| by Bhaskar Roy
( December 21, 2013, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) The execution of Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) Assistant General Secretary Abdul Quader Molla on December 12, may be a watershed in the political life of Bangladesh. This comes just before the celebration of victory day “December 16” when the occupying Pakistani army surrendered to the Indian army in Dhaka in 1971.
On December 13 that year, the Pakistani army and their Bangladeshi collaborators (JEI) known as Razakars, decided to execute top Bengalee intellectuals who they believed instigated the “independence from Pakistan” movement.
Immediately after liberation, the JEI was banned in Bangladesh. The situation began to change following the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Raheman in 1975 by a group of young army officers, with major backing from several quarters inside and outside Bangladesh. Inside Bangladesh, Gen. Zia-ur-Rehman was a central figure in the conspiracy along with Trojan horses like Khondakar Mustaque and Taheruddin Thakur inside the ruling Awami League, which led the freedom movement. Zia became President and rehabilitated the JEI politically. He also formed his own party, the BNP. Obviously, the close relationship between the BNP and the JEI is not surprising.
When the Awami League returned to power in 2009 with an unprecedented majority in an election recognized by all as free and fair, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed made two promises to the people. One, perpetrators of crimes against humanity in 1971 would be brought to justice. Second, terrorism would be eradicated from Bangladesh.
Sk. Hasina’s second promise was achieved with a lot of effort. She became one of the leading figures in the world fighting terrorism. But terrorism, especially terrorism promoting religious extremism, is difficult to root out permanently. Religious extremism and terrorism are closely linked to the JEI and sections of the BNP. If the Awami League and its alliance partners are defeated in the coming general elections, it can be said for sure religious extremism and terrorism will return.
The bigger challenge, however, was to bring the 1971 mass murderers to justice. For one, the JEI and it students’ wing, Islamic Chaatra Shibir (ICS), had established themselves across the country and were in power in alliance with the BNP (2001-2006).
This was a cruel irony of fate for Bangladesh. The killers of 1971, though vanquished, returned to rule over the victors. They had managed to sabotage liberation. They also remained linked to their old mentors in Pakistan as seen in post Qader Molla execution statements from JEI Pakistan and Pakistan’s government leaders. Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan expressed “deep grief” and concern over the execution of Qader Molla, adding he was undoubtedly hanged because of his loyalty to and solidarity with Pakistan in 1971. Officially, however, Pakistan treated the issue as an internal affair of Bangladesh. Khan called the action an effort to revive old wounds.
There are eight others in line to be executed. One of them is Salauddin Qader Choudhary (SQC), who was an advisor with a cabinet rank in Begum Khaleda Zia’ government. His father, the late Fazlul Qader Choudhary was with the Pakistanis, and SQC himself worked with Razakars. A shipping magnate, it is alleged he used one of his ships in 2004 to land the ten truckloads of illegal arms and ammunition in Chittagong, destined for Indian insurgents especially the United Liberation front of Assam (ULFA).
Sk. Hasina set up two International Crimes Tribunals (ICTs) which held open hearings to try these cases. Eye witnesses presented evidence. There were documented evidence against the culprits, including writings by some young Pakistani army officers who served in Bangladesh at that time. In his book “Witness to Surrender”, Major (Rtd) Siddiq Salik has descried some of these activities.
The work of the tribunals have faced many criticism but at the end of the day countries and groups like the European Union have accepted the process. US secretary of State Kerry again asked Sk. Hasina on the process following Qader Molla’s execution, but seemed satisfied with the explanation. At the end of the discussion over telephone, Kerry appreciated the development path implemented by the present government, expressed concerns over terrorism, and assured continuing US support to Bangladesh.
The European Union was concerned about the execution as they have abolished the death sentence, and are also in the forefront in human rights issues. The experience of World War-II and the holocaust changed the mindset. During the cold war the NATO and Warsaw Pact members were armed to destroy the entire world many times over. These experiences sobered the European countries and made them respect human rights. But in their efforts, the EU failed to make any major dent on China’s human rights, where execution is a normal affair. China holds the key to EU’s economic stability and hence cannot be talked down to.
Execution is still very much in existence in the US. The US concern over Qader Molla’s execution was much more political. Kerry expressed his concern that the execution will disturb the elections and cause further instability.
But the point is that the elections slated for January 05 next is under threat for reasons other than Qader Molla. The opposition alliance led by the BNP demands elections conducted by a caretaker government, a provision introduced in 1996 in the constitution which was removed in 2011 by the present government, following the mess made by the caretaker government in 2006.
Leaving aside 1971 to 1975 when the US stood against the liberation of Bangladesh, otherwise known as the break up of Pakistan, the US policy in Bangladesh continues to be somewhat curious. US diplomats and the intelligence community, especially the CIA, have declined to see the JEI as terrorist inclined despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. This only suggests looking at circumstantial evidence, that they want to hold up the JEI Bangladesh as a moderate Islamic political party, friendly to the USA, and that USA is not against Islam, an image that jehadis and terrorists of the middle east and north Africa have projected.
It is well known that the US has packed the biggest guns and bags full of money, and its sense of hubris has pushed it to intervene in foreign countries and change regimes. Unfortunately, American foreign policy executors whether overt or covert, pay scant time to learn the history, culture and tradition of Asian and African countries to appreciate that sense and sensibilities.
The US concept of “good Taliban and bad Taliban”, or recruiting “moderate” salafist – jihadists in Syria for its fight against the Al Qaida, is deeply flawed. These policies do not work, and seen time and again, they explode. Iraq is a country today where people die every day in sectarian conflicts and has become a haven for terrorists.
What the people of Bangladesh suffered in 1971 is still bleeding them. The pain of 1971 can be brought to some closure if the main culprits are brought to justice according to the laws of the land. Outsiders cannot imagine the sufferings in almost every Bangladeshi have, with 10 million refugees fleeing to India. World War II created 6 million refugees.
The JEI, which refuses to comply with the constitution of the country and its electoral laws, have resorted to rampaging, killing innocent men, women and children are nothing other than terrorists.
If elections have to be postponed for this reason, so be it, but 1971 must be brought to a closure.
(The writer, Mr Bhaskar Roy, is a New Delhi based strategic analyst. He can be reached at e-mail email@example.com)
| by Philip Giraldi
( December 20, 2013, New York City, Sri Lanka Guardian) There is a major flaw in the United States Constitution. The Founders understood that partisan politics would inevitably result in bickering along party lines that would lead to charges that political opponents were betraying the country so they deliberately made it very difficult to charge others with "treason." Which is not to say that they did not regard treason as the most heinous of crimes. The fact that it is defined in the Constitution, one of only two crimes to be specified in the document, is telling, but they just wanted to make sure that when the charge was made it was made in all seriously, not to obtain frivolous political advantage. In Article III the Constitution states "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
Because of the high bar set by the Constitution, treason convictions in the United States have been relatively few, normally occurring during declared wars. The last such conviction was in 1952. Elsewhere in the world, treason trials, if not common, occur when someone is believed to have collaborated with an actual declared enemy or to have subverted a country’s laws or constitution, to include attempting to overthrow an established government. Avoiding legal complexities, the Merriam Webster unabridged dictionary provides a broad primary definition for the word treason, describing it as "the betrayal of a trust."
The problem with the treason definition applicable in the United States is that it does not cover what we are seeing right now, something that the Founders could never have anticipated. I am referring to a concerted "betrayal of trust" by a group of American government elected officials in openly advancing policies that serve the interests of a foreign country, specifically the senators and congressmen who are lining up behind Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to oppose the White House’s attempt to negotiate an equitable solution to the thirty-five year confrontation with Iran. The discussion in Washington is now focused on possibly baseless allegations that Iran is seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon, but it is really all about Iranian military and economic power as it relates to the state of Israel. The dissident legislators include nearly all Republicans as well as many leading Democrats who have long been advocates for Israel. Their intention is to throw a spanner into the works by seeking to pass new sanctions legislation which, the Iranians have already warned, will end any possibility for a deal.
Neocon Noam Neusner recently provided an insight into what is going on in Congress, boasting that "Normally a party’s leadership will stand behind a president in his moment of diplomatic achievement. Not this time." He further explains that the "conspicuous silence" among Democrats is because they are "the men and the women, after all, who are on a first name basis with most of the board of AIPAC" and "they want to be in Washington long after Obama leaves the White House." And lest there be any confusion about what AIPAC and the rest of the Lobby want, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has offered his own critique, saying that he is "embarrassed by our government’s acceptance of Iran’s blackmail," calling secret talks with Iran "a violation of the special relationship with Israel."
The pressure has been so intense that President Barack Obama had to personally go to a gathering of a major component of the Israel Lobby – the Brookings Saban Center – to explain to Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban and a hostile audience what he intends to do about Iran. His explanation eventually expanded to include a complete sellout of the Palestinians, avoiding the subject of settlements, calling Israel a "Jewish state," and conceding that Tel Aviv has a right to call all the shots on its security demands. Secretary of State John Kerry has called Israeli Arabs a "demographic time bomb" so security presumably includes possible ethnic cleansing. Obama should have been embarrassed to subsequently attend the Mandela funeral, where he was observed laughing and grinning with other heads of state. Apparently everyone appreciates a good joke.
Congress meanwhile has been doing its part, disputing each and every White House justification for the negotiations, possibly inducing the Administration to respond by adding a number of Iranian trading partners to the list of organizations already subject to sanctions, leading to a temporary suspension of the talks in Geneva. The White House is now schizophrenically arguing that new sanctions are okay as long as they are not directed at the nuclear program, a ridiculous claim that Tehran is not buying into.
And the consequences of all the bickering are deadly serious, with many observers nervously noting that the only alternative to talks is war because the United States and Israel have excluded all other options. And a war would have major consequences not only for Iran but also for the United States. Energy prices would skyrocket, there would undoubtedly be a new wave of international terrorism directed against the United States and American citizens, and Iran has significant capabilities to strike back directly against US forces.
Closing the door on talks also eliminates the possibility of any positive engagement with Iran. The White House claims to be inexorably opposed to Salafist terrorist organizations, to include al-Qaeda and its various franchises. Iran also opposes those groups as many of them believe in killing Shi’ite Muslims, the majority religious group in Iran. Tehran most likely has better intelligence on al-Qaeda than does Washington and might be willing to share it, but the congressmen, benefiting their own ambitions and little more, are clearly not heedful of the grave damage they are doing to the United States and its interests overseas. Preaching war with Iran is serious business, not the usual Capitol Hill game of one-upmanship akin to a victimless crime where what does and does not take place has little or no meaning.
Some might argue that the congressmen are within their rights, that they are expressing their legitimate concerns that Iran is being deceptive, enabling talks to go on while they creep closer and closer to their objective of weaponizing their uranium stockpile. There just might be a congressman or two who actually believes that or who genuinely thinks that Iran poses some kind of threat to the United States, but it does not require any particular insight to realize that the opposition to talks with Iran overwhelmingly comes directly from Israel and its friends and from nobody else. The principal Israeli lobby AIPAC has basically declared war on the White House over the issue and the Senators who are leading the charge are firmly in Israel’s pocket. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois is even being briefed by Israeli intelligence and Israeli cabinet ministers have been observed pleading their case on Capitol Hill to a very receptive audience. Several congressmen have angrily confronted Secretary of State Kerry when he was trying to explain the tentative agreement with Iran, citing information they received from the Israeli Embassy and even quoting the Israeli media.
Our first president George Washington was aware of the danger of too "passionate attachments" to any foreign country, warning in his Farewell Address that "The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave.” Though the Quislings in Congress cannot, unfortunately, be found guilty of treason, there is, of course, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938, which requires individuals acting on behalf of a foreign country to register with the Justice Department and to reveal their sources of funds. While it would be quite a spectacle to see lines of congressmen registering, no one should actually expect the Obama Administration to make such a demand or attempt to enforce it. The last president who sought registration of an Israel lobbyist as a foreign agent was John F. Kennedy, who attempted to force the predecessor to AIPAC, then called the American Zionist Council, to comply with the law.
All of the above means that between a charge of treason and the requirement to register as a foreign agent, ignored anyway in the case of Israel, there is no middle ground to punish congressmen who act on behalf of a foreign government apart from impeachment. Impeachment of a congressmen for any "high crime and misdemeanor" requires charges being initiated in the House of Representatives followed by the trial in the Senate. The somewhat tedious and no doubt heavily politicized procedure is unfortunate as impeachment therefore actually needs someone willing to stand up on his or her hind feet and demand that our legislators do something to benefit the folks who elect them rather than respond to those who pay for their extracurricular services on behalf of a foreign power. That someone would be very difficult to find.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest.
| by Paul Craig Roberts
( December 20, 2013, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Years ago when I described the George W. Bush regime as a police state, right-wing eyebrows were raised. When I described the Obama regime as an even worse police state, liberals rolled their eyes. Alas! Now I am no longer controversial. Everybody says it.
According to the UK newspaper, The Guardian, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, had an angry exchange with Obama in which Merkel compared Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA) with the East German Communist Stasi, which spied on everyone through networks of informers. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/17/merkel-compares-nsa-stasi-obama
Merkel grew up in Communist East Germany where she was spied upon by the Stasi, and now that she has risen to the highest political office in Europe’s most powerful state, she is spied upon by “freedom and democracy” America.
A former top NSA official, William Binney, declared that “We (the US) are now in a police state.” The mass spying conducted by the Obama regime, Binney says “is a totalitarian process.” http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/former-top-nsa-official-now-police-state.html
Perhaps my best vindication, after all the hate mail from “super patriots,” who wear their ignorance on their sleeves, and Obama-worshipping liberals, whose gullibility is sickening, came from federal judge Richard Leon, who declared the Obama-sanctioned NSA spying to be “almost Orwellian.” As the American Civil Liberties Union realized, federal judge Leon’s decision vindicated Edward Snowden by ruling that the NSA spying is likely outside what the Constitution permits, “labeling it ‘Orwellian’--adding that James Madison would be ‘aghast.’”
If only more Americans were aghast. I sometimes wonder whether Americans like being spied upon, because it makes them feel important. “Look at me! I’m so important that the government spends enough money to wipe out US poverty spying on me and my Facebook, et. al., friends. I bet they are spending one billion dollars just to know who I connected with today. I hope it didn’t get lost in all the spam.”
Being spied upon is the latest craze of people devoid of any future but desperate for attention.
Jason Ditz at the FBI spied-upon Antiwar.com says that Judge Leon’s ruling is a setback for Obama, who was going to restore justice and liberty but instead created the American Stasi Spy State. Congress, of course, loves the spy state, because all the capitalist firms that make mega-millions or mega-billions from it generously finance congressional and senatorial campaigns for those who support the Stasi state.
The romance that libertarians and “free market economists” have with capitalism, which buys compliance with its greed and cooperates with the Stasi state, is foolish.
Let’s move on. It was only a few weeks ago that Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry were on the verge of attacking Syria on the basis of faked evidence that Syria had crossed the “red line” and used weapons of mass destruction against the American organized, armed, and financed “rebels,” almost all of whom come from outside Syria.
Only the bought-and-paid-for-by-Washington French president made a show of believing a word or Washington’s lies against the Assad government in Syria. The British Parliament, long a puppet of Washington, gave Obama the bird and voted down participating in another American war crime. That left UK prime minister, David Cameron, hanging. Where do the British get prime ministers like Cameron and Blair?
Washington’s plan for Syria, having lost the cover of its British puppet, received a fatal blow from Russian President Putin, who arranged for Syria’s chemical weapons to be delivered to foreign hands for destruction, thus putting an end to the controversy.
In the meantime it became apparent that the “Syrian rebellion” organized by Washington has been taken over by al-Qaeda, an organization allegedly responsible for 9/11. Even Washington was able to figure out that it didn’t make sense to put al-Qaeda in charge of Syria. Now the headlines are: “West tells Syria rebels: Assad must stay.”
Meanwhile, Washington’s arrogance has managed to make an enemy of India. The TSA, a component of Homeland Security, subjected a female diplomat from India to multiple strip searches, cavity searches and ignored her protestations of consular immunity. http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/12/18/devyani-khobragade-reveals-how-she-broke-down-after-stripping-and-cavity-searches-as-row-between-u-s-and-india-deepens/
There was no justification whatever for this abuse of an Indian diplomat. To indicate its displeasure, the Indian government has removed barriers that prevent truck bombs from being driven into the US embassy.
Washington has managed to recreate the arms race. More profits for the military/security complex, and less security for the world. Provoked by Washington’s military aggressiveness, Russia has announces a $700 billion upgrade of its nuclear ballistic missiles. China’s leaders have also made it clear that China is not intimidated by Washington’s intrusion into China’s sphere of influence. China is developing weapon systems that make obsolete Washington’s large investment in surface fleets.
Recently, Pat Buchanan, Mr. Conservative himself, made a case that Russia’s Putin better represents traditional American values than does the President of the United States. http://www.unz.com/pbuchanan/is-putin-one-of-us/
Buchanan has a point. It is Washington, not Moscow or Beijing, that threatens to bomb countries into the stone age, that forces down airplanes of heads of state and subjects them to searches, and that refuses to honor grants of political asylum.
Certainly, Washington’s claim to be “exceptional” and “indispensable” and, therefore, above law and morality contrasts unfavorably with Putin’s statement that “we do not infringe on anyone’s interests or try to teach anyone how to live.”
Washington’s arrogance has brought America disrepute. What damage will Washington next inflict on us?
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
| by Andrew P. Napolitano
( December 20, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) “Almost Orwellian” — that’s the description a federal judge gave earlier this week to the massive spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on virtually all 380 million cellphones in the United States.
In the first meaningful and jurisdictionally grounded judicial review of the NSA cellphone spying program, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee sitting in Washington, D.C., ruled that the scheme of asking a secret judge on a secret court for a general warrant to spy on all American cellphone users without providing evidence of probable cause of criminal behavior against any of them is unconstitutional because it directly violates the Fourth Amendment.
Readers of this page are familiar with the purpose of that Amendment and the requirements it imposes on the government. The Framers intended it to prevent the new government in America from doing to Americans what the British government had done to the colonists under the king.
The British government had used general warrants — which are not based on individualized probable cause and do not name the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized — to authorize British soldiers to search the colonists wherever they pleased for whatever they wished to seize. The reason for the Fourth Amendment requirement of individualized probable cause and specificity in the warrant is to prevent the very type of general warrant that the NSA has claimed is lawful. The reason for preventing general warrants is that they have become an instrument of tyranny.
It is against this well-known historical context that Leon engaged in his analysis of the feds who spy on us. This is truly the first jurisdictionally based judicial ruling on the cellphone aspect of the domestic spying that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed last spring. Though the NSA and the Obama and Bush administrations have claimed that judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) not only found the NSA cellphone spying to be constitutional, but also authorized it, those judges were performing a statutory clerical function, not a constitutional jurisdictionally based judicial function.
The Constitution requires a case or controversy — basically lawyers arguing against each other on behalf of clients whose interests are adverse — in order to invoke the jurisdiction of federal courts. The FISC judges, who sit and sign in secret, do not do so under the Constitution, because they have no case or controversy before them. They have only the NSA before them. Leon was the first federal judge to rule on the constitutionality of NSA spying under the Constitution — in the context of a litigant challenging the government and the government defending itself. And he found that spying to be in violation of the Constitution.
In his ruling, he dispatched with clarity the government’s argument that two Supreme Court cases from the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which the court permitted evidence obtained from telephone billing data without a search warrant to be introduced in criminal cases, support the constitutionality of the NSA’s phone metadata collection. That was before the era of cellphones, and that was before the Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant is required to hunt electronically for marijuana plants in a home and to install and follow a GPS in a car. By ruling that two now-outdated Supreme Court cases are no longer controlling, he almost guaranteed that the high court will take this case.
The NSA was emasculated before Leon. Gone were the lies of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who stated under oath that the government does not spy on Americans. Gone was the bravado of NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander, who claimed initially under oath that his spies stopped 52 terrorist plots and then mysteriously corrected himself and said they really stopped just three, but declined to identify the three. Gone was the if-we-don’t-do-this-we-all-will-die argument. Gone was the if-you-have-nothing-to-hide-you-have-nothing-to-fear nonsense that congressional NSA apologists have advanced.
In place of the political claptrap is the court’s finding that not only is the NSA spying unconstitutional, but it doesn’t work. After hearing the NSA state its case, Leon wrote, “I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.” And he added an admonition that it doesn’t help the NSA’s case to be less than candid with the judge.
This was not a difficult case for the court. The government’s behavior was utterly indefensible. It was profoundly dismissive of the Constitution that federal employees have sworn to uphold. Leon wrote: “I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”
Even though Madison would be aghast, surely the Obama administration will appeal this, and just as surely, appellate judges or Supreme Court justices will have the final say. But for now, we have the great satisfaction of knowing that an independent judiciary has saved our liberties from the tyranny of the majority. And this is a cause for great joy.
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.
Copyright © 2013 Andrew P. Napolitano
| by Sripali Vaiamon
( December 20, 2013 – Colombo – Sri Lanka Guardian) League of nations, the creation of Franklin d Roosevelt, during the end of first world war, disbanded to establish united nations which came into effect on oct.1945, where 51 nations gathered in san Francisco with great expectations, primarily because of former didn’t serve purported objectives. The charter of the un stipulated to consider the requirements of member nations, maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting environment and providing humanitarian aids in case of famine, natural disaster and armed conflicts. Under the sub-section of armed conflicts department of peace keeping operation has been constituted. It is dedicated to assisting the member states and the secretary-general in their efforts to maintain international peace and security. Despite this position it pays more attention to fatten the economy of rich nations with mass production of weapons with which manufacturers as well as respective governments earn billions. I am reluctant to publish actual statistics as those are copyrighted material but the fact remains that figures are in billions.
To earn billions fire arms have to retail and market among buyers, among countries, among rioters and among terrorists. Big countries have a brilliant spy services competent enough to apprehend the secret tactics and enforce to purchase fire arms. They create conflicts mostly among small nations and sustain for a long time. Thereby lethal weapons could be dispersed and earn huge sums. Manufacturers as well as rich countries thereby fatten their economy.
Weapons are for what purpose? Not to feed human beings, but to kill them. Not to develop countries but to create havocs and devastations. It is obvious! Do the big nations or their weapon manufacturers pay any attention for human rights abuses caused with their merchandise? It is with their commodity they destroy human beings. They commit the abuses. There is no excuse. No pardon could be ever considered. This is my layman point of view.
In my social novel ‘The Therapy’ p.510, published in America, I advocated via the last will of the main character where she has emphatically stated to request all religious dignitaries to raise a loud voice to urge lethal weapon manufacturers of the world to do away with their criminal undertakings, where their main objective is to make huge money by selling these weapons which will utilize to massacre human beings who constantly struggle to live a decent life with peace and unity in this wide world. Peace and non-violence now have been widely identified as fundamentals for human survival according to honest politicians. Govts. of respective countries with such politicians should procure lucrative ventures for those criminal minded businessmen to undertake and get totally divorced from weapon manufacturing to sell in the open market and provide to terrorists at large. Weapons should be manufactured strictly for governments’ requirements only.’
All governments in the world heavily advertised counter-productive campaigns to have a control on manufacturing and sales of cigarettes as it is gravely harmful to health of human beings. But if you compare it with lethal weapons, smoking is just a negligent. It is just a modicum. Not that I attempt to promote it but the only aim of weapons is killing and destruction. It cannot control human right abuses.
So what is the opinion of UN although it is the responsibility to establish and to safeguard the small member nations if they are involved in armed conflicts, with or without an acceptable valid reason whereby it grossly commits human right abuses?
On the 23rd of September 2009, at the 64th General Assembly of UN held in New York, Munmmar Gaddafi, leader of the Libyan Govt. boldly asked, since the inception of UNITED NATIONS (Oct.24 1945) there had been 65 wars in the world where there were million of victims. Has UN taken any tangible action to ease these situations? This I highlighted for everyone of us to open our eyes.” May be because of this revelation that he was killed like a criminal by creating a conflict in his own country where there were innumerable human right abuses but no one is willing to talk about. Not even UN.
Pentagon discussed to invade Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria to control their conflicts. They can’t deny that. It was published in all media. Iraq was a well established monarchy. Of course, on human splits it has conflict with one of the tribes. It was their indigenous problem. UN has the right to involve and bring about a settlement. But why Bush interfered? He consigned his battalions and ruined the country and alleged that they manufacture weapons for mass destruction. Bush influenced UN Secretary General to visit the country with experts and investigate. He went over with several experts but found allegation was completely false. Despite the king, Saddam Husain arrested and after a lengthy trial he was executed. Was it justifiable? Who should decide? America had two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and massacred millions of innocent human beings. Even an excuse was extended after several years by present President Barack Obama when he visited Japan.USA should use military force if their safety is threatened only. But why interfere with others? Morse Mubarak of Egypt was taken into custody. Egypt is a country with the longest history in the world with pyramids and extremely old monuments. Country was progressing for the best interest of the population. Few sections were not in favor of the Ruler. Now and then they created problems. America intervened and wanted to bring about unification. But it was a through failure. Now it is in a bigger mess. Same consequences affected Libya. Never know what will happen to Syria. More than settlements there are more conflicts in the world today, where UN’s power and authority seem to be a problem as laymen in the world could surmise.
At the last CHOGM British Prime Minister gave a warning and a threat to submit the Sri Lankan evidence on human rights abuses at the Geneva in March 2014.Has he got any right to do so. Sri Lankan Govt. is a sovereign country. She is taking every possible stride to accomplish LLRC recommendations which cannot be done in hasty. On the 11th inst. Catholic Church has urged Sri Lanka Government to implement the LLRC recommendations promptly to avoid any possible foreign intervention which reflects badly over the sovereign country. True it is a sovereign country. There are hindrances which are not trivial and cannot be cleared so easily according to revelations in media. It will take time to implement methodically for the best advantage of the citizens in the country.
It is appropriate if I cite what Nirj Deva, MEP for UK expressed his sentiments at the European Parliament for issuing a dated ultimatum to Sri Lanka by the states that once subjugated the island nation is laughable, utterly counterproductive and further he said it is pathetic that a vicious 30 year terrorist insurrection claiming 60,000 lives has all but been forgotten and replaced with international judgment about how the war ended. For 30 years state actors defended the rule of law against non-state actors who terrorized an innocent population; using them at times as human shields. For 30 years South fed the North. They fed the population that was trying to blow them up. South sent them food there. This is an act of terrorism by a small group of people. It has nothing to do with the Tamil population.(courtesy Colombo Page)
He had some right to expose his sentiments,
This small group of terrorists acted on behalf of the Tamil population in the North with their connivance according to my perception, in order to arrive at some sort of solution for the benefit of Tamils who live in the North and the East which they could not achieve by negotiation. Well if the UN who has the right to interfere according to the Charter, whenever there are conflicts in the member countries would have solved this without allowing to drag for such a long time, without keeping room to destroy so many lives; without causing havoc in the country and ruin her economy. Why didn’t United Nations interfere and initiate appropriate action at early stages to solve the problem for the advantage of both sections?
With regard to the human rights abuses or any other relevant matters what right has UK to intervene? Isn’t it a responsibility of UN.
According to my layman opinion it is the duty of the UNITED NATIONS to take the full responsibility on accountability, reconciliation and human right abuses if critically have been taken place as alleged by certain member nations of UN.
It is rather obscure, gloomy and perplexed the complete situation of the international politics relevant to big nations and the United Nations. Are the compositions on the whole for the best disposition of the justification in the civilized world?
• During the late nineteen seventies, if I can remember well, President J.R.Jayawardana eliminated a major hurdle where Tamil students had to face, by removing the “standardization policy” which had made university admission create for Tamils more difficult. This is one example. But according to my personal opinion UN had the every right to interfere if the then government was not responsive. If their problems were solved and autonomy has been granted for the people in the area to live a decent and liberal life, a conflict where thousands were dead would not have been cropped up.
In 2000 Sri Lanka Govt. headed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga and together with the LTTE invited Norway to take the responsibility as a neutral body to initiate the peace process. A ceasefire between the LTTE and the Govt. was successfully established. The goal of the mission was for all ethnic groups would agree to a peaceful political solution despite the violent conflicts that the country had suffered decades. LTTE was not prepared at that time for a political solution but they were adamant to have a military solution. Because Tamil Diaspora in the UK had agreed to provide high caliber weapons in consultations with UK govt. and agents of the weapon manufacturers, so that they can continue the war and win their requirement i.e to have an independent state with autonomous power. This became a total failure although security forces were able to unearth colossal amount of high caliber weapons provided by the Diaspora that had buried subsequently in so many places and later discovered by the Security Forces. Those could not be utilized may be because no trained combatants to handle such fire arms were in the carders other than school children who had absolutely no training. Even at their initiative stage if UN intervene a satisfactory solution would have been arrived instead of keeping room to kill innocent people and devastate the country. In a war killing is unavoidable. It is only an exercise of violence. If the UN with eligible members of other countries intervened and in consultation with Govt. and the LTTE a proper solution would have meted out without keeping room to kill innocent people. It is not justifiable at all to blow its horn once the internal battle is over after killing so many and devastating the country. No one knows who shot at the terrorist leader. No one knows what the gun was and where it was manufactured to put the blame on human right abuses. Government cannot trace these in a short time, so if UN needs this information it may require more times. UN should not get UK or other countries to press on it.
However now a Chief Minister had been elected, who had his education in Colombo and was a judge. Let him uplift the standard of Tamil population in the North and East and govern the area with the genuine support of the main government for the best interest of the population in the area. Views for and against publish in media should be balanced well for the betterment of the entire island to go forward together in peace and unity under one banner, under one legal system for the prosperity of the country in this 21st century. But please keep in mind not to hurt or arouse Moors community who were in the Island from 7th century, prior to the dawn of Islam and at the moment does not desire to involve in unfavorable conflicts, which will hamper the progress of the country. Prey that UN or other rich nations do not be a stumbling block for unprecedented developments now taking place in the country.
This is to elicit views of competents!
| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(December 20, 2013- London - Sri Lanka Guardian) Kindness comes in ways unexpected. During this season of peace and goodwill I wish to share my personal experience of associating with humble people. I apologise for deviating from the norm of journalistic ethics excluding myself in stories unless it is relevant but this is neither breaking news nor expose.
Five weeks ago I fell down on a slippery plank, sprained my ankle and broke by glasses. I have an aversion for doctors and this was my first visit to a GP (general practitioner) in the 12 ½ years that I have been in the UK this time around.
I have since been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure which I have known all along through symptoms I have experienced and did not want to admit that I am susceptible to old age illnesses.
I have many friends both in high places and ordinary. While the professionals sympathised with my situation and said they would pray for me, it was Sumathy with two young kids under 10 years of age and whose husband ran off with a 20 year old who came daily to cook and do the washing.
Since she had not consummated her marriage she was not entitled to public funds although the kids had benefits. Sumathy, like many refugee Tamils, have no recourse to challenge their position since they cannot articulate in English.
While she paid a Tamil solicitor £600.00 to sort out her immigration status which she could ill-afford, he simply sent two letters in the intervening 12 months to Home Office (UK ministry dealing with asylum and immigration cases) and kept haranguing her with evidence from GP that she is indeed the mother of her kids and that she is a single mother.
Tamil solicitors have cheated so many of their clients demanding fees while Home Office paid Legal Aid in advance to the tune of several thousands of pounds in advance..
The poor clients who work 24/7 to meet legal bills in bakeries and factories have no other recourse and no advice as to whether they should pay these cunning solicitors or cough up their hard-earned money.
Now it is only a handful of Sinhalese solicitors who are allowed Legal Aid and almost all of Tamil solicitors have been struck off.
From Gaithri Nathan to Raj Solicitors in Harrow and Wembley, the Law Society have struck them off and are investigating their dubious deals pertaining to asylum clients.
There is one solicitor who in Newham, Vasuki Shanmugarajah who inflicts cigarette burns on clients to claim torture.
As professionals they also act as trustees of Hindu Kovils such as Sri Kanaga Thurkka Amman Kovil in Ealing in Greater London. This temple provides daily lunch but those who patronise it are not the poor but those who arrive in their four wheel drive with children suffering form obesity who sit through the whole meal partaking in rice and curry and payasam and plantains; all supplied by devotees.
A poonool (holy thread) ceremony to the Hindu Brahmin would cost anything between £50.00 to £500.00 depending on the strength of their demands; be they marriage partner or child birth. They trust more on their poosaris than their gynaecologists.
When Raj Jayadevan pointed out in his article it is not the Sinhalese who dupe Tamils he is not lying. Tamils have a long history of fleecing fellow Tamils. From the defeat of LTTE to the current scenario of Tamils, they would have long ago got autonomy and parity were they not so self-centred.
Greed is an unfortunate malady entrenched in Tamil psyche. My disenchantment with Tamils began during Krishanthi Kumaraswamy’s murder in 1996. When the late Kumar Ponnambaam and myself met her uncle in Wellawatte, all he wanted was the jewellery buried in the family home. He showed no remorse for his sister, Krishanthy’s mother, or his nephew who were also murdered by government soldiers at the checkpoint in Jaffna.
Tamils have to shed their adherence to materialism and instead show they have Hinduistic values of their ancestors who abhorred ostentation and lived a holistic and holy life bereft of worldly possessions.
Are they up to it in the 21st century?
(T he writerhas been a journalist for 24 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)
Reporting of the civil war in Sri Lanka has tended to distort various aspects of the violence that ensued, particularly in terms of the number of civilian casualties and the causes of their deaths
| by Michael Roberts and Padraig Colman
( December 20, 2013- Colombo – Sri Lanka Guardian) Although Western media have been critical of both sides in the conflict between the Sinhala-dominated government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), they tend to see Tamils (and thus the LTTE) as underdogs.
Sri Lankan Tamils have been emigrating since the fifties. There is a substantial body of intelligent and prosperous Tamils abroad alienated from Sri Lankan politics and governments. The patriotism of expatriate Tamils increased when the government defeated the LTTE in 2009. They are receptive to the propaganda of Tiger activists.
Tamil nationalists or sympathizers now hold key positions in the west. Sri Lankan government PR is ineffective in comparison with the coordinated campaign of the Tamil diaspora using such outlets as the BBC, ABC, Sky, Channel Four, New York Times, Der Spiegel and their like.
The result has been distortion.
Western media erroneously describe it as “a war without witnesses” even though a restricted number of foreign reporters were transported to the rear battle front on several occasions.(1)
The received wisdom is that at the end of war there was “merciless shelling” and “extermination” and that subsequently some 300,000 civilians were “interned” in “concentration camps”. Both claims are exaggerations, the latter being quite gross.
Ban Ki-Moon’s Panel of Experts (Darusman Report) said that “a number of credible sources have estimated that there “could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths”. Despite the questionable methodology pursued by this panel, (2) its guesswork became a definite figure of at least 40,000 civilian dead; and, in the indelible words of a British parliamentarian named Lee Scott, 40,000 “slaughtered”.
British parliamentarians did not allow for the following factors during the last five months of the war in the patch of LTTE territory we term the “Vanni Pocket”:
It was difficult to distinguish between civilians and combatants;
The LTTE often fired on Tamil civilians;
US Ambassador Butenis confirmed the government’s claim that they made a conscious decision to prolong the war and risk more SL Army casualties in order to protect civilians. Red Cross representative Jacques de Maio, Robert O Blake of the US State Department and Jim Grant of UNICEF echoed this in their secret memoranda during the height of the war;
The Sri Lankan authorities knew that USA and India were tracking the battles on satellite and would spot any inordinate use of force;
Satellite imagery indicates that most of the craters in the Last Redoubt were from mortars not artillery;
While a wide range of estimates of civilian dead have been presented in the past few years the most grounded of these are from Narendran Rajasingham (3) and IDAG-S[iv] and yield a range of dead from 10,000-18,700. The number of survivors – 295,873 civilians and LTTE – is astounding considering the circumstances.
For the Tiger high command, the mass of their people served as a:
pool of labour for defensive works (bunds, ditches) and logistical support;
source of new conscripts: and a
The LTTE strategy was to utilize the citizens of Thamilīlam, a body of some 320,000 or so people, to stay within their territory – eventually only the Vanni Pocket - as a bargaining tool for international intervention. The “impending humanitarian disaster” that was proclaimed by Human Rights Watch, a host of other civil rights organizations, sympathetic journalists and politicians was a creation of the LTTE. The secular fundamentalism and simplistic black and white thinking of INGOs made them useful idiots for the LTTE, as were several Western ambassadors.
The thinking of British politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron, is one-sided and directed by sound bites that totally discount the temporal-spatial and strategic backdrop shaping the last phase of the war.
After Cameron’s return from CHOGM, Ed Miliband tried in the Commons to outdo him in condemnation of Sri Lanka. Labour backbencher, Siobhan McDonagh, consistently tries to please Tamil voters in her Mitcham and Morden constituency. Despite having voted in favour of the Iraq invasion and against an inquiry against it, she calls for an inquiry into alleged Sri Lankan war crimes.
WikiLeaks revealed that in May 2009 David Miliband said that he was spending 60% of his time on Sri Lanka because there were many Tamils living in marginal constituencies. Miliband and his aides wrote about “ratcheting up” the case for humanitarian relief efforts.
In a statement to the Senate subcommittee on the Middle East (West Asia) and South Asia Robert O Blake said: “Positioned directly on the shipping routes that carry petroleum products and other trade from the Gulf to East Asia, Sri Lanka remains of strategic interest to the US.”
The editor of the English Catholic magazine The Tablet wrote on December 7th 2013: “Why has the Prime Minister been so obsequious to the Chinese…? He made it plain for all to see that China’s indifference to most of the values that define a civilised society was of little or no interest to him, provided the British economy benefited from an increase in trade and investment. This was in strong contrast to his performance in Sri Lanka last month, when he made much of that Government’s treatment of Tamil civilians at the end of the civil war…The reason appears to be that Sri Lanka is not one of Britain’s major trading partners, whereas China is. This takes political pragmatism too far.”
Simon Jenkins was one of the few western journalists who recognised that a ceasefire was a one-sided benefit to a warring force on its last legs. He noted that “in Sri Lanka a rudimentary study of the past three months of fighting would have told Miliband that a ceasefire would be pro-Tamil, not just “pro-humanitarian” (2009). The Fourth Estate in the West had been thoroughly alienated by the intimidation, abduction and killing of several local journalists in Sri Lanka in the years 2006-09, actions which could be credibly assigned to the government’s intelligence services or its paramilitary Tamil allies.
Jeremy Page of The Times told the world that 1,400 people were dying every week at the Menik Farm camp. There was no evidence because it was simply untrue. Within the space of his short article Page quickly moved on to deal with the Eastern Province where there were no camps and the war had ended two years previously. The government had asked the Red Cross to scale down its operations in the east because the situation was under control. Page elided this with the canard about deaths at Menik Farm to give the impression that the government was callously booting out the Red Cross while people were dying.
The Channel 4 News documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, contained a great number of factoids (a term coined by Norman Mailer and defined by the OED as “an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact”). This effect is similar to a term coined by Stephen Colbert, namely, Veritasiness or “truthiness”, common sense, received wisdom, truths that are self-evident in the gut regardless of reality. Thus, Stephen Sacker was full of truthiness in his Hard Talk haranguing of Rajiva Wijesinha. Everybody knows the SL Army was shelling hospitals so why are you denying it?
Many journalists rely on Gordon Weiss’s book The Cage, even though Weiss makes the disclaimer that he was not a witness. Guardian Asia correspondent Jason Burke, writing in the Literary Review, describes this book as a “comprehensive, fair and well-written work”. Weiss was and is a major player in the numbers game. When he was working for the UN in Colombo, he said the number of civilian casualties was 7,000. This became the official figure quoted by the UN General Secretary’s New York spokesperson, Michelle Monas, who told Inner City Press reporter Matthew Lee, “We have no way of knowing the exact count”. When Weiss left the UN, returned to Australia and began writing his book, he increased the figure to 15,000. Then he upped it to 40,000, a figure that a whole range of media outlets, including BBC and NDTV, ran with.
BBC journalist Waseem Zakir coined the neologism “churnalism” to describe the type of sensationalist reportage that is now in vogue. Nick Davies, in his book, Flat Earth News, presented an overwhelming weight of evidence that the British press lies, distorts facts and breaks the law. Davies’s research proved that in The Times, in 70 per cent of “news” stories, a claimed fact passed into print without any corroboration at all. It is interesting to note that Britain only has 47,800 PR people to 45,000 journalists.
The LTTE propaganda machine took global advantage of this state of affairs as well the liberal currents of thinking that tagged the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a minority that had been put upon. The Sri Lankan government’s own propaganda effort has been inept in spite of taxpayers’ money draining away to PR firm Bell-Pottinger for no return on the investment. Even critics of Sri Lanka like Patricia Butenis and Robert O Blake have acknowledged that the LTTE fired on their own people as they tried to flee; while Tamil civilian testimonies indicate that on the odd occasion in early 2009 the LTTE officers even directed artillery fire on their people as an aspect of the grand strategy of demonstrating an impending humanitarian disaster. It is a pity that this message has not been disseminated. For whatever reason, the Western governments chose to be blind then. The Western media was mostly deaf, dumb and blind then and remains comprehensively mute now.
Michael Roberts is a historian by training and has taught at the Department of History at Peradeniya University (1961-76) and the Department of Anthropology at Adelaide University (1977-2003). His major works are in agrarian history, social mobility, nationalism and ethnic conflict. Based on his interest in the Tamil liberation struggle and the sacrificial devotion mustered by the LTTE, he has written extensively on suicide missions. Michael Roberts has also edited several volumes on sri Lanka entitled Collective Identities. In 2004, he retired as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Adelaide University, but continues to write articles.
Padraig Colman is an Irish citizen who has been living in an ethnically diverse community in Uva province, Sri Lanka, for over ten years. He writes prolifically about various aspects of Sri Lanka and his work is regularly published in Sri Lankan magazines and newspapers. He has also done work for the Centre for Poverty Analysis, the Public Interest Law Foundation, the Marga Institute and the Kandy Association for Community Protection through Animal Welfare.
Statement Condemning the Arrest and Unlawful Detention of Seven Tamil Youth
( December 19, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) We the undersigned, strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest and illegal detention of Raveendran Kajeepan (21), Alfred Piratheepan (30), Murukaiya Ashokkumar (35) and Nageswarasri Yarsan (22) from Jaffna, and the arrest and continued detention of three other youth* from Mannar, by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) between the 25th and 27th of November, 2013. It has become common practice for the Government to arrest and detain Tamil youth under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) coinciding with the time of Mahaveerar Naal (LTTE Heroes Day). In November 2012 too, four Tamil students from the University of Jaffna were arrested and detained under the PTA, and released intermittently over the course of 3 months.
(*Families of these three youth did not want to reveal the identities of their sons for fear of reprisal. As, following their arrests, intelligence officers had visited the homes of those arrested and warned their families to not pursue any course of legal action, as this would prolong their detention.)
The Jaffna Incident
On the 25th of November, at approximately 7pm, the four youth mentioned above had been engaged in a conversation near the Sooduvandhaan junction, on Naamagal Road, Tellippalai (approximately 30m away from their homes,). A cut-out of President Mahinda Rajapakse had been erected near this junction several months ago. Since then, the cut-out had toppled over and torn due to the number of heavy vehicles travelling along the Naamagal Road. Subsequently, some locals from the area had propped the cut-out against a nearby fence.
On the 25th of November, a passing patrol of four military personnel on bicycle, had stopped and inquired as to what the four youth were doing at the junction. Before the youth could respond, the patrol had pointed to the cut-out of the President and accused the four youth of damaging it. They had then proceeded to severely assault the youth. At this point, a crowd of locals, neighbours and relatives had gathered at the junction, where the Grama Sevaka too had arrived.
The Grama Sevaka had attempted to explain to the military personnel that the cut-out had already been damaged, and that the four youth were not responsible for its condition. He had further stated that the youth would reinstall the cut-out, if the military would stop the assault. The military personnel had agreed to the Grama Sevaka’s request. Thereafter, the crowd had borrowed hoes from a neighbouring house, and the four youth had restored the fallen cut-out to its original place.
Once the cut-out had been restored, the military personnel were seen speaking on their mobile phones. Soon after, they had assaulted the four youth again and forced the youth to remove the cut-out, whilst photographing them in the process. The military had then thrown the cut-out on to the street, further damaging it. Having then taken photographs of the damaged cut-out as well, the military had summoned the police and handed over the four youth to them.
The police had made no further inquiries, and merely handed over the youth to the TID. The four youth were then taken to the TID office in Vavuniya, and are currently being detained at the Boosa Detention Centre. They have not been produced before the Magistrate Court as yet.
Given the above details, the arrest and detention of the four Jaffna youth is clearly arbitrary and illegal. Furthermore, the unprovoked assault of the four youth by officers of the State, for no legitimate reason, amounts to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, which is in clear violation of the International Convention Against Torture (ICAT), which Sri Lanka has acceded to in 1994.
Raveendran is a refrigeration technician, Piratheepan is a sales van driver at a business establishment, Ashokkumar assists his father in his masonry and Yarsan assists his father in his carpentry.
On 26th November, the Mannar police arrested a Tamil youth for allegedly graffiting ‘Maaveerar Naal’ on a wall in Murunkan. On the 27th, the police arrested another two Tamil youth, claiming that they were acting on information provided by the youth arrested on the previous day. All three youth are also currently being detained at Boosa.
These three youth were produced before the Mannar Additional Magistrate on Friday 13th December, and have been remanded for a further 14 days. They will be produced in court next on the 27th of December.
In a separate incident, also on the 26th of November, Thiruchelvam Kristhuraja, a father of two, from Vaalkaipetrankandal, Murunkan, Mannar, was summoned to the Murunkan Police and subsequently arrested on alleged charges of being a former LTTE cadre. He was then handed over to the TID in Vavuniya, and is currently being held at the Boosa Detention Center. His family claims he is weak and ailing.
In light of the facts above, we are deeply concerned that these arrests are unfounded, and only serve to perpetuate the climate of fear and insecurity of the people of the North. The continued harassment and intimidation of Tamils by the security forces, reinforces our call to remove the excessive military presence and their interference in civilian affairs in the North. We also reiterate our call to repeal the repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act which facilitates the State to carry out such arbitrary and illegal arrests and detentions.
We therefore call on the Sri Lankan Government to:
- Release with immediate effect all four youth arbitrarily arrested and detained from Jaffna
- Investigate into the Jaffna incident and hold all the officers responsible for the brutal assault and arrest of the four youth
- In the absence of clear evidence linking them to an alleged crime, release with immediate effect the remaining three detained youth from Mannar
- Ensure their right to equality before the law, freedom from arbitrary arrest and right to due process, which includes the right to legal assistance and visits by their family members
- Ensure the safety, and physical and mental welfare of the youth currently held in detention, including access to medical care
- Put an immediate halt to any further arrests under the PTA, acts of intimidation, harassment and reprisals carried out by the TID and the military
- Repeal the repressive PTA with immediate effect
1. Ainslie Joseph – Convenor, Christian Alliance for Social Action (CASA)
2. Amal de Chickera
3. Anton Marcus - Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees' Union
4. Ayeshea Perera
5. B. Gowthaman
6. B. Skanthakumar
7. Bhavani Fonseka
8. Buddhadasa Galappatty – Poet & Journalist
9. Chandraguptha Thenuwara - Artist/Senior Lecturer
10. Chulani Kodikara
11. Danesh Karunanayake
12. Deanne Uyangoda
13. Dhammika de Silva - United Socialists Party
14. Dharmasiri Lankapeli
15. Dilshy Banu
16. Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja
17. Dr. Jehan Perera – National Peace Council (NPC)
18. Dr. Leonie Solomons
19. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu - Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
20. Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne – University of Colombo
21. Dr. Sapumal Bandara Dhanapala – Kandy
22. Dr. Zulfika Ismail
23. Emil van der Poorten
24. Fahad Farook
25. Gajen Mahendra
26. Gamini Viyangoda
27. Harean Hettiarachchi
28. Hasantha Gunaweera
29. Herman Kumara
30. Hilmy Ahamed
31. Jake Oorloff
32. Jehanki Anandha
33. Joe William - National Peace Council (NPC)
34. K. Guruparan - University of Jaffna
35. K.D.C. Kumarage – Attorney-at-Law & Co-Convener, Lawyers for Democracy
36. Kusal Perera – Journalist
37. L. Niranjan - Attorney-at-Law
38. M. H. Mohamed Hisham
39. M.A. Sumanthiran – MP, Tamil National Alliance (TNA)
40. Marisa de Silva
41. Melani Manel Perera - Journalist
42. Melisha Yapa
43. Minoli de Soysa – National Peace Council (NPC)
44. Mirak Raheem
45. N. Kodituwakku – Attorney-at-Law & Solicitor (England)
46. Nadie Kammallaweera
47. Nicola Perera
48. Nigel V. Nugawela
49. Nilantha Ilangamuwa – Journalist
50. Nilshan Fonseka
51. Nimalka Fernando
52. Nirmanusan Balasundaram - Human Rights Advocate / Independent Journalist
53. Nishandeny Ratnam - Attorney-at-Law
54. P.N. Singham
55. Paba Deshapriya
56. Philip Setunga
57. Prabu Deepan
58. Priya Thangarajah
59. Prof. Ajit Abeysekera - University of Sri Jayewardenepura
60. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne – University of Kelaniya
61. Prof. Kumar David
62. R.M.B. Senanayake
63. Regina Ramalingam
64. Rev. Bro. Lazar
65. Rev. Fr. Elil Rajan
66. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Sebamalai
67. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
68. Rev. Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando
69. Rev. Fr. S.J. Emmanuel
70. Rev. Fr. S.V.B. Mangalarajah - Chairman, Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Jaffna
71. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
72. Rev. Fr. Terrence Fernando
73. Rev. Jason J. Selvaraja - Senior Pastor, Assembly of God, Chavakachcheri
74. Rev. Sr. Deepa Fernando
75. Rev. Sr. Helen Fernando
76. Rev. Sr. Hilary
77. Rev. Sr. Jeyam
78. Rev. Sr. Laurine
79. Rev. Sr. Nichola
80. Rev. Sr. Noel Christine
81. Rev. Sr. Tharani
82. Ruki Fernando
83. S. M. Praveen
84. Sampath Samarakoon
85. Shreen Saroor
86. Siritunga Jayasuriya – United Socialists Party
87. Srinath Perera – Attorney-at-Law & General Secretary, Free Trade Union Centre
88. Sudarshana Gunawardana - Rights Now Collective
89. Sumanasiri Liyanage - Negombo
90. Sumathy Sivamohan
91. Sunanda Deshapriya
92. Sunil Jayasekera
93. T. Jayasingam - Eastern University of Sri Lanka
94. T. Mathuri - Attorney-at-Law
95. Thiruni Kelegama
96. Thiyagaraja Waradas
97. Thyagi Ruwanpathirana
98. Tony Senewiratne
99. Udaya Kalupathirana - INFORM Human Rights Documentation Center
100. Upul Wickramasinghe
101. W. Jayasiri
102. Human Rights Office, Kandy
103. Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
104. Networking for Rights in Sri Lanka (NfR)
105. Women’s Political Academy
| by Tisaranee Gunasekara
"Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave”
Frederick Douglass (Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass)
( December 19, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Stono Rebellion of 1739 was the largest slave uprising in pre-Independent America. Many Southern states responded to this unexpected freedom-struggle with the Negro Act which imposed severe restrictions on slaves, including an education-ban . Knowledge, the slave-states realised, was inconsistent with mindless submission.
Thought control is impossible without information control. If people know, it is hard to keep them in thrall to mirages.
A ruler’s dependency on information control grows as the gap between rhetoric and reality widens. Attempts to hem and guide information flows become pivotal in places where lack of transparency is essential to the maintenance of societal-consent.
This month, the Censor Board banned the latest instalment of the popular satire, ‘Puswedilla’ - ‘The Common Welthings Summit’. Three days later the President reportedly called the playwright/director, Feroze Kamardeen, and promised to sort things out . The unbanning is yet to happen, though the President indubitably can get it done with one call. Is the banning - and the delay in unbanning - aimed at sending the message that satire will be permitted only so long as its primary target is the Opposition?
In absolute monarchies lèse majesté (offending the dignity of a ruler) was/is a punishable crime. There is nothing like humour to reduce these self-proclaimed divinities to ordinary level, and make their subjective people see the common clay beneath the dazzling gilt. Plus, President Rajapaksa is unsparing in his intolerance. He once condemned a song which mocked the rulers as ‘unpatriotic’ and proclaimed that “songs disgracing the country could help those who want to divide the motherland” . An astrologer was arrested for making an ‘unacceptable’ political-prediction. A leader with such a gossamer-thin skin is unlikely to be happy about a skit which mocks a matter dear to him. After all, inescapable billboards across Colombo hail the President as the ‘Great Leader of the Commonwealth’!
According to the CPA opinion poll, most Lankans want to know how they are being governed. 72.9% of Lankans (72.4% of Sinhalese) believe that ‘news media should constantly investigate and report on corruption and mistakes by the government’ . Only a miniscule minority of 7% (6.7% of Sinhalese) think that ‘too much reporting on negative events like corruption harms the country’.
Despite this desire for knowledge, most Lankans display worrying levels of ignorance about matters of national significance. According to the survey, 79% of Lankans (82.2% of Sinhalese) think that Sinhala is the only national language. A majority has not even heard of the LLRC.
Most Lankans are probably unaware of the Colombo Night Races; and that closing down public roads and spending state resources (including the labour of the soldiery) on an event organised by a private company is illegal. Most Lankans are probably unaware that the rulers are wasting national wealth on private purposes. Most Lankans are probably unaware that their worsening economic woes are partly sourced in the spending priorities of their rulers.
Knowledge is the enemy of uninformed, thoughtless consent. The Rajapaksas would not want Lankans to discover the irresolvable contradiction between Familial Rule and popular wellbeing.
According to the CPA survey, most Lankans have not heard of the illegal impeachment of the Chief Justice. But of those who are aware of the impeachment, a majority believe it is unfair. Clearly knowledge of reality can prevent people from remaining prisoners of illusions.
Lankans do not equate dissension with treachery; 59.6% think that they should do something if they are not satisfied with the government. And increasing numbers of people are likely to become dissatisfied with the government, if they know how Familial Rule is imperilling our common future.
Little wonder then the Rajapaksas are hell-bent on keeping Lankans ignorant about the crimes, misdeeds and incompetencies of familial rule.
The regime is implacably opposed to the Freedom of Information Act and desires the reintroduction of criminal defamation laws; recently, Sajin de Vass Gunewardana, Presidential-favourite and the Monitoring MP for the Ministry of External Affairs, argued that criminal defamation law is necessary “to prevent heads of media organisations from acting like ‘underworld thugs’” . Only the fear of international reaction (in the context of the Geneva monitoring) compelled the regime to set aside plans to enact a punitively restrictive Media Ethics Law.
The Rajapaksas combine threats with persuasions to dissuade media in general and Sinhala language media in particular from carrying information which casts the First Family in a less-than-glorious light. The murder of Lasantha Wickremetunga still haunts the Lankan media; the fear generated by that broad-daylight assassination is being kept alive by the continued-impunity of the perpetrators.
Internet is under constant threat. Recalcitrant websites are banned directly (Lanka News Web, Lanka E News, Sri Lanka Guardian) or indirectly (Colombo Telegraph, Sri Lanka Mirror).
The regime, for obvious reasons, prefers to corrupt/co-opt rather than kill/abduct. The Media Minister revealed that 91 duty-free car permits and 496 laptops have been given to journalists . This Rajapaksa concoction of threats and blandishments has largely succeeded in getting the media to perform the task which once required Competent Authorities.
The end result is a state of lackadaisical conformity in which (as Gordon Levy said about Israel), “Soldiers, journalists and news-consumers automatically refrain from asking questions” .
Book-banning “is more than the denial of a constitutional right; it establishes an ethic, a system of moral do’s and don’ts” . So it is with information-control. During and after Eelam War IV, ‘patriotism’ was used to maintain the myths of ‘Humanitarian Operation with Zero-Civilian-Casualties’ and ‘Welfare Villages’. Without the media’s unwillingness to appear ‘unpatriotic’, the regime may not have succeeded so well in hiding the Northern reality from the South.
With time, the task of damming flows of information is becoming thornier. The regime continues to use the patriotic card, but when the injustices happen in the South and the victims are Sinhala-Buddhists, information-control becomes harder, as the regime found out post-Weliweriya.
Consequently, the regime is trying out new methods to prevent the unravelling of Southern-consent. For instance, prejudices latent in the middle/upper classes are being used to ensure the still-birth of any societal sympathy for Colombo’s poor rendered homeless by the Rajapaksa efforts to turn the city into the exclusive preserve of the rich and the powerful. The argument of convenience was used to justify the eviction of pavement hawkers, even though the measure destroyed an important segment of the informal economy which provided gainful employment to many. Ethno-religious fires are being lit periodically to prevent that moderate coalition of the majority and the minorities which alone can imperil the regime.
Without loosening the Rajapaksa-grip on information flows, Lankan mind cannot be freed from fear, apathy, ‘narrow domestic walls’ and the ‘dead habit’ of mindless-submission.
The Dole Company’s law suit against the movie and threats of further legal actions made sponsors pull out, making it impossible for the movie to compete in the Los Angelis Film Festival. In 2010, a Los Angelis Court ruled in favour of the movie and the filmmakers were awarded nearly $200,000 in fees and costs - http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202475486486&slreturn=20131118195924
Daily Mirror – 3.5.2011
Democracy in Post-War Sri Lanka 2013 - http://www.cpalanka.org/top-line-survey-results-democracy-in-post-war-sri-lanka/
Haaretz – 6.7.2009
Book Banning in America: Who Hates Books – And Why – William Noble
Rabindranath Tagore - Gitanjali
The Dole Company’s law suit against the movie and threats of further legal actions made sponsors pull out, making it impossible for the movie to compete in the Los Angelis Film Festival. In 2010, a Los Angelis Court ruled in favour of the movie and the filmmakers were awarded nearly $200,000 in fees and costs - http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202475486486&slreturn=20131118195924
Daily Mirror – 3.5.2011
Democracy in Post-War Sri Lanka 2013 - http://www.cpalanka.org/top-line-survey-results-democracy-in-post-war-sri-lanka/
Haaretz – 6.7.2009
Book Banning in America: Who Hates Books – And Why – William Noble
Rabindranath Tagore - Gitanjali