at a point in history when bigotry has been impoverishing  the world, seeking to divide humanity against itself and undermine the inexhaustible strength that lies in our diversity.
Sadly even just close to seven decades after UDHR adoption, racism is thus still a global reality. Racism has gone way beyond being a mere ideological construct and has grown into a wave of populism in the recent past. The world has been watching in shock and awe, as many populist movements began to unravel in the West: the meteoric rise of alt-right racist small parties in Europe, with the much divisive Brexit campaign taking centre-piece, while Trump made it to the White House, despite his obnoxious racist inclinations. “I think we have an environment where people feel comfortable with stereotypes,” says Lee, the author of Multicultural Issues in Counseling: New Approaches to Diversity. “People feel they have a license to act and speak out in very intolerant ways”.

Ex-leader's brother 'led death squad' in Sri Lanka

Court hears police report implicating Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in operating a secret unit involved in silencing critics.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was the defence secretary during his brother's rule [File: Reuters]Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was the defence secretary during his brother's rule [File: Reuters]
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was the defence secretary during his brother's rule [File: Reuters]

Mar 20, 2017
A police report has implicated the brother of a former Sri Lankan president saying he directed a top secret death squad that targeted journalists and dissidents.
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) told the Mount Lavinia magistrate's court on Monday that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa - who was defence minister during the rule of his brother, Mahinda - led a unit that is accused of assassinating former Sunday Leader newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.

WATCH: Sri Lanka exhumes body of journalist (2:47)

"Testimony from the former army commander [Sarath Fonseka] shows that there was a special secret unit outside his authority and controlled by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa through the then-chief of national intelligence Kapila Hendawitharana," said the CID report, which was read out in court.
"This unit was operated outside the army command structure and was used to target journalists and other dissidents."
Fonseka - who led Sri Lanka's successful military campaign against Tamil rebels in 2009 - fell out of grace after he unsuccessfully challenged Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2010 elections.
Wickrematunge's killing, which sparked an international outcry, drew attention to violence against Sri Lanka's media during Rajapaksa's tenure that ended in 2015 when he lost elections to an opposition alliance.
In a written report to the court, CID said a new autopsy revealed that Wickrematunge had been stabbed to death and not shot as previously recorded in the original death certificate.
Wickrematunge's body was exhumed in September for a new forensic test after allegations that the original autopsy report had been falsified to deliberately mislead investigators.
The Mount Lavinia Court ordered police to carry out further investigations and arrest any suspects involved.
Speaking to AFP news agency after Monday's court hearing, a senior police officer said authorities were close to making more arrests over Wickrematunge's murder, after five military intelligence officers were detained last month.
"Now that the cause of death has been firmly established, we can proceed with making further arrests," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

Rajapaksa family

Wickrematunge had accused Gotabhaya of taking kickbacks in arms purchases, including a deal to buy used MiG jet fighters, and was set to testify against him in court when he was killed.
Rajapaksa and several members of his family are under investigation for large-scale 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.
A retired army intelligence officer was found hanging at his home in October with a note claiming responsibility for Wickrematunge's death.
But police have said they do not believe the claim and are treating the officer's death as a murder.