Vladimir Putin decisively re-elected with 76.50 percent of the vote as Russian president – preliminary results

March 18th, 2018

Courtesy RT

Incumbent Russian leader Vladimir Putin is set to secure a resounding victory in the Russian presidential election, according to partial results made public by the electoral commission.

Vladimir Putin is now leading with 75.50 percent of the vote, well above the simple majority needed to avoid a run-off.

First-time Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin is running second with 13.28 percent, while veteran nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who first ran against Boris Yeltsin in 1991, rounds out the top three with about six percent.

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None of the other five candidates is on track to receive more than two percent of the vote.

The early results are in line with exit-polls conducted by Russian polling agencies FOM, which predicted Putin would take 77 percent of the vote, and VCIOM, which forecast a final share of 73.9 percent for the current president.

Ella Pamfilova, head of the Russian Central Election Commission, has said that there were no major violations during the vote, and that only minor and local complaints” were received.

Shortly after the first results were announced, Vladimir Putin addressed his supporters at a massive anniversary rally in Moscow’s Red Square, marking Crimea’s reunification with Russia, and talked to reporters in his election campaign HQ. He thanked his backers and answered questions on the hottest political issues.

Putin was first elected to the Kremlin in 2000, and again four years later. Constitutionally barred from serving more than two consecutive terms, he did not run in 2008, the same year presidential terms were extended from four years to six years. Putin won 63.6 percent of the vote in 2012, and, if the early results are confirmed, he will now stay in his post until 2024, the year he turns 72.

The Power of Now

March 18th, 2018

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge 

Eckhart Tolle’ s spiritually awaking book The Power of Now highlights the  importance of living in the present moment.  Ironically people avoid the present moment most of the time and dwelling in the depressive thoughts of the past or anxiety related thoughts connected with the future. A person who does not live in the present moment becomes a victim of time. Many psychological ailments are associated with missing the present moment.

In this famous book Eckhart states: “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”

.The art of mindfulness is based on living in the present moment. Mindfulness can be considered as a universal human ability embodied to foster clear thinking and open-heartedness (Trousselard et al., 2014).  The practice of mindfulness involves moment to moment awareness of in the present moment. It is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment in a nonjudgmental and nonreactive way. Some 2600 years ago the Buddha said to his decuples; ” Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment and live wisely and earnestly.

The awareness of present moment experience is vital. It is ongoing monitoring of present-moment experience with an orientation of acceptance. This process helps to reduce mind wandering and facilitate emotion regulation. Mind wandering and mindfulness are often described as divergent mental states with opposing effects on cognitive performance and mental health and spontaneous mind wandering is typically associated with self-reflective states that contribute to negative processing of the past, worrying/fantasizing about the future, and disruption of primary task performance.  (Vago & Zeidan,  2016).  Mind-wandering correlates with unhappiness and with activation in a network of brain areas associated with self-referential processing. Mindfulness is an antidote for mind wandering. In mindfulness people monitor their present-moment experience with a lens of acceptance (Brewer et al., 2011).

The research has found that long-term mindfulness meditation practice promotes executive functioning and the ability to sustain attention. Mindful awareness is frequently described as a focus on present sensory input without cognitive elaboration or emotional reactivity, and is associated with improved task performance and decreased stress-related symptomology( Vago & Zeidan,  2016). According to Zeidan  et al (2010 ) mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. In addition mindfulness reduces multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress (Goyal et al.,2014). Long-term practice of mindfulness leads to emotional stability by promoting acceptance of emotional states and enhanced present-moment awareness (Taylor et al.,2011).

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge 

‘සමාජ සේවා සංවිධාන පනත් සංශෝධනය’ ට හොර රහස් කැබිනට් පත්‍රිකාවක් සිවිල් සංවිධාන ආණ්ඩුවේ අතකොළු සංවිධාන කරගන්න ආණ්ඩුව උත්සහ කරනවා –  කැෆේ සංවිධානය කියයි.

March 18th, 2018

පුවත්පත් නිවේදනය විධායක අධ්‍යක්ෂ/කැෆේ සහ ශ්‍රී ලංකා මානව හිමිකම් කේන්ද්‍ර‍ය

1980 අංක 31 දරණ ස්වේච්ඡා සමාජ සේවා සංවිධාන පනත සංශෝධන කිරිම මුවාවෙන් රජය තමන් සමග කටයුතු නොකරන සිවිල් සංවිධාන මර්ධනය සදහා පනත් කෙටුම්පතක් හරහා උත්සහ දරමින් සිටින බව කැෆේ සහ ශ්‍රී ලංකා මානව හිමිකම් කේන්ද්‍ර‍ය ඒකාබද්ධ නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කරමින් පවසයි. 

පසුගිය දා හොර රහසේ කැබිනට් අනුමැතිය ලබා ගෙන ඇති ‘සමාජ සේවා පනත’ සංශෝධනය සදහා වන කෙටුම්පත ‘සිවිල් සංවිධාන රාජ්‍යයේ අවශ්‍යතාව මත මෙහෙයවීම සදහා ද, රජය විවේචනය කරන සංවිධාන මර්ධනය සදහා ද සැකසූ මර්ධනාකාරී  ලියවිල්ලකි.  යෝජිත සංශෝධන මගින් ස්වේච්ජා සමාජ සේවා සංවිධාන පනතේ මුලික ව්‍යුහය හා ව්‍යවහාරයන් සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම අත්තනෝමතික වෙනසකට ලක් කොට ඇත.  ජනපති, අගමැති, අමාත්‍යවරුන් ගේ අවශ්‍යතාවන් ඉටු නොකරන සිවිල් සංවිධාන අකර්මන්‍ය කිරීම මෙම පනත් සංශෝධනයේ සැලසුම වී ඇත.

යම් පනතකට සංශෝධනයක් ඉදිරිපත් වන්නේ නම් එහි මුලික හරය විනාශ නොවිය යුතු නමුත්, යෝජිත සංශෝධන මගින් රජයේ අනුග්‍ර‍හයක් නොමැති කිසිදු සංවිධානයකට සිය කටයුතු සිදු කිරීමට නොහැකි තත්වයක් නිර්මාණය වේ.   කිසිදු ව්‍යවස්ථාමය හෝ නෛතික පදනමක් නොමැති ‘රාජ්‍ය නොවන සංවිධාන ලේකම් කාර්යාලය’ ට නෛතික පදනමක් ලබා දී, අධ්‍යක්ෂ ජෙනරාල්වරයෙකු හරහා සිවිල් සංවිධාන පාලනය කිරීමට රජයට අවස්ථාව ලැබේ.

රාජ්‍ය නොවන සංවිධාන ලේකම් කාර්යාලය විසින් එක් දේශපාලන පක්ෂයකට හිතවත් නාමික සිවිල් සංවිධාන කිහිපයක් හා එක්ව මෙම මර්ධනකාරී පනත් සංශෝධනය සකස් කොට ඇත.  ‘රාජ්‍ය නොවන සංවිධාන උපදේශක කමිටු සාමජිකයින් ලෙස කටයුතු කළ නිමල්කා ප්‍ර‍නාන්දු, සුදර්ශන ගුණවර්ධන, වෛද්‍යා වින්යා ආරියරත්න විසින් ඉදිරිපත් කළ කමිටු යෝජනාවන්ට සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම පරිබාහිරව මෙම සංශෝධනය සැකසී ඇත.  අවම වශයෙන් උපදේශන කමිටුව සමග සම්බන්ධ වූ සිවිල් සංවිධාන කිසිවක් සමග හෝ නව සංශෝධිත කෙටුම්පත කැබිනට් මණ්ඩලයට ඉදිරිපත් කිරීමට පෙර සාකච්ඡාවක් හෝ පවත්වා නැත. ඒ අනුව, ‘රජ්‍ය නොවන සංවිධාන ලේකම් කාර්යාලය ක්‍ර‍ම විරෝධී හා ව්‍යවහාර විරෝධී ප්‍රවේශයකින් කටයුතු කර ඇති බව පැහැදිලිය.    

ගමේ මරණාධාර සමිතියේ සිට විවිධ සමාජ ස්ථර හා පුද්ගලයින්ගේ එකමුතු, සමාගම් හා සංගම්, සංස්ථා ලෙස ක්‍රියාත්මක වන සංවිධාන ‘වචනයේ පරිසමාප්තාර්ථයෙන්ම ‘සිවිල් සංවිධාන’ ලෙස පැවතිය යුතු අතර, කුමන ලෙසකින් හෝ  රජයේ අතකොළු බවට පත් නොවිය යුතු  බව කැෆේ සංවිධානය අවධාරණය කරයි.

කීර්ති තෙන්නකෝන්

විධායක අධ්‍යක්ෂ/කැෆේ සහ ශ්‍රී ලංකා මානව හිමිකම් කේන්ද්‍ර‍ය

2018 මාර්තු 18

A secretive cabinet paper to amend the Voluntary Social Service Organizations (registration and supervision) Act-Government is attempting to make CSOs its tools – CaFFE

March 18th, 2018

Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon Executive Director – CaFFE and CHR    

The government is attempting to suppress civil society organizations under the pretext of amending the Voluntary Social Service Organizations (registration and supervision) Act, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and Centre for Human Rights (CHR) said issuing a joint press release.

The draft bill to amend the act, which had been passed by the Cabinet last week, is essentially a legislation to have authority over these organizations and to suppress Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that are critical of the government. The amendment changes the structure (even the Preamble), the practices and the agreed norms of the existing act in a bid to paralyze civil society organizations that do not do the bidding of the President, Prime Minister and ministers.

If an act is being amended, the amendment must not destroy the basic principals of the act. However with this act no CSO will be able to operate without the patronage of the government. This will also give legitimacy to the National Secretariat For Non Governmental Organizations, which has no constitutional or legal basis for its existence, and allow the government to control CSOs through a Director General of National Secretariat For Non Governmental Organizations.

The National Secretariat For Non Governmental Organizations has made these amendments after consulting several CSOs that are affiliated and associated with one particular political party. The draft has also been penned ignoring the proposals by Nimalka Fernando, Sudarshana Gunawardana and Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, who acted as consultants of the advisory committee to the National NGO secretariat. The Secretariat has not even held a discussion with NGOs that are a part of this advisory committee. Thus it is evident that National Secretariat For Non Governmental Organizations has acted in an unethical manner.

CSOs that range from funeral assistance organizations to corporations, must remain organizations of the civil society and not be tools of the government.

Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon

Executive Director – CaFFE and CHR

President signs Gazette notification to lift state of emergency

March 18th, 2018

President Maithripala Sirisena returned to the island last night (17) and signed the Gazette notification to lift state of emergency with immediate effect, the President Media Division said.

The gazette lifting the State of Emergency was signed last night upon the return of President Sirisena from Japan.

The Gazette notification has been handed over to the Department Of Government Printing to be printed.

President Sirisena declared a ten-day State of Emergency on March 06 to redress the unsatisfactory security situation prevailing in certain parts of the country.

During this period the Police and Armed Forces were empowered to deal with criminal elements in society in order to restore normalcy.

No legal provisions in Constitution for special court: Wijeyadasa

March 18th, 2018

Thilanka Kanakarathna Courtesy The Daily Mirror

There is no legal provision in the present Constitution of the country to implement a special court, former Minister of Justice MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.

Speaking to journalists outside a function on Friday Mr. Rajapakshe said he does not like to comment over the topic as the decision over the special court is not finalized but there is sufficient legal provisions in the country.

He said when the matter was discussed in the Cabinet, Attorney General (AG) had replied with a report consisting 29 pages that the Parliament has no legal power to appoint such court in order to the 1978 second republican constitution.

However, he said according to world acceptable practice special court can only be implement by the Chief Justice (CJ) over the request of the AG who were independent parties and the politicians cannot implement such.

He further said the AG has the complete freedom to request the CJ to appoint a special Court comprising with a trial bar over any public interesting in grave crime.

He also said that it was taken in practice in the past in cases such as S.Vidya’s Murder case and Udathalawinna massacre.

Meanwhile, attending an event in Colombo former President, MP Mahinda Rajapaksa said appointing such special court is against the Constitution.

Constitution should be amended if it is needed to do so. It is not possible to change the Constitution in order to the intentions of politicians whenever they want,” he said.

Further, he said it was wrong if appointing a special court to gain political revenge.

While commenting over the subject, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said it was observed the attempt was to gain political revenge using democratic institutions over political intentions.

No confidence

March 18th, 2018

The Prime Minister is facing two motions of no-confidence, not just the one. One is formal the other informal but no less real. Each one deals with one of the two aspects that go to constitute the PM’s public life. The two motions of no-confidence, the first de jure and the second de facto, are the motion that will manifest itself in Parliament, and the other, the mounting and increasingly public dissent within the UNP, which is rising up from below.

The no-confidence motion pertains to Mr. Wickremesinghe’s conduct in Government. Whether or not it secures the requisite numbers, the very move means that his Prime Ministership is leaking lifeblood because the signatories and probable voters include members of his Cabinet. To be sure these are members of his coalition partner the SLFP. But that’s cold comfort.

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If the members of your cabinet bring a vote of no-confidence against you – which they are doing fairly openly—then how do you continue to function in that cabinet and how does that cabinet continue to function?

If your coalition partner gathers signatures for a vote of no confidence against you, how can that coalition continue to function?

If the party that is led by the Executive president, the Head of state and government is rebelling against you, the Prime Minister, how can that administration continue?

And if all these do continue despite the motion of no–confidence and with a national election looming late next year, how can the country continue to be governed, the state apparatus continue to function?

How will the economy perform with the obvious and inevitable negative impact on investor confidence?

Running alongside all of this is the crisis within the UNP, the main party of the governing coalition. The coverage started with one TV station but now it has spread to all the private stations. Every evening on the TVnews, some group of UNP members or the other, in some part of the country or the other, call for the replacement of Mr. Wickremesinghe as party leader. The message goes directly into the drawing rooms across the nation: “he’s been party leader for almost 25 years and we just cannot sell him as leader in our villages!”

While the UNP parliamentarians seem willing for the most part, to settle for Mr. Wickremesinghe remaining as leader albeit with—and on condition of—a drastic and immediate devolution of power within the party to younger, more popular figures, the party activists and elected representatives at the grassroots have organized themselves and are demanding new leader before the next round of elections. As one of them rang the alarm loudly at a media briefing: “thava thiyenne avuruddai maasa atai!” (“We have just another year and eight months to go!”) The grassroots activists and elected representatives have their finger on the pulse.

So, Mr. Wickremesinghe is facing rebellion and rejection on both fronts—the government and the party. Make that three fronts: the Parliament, the Cabinet and the UNP. No leader can face such combined rejection and continue his political career as a leader. Mr. Wickremesinghe’s leadership may not end in weeks or months, but it is certainly over. He is bleeding out from death by a thousand cuts, many of them self-inflicted. The only question is whether he will go now, or continue to inflict discredit and damage on his government and his party, not to mention the country and the economy, before he is unceremoniously cast out at the end of this government’s disastrously dysfunctional term.

Right now Mr. Wickremesinghe is trying to survive by playing one rebellion off against the other and splitting them from within. He may achieve some modest tactical success but he cannot prevail. What he is trying to do is play off the inner-party dissent against the governmental and parliamentary dissent.

The UNP wants a change in the party but it is less committed to a change of Prime Minister. The UNP seems to be saying that it want to save its electoral viability as a party, but is willing to keep Ranil on as Prime Minister for the next two years. The Parliament and especially the SLFP seems to be saying that it does not really care what the UNP does within—and the worst nightmare of some in the Pohottuwa is that the UNP will replace Ranil as leader and select someone less chronically unelectable—but that neither the SLFP nor the JO are willing to accept him as the Prime Minister and work with/under him.

The Pohottuwa is devoted to him as an electoral foe but what drives it up the wall is his policy direction because it drives its larger constituency up the wall. The SLFP’s problem is that association with him is killing it as a party and their individual electoral futures as well.

The SLFPers simply cannot stay with him as PM and aspire to win their areas at any future election. They would rather leave the Government and take their seats in the opposition, not least because both the SLFP and the JO know that even if Ranil survives the no-confidence motion with the support of the TNA and Chandrika (i.e. her ‘groupuscule’ of SLFP MPs), that is a lingering kiss of death for the government from here on in.No Southern Opposition could conceivably hope to havea better target than Ranil plus the TNA.

Ranil hopes that the contending or at least asymmetric motivation, aims and objectives of the foes within and without; the UNP dissidents and the JO-SLFP opponents, can be manipulated to crash into each other like dodgem cars, or at the least, retard the velocity of these twin moves against him. He must further hope that the Japanese would have put in a word for him with President Sirisena and that the perennially contending aspirations of the Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanaike factions will deadlock the dissent within.

Going by the report in the Deshaya (of the Times Group) Mr. Wickremesinghe’s final card seems to be to move an amendment to the Constitution to abolish the executive presidency and to count on the JO to support him. From other reports it would appear that the JVP is the stalking-horse for this move.

Even if all these tactical moves work, the enterprise fails because he cannot prevail. This is because he has two affliction both of which are fatal. One is a terminal crisis of legitimacy. He brought in an old crony from his days as PM in 2001, and made him the head of the central bank despite his non-citizenship, his conflict of interest and the advice of the President. It was on the PM’s watch as Finance Minister and that of his appointee as Governor of the Central Bank, that a globally unprecedented scam was perpetrated. That ex-governor is now a wanted man and is absconding. Again unprecedented in the world, the Prime Minister who inducted him, appointed him, defended him (even when the President tried to remove him) and suggested the change in the method of auction, has got off with no consequence.

This damage to the Prime Minister’s credibility and legitimacy will never go away and increases with each passing day. It will become a hemorrhaging wound once the no confidence motion is debated, whichever way the vote goes. All those in the UNP and CBK faction of the SLFP who defend him, will be seen by the public and placed on the record as those who defended the morally indefensible. This is a politically and socially fatal wound.

The second fatal wound is his indubitable unpopularity at the electoral level. Indubitable because it is being said by the UNP itself. Not only is it indubitable it is also growing. Nothing can be done about this short of his removal because Mr. Wickremesinghe is what he is, both in terms of policy and personality. He failed to be elected President in 1999 and 2005 and his earlier term as elected PM ended in dismissal followed by electoral defeat. He has almost reached the end of the road as UNP leader. All that left is to figure just how much road is left. He has also reached the end of the road as PM. Again, all that remains is to see how many months or weeks he has left. If he stays till 2020 or tries to, governmental and state paralysis will set in, the economy will go into a downward spiral, and anarchy will arise. And nope, the military will not support Fonseka (who scored a grand total of 30,000 votes), and a second Presidential bid by him will be nothing more than a farce.

The no-confidence motion, accompanied or followed by Mr. Wickremesinghe’s replacement as party leader, is the only way to save the country the growing cost of the toxicity.

TIDE IS TURNING AGAINST BOTH PRESIDENT AND THE  PRIME MINISTER!

March 18th, 2018

By M D P DISSANAYAKE

The President Maithreepala Sirisena is personally indebted to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe for elevating him to the rank of the President of the country.  Has he paid back his debt sufficiently?

The UNP administrative machine is no more the power base of RW.  The grass root UNP support is no more the power base of RW.    He is also not powerless.  He derives his power from two primary sources, firstly from the Tamil dominated anti-Sinhala Western-Indian power block and secondly from the high Office of the land, the Office of the President.  The support of the President  for the PM is ROCK SOLID. 

We had some respect for RW in the past as Mr Clean, a man without corruption.  He is now not any more Mr Clean.  In contrast, the general public never had any favourable impressions of Mr Maithreepala Sirisena.  In the process of trying to protect the Prime Minister, the President has gone enormous distance, in the process of trying to ensure UNP victory at the most recent elections, the President had tarnished his image as a Leader.

Now both the President and PM are powerless.  They cannot rule the country by Guns. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces have been marginalised  and their dedicated families have been ill-treated by  both the President and the Prime Minister.  It is unusual for the men and women of Armed Forces to forgive and forget the corrupt leaders, as they themselves have realized that the general public is no longer support the Executive President and the Executive Prime Minister of the land. 

The under current situation is extremely volatile, shaky, transient and capricious.  It is not about just two persons.  It is about  21 million Sri Lankans!

FACT OR FICTION? MR MINISER PLEASE NOTE!

March 18th, 2018

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando Courtesy Ceylon Today

Private Hospitals have been focusing of late, mainly on their charging system especially with regard to Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG). Many have written columns and articles in newspapers covering a whole gamut of incidents and experiences of people after visiting private hospitals in Sri Lanka.

The types of complaints vary from patient to patient, but a common feature appears to be the long delays, which the patients have to wait, after paying money for an appointment to channel a doctor or a consultant. The whole purpose and process of channelling becomes a travesty when Consultants fail to arrive on time, which is very common at any private practice in Sri Lanka. This frustrates long-waiting patients, and   another area of dissatisfaction is the charging system adopted by some of the private hospitals.

Basically, patients visit private hospitals to experience a hassle-free quality service despite the high charges.  Patients consider consultants and doctors as ‘Gods’ in human form! Therefore, it would be obligatory for them to arrive on time, but lo and behold, on average, they take their own cool time to arrive, even more than 40 minutes behind time in certain instances, and the worst being the specialist doctors, have no time even to spend a few minutes to go through the medical history of their patients. It is apparent that some of these specialists see more than 40 patients, within a matter of two hours! In such pathetic situations, it is natural for people to question whether the present day medicos in Sri Lanka are really interested in treating the sick or only hell bent to make money.

Heat Ailment and Surgery

The type of heart disease differs from patient to patient. According to WHO statistics, Sri Lanka is ranked as the 31st country in the world, with approximately two per cent of the total population as suffering from heart disease.

With regard to CABG, the writer was informed by one of his readers, by email, about a remorseful attitude adopted by a reputed private hospital in Colombo, well known for performing CABG. The reader had clearly explained about his lengthy   confrontation with the hospital, with regard to the discharging process of his father -in –law and the final payment after  a ‘by-pass’ surgery (CABG), on 15 February.

Unexplained CABG Charges

Usually all private hospitals in Sri Lanka charge the people who have undergone CABG based on a grading system. The grading is determined by the number of blockages; a patient has in his coronary arteries. It is very similar to the hotel tariffs, which are influenced by the hotel’s star grading! In this case Rs.690, 000.00 was quoted for the aforementioned patient’s CABG by the above mentioned hospital. However, at the point of the bill settlement, an extra amount of Rs. 51,000 had been added to the final bill, therefore,  the son-in-law of the patient had made persistent   enquiries regarding the excess.

According to complainant the final bill had been prepared in such a way to confuse anyone at a glance. When queried, the authorities had miserably failed to give a rational explanation, instead kept them waiting for 4 hours, insisting on the full bill payment, while the hospital staff were engaged in a ‘hide and seek’ game; and the irony being, both the Director of Finance and the Director Operations of that reputed hospital had blatantly refused to face clients to give a clear clarification on the jacked up bill.

When the drama had reached a boiling point, the hospital authorities had offered a discount of Rs.30, 000! But the son-in-law had rejected the offer and warned them of initiating legal action. Only after those words of warning the hospital has deducted the excess amount from the bill. What a palaver!

The email intimation about the above detailed   annoying experience at a reputed private infirmary in Colombo, well known for performing heart surgery, was shared here specially to caution the poor who spend all their savings to seek medical treatment in private hospitals. (The writer is in possession of the withheld name of the hospital).

Personal experience

According to the writer’s own experience on CABG, four years ago, which was very much similar to this incident, but had occurred at a different, again reputed private, hospital in Colombo. To his amazement, when he had scrutinised the daily interim bills, he detected the hospital had duplicated the charges for the same (3-4) drugs; and also the charges for physiotherapy; and also at that time, this particular hospital had a joint credit card promotion with a reputed Bank where discounts up to 25 per cent were offered (if paid by their credit card). Despite such a commitment, the hospital completely turned a blind eye with regard to their discount offer. After several contests and protests, while warded at the hospital, which continued over a period of three months, the bank which jointly promoted the credit card campaign   offered a certain percentage as discount as part of their obligation, but the management of the private hospital completely ignored the discount. How many people in this country would dare to challenge in this manner? This is akin to day light robbery!

A common complaint against private hospitals in Sri Lanka is that patients are subjected to numerous investigations and tests without their consent, and solely dictated to them by hospital authorities. This is seen, in the eyes of innocent patients, as a gimmick to jack up hospital bills. On the other hand, neither of these two hospitals gives a breakdown of their CABG package, except adding charges willy-nilly. In the UK, of course, a patient has the right to object to any specialist’s decision stating that it is my body & I feel it is unnecessary”. In Sri Lanka the hospitals seem to take undue advantage out of the timidity of the patients. It is high time that the Minister of Health looked into the CABG charging systems whereby every hospital becomes liable to give a clear breakdown on a CABG package and what it covers.

Doomed situations

Relatives of the patients, who are naïve to hospital bills, get shell-shocked when they get to know the total amount to be paid to settle the final bill, which normally exceeds the quoted amount, by the hospital, before the surgery. Generally, private hospitals demand payment upfront for any CABG operation, without any concern for the patient’s hardships whereas some patients settle such jacked up bills by mortgaging or selling their properties or pawning their valuable gold jewellery. How many of us have paid bills like in the two cases mentioned above?

Eye Hospital

Having said about private hospitals, the writer was shocked when he visited recently the National Eye Hospital in Colombo to hand over an optical coherence tomography (OCT) report to an eye surgeon, who was consulted privately. It was an utterly pathetic scene where the entire ground floor was chock-a-block with patients. For how many decades this eye clinic has been in operation, and have all the Ministers of Health, along the line, been blinded to such public suffering and torture?

Those patients had arrived from all parts of the country. A three-wheeler driver said, anyone visiting the eye hospital should be prepared to spend the whole day here …” The Minster of Health is boasting about the advancement in the health sector in Sri Lanka, concentrating on the reduction of drug charges, but he is strongly advised to pay a visit in a morning to the National Eye Hospital at Ward Place to see for himself and realise what a chaotic situation prevails there, and to what extent patients are pushed to the wall, metaphorically speaking!

Why cannot the Ministry of Health think of ways and means of regionalising this eye service to local and divisional hospitals, rather than patients having to travel from all four corners of the country to waste a full day in Colombo to get only shabby treatment of shoving, and jostling? In the UK for instance, Moorefield Eye Hospital in London is the main infirmary for eye care, and the National Health Service has systematically established an eye clinic in each regional hospital where patients could be treated locally. This is vital information for your personal attention, the Hon. Minister of Health, Sir !

[email protected]

Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean – a Geopolitical perspective from Sri Lanka and the  Role of the EU in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) by Prof.Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

March 18th, 2018

Prof. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

Prof. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, the Director General of the Institute of national Security Studies Sri Lanka(INSSSL),visiting Professor at the Northern Kentucky University for Geopolitics was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, Quai d’Orsay on 6th March 2018. Prof.Abeyagoonasekera presented a paper on Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean – a Geopolitical perspective from Sri Lanka and the Role of the EU in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR)”,followed by a roundtable discussion Chaired by Dr.Frédéric Grare who is the Chargé de mission Asia, officials at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence. Following is the full text of the speech:

Distinguished officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ladies and Gentlemen,[1]

It is a great honour for me to speak at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and I thank you for the kind invitation.

Let me begin by thanking President Macron for his kind comments sent to me about my book – Towards a better world order[2]. I am pleased to present my book to Dr.Frederic Grare today as well.

Today I will be speaking on the thematic issue of Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean – a Geopolitical perspective from Sri Lanka and the role of the EU in the IOR; a topic widely discussed in many international forums. A few days ago in Berlin, I also explained the geopolitical tension in the IOR and a few weeks from now I will be speaking in Chicago and Washington about the same subject, along with some regional experts.

Sri Lanka’s geostrategic position in the Indian Ocean:

As Napoleon once said, to know a nation’s geography is to know its foreign policy”.[3]

In terms of ‘geopolitical manometers’[4], Sri Lanka’s geographical position in the Indian Ocean has been the most significant driver of its foreign policy and arguably other countries’ foreign policy towards it, since ancient times. The Greeks, Arabs, Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch, French and the English have thus seen the importance of the Island’s geographical position. Today Sri Lanka’s foreign policy, delineated by President Sirisena, is an Asia-centric middle-path foreign policy”[5], stemming from the Island’s geography and its relationship with regional and extra-regional countries.

With regard to the relevance of Sri Lanka in terms of geopolitics, the analyst Robert Kaplan explains: It’s a great age in history to be a Chinese civil engineer; they are really building things the way the US built infrastructure in the 1930s and 50s. The opening up of Chinese built Hambanthota Port in Sri Lanka has real geopolitical significance”.[6] In fact, a century ago, Admiral Mahan saw the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, followed by many other geopolitical scholars throughout history. In the present day, Harsh V.Pant further elaborates: The ‘Great Game of this century will be played on the waters of the Indian Ocean.[7]

Furthermore, Sri Lanka is geographically at the centre of sea lines of communication (SLOC), geo-strategically at the heart of Indian Ocean and therefore a super-connector”. At one of the initial Belt and Road conferences in Hong Kong, a few years ago, I referred to Sri Lanka as a super-connector” in the Indian Ocean (in a similar context to a trading hub) in comparison to the Island of Hong Kong located next to the massive geographical land mass of China. Notably, Sri Lanka has been mapped as an elongated Island even by ancient cartographers – stemming from Ptolemy of Alexandria[8], due to its rich trade with the West and the East.

From a historical perspective, the East of Sri Lanka, specifically the strategic port of Trincomalee, was of great interest to the French. On March 22nd 1672, the great French fleet arrived in Trincomalee with more than 2250 men on board with 251 guns, under the command of Jacob Blaquet de la Haye[9]; with hindsight seen as a strategic move to position French military power in the Indian Ocean. However, this manoeuvre was cut short by the Dutch presence and the interest in the Island.

Nevertheless, in the present day, Sri Lanka has managed to navigate its critical geographical location at the crossroads of the important sea lines of communication (SLOCs). The Island has thus displayed its catalytic ability in balancing three powerful spheres of influence: the regional hegemon in South Asia – India, the US and China. Due to this, Sri Lanka is playing a larger role in the South Asian Indian Ocean littorals, in order to to protect the proximate SLOCs and its maritime domain.

In terms of international relations, there is a marked geopolitical power shift from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indo-Pacific. Analysing geopolitical manometers, Sri Lanka faces the complex geography of the Indian subcontinent intertwined with India’s past of the Monroe doctrine mentality and Prime Minister Modi’s new vision for the region[10]. I have discussed this aspect in detail, in a chapter which I have contributed to, in the book The Modi Doctrine[11]. Additionally, with regards to international relations, one of the biggest setbacks in the region is the absence of the SAARC summit due to India-Pakistan tensions subverting regional forums such as these.

Nevertheless, policy-makers around the world including in the European Union (EU) ought to pay closer attention to the vast developments in the IOR. There is an increasing naval presence with military capabilities built up in various strategic positions along the IOR rim. Nations like Sri Lanka, sitting at the heart of SLOCs with large amounts of cargo and transhipment capacity will be significantly important for the existing and the emerging powers in this geopolitical backdrop.

Triple spheres of influence:

The tear drop shaped Island hanging off the southern tip of Indian subcontinent is faced with a triple sphere of influence. The Chinese sphere, Indian and the US as aforementioned. The Sri Lankan port of Hambantota was leased out to China for operations last year, just like Kyaukpyu Port in Myanmar[12]. India views these strategic indents in its territorial waters as an encirclement strategy by the Chinese, speculatively calling it a String of Pearls”[13]. While India is faced with fear of encirclement, the country is also investing to actively counter the Chinese sphere of influence in the region. Indian interest towards the Eastern port of Trincomalee and the Chinese built Mattala airport closer to the Hambantota port are clear examples of such an investment in the Sri Lankan context.

The Sri Lankan maritime forum – Galle Dialogue” – introduced by former Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa – has become another popular venue for discussion about the topics from strategic maritime partnerships” to collaborative approaches in the Indian Ocean” and thereby showcases Sri Lanka’s interest and role in the Indian Ocean.

In the Sri Lankan context, the last time a PLAN submarine was docked in Colombo[14], tensions arose with New Delhi and intense speculations were made from in strategic circles. New Delhi officially expressed their concern, reminding Sri Lanka that it should inform India first of such submarine dockings as it has a direct bearing on India’s national security. In response, Sri Lanka informed its neighbour that the PLAN submarine visit was not a knee jerk reaction to a Chinese request but a carefully calibrated action by the Government of Sri Lanka. The increased investment by Beijing in Sri Lankan infrastructure is a clear sign of the Chinese sphere of influence in the Island and Sri Lanka’s receipt of such influence.

The opening of the tallest tower in South Asia – the Lotus Tower”, built by the Chinese in Colombo, set off another widely discussed topic in India. This was over the concern of the antenna at the top of the tower for possible monitoring and surveillance by the Chinese through such a mechanism. Thus, the growing Indo-China tension is felt clearly across the region and in the Sri Lankan context, the Government position has been to find equilibrium between these two powers. Yet, to give equal space in the maritime domain will be a challenging task. Last year, China surpassed India in becoming the largest trading partner for Sri Lanka, thereby signalling a strategic shift. However, it can be contented that India, being the closer neighbour to Sri Lanka, has had a historic and stronger cultural relationship with the Island, especially with reference to the Kaveri Delta” sphere of influence from South India towards the north of Sri Lanka as well as the political influence from Tamil Nadu towards Sri Lankan politics.

Returning to the point about India’s Monroe doctrine mentality, I will draw reference from Jawaharlal Nehru’s selected works[15]. It can be argued from this frame of reference that India followed a similar model to the Monroe Doctrine which is to exclude extra regional powers from the vicinity of India and the IOR. This would constitute strategic thinking on the part of modern India’s determination to rid the subcontinent of residual colonial influence and exclude other powers from the entire South Asian region[16]. This is further explained by Bhabani Sen Gupta, as an underlying theme in Indian strategic thinking, where the presence of outside powers in India’s neighbourhood is illegitimate and therefore India’s neighbours must solely rely upon India as a regional manager and security provider[17]. Furthermore, the scholar K. Subrahmanyam expounds the fact that leadership in the Indian Ocean is part of India’s ‘manifest destiny[18].

On a regional level, India has resisted inviting Pakistan to join the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) or allowing China to become a full member of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). On the other hand, India is building its massive naval fleet with 48 warships under construction – including one aircraft carrier, one nuclear submarine and six conventional submarines as well as a variety of destroyers, frigates and corvettes.[19] By 2027 the Indian naval capacity is projected to expand to 198 warships.[20]

When looking at the US sphere of influence, according to USPACOM Commander Harry Harris: the Indian Ocean matters to the United States, Sri Lanka matters to the United States, and the United States matters to Sri Lanka,”[21]. US interest in Sri Lanka and the surrounding South Asian maritime security architecture is felt with the growing Chinese influence in the South China Sea and the spill over influence towards the IOR. Presently, Sri Lanka is considered by the US as a contributor to the rules-based order in the Indian Ocean system, and a good example of a like-minded partner in the Indian Ocean Region.

Maritime Security and role for the EU in IOR:

Instability in some of the littorals of the IOR and the rise of new naval powers within the geopolitical power game are the key drivers for insecurity in the Indian Ocean. Maritime rivalry between India and China is visible across the Indian Ocean and felt clearly by nations like Sri Lanka. Modernization and expansion of China’s and India’s capabilities in the maritime domain to advance their military presence in the IOR makes the region vulnerable in terms of security and power-rivalries. The absence of a comprehensive multilateral agreement on maritime security in the Indian Ocean is a highly problematic issue in this context. Arguably, the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) is for economic cooperation and not for security cooperation.  Nevertheless, the Galle dialogue and the IONS (an Indian initiative) bring together naval chiefs of a large number of littoral countries for discussions on security challenges in the IOR. However, forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) aimed at South-East Asia, with ministerial level representation explicitly addressing maritime security issues that involve both regional countries and extra-regional major powers is, in comparison, clearly lacking in the IOR. The Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) which commenced in 2016 by the India Foundation[22] with its inaugural in Singapore and followed last year in Colombo is arguably the only conference to address important issues of the IOR at both a ministerial and academic level; but has its own limitations due to the degree of extra regional representation. At the Indian Ocean conference in 2017 in Colombo, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe emphasized that we remain convinced that a code of conduct that ensures the freedom of navigation in our Ocean will be an essential component of this vision”[23] .

Now let us examine how the EU could play a role in the Indian Ocean Region.

Fighting piracy, counter-terrorism and providing safe passage for the large amount of trade between the EU and IOR littorals is a high priority. Thus, the EU could assist IOR countries to establish and maintain a code of conduct – the essential component of the vision for a peaceful IOR.

In 1971, an ad-hoc committee was established with seven European members in the UN General Assembly’s Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace[24]. This Declaration called for Great Powers to curb further escalation and expansion of their military presence in the Indian Ocean[25]. Establishment of a system of universal collective security is also embedded in the Declaration. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranayake played an important role in this endeavour and thus today we should revisit this Declaration due to the geopolitical tension among Great Powers in the IOR – which has made the region unstable.

In this context, the EU should play an active and long-term role as a contributor to maritime security in the IOR, especially given the risk of emerging Great Power rivalries posing a fundamental threat to security in the IOR and its littoral states. To establish a rules-based ocean system of governance and a framework of multilateral maritime security, the EU could develop a strategic plan. This could be an initiative to work with the Indian Ocean’s littoral states to establish a track-II platform comparable to the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP)[26] for dialogue on maritime security in the IOR. Such a platform could provide the groundwork for preparing frameworks and mechanisms for cooperation amongst all IOR littorals.

The EU should coordinate closely with existing multilateral security initiatives such as the UN Ad-Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean and IOR-ARC as well as IONS and SAARC.

By taking such an active role in these areas, the EU could enhance security cooperation and strengthen security dialogue. An Island nation like Sri Lanka, which has a role to play in balancing the triple spheres of influence, fighting maritime piracy and ensuring a rules-based order in the Indian Ocean, could stand to benefit by a more active role played by the EU in the IOR. This would further reduce mistrust and the threat perceptions among actors in the IOR and its waters.

Thank you.

[1]Views expressed are the author’s own.

[2] Abeyagoonasekera, Asanga. Towards a Better World Order: Selected Writings and Speeches. 2015

[3] Kaplan, Robert D. The Revenge Of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate. First edition. New York: Random House 2012.

[4] Dorpalen, Andreas. The World of General Haushofer: Geopolitics in Action. Farrar & Rinehart, Incorporated, 1942.

[5] The Official Website of the President of Sri Lanka: Policy Statement delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena addressing the 8th Parliament of Sri Lanka on September 1, 2015” – http://www.president.gov.lk/policy-statement-delivered-by-president-maithripala-sirisena-addressing-the-8th-parliament-of-sri-lanka-on-september-1-2015/

[6]Robert D. Kaplan on China’s Port Expansion in the Indian Ocean (Agenda), Stratfor, 2012 – https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/robert-d-kaplan-chinas-port-expansion-indian-ocean-agenda

[7]Pant, Harsh V. Indian Foreign Policy: An Overview. Manchester University Press, 2016.

[8] Ptolomy’s World Map. The British Library – http://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item126360.html

[9] Arasaratnam, Sinnapah. Dutch Power in Ceylon 1658-1687. Djambatan 1958

[10] Australian Institute of International Affairs: India’s Monroe Doctrine is Dead. Mar 21st 2016 – http://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/indias-monroe-doctrine-is-dead/

[11] Ganguly, Anirban. Chauthaiwale, Vijay. Sinha, Uttam Kumar. The Modi Doctrine: New Paradigms in India’s Foreign Policy. Wisdom Tree. 2018.

[12] Reuters: China to take 70 percent stake in strategic port in Myanmar – official. Oct 17th 2017 – https://www.reuters.com/article/china-silkroad-myanmar-port/china-to-take-70-percent-stake-in-strategic-port-in-myanmar-official-idUSL4N1MS3UB

[13] Khurana, Gurpreet S. China’s ‘String of Pearls’ in the Indian Ocean and Its Security Implications. Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses – Strategic Analysis Vol. 32, 2008 – Issue 1

[14] Reuters: Chinese submarine docks in Sri Lanka despite Indian concerns .Nov 2nd  2014 – https://www.reuters.com/article/sri-lanka-china-submarine/chinese-submarine-docks-in-sri-lanka-despite-indian-concerns-idINKBN0IM0LU20141102

[15] Nehru, Jawaharlal. Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru – Vol 3, Series 2 – Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, 1985

[16] Brewster, David. India’s Ocean: The Story of India’s Bid for Regional Leadership. Routledge 2014

[17] Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies: Gujral Doctrine Security Dimensions of the Gujral Doctrine. Aug 2nd 1997 – http://www.ipcs.org/article/india-the-world/gujral-doctrine-security-dimensions-of-the-gujral-doctrine-2.html

[18] Brewster, David. India’s Ocean: The Story of India’s Bid for Regional Leadership. Routledge 2014

[19] Jane’s 360 Magazine

[20] Economic Times: Indian Navy aiming at 200-ship fleet by 2027. Jul 14th, 2015 – https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/indian-navy-aiming-at-200-ship-fleet-by-2027/articleshow/48072917.cms

[21] US Embassy in Sri Lanka: Remarks by Adm. Harry Harris, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command at Galle Dialoguehttps://lk.usembassy.gov/remarks-adm-harry-harris/

[22] India Foundation: Indian Ocean Conference 2016http://www.indiafoundation.in/indian-ocean-conference-2016/

[23] Lanka Business Online. Sri Lanka’s PM addresses Indian Ocean Conference 2017. Sept 1st 2017. – http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/sri-lankas-pm-addresses-indian-ocean-conference-2017/

[24] United Nations Press Release: AD HOC COMMITTEE ON INDIAN OCEAN ADOPTS REPORT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Jul 26th 2005 – https://www.un.org/press/en/2005/gaio4.doc.htm

[25] http://www.worldlii.org/int/other/%20UNGARsn/1972/89.pdf.

[26] Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific – http://www.cscap.org/

නුවර පුපුරා ගියේ අන්තවාදයේ කාල බෝම්බයයි

March 18th, 2018

තරංග රත්නවීර උපුටා ගැන්ම දිවයින

සිංහල, මුස්‌ලිම් කෝලාහල මහනුවරට පමණක්‌ සීමා වූවක්‌ නොවේ. 1915 වර්ෂයේ මරක්‌කල කෝලාහලයේ සිට කාලෙන් කාලයට සිංහල, මුස්‌ලිම් ගැටුම් ඇති විය. එම ආරවුල් ගිනි ජාලාවන් බවට පත් කරනු ලැබුවේ සිංහල, මුස්‌ලිම් අන්තවාදී පිරිස්‌ සහ බඩගෝස්‌තරවාදී දේශපාලනඥයන් විසිනි. 

kandy2
 
 ත්‍රස්‌තවාදී යුද්ධයේ අවසානයත් සමඟ මුස්‌ලිම් අන්තවාදය ප්‍රබලව ඉස්‌මතු වූයේ නැගෙනහිර පළාතෙනි. එහෙයින් මුස්‌ලිම් අන්තවාදයේ අමන ක්‍රියාකාරකම් ගැන හරි හැටි දන්නේ ඒ ප්‍රදේශවල ජීවත් වන සිංහලයන්ය. සුළුතරයක්‌ වූ නැගෙනහිර සිංහල සමාජය පාගාගෙන සිටින මුස්‌ලිම් අන්තවාදය ගැන කතා කිරීමට සුදුසුම කෙනා අරිසිමලේ ආරණය සේනාසනාධිපති පනාමුරේ තිලකවංශ හාමුදුරුවෝ යෑයි මට හැඟුණි. උන්වහන්සේ අරිසිමලේ ආරණ්‍ය සේනාසනාධිපති වහන්සේ පමණක්‌ නොව උතුර, නැගෙනහිර දෙපළාතේ සහ තමන්කඩුව දිසාවේ ප්‍රධාන සංඝ නායක හාමුදුරුවෝය. එහෙයින් නැගෙනහිර මුස්‌ලිම් අන්තවාදීන්ගේ ක්‍රියාකාරිත්වය ගැන අපි උන්වහන්සේ සමඟ සාකච්ඡා කළෙමු. මේ උන්වහන්සේ මුස්‌ලිම් අන්තවාදය දකින හැටිය.
 
 kandy1“යුද්ධයෙන් පසු මම නැගෙනහිරට වැඩම කරනකොට මේ ප්‍රදේශවල සිංහල, දෙමළ, මුස්‌ලිම් මිනිස්‌සු බොහෝම සමගියෙන් ජීවත් වුණා. මුස්‌ලිම්, දෙමළ මිනිස්‌සු අපිටත් හොඳට ගරු කළා. මේ ප්‍රදේශවල පුරාවිද්‍යා නටබුන් පාදක කරගෙන වෙහෙර, විහාර, කුටි සෙනසුන් ඉදිකරන විට මුස්‌ලිම් මිනිස්‌සු හරි, හරියට අපිට උදව් වුණා. අපිට දානය පිළිගැන්නුවේ මුස්‌ලිම්, දෙමළ මිනිස්‌සු. නැගෙනහිර ප්‍රදේශවල විශාල බෞද්ධ පරිසරයක්‌ නිර්මාණය කරන්න පුළුවන් වුණේ අන්‍ය ආගමිකයන්ගේ උදව් උපකාර ලැබුණු නිසයි. ඒත් මේ වන විට එම ප්‍රදේශවල ජාතීන් අතර තිබූ එකමුතුකම නැති වෙලා ගිහින්. විවිධ අන්තවාදී සංවිධාන ඒ මිනිසුන්ගේ එකමුතුකම බේද භින්න කරලා. ජාතිවාදය වපුරලා. මුල් කාලයේදී ‘අපේ සාදු’ කියලා කතා කරපු මුස්‌ලිම් මිනිස්‌සු දැන් මූණට මුලිච්චි වුණත් අහක බලාගන්න තත්ත්වයට පත් වුණා. අන්තිමේ අපිට දානය දීපු මිනිස්‌සුම අපේ ආරණ්‍ය සේනාසනය බලහත්කාරයෙන් අල්ල ගත්තා. අරිසිමලේ ආරණ්‍ය සේනාසන දානශාලාවේ අදටත් මුස්‌ලිම් මිනිස්‌සු බලහත්කාරයෙන් පදිංචි වෙලා ඉන්නවා. ආරණ්‍ය සේනාසන භූමියට හොර ඔප්පු හදලා. ඒ වගේම පහුගිය කාලේ යාංඔය රජමහා විහාරයේ චෛත්‍යය සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම ඩෝසර් කරලා විනාශ කළා. ඒ විනාශය ගැන පුරාවිද්‍යා දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවට, පොලිසියට, මහ දිසාපතිවරුන්ට අපි දැනුම් දුන්නා. ඒත් අපරාධය කරපු කිසිම කෙනෙකුට නීතියක්‌ ක්‍රියාත්මක වුණේ නෑ. ඊට පස්‌සේ එක පෙළට බුදුපිළිම හත, අටක්‌ කඩා බිඳ දැම්මා. තවත් බුදුපිළිමවලට කළු තෙල් ගහලා තිබුණා. මේ අපරාධ ගැන හොයන්න හමුදාව, පොලිසිය දෙකම දැම්මා. ඒත් ඒ අපරාධ කරපු කිසිම කෙනෙක්‌ව නීතිය ඉදිරියට ගෙනාවේ නෑ…”
 
kandy3‘නැගෙනහිර අපේ… මේ බිමේ පන්සල් පිළිම තියෙන්න බෑ. මේ අපිට අයිති ඉඩම්…’ එහෙම කියලා තමයි මුස්‌ලිම් මිනිස්‌සු නැගෙනහිර පින්බිම් කඩා බිඳ දමා ඩෝසර් කළේ. සී සෑවේ. පුරාවිද්‍යා නටබුන් ගොඩවල් ඩොසර් කරලා හෝටල් හැදුවේ. ඒ ඉදිකිරීම් කරනකොට අපි පොලිසියට දැනුම් දුන්නා. අදාළ ආයතනවලට දැනුවත් කළා. දේශපාලන බල අධිකාරිය දැනුවත් කළා. ඒ කිසිම තැනකින් ක්‍රියාත්මක වුණේ නෑ. නැගෙනහිර සියලු පරිපාලන ආයතන ක්‍රියාත්මක වුණේ මුස්‌ලිම් දේශපාලනඥයන් කියන විදිහට. රක්‍ෂිත, පුරාවිද්‍යා ඉඩම්වලට මුස්‌ලිම් මිනිසුන්ගේ නම්වලට බලපත්‍ර සකස්‌ වුණා. අක්‌කර හත්සීයක්‌ තිබුණු මුහුදු මහා විහාර භූමිය අක්‌කර දෙකකට සීමා වුණා. මහා වනාන්තර අමු, අමුවේ විනාශ කර ගම්මාන ඉදි කළා. වගා කරන්න පටන් ගත්තා. ඒ වගේම එම ප්‍රදේශවල වැඩ සිටින භික්‍ෂූන් වහන්සේලා සිංහල අන්තවාදීන්, ඔවුන්ගේ භූමිය බලහත්කාරයෙන් අල්ලාගෙන සිටින බවට මුස්‌ලිම් ප්‍රජාව අතර මතයක්‌ පැතුරුවා. සංඝයා වහන්සේලාට බෞද්ධ සිද්ධස්‌ථාන පරිහරණය කරන්න ඉඩ දුන්නේ නෑ. සමහර ආරණ්‍ය සේනාසනවල වැඩ සිටින සංඝයා වහන්සේලාට දන් ගෙනයැම පවා තහනම් කළා. අලුතින් පන්සල් හදන්න දුන්නේ නෑ. අදටත් නැගෙනහිර ප්‍රදේශවල බෞද්ධ කොඩියක්‌ උස්‌සන්න දෙන්නේ නෑ. බෞද්ධ භූමියක බෝධීන් වහන්සේ නමක්‌ රෝපණය කරන්න ඉඩ දෙන්නේ නෑ. පිළිමයක්‌ තියන්න දෙන්නේ නෑ. තියෙන බෞද්ධ සිද්ධස්‌ථානත් ඉවත් කරගන්න කියනවා. කෑම්ප්වල බුදු පිළිම පාරට පේනවට තල් වැටවල් ගහලා වැහුවා. එම ප්‍රදේශවලින් ඉවත් වෙන ලෙස භික්‍ෂූන් වහන්සේලාට තර්ජනය කළා. ඒ තර්ජන, ගර්ජනවලට අපි බය වුණේ නෑ. ඒත් අපිට ජීවිත අවධානම තවමත් තියෙනවා. ඒ අපි අන්තවාදයට එරෙහිව ක්‍රියාත්මක වෙන නිසයි. මේ දේවල් ගැන අපි කොච්චර බලධාරීන්ට කිව්වත් තේරුම් ගත්තේ නෑ. සිංහල දේශපාලනඥයන් මුස්‌ලිම් මනාපයට ගිජු වුණා. එම ප්‍රදේශවල රාජකාරි කරන සිංහල නිලධාරීන් මැදපෙරදිග සල්ලි කුට්‌ටිවලට වහ වැටිලා අඳ ගොළු ගානට වැටුණා. අපේ රටේ අපි කල්ලතෝනි ගානට වැටුණා…”
 
kandy4“ඉඩම් කොල්ලය විඳ දරාගන්න පුළුවන්. ඒත් අපේ උරුමය තලා පෙළා කුඩු පට්‌ටම් කරන වේදනාව දරාගන්න අමාරුයි. බෞද්ධ වෙහෙර, විහාරවලට කරන විනාශය සිංහල හදවත්වලට තදින් වැදුණා. ඒත් සිංහල මිනිස්‌සු නිකරුණේ ගහා මරාගන්න යන මිනිස්‌සු නෙමෙයි. හොඳ ඉවසීමක්‌ සහිත සමකාමී මිනිස්‌සු. දකුණේ මිනිස්‌සු කෝවිලකට, පල්ලියකට ගිහිල්ලා නිකමට අගෞරව කරන්නේ නෑ. ඒක තමයි අපේ හැදියාව. ඒත් දිගින් දිගටම කෙණහිලිකම් කරනකොට සිල් බිඳෙනවා. ඒත් බුද්ධ පුත්‍රයන් විදිහට අපි නුවර, අලුත්ගම සිද්ධි වගේ කෝලාහල බලාපොරොත්තු වෙන්නේ නෑ. බුද්ධ ධර්මයේ කියෑවෙන්නෙත් අන්‍ය ආගමිකයන්ට මෛත්‍රිය කරන්න කියලා. ඒ වගේම රටේ සෑම මුස්‌ලිම් මිනිහෙක්‌ම වැරැදි නෑ. සෑම දෙමළ මනුස්‌සයෙක්‌ම වැරැදිත් නෑ. ඒ ජාතීන්ව කුපිත කරවන්නේ ඔවුන් අතර සිටින අන්තවාදී කණ්‌ඩායම්. අපි ක්‍රියාත්මක වෙන්න ඕනා ඒ අන්තවාදය පරද්දන්න. ඒ වගේම ඇන කොටාගෙන ගහ මරාගෙන ප්‍රශ්න විසඳන්න බැරි බව අපි තේරුම් ගන්න ඕනා…” අරිසිමලේ නායක හාමුදුරුවන්ගේ දේශනය අවසානය. නැගෙනහිර අන්තවාදීන්ගේ කාලකණ්‌ණි ක්‍රියාකාරකම් ගැන උන්වහන්සේ හොඳින් පැහැදිළි කළහ. එහෙයින් රට තුළ ක්‍රියාත්මක ගෝත්‍රික අන්තවාදීන් ගැන කියන්නට තවත් වචන නාස්‌ති කර ඵලක්‌ නැත. මේ හොඳටම ප්‍රමාණවත්ය.
 
kandy5ඒත් මේ අපේ වෑයම රට තුළ ජාතිවාදය වැපිරීම නොවේ. ජාතිවාදයේ ගිනි ජාලා නිර්මාණය වීමට පාදක වූ පසුබිම් කතාව බලධාරීන්ට මතක්‌ කරදීමකි. මිශ්‍ර ජන සමාජයකදී රටේ නීතිය සෑම ජනකොටසකටම පොදු විය යුතුය. දකුණේ කැලෑවකින් දර ඇහිඳින ගුණපාලටත්, උතුරේ නඩරාජාටත්, නැගෙනහිර කැලෑ විනාශ කරන, ඉඩම් මංකොල්ලකන අන්වර්ලාටත් එක ලෙස නීතිය ක්‍රියාත්මක විය යුතුය. එසේ නොවන්නට හෙට උපදින ජාතිවාදී කෝලාහල මීට වඩා බිහිසුණු වන බව අප සිහි තබාගත යුතුය.
 
 kandy6kandy7

MUSLIM WAHHABI MENACE UNDERMINING AMIABLE COMMUNITY RELATIONS IN SRI LANKA

March 17th, 2018

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Sufism or the Sufi Muslim Ideology

In the past, political strife among Muslims in the world, resulted in their division into two major rival groups – Sunni and Shias. Sunnis who form the large majority are predominant in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh. The Shias who form about 15% of worlds Muslims live mostly in Iran, Iraq, Yeman, India and Sri Lanka. Sufism or the Sufi Muslim ideology had been the predominant Islamic spiritual tradition observed throughout Southern Asia, including Sri Lanka. Sufis can be members of either the Sunni or Shia divisions. Sufism is the mystical or ascetic branch of Islam in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of Allah.

Threats to the Dominance of Sufism

In recent decades, in Sri Lanka, the dominance of Sufism has been threatened and undermined by the increased presence of other Islam sects such as Tabligh Jamaat,  Jamaat-i-Islamiya andWahhabism.

Tabligh Jamaat sect was founded in India in 1926 and became active in Sri Lanka since the 1950s. It promoted a more conservative view of Islam and developed a mass following and focused on religious rituals and daily prayers. Also, it promoted rigid dress codes for its members. This ultraorthodox Islamic sect preaches that it is the duty of Muslims to travel across the country and convert non-believers to the Islamic faith. It soon became common practice, especially for young Tabligh members to make regular journeys around the island, mix with other ethnic groups, especially Buddhists, and propagate Islam.

Jamaat-i-Islamiya was founded in Pakistan in 1941 and became active in Sri Lanka in the 1950s and thereafter. In Pakistan it started as an Islamic political party with the objective of establishing anIslamic state, governed by Sharia law. It opposes Ideologies such as capitalismsocialism and secularism, and practices such as bank interest and liberalist social mores. It generated greater appeal among the more educated middle-class Muslims of Sri Lanka.

Wahhabism as opposed to Sufism, is an ultra conservative branch of Sunni Islam which is dominant in Saudi Arabia. It is a movement that started in the 18th century, in Saudi Arabia, among fundamentalist Islam believers who were promoting a return to the earliest fundamental Islamic teachings of the Quran and Hadith or religious law and moral guidance enunciated by Prophet Mohamed.

After 1973, with the Arab oil embargo, the financial status of the oil-rich Saudi Arabia boosted to an unprecedented level. This resulted in the dominant and powerful ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, to vigorously promote Wahhabism in other countries, and thereby have increased impact on other countries. Saudi and Arab Gulf oil wealth helped fuel the global expansion of Wahhabism ideology, which is often associated with hardline Salafism. Funds were freely available for the purpose. The House of Saud soon became the primary source of the promotion of Wahhabi ideology world-wide. The result was the birth of al-Qaida, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Wahhabi terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Wahhabi terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia spends 87 billion US dollar per year to spread Wahhabism world-wide. All the ‘Islamist’ terror attacks in South Asia including in Mumbai, Afghanistan and Pakistan had the hallmarks of Wahhabism. Faith blinds Wahhabi Jihadists to believe that they have the mandate of Allah to rid the world of ‘infidels’ and ‘heretics’. Wahhabi followers – al-Qaida, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Wahhabi terrorist groups – have caused untold misery in several countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

Wahhabism in Sri Lanka

Since the late 1980s, there has been a strong growth in ultra-orthodox interpretations of Islam in Sri Lanka, coming from particularly from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries and Pakistan. This has led to considerable unease and conflicts among Muslims living in different parts of the island.  Wahhabis have already built several illegal Mosques in Sri Lanka using Saudi Arabia’s petro dollar. Newspapers have reported a significant influx of Wahhabi preachers and activists from Saudi Arabia and South India especially during the past three decades. The Saudi Embassy in Sri Lanka, has admitted that certain wealthy Saudi persons are helping various Muslim religious groups in Sri Lanka to put up mosques. The Wahhabi jihad trends have revealed their ambition to control South Asian Islam communities even by means of using violent methods.

During the last two decades, many Sri Lankan Muslims both male and female, found employment in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern Muslim countries and were exposed to and strongly influenced by Wahhabism. It is a fact that there has been a significant increase of Wahhabi followers in Sri Lanka in recent years and this trend is clear in the Eastern and Northeastern provinces. Also, many young Sri Lankan Muslims were awarded scholarships by Saudi Arabia to study Wahhabism in Saudi universities. Upon their return to Sri Lanka they undertook in an organized manner the propagation of the ideology of Wahhabism. They were instrumental in the establishment of numerous madrasas where young Muslims were subject to various forms of brainwashing in Wahhabism including the jihad approach. Islamic fundamentalism brought about by Wahhabism is causing communal polarisation in Sri Lanka, like in all other southern Asian countries. In India, thetrend of increasing radicalisation of Indian Muslims owing to Wahhabism has become a serious national security issue. The growth of radical Islamist streams became visible only in the past two decades. Wahhabism calls for Jihad, or war against infidels, or non-believers of Islam

Madrasas in Sri Lanka

During the past two decades, many madrasas have been established in Sri Lanka, especially in places where Muslims predominate. Saudi Arabia has been the primary source of funding for their establishment. Madrasas are meant exclusively for Muslim children and youth. According to those responsible for their establishment, madrasas are Islamic education and training centres, with an exclusively Islamic curriculum, offering instructions in Islamic subjects including but not limited to the Quoran. It includes Jurisprudence or “figh” and Muslim law or Sharia Law and the teaching and practice of “sufi” which encompasses Islamic mysticism. It is significant to note that the relevance and implications of teaching Sharia Law in these institutions has not been investigated by the Sri Lankan government authorities, especially given the fact that there can be only one law in our country and that is a secular law which is applicable to all citizens irrespective of their ethnicity or religious affiliations.

With Saudi Arabian funding, many Madrasas have been established in Muslim dominated countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Maldives Island. Some of them are run by fundamentalist and jihadi organizations and their education and training are focused on Muslim fundamentalism. Madrasas have been banned in several non-Muslim countries because they were known to propagate Islamic extremism and militancy and were becoming recruiting grounds for terrorism. It has been widely alleged that Madrasas were places where young Muslims were subjected to various forms of brainwashing and indoctrination in Sharia Law, Jihad, and extreme forms of Wahhabism. It has been widely reported that some Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders obtained their radical political views at madrasas. Some madrasas were known to be promoting a militant form of Islam and were teaching and training young Muslims to fight non-believers and stand against the moral standards of the western society. Some who have researched and investigated the functioning of Madrasas have revealed that they are mostly concerned with teaching violence. The suicide bombers involved in the July 2005 London terror attack were trained in Pakistani Madrasas.

In countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Muslims are among the most deprived in terms of education and therefore the establishment of Madrasas for basic educational purposes has become necessary. This is not the case with Sri Lankan Muslims. In fact, our public-school system is open to all and there are many Muslim students attending regular schools in Sri Lanka. Also, there are exclusively Muslim national schools and it is important to note that most international schools in the country are owned and operated by Muslims where Muslim students predominate.

Indoctrination of Younger Generation in Madrasas

Zachary Abuza, in his book “Militant Islam in Southeast Asia (Crusible of Terror)”, highlights the role of Madrasas or exclusively Islamic schools established by Muslim extremists in indoctrinating the younger generation. The author comments that “In their pursuit of the creation of Islamic states, many Southeast Asian jihadis established Islamic schools to indoctrinate, propagate, and recruit. The leaders of many militant groups in Southeast Asia, returned from training in Mid-Eastern countries and established madrasas as the base of their operations and recruitment. These radical Islamic madrasas, with unrestricted material support from foreign Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia, have begun to recruit and brainwash many Muslim children and youth in Islamic Jihadist movement and Islamic fundamentalism.

In Arabic, the word jihad translates to mean “struggle”. Persons engaged in jihad are called mujahideen. Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. There are two meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle. The “greater jihad” is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his religious duties. The ‘halal’-haram- practices are related to this type of struggle. This is a non-violent struggle. The other meaning of Jihad is the physical struggle against the enemies of Islam. This physical struggle can take a violent form or a non-violent form. The proponents of the violent form translate jihad as “holy war”.

Impact of Wahhabism on Sufi Islam

Wahhabism is, in fact, a new politico-religious movement that has been sweeping the Eastern province of Sri Lanka with more than sixty Muslim Wahhabi organizations helping in propagating the movement throughout Sri Lanka and has raced ahead and taken control of the Jihadist and Al Fatah groups in Sri Lanka under their wings. Wahhabism is imported and planted in the midst of peace-loving Muslims in Sri Lanka, mostly through the lavish inflow of Saudi money pumped into Sri Lanka has overtaken other Islamic organizations by threats, intimidation, and coercion. Wahhabism has been encroaching Sri Lanka without any form of resistance from the governments of the day and having strong impact on adherents of the traditional Sufi Islam. Operating through a movement called Thawheed which was hugely funded by Saudi Arabian sources, and through NGOs such as Al Haj Adul Jawad Alim Valiyullah Trust, Wahhabis have fully established itself in Sri Lanka. They have been instrumental in the establishment of many new mosques and Wahhabi education and training centres named “madrasas” in many locations Sri Lanka.

The Wahhabis claiming to be the real scholars of Islam, maintains that the Sufis or the moderate Sri Lankan Muslims are ignorant of the basic teachings and practices of Islam. This has led to serious sectarian clashes among Sri Lankan Muslims and increased unruly behavior patterns in some sections of the Muslim community, especially in the East. Wahhabi fundamentalism has advanced so quickly in Sri Lanka mostly because of the building of many madrasas and mosques with Saudi funding. Wahhabis are trying to take the peaceful Islamic community in Sri Lanka down the path of extremism and violence. The Wahhabis have already created deep divisions in among Sri Lankan Muslims and have formed gangs that intimidate moderate Muslims who speak out against Wahhabi fanatics. Like the Christian fundamentalist groups using NGOs to convert innocent poor families to Christianity, Wahhabis help poor Muslim families by providing cash and other material benefits to convert them to their cult. Wahhabis appear to be using Sri Lankan Government agencies to propagate Wahhabi activities.

Severe Clashes between Sufis and Wahhabi Muslims

Wahhabism in Sri Lanka is headquartered in Kattankudi.  In recent years, clashes between Sufis and Wahhabi Muslims in Kattankudi and Oddamavadi have been regular occurrences. More than 200 homes of Sufi followers were burnt down by Wahhabi Jihadists in Kattankudi during clashes in October-2004. One of the Sufi leaders Abdul Payilvan died in Colombo was buried at in Kattankudi the next day. Wahhabi Muslims observed a hartal and demanded the removal of the body from the burial grounds. Wahhabi Muslims claim Kattankudy soil is sacred and bodies belonging to those who preach views contradictory to Wahhabism should not be buried there. Wahhabis demanded that the body of Abdul Payilvan, who is from Maruthamunai in the Ampara district, should be exhumed and buried elsewhere. Wahhabis had dug up the buried body of another Sufi Muslim from Mosque burial grounds and dumped the body on a local road as an act of protest. Kattankudi Police recovered the body, re-buried it in the original burial ground and guarded burial ground for few days. In Kattankudi, the hatred between Wahhabis and Sufis has widened in the last few years and has grown in intensity, left many injured, and caused damage to several houses and vehicles. Though residing in Sri Lanka illegally, P Jainul Abedin – a powerful Wahhabi preacher from Tamil Nadu – is now leading the Wahhabi Jihadism in Kattankudi. A more recent 2009 clash in the south-western Muslim coastal town of Beruwala reflects similar religious tensions between a popular Sufi sheikh and a nearby Wahhabi congregation.

It is evident that the traditional practices of Islam of the island’s Sufi Muslim community, are under threat by the Wahhabi group. Sufis are under attack not by adherents of other religions but by their own Muslims brothers. Worship of saints practiced by the Sufi Muslims of Sri Lanka is frowned upon by the Wahhabi group. Owing to increasing threats, many Sufi Muslims appear to be distancing themselves from their traditional practices such as mosque feasts and the worship of saints. Wahhabi groups are violently opposed to these traditional practices. They are in fact promoting the theology endorsed by senior scholars in Saudi Arabia. They claim that the religious practices of Sufi Muslims are impure, tinged with superstition and mystical rituals and they are determined to make Śri Lanka’s Muslim community conform to more orthodox strictures and they are will use violence if necessary to achieve their ends

Trend of Intolerance and Extreme Forms of Violence

The Sufis in the meanwhile has begun a campaign against the Wahhabis appealing to Sri Lanka authorities for an impartial inquiry into Wahhabi activities in the country, to disarm the Wahhabis and to enable the reconstruction of its headquarters in Kattankudy which was destroyed by the Wahhabis and the Sufis affected and displaced to be compensated by the Wahhabis so that they can rebuild their ruined homes and businesses. Saudi agents have successfully penetrated Sri Lankan Muslim social fabric. With training provided with the financial and other backing from the House of Saud, they have been able to subdue the Sufis to a great extent.

Thareekathul Mufliheen Organization of Sufi Muslims

In late 1980s, the Sufi Muslims formed an organization known as All Ceylon Thareekathul Mufliheen organization defining itself as “a peace loving and non-violent Religious Society, where members were expected to be patient and tolerant even in times of grave injustice and calamity brought about by the Wahhabis. This organization was founded by Sheihul Mufliheen M.S.M. Abdullah, known as “Rah,” in the southeastern Sri Lanka village of Maruthamunai.  It was registered as a cultural society with the civil authorities in 1989. The headquarters of Thareekathul Mufliheen was in the small eastern coast village of Kattankudy. This organization maintained that each human being is free to choose a path of faith and that there should not be any compulsion to embrace the views of the organization. This was published in a book in Tamil, in 1980, by the founder of this organization titled Imanin Unmaiyai Nee Arivaya, or Do You Know the Truth of Iman? – iman referring to Islamic belief. This led to serious problems. A book was translated into English as The Court of Reason and was published in 2010. The country’s official Council of Islamic Scholars, the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama, purportedly without reading the book or holding a hearing to examine it, published a fatwa or religious opinion on September 10, 1989, declaring Abdullah (Rah) and his followers as murtadd or apostates, who renounced Islam, in the judgment of the clerics.

Abdullah (Rah) the founder of Thareekathul Mufliheen organization filed a defamation suit against the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama in 1990 in Colombo which led the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama (ACJU) revoked the fatwa in 1996 and settle the complaint. Besides the fatva, the AUJU also took action to deny the Thareekathul Mufliheen to register marriages and the burial of the dead in conformity with Islamic practice.  However, through legal action these rights were restored.

Wahhabi Attacks the Sufi Meditation Centre

Thareekathul Mufliheen organization of the Sufis opened a “Meditation” Centre at Kattankudy in 1996.  Wahhabi extremists struck the building setting fire to it. Abdullah (Rah) and the members of the order were targets of shooting and grenade attacks, and other physical aggression, as well as threats. In 2004, many Wahhabis organized under the title “Jihad” again set the “Meditation” Centre ablaze, destroying its library, along with homes and businesses owned by Sufis. Financial loss to the injured parties was considerable, and one Sufi was shot and killed while gunfire wounded another. In 2005, the organization filed a protest, with the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRC) in 2005. The HRC found in favor of the Sufis, stating that their constitutional right to adhere to the belief of their will and choice had been violated. The Meditation Centre and headquarters were rebuilt in 2006.

Sheihul Mufliheen M.S.M. Abdullah (Rah) the founder of the Thareekathul Mufliheen organization died in December 2006. Wahhabi preachers and the armed “Jihad” incited the local clerics and politicians (Jamiathul Ulama Kattankudy, the Muslim Federation of Mosques, and the Urban Council of Kattankudy) to oppose his burial according to Islamic rites, in the Meditation Centre, as he was a supposed “apostate.” According to the Wahhabis and their accomplices, “apostates” could not be buried in Kattankudy. The Jihadis, armed with lethal weapons, rioted after the death of Abdullah (Rah), causing widespread social disruption in Kattankudy resulting in a general work stoppage, shutting down of schools, government and private offices, banks, and businesses. Some banks and shops were looted and burned in the process. The official clerics of All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama, Jamiathul Ulama Kattankudy, the Muslim Federation of Mosques, other Islamic organizations, and the Kattankudy Urban Council initiated a judicial argument on December 11, 2006. They denounced Abdullah (Rah) as defying Muslim norms and traditions and charged that Thareekathul Mufliheen organization had failed to seek permission from the authorities for the burial. The petition by the official clerics and Wahhabis was dismissed in 2007. The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission declared in 2007 that it could not “interfere in the disputes between various sects of a religion” and recommended the conflict be referred to the Council of Ulemas – All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama, or to the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

In December 2006, in a separate controversy, the Urban Council in Kattankudy had ordered the dismantling of the minaret at the “Meditation” Centre, as an “unauthorized structure.  Although the Police tried to prevent the commencement of the demolition, Wahhabi extremists interfered with the police resulting in shootings and the death of three rioters. A police post and police vehicle were assaulted.  However, subsequently members of the Urban Council joined a Wahhabi mob and invaded the “Meditation” Centre and knocked down the minaret, removing the body of Abdullah (Rah), either burning or reburying it in a location yet unknown. Fire levelled the houses of 117 Sufis. Many were threatened and fled the district.

Since then, however, abuses against the Sufis of Kattankudy have continued, with the Wahhabi Thawheed faction in the forefront of violence. Official ulema and the village authorities attempted unsuccessfully to prevent celebration of a Sufi festival in 2008. That year, a Sri Lanka Supreme Court order, providing that 200 members of Thareekathul Mufliheen be allowed to return to their homes in Kattankudy and practice their beliefs in freedom, was obstructed by armed Jihad members. In response to the campaign against it, Thareekathul Mufliheen has appealed to the Sri Lanka authorities for an impartial inquiry into Wahhabi activities in the country; to disarm the Wahhabis; to provide for reconstruction of the headquarters of Thareekathul Mufliheen in Kattankudy; to enforce the revocation of the fatwa issued by the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama against Abdullah (Rah) and his disciples, as ordered by the Colombo District Court, and to compensate the displaced Sufis, facilitating restoration of their lost heritage, ruined homes, and businesses. The Sufis of Kattankudy seek “peaceful resettlement with honor.”

There is clear evidence of increasing tension and extreme forms of violence between traditional and more fundamentalist Islamic groups in Muslim communities across Sri Lanka. During the latter period of the war with Tamil LTTE terrorists, the Sri Lankan government recruited Muslim Home Guards to fight the terrorists. In the East some of these Home Guards deserted with their weapons and joined the Wahhabis rebels to fulfill its demand for “Jihad” against traditional Sufi Muslims.

The Beruwala Violence

The most cruel and crude nature of violence was well evident in the 2009 attack and devastation of the Beruwala Rahuman Masjid Mosque during its annual Buhari feast, which has been a practice in this mosque for over 130 years. A fundamentalist group of Muslim extremists armed with knives, swords and axes stormed the mosque, yelling that all those participating in the feast were infidels who had deviated from the path of Islam. The attackers set fire to the mosque and caused millions of rupees of damage. Two men were brutally hacked to death in the violence. They damaged cars, motor cycles and bicycles, and a special Police team had to be deployed in control the situation. A curfew was imposed in the area and some of the perpetrators were arrested but some had escaped. In 2009 the Wahhabis vandalized and destroyed a 150-year old shrine located in Ukuwela near Matale. This was associated with violent clashes between Muslim groups.  According to Muslim community leaders and groups this violence contradicts the fundamental teachings of Islam.

In pursuit of their mission to expand their sphere of influence among Sufi Muslims and others, these Wahhabis resorted to violence and intimidation culminating in death and  destruction. Most Muslim problems in the country at present appear to stem from foreign, particularly Saudi Arabian funding for fundamentalist groups. Also, the young Muslims who have been exposed to Saudi Islamic religious norms and who are being indoctrinated in madrasas and universities in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and reading Wahhabi texts which are opposed to traditional practices such as those of Sufi Muslims. What is wrong with this trend is the approach adopted by these    extremist groups to propagate and promote their ideology, thinking and practices   among the traditional Sufi Muslims of Sri Lanka. Their approach is unacceptable   because it is causing disharmony and violence within the Muslim community which has   direct implications for peace and social stability in the country. Those  professing Wahhabism or any other religion in Sri Lanka, should realize fully, that they are living in a non-Muslim country where Sinhala Buddhists form the mainstream dominant community. Religious extremism and related violence are not compatible with the traditional peaceful social ethic and values of the mainstream Sinhala Buddhists of the country. They will not tolerate or permit Muslims or any non-indigenous community in Sri Lanka, to destabilise their country.

The traditional Sufi Islam practiced by Muslims in Sri Lanka for centuries, and related lifestyle of Muslims facilitated harmonious relationships with other religions and communities in the country. Maintaining such relationships was necessary for most Muslims who were business-men dealing with a market consisting mostly of non-Muslims. Owing to their living among Buddhists most Muslims were inevitably influenced by and learnt to respect the social values of Sinhala Buddhists marked by tolerance and non-violence. It is unlikely that the more fundamentalist Muslim groups and related extremist attitudes and practices that appear to be emerging will help Sri Lankan Muslims to coexist successfully with the island’s other religions, as before. In fact, the Wahhabis do not seem to be able to coexist peacefully with their own Muslim brothers. As a nation with a historic cultural tradition that extends to over 2200 years, where freedom, compassion, tolerance, and accommodation of people of all faiths and ethnicities have been the founding principles, it is necessary that we as a nation take necessary steps to protect and preserve these noble and wholesome cultural traditions. We cannot allow them to be undermined under any circumstances. It is necessary that all communities living in this country develop respect towards the social values and norms of other communities inhabiting this land and not pursue policies and activities that would jeopardize the quality of life and stability of our nation. As a nation with a historic cultural tradition that extends to over 2200 years, where freedom, compassion, tolerance, and accommodation of people of all faiths and ethnicities have been the founding principles, it is necessary that we as a nation take necessary steps to protect and preserve these noble and wholesome cultural traditions. We cannot allow them to be undermined under any circumstances

Harmonious Community Relations threatened

Spiritual aspects of society could be seen and understood only by those who are spiritual and not by those who are blinded and brainwashed by fictitious beliefs which prevents them from being spiritual.  Being spiritual is different from being religious. There is a fundamental difference between Spirituality and Religion. Abiding by a bygone religious belief system does not make one spiritual no matter what the nature of those beliefs are. Religion inevitably has a divisive and intolerant effect on society and therefore violates human rights. Being highly institutionalized religion is always authoritarian and oppressive and has resorted to crusades, terrorism, and other unethical means to promote their cause. Spirituality does not involve a belief system but is focused on inner transformation. It is a state of consciousness leading to a state of awakening to realities of life, to the ultimate meaning of life.

In recent years, some Muslim extremists have started a campaign to disrepute and undermine using various direct and indirect means, the traditional leaders of the country – Venerable Bhikkhus, and the Buddha Sasana which Is the foundation of the national culture of Sri Lanka. Buddhist historic sites and National Forest and Game reserves have been encroached upon illegally for Muslim housing purposes. In parallel, Muslim extremists are propagating within Sri Lanka, an exclusive attire, life-style, education system (madrasa) especially among their younger generation, a banking system, a parochial Islamic legal system, proliferation of children and of new mosques are among other new tendencies. The effects of these tendencies, particularly their long-term effects are precariously unhealthy and unfavourable for the unity and social harmony of our nation and are contrary to the socio-cultural norms and values of the country. These tendencies are having a highly divisive effect on our society and are bound to create serious problems with drastic negative implications for the nation stability and prosperity.

Today there is increased interest in the country, for the consolidation of national unity. Divisive tendencies of any nature should not be encouraged or tolerated. With our massive success in containing Tamil terrorism and our determined efforts to bring the various communities together as One Nation, it is important that divisive tendencies in our society be eliminated. It is important that we prevent polarization tendencies in communities living in Sri Lanka.

http://www.ora.tv/rubinreport/2015/9/…

Looking back at Kandy in 1915

March 17th, 2018

Courtesy The Island


The recent clashes in Digana and other places in the Kandy District brought back memories of what my mother narrated about the 1915 ‘Muslim riots’ as they called the disturbance in Kandy and surrounding areas. She was a child living in a village in Peradeniya when the carol cart with persons singing Vesak gee was stoned when it passed the Meerakkam Palliya at the rear end of (then) Castle Street on Vesak night. A clash ensued. This was after the trouble in Gampola a couple of years earlier. It was ascertained that Muslim fanatics had collected in the mosque ready to create trouble and the Buddhists too had courted trouble by routing the singers by the mosque. Mother said they feared the Muslims would invade villages. Rumour that rampaging Muslims were approaching had them dousing the hearth, clutching valuables and some clothes, food of course, and retreating to the pan kele behind the mahagedera. Plenty of village women were at hand to carry goods and Mother’s younger siblings. The men, including her father, the Korale Mahattaya, were on the main road ready to defend their village. Their fears were unjustified; rumour-mongers were to blame.

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History

In Volume One of Dr P V J Jayasekera’s detailed research study Confrontations with Colonialism: resistance, revivalism, reform under British rule in Sri Lanka 1796-1920, (Vijitha Yapa 2017), he details the Gampola clash. He was at one time Head of the History Department, University of Peradeniya.

“At Gampola the old religio-economic conflict between the Muslims and the Buddhists had become acute since 1907 with the building of a new mosque by the Coast Moors on the customary route of a traditional procession conducted by the Wallahagoda Devale. The police, on the request of the Muslims, laid down that music accompanying the procession should stop at a distance of hundred yards on either side of the mosque. The Buddhists refused to conduct the procession under such restrictions and legally contested the right of the government to regulate customary practices. They claimed that traditional rights were guaranteed by Clause 5 of the Kandyan Convention and those subsequent ordinances and regulations controlling religious processions were invalid.” The Court verdict was in support of the Buddhist petitioners. Thus the intensified anti–Muslim feeling and boycott of Muslim traders et al. This intensification of sentiments culminated in the 1915 clashes in Kandy.

I obtained two chapters from Dr Jayasekera’s forthcoming Volume Two. They are comprehensive in-depth studies of his subject and detailed analysis, which I largely condense quoting the following paragraphs:

“The clash at Kandy was outwardly the culmination of over two decades of religious conflicts between the Buddhists and Muslims in several locations on the question of the right to play religious music in front of a place of worship although there was strictly no traditional procession that could claim protection under the Kandyan Convention. However, the setting itself was overwhelmingly religious. Kandy, as the place associated with Buddha’s Tooth relic was a sacred city and obstructions to religious functions in the city naturally had greater religious significance than the isolated conflicts of the past. More important perhaps was the day; Wesak, being the most sacred day of the Buddhists, the time of the disturbances coincided with the height of Buddhist festivities and enthusiasm throughout the country. Thus the attacks on the Muslims were bound to assume predominantly religious overtones and follow the pattern set at Kandy.

“In 1915 the spread of violence being more contagious in character, there was no organised agent carrying the torch of insurrection. The newspapers carried reports of events, but did not act as agents of mobilisation. The Buddhist press which had earlier campaigned against the Muslims deplored the violence on them and even tried to dispel rumours that inflamed communal ill-feeling. The Wesak pilgrims from Kandy and from other places like Kelaniya no doubt diffused the news and hostile feeling in remote areas. The railway was an important agency in precipitating action at different places. Though there was no gang movement, excited crowds travelling by train from Colombo were instrumental in stirring up violence against the Muslims at places like Moratuwa, Panadura, Angulana, Ambalangoda, Veyangoda and Mirigama. The fact that violence broke out with least instigation and almost on the news of riots in other areas also illustrates the presence of highly charged grievances.”

What happened in 1915 in Kandy “illustrates certain vital features that cannot be overlooked in understanding the nature of ethnic violence. Active crowds were always composed primarily of different categories of workers, both urban and rural, and the peasants. In most instances the leadership appear to have come from the crowd itself, but where leaders could be identified the presence of men of higher social and economic standing of the same localities is clearly evident. However, their leadership does not point to any outside organisation or pre-arrangement behind the riots but illustrates the fact that crowds do accept leaders outside their class or social standing only as long as they collaborate with them in implementing their chosen program of action. The primary target of attack was the commercial property of the Muslims but this distinction between property and person was ignored wherever destruction of property was resisted. Neither was any exception made to Muslim places of worship; wherever the mosques were found in close vicinity of centres of violence they were subjected to destruction and arson. All these features illustrate that the riots were essentially a sudden outburst of violence primarily on the part of the subaltern classes among the Sinhalese against the Muslims as a community. The understanding of the motives behind such widespread ethnic violence requires not merely religious and ideological developments but a more in-depth examination of the socio-economic implications of the colonial ‘forced march’ and their cumulative effects on ethnic identities and relations.”

The ‘forced march’ here connotes the transition from pre-colonial to colonial economic systems with resultant deprivation, restrictions, taxes etc which impacted more on the Sinhalese peasant than on the minorities. It was forced progression decreed by the colonial rulers imposing their systems on people of Ceylon, which so far had been mostly feudal

Thus it was mainly colonial strictures and influences and prejudices that precipitated trouble like taxes that benefited the Muslim traders. World War 1 had its repercussions in this island colony of the British with people suffering economic deprivation, more so the Sinhala peasant than the successful Muslim trader. Very many more underlying issues caused the 1907-15 conflict. It is edifying to draw parallels between then and now, which are starkly present; also contrasts.

Reasons advanced by the man on the street

Talk to a Sinhalese three wheeler driver or a boutique keeper and his complaints against the Muslims are far from religious. They are economic and cultural. Says Sampath a three wheeler owner: “You get one small shop, grocery or otherwise, opened by a Muslim and in no time the entire road is theirs.” A well-to-do resident of Colombo 7 or 5 will exclaim: “See how the houses and property are all snapped up by the Muslims. They have limitless resources.” A cry of some Buddhist monks was: “The Muslims produce so many children while the Sinhalese practise birth control.”

Remedies to my mind are: economic competition and take it when the better trader succeeds.

Demography (the study of statistics such as births, deaths, income, or the incidence of disease, which illustrate the changing structure of human populations) is definitely changing. I need not spell out the fact that the percentage of the Sinhala population and its number are decreasing while the Muslim population is increasing, not only in Colombo or traditional Muslim areas like the East but across the land. You cannot pass rules nor kill people. One has to move with it and live and let live.

A foreign resident quoted education of women as a remedy for excess procreation; a woman will have more control over her body. This may or may not work since religion and perhaps male dominance and even the Koran may intervene.

It is with trepidation that I mention the newish trend of Wahabism, defined as “a puritanical form of Sunni Islam and is practiced in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, although it is much less rigidly enforced in the latter. The word. ‘Wahhabi’ is derived from the name of a Muslim scholar, Muhammad bin Abd al Wahhab, who lived in the Arabian peninsula during the eighteenth century (1703-1791)”. His influence, given a boost by petrodollars, has turned extreme and fundamental, and is widespread in Sri Lanka and could result in confrontation.

These and other forces are getting stronger and thus lead to conflict; destructive of life, resources and the reputation of the country. However, the most important is: stop enmity from growing and blighting the country. Catch and deal with trouble inciters, whether in religious garb or civilian.

Nan

Are Sri Lankan Muslims being DUPED into WAHHABI Extremism ?

March 17th, 2018

Sri Lanka News

A news report by India’s World Is One News (WION) claims that while Sinhalese intolerance is on the rise in Sri Lanka, as apparent in the recent communal violence, the root cause for the distrust of Muslims in Sri Lanka lies in the alarming spread of Wahhabism among one of the most tolerant and peaceful Muslim communities of the world.

It states that most of the international media especially Middle Eastern concerns are painting exaggerated pictures of bloodthirsty Sinhalese and victimized Muslims, but WION has been talking to Sri Lankan analysts of all religions and that what they are discovering paints a slightly different picture.

It is true that Sinhalese intolerance is on the rise and this time it is not Sri Lanka’s Tamils who are the targets but the country’s nearly 2 million Muslims. There can be no justification for violence of course, but one must examine the root cause of the distrust of Muslims in Sri Lanka since 2009.”

And that root cause lies in the alarming spread of Wahhabism among one of the most tolerant and peaceful Muslim communities of the world, that of Sri Lanka,” WION’s Padma Rao  says.

 

She says that it is no secret anymore that close neighbor the Maldives is already in the throes of Saudi Arabia’s wealth and radical indoctrination, reportedly with the blessings of the Maldives’ dictatorial President, and that Saudi Arabia has reportedly trained and been dispatching English-speaking Wahhabi speakers around the world.

And which region could be more attractive than South Asia, where there are already huge Muslim communities?”

She claims that some of the controversial speakers trained and dispatched by Saudi Arabia reportedly include Ismail Menk, Zakir Naik and Tariq Jameel. Menk has been banned in the United Kingdom and Singapore while Zakir Naik is in India’s most wanted list.

The report says that there are 749 Madrasas in Sri Lanka and one Islamic University. There are at least 10 major Muslim mosques in the island nation and dozens of smaller ones. It claims that 90% Sri Lanka’s mosques are in the clutches of Wahhabi preachers” and that 33 Sri Lankan Muslims are reported to have joined Islamic State.

Analysts say Sinhalese intolerance is on the rise because of the changes noticed in traditionally tolerant Muslim neighbors,” the news report added.

It said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has added another startling element to the possible cause of the riots. In an article he contributed to in a Lankan daily, he points to foreign elements” hell-bent on tearing Sri Lanka apart.

Speaking further, WION’s Padma Rao says:

I wouldn’t go as far as to put it on the same scale as the LTTE-led form of terrorism among the Tamils. So let’s not make that comparison. But certainly, yes there is a rise and this is what analysts in Sri Lanka have been telling us, since 2009 when the war ended. And most people are concerned about the borders and that immigration control is not doing enough to prevent such known radicles from entering the country and slowly indoctrinating and poisoning the minds of what is essentially one of the most peaceful and tolerant Muslim communities in the world, Sri Lanka’s second largest minority.”

Maldives is not that far away, we’ve seen that kind of penetration and infiltration in both directions before. That seems to be happening not only from the Maldives, but also from preachers who are landing at Colombo airport and who have been meeting and indoctrinating people. At the very simple village level people are seeing two pictures and putting together a story. They have also heard reports of the 33 Sri Lankan Muslims who joined the Islamic State.”

And these are simple people in small villages who are afraid when they see visible signs of shriller preachers in mosques or more and more women covering themselves in hijab which is not typical to this region of the world. These are alien influences and whenever there is an alien influence people tend to get paranoid.”

However, having said that I would like to emphasize that in absolutely no way does WION support any violence by any community against any community, be they minority or majority, but unfortunately we have to look at the root cause also and not just tarnish all Sinhalese or all Muslims with the same brush as certain sections of the international media have been doing over the last one week.”

What more do we want – after all President Maithripala Sirisena and  first Lady of Sri Lanka have met even  Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko ?

March 17th, 2018

By Charles.S.Perera

It is good that a leader of a country meets with the leaders  of foreign countries and exchange pleasantries, if he has done his duty by his own people,  and the country is in good health politically ,economically, and  socially and there is security and peace provided for the people.

But President Maithripala Sirisena  has in reality gone with a begging ball to Japan having politically caused destruction to a country which was peaceful and secure and the people enjoyed a reasonable  living standard.

That was  thanks to a government that had been led by a leader with a vision-Mahinda Rajapakse  despite  being  unreasonably accused of corruption and that he had left the country in debt. Even if it was so the corruption of the previous regime did not stop  the people live in  peace and in security,  enjoying  the fruits of a fast developing country.

But unfortunately when Maithripala Sirisena made his family visit to meet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko,  Sri Lanka is poor , indebted  on the verge of bankruptcy. The people are without any hope of development of the country, they in poverty  reduced to living on  one meal a day, and the country is virtually burning in fires of Communal  dissension  caused by  Maithripala Sirisena’s own government’s mismanagement. It reminds one of an old adage of Nero  playing the violin when Rome was burning.

It is alright  visiting Emperor Hirohito, if it could be of some use to Sri Lanka. But from his past experience of shaking the un-gloved hand of Queen Elizabeth he should know by now that it  had not make any beneficial changes between the governments of UK and Sri Lanka .

It is far better to win the hearts of the people of Sri Lanka than those of Emperor Hirhito, Prime Minister Modi  or Queen Elizabeth. In fact President Maithripala Sirisena along with his Prime Minister is the most unpopular President in Sri Lanka. The people of Sri Lanka  did not pay heed to all the  poison gas he spitted out against President Mahinda Rajapakse,  without even  pronouncing  the word  pohottuva”, from all  the political platforms of the SLFP Meetings during the Local Government election campaign.

The people listened to him but paid no attention to his speeches reeked with poison, because the peoples of Sri Lanka know that though  President Sirisena, UNP and its ally the  JVP do not stop making allegation of corruption against Mahinda Rajapakse, his family and all who were connected to him , it was only President Mahinda Rajapakse who was able to give the much needed peace and security to the people of Sri Lanka.

That was very much more than Sirisena Ranil duo, who gave  nothing other than dragging Sri Lanka deeper into the darkest period of its history.

Still the Media and and some journalists do not hesitate to condemn President Mahinda Rajapakse without giving him due credit for what he made of Sri Lanka,  until the taking over of its government by the disastrous Yahapalanaya. There may have of course been corruption under  that government too, but that government cannot be equalled to any previous governments or the  present Ranil-Sirisena government,  as despite allegations of Corruption  President Mahinda Rajapakse was able to provide to the people a development of the country as they had never seen under any of the previous Government. On the contrary the Ranil-Sirisena Yahapalanya is the worst  and most corrupt government Sri Lanka ever had since Independence.

News First- News line of the 15 March , 2018 turned out to be the worst fiasco of a TV talk-show, which may perhaps be appreciated only by the Colombian anti Rajapakse ilk. It was not a debate but more a monologue  where the invitee was  made the unfortunate audience on to whom the TV Programme presenter vomited out his  pent up anti Rajapakse feelings. The unfortunate audience” of the journalist diatribe was the gentle Dinesh Gunawardhana.

The interviewer began by asking what his thoughts were coming over the Rajagiriya flyover, and whether there was a parking lot under it. He addressed him Mr. Dinesh. He could have called him simply Dinesh which would have been more polite,  or if he wanted to address him as an elder politician as Mr. Gunawardhana. But such niceties were left out, perhaps  because he  knew Mr. Dinesh was soon to get dirtied with the dish wash he had collected to shower on him.

After the first few warming up questions, the News Line journalist asked his Mr.Dinesh, why he keeps supporting the clay footed Mahinda Rajapakse, and asked whether he does not at moments, when he is alone, or when going to sleep think that Mahinda Rajapakse is a racist. Thereafter it was a case of his putting the question to Mr. Gunawardhan , and before he answers  barges in with his vituperations against  all the ill of Mahinda Rajapakse and his Government.

When Mr.Gunawardhana began by saying that   Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse was the President who eliminated terrorism and brought peace to the country, the exasperated journalist vehemently retorted that he is very much indebted to Rajapakse for ending the war of terror and bringing peace but he said that he and his family cannot keep on referring to that all the time to cover up his wrong doings. He said that now  Sri Lanka is independent and absolutely free and safe. One was not safe those days where the government had created a fear psychosis. One hesitated  even to have a cup of coffee with a friend in a restaurant.

The journalists are free, we are independent and can live our lives to the fullest he said. We can  writeand say  any thing against the Government and  Editorials could be written against the Government without fear of being taken away in white vans or killed. The half an hour of the program  passed with Mr. Dinesh having nothing much to say being reprimanded by the journalist.  That was the freedom he had gained under Yahapalanaya and  how he treated with scant respect an MP of the opposition- which the journalist referred to as you and your band”.

Mahinda Rajapakse did not come into power in a period where there was peace and security as it is now. He had to work with all types of people with different characters and a wrong step  taken  with a raging terrorism in the north, would have resulted in misery to the country and the people. Though these journalists can now speak of hard times” then under Mahinda Rajapakse , they cannot imagine what it was to have taken  the reins of the government under the then prevailing time.

Bu the value of Mahinda Rajapakse as a great political leader, his great contribution to Sri Lanka and its people can only be gauged and understood by the Sinhala Buddhists. That is not being racist, but stating the stark fact.

The Tamil and Muslim Communities have nothing to loose under Yahapalanaya, it is the Sinhala Buddhists who stand to loose everything including their 2600 years old Buddhist Culture, the rightful place of their language, their religious philosophy to which generations  have for 2600 years dedicated themselves. And now they have to adopt them-selves to a new constitution, new laws, and a new political culture.

They are also proposing that a statue of Mandela be erected in the North.  That is when the Tamils in the North have started breaking Buddhist statues and demand that neither Buddhist statues be built in Nagadipa, nor Cremation Rights of dead Venerated Monks be carried out in Jaffna.

We have nothing in common with South Afrika, which had an apartheid Regime. In Sri Lanka the Sinhala, Tamil and Sinhala have lived as equals sharing in everything, socially, and economically, until the Tamil politicians began interpreting communal relations differently.

The National University Teachers Association (NUTA) requests Sri Lankan academics resident overseas to return and serve their motherland instead of criticizing it from afar.

March 17th, 2018

The National University Teachers Association (NUTA)

Issuing a media statement in response to an article, titled, “Sri Lankan academics abroad condemn violence against Muslim community” in The Island on 14th March, the NUTA has said:

“National University Teachers Association (NUTA) of Sri Lanka is appalled by the statement issued by a group purported to be Sri Lankan academics in North American and British Universities and Colleges, condemning the Sinhala Buddhist nationalists for the attacks supposed to be on Muslims. If this is a statement by a group of academics, NUTA cannot but be surprised by the venom expressed in it against the Sinhala nationalists. It is not different from a statement issued by politicians accusing their opponents. Has the group of academics done adequate research to convince themselves that attackers were only Sinhala Buddhist nationalists and the victims were only Muslims.

“Even if the attackers had been a few Sinhala Buddhist elements the group shouldn’t have blamed the Sinhala Buddhist nationalists. NUTA does not approve of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)/Mahason Balakaya or the ISIS for that matter, but does the enlightened group of academics have evidence to blame the BBS for the attacks? The police may have raided the Mahason Balakaya office in Digana, but then the police have also found arms in other places supposed to be sacred.

“The group refers to LTTE attacks on Muslims but is silent on the attacks on the Sinhala people including the Bhikkus at various places, and places of worship such as Sri Maha Bodhi and Dalada Maligawa. The group claims that the majoritarian attacks on the Muslims living in the South and the East have escalated. What concrete evidence they have to substantiate these allegations?

“The intention of the group is clear. It wants to discredit the Sinhala Buddhists in the eyes of the West without mentioning their suffering. The statement is unacademic to say the least, but NUTA does not question the credentials of the group. Instead, NUTA invites them to take cognisance of hate speech against the Muslims by the politicians in the countries where they have found greener pastures, and undertake a study on ‘equality of various nationalities’ living in those countries.

“At the same time we invite Sri Lankan Academics in North American and British Universities to come to Sri Lanka and serve their country as National University system suffers with huge shortage of academics.”

Decapitated Buddha statue

March 17th, 2018

Asoka Weerasinghe Kings Grove Crescent . Gloucester . Ontario . K1J 6G1 Canada

16 March 2018

The Editor (Letters)

The Ottawa Citizen

Dear Editor:

On Friday, 16th morning, the Buddhist monks of the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya at 1481 Heron Road, woke up to a heartbreaking sight outside on the Monastery’s front lawn.

The four-foot white Buddha statue sitting on a four-foot pedestal had been decapitated and the head was broken to pieces and strewn on the carpet of snow. This peaceful Buddhist community was in shock and numbed and some were in tears.

We have difficulty to accept such an insensitive, moronic act in a very civilized, sophisticated and a compassionate Ottawa which is home for thousands of peace loving Buddhists.

If this statue-assassin’s intention was to break the spirit of us Buddhists,

then the person was wrong.  Yes, the person did hurt us, but not our spirit and Ottawa will continue to be our home as Buddhists, and for some of us for the rest of our lives. And I humbly request this person not to hurt us again, as we do not deserve it.

Since we Buddhists have to live in harmony with whoever you are in our fair City, I encourage you to try a daily half-hour session of the ancient art of Buddhist miraculous techniques of Metta Bhavana (Meditation on Loving kindness) to overcome your anger and resentment, and Anapana Sati , Mindful Breathing Meditation which will help you to calm yourself and develop inner peace.

As Buddha’s tenet teaches us about compassion (Metta), I am being honest when I say to this Buddha-statue vandal – may you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful and may you be loved. And please take good care of yourself.

Asoka Weerasinghe

Coordinator of Outreach Programs and Meditation Leader

Hilda Jayewardenaramaya

Ottawa

එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ 37 වන මානව හිමිකම් සැසිවාරයේදී ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ රණවිරුවන්ගේ නිර්දෝෂීභාවය වෙනුවෙන් කල කරුණු දැක්වීම.. ගෝලීය ශ්‍රී ලාංකික සංසදයේ ස්විට්සර්ලන්තයේ ලේකම් නිමලා ලියනපටබැදි මහත්මිය සභාව අමතමින්…

March 17th, 2018

 

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New law to disclose conflict of interests and relationships

March 17th, 2018

Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana Courtesy The Daily Mirror

The Bribery Commission is to give more teeth to the penal code soon by introducing a new law to ‘Disclose Conflict of Interests and Relationships’ which will filter the roles of all law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and politicians in a bid to curb corruption and nepotism.

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) will draft the new act to bring the law into effect keeping in line with the treaty of United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), signed in December 2003.

One of the Commissioners of CIABOC Neville Guruge told the Daily Mirror that so far there were no provisions in the Sri Lankan legal system to take action against instances of conflict of interests and nepotism that arise while performing duties in the state sector and law enforcement agencies.

The law would be pertinent to all law enforcement agencies that conduct probes and to disclose if the probing subject or the suspect has any acquaintance to the investigator that would lead to an instance of conflict of interest.

Not only agencies but this would be applicable to judges in the judiciary when a case of a known person is being heard or dealt with and the government officers in making decisions with regards to acquainted parties.

Another very serious instance the law would be applicable to is on politicians making favorations to their kith and kin in getting various services rendered such as approving contracts and granting jobs.

He said the authorities or public representatives should disclose instances of conflict of interests or relationships, which was considered as an ethical matter all this while and not a legal violation, since there was no laws to act on.

Although many developed countries practise this law of disclosing instances of conflict of interests on ethical grounds or to challenge perpetrators with the law, in Sri Lanka nothing could be done more than conducting a mere departmental inquiry on such an instance if found guilty of conflict of interests.

The Commissioner said therefore, the new law should provide for the disclosure of conflict of interest of all public officers and public representatives.

A special five day programme was held since Monday with the participation of the senior representatives of the Bribery Commission, Attorney General’s Department, the Legal Draftsman, Auditor General’s Department, Elections Commission, foreign experts like United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Bank Group partnership programme Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR) and Transparency International.

The first two days of the programme was held to gather ideas from all spheres of the society including various civil society organisations whilst the remaining three days the BC would sit down with the Legal Draftsman’s Department, Attorney General to discuss further on how to drat the new law.

Quest to implicate Gota in Lasantha’s murder

March 17th, 2018

Even though there is supposed to be an ongoing police investigation into the 2009 murder of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga,  what we have been seeing for the most part is a series of investigations and arrests in relation to various matters on the sidelines of the murder. One of the first persons to be arrested in this connection was a bystander who had stolen Lasantha’s phone from the crime scene. This was just a theft and the suspect was soon released. In December 2009, the investigation was handed over to the CID. Then came two much more sensational arrests on February 26, 2010. According to a report published in the Sunday Leader, investigators had zeroed in on five SIM cards which on the basis of communication tower data, had been detected as having moved in the same direction as Lasantha’s phone on the day the murder had been committed. It was also said that the five numbers had not been used before or since the day of the killing – a telltale sign that these were SIM cards used for a special operation.

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All five cards were said to have been registered in the name of one Pitchai Jesudasan a garage owner from Nuwara Eliya. When arrested and questioned, he had claimed that he had lost his National ID card, which could have been used to buy the five SIM cards. However he had made no complaint to the police about the loss of his ID card. It later transpired that this Jesudasan was a close associate of one Kandegedara Piyawansa, a Sinha Regiment soldier who was said to be attached to Military Intelligence. He too was arrested by the CID. P. Jesudasan is supposed to have died of a heart attack while in remand on 13 October 2011. Two years later, on September 6, 2013, Kandegedara Piyawansa was released due to the lack of evidence.  Thereafter the investigation into Lasantha’s murder went into abeyance.

Immediately after the Rajapaksa government was defeated in January 2015, the investigation into Lasantha’s murder was revived, but nothing much happened for one and a half years. In July 2016, a Warrant Officer named Premananda Udalagama attached to Military Intelligence was arrested on the charge of abducting and assaulting Lasantha’s driver. Contrary to some confused media reports that appeared at the time, this driver had not been driving Lasantha’s car at the time of the murder. The Colombo Telegraph was later to explain that this driver had been in the habit of getting drunk in the evenings and telling everybody who would listen that it was Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who had got Lasantha killed. Lasantha’s driver obviously had no way of knowing whether Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was responsible for Lasantha’s killing and he was plainly babbling his imaginings after getting drunk. The story is that the driver had been abducted by Army Intelligence and assaulted and told not to go around accusing Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of being behind the killing and then released.

Thereafter the driver had gone underground through fear. After the government changed, the CID had traced the driver and got his story from him and it was on that basis that Warrant Officer Premananda Udalagama had been arrested. The latter is said to have been identified by Lasantha’s driver as the person who had abducted and assaulted him at the identification parade held subsequently. This case is yet being heard. Even if it is found that Warrant Officer had abducted and assaulted Lasantha’s driver, that does not mean that we are any closer to knowing who killed Lasantha. So far there has not been the remotest suggestion that Warrant Officer Udalagama had been involved in Lasantha’s killing.

Latest addition to multiplying storylines

After Warrant Officer Udalagama’s arrest in July 2016, the investigation went into hibernation again for another one and a half years. It was only from the beginning of 2018 that more arrests were carried out, this time of policemen who are supposed to have scuttled the investigation by concealing or destroying information. But between the arrest of Udalagama in July 2016 and the latest spate of arrests in 2018, another story emerged around October 2016 which we had not been heard before. This was about a motorcycle purportedly used in the murder that was said to have been recovered from the Attidiya canal. It appeares that on January 27, 2009, the Mt Lavinia police had recovered a motorcycle from among the attikka bushes on the banks of the Attidiya canal which is supposed to have been used in Lasantha’s murder. According to information pieced together from the B reports filed in the Mt Lavinia Magistrate’s courts and more information that the Sunday Leader had obtained from the CID, the story is basically as follows:

Police Constable Athugal Pedige Priyantha Kumara Athugala is supposed to have told the CID was that he had searched for the motorcycles that were said to have been used in the murder along with SI Tissasiri Sugathapala for two days (on 26 and 27 January 2009). On the second day they had found the motorcycle on the banks of the canal. Police Constable Premasiri Samayawardhana said that he too had participated in the search for the motorcycle in the Attidiya canal and that while they were engaged in the search, SI Sugathapala had received a call telling him to say that a motorcycle had been retrieved from the attikka bushes on the banks of the canal. Constable Samayawardhana had also told the CID that on the days that the search was taking place, two officers of the PSD had come wearing sarongs and shirts and were carrying out propaganda (pracharanaya) saying that a motorcycle used in Lasantha’s assassination was to be recovered from the Attidiya canal.

Police Constable Samayawardhana had gone with SI Lalith Weerasinghe to Vavuniya to arrest the owner of the motorcycle recovered from the canal, Paramasivam Tyagarajah. The story that emerged was that Tyagarajah the owner of the motorcycle, had lent it to one Thangavelu Balraj the owner of a jewellery shop in Vavuniya. On Sunday January 18, 2009, this Balraj had left home with a friend on this motorcycle saying that he was going to Settikulam to collect some money but had never returned. Balraj’s wife and her relatives had then gone towards Settikulam in search of the missing Balraj and stopped at a wayside boutique where they got the information that her husband and his friend had been blindfolded and taken away in a Defender Jeep. The motor bicycle too had been taken away by the same group. The CID had then received information that two unidentified charred bodies had been found in the Anuradhapura area the day after the abduction took place i.e. on January 19, 2009.

The CID got the relatives of these two Tamil youths to identify the pictures of the charred bodies on October 10, 2016. The families had identified the two bodies. The killing of these two youths and the theft of the motorcycle has taken place ten days after Lasantha was killed. Now the story is that the military had planned to connect Lasantha’s murder with the LTTE by killing the two youth and taking their motorcycle and throwing it to the Attidiya canal. This is the latest horror story to be added to the Lasantha Wickrematunga murder investigation. This story about a motorcycle being recovered from the Attidiya canal gives rise to more questions than answers. Firstly, if what the military intelligence wanted was a motorcycle to link the killing to the LTTE, they could have simply stolen a motorcycle from the north or east without going to such lengths and trouble as to murder two people and to hide their bodies in far away Anuradhapura just to get their motorcycle.

Anyone familiar with clandestine operations will know that operatives always try to leave no traces of what they have done. Certainly no operative is going to leave a trail of dead bodies just to obtain a motorcycle. Furthermore, who in his right senses will believe that the assassins who killed Lasantha in Attidiya and sped away on their motorcycles, later came back to the Attidiya area to dispose of the motorcycles used in the operation? Furthermore, who were the two officials from the PSD that Constable Samayawardhana had said were hanging around carrying out the propaganda (pracharanya) that the motorcycles used in Lasantha’s assasination were to be retrieved from the Attidiya canal? PSD officers are police officers and why would two PSD men come in sarong and shirts among other police officers who obviously knew who they were?

This story about a motorcycle found in the Attidiya canal was added to the Lasantha Wickrematunga murder saga only in October 2016. So now we have a mega story with multiple storylines where a series of murders have taken place to cover up one murder. The bottom line however is that despite the multiplication of storylines, we are no closer to knowing who killed Lasantha Wickrematunga.

The motorcycle numbers

The latest spate of arrests began on February 1, 2018, with one Hettiarachchige Don Tissasiri Sugathapala, a former Sub Inspector of police who had been attached to the Mt Lavinia police at the time Lasantha Wickrematunga was murdered, being taken into custody. Former SI Sugathapala had told the CID that he had conducted investigations into the two motorcycle registration numbers that Lasantha had written in his notebook and had obtained their registration details from the RMV. When the Mt Lavinia SP Hemantha Adhikari heard that he was doing this investigation, he had told Sugathapala to stop the investigation at once. Thereafter SP Adhikari had taken him to see their superior DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara who had also berated Sugathapala asking him whether he is trying to get himself killed.  Thereupon the DIG had called the then IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne and explained what had been happening.

After the conversation, the DIG had told Sugathapala that the IGP had told him that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa wants the notebook on which the numbers had been written and also the pages on which details of the investigation had been written and that these had to be handed over to him. Sugathapala had then handed over Lasantha’s notebook to the DIG. Thereafter he had removed the pages on which the details of the investigation had been written from the PCIB book and he had inserted new pages into the book in the place of the pages that had been removed. These pages of the PCIB book had also been handed over to DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara. However, Sugathapala had said that he had taken photocopies of his notes on the PCIB book before handing over the originals to the DIG and he had kept the copies safely. These photocopies had then been handed over to the CID by Sugathapala. He had told the CID that the then DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara had once held a progress review of the Lasantha Wickrematunga murder case and said among other things that “this has been done by someone high up. Gotabhaya is involved, no one else would do this; it is he who had problems with Lasantha”.

The CID had observed in their B report that according to former SI Sugathapala’s statement,  the DIG under whom the investigation had been conducted had been working on the presumption that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was responsible. Furthermore they had pointed out that DIG  Prasanna Nannayakkara had said that the IGP is asking for Lasantha’s notebook and the PCIB  pages on which details of the investigation into the motorcycle numbers had been written, and that these were to be destroyed on the instructions of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. CID officer Inspector A.Nishantha Silva had contended that according to the statement given by former SI Sugathapala and the statements given earlier by Lasantha’s daughter, his brother and close associates, a reasonable suspicion arises that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is a party to this murder.

The constant refrain

Even before the statement given by former SI Tissasiri Sugathapala, CID officer Nishantha Silva had been stating in open court that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was responsible for Lasantha’s muder and this was reported in the local and international media. More than one year ago on January 17, 2017, the state owned Daily News reported that the CID had informed the Mount Lavinia Magistrate’s Court that Lasantha’s daughter Ahimsa Wickrematunge, currently domiciled in Australia, had told the CID that her father received death threats over his revelations on the MIG deal and that Wickrematunge had told his family members that former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was allegedly responsible for the threats.

On 29 January 2017, The Sunday Leader reported that the CID had questioned Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, and that Fonseka had stated that he had never had any dealings or falling out with Wickrematunge, but that both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had serious disputes with Wickrematunge. Fonseka had drawn attention to a 2006 incident where the then President Rajapaksa had telephoned Wickrematunge, and berated him in vulgar language and sworn to ‘destroy’ him, and the high profile lawsuits brought by Gotabaya Rajapaksa against Wickrematunge and this newspaper. Fonseka had further said that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa directly centralized and supervised all security and intelligence operations in and around Colombo from the Ministry of Defence, through a separate chain of command packed with loyalists, bypassing the normal organizational structures of the three armed forces and the police.

It is through this group, Fonseka alleged, that the Rajapaksas put together a group to plan high profile assaults, abductions and murders of media personalities and others and that the attacks on Keith Noyhar, Upali Tennakoon, Raviraj’s murder and Ekneligoda abduction too were the work of the group under Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Thus we see that the CID seems quite willing to accept the story that Fonseka was telling them even though it was Fonseka who was originally accused through special statements made in Parliament in July 2008 and January 2009 by the then Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera, and Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe of being behind the assaults on Keith Noyhar, Namal Perera, Mahendra Ratnaweera and Upali Tennakoon and the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga. Those were not accusations that were lightly made. For more than six months the UNP had been consistently accusing Fonseka of being behind the attacks on journalists. (See: The Politicisation of the Lasantha Wickrematunga murder investigation, The Sunday Island, 4 March 2018)

However now with a UNP government in power and Fonseka holding cabinet office in that government, the investigation is being nudged in a different direction. The CID has not bothered to record statements from Joseph Michael Perera and Ranil Wickremasinghe about the statements they made in Parliament in 2008 and 2009. They did record a statement from Fonseka but that has clearly been more for appearances sake. The CID appears to be falling over itself in its eagerness to place the blame for Lasantha’s murder on Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Back in March 20, 2017, long before former SI Sugathapala gave his statement, Al Jazeera reported that the CID told the Mount Lavinia Magistrate’s court that day that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa led a unit that is accused of assassinating former Sunday Leader newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.

From the information available to us it appears that hundreds of people have been questioned by the police and the CID with a good proportion of them being from the army. But nearly a decade later, we are no closer to finding out who had actually murdered Lasantha. Last week, on March 15, 2018, the CID had reported to courts that they had questioned seven army men who had been attached to 112 Brigade. The 112 Brigade which was responsible for the security of the Colombo city had motorcycle teams. Though Military Intelligence is often blamed for the killing, we learn that Military Intelligence did not have motorcycle teams. Besides, all the motorcycles registered by the Army would carry the army number plates. Military Intelligence had a limited number of motorcycles with civilian number plates which had been obtained from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles by a special arrangement.

However, the motorcycles used by Military intelligence were ordinary motorcycles which would not attract attention. They did not have trail bikes or other powerful motorcycles which could be used in operations. The most powerful motorcycle that the Military Intelligence unit has had apparently been one with a 200cc engine, and there was only one of those. The others were all inconspicuous ordinary motorcycles which would not attract too much attention. The 112 Brigade which was in charge of Colombo security did have powerful motorcycles for their specialized motorcycle teams. However we are to understand that the CID had informed court last week that the two numbers that former SI Tissasiri Sugathapala had taken down from Lasantha’s notebook appear to be false numbers. Indeed one can never expect anyone going on such an operation to have genuine number plates. So now it appears that the Lasantha Wickrematunga investigation has hit another stone wall.

First there was a man who had stolen Lasantha’s phone from the crime scene. Then there were two men arrested over some SIM cards which had been observed to have followed Lasantha’s movements on that day. Then we had a man who is supposed to have abducted and assaulted one of Lasantha’s employees long after the latter’s death. Now we have two policemen in jail for having concealed information that they need not have bothered to conceal since the numbers that Lasantha is supposed to have written down of the motorcycles that had been following him now apparently have turned out to be false. So there have been a lot of stories around Lasantha’s murder and a fair number of arrests – all leading absolutely nowhere.

USLA Spokespersons Report . April 2017 to March 2018

March 17th, 2018

Dr. Chu;la Rajapakse MNZM Spokesperson, USLA

The year under review was a quiet year by contemporary standards till on the 2nd of March Al Jazeera carried a news item sporting a man with lash marks on his upper back alleging that these along with other evidence of torture”, were inflicted by the security forces in Sri Lanka recently because of his alleged links to the LTTE,. Al Jazeera to conclude that tortue by the security forces” was therefore still in practice in SL, even three years after the present regime came into power, apparently committed to ending such practices.

This gave me an opportunity to respond as follows:

All you have established is that the person in the picture has been tortured but not by whom , when and where. It has been clearly established as a fact and and confirmed in the courts of UK that there are organised rings providing for a fee, torture and tutoring on how to use them to support their claim for refugee status to enjoy the economic advantages of living in  UK  & cue jumping in immigration. A few tell tale marks of lashes was a small price to pay for these advantages and the ill gotten war chest of the Tigers is quite happy to fund these.The current desperation of these “refugees” on such engineered claims is that their charmed life in the west is now under threat, because of lack of violence in SL, and hence the sudden flurry of these allegations. These” refugees” have every thing to gain from these allegations and their demonstrations. On the other hand , the security forces have nothing to gain by inflicting this toture .

Please find below a detailed account of how this racket has operated in the UK for years and is probably only the tip of the ice berg of what goes on internationally.’

This response was carried on the AlJzeera website. I would urge USLA members to be informed that  torture for a fee is an established fact in the UK courts on more occasion than one” so that they could respond appropriately , when the subject of torture still continuing in SL” comes up. My face book page has the article containing  the details and specifics of torture for a fee”.

Looking to the coming year as to the possible challenges USLA could face in staying committed to it’s founding principle of supporting Sri Lanka to remain a sovereign and unitary nation, I foresee  that the advent of a Labour led administration vocally supporting refugee resettlement in  NZ, even offering to take some Australia wants to turn down, would not have gone unnoticed by the International Tiger Diaspora. They are for ever looking to expand their flock and influence in foreign lands like New Zealand, by attempting to settle their flock under the guise of refugees” and the  tortured and discriminated”. Boat people” was the ploy that  New Zealand became accustomed to some years ago but , thanks to a firm refusal by the previous administration, this threat had receeded. The kindness of the new administration would no doubt  be seen as a weakness to be exploited”, by the Tiger Diaspora  leaving some challenges ahead for USLA.

Another challenge may depend on which way the current racial tensions in Sri Lanka are protrayed and interpreted. USLA, would neeed to be armed with uptodate facts to counter mischeivious misinformation of the type seen in July 1983 , if it ever came to that. USLA joins Sri Lanka in hoping that the situation would not descend to that.

 

Dr. Chu;la Rajapakse MNZM

Spokesperson, USLA

What is Diabetes? I am sure you all heard this before.

March 17th, 2018

Dr Hector Perera       London

The scientists have discovered that there are two types of diabetes that is type 1 and type 2.

Definition of Diabetes

Carbohydrates are the nutrient that impact blood sugars the most. If you have diabetes, it’s important to monitor your carbohydrate intake so that you may discover which foods work best for your blood sugars. Some people with diabetes benefit from following a consistent carbohydrate diet for which they eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time daily. Ask your registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator if you’d benefit from eating a fixed amount of carbohydrates at your meals.

Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, it isn’t caused by anything that you did or didn’t do, and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. For reasons we don’t yet fully understand, your immune system – which is meant to protect you from viruses and bacteria – attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, called beta cells.

A hormone produced in the pancreas by the islets of Langerhans, which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood is called insulin. The lack of insulin causes a form of diabetes.  It is a protein responsible for regulating blood glucose levels as part of metabolism. It is possible to have diabetes with only very mild symptoms or without developing any symptoms at all. Such cases can leave some people with diabetes unaware of the condition and undiagnosed. This happens in around half of people with type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is crucial to life. When you eat, insulin moves the energy from your food, called glucose, from your blood into the cells of your body. When the beta cells in your pancreas fail to produce insulin, glucose levels in your blood start to rise and your body can’t function properly. Over time this high level of glucose in the blood may damage nerves and blood vessels and the organs they supply.

A condition known as prediabetes that often leads to type 2 diabetes also produces no symptoms. Type 2 diabetes and its symptoms develop slowly.Type 1 diabetes can go unnoticed but is less likely to do so. Some of its symptoms listed below can come on abruptly and be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or stomach pains.

It is important to see a doctor if there is any suspicion of diabetes or if any of the below signs and symptoms are present – prompt diagnosis and management lowers the likelihood of serious complications.

The most common symptoms are related to hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels), especially the classic symptoms of diabetes: frequent urination and thirst. Fatigue related to dehydration and eating problems can also be related to high blood sugars. This condition affects 400,000 people in the UK, with over 29,000 of them children. Incidence is increasing by about four per cent each year and particularly in children under five, with a five per cent increase each year in this age group over the last 20 years.

What causes type 1 diabetes?

More than 50 genes have been identified that can increase a person’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but genes are only part of the cause. Scientists are also currently investigating what environmental factors play a role.

What is known is that: Destruction of insulin-producing beta cells is due to damage inflicted by your immune system. Something triggered your immune system to attack your beta cells. Certain genes put people at a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but are not the only factors involved. While there are no proven environmental triggers, researchers are looking for possible culprits, such as viral infections and particular molecules within our environment and foods.

Is type 1 diabetes hereditary?

Around 90 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes have no family history of the condition. Although other family members may carry the same ‘at risk’ genes, the overall risk of type 1 diabetes for multiple family members is generally low.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy.

The oxidation of glucose represents a major source of metabolic energy for mammalian cells. Because the plasma membrane is impermeable to polar molecules such as glucose, the cellular uptake of this important nutrient is accomplished by special carrier proteins called glucose transporters. These are integral membrane proteins located in the plasma membrane that bind glucose and transfer it across the lipid bilayer. The rate of glucose transport is limited by the number of glucose transporters on the cell surface and the affinity of the transporters for glucose. There are two classes of glucose carriers described in mammalian cells: the Na+-glucose cotransporters (SGLTs) and the facilitative glucose transporters.

The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should.

This causes sugars to build up in the blood.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.

Diabetes is predicted by a clear set of symptoms, but it still often goes undiagnosed.

The main 3 diabetes signs are: Increased thirst, Increased need to urinate, increased hunger.

Diabetes is becoming increasingly more common throughout the world, due to increased obesity – which can lead to metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes leading to higher incidences of type 2 diabetes.

Stock Up on Non-Starchy Vegetables

By stocking up on non-starchy vegetables, you’ll increase the volume of food at your meals which can help to reduce total calorie intake. You’ll also increase your fibre intake, which can help to reduce cholesterol and lose weight.

Reduce Your Sodium Intake

A diet that is rich in sodium can increase your risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a risk factor for developing heart disease. Because people with diabetes are at increased risk of developing heart disease, keeping your blood pressure at goal is important. In bread, cakes and biscuits there are plenty of sodium because they add sodium bicarbonate to raise the flour. In Sri Lanka people eat “Appa and dosai” to which they add this sodium bicarbonate as to raise the flour but if they eat within limits, I think it should be alright.

You will want to avoid adding salt to your food as well as increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, two food types that are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium which may have favourable effects blood pressure. A diet type that has worked for many people with diabetes is called the DASH diet.

Make It Fit Your Lifestyle

Nutrient-rich plans that are convenient, delicious, and culturally appropriate will help you make long-lasting changes to achieve and maintain body weight as well as prevent or delay complications of diabetes. Start making changes by setting simple, tangible and realistic goals. For example, if you never eat breakfast because you are in a rush in the morning, start by eating breakfast three days per week. Or if you have to start work early, pack breakfast in the morning and eat it at work.

Learn how to choose healthy choices when dining out or taking in food. And if you are not a chef, but want to start cooking, learn about basic skills and simple recipes. It takes time to make new behaviours.

How many diabetics are there?

According to the IDF, the number of diabetics in the world stands at 365 million people, representing around 8.5% of the global population.

There are approximately 2.9 million diabetic people in the UK according to Diabetes UK, and there’s thought to be around 500,000 people who may be diabetic but currently undiagnosed.

How is diabetes controlled?

Type 1 diabetes is controlled with insulin, either by regular injections of insulin or through wearing an insulin pump which drips insulin into the body through the day.

Type 2 diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise, although it is common for people with type 2 diabetes to need medication such as tablets or injections to help them to keep their blood sugar levels within the normal range. Your comments are welcomed [email protected]

Moscow expels 23 UK diplomats & shuts British Council in response to ‘provocative moves’

March 17th, 2018

Courtesy RT

The Russian Foreign Ministry said 23 UK diplomats must leave Russia in response to Britain’s provocative actions and groundless accusations” over ex-double agent Sergei Skripal’s poisoning. The British Council will also be shut.

Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning, where he was informed of Moscow’s response to London’s claims that Russia is behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4 in Salisbury, UK.

The ministry issued a statement saying 23 employees of the British embassy in Moscow have been declared personae non gratae. The diplomats must leave within a week. It also announced the operation of the British Council in Russia will be ceased given its unregulated status.”

In addition, Russia is revoking its agreement on the opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in St. Petersburg due todisparity in the number of consulate facilities of the two countries.”

The British side has been warned that in case further moves of an unfriendly nature towards Russia are implemented, the Russian side reserves the right to take other response measures,” the statement added.

London earlier ordered 23 Russian diplomats to leave the UK by March 20. Including family members, around 80 people will be uprooted from the country, according to Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko.

Bristow told reporters upon leaving the ministry that this crisis has arisen as a result of an appalling attack in the UK,” again linking Skripal’s murder attempt to a chemical weapon developed in Russia.” He added that London’s steps were not directed against the Russian people.”

On Friday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered the suspected nerve agent attack – a claim Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called shocking and unforgivable.”

Sooner or later the British side would have to present some kind of comprehensive evidence [of Russia’s involvement], at least, to their partners [France, the US, Germany], who declared solidarity with London in this situation,” Peskov added.

Moscow has repeatedly offered its full cooperation in investigating the incident, which London claims involved a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. Both nations are members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which means that London is obliged to include Moscow in the investigation.

READ MORE: Russian ambassador to UK confirms expelled diplomats will leave on March 20

Nearly half of Americans will retire broke

March 17th, 2018

Courtesy RT

Some 42 percent of elderly US citizens have less than $10,000 put aside for their golden years, according to the report by a personal finance resource GoBankingRates, which polled over 1,000 adults last month.

The survey, carried out for the third consecutive year, suggests that a lack of planning and savings, along with a longer life expectancy, may shatter people’s retirement dreams. The California-based financial advisor also found out that the percentage of Americans with no savings at all had increased from 2016 through 2017.

Nearly half of Americans will retire broke

Low salaries or lack of opportunities to earn more is identified as the key factor for 40.1 percent of the surveyed, while 24.9 percent told the personal finance site that they were already struggling to pay bills. Adults 65 and older annually spend almost $46,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly 10.3 percent do not stash away money, as they don’t need any retirement savings.

The researcher commonly polls American adults, which are roughly divided into three groups: millennials, Generation X and baby boomers. The respondents are required to answer how much money they may save for retirement by their best estimate, choosing one of the suggested answers.

The latest poll reveals that at least 18 percent of millennials aged 18 to 34 have zero savings for retirement. Another 39 percent of respondents in this age group have less than $10,000 put aside.

However, the total number of millennials with nothing or less than $10,000 saved has reportedly dropped to 57 percent this year, from 71 percent in 2017. The percentage of this generation with $300,000 or more saved has increased to nine percent from five percent last year.

Respondents at the age of 55 or over comprise the highest percentage of those who have saved more than $300,000— 23 percent, but about one-third of them have less than $10,000 in savings. At the same time, Gen Xers, aged 35 to 44, are less likely to save, while people over 65 are the most likely to say they don’t have retirement savings because they used the money for an emergency.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Govt. trying to outsource surveying to US company: Surveyors

March 17th, 2018

Gandara John

Daily Mirror  of 16 Mar 2018
Govt. trying to outsource surveying to US company: Surveyors

The Government Surveyors’ Association (GSA) today resort to a countrywide indefinite work stoppage claiming that there was a move to hand over several operations of the Sri Lanka Surveys Department (SLSD), the second oldest department of the country, to a US-based company.
 
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, GSA President Duminda Udugoda referred to an attempt to transfer the duties of the SLSD including Land Information System (LIS) and Aerial Survey Operations to ‘Trimble Navigation Ltd’, a US-based land administration solutions group, under the guise of providing title deeds to landowners.
Mr Udugoda said the Cabinet approval had been sought to the proposal to handing over the operation under a foreign loan obtain for USD 154 million (Rs.25, 000 million) although the department was capable of completing the task for Rs.10, 000 million.
It was learned that the approval had been sought without a proper tender procedure in an arbitrary decision of several top officials to be retired soon.
Mr Udugoda revealed the attempt could also threaten the national security as according to the measure Trimble Navigation Ltd is permitted to scan the landowner’s eye and get their Biometric authentication and there was a threat to people’s privacy as well………

In the context of the Surveyors strike on 16 March 2018 the article below, which appeared  nearly an year ago in the Lankaweb on April 16th 2017, is relevant. See especially the portions in italics (http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2017/04/16/the-world-bank-strips-sri-lankas-judiciary-of-its-powers-enshrined-in-the-constitution-and-further-fingers-the-countrys-constitution/)

The World Bank Strips Sri Lanka’s Judiciary of its  Powers Enshrined in the Constitution and Further Fingers the Country’s Constitution

By
Gandara John

It was in 1998 that the World Bank under the cover of digitalizing Sri Lanka’s Land records did, with the complicity of Kumaranatunge, insidiously introduce a Land Law relating to ‘Land Ownership’; this ‘Law’ was the bedrock for the Neocolonialists to re-colonize the country by encouraging the sale of our lands to foreigners. The law was passed at a time when the country’s attention was riveted to battling terrorism.
The ‘Breton-Wood’ created Bank was successful in injecting this sinister law – the Torrens law – into 51 developing countries; in Sri Lanka it was called ‘Bim Saviya’ (The Title Registration Act of 1998).
In a nutshell, ‘Bim Saviya’ overnight emasculated the Judiciary by stripping it of its powers to adjudicate on disputed land matters.
The Legislature via the Bim Saviya took away those Judicial powers and conferred them on the Executive who delegated these powers to a sole administrator ignorant in the law and responsible only to the Minister of Lands; that administrator’s future lay with the Politician and furthermore he was exposed to the temptation of ‘Big’ money.
To make matters worse Bim Saviya law gave that administrator immunity from prosecution, for his actions.
And simultaneously Bim Saviya took away the rights of the people to challenge the ownership of disputed land and the opportunity to seek judicial redress; redress for a victim, if at all, could only be financial redress, compensation from a near empty fund.
A registered owner, even if he had obtained ownership of a land by extra legal or fraudulent means,has his ownership  protected by Bim Saviya; his ownership of the land could not be changed.
The World Bank induced law interfered with the country’s Constitution, with the country’s Judiciary, with the rights of the people and with the common law. It was never challenged in a Court of Law.
The World Bank, pumping millions of Dollars, percolated through the Bim Saviya an alien concept that ‘Land’ is a commodity that needs to be bought and sold.
In Sri Lanka, this concept is anathema to the majority of the people. ‘Land’ is perceived as being something sacred, as being the crucible of life of the people and as being ‘collectively’  owned by all the citizens of the country. This was the land doctrine adopted by successive Governments even the Senanayake led UNP.
It is not surprising therefore that only 20% of Sri Lanka’s land is privately owned while the rest is Government owned. In short 80% of the country’s land is collectively owned by the people.
While the selling of land to private individuals in Sri Lanka is cautiously done selling of Sri Lankan land to
foreigners is considered taboo in the country.
Selling of Land to foreigners is considered by many as the most extreme form of selling ‘family silver’; buying up of family silver, especially land, is the basis of Neo-colonialism, a strategy pursued aggressively by the defeated Neoliberals in the US and Europe.
This is the underlying thread of Bim Saviya vigorously pushed by the World Bank.
It was in the backdrop of Bim Saviya that Wickramasinghe’s LTTE linked advisor Paskaralingam, dropped a bombshell; in a multi-million Dollar deal Paskaralingam reportedly attempted to give out, lock stock and barrel, for a period of 3 years, Sri Lanka’s Survey Department to a CIA partner Company – Trimble Inc – to do the aerial surveys and mapping of the island.
 
This Company, a close associate of ‘Raytheon’ has partnered the US spy agency, in similar projects in many other third world countries.. ‘Trimble Inc’ specialises, amongst other things, in GPS-reliant technological warfare and Drone based warfare.
 
Military Analysts opine that having ‘Trimble Inc’ on board in the Survey Department and in control of Sri Lanka’s electronic ‘Land Register and Almanac’ is a threat to her National Security; with ‘Trimble’ on board, manipulating and  fabricating  the electronic Land Register, providing GPS data to Raytheon (the ionosphere-heating monster which reportedly has the capability to initiate with near accuracy anywhere in the world droughts, floods, cyclones etc), initiating drone  assassinations and initiating ‘drone’  soil contamination and even crashing the Land Ministry website as mysteriously happened recently (for a near month) are all credible options on the table.
 
Today Paskaralingam is floating the illegal concept of ‘Land Banks’ under the Housing Ministry.
it is ironic that Bim Saviya mandates that all lands whether on primary lease or on secondary lease (when leased or sub leased or sub-sub leased) shall be registered in the ‘Land Register’. Likewise mandated for registration are the plans of those lands, the extent of land, the parties to the Agreement and as per the ‘Compulsory Registration of Leases Act, the terms and conditions of the lease regardless of whether the lease pertains to BOI projects or Projects flowing from bi-lateral Agreements and regardless of the description of the property leased.
How is it then that this information is not available in the land register for people to see in cases such as the projects in Colombo Port, Hambantota Port, Horana (Tyre), and Kuliyapitiya (Volkswagen)?
 
If this information is not available in the Land Register, the relevant Ministers, their Secretaries and the relevant Heads of Departments are transgressing the law and are begging to be prosecuted by the AG.
If the AG does not do what is required of him to be done, the opposition must and if the opposition does not do what is required of them, the citizens must.

Sri Lanka statistics office withdraws GDP data

March 17th, 2018

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s Department of Census and Statistics withdrew its 2017 full-year and fourth quarter gross domestic product data on Friday, a day after posting the island nation’s worst economic growth in 16 years.

The data on Thursday showed the economy expanding 3.1 percent in 2017, the slowest pace in 16 years and decelerating from 4.4 percent in 2016. It showed fourth-quarter growth slowing to 1.4 percent year-on-year from 3.74 percent in the third quarter.

We got the last set of data at the last minute. We released the GDP data, but since this is last quarter we need to calculate the full year data and revisions,” A.J. Satharasinghe, director general at the state-run Department of Census and Statistics, told Reuters.

It’s a long process. So we withdrew the data as we can’t allow even a slight mistake in the data. We are recalculating and compiling everything. We will release the data in one or two days.”

The central bank last month had expected growth to have fallen to around 4 percent last year, due to prolonged drought, intermittent floods and tight monetary and fiscal policies.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Andrew Roche

Sri Lanka team to submit lawsuit challenging UNHRC’s conduct

March 16th, 2018

Lahiru Pothmulla Courtesy The Daily Mirror

A lawsuit compiled by a team of legal experts with the input of Sir Geoffrey Nice QC would be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Monday challenging the procedure adopted by the UNHRC itself to pass the resolution on Sri Lanka, the Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF) today said.

The petitioners of the lawsuit, which is the first ever lawsuit against the UNHRC, are retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara and Federation of National Organisations Convener Dr Gunadasa Amarasekara.

On behalf of the two petitioners, the GSLF, the Federation of National Organisation and the Professionals for Better Future will hand over the petition to the Communication wing of the UN on Monday (19).

Addressing a news briefing, Professionals for Better Future Director and Secretary Darshani Lahandapura said the UNHRC was not immune to charges.

The procedure which was adopted by the UNHRC with regard to the resolution Sri Lanka is a breach of UN clauses and illegal. We are challenging this procedure and demand an order preventing Sri Lanka from implementing the recommendations of the resolution,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Representative of the GSLF Nuwan Bellanthudawa said according to the article 2 (7) of the UN Charter, the UN has no power to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.

Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera said the attempt of the GSLF to file the lawsuit was a challenge at a time when the Tamil Diaspora and other NGOs speaking against the country at international platforms.

Dr Gunadasa Amarasekara, one of the two petitioners, said the US and the UN were attempting to destabilise the country by threatening the Governments.

They simply want to divide the country,” he said.

Counsel tells SC: Bill to amend Judicature Act politically motivated March 17, 2018, 12:04 pm

March 16th, 2018

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva in objecting to the Bill to Amend the Judicature Act, yesterday told the Supreme Court that the Bill did not refer to the establishment of the Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The Bill assumed that such a Permanent High Court Trial at Bar is in existence but it was not so. Hence the Bill could not be proceeded with De Silva P.C. said.

He said the Minister might establish a Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar whenever he so wished.

The Minister could specify location by publishing a gazette notification. The Attorney General or Director General of the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption, might initiate proceedings in the Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The set-up will interfere with judicial independence. It violated Article 154(B), 100 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.Article 154 (B) is very specific.

Accordingly, every High Court is empowered to hear the criminal offences within the Province.

After this proposed Bill is enacted an offence might be committed in Hambantota and the Minister would decide on the province where the High Court inquiry was to be held, the counsel argued.

Some people might be tried under the new Act while another could be charged under the old one for the same kind of offence. This is unequal treatment in violation of Article 12(1) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, said de Silva.

The Attorney General and the Director General of Bribery would be empowered to determine which offences should be tried in the new High Courts.  That was violative of Article 12(1) on equality, 12(2) on freedom from discrimination and Article 10 on the Right to think. That could target persons politically. If the Chief Justice appointed the three Judges to the new High Court, then the Minister could not decide the location. The Attorney General or the Director General the bribery commission, could not decide on the persons to be prosecuted – that will interfere with the independence of the judiciary.

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Romesh de Silva

This violated Article 4(C) of the Constitution and also Article 12(1) on equality and 12(2) on freedom from discrimination. There could be undue targeting, De Silva, PC explained.

The Judge couldn’t be compelled by the impending law on the postponement of cases. The right to a fair trial was denied. It violated judicial power enshrined in Article 4(1). The right of a lawyer to practise his profession, free of external forces was also denied in violation of Article 14(1) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Romesh de Silva supported a petition, against the Bill.

He appeared for the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, U. R. de Silva P.C.

President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana supported a petition by Professor G. L. Peiris, objecting to the Bill.

He appeared with Kaushalya Molligoda and Navin Marapana.

Gamini Marapana endorsed the position taken up by Romesh de Silva PC that the Bill did not refer to the establishment of the Permanent High Court. It had put the cart before the horse; without reference to the establishment of the Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar, it referred to the procedure to follow.

The right to postpone cases denied the right to fair trial. If the family member of a counsel died how could he appear in the court? He needed a postponement.

This Bill sought to give the power to the Executive Officer of the State, to take away a case from the Magistrate’s Court and place it somewhere else in violation of the independence of the judiciary, Counsel Marapana maintained. The Attorney General and the Director General of the bribery commission would be interfering with the independence of the judiciary.

The Bill carte blanche to the Attorney General and the Director General Bribery, to send any case before the Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar.

A day-to-day trial prevented an accused from retaining a counsel of his choice, Gamini Marapana said.

The Bill did not refer to serious crimes such as rape, child abuse, murder. It was politically motivated.

The fundamental right to a fair trial would be denied if the Attorney General and the Director General Bribery decided in which Permanent High Court a case should be heard. Let the Chief Justice decide such issues without completely eroding the judicial powers.

The Counsel requested the Supreme Court to declare that the Bill violated the judicial power of the courts, and was, therefore, unconstitutional.

President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardene endorsed the submissions previously made by de Silva and Marapana. He objected to the Bill, stating that the Bill did not refer to the establishment of the Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar.

It was a case of putting the cart before the horse. He appeared for Prof. Channa Jayasumana.

The Bill eroded the powers of the Chief Justice, he said. Waging of war, terrorism, murder, rape kidnapping were not given prominence in the Bill at issue.

Serious criminal offences had not been highlighted, he said.

It seemed to be politically motivated. Victims of rape, murder of family members, drugs had been ignored

Manohara de Silva P.C., supported a petition, which objected to the Bill. He said the Bill of that nature needed to be approved by a two-third in Parliament and by people at a referendum.

He appeared for Dinesh Gunewardene.

The bench comprised Chief Justice Priyasarth Dep, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare and Justice Nalin Perera.

Watch out – power threat on Social Media

March 16th, 2018

Social Media may well be the new hope of strength of the Yahapalana powers. The big talk today is about the need to control Social Media and curb the use of Hate Speech on the networks of this new media spread.

Just as whatever the Russians did with their nerve agent Novichok that is said to have been used to attack former secret service agent Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia, and a British police officer at Salisbury, UK, enabling British Prime Minister Theresa May to push aside all her problems, including attacks from Tory backbenches, and even threats to her office over Brexit, it looks like the situation of the recent violence in the Kandy District has given a huge opportunity to the Yahapalanaya leaders to cover up their weaknesses, and growing unpopularity.

They must be offering many poojas of thanks to the old colonial masters for showing how they can use the tragedy in and around Kandy, to push aside unpopularity with the use of Social Media as the new source of power, just as Theresa May uses Vladimir Putin and nerve agent Novichok to get over her unpopularity.

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For most of our 70 years of independence, we have been under the censorship of the main media – print, radio, and later TV, under various States of Emergency, by both UNP and SLFP-led governments. Our media and journalists had to face Competent Authorities, who were ready with their red ink pens to cut and chop copy whether on trade union issues and strikes, youth uprising with violence, ethnic and communal violence, and later through three decades of war against terror.

We are now moving to new area of the control of Free Expression –the control of Social Media, and it is coming as the reach of the Internet gets wider, and there is increasing use of Social Media by sections of the population that goes far beyond the reach of the regular print, radio and TV media.

What have the users of social media said or done with regard to the cause or spread of the violence in Kandy, and the related ethno-religious rivalry or confrontations? Nothing has been said. All we know is what officials and politicians say about the danger that social media posed at the time, and the need to ban networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber. It certainly showed all the power the President of Yahapalanaya holds in wielding censorship, but nothing at all of what exactly these networks did that were wrong or dangerous.

There is no question that some users of these networks may have misused the networks, and possibly very dangerously. There is also the possibility that other users would have sent messages of peace, unity, and reconciliation, including what some Buddhist monks actively did to shelter Muslims and prevent further violence. So what exactly is Hate Speech on Social Media, when there is hardly any definition or explanation of Hate Speech on regular media, or among politicians? Just look back at the recent local government poll campaign. Do you recall the vehement speeches by President Sirisena, threatening through his sword of power against all his opponents – in and out of government- yes over corruption? What happens about such speech, if reported on social media? When considering new controls over a new area of media that our people are rapidly getting used to for personal communication, advertising, and business, as well as the new area of blogging that many journalists are engaged in, there must surely be a very satisfactory way of controlling it, especially by people who are ready to threaten the use of the ‘madu valigey’ or the ‘bala kaduva’ – the sword of power.

It is good to remember that those who are calling for controls on social media today, and those who were in power from the time of the killing of Richard de Zoysa ad many other journalists under the UNP, and later the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga, attacks on several other journalists, and the unknown story of Prageeth Eknaligoda. These are the people who reigned in Cabinets in the White Van days, who were silent about those vans. It must be mentioned that these include the powerful figures of the Pohottuva, too.

The Government may try to win popularity by telling us about the need to control Social Media. They do need something to at least regain some popularity. But, would the new controls on Social Media mean blocking the reportage o f corruption in government? Will these networks be free to talk of the huge commission earned by ministers and political catchers in the dirty record of ‘ayapath palanaya’?

Will Social Media be accused of spreading hate speech if they make a good laugh of the ‘Wi-Fi’ promises of a shaky Prime Minister? Will these networks be wrong to highlight the crooked activities in areas of education and agriculture, or highlight the commission earned from an unoccupied and rented building for the Agriculture Ministry – bringing a huge crop of profit to the minister?

It is time for caution. Social Media is a new area of activity. It would need controls, as any other of communication would. But, one cannot let a government, whose members have huge and ugly records of attacking the Freedom of Expression, from Richard de Zoysa to Lasantha Wickrematunga and later, to have a completely free hand in even the necessary control of this Media.

Such controls could be a new zone of the popularity or management ability of the government. But popularity or management ability of Government must not be allowed to threaten Freedom of Expression. Watch out Social Media!

Leeches invade library

March 16th, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The colony of political leeches sponging off the public continues to grow rapidly. There has been a twofold increase in the number of local government members. The country needs more professionals and skilled workers to realise its developmental goals, but it is getting burdened with more and more political lamebrains who are liabilities.

We had enough and more bad eggs in the garb of local government members previously. Among them were cattle rustlers, chain snatchers, bootleggers, drug dealers, killers and rapists. The late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera told us about a Pradeshiya Sabhha head who had deflowered hundreds of women. God knows how many others of their ilk are among the new entrants. An already bad situation is likely to take a turn for the worse. We hope that we will be proved wrong.

The only solace, if at all, is that there will be a significant female presence in local government bodies. But, we hope and pray that there won’t be, among them, the likes of the ferocious woman who, together with her husband, a southern Provincial Councillor, mercilessly pistol-whipped a screaming private bus driver in full view of the public the other day, and the female MP who had a youth abducted in Colombo a few years ago.

There are said to be many new faces in local government institutions. But, it is doubtful that they will be different. For, most of the new entrants to politics take to corruption as if to the manner born. Ambitious and venal, they don’t scruple to defy the dictates of conscience and do whatever it takes to clear their paths in a bid to achieve their dreams. They need funds to graduate from local council bodies to the provincial councils and from there to Parliament. Therefore, they start making money from the word go and get involved in various rackets.

The increased number of local government members has led to serious problems which the government has not bargained for. The yahapalana leaders don’t think before they leap; they begin to think after leaping and then it is too late. Besides the colossal amounts of public funds they are planning to pour into a bottomless pit by way of allocations for local councillors, most of the Pradeshiya Sabhas and urban/municipal councils will face a huge space problem.

Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha has sought to wish away this problem. He says not all the local government members will be present at most sittings as in Parliament, which rarely has a houseful of MPs. He has sent the wrong message to the local councillors, who will feel encouraged to stay away and collect their allowances etc. What if all the members of a council turn up? There will be a mad scramble for seats.

If local government institutions can manage their affairs with fewer members, as Minister Mustapha says, why on earth did the government make laws to provide for electing more? Aren’t the architects of the new electoral system and their political masters responsible for the resultant chaos and waste of public funds?

Meanwhile, disturbing news comes from Ambalangoda. We reported yesterday that the increase in the number of its members had prompted the Ambalangoda Urban Council to take over part of the public library of all places to expand its auditorium. Ideally, it should have been the other way around; people would have benefited if part of the UC premises had been used for expanding the library. The fate of the Ambalangoda library represents in microcosm what is happening in the country as a whole—ignorance taking precedence over knowledge. In a country, where the educated grovel before semiliterate politicians, this is something to be expected. It may be recalled that the Jaffna bibliotheca, a national treasure, was burnt down by pro-UNP goons during the 1981 development council elections.

Bibliothecae are sacred and politicians mustn’t be allowed to desecrate them. It behoves the government to prevent politicians from encroaching on libraries.


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