| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(July 22, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) Former Supreme Court Judge C.V.Wigneswaran has taken upon himself an uphill task of managing a peninsula which needs urgent rehabilitation amidst friction within and outside TNA. The government is watching with glee when it could make him cave in and succumb to pressure by pitting the NPC chief minister against the governor whose term was extended despite assurance a civilian would replace Major General Chandrasri.
But C.V. Wigneswaran is made of sterner stuff than the people give credit for in that he is first and foremost an erudite and experienced judge with impeccable credentials. He is on par with former AG Shiva Pasupathi who hailed from five generations of doctors. Tamils cannot afford to forego his tenure as chief minister since for 30 long years they have been controlled by fanatics and illiterates.
TNA is now a mix of impulsive neophytes in politics such as Suresh Premachandran and M.A. Sumanthiran MP who are in a mighty hurry to bring Band-Aid solutions to the Tamil conundrum post-war however genuine their intentions are and senior politicians such as R. Sampanthan and Mavai Senathirajah who would gauge the pulse of the government against majority Tamil sentiments in their own time and weigh the pros and cons.
It is to the advantage of Tamils the TNA stalwarts of experience and erudition are now in a position to look after their interests. CVW will show no knee-jerk responses no matter what his opponents and dissenters throw at him and most of all he has no skeletons in his closet. However, he needs to shed his stubborn stance in his advancing years and co-operate with other players such as Governor Chandrasri and Douglas Devananda who are - despite criticisms - making practical moves to alleviate the immediate daily needs of the people.
Major General Chandrasiri’s actions speak a lot more than the TNA has done so far and it would be in the interest of the Tamils the NPC engages with him and Devananda who have enough clout with the government.
That his term was extended should not be perceived as a threat but a boon to the development of the North. Their actions and on the ground realities speak more of their commitment to the North than of the rhetoric the NPC harps on that it does not have enough funds to develop North despite a budget provided by the government. Use this dammit, instead of asking for more.
The North has had its share of Sinhala, Muslim and Burgher administrators in governance, judiciary and police force in bygone years and they served it well with the support of Tamils. Until Tamils reach closure and look towards the future they have only themselves to blame and not the government which despite its flaws is atoning for its actions in the past of creating ethnic turbulence as was witnessed in the July pogrom of 1983.
One cannot eat principles such as 13A but everyone needs to feed himself on a daily basis and this is the bottom line. The injustices caused to minorities need addressing and the UNHRC probe is not going away but rather gathering momentum with the government itself reluctantly admitting war crimes could have been committed.
It would also be a wise move to garner support from Muslim parties since we share a common language and their vote base should not be scoffed at. Ditto for mustering upcountry Tamil votes and the Tamil minority could challenge Sinhala hegemony and prove once and for all that the minorities in toto would equal the Sinhala majority are going nowhere and that their rights are as legitimate and henceforth entrenched in the constitution come hell or high-water.
As we approach the 31st anniversary of the July 1983 pogrom against Tamils, sentiments are riding high once more and those who suffered and left the island with heavy hearts are reliving the horrors through commemorations around the world as much as Palestinians do in Black September and to a much earlier era when Hitler annihilated six million Jews to carve out a blue-eyed blond Aryan race although he was partly Jew himself.
The second generation of the Tamil diaspora are a force to reckon with despite the fact the government thumps itself on its back it vanquished the LTTE along with 40,000 or more Tamil civilians. Now it has to prove whether it wiped out terrorism or annihilated a sizeable portion of ethnic Tamils before UNHRC.
Notwithstanding the fact Tamils have suffered under successive governments, the NPC should take cognisance of the signs of fissure within the ruling party and be prepared for any eventualities such as its term coming to an end if it does not co-operate with other government bodies and garner support from our Muslim brethren.
(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Justice denied to two child victims of rape at
the hands of the armed forces
| The following statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission, a human rights body headquartered in Hong Kong S.A.R.
( July 22, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) There have been reports of an alleged abduction and rape of an eleven-year-old girl by a group of Navy officers, and of another nine-year-old girl treated in a similar manner. In the first case, the soldiers have been serving at Karainagar Navy base have been deployed to patrol Ureddikulam, Urkatturai, Karainagar city and Kytes. Seven were initially arrested and their names are Ajith Kumara, Rupasinghe Aarachilage Chamara Indika, Nadira Dilshan Ratnayake, Kudabalage Jayaweera, Indika Kumara Vithanarachchi, Ranasinghe Sumith Subash and Vikum Senage Piyasiri Dissanayake, all serving the Karainager Navy base.
After the news of these rapes spread, the parents of the victims were threatened and they are reported to be living in fear. It is under these circumstances that an identification parade was held at the local magistrate’s courts, where all seven suspects were brought. The eleven-year-old girl, who earlier made a statement about the kidnapping and gang rape, failed to identify the sailors. There are serious grounds on which to believe that the girl was acting under stress and in fear as she and her parents have been threatened for exposing the rape. The medical report has confirmed that the girl was raped.
However, the Navy officers were released on personal bail. Personal bail means signing a guarantee to appear in court, and if one does not appear then the amount given has to be paid to the court. One was given an order for personal bail at the amount of rs. 250, and the amount of rs. 5,000 was set for three others.
The rape of a young child by members of the armed forces is a serious crime. The fact that the area where this happened is now under the control of the armed forces is another aspect which adds to the weight of the crime. Naturally, people in these areas live in great fear of the armed forces. Now that a report of a serious crime has been lodged against seven officers, the families of victims and the entire neighborhoods would be living in serious fear. The girl’s failure to identify the perpetrators of the crime is quite likely to be due to such fear. She may even have been instructed by adults not to identify the perpetrators because her life and the life of her family would be in serious jeopardy if she does so.
It is the duty of the leaders of the armed forces to guarantee security to those who report crimes committed by armed forces personnel, particularly in areas that are under the control of the armed forces, as there is no one who can guarantee the safety of people except the leaders of the armed forces themselves. Even the police cannot be expected to be in a position to guarantee security to the victim and her family, given the overwhelming presence of the armed forces. However, there is no evidence to support that the leaders of the armed forces and, in particular, the leadership of the Navy, has taken adequate measures to guarantee such security.
It is also the duty of the government, and the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development in particular, to ensure the security of the civilians living in these areas. Of particular importance is the security of young children. There is no indication that the government is making any effort to guarantee such security in this instance and the normal situation that prevails in the country is that the government and the Defence Ministry promotes impunity.
There have been protests in the streets by people demanding action on the part of the armed forces and the government. However, the usual response to such protests by the government is to ignore them.
Thus, while a heinous crime against two children has been reported, there will in all likelihood be no serious attempt to guarantee proper investigations and the prosecution of the offenders.
The fact is that, now, Sri Lanka does not have a public justice system. Any of the developments towards a public justice system that happened during the British colonial times and that were continued in the first few decades after independence have now been deliberately displaced and dismantled. The essential features of a public justice system are a government-funded and well-managed system of receiving and investigating into complaints, done through the police, an independent and impartial prosecution system, and a competent, committed and independent judiciary. All that is now lost. There is public understanding of this loss.
Now everything depends on political influence and monetary power. Political influence prevails even over monetary power. This is the fate of all Sri Lankans now and these two cases of the rape of children by Navy officers is a stark exposure of the fate of every person in the country.
Sri Lanka today is one of the most backward and primitive places when looked at from the point of view of the possibilities of justice meted out through a functioning public justice system. Unfortunately, even an issue as important as this has not become a part of the public discourse in Sri Lanka. While there are private murmurs about Sri Lanka as a lawless place, there is hardly any attempt to develop an organized resistance against the displacement and dismantling of justice.
To be without the assistance of a public justice system is essentially akin to slavery. The rapes of these two children at the hands of the country’s armed forces personnel and the aftermath, in which justice has been completely denied, makes the point starkly clear that between slaves and the people of Sri Lanka, there is not much of a distinction.
No government that fails to maintain a functional public justice system could be considered a legitimate government. The situation is even worse when a government deliberately destroys the public justice system. The Rajapaksa government’s serious lack of legitimacy is being sharply expressed in these two incidents of the rape of children at the hands of officers of the armed forces.
How American propaganda works
| by Paul Craig Roberts
( July 22, 2013 , Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Why hasn’t Washington joined Russian President Putin in calling for an objective, non-politicized international investigation by experts of the case of the Malaysian jetliner?
The Russian government continues to release facts, including satellite photos showing the presence of Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missiles in locations from which the airliner could have been brought down by the missile system and documentation that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet rapidly approached the Malaysian airliner prior to its downing. The head of the Operations Directorate of Russian military headquarters said at a Moscow press conference today (July 21) that the presence of the Ukrainian military jet is confirmed by the Rostov monitoring center.
The Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that at the moment of destruction of MH-17 an American satellite was flying over the area. The Russian government urges Washington to make available the photos and data captured by the satellite.
President Putin has repeatedly stressed that the investigation of MH-17 requires “a fully representative group of experts to be working at the site under the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).” Putin’s call for an independent expert examination by ICAO does not sound like a person with anything to hide.
Turning to Washington Putin stated: “In the meantime, no one [not even the “exceptional nation”] has the right to use this tragedy to achieve their narrowly selfish political goals.”
Putin reminded Washington: “We repeatedly called upon all conflicting sides to stop the bloodshed immediately and to sit down at the negotiating table. I can say with confidence that if military operations were not resumed [by Kiev] on June 28 in eastern Ukraine, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened.”
What is the American response?
Lies and insinuations.
Yesterday (July 20) the US Secretary of State, John Kerry confirmed that pro-Russian separatists were involved in the downing of the Malaysian airliner and said that it was “pretty clear” that Russia was involved. Here are Kerry’s words: “It’s pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia into the hands of separatists. We know with confidence, with confidence, that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point and time, so it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists.”
Kerry’s statement is just another of the endless lies told by US secretaries of state in the 21st century. Who can forget Colin Powell’s package of lies delivered to the UN about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” or Kerry’s lie repeated endlessly that Assad “used chemical weapons against his own people” or the endless lies about “Iranian nukes”?
Remember that Kerry on a number of occasions stated that the US had proof that Assad crossed the “red line” by using chemical weapons. However, Kerry was never able to back up his statements with evidence. The US had no evidence to give the British prime minister whose effort to have Parliament approve Britain’s participation with Washington in a military attack on Syria was voted down. Parliament told the prime minister, “no evidence, no war.”
Again here is Kerry declaring “confidence” in statements that are directly contradicted by the Russian satellite photos and endless eye witnesses on the ground.
Why doesn’t Washington release its photos from its satellite?
The answer is for the same reason that Washington will not release all the videos it confiscated and that it claims prove that a hijacked 9/11 airliner hit the Pentagon. The videos do not support Washington’s claim, and the US satellite photos do not support Kerry’s claim.
The UN weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq reported that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. However, the fact did not support Washington’s propaganda and was ignored. Washington started a highly destructive war based on nothing but Washington’s intentional lie.
The International Atomic Energy Commission’s inspectors on the ground in Iran and all 16 US intelligence agencies reported that Iran had no nuclear weapons program. However, the fact was inconsistent with Washington’s agenda and was ignored by both the US government and the presstitute media.
We are witnessing the same thing right now with the assertions in the absence of evidence that Russia is responsible for the downing of the Malaysian airliner.
Not every member of the US government is as reckless as Kerry and John McCain. In place of direct lies, many US officials use insinuations.
US Senator Diane Feinstein is the perfect example. Interviewed on the presstitute TV station CNN, Feinstein said: “The issue is where is Putin? I would say, ‘Putin, you have to man up. You should talk to the world. You should say, if this is a mistake, which I hope it was, say it.’”
Putin has been talking to the world nonstop calling for an expert non-politicized investigation, and Feinstein is asking Putin why he is hiding behind silence. We know you did it, Feinstein insinuates, so just tell us whether you meant to or whether it was an accident.
The way the entire Western news cycle was orchestrated with blame instantly being placed on Russia long in advance of real information suggests that the downing of the airliner was a Washington operation. It is, of course, possible that the well-trained presstitute media needed no orchestration from Washington in order to lay the blame on Russia. On the other hand, some of the news performances seem too scripted not to have been prepared in advance.
We also have the advanced preparation of the youtube video that purports to show a Russian general and Ukrainian separatists discussing having mistakenly downed a civilian airliner. As I pointed out earlier, this video is twice damned. It was ready in advance and by implicating the Russian military, it overlooked that the Russian military can tell the difference between a civilian airliner and a military airplane. The existence of the video itself implies that there was a plot to down the airliner and blame Russia.
I have seen reports that the Russian anti-aircraft missile system, as a safety device, is capable of contacting aircraft transponders in order to verify the type of aircraft. If the reports are correct and if the transponders from MH-17 are found, they might record the contact.
I have seen reports that Ukrainian air control changed the route of MH-17 and directed it to fly over the conflict area. The transponders should also indicate whether this is correct. If so, there clearly is at least circumstantial evidence that this was an intentional act on the part of Kiev, an act which would have required Washington’s blessing.
There are other reports that there is a divergence between the Ukrainian military and the unofficial militias formed by the right-wing Ukrainian extremists who apparently were the first to attack the separatists. It is possible that Washington used the extremists to plot the airliner’s destruction in order to blame Russia and use the accusations to pressure the EU to go along with Washington’s unilateral sanctions against Russia. We do know that Washington is desperate to break up the growing economic and political ties between Russia and Europe.
If it was a plot to down an airliner, any safety device on the missile system could have been turned off so as to give no warning or leave any telltale sign. That could be the reason a Ukrainian fighter was sent to inspect the airliner. Possibly the real target was Putin’s airliner and incompetence in implementing the plot resulted in the destruction of a civilian airliner.
As there are a number of possible explanations, let’s keep open minds and resist Washington’s propaganda until facts and evidence are in. In the very least Washington is guilty of using the incident to blame Russia in advance of the evidence. All Washington has shown us so far are accusations and insinuations. If that is all Washington continues to show us, we will know where the blame resides.
In the meantime, remember the story of the boy who cried “wolf!” He lied so many times that when the wolf did come, no one believed him. Will this be Washington’s ultimate fate?
Instead of declaring war on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, why did Washington hide behind lies? If Washington wants war with Iran, Russia, and China, why not simply declare war? The reason that the US Constitution requires war to begin with a declaration of war by Congress is to prevent the executive branch from orchestrating wars in order to further hidden agendas. By abdicating its constitutional responsibility, the US Congress is complicit in the executive branch’s war crimes. By approving Israel’s premeditated murder of Palestinians, the US government is complicit in Israel’s war crimes.
Ask yourself this question: Would the world be a safer place with less death, destruction and displaced peoples and more truth and justice if the United States and Israel did not exist?
| by Rifai
( July 21, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Barbaric Israel forces are killing hundreds of Palestinians indiscriminately in Gaza Strip. This is indeed a collective punishment of the entire 1.8 million people in Gaza in the pretext of defending its land. This is indeed a disproportionate attack by Israel. Israel has been arguing that it has right to defend its land. Yet, look at the way it is killing hundreds of people in the pretext of hunting Hamas fighters. Who on this earth would agree with what Israel is doing right now. No human being would accept this sort of logic. The western world is maintaining silence on this issue and Arab & Muslim world could do anything to stop this genocide. It is shame on the Arab leaders to watch that theirs brothers are being butchered in front of their eyes in this modern world. Physiological and emotional scars of this war would stay in the minds and hearts of 1.6 billion Muslims forever.
The western political leaders and journalists have been unconditionally supporting Israel in its aggression and transgression. What crime those children, women and elderly people did to kill them in this barbaric and inhuman ways. What crime they have done to Israel to demolish houses of these people? What crimes these people have done to punish them collectively and yet, today in this modern world, with all so called human right commission there is no one to question these barbaric acts of Israel.
Let us assume that Israel is haunting Hamas fighting then it should go for them and fight them directly and there is no excuse to kill children, women and elderly in this barbaric way. If this is not a barbarism what would be barbarism then? Coward Israel forces with its all modern weaponries do have courage to face Hamas face to face. That is why they are shelling indiscriminately on people.
It is really shame that humanity today watches this type of mass murders and killing on their TV screen and yet, their sense of humanism and consciences do not any human sentiments. It is shame that our children have to watch these cruel images of massacres in their TV screen. One wonders what type of world we are living today? Is it a world dominated by inhumanity, aggression and transgression? Where is the concept of universal Islamic brotherhood? Where is the Muslim leadership and what happened to Islamic notion of faith and unity within Muslim ummah? Where are so called Islamic preachers and Imams? By Allah these Imams and preachers of today will have to answer lots of questions in front of Allah in the Day of Judgment for their continuous complicity and ineptitude in the case of Palestine for many decades. Most of them have become agents of corrupted rulers and dictators rather than working for the course of Islam and Muslims they have become servants of nepotistic rulers. Otherwise, how could the conditions of Muslim communities descend to this low level of ebb?
By the grace of Allah, Ummah is not weakened by this sort of genocide rather aggression like this has united Ummah from every corner of Muslim world. Today a large numbers of British people demonstrated against killing of Palestine people in Gaza Strip. More than 50.000 British people crowded at 10 Downing Street demanding British government to end the killing of innocent people in Palestine. This was one the largest demonstrations in support of Gaza. Despite of the fact that Muslims are fasting for more than 19 hours many Muslims people from all over Britain got together to demand British government to stop supporting Israel. This demonstration was organised by a number of British organisations.
The following organisations called upon British people to show their solidarity with people of Gaza. Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, CND, Friends of Al Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative, War on Want, Islamic Forum of Europe, Palestinian Forum in Britain and many others organisations participated in this demonstration. They would march from number 10 Down Street to Israel embassy demanding to stop war on Gaza.
People different faiths and different political ideologies got together in this demonstration. All kinds of people old and young, men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims actively participated in this demonstration. All raised their voice loudly against unconditionally support that British government give to the Zionist regime.
The director of Palestine solidarity campaign Sarah Colborne said that;
“Today’s national demonstration will give people across the country the chance to say enough is enough, Israel's siege of Gaza and it's occupation of Palestine land has to end now and people want justice and freedom for Palestinians".
Not only in London across the globe are people demonstrating against this aggression of Israel government. For the last 70 years people of Palestine have been suffering at the hands of Zionists. Their lands have been grabbed and their houses have been demolished and their life has been ruined by aggressive Israel occupation: one of the supporters of Palestinians and British MP Mr George Galloway put this question. What right Britain has got to grab the lands of Palestine and give it to Israel? He argues that this was one of the greatest injustices in the world today and British government should not support Israel rather it should say sorry for what happened before 65 years ago and compensate Palestinians for their mistake and wrong doing
This is indeed a wakeup call for Muslim community around the world. This type of aggression would increase radicalism and extremism among Muslim youths. Most of the western powers have openly supported Israel disproportionate attack on Palestinians. Obama openly said the Israel has got right to defend and British PM too said the same thing and yet, they do not see that Palestinians have been victimised for 70 years now. They are really supporting the aggressor in this case of Israel and Palestinian conflict.
Indeed, American weapons and arms are used by Israel in these barbaric attacks on innocent people: children, women, elderly, sick and disable all are being targeted by this coward Israel forces. They have been targeting all people without any human remorse and these forces are like animals without human hearts and companions. They would kill anyone without any kindness. They have indeed killed hundreds of Palestinian children in recent attack and Gaza has been under siege for many years: people are deprived of basic needs and facilities. Water was cut off and electrify supply was limited, food supply was limited and basic medicine supply was restricted by Israel.
Where are all human right commissions and world organisations for protecting poor and victims? Why they do not speak out? What has UN done for Palestinians for the last 60 years? Nothing is done but just talks and negotiations. With the support of USA and Western power Israel could manage to manipulate all UN resolutions on Palestine issue. Where do we live? Are we live in this so called modern and civilised world or are we live in an animal kingdom? Animals would do better justice than this racist Israel. Justice is unconditional. Yet, Israel has got one type of justice and for Palestine there is another type of justice. How long this gross injustice and bias attitude could continue. When will Devine Punishment descend on these people? It can be said God give them time to prolong their aggression and yet, His punishment would come abruptly sooner or later. Humanity is going see it soon. That is what we could say in this genocide of innocent people.
| by Mahboob A. Khawaja
( July 21, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The contemporary Arab world is devoid of educated, intelligent and effective leadership. Those occupying the helms of power are mostly the former traditional loyalists tribal agents of the European colonial era uplifted to kingship and absolute authoritarianism to protect the vested foreign interests in the new age of the 21sy century politics. The US and West European wish to see the old order continuing under new faces of puppets regimes as is the case of Egypt under military dictator General Abdul Fatah Al Sisis replacing a popularly elected governance of President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Animosity syndrome is being used by all the parties in the Middle East. After more than 60 years of so called peace talks between Israel and Arabs on Palestine, the current hostilities signal extreme unpredictability in global affairs. There is no qualified rational and balanced approach to peacemaking between the Palestinians and Israel. Where would the peace come from if both parties are constantly engaged in perpetuating animosity and killings while the US and Europeans look more of a spectator than influential participants to break the deafening silence on increased dehumanization of the Palestinian people under occupation.
“There are the times that try men’s soul”, noted Thomas Paine in his famous “Common Sense”, the lifeline to American independence. In situations of adversity and crises, competent leaders represent hope and optimism for change, not egoistic political agenda and animosity…………… Peace requires new thinking and New Visions that American President and Israeli PM do not have except the WAR agenda. Both are victims of egomaniac politics. Would Peace and Security grow out of the nowhere? Threatening rhetoric of warmongering and the nuisance of individualistic political indoctrination do not articulate rational and responsible opportunities for rational and intelligent leaders to engage in peaceful dialogue or conflict resolution. Both Arab rulers and Israeli politicians need to work on collaborative capacity-building to talk and finalize long awaited peace deal for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
The emerging conflict in Gaza and attacks on civilians on both sides would not help to ease the situation for peaceful interactive dialogue. Animosity will not replace rationality unless both PLO and Israel realize that enough is enough and come to face to face the resume peace talks. The overwhelming degeneration of the mankind must be stopped to rethink about the future. Conflicts are not the outcome of rational thinking but of sadistic and cruel mindsets. Those who plan wars and drive the mankind to the animalistic thinking and killing of each other are often fearful of the unknown. They view the humanity just in numbers, not an object of precious life and value in the larger universal context. Most often, these people are disconnected with the annals of normal human thinking and affairs, suspicious and paranoid and they see success to be achieved at the cost of ruthlessness, hatred, degeneration and viciousness. In a knowledge-driven global culture of enhanced human communications and proactive visions for sustainable futuristic co-existence between Man and the encompassed Universe and divergent civilizations, we the educators and learners are to exercise rational capacity of thoughts, universal ideals and continuous intelligent foresights to change and adaptability to the future-making. This requires intelligent commitment to principles of international peace and security for all, non-aggression in the working of global systems, protection of life and a balanced ecological culture of co-existence within the encompassed Universe - Man and the Humanity. The technologically fought machine wars not only destroy human life but leave catastrophic ripple effects of wars to undermine the environment and wellbeing of the future generations.
The US foreign policy is intimately linked to its geo-political grandeur interests not to the common thinking and primary interests of the American people. There is a continuing evolution of the war thinking and conflict-making in the US administration. Have we learned anything from the past to change anything because of knowledge, history and facts of life to know our weaknesses and strengths of vision and to change and reform our minds and behavior when facts warrant a change, be it in the policy making or global interactive behaviors? After all listening and learning are critical factors for the changing role of the 21st century political leadership and so is the flexibility mechanism to be built-in for effective leadership. But there are no intelligent and proactive leaders with a vision of the future to see the One Humanity except naïve and self-geared egomaniac full of the sensation of power using triviality and viciousness to torture and kill the mankind and destroy ecological habitats. But contrary to the brutal perceptions and actions of the US-former Europeans imperialists, the international community is informed, mature, and enjoys the moral and intellectual capacity to know and understand the facts of life and to challenge the politically imperiled insensitivity to universal accord and unity of the mankind against the brutality of a war culture.
For the first time in American history, when an African colored man walked into the White House, he promised to change the US belligerent policies and practices and showed interest to make peace across the globe. But it was all delusional politics to win the elections. Paul Craig Roberts called him “The World’s Least Powerful Man – the Obama Puppet”, rescinding all his commitments to “Yes We Can” and global peacemaking. Obama and Netanyahu both have serious problems of self-awareness and intellectual consciousness of the realities of prevalent culture and civilizations if they wish to pursue animosities and preemptive war attacks. They should first know the perceived enemy to be relevant and effective for their own good. For centuries, the Europeans religiously persecuted Jews, and finally the Holocaust that was planned and carried out by the Europeans, not by Arabs, Muslims or Iranian. Recall, throughout the formative history, who took the dispersed and persecuted Jews to safety, equal rights and protections and honored them with distinctions of participation in the Arab intellectual culture and governance - The Arab civilization in al-Al Andalusia- Spain for eight hundred years - longest period of any human civilization. There is lot of learning for the both to come to understand how they want to move to the future of perceived confrontations. What if Obama or Netanyahu had the courage to act like Anwar Saddat - the Egyptian President who took initiatives to go to Tel Aviv and address the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) for a new beginning in the dull and crazy Middle East politics? Could PM Netanyahu has not done the same to go to PLO parliament and address the Palestinians for a peaceful deal? After all the 21sst century leaders must be equipped to deal with adversity and unusual crises and to make honorable deals. Would this have stopped the earth from rotating against the sun or would the sky have fallen on the Antarctica? Intellectually enlightened and morally spirited scholars and experts hold the view that all man-made problems are solvable given the will and rational flexibility and strategies to find workable solutions. The mankind views these leaders performing acts of absurdity on stage with frustration and dismay. Are the leaders not supposed to lead? Do the Arabs and Israelis have any intelligent leaders who can lead for the larger interests, peace and global security of the humanity?
Comforting the major paradoxes of history as Arnold Toynbee (A Study of History) described warrior as dreamers devoid of moral and intellectual imagination when they come close to stagnation they jump to irrational outbursts and conclusions about the facts of life. Wrong people, glued to wrong thinking, do the wrong things without any rational sense of time, people’s interest and history. To Obama’s mind, America and Israel do have historical bonds of friendship but in a global context they are disconnected to the rest of the international community. America and Israel are alone, not part of the global thinking and agenda for peace and co-existence. America and Israel need a political and intellectual challenge to come to terms with peace and security but the oil-soaked blood-tainted authoritarian and intellectually sold out oil producing Arab leaders cannot provide one. If President Obama and Netanyahu cannot think responsibly and are wrong in the assessment of the current affairs, should the world believe them for anything? Aggressive thinking is propagated, echo of peace is silenced. Peace requires new Thinking and New Visions that American President and Israeli PM do not have except the WAR agenda. Would Peace and Security grow out of the nowhere? Threatening rhetoric of pre-emptive war strikes on Iran nuclear’s centers and the nuisance of individualistic political indoctrination do not articulate rational and responsible opportunities for rational and intelligent people to engage in peaceful dialogue or conflict resolution. There is no scarcity of proactive Jewish intellectuals and scholars in Israel and America enriched with political imagination and strong sense of the global humanity and people who love peace and harmony with the Arabs and Palestinians. In a political culture overwhelmed with threats of violence, military action and counteraction, America and Israel are fearful of the unknown and have no vision for peace and co-existence either in the region or in a global context. Peace and security are not one sided pursuits to be experimented in a lab. The Arabs, Jews and Christians living in the Middle East have lot in common than to reignite animosity and hatred for mutual consumption. There are many who could a better and more productive leadership in America, Arab world and Israel. America, Israel and Arabs need change for their future. All desperately proactive, culturally conscientious and intellectual unbiased leaders who could see the bigger picture of futuristic world - a different world of tomorrow of peace and co-existence rather than perpetuated animosity and extreme naïve belligerent behaviors, leaders who will serve the people and could learn to make a navigational change and adaptability to the making of a promising future for all the mankind. The future must be of peaceful co-existence, not of continuing bloodbath and intransigence.
Arab authoritarianism is too egomaniac and irrelevant to the 21st century global political affairs. The traditional rulers lack the moral and intellectual capacity to sit face to face and deal with Israel. There is gulf of mistrust and imbalanced political capacity. Across the Arab world, there is no a single institute or university of Peace and Security and Conflict Management to articulate change and to envisage critically what is relevant and what needs to be changed to further the cause of peace and security in the Middle East. The authoritarian Arab rulers are a menace to public communication and political accountability. They continued to live in palaces, not with the people. The perto- dollar run transitory and delusional prosperity has blindfolded the Arab rulers to be indifferent to the interests and aspirations of the Arab masses. At times in history, Arabs were known to be morally advanced people. Today, its materialistic culture is just the opposite. Otherwise, how could they continue to live under extreme political adversity, dehumanized culture of intellectual abyss and lack of political imagination for the future? Continued warmongering between the Israelis and Arabs will not lead to peacemaking. Some preliminary substance led to last year’s discussion in affiliation with the Obama administration. The ultimate peacemaking rests with political maneuvering and dialogue in a timeframe perhaps under an international supervision agreeable to both sides. But if there are educated and intelligent people of new generation enriched with new visions and open to listening and learning from history, chances are that a durable peace could be pursued and done.
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012)
World’s Mindset Has Not Changed
( July 21, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) The shooting down of Malaysian aircraft over Ukraine airspace when around 289 innocent lives were lost, has caused anguish amongst citizens all over the world.
This tragic and unfortunate incident is one more indication to prove the fact that , inspite of huge and extraordinary developments of science and technology in different spheres and the material progress achieved in the world , all such improvements have really not impacted on the thinking process of men and women around the world for better.
Obviously, such developments , which have resulted in availability of sophisticated equipments and facilities changing the external life style of man, have not resulted in the creation of any visible betterment in the behaviour pattern of humanity. The external changes have not resulted in the internal changes in man.
World is still plagued by hatred , prejudices and narrow outlook with one man or one region all the time trying to outbeat another man or another region. The wars and conflicts have been taking place in the world ever since the human history began and they continue now with the same intensity and ferocity. The only change has been in the type of weapons used and types of tactics adopted to defeat one by the other. People continue to target the enemies by fair or foul means as it happened in the past.
Obviously, the battle for the future has to be fought in the minds of men and women all over the world. Great scholars and philosophers like Mahatma Gandhi had said this earlier and are now continued to be said by thinking men who are concerned about the future of the mankind.
The ground reality today is that the leaders of several governments in the world preach about the need for peace and harmony to the outside world but actually do many things which contribute to destruction of peace in one way or the other.
President Obama has expressed concern about the shooting down of aircraft over Ukraine air space. But, many suspect that USA could have provided discreet support and encouragement to the Ukraine government , that has resulted in conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Similarly, Prime Minister Putin has condemned the attack on the aircraft but many suspect that Russia could have given tacid support to the rebels in Ukraine to destabilise the government in Ukraine.
Similar instances of double speak and double act by leaders of world governments can now be seen in all the areas of conflicts around the world. Obviously, there is an air of dishonesty amongst several leaders of world governments and they have repeatedly shown self interests in their acts and deeds, without really caring for value based cooperation between different nations.
If one carefully would review the world history several centuries back, it could be seen that conflicts have taken place and many disasters and deaths have happened due to war exactly for the same reasons , for which they are taking place today.
The question arises as to whether the world civilisation in the real sense of the term has moved ahead at all.
| by Tisaranee Gunasekara
“Anoint a villain and he will prick you.”
( July 20, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The punishment might not be commensurate with the crimes – murder and gang rape. The sentence might get commuted; there might be an outright presidential pardon; an appeal might produce a more unjust outcome.
But at least for now Sampath Chandrapushpa Vidanapathirana is behind bars. True he may receive most favoured treatment in jail or spend his time comfortably in the prison hospital. But the main thing is that he was convicted, sentenced and imprisoned. Some justice has been done, at least for now. And hopefully the verdict will give a modicum of peace to the grieving family of Khuram Shaikh and to Victoria Tkcheva.
But the verdict provides no hope for Lankans. For Lankans, it does not mark a turning point nor signals the beginning of the end of impunity. The verdict is a singularity, which has no effect on the way Lankan justice works for Lankan citizens. If it proves anything, it proves that impunity has become thoroughly encrusted and that national justice is possible only with an extraordinary amount of international pressure.
Sampath Chandrapushpa’s real error was not that he murdered and raped. His real error was that he murdered and raped non-Lankans. Had Mr. Shaikh and Ms. Tkcheva been Lankans, there would have been no case and no conviction. Sampath Chandrapushpa would still be the favoured chairman of the Tangalle Paradesheeya Sabha, free to inflict his brutal violence on the hapless populace. In fact impunity may have prevailed had Mr. Shaikh not been a citizen of a First World Country. Even then justice moved at glacial pace. And there was blatant political interference, such as when the Ministry of Defence got Minister Dinesh Gunawardane to inform the parliament that according to ‘police records’ Ms. Tkcheva was not raped . (Will some opposition member query from the Minister of Defence and his fraternal secretary on what grounds that palpably apocryphal statement was made, to the legislature, no less?)
Mr. Shaikh’s brother, together with his parliamentarian Simon Danczuk, mounted and maintained a superlative campaign. Ms. Tkcheva refused to be intimidated and told her harrowing tale to the world with courage and dignity. But the Shaikh family’s dedication and Ms. Tkcheva’s bravery may not have sufficed, had it not been for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s desire to become the king of Commonwealth. Presidential venality provided a window of opportunity for the UK to demand justice for its murdered citizen. Until then, as Mr. Shaikh’s brother said, “Everything was against us.” But at the Colombo Commonwealth, Prince Charles and PM Cameron raised the Shaikh case privately and publicly. After that, as Mr. Shaikh’s brother said, “There was no hiding place” .
The Shaikh verdict is a very welcome one. But it also serves to demonstrate the helplessness of ordinary Lankans and the hopelessness of the current Lankan condition. When victims are Lankans (as is the case almost all the time) privileged criminals will continue to have plenty of hiding places. And justice will not be done.
Infected by Impunity
In the small and sparsely populated village of Uri, in Karainagar, Two little girls (aged 11 and 9 years) were allegedly raped by several navy personnel, for eleven days.
The horror reportedly came to light when school authorities asked the parents why the girls were not coming to school and the parents said that the girls left every morning to go to school. The alleged perpetrators serve in Navy camp in the area. According to the 11 year old victim, “the suspects had given her chocolates and biscuits and befriended her. The victim had said her nine-year-old cousin, who walked with her to school was also sexually abused on multiple occasions” .
International community is uninterested in the case. Tamil Diaspora is busy chasing grand mirages to do anything about the antithetical ground reality in the North-East. There is no one to mount a campaign for the victims in Western capitals. Instead there are attempts to silence the families. “When Dinasena Rathugamage of BBC Sandeshaya talked to the parents and relations about the incident, they said they cannot say anything because a group has threatened to kill the entire family if they speak out” .
Last week, one of the child victims failed to identify the suspects produced in court by the Navy. Was it a result of the threats? Or is the Navy hiding the actual suspects? After all, despite tremendous international reportage and British pressure, it took quite a while for Sampath Chandrapushpa to be arrested, let alone charged.
As Charles Saravan pointed out, “Other incidents involving adults, most often women, pass unrecorded for several reasons. A complaint can be made only to the army who are, invariably, the perpetrators: sheep complaining to foxes and wolves about attacks by foxes and wolves. This, in turn, results in bullying and with punishment of different kinds. Why complain when there is no hope of justice and every possibility of further harm?”
That is the reality of the North and parts of the East five years after the war ended.
Palestinian writer and poet Mourid Barghouti said, “What is asked of us today…..is to coexist with their tanks in our bedrooms! Show me one person in this world…who can live with a tank in his bedroom.”
What is demanded of Northern/Eastern Tamils is to live with rape, imprisonment and murder, with injustice, insecurity and fear.
What is the norm in the North is yet not so normal in the South. But this is the general national direction.
In the South, killers and abductors of political opponents and media personnel roam in freedom. The most recent police failures included the curious inability to arrest those who were threatening the president of the country’s Bar Association. Custodial torture is almost normal. As a very recent Sinhala victim of police brutality said, “We were also forced to admit falsely to alleged crimes. They threatened us to not go to even a hospital adding that they would shoot us and throw us in the Ocean after taking us in again. For one month and 10 days we could not go to the hospital as a result.”
Though more than a month has passed since the Aluthgama violence, the high level investigation promised by the President is still non-existent. Meanwhile Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thera continues to sow his toxic seeds, unhampered by law.
Colombo’s hapless poor continue to be evicted, under cover of beautification. In her piece ‘From Shanty to Home: Myth vs. Reality of Colombo’s Urban Regeneration Project’, Iromi Perera comments on the UDA promotional video which depicts the victims of the mass eviction programme as beneficiaries . This practice was honed to perfection during and post-Fourth Eelam War. Now it has come home to the South.
This week the regime decided to conduct a national inquiry into alleged war crimes. This is obviously to evade the UNHRC probe. The national inquiry, if it actually happens, will be purely a result of international pressure.
The Shaikh verdict and the decision to conduct a war-crimes probe are exceptions which prove the rule – in Rajapaksa Sri Lanka international pressure is a precondition for national justice.
- Five Books of the Lives, Heroic Deeds and Sayings of Gargantua and His Son Pantagruel
- Rape In Peace – (Immunity) – Colombo Telegraph – 20.7.2014
- I Was Born There, I Was Born Here.
- Disgusting! Suspect wants water – Police Sgt urinates in his mouth – Ruwan Laknath Jayakody and Saman Waduge http://www.ceylontoday.lk/51-68647-news-detail-disgusting-suspect-wants-water-police-sgt-urinates-in-his-mouth.html
| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(July 20, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian ) Under a spreading tamarind tree in Pandivirichchan just past Omanthai on the way to Kilinochchi the female Tiger cadres are awaiting transportation home from their official duties. Dressed in blue Tiger uniform and two braids bereft of make-up such as eye-liner, lipstick and nail varnish a teenager aspires, they wear cyanide capsules, their only ornament. Their faces are devoid of any emotions either laughter, bonhomie and they were not engaging in chit-chat.
And they pay allegiance to their Sun-God Pirabakaran who would determine whether they would live or die for the cause of a separate state of Eelam, the traditional homeland the LTTE perceived for Tamils in the North and East. This utopia would send the island into a spin and turn it into a nightmare which was unprecedented in the island’s history.
After Thandikulam where travellers from the South undergo checks by soldiers you are in a no man’s land where both the army, PLOTE and the LTTE traverse the jungles and the civilians have to satisfy all parties. PLOTE collaborated with the army and identified suspected LTTE supporters with cardboard boxes on their heads nodding incognito to apprehend them.
Nineteen years ago on July 14, 1995, this writer made a journey to the forbidden North to find out why 165 civilians who were ordered to seek refuge in a church in Navaly on the outskirts of Jaffna Town were killed in an air raid few weeks before. The price paid was arrest by the CID at Vavuniya railway station and subsequent fingerprinting and mug-shot photograph taken along with many youth aged between 18 and 40. The crime was breaching an unwritten rule no journalist should venture North and gather information on the warfront. I was working at the Sunday Leader and only Lasantha Wickrematunge and the driver knew about my trip.
It was on this momentous day on July 14th 1995, this writer made the decision to go to the North to gather first-hand information of the Navaly church bombing and to seek an interview with LTTE supremo Velupillai Pirabakaran.
Having gone through Thandikulam – the checkpoint between the North and South - and thoroughly searched by female army officers I proceeded to the LTTE controlled area through the jungles with a female pastor who claimed she would get me an interview with Pirabakaran. So carrying two cans of kerosene oil, sugar, safety matches and other essential banned items for the pastor bought with my money she decamped after the LTTE security check instead of accompanying me.
I was left to the mercy of the Tigers who after checking me out gave me a vegetable rice packet which I ate with glee since I had been walking through the jungles for nearly five hours in the scorching sun with not even a drop of water. A Tiger cadre had given me a lift for the last leg of the journey on his pushbike for a fee of Rs 75.00.
There was a hall where civilians venturing North are vetted and issued with permit to proceed. The bags are checked on placing them on plundered railway tracks. Then they took me to their offices sprawled across into different sections with proper administrative units……….
Having heard so much about the cyanide capsule, while I was riding pillion on a motorbike with a female LTTE cadre, my curiosity got the better of me and I felt the black cord on her nape. She grimaced and for one brief moment I thought I had made a major faux pas. Nevertheless I was graciously given shelter in an LLTE household for three days and inculcated into their ideology which included heroic songs for Kittu Mama.
It was during the early hours the following morning I heard the explosion – I did not know where it came from – But I was so mortified that it has landed above my head. All I could think of was that if I died my mother in Colombo who thought I was in Kandy attending a conference and who suffered from diabetes would be all alone. I invoked all the saints and prayed that God should let me live at least for my mother’s sake.
That this writer is alive today is largely due to concerned colleagues including Nick McFee of Reuters and Waruna Karunatilleke who pleaded with the Defence Ministry and President Kumaratunga to release me as I was detained under PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act).
Nimal Leuke was the SP in Vavuniya then and a classmate of Lal wickrematunge. He treated me kindly although I was made to sleep with two women constables in the room at Vavuniya police station. I was grilled by the CID and for 19 hours I refused food claiming that I had done nothing wrong and until they release me I was willing to fast.
My journey to the North was prompted by curiosity and the urge to find out the truth regarding Navaly church bombing. I was an utter fool and to this day I do not know why I took such a perilous journey when I could have been safe and sound in Colombo.
While the ICRC sent out a press release the air force bombed the church, the then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, tried to force the ICRC to detract its statement claiming the LTTE had conducted the raid. The LTTE did not have air power then and there was no way the dome of the church could have been demolished and many civilians including women and children massacred by government air force even as they dropped pamphlets urging them to seek refuge in the church.
Journalists have paid with their lives in pursuit of truth but today we find journalists genuflecting before politicians, businessmen and casino kings masquerading as media champions. Social media in Sri Lanka are run by egocentric neophytes who are generously funded by foreign donors and they frequent up-beat Colombo joints feasting lavishly with the funds they obtain and write lengthy harangue which has nothing to do with reporting. However, there are some decent and upright journalists who cannot be bought out or bribed. We still live in hope.
(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at email@example.com)
| by Mahatma Gandhi
Published in the Harijan - 26-11-1938
( July 20, 2014, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) Several letters have been received by me, asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.
|Indian National Army personnel are all military grace as they welcome Gandhi at an event at the Harijan Colony, Delhi, in 1946|
My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close.
Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews. But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice.
The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine.
Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood? Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home. The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French.
If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews. But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For, he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which any inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter.
The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his wholerace with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is, therefore, outside my horizon or province.
But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a nation, which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one, which is the declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and all it means?
Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism.It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it looks in its nakedness.Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Mussalmans or the Hindus, though as a matter of fact, in essence, He is common to all and one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless.
If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this I should not wait for! the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end the rest were bound to follow my example.... ...
And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it in the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart.
The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart... They will find the world opinion in their favor in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.
Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home, including Palestine, not by aggression but by loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilization by Cecil Roth. It gives a record of what the Jews have done to enrich the world's literature, art, music, drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jew can refuse to be treated as the outcast of the West, to be despised or patronized. He can command the attention and respect of the world by being the chosen creation of God, instead of sinking to the brute who is forsaken by God. They can add to their many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.
| by Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena
( July 20, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Government’s boast this week that the Colombo High Court’s conviction of a local authority chairman and three of his henchmen for the 2012 Christmas Eve murder of a British tourist and the brutal rape of his girlfriend ‘proves’ the independence of Sri Lanka’s judiciary is grossly inappropriate in the context of the case.
Coyly protesting innocence
The murder of Khuram Shaikh and the rape of Victoria Alexandrona occurred directly as a result of the licence given by this Government to provincial thugs masquerading as local politicians. The former head of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha sentenced to twenty years rigorous imprisonment terrorized the locals by emptying automatic weapons into the air as if they were firecrackers and took murderous exception to a tourist’s challenging of his authority. In similar vein, a ‘Mayor’ of Hambantota roamed the city carrying a pistol with which he threatened opposition parliamentarians. He was not, in the minimum, questioned as to why he was endangering public safety.
This is the culture of savagery for which the Government is responsible. It cannot hide behind one singular verdict and coyly protest its innocence. These claims are good only for the credulous.
In fact, enormous skepticism evidenced by many in the wake of this verdict only indicates the erosion of belief in the impartial process of justice. This is where the danger lines are drawn, when the public cynically ceases to believe even in the idea of justice. The post-verdict focus has been on the comfortable if not luxurious lives that the accused in high profile cases enjoy behind bars, the appeals that would be filed and the possibility of presidential pardons at a point when international attention to the case is less.
This is all certainly speculative. But the post-war Rajapaksa Presidency has been marked by the repeated circumvention of the proper operation of the law through the device of presidential pardons. Therefore, such concerns cannot be easily dismissed.
Illustrating contrary policies
Indeed, this verdict does not showcase an ‘achievement’ of the Government but quite the contrary. What it illustrates is that in cases attracting extraordinary international attention, this Government allows the process of investigation, prosecution and judgment to continue unhindered. In the vast generality of other cases however, it mercilessly interferes for its own political advantage.
The Khuram Shaikh verdict therefore evidences one clear fact alone. Notwithstanding the tremendous demoralization of the Sri Lankan judiciary, there are honourable judges who act according to their judicial conscience when allowed to work properly. For that, these individuals should be applauded. By no stretch of the imagination however can the Government claim credit.
In fact, this claim gives rise to yet another pertinent question. Some time ago, the query was raised in these column spaces as to whether a victim in Sri Lanka needs to be a citizen of a foreign country in order to ensure that justice gets done? What if for example, an ordinary Sinhalese, Muslim or Tamil lacking protection of the few who control the affairs of this country had been the unwitting focus of fury by a misbegotten local politician strutting around in the power conferred on him by his political puppeteers? The likelihood of the case being swallowed up by laws delays, threatening of witnesses and prosecutorial lethargy is indisputably high.
So what does this say for us, for the status of the citizenship that we lay claim to?
Our record of politicized prosecutions
Listing instances of Sri Lankans suffering abuses including killings and rapes by ruling party politicians and their thugs would take far more space than the limited confines of a newspaper column. From a point in the past where the underworld existed at the bequest of politicians but was allowed to surface only exceptionally, we now have the underworld virtually at our doorstep. The courts and the law have been rendered silent in the process. And our record of politicized prosecutions only further illustrates the point. Two instances that immediately come to mind are the prosecutions launched against journalist JS Tissainayagam and former army commander Sarath Fonseka.
Moreover crowning the whole was the witch-hunt impeachment of a sitting Chief Justice pushed through against the express advice of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. True enough, a Bench of the Supreme Court thought it fit to reverse the opinion of the Court a year later for reasons that will surely be subjected to devastating critique in the fullness of time.
Could this entire disgraceful episode be erased purely because of one verdict in the context of a prosecution framed and motivated largely by international pressure? One thinks not.
A touch of the macabre
So the boast regarding the independence of the judiciary gives rise to considerable merriment. Indeed, there is a touch of the macabre about this given that the head of the country’s Bar Association had lodged complaints with the police a few days earlier that he had been menacingly followed by motorcyclists. He had been tailed in the vicinity of buildings housing the Government’s elite and consequently in an area under heavy surveillance. Logically therefore the tracing of the individuals responsible should not be difficult. Logic however has little place in the scheme of things today.
The Bar Association’s warning on the growth of a crypto-military state in Sri Lanka and strong questioning of the authenticity of the inquests on the deaths of three Muslims following the Beruwala and Aluthgama communal violence are distinguishing factors. The shadowing of individuals has long been part of an unnerving pattern culminating in killings which still remain unsolved decades later. This is also part of the culture of savagery which continues to hold post-war Sri Lanka tightly in its grip.
Rest assured therefore that one verdict does not secure the independence of the judiciary akin to Aristotle’s caution which, as we may recall, was to the pungent effect that one swallow, a summer does not make.
Excerpted from the ‘Focus on Rights’ column in The Sunday Times, 20th July 2014 for which newspaper, the writer is a legal consultant/columnist.
| by Kingsley Karunaratne
( July 20, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A rare occurrence took place recently at Abhayaramaya in Narahenpita, Colombo last Friday. The political party leaders were urged by multi-religious dignitaries of the Congress of Religion, to look into the burning problems and solve them.
The meeting of the Congress of Religion was presided over by the Acting Mahanayaka; Ven. Iththapane Dharmalankara Nayaka Thero. He urged the political leaders to come out with solutions to current problems of nation, such as the powers of Executive Presidency and current political and economic situation in the country.
Apart from Ven. Iththapane Dhammalankara Nayaka Thero, His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Ven.Maduluwawe Sobhitha Nayaka Thero, Sanghanayake of Japan, Chief of Mahabodhi Society, Ven. Banagala Upatissa Nayaka Thero, Retied Archbishop Oswald Gomis and Ebenezer Joseph (General Secretary-National Christian Council) Kurukkal,Kuhanathan Sharma were present from the Congress of Religion.
The political leaders, Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe(Leader of Opposition ), Karu Jayasuriya M.P.,Senior Minister, Professor Thissa Witharana, Senior Minister Dew Gunasekara, R.Sambandan M.P.(Leader of the Tamil National Alliance), representatives from Democratic Alliance and Hela Urumaya participated in this meeting.
His Eminence, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said that “The North, East problem needs immediate attention. There is no accountability in governance. Among constitutional matters, the power centered round a single person, in an Executive President is not suitable for the country. In this country the system of governance is in a mess. There should be a political solution for the North & East. All that is requested cannot be given, but give what is required for all communities of Sri Lanka to live peacefully with dignity”.
He further said that “We must insist for Inclusive Democracy. The breakdown of rule of law needs urgent attention. Unfortunate war is over but there is no solution as yet. The country cannot move forward like this”.
Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Nayaka Thero addressing the political leaders said that “High cost of living is a severe problem. As a nation,we do not have priorities, what the Rajarata people want is water for cultivation and not anything else. Though it is said that the country is developed, poverty among the majority of people is real. The politicization of the system of administration is also a big headache. Police force did not act swiftly in the Aluthgama incident, and they were just silent bystanders. The Police should be depoliticized, as quickly as possible. The election system should be conducted in a fair manner. As a nation, we must resolve the issues that crop up through discussion”.
Retired Archbishop, Oswald Gomes said that “According to history of Sri Lanka on the invasion of Portuguese and British’s, some Sinhala leaders betrayed the nation. Almost every country in the world today follows the democratic system of governance. We too should do the same”.
“We must be united otherwise it is impossible to reach our target. If you ask anyone whether he/she likes the presidential system, always the reply is negative. There is a unanimous opinion now that the Executive Presidency should be abolished. All citizens should have equal rights. We must treat everybody alike irrespective of cast, creed, language or ethnicity. Election system with preferential voting has to be abolished as this leads to all sorts of fighting even among the same party candidates” he further said.
Thereafter political leaders commented on the matters pointed out by the Congress of Religion. Senior Minister, Dew Gunasekera commenting on the national question, said that, “After a lapse of 66 years since independence, and still we are struggling to find a solution. If we have a genuine interest for bringing a political solution, the two main parties, the United National Party & Sri Lanka Freedom Party should come to a consensus with the government. Otherwise nobody can solve it. Otherwise the extremists would come and create chaos. We missed the golden opportunity to win the hearts & minds of Tamil people after May 9th, 2009.There are 50,000 widows in Northeast as a result of the war. He requested the TNA to come forward for the select committee of the Parliament and come to a consensus with the government”.
He further said that “Though there is a an economic set back, it is not confined only to Sri Lanka but everywhere in the world. Violence against women and children, sexual violence, rape and robberies are increasing. The cause is open economy. What Dr. N.M. Perera wrote in his “Critical Analysis” booklet, on 1978 constitution has now come true. We were all lied five times starting from 1994 and ending from 2005”.
Senior Minister, Professor Thissa Witharana said, “What the multi-religious dignitaries said is correct. We should be united as one Sri Lankan nation without cast, creed, religion, language or ethnicity problems. Then only we can reach our target. The devolution of power is done to the district level in 13th amendment, but we need that to be devolved into the village level. Through this only the national unity could come. We should abolish the 1978 constitution in totality and need a constitution where the Prime minister is heading the government through a cabinet of ministers. The collapse of Sri Lankan society and the void between the rulers and people has increased immensely. The people, who have money, can be elected as people’s representatives but after they get elected, they are trying to earn the spent money through unfair means. The election system should be changed.
He further stated, that “the multi-religious dignitaries are having a binding duty towards the country and suggested that a roundtable conference be called soon with the participation of senior political leaders to reach a consensus”.
Leader of Opposition, Ranil Wickramasinghe stated that, “The select committee proposed by the government will not do anything. This is only a time passing strategy. The government should decide in accordance with their own LLRC proposals. Not to be delayed furthermore. After making the government proposal, they can reach the TNA and other parties. As the President himself has agreed to abolish the executive presidency, he should do that promptly. The excessive powers of the President should be removed. UNP is ready for both these options. The 17TH Amendment should be immediately introduced. Religious tolerance should be achieved at any cost”.
The TNA leader, R.Sambandan M.P. said that “the Government M.P.’s get more money for development projects but the opposition Members do not. We do not have an independent Judiciary, Election Commission, Bribery commission or Public Service commission. I wonder whether there is democracy in the country? North Provincial Council finds it difficult to function due to lack of funds. Chief Justice was impeached and removed from office after conclusion of the inquiry within 24 hours. That is the position of our democracy. If we are going forward we must correct it. We oppose the 18th amendment to the constitution? Why they altogether removed the 17th amendment and introduced the 18th amendment. The country should think twice regarding these grave matters. In the North & East no proper program me to achieve permanent peace”.
“We are for a undivided Sri Lanka. A political solution should be given for the Tamils. We want to live in a peaceful Sri Lanka with dignity and equal rights for the citizens. But we cannot be lied forever”.
He further said that, “The 13th amendment to the constitution-some said we are giving 13+.There was a report from Mangala Munasinghe Committee to improve 13th amendment. The proposed constitution of Chandrika Bandaranayke in 1994-1995 also intended to give something. Even the All Party Conference made a majority report of thousand pages through Prof. Thissa Witharana but this report is still not published by the government. Then the LLRC Presidential Commission came and the report and the proposals published. Now it is the government’s turn to make them legalized”.