Shame on Sydney U. : Stupidity & Ignorance

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Posted in , , , ,

| The following statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission, headquartered in Hng Kong SAR

( September 18, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) A group of researchers associated with the Sydney University in Australia claim that they have found a more effective way than what has been tried so far, to prevent torture. The more effective way, as claimed, is to engage with the torturers themselves; which means to engage with officers of the security establishments. Quite an expensive project has been undertaken and one of the last acts of that project was the hosting of a conference in Bangkok. This gave rise to a controversy due to Sri Lankan authorities threatening to withdraw from the Conference if two well-known human rights organizations in Sri Lanka – who were also invited - would attend this conference. The international research team obediently complied with the Sri Lankan Government’s request and withdrew invitations to the two human rights organisations from Sri Lanka.

In response, several human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the Asian Human Rights Commission, protested against this move by the international research team and withdrew from this conference. There had been several media reports on this issue and on the 16th September 2014, Danielle Celermajer tried to explain the position of the organisers in an article published in The Guardian titled “Ending torture means engaging with traditional foes”. The subtitle to the article reads as follows: “naming and shaming actors responsible for torture often isn’t the best way to put a stop to the practice – which is why we are engaging with organisations guilty of that crime”

I have already replied to this article by way of a comment published today.

This comment is reproduced below:

“The basis of this article is the same as the basic premise of the Enhancing Human Rights Project: namely, that engaging with those who do the actual torture is the strategy for eliminating torture.
That basic premise is where the fallacy lies. Torturers, whether they are police or military, do not torture people for reasons of their choice. They do so, on policies which are determined by their political masters. It is these political masters who decide whether they will rely on creating and maintaining a well-functioning public justice system as the way to control crime, or whether they will rely on torture and repression as their way of dealing with the problem.

I have earlier expressed my view on this project, available here, to the author of this article.
Holding discussions with some police officers or military officers is quite a useful thing to do and no one will object to that. However when holding such discussions is presented as, ‘the strategy to eliminate torture and ill-treatment’ that betrays a lack of a proper assessment of actual reasons for the widespread use of torture within a particular country.

When a police or military officer who has engaged in torture is asked why he does so, if he feels free enough to speak frankly, he is very likely to say that he is doing so in order to keep his job. When the State fails to create a well-functioning public justice system, it must allow other tools to be used in dealing with "criminals". What is more, within such a repressive system, the word "criminal" includes political opponents of the government in power. If officers refuse to use such "tools", which include torture and ill-treatment, he will be replaced by others who are willing to do so.

There is quite an extensive treatment of this theme in a book published this year entitled The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros. Gary Haugen shows that a dysfunctional public justice system is the greatest evil that citizens, particularly the poor, can be confronted with. What follows is that any genuine attempt to eliminate repression, of which torture and ill-treatment is an integral part, necessitates finding ways to convince governments of the need to ensure that the citizens are provided protection through well-functioning institutions, such as the police and other sectors of the security services, as well as the prosecutors and judiciary.

When the participants from the security sector objected to the participation of two human rights activists, threatening the security force personnel's withdrawal from the Conference, they did so on the wishes of the government. The question to be asked is why the government would want to do such a thing. The security officers cannot answer this on behalf of the political leaders of the government.

If a rat decides to engage with cats in order to ensure their better behavior, the cats may engage in that game with quite a cynical perspective. That is also what happens when attempts are made to engage with those who commit torture and ill-treatment with the view to motivating them to behave better. Such engagements will go only on the terms laid down by those who allow the torture to take place. That is what this particular Conference proved.

Undoubtedly, the Enhancing Human Rights Project has been designed with a sincere purpose. However, sincerity by itself is not enough when dealing with such a highly politically-loaded problem as the failure of the state to create and maintain a well-functioning public justice system that does not require the use of torture and ill-treatment.

A few more comments are in order.

Human Rights Defenders vs. International Researchers

The claim by the international team of researchers and their projects is that human rights defenders have failed to contribute to the prevention of torture and therefore the researchers are looking for a new method of talking to the guilty ones.

First of all, is there anything new in such talk? Anyone who knows anything about human rights organizations, and also of many other establishments working on elimination of torture, is that for decades much talking has been done between them and the security establishments in different countries to convince and assist them not to engage in torture. In fact, some governments have spent large sums of money to provide experts to work on this strategy and have sometimes provided money for projects that have lasted for several years. Some human rights organizations have also involved security officers in various kinds of talk shops, over a long period of time. The unanimous conclusion with regard to all such projects is that all these efforts have contributed nothing to change the behavior of the security forces regarding the use of torture.

Those who engage in such efforts have also learned another lesson: that the behavior of these security officers is determined not by their own volition and choices but by others who pay their salaries. One of the public services in which slave-like obedience prevails is the security service. It is obedience that makes them do anything, including the torturing of persons. Such obedience does not mean that every act of torture is done on the basis of a direct order. Instead, such obedience is achieved through policies and methods of the monitoring of performance. Promotion and dismissal of these officers always depends on the way such obedience is demonstrated.

In fact, in most of the developing countries, it is not only the police and military officers that blindly obey orders. Others, like the judges and the prosecutors, also act in the same manner. In such countries, the independence of judges and prosecutors is not respected. What is there to be surprised, then, about the expected behavior displayed by the police and the military officers?

Human rights defenders, over long years of engagement for hardly any remuneration, have learned these realities. The international researchers who roam around, now and then, in these harsh environments may like to engage in “quixotic adventures”, as long as their projects last.

For example, the two human rights defenders, who were dis-invited from attending the Bangkok conference in question, have worked long years. They know their terrain and know it well. So do other human rights defenders that choose to engage with as difficult and critical an issue as prevention of torture and ill-treatment.

Some Ethical Issues

It was the international researchers who invited the two human rights defenders from Sri Lanka. When the Sri Lankan authorities demanded that these rights defenders be dis-invited, did the conference organizers ask the Sri Lankan authorities the reasons for their objection? The most elementary of ethical duties of a host that is confronted with an objection to any of their invitees, is to ask for justification for such an objection. If no justifiable reason is given, then basic etiquette demand that the host will reject such objections.

No such ethical considerations were given any importance in obediently accepting the objections of the Sri Lankan authorities. In the article published in The Guardian, this obedience is justified by stating that ‘for the sake of the greater good of prevention of torture the two persons were sacrificed’. Such a statement, purely on moral grounds, is repugnant. To put it bluntly, the human rights defenders were “treated like dirt.”

The arrogant tone referring to “failed human rights defenders” reflects a state of mind that would have no difficulty in treating a human rights defender as one belonging to a lower status to that of a police or a military officer. It is this contempt with which the entire article treats the human rights project as a whole, and these two defenders in particular, that is difficult to stomach.

The article further says that their new approach is being seen as complicity. That is altogether wrong. What it is seen as is stupidity and ignorance. The fundamental flaw of this entire project is that it could hardly be called an academic project.

Sri Lanka: Military Becomes Sole Spokesperson of ‘Human Rights’

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , , ,

( September 18, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Thanks to Sydney University of Australia, the Sinhala military of Sri Lanka deployed on a genocidal-military experiment in the island by leading powers of the world has emerged as the monopolising force to speak on ‘human rights’ in the Asia Pacific region. At an international conference convened in Bangkok this week by the Sydney University along with Colombo University, invitations to two human rights organisations in the island were withdrawn at the request of the SL military. Further, the conference director had told the other delegates to avoid any confrontation with the SL military officials at the conference. Following, the Amnesty International had pulled out its delegation and there would be others too, The Guardian reported on last Friday.

The heart of the Sydney University project was ‘Sri Lanka’ and the approach was yielding in to the SL military.

“With about 130 people from across the region confirmed from the conference, it would be a disaster for all members of the Sri Lankan forces, who have been at the heart of the project, to withdraw,” said, Sydney University’s Associate Professor and conference director, Danielle Celermajer, reasoning her decision to withdraw invitations to two human rights organisations in the island and implying her priority in facilitating the military to be heard at the cost of the oppressed voices in the island.

“In fact, should they do so, [if the SL military withdraws] the conference would be unviable. Moreover, we believe that to insist that the NGOs come would place the CSHR [The Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the University of Colombo] and potentially those NGOs at risk of being punished for this decision,” the conference director has further stated, in a veiled intimidation.

The Sydney University defended the conference director, citing academic freedom, new and considered approaches, and ground-breaking research in intellectual and political breakthroughs.

The conference director’s statement itself is a valuable affidavit on the prevailing conditions in the island and on the futility of any SL military-accommodating international approach to the genocide in the island even if its twisted and diluted as mere ‘human rights’ of all in the island, commented Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

The Sydney University’s stand on ‘ground-breaking’ research tells us on the genocidal military solution approach based on the Sri Lanka paradigm, envisaged for the whole Asia Pacific region by leading powers, State partners, funding sources and fund-enslaved universities and so-called intellectuals, the activists further said. - Tamil Net

Abracadabra in China

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“What they wish to be, they believe is true.”
Carl Sagan (The Demon–Haunted World)

( September 18, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka is to get her first Formula One track. The Chinese will build it, in the soon-to-be-constructed artificial landmass, Colombo Port City.

Motor racing is a particular passion of Namal, Yoshitha and Rohitha Rajapaksa. In a few years, the presidential offspring will be able to glory in their very own Formula One track, thanks to Chinese generosity.

The Chinese certainly know how to flatter, indulge and please, how to create dependency out of greed, nooses out of largesse.

Rohitha Rajapaksa says he always dreamt of being world’s youngest astronaut. And China has reportedly promised to turn this yearning into reality.

(A necessary digression - Rohitha Rajapaksa is the Chief Technical Director of SupremeSAT, the company which sprouted with miraculous suddenness to take Lanka to space age. The youngest presidential offspring has been hailed as the creator of Sri Lanka’s satellite programme . The first Lankan satellite was launched in 2012, with customary Rajapaksa pomp and pageantry. Subsequently it was revealed that Sri Lanka does not have a satellite programme and that the much vaunted Lankan satellite is actually a Chinese satellite. SupremeSAT merely rented it, reportedly a common practice . Incidentally SupremeSAT seems rather invisible these days ; the last time it made news was in January 2014, when it was accused of supplying low-quality coal for Norochcholai power plant . Is SupremeSAT a Lankan version of that infamous historic hoax, the South Sea Company?)

The Chinese obviously excel at Rajapaksa-management. The best way to advance Beijing’s agenda in Colombo is to give Sri Lanka’s ruling family whatever it desires, besides backing its power-project to the hilt. Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted an international airport and an international sea port in his home city of Hambantota. No international investor/creditor was forthcoming, probably because of the extreme economic infeasibility of both ventures. The Chinese made those dreams possible. Other Ruling Siblings too are being helped with their pet projects from the Lotus Tower to military housing in the North/East and the Defence Services College in Colombo. With this Abracadabra approach, it is little wonder that the Rajapaksas are totally in thrall to the Mages in Beijing.

True, no international flight comes to Mattala. Even the visiting Chinese President opted to use the Bandaranaike International Airport. Without a government order making it mandatory for vehicle importers to use the Hambantota Port, that Chinese construction too would have become a ghost-port.

The regime says that Colombo Port City will create many jobs. An identical claim was made when the Hambantota Port was being built. Sri Lanka Ports Authority stated that “with the setting up of the Hambantota Port, nearly 56,000 job opportunities will be created in the Southern region” . That dream has become another mirage. In 2013, the government admitted that the Hambantota Port did not create any new job opportunities . The Mattala airport too is using employees of the BIA.

For Sri Lanka, these ill-conceived, uneconomical and environmentally costly projects bring little or no benefits. But for China they bring multiple advantages. Politically these projects help Beijing to win Rajapaksa hearts and minds, and bring Sri Lanka even more into Chinese orbit. There is no economic fallout either, because the loans are given at relatively high interest rates. Additionally the Chinese do not scruple to hike interest rates whenever it suits them. For instance, in 2013, Exim Bank increased the interest rate for the Hambantota Port loan by a huge 5% (from 1.3% to 6.3%). As Minister of Ports and Highways Rohitha Abeygunawardena admitted, “Though we had earlier decided to pay 1.3% interest, consequent to negotiations between the two parties, the government has agreed to pay 6.3% interest per annum.”

Why did Sri Lanka agree to such an obviously unfavourable and unjust change? Because Colombo no longer has the ability to say no to China. The Rajapaksas are spending addicts, and the Chinese deliberately feed this addiction in order to render Colombo totally dependent on Beijing. If at any point of time addiction becomes even marginally tempered by commonsense, all China has to do is yank the financial chain; and the Siblings will have no option but to come to heel.

Loss of Sovereignty 

Economic dependence creates political dependence. The resultant loss of sovereignty will prevent Colombo from acting in the best interests of Sri Lanka.

Take for instance the Maritime Silk Route project advocated by China. President Rajapaksa has embraced it enthusiastically. A more moderate response might have made greater sense from a national interest perspective since Modi-India is preparing its own alternative maritime project. Named ‘Project Mausam’, (a cultural project with a ‘serious strategic dimension’), it plans to “explore the multifaceted Indian Ocean ‘world’, extending from East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka to the Southeast Asian archipelago” . In the contest between the Maritime Silk Route Project and Project Mausam, the best place for Lanka will be the sidelines. But that is not an option, given the growing Rajapaksa dependence on Beijing.

At the recent Shangri-La Dialogue, the US and China had a public verbal battle over the South China Sea/islands issue. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel accused China of engaging in ‘destabilising unilateral action’ in the South China Sea and warned that the US will not ‘look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are challenged’. . Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army Lt-General Wang Guanzhong charged that Mr. Hagel’s speech was ‘full of hegemonism, threat and intimidation’ . Japanese PM Shinzo Abe weighted in by offering support to those Asian neighbours at loggerheads with China - namely Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines and Malaysia. Delhi has already offered a concessional credit line of $100 million to Vietnam to purchase patrol boat. Those boats of course will be used to keep tabs of the movements of the Chinese navy.

We live in a global context characterised by the waning of the existing imperial power (US) and the rising of a new imperial power (China). In such an uncertain world, the most sensible policy (especially for smaller countries) would be to remain strictly neutral, maintaining friendly relations with both powers but not becoming allied to either. After all, imperial powers often confront each other not directly but via proxies. Thanks to the growing Rajapaksa dependence on China, Sri Lanka can easily find herself in such an unfortunate situation.

Like most ascendant powers, China has an execrable environment and labour record. This year, Chinese scientists warned that China’s air pollution resembles a nuclear winter . Thanks to China’s labour practices and regressive taxation policies, the country’s rich-poor gap is one of the worst in the world . In its Lankan ventures China will follow the self-same practices; these in turn will influence and inform Rajapaksa governance. After all empires are trend-setters and the trends set by the Chinese will be anti-democratic, iniquitous and environmentally unsustainable.

Tin-pot tyrants need patrons to bankroll them and defend them. The Chinese connection is a necessity for the Rajapaksas. But for Sri Lanka, it may be a ticking time-bomb in more ways than one.

  1. http://lakhot.com/Rohitha-Rajapaksha-is-the-Creator-of-Satellite-Programme-in-Sri-lanka.php
  2. http://www.ceylontoday.lk/22-33687-news-detail-sri-lanka-strives-ahead-with-its-ambitious-space-voyage.html
  3. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/121202/news/its-chinasat-12-with-a-lankan-payload-23100.html
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SupremeSAT
  5. http://lankaherald.com/2014/01/22/probe-on-supreme-group-over-corrupt-deals/
  6. http://www.slpa.lk/news_events_329.asp
  7. http://firstlanka.com/english/news/port-of-hambantota-to-provide-56000-jobs/
  8. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/latest/38412-htota-port-employees-all-from-colport.html
  9. http://www.ceylontoday.lk/27-44687-news-detail-costly-renegotiation.html - emphasis mine.
  10. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Narendra-Modis-Mausam-manoeuvre-to-check-Chinas-maritime-might/articleshow/42562085.cms
  11. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/01/us-asia-security-idUSKBN0EB03520140601
  12. Ibid
  13. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/25/china-toxic-air-pollution-nuclear-winter-scientists
  14. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-30/chinas-income-inequality-gap-widens-beyond-u-dot-s-dot-levels

U.S. Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in ,

A Fusion Center for United Against Nuclear Iran & Foundation for Defense of Democracies?

| by John Stanton

“The Justice department would like to the see the UANI lawsuit go away as it is aware that what is being described as “law enforcement” documents would include both privileged and classified Treasury Department work product relating to individuals and companies that it has investigated for sanctions busting. Passing either intelligence related or law enforcement documents to a private organization is illegal but the Justice Department’s only apparent concern is that the activity might be exposed. There is no indication that it would go after UANI for having acquired the information and it perhaps should be presumed that the source of the leak is the Treasury Department itself.” Phil Giraldi

“Enforcing those AIPAC-endorsed sanctions has been the happy task of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Created in early 2004 after intensive lobbying by AIPAC and its associated think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the TFI unit has been aptly described as “a sharp-edged tool forged principally to serve the Israel lobby.” With David S. Cohen succeeding Stuart Levey as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in January 2011, a leading journalist on the Middle East was later prompted to call the position “a job which seems reserved for pro-Israeli neo-cons to wage economic warfare against Tehran.” In recent days, Cohen’s TFI unit has been eagerly waging economic warfare against Damascus. Daniel L. Glaser, the Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, has just completed a tour of Lebanon and Jordan to secure their compliance with economic sanctions against the Assad government. In Beirut, the U.S. Embassy announced that Glaser was pressing the authorities to “remain vigilant against attempts by the Syrian regime to evade U.S. and EU sanctions.” Maidc O Cathail

( September 18, 2014, Virginia, Sri Lanka Guardian) So now that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked the U.S. States Secret privilege in the matter of Victor Restis & EST v United Against Nuclear Iran, American citizens might come to understand why foreign nations like China, Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates treat American non-profits or non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) with scorn. Some of these U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt, 501C3 .org’s, or “Associations”, operating overseas are nearly the equivalent of U.S. embassies: U.S. intelligence operatives and free market ideologues populate leadership and staff positions. Funding for their operations are a mix of U.S. government and corporate largesse. Private donations figure as well. In some cases they are not-so-subtle advocates for regime-change.

Robert Merry’s piece April 2012 piece in The Atlantic does a fine job of pointing out some of the more nefarious activities of NGO’s and non-profits. In Why Do Some Foreign Countries Hate American NGOs So Much? Merry opines: “For anyone trying to understand why this anger is welling up in those countries, it might be helpful to contemplate how Americans would feel if similar organizations from China or Russia or India were to pop up in Washington, with hundreds of millions of dollars given to them by those governments, bent on influencing our politics. One supposes it would generate substantial anger among Americans if these groups tried to tilt our elections toward one party or another. But suppose they were trying to upend our very system of government, as U.S.-financed NGOs are trying to do these days in various countries--and have done in recent years in numerous locations.

Americans have a network of Israel-First organizations in the United States that are “bent on influencing our politics”. They constitute a Deep State that has no remorse in sacrificing American lives and security for the benefit of Israel. Two of these non-profits are United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). They are part of the local, state and federal matrix of Israel-First non-profits in the U.S. 

UANI has managed to get 40 American state legislatures to pass, nearly unopposed, draconian sanctions on Iran which clearly are meant to instigate the general populace to revolt. UANI claims credit for many pieces of federal legislation designed to strangle the Iranians and inflict damage of the type that sanctions leveled on the Iraqi civilian populace caused.

“UANI develops model legislation for adoption by the federal government and U.S. state governments to sever Iran from international trade and financial markets and prohibit investment in Iran. UANI’s model legislation provisions were included in the federal government’s Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), and in debarment legislation adopted in California, Florida, New York, Indiana, Maryland and Connecticut that bars companies with Iran business from receiving taxpayer dollars.”

FDD spearheads a similar program: “FDD’s work has informed numerous pieces of Iran sanctions legislation, which were passed with overwhelming bipartisan congressional support, and which are now U.S. law, including the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013); the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012; Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012; and, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. These laws target Iran's energy, financial, shipping, insurance, commercial, and proliferation activities, and the regime's human rights abuses. The legislative measures are widely viewed as the most robust U.S. measures yet imposed against the Iranian regime. 

European and Canadian officials also relied on FDD research to inform their complementary sanctions policies. Beyond gasoline, the Iran Energy Project also seeks to reduce the amount of oil revenue the Iranian regime can devote to advancing its illicit nuclear program and repressing its citizens. As part of this effort, FDD has performed studies on sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank, the role of the IRGC in Iran’s energy sector, and the impact of a worldwide Iranian Oil Free Zone.”

According to Phillip Weiss, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff were prophetic: “In late 1947, the JCS had written that ‘A decision to partition Palestine, if the decision were supported by the United States, would prejudice United States strategic interests in the Near and Middle East to the point that United States influence in the area would be curtailed to that which could be maintained by military force.’ That is to say, the concern of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not with the security of Israel-but with the security of American lives."

And so it has come to pass that the U.S. has sustained the existence of Israel through trillions (US dollars) in foreign assistance (since 1947). The U.S. has tolerated espionage and the theft of American technology, military secrets and nuclear weapons design. The U.S. government and media have been so bent by Israel-First influence that it is nearly impossible to openly criticize Israel about its thinly disguised destruction of the Palestinian people.
It just does not seem enough for the Israel-First network. How much more must Americans sacrifice for the sake of Israel? When will the big dog set things right and get the tail to begin to obey? Few Americans want to abandon Israel but to see the United States of America getting bent over the knee by Israel is unsettling.

And with the U.S. Attorney’s invocation of the State Secrets privilege now providing cover for UANI’s operations, it is obvious what is afoot. Circumstantially, the evidence is damning: U.S. and Israel intelligence data seems to be moving between UANI, FDD and the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the U.S. Treasury. The three organizations form a sort of a privatized sanctions enforcement regime apparently benefiting from government intelligence operatives and/or business intelligence snoops. Where you find David S. Cohen of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence you will also find some link to UANI or FDD. And then there is the fear factor: Financial sanctions, loss of business in Israel, and loss of political office in the U.S. How two non-profits became so powerful and feared is a testimony to the strength of the Israel-First organizations and their ability to bend the political consciousness of the United States of America

Some Items for “You” to Explore
“From: Bart Mongoven
To: Reva Bhalla
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 2:49:34 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central

Our mission (in the short term) is to determine how much flexibility is in the seemingly inflexible demand that the client…Client is Honeywell, which makes surveillance equipment Iran uses to monitor/secure pipelines and (allegedly) nuclear reactors…get out of Iran "right now." The client says that it will not sign another contract but that it does not want to breach contracts that are in place. This is the position that Ingersoll Rand and Siemens have taken, and it seemed ok with UANI. At the same time, UANI is telling our client that the same pledge isn't good enough. Is UANI still in talks or putting similar pressure on those who have pledged that they will leave when current contracts are up?...How did they decide to start targeting corporations -- is there a model it is following (like the Save Darfur coalition or something else)? How do they choose their small list of targets since there are so many companies operating in Iran? Do they know people at the corporations they target? How closely do UANI and FDD work? Are there any deadlines in Iran -- elections, feared nuke tests, coming deaths of really sick clerics, etc., that requires FDD and UANI show progress quickly?”

As for the Marc Rich case, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy accurately described it as “one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the Justice Department.” Congressional investigators called it “unconscionable.” Fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich, on the run for evading nearly $50 million in taxes, found the best lawyer he could buy: former Democratic White House counsel and intimate friend of Eric Holder, Jack Quinn. Despite his denials, memos showed Holder knew of the pardon in advance, failed to notify prosecutors and the FBI that it was coming, “and even gave Quinn public-relations advice on getting out the ‘legal merits of the case.’” The evidence clearly shows Holder and Quinn violated department protocols and colluded to keep the Justice Department out of the pardon deal.’

“The central issue in this case involves an allegation that the defendants, as senior officers, managers, agents and nominees for the Bank of Credit and Commerce International ("BCCI"1), illegally and secretly sought to acquire ownership and maintain control of First American Corporation: FIRST AMERICAN CORP., et al., Plaintiffs, v. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AL-NAHYAN, et al., Defendants….United States District Court, District of Columbia. November 26, 1996. William Horace Jeffress, Jr., Herbert John Miller, Jr., Douglas Frank Curtis, Martin David Minsker, David S. Cohen, Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, L.L.P., Washington, DC, William B. Shields, Washington, DC, for defendants Clark M. Clifford, Robert Alan Altman.”

David S. Cohen…Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who oversees the OFAC sanctions effort, reportedly following meetings with Israeli officials, said last week's actions were meant to “tighten the screws and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime. ”The US is counting on the Iranian people to turn against and overthrow their government because of sanctions-induced hardships…In reality, the sanctions target the civilian population and the “Iranian regime” won’t be much affected... Despite the public relations language that “food and medicine are exempted from the brutal US-led sanctions, as OFAC well knows, the reality is something else. They know well the chilling effects of the sanctions on international suppliers of medicines and food stuffs with respect to a targeted country. The US Treasury department has thousands of gigabytes of data confirming that the boards of directors of international business do not, and will not allow their companies to risk millions of dollars in profits by technically violating any of the thousands of details in the sanctions -- many of which are subject to interpretation -- for the sake of doing business with Iran or Syria.”

“More about Stuart Levey’s intimate connections to both the US Treasury and the Justice Department: After leaving the Treasury Department, Mr. Levey was a Senior Fellow for National Security and Financial Integrity at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to his Treasury appointment, Mr. Levey served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the US Department of Justice, having previously served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General and as the Chief of Staff of the Deputy Attorney General. Where is Stuart Levey today? Why, he’s on the HSBC Board of Directors as the Chief Legal Officer of HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC operations worldwide. We got all this information about Mr. Levey from his HSBC bio page. There we learned that he has been the drug money-laundering megabank’s Chief Legal Officer since January 2012. Thus, he would have been intimately involved in (and legally responsible for) the crafting of HSBC’s December 2012 Get Out of Jail Free settlement with the Justice Department. Intelligence from David S. Cohen’s group at Treasury must have also played a role in advising Justice on the historic settlement.”

David S. Cohen, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence: “Increasing Iran's Isolation…First, we will continue to identify ways to isolate Iran from the international financial system. We will do so by maintaining our aggressive campaign of applying sanctions against individuals and entities engaged in, or supporting, illicit Iranian activities and by engaging with the private sector and foreign governments to amplify the impact of these measures. As part of this effort we will also target Iran's attempts to evade international sanctions through the use of non-bank financial institutions, such as exchange houses and money services businesses. And we will explore new measures to expand our ability to target Iran's remaining links to the global financial sector. In particular, we are looking carefully at actions that could increase pressure on the value of the rial. In that connection, we will continue to actively investigate any sale of gold to the Government of Iran, which can be used to prop up its currency and to compensate for the difficulty it faces in accessing its foreign reserves. We currently have authority under E.O. 13622 to target those who provide gold to the Iranian government and, as of July I, IFCA will expand that authority to target for sanctions the sale of gold to or from anyone in Iran for any purpose.

John Stanton can be reached at captainkong22@gmail.com.

The Lankan Gangster?

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , , , , ,

| by Ali Sukhanver

( September 18, 2014, Islamabad, Sri Lanka Guardian) To the handful unlucky Pakistanis who dream of a very cordial rather brotherly relationship with India, the news of arrest of Arun Selvarajan, a Lankan national, would not be very much pleasing. The Indian media says this Lankan national is a spy working for Pakistan. Selvarajan was carrying two passports when he was arrested — Sri Lankan and Indian. The officials of National Investigation Agency of India in Chennai (NIA) officials told the Indian media that this man was arrested for spying at the behest of Islamabad. The Indian investigators blamed that an official in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo was his handler and provided funds to him. It was also told to the media that Selvarajan is part of the Thameem Ansari gang. Ansari, an alleged Pakistani spy, was earlier arrested with dossiers on Indian defense installations.

On the other hand the story of Thameem Ansari gang is interesting as well as full of contradictions. The story was leaked by the Indian media and vigorously spread throughout the world but existence of any such dossier was categorically disowned by the India's National Intelligence Agency. Sulochna Ramiah Mohan of ‘Ceylon Today’ penned down a detailed investigative report on the issue of Thameem Ansari Gang. He referred to the statement of an NIA Source who categorically rejected the story of ‘dossier’ which was the sole basis of Thameem Ansari’s arrest. The source said, “There was no dossier in the story but they have in fact written a letter to the Sri Lankan side.” After Thameem Ansari’s arrest, the Indian media had been raising great hue and cry that he was involved in a conspiracy of transmitting photographs, video clippings and sketches on the security aspects of the Willington Military Training Centre near Udhagamandalam in Nilgiris district, the Karaikkal and Nagapattinam harbours and the Indian Naval base at Mallipattinam through e-mail and in person to a foreign country, certainly Pakistan.

The Zee news reported that Ansari was carrying vital details about India when he was picked following an intelligence tip-off. The sources said he was going to Sri Lanka to pass on those crucial details to his handlers there. In short, the Indian media is doing all its best to defame Pakistan and Sri Lanka and stamp the two countries as the promoters of terrorism in India. But India has completely forgotten what it has been doing in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the recent past. It has been so many times proved that most of the terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan and Sri Lanka are trained, financed, armed and supported by India. The world’s most notorious terrorist organization LTTE is the worst example of Indian patronage. In an exclusive interview to VK Shashikumar of Media Grove, LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan, who is now in Sri Lankan custody, said that India started training the Tamil rebels in the early 1980s around the time when peace talks were floundering. India also allowed the LTTE and other militant groups of Sri Lanka to set up base in Tamil Nadu and provided them huge funding and weapons also. Since long, with the help of such concocted news stories, Indian media has been trying to create misunderstanding between the two traditional friends, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Indian intelligence agencies bribe the local Indian media-men in different forms and different shapes to propagate the false and misguiding information provided to them by the intelligence agencies. The story of Thameem Ansari is also based on one of such misguiding pieces of information. The Defense Ministry of Sri Lanka sternly rejected the Indian story ‘Thameem Ansari and the dossier’ and condemned all Indian blames and allegations on Sri Lanka. The matter of the fact is that by blaming the neighbouring countries of supporting terrorism and by concocting ‘adventurous stories’ about the security and intelligence agencies of the neighbouring countries, India is simply trying to divert the attention of the international world from the actual culprit.

To give a new intriguing turn to the story of Thameem Ansari, The Times of India published another so-called ‘investigative’ report on 29th July, 2014. According to the report, ‘Amir Zubair Siddiqui, a Pakistani diplomat named as the person managing ISI activities in India from Sri Lanka, was on the radar of Indian intelligence agencies since 2012. He was first booked by the Tamil Nadu police after they picked up a suspected ISI agent, Thameem Ansari, in September 2012. Amir Zubair is said to have provided an ATM card to Ansari and sent money to him from Colombo. Ansari was an onion trader. He was contacted by Shah Ji, a Tamil-speaking Lankan Muslim, when he was in Colombo. Shah Ji introduced Ansari to Siddiqui, who was posted in the Pakistan high commission in Colombo that time.’ The Times of India further reported that embarrassed by the exposed links of this Pakistani diplomat, the government of Pakistan had recalled him from Colombo in October 2012. However, the diplomat was posted again in Colombo a year later. Amir Zubair’s name again figured after the IB, on a tip-off from its Malaysian counterparts, foiled an ISI attempt to carry out attacks on two foreign consulates in south India. After rejoining the Colombo office, Siddiqui trained Lankan Tamil Muslim Zakir Hussain and sent him to India to recruit people for terror activities from south India. Zakir Hussain was arrested in April this year and the IB recovered Siddiqui’s business cards from him.’ This so-called ‘Investigative’ report is simply a pack of lies because the said officer had spent his full tenure at the High Commission in an uninterrupted manner to the fullest satisfaction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan and after completion of his term, he traveled through normal Sri Lanka Air flight with due protocol to join the Ministry under regular annual posting plan. All these things could be verified through the records of the Pakistan High Commission and that of the Colombo Airport. The most pathetic fact is that India considers Pakistan as the most formidable hindrance in its path to become the regional ‘USA’ despite Pakistan's various friendly gestures including MFN status consideration. And the Indian media is fully co-operating with the policies of the government of India. The role of the Indian media must be an eye-opener to those media groups in Pakistan which apparently belong to Pakistan but in fact serve their foreign masters whose utmost desire is to see the world map with no Pakistan.

Jus Solis or Jus Sanguinis for Canadian Sinhalese?

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( September 18, 2014, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Our culture determines the order in which we think. Racism happens when there is conflict in this order of thinking due to different ethnicity based thought orders. Migrants who use the cultural system of their country of origin are in reality using Jus Sanguinis (Citizenship law by blood). Migrants who use the cultural system of their country of residence are likewise using the objective system of Jus Solis (Citizenship law as per land of birth). The law would help raise our experiences to the common level. But harmony may not be achieved through some laws due to lack of knowledge of higher cultures. We must find the order that fits our own experiences so that our mind is healthy for us.

[For almost forty years since the Vaddukkoddai Resolution of 1976, the North and East of Sri Lanka had been a land soaked in blood -- Terra Sanguinis -- mostly "Tamil blood"]

Applying the thinking order of Thesawalamai – the law applicable to Jaffna Tamils North and East of Sri Lanka is therefore Tamil Land – for better or for worse.

Today, Mr. Sithamparapzillai Kathieravelu – a Sri Lankan Tamil residing in Sri Lanka, raised the following question with a Tamil Diaspora group:

[The "original demand" of the Tamils was not "Tamil Eelam". Tamil Eelam was vehemently opposed by the ITAK (Illangai Thamil Arasu Kacchi). Its then "golden brain" Mr.Navaratnam resigned or was dismissed from the party and was called as a "lunatic" because he advocated "Independent Tamil State", through the frustration experienced by him and others in trying the policy of “live and let live” in a “United Sri Lanka”. There were many who were called by the ITAK as "lunatics" for advocating an "Independent Tamil State" through such frustration. That is history and even now the ITAK is not advocating “separation” and “Tamil Eelam” but for a solution of the ethnic problem “within a “United Sri Lanka” as learnt from the recent resolutions at the party convention which seems to be much in line with the “Vadducoddai Resolution”.

But it seems that there are “others” who view it as a continuation of the “LTTE policy” forgetting or “not understanding” that the LTTE was following the policy of the “Golden brain Navaratnam” which was a deviation of the ITAK policy through frustration of not being able to convince “the Sinhalese Buddhist chauvinists” of the benefits of the ITAK policy.]

My response was as follows:

[I believe that all of us have the ability to lead a sovereign life. In fact I consider it our duty to work and /or sacrifice towards this. Once we achieve this goal – life is beautiful. Just last night – a fellow Australian of Lankan origin said to me that he found it difficult to understand how I was able to stand the insults that came my way from time to time from those who did not know me. I said – that it was because I knew that the insults did not belong to me and that those who made them had the need to position themselves accordingly. So I absorbed and stayed in the relationship – until I knew I could not help the other develop the sense of independence s/he could – with me on the other side.

This would help appreciate the ITAK position at that time. The politicians of that time were still using the British system of governance and hence those leaders in ITAK who were committed to wider systems would have opposed it. Majority Tamils likewise were still using the British system in Public Administration and Judiciary. Even now, in Mallakam Courts – the language may be Tamil but lawyers and judges seem to take pride in using the laws and therefore the thinking order of the British in preference to Thesawalamai order. Hence culturally we have one system and officially another.

You say : [That is history and even now the ITAK is not advocating “separation” and “Tamil Eelam” but for a solution of the ethnic problem “within a “United Sri Lanka” as learnt from the recent resolutions at the party convention which seems to be much in line with the “Vadducoddai Resolution”.]

I myself am in line with this so that we would have natural links with the outside world. Tamils resident in Sri Lanka would be better off maintaining this link through their everyday use of common principles and values. Otherwise those in more affluent countries would be ‘providers’ and those living in Sri Lanka would be ‘aid receivers’.

You say : [But it seems that there are “others” who view it as a continuation of the “LTTE policy” forgetting or “not understanding” that the LTTE was following the policy of the “Golden brain Navaratnam” which was a deviation of the ITAK policy through frustration of not being able to convince “the Sinhalese Buddhist chauvinists” of the benefits of the ITAK policy.]

LTTE lacked the depth to understand and appreciate the ITAK’s core thinking which was driven by multicultural order of thought. That was natural given the leaders of that time. LTTE used civil riots in Colombo to show its power. It did not protect Colombo Tamils. The fact that the LTTE got rid of Tamil leaders – meant that we – the community lost their investment in independence through the wider path. The 1977 election outcomes confirmed that the Natural Forces of karma were in our favour. But those driven by immediate results hijacked the agenda and now we have lost more lives than we did through riots. Our agenda was also ‘taken-over’ by foreigners – including Indians.

ITAK does not need to convince anyone outside the Tamil Community whom they represent. Eventually these are different paths to the same goal of sovereignty as a community. An individual who is her/himself sovereign – shares this with any community s/he is a part of. They are the real leaders. Others need collective / group power to travel towards this goal. When majority in a Community are self-governing, using whatever is available in their current environment – the Community is naturally self-governing. Whether others accept this or not is secondary. At the moment majority Tamils are NOT self-governing in their own areas of power. We need to restructure our cultural systems to include global participants. That’s when we would look beyond the Sinhala Buddhist custodians of power. So long as we blame them for faults we ourselves suffer from – we would not be able to look beyond – even when we live in USA]

The Canadian author Gam Vaesiya claims that Vaddukoddai was Sinhalese as it was occupied by Sinhalese before Tamils. This confirms that he is driven by the Jus Solis (Citizenship law as per land). Such a person would be a misfit outside his land of birth. I conclude therefore that Mr. Gam Vaesiya is suffering from mental conflict by living in Canada with a thinking order based on land of birth. It is my understanding that Canada follows the land basis and not the blood basis. Most multicultural nations actively recruiting migrants would tend to use Land basis and hence the Objective system of management.

Within the same nation systems would change to suit the current contributors. Australia was ‘White only’ until a few decades ago. It was right for majority living on this Land at that time. But when the UN moved towards multiculturalism – Australian leaders decided to move towards multiculturalism and hence our current order of thought which is different to the order of thought prior to 1975 when the Whitlam Government introduced the Racial Discrimination Act . Practitioners of the principles governing racial equality would become more global minded than those driven by racial superiority. Sinhala only legislation in the 50’s on the other hand made Sri Lankan order of thinking more local. Likewise Tamil only order of thought. In both instances it was against current immigration to ethnic homelands.

This would be damaging to migrants entering areas practicing the ‘other system’ - due to inner conflict of thought between the two systems. Ultimately it is more about the individual’s quality of thought that would lead to realizing and enjoying Sovereignty.

I enjoy this feeling and the path I followed was the path of Jus Saguinis – i.e. being Sri Lankan to the Australian following principle of Jus Solis for himself and using Jus Saguinis in listing me as Sri Lankan to punish me. I identify that order of thought – of double standards in the Canadian Sinhalese Gam Vaesiya also. It is easier for me to accept the reality of the status allocated by custodians of power to whom I am an ‘outsider’. If we do not have common laws and principles through which we form relationships to become insiders – it is better for society that we stay within our local borders – even if that is a nation of One. The Sovereign person is naturally connected to other Sovereign persons. That is the law of Nature – whichever path we take.

Whom should MR fear? US or China?

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | Posted in , , , ,

| by Upul Joseph Fernando

( September 17, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Way back in 1963, Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was hailed by the China media as the 'Angel of Peace' when she carried with her a set proposals to prevent a possible Indo-China war. While in China she signed the maritime agreement. Her proposals to prevent an Indo-China war was severely criticized by the then Opposition UNP which claimed the proposals favoured China while it was unfair by India. Even the then Opposition stalwart of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), Philip Gunawardena warned that Bandaranaike's proposals were harmful to Indo-Lanka relations.

Allegations were levelled that in signing the maritime agreement, Bandaranaike had secretly sold the Trincomalee China Bay Port to China. The UNP used the issue as the main slogan against the Bandaranaike Government at the 1965 General Election warning the public that China was going to invade Sri Lanka. The UNP was elected to office and relations with China gradually turned sour. It was alleged that China was behind a move to topple the UNP Government elected to office in 1965. Rumours floated that the Chinese Embassy in Colombo had printed leaflets in China and had got them down to operate an anti-UNP propaganda programme. Simultaneously, the Sri Lankan Mission in China came under attack. It was reported that the attack was mounted by the Red Army of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

China was anxious to bring Bandaranaike back to power in 1970. That stand was proved beyond doubt as relations with China stabilized again after Bandaranaike returned to power in that year with a two-third majority. In 1971 the JVP insurgency broke out, and many nations, except China agreed to assist Bandaranaike to quell the insurgent uprising. The silence maintained by China was viewed by Bandaranaike with suspicion. That was mentioned in the book 'Foreign Policy of Sri Lanka' in the following manner:

Traditional Bandaranaike policy

"The traditional Bandaranaike Policy of close friendship with China was resumed with special emphasis excepting for a brief interlude during the height of the April insurrection of 1971 in Sri Lanka, when the Chinese complicity in the insurrection was suspected. Suspicion of a possible Chinese role in the insurgency centred on a mysterious Chinese ship carrying arms consigned to Tanzania, which was in the Colombo Harbour, at the time of the commencement of insurgent attacks and when China became the only major power, which failed to respond to the Sri Lankan Government's appeal for military assistance, the ship itself sailing away while the appeal to China for such assistance was under consideration in Beijing.

"The insurgency had drawn its intellectual stimulus from a variety of Marxist sources, among its ideological forebears being Mao Tse Tung, Kim Il Sung and Che Guevara. The Sri Lankan Government ordered the closure of the North Korean Embassy on the ground that some of its activities had given strength and support to the insurrectionists, while the erstwhile leader of the pro-Beijing Communist Party was taken into custody., Meanwhile, four Indian frigates joined the Sri Lanka patrol boats in a search for the mysterious Chinese ship, which had disappeared. Sino-Sri Lanka relations were restored to normalcy only after Ms.

Bandaranaike broadcast to the nation, late April, that foreign powers were not involved in the insurgency, and after Chou En-Lai himself wrote to her stating that 'friendship between China and Sri Lanka is in the fundamental interest of the two peoples and can stand test', and that 'the Chinese Government and people highly treasure the friendship between our two countries'.
The letter also commended the Sri Lanka Government in having brought under control a handful of persons who styles themselves Guevarists, and into whose ranks foreign spies (have) sneaked. The letter was accompanied by an interest free, long term loan of
Rs 150 million".

By-gone era episode

This by-gone era episode stems to mind when one analyzes the present relations between the Rajapaksa Government and China. Rajapaksas have today established much stronger links with China. This has caused tension for America and India. Hence, the Rajapaksa Government has a fear that America and India would attempt to destabilize the Rajapaksa Government. In reality, the Rajapaksa Government should not fear America nor India but, China. The Chinese are not investing huge monies not to wash their hands off. They expect long term results. If the Chinese feel that the Rajapaksa Government is becoming unpopular among the people, they would mediate to support another Party to come to power to safeguard their investments. In 1971 China abandoned Sirimavo Bandaranaike at the height of the JVP insurrection thinking the insurrection would be a success. Similarly, if China foresees the imminent fall of the Rajapaksa Government, it would rush in to ensure a regime change favourable to them to prevent a pro-American/Indian leader coming to power in Sri Lanka.

The Americans always ensure when leaders close to them in nations which have sound relations were going to fall, another who would support them is installed in office. That had been experimented in Pakistan and Philippines. However, chances of China trying to do the same in Sri Lanka, looks to be on cards. China who installed Kim Jong –un as the North Korean leader is now trying to oust him today. A media report to that effect stated;

North Korean leader

"For the North Korean leader, this is a difficult time, Toshimitsu Shigemura, a Professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs told DW. Timing is very important here and it is possible that China is moving to abandon Kim Jong-un.The atmosphere between the two nations is changing. China may have decided that it is time for a regime change in the North, they will not permit the collapse of the country because they do not want chaos on their own borders.

Further evidence that Beijing is slowly tightening the screw on its erstwhile ally comes as more state-run financial institutions sever links with banks in North Korea. The latest institution to adhere to government's orders to halt transactions across the border is the Bank of China, one of the four major banks in the country, which announced on 7 May that it would cease dealings with the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea, which has been identified as being involved in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

DW information

Intelligence sources have passed on to DW information that Beijing has a contingency plan in place when Kim Jong-un's control over the country crumbles. The reports confirm that China is indeed quietly encouraging regime change and is grooming Kim's brother, Kim Jong – nam to take over his role. At 42, Kim Jong-nam is the oldest son of Kim Jong-il, the dictator who ruled North Korea with an iron fist for 17 years until his sudden death in December 2011. Kim Jong – nam had been expected to assume leadership after his father's death, but fell from favour spectacularly in 2001 when he was detained with two women and a boy aged four at Tokyo's Narita International Airport travelling on a forged Dominican Republic passport. He later admitted he had wanted to visit Disneyland. He subsequently lived in Macau and Beijing, under the close watch of the Chinese authorities. The reports said that after Kim Jong-nam is installed in Pyongyang, his brother will be permitted to go into exile, probably in China. The tactic is not without its pitfalls, however, in part due to efficiency of the campaign to deify their young leader as the future of the nation".

The China backed regime change plan in North Korea looks an appropriate warning to Rajapaksas in Sri Lank

Greek settlements & influence in ancient Sri Lanka

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,


( September 17, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Mahavamsa refers to two visits by ‘Yona’ to ancient Sri Lanka. Mahavamsa says that Pandukabhaya (pre- 3rd century BC) set apart grounds near the west gate of Anuradhapura for the ‘Yona’. That is the first visit. Several centuries later, in the time of Dutugemunu (167-131 BC) Yona bhikkus arrived to celebrate the completion of the Mahathupa. That is the second. Researchers have queried whether these Yonas were Greeks. Merlin Peris, Emeritus professor of Western Classics, University of Peradeniya, who researched into the two visits, is very definite that ‘Yona’ refers to Greeks and not any other group. The word ‘Yona’ is derived from ‘Ionian’, the Persian word for Greeks. ‘It was known before Pandukabhaya’s time. Dipawamsa refers to a famine of Yonaka in an earlier world cycle. India’s Sanskrit grammarian Panini (4th century BC) spoke of the Yavana script.

The Mahavamsa Greeks (Yona) came from northwestern India. They may have got there in the time of the Persian king Cyrus, (559- 529 BC) Darius (522–486 BC) or Xerxes (486–465 BC). But the preferred idea is that they went there with Alexander of Macedon who invaded the Indus delta between 327-303 BC. Alexander went home, the Greeks stayed on. Seleucus Nicator, a general in Alexander’s army took over the lands conquered by Alexander. Merlin Peris observed that Pandukabhaya’s period of rule in Sri Lanka fitted in with the Alexander- Seleucid period in India. He suggests that Pandukabhaya’s city planning did not end after the first ten years, as Mahavamsa said. It continued and the Greek settlers came in the last two decades of his rule. The journey would have been easy. The sea route was well known and well used by then.

These Greek settlers were not second or third generation ‘Indo-Greeks’. They were first generation native Greeks, who had left Greece (also Macedonia and Ionia) only two decades before. They were therefore the first Europeans to visit Sri Lanka. Geiger suggests that they came for trade. Excavations in Anuradhapura have failed to turn up any evidence of a Greek settlement, not even coins, though Greek coins have been found in quantities in India. Therefore, we do not know whether they assimilated into the community or whether they returned to India.

Merlin Peris observes that a foreign quarter in Anuradhapura so early on in Sri Lanka’s history shows that the Sinhala king was quick to respond to the Greek element in neighboring India. The Greeks were equally prompt in getting to Sri Lanka. The references to Sri Lanka in the writings of Onescritus, Megasthenes and Eratosthenes are dated to this time. Megasthenes who was in India as Greek ambassador to the Maurya court, would have had contact with the Greek settlers in Anuradhapura

These Greeks would have brought a first hand knowledge of Greek culture into Sri Lanka. The only trace of this today is in the Greek myths that appear in the Mahavamsa. Merlin Peris says the Ummadacitta story is from the Greek myth of Danae, daughter of the king of Argos. The story of Vijaya is from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’. It also contains Argonautic myths. The Argonauts were a band of heroes in Greek mythology. Kelanitissa- Viharamaha Devi episode is taken from Danae and from the Andromeda story found in the legend of Perseus. The Mahavamsa story has been taken straight from the Greek one, not from any intermediate source. The flooding of Kelaniya and the marriage of Kelanitissa and Viharamaha Devi however are true. Subha saha Yasa story is found in Plato’s "Republic" and in the writings of Herodotus. It is also given in a papyrus dated to 2 AD, found In Egypt, which means the story may pre-date Herodotus. Merlin thinks the Mahavamsa writer may have known of the two Greek epics "Odyssey" and "Iliad". He further observes that the only history the Sinhala historians could have obtained during this period was that of Herodotus. India had no model history. They also seem to have heard of the Greek historian Xenophon( 430 – 354 BC). William Knighton in his "History of Ceylon" (1845) observed that the manner in which king Kavantissa collected his army closely resembled the account given by Xenophon in his "Cyropaedia" of the way in which King Cyrus of Persia gathered up his army.

The second recorded visit of the Greeks took place when Yona bhikkus arrived from Alasanda to celebrate the completion of the Mahathupa by Dutugemunu (167-131 BC). Merlin Peris says Alasanda was probably in Kabul valley. Kabul was under Greek rule at the time and, according to Mahavamsa, was devoutly Buddhist. It had ‘shone with yellow robes.’ Merlin Peris asserts that it is from the Kabul valley, not southeast India, that that the Greeks came to Anuradhapura. The Mahavamsa and the Mahavamsa tika do not explain who these Yona were. Both works assume that the reader already knows who the Yona were. This means that the Sinhalese would have been familiar with the Greeks even before they arrived for the chaitya ceremony. Perhaps there was a pocket of Greeks remaining in Anuradhapura.

Merlin Peris says that the considerable ‘Greek presence’ in India at the time of Dutugemunu ‘makes plausible their coming to Sri Lanka.’ King Dharmasoka had a large Greek population in his Empire. Two Asokan edicts in Greek were found in Kandahar. One was a Greek version of the XII and XIII rock edicts. It spoke of Asoka’s missions to various Greek ruled kingdoms, and mentions the Yonas and the people of Aparanta. These are the only Asokan edicts in a non-Indian language. They show that Buddhism had been preached in the Greek language, in India and abroad and that the Greek population in Kandahar outnumbered the Indians.

The Third Buddhist Council took place in India during Dharmasoka’s reign. When it ended, Venerable Moggaliputta sent out two missions directed at Greeks. One mission went to Yonarattha, ‘the country of the Yona’. The other mission, sent to Aparantaka, was led by ‘Dhamarakkita the Yona’. These Moggaliputta and Asoka missions would have been headed by Greeks or Greek speaking monks and they would have preached in Greek. Merlin Peris suggests that the Greeks may have been the first Europeans to convert to Buddhism in India and that Greek may have been the first foreign language in which Buddhism was preached.

The third term of Mahinda

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Nalin de Silva

( September 17, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) We will return to "Knowledge as construction" may be week after next as the country is in the midst of politics with world leaders visiting Sri Lanka and people going to the polling booths in a few days in Uva. Philosophy has not taken a back seat as even politics is not dissociated from the former. Even in the case of the third term of Mahinda we are interested in a construction due to Sarath Nanda Silva, which had escaped his mind for about five years after the eighteenth amendment became part of the Supreme Law of the country. There have been a number of articles written for or against the argument constructed by Sarath Silva, I myself having taken part in the game. As construction is a non ending process until one attains Nibbana, in my Bududahama, there will be more articles on the subject in the press even after the Supreme Court gives its verdict on the issue.

People abide by the Supreme Court decision not because it is the "correct decision" but since there is no higher court they can appeal to even if they do not agree with the decision. The worldly (laukika) decisions are taken by one or few people whether in the Judiciary or in an ordinary working place and it cannot be said that the correct decision has been arrived at. However, we have no alternative but to go before some worldly authority when we feel that an injustice has occurred. If Sarath Silva were the CJ there would be any doubt about his decision on the third term of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sumanthiran, the TNA MP has said that Sarath Silva may be working in connivance with the JHU with ulterior motives but we are not interested in them, though Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thera has admitted that he is in the process of drafting a new Constitution with the help of Sarath Silva. It is the present constitution we are interested in whether one is in agreement with the eighteenth amendment or not. In any event it is a well known secret that Ven. Rathana Thera does not see eye to eye with the minister Champika Ranawaka both of whom were with the JVP in the eighties in their early student days.

Let us analyze the situation prior to the eighteenth amendment as far as the third term of a President was concerned. There were two articles that should draw our attention in this regard. The first is Article 31 which reads as follows.

31. (1) Any citizen who is qualified to be elected to the office of President may be nominated as a candidate for such office -

(a) by a recognized political party, or

(b) if he is or has been an elected member of the legislature, by any other political party or by an elector whose name has been entered in any register of electors.

(2) No person who has been twice elected to the office of President by the People shall be qualified thereafter to be elected to such office by the People.

The second Article that warrants our attention is 92 which states:

92. Every person who is qualified to be an elector shall be qualified to be elected to the office of President unless he is subject to any of the following disqualifications -

(a) if he has not attained the age of thirty years;

(b) if he is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament under sub-paragraph (d), (e), (f) or (g) of paragraph (1) of Article 91 ;

(c) if he has been twice elected to the office of President by the People; and

(d) if he has been removed from the office of President under the provisions of sub-paragraph (e) of paragraph (2) of Article 38.

Articles 31(1) (2) and 92 have to be read together in order to obtain a clear picture of the situation. Now in Sri Lanka three people were elected twice to the post of Presidency, namely JR Jayewardene, Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa. They were all elected twice before the eighteenth amendment, and let us see what would have happened if they decided to contest (nominated by a political party) a third time. In this case we have to consider the cases of JR Jayewardene and Chandrika Kumaratunga separately from that of Mahinda Rajapaksa. In the case of the former Article 31(1) was not made use of and no political party nominated either of them for Presidency for a third period, whatever the reason may be. As such the Election commissioner did not have to decide on the eligibility of either of them and there was no need for a Sarath Silva to move the Supreme Court on the eligibility issue. The Presidential Elections were held for a second time since they were elected without any political party nominating them for Presidency. In fact in the case of Chandrika Kumaratunga Presidential elections were held in 2010 for a third time since she was elected President for the first time.

If Chandrika Kumaratunga had been nominated by a political party in 2005 or 2010, the Commissioner of Elections or the Supreme Court as the case may be would have disqualified her acting under Article 31(2) and 92. However, what is important here is to note that unless a political party nominated her for the Post of presidency there was no way either the Commissioner of Elections or the Supreme Court deciding on her eligibility, as an individual, to contest at the Presidential Elections for a third time.

Sarath Silva’s position is that according to Article 31(2), Chandrika Kumaratunga became disqualified to contest in 2005 or subsequently, even before these dates were fixed, the day she was elected as the President for the second time, even before the day she took oaths for the second time as the President. However, 31(2) cannot be read in isolation and it is tied up with 31(1) and 92. Sarath Silva is of the opinion that when Chandrika Kumaratunga, JR Jayewardene and Mahinda Rajapaksa were elected for a second time there was no eighteenth amendment and their "fate" had been sealed by the pre eighteenth amendment constitution. The eighteenth amendment repealed 31(2) and 92(c) and we are now in a different world. However, Sarath Silva says that eighteenth amendment as far as the eligibility criteria are concerned is not valid with retrospective effect, and hence Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot contest Presidential Elections in 2015.

However, the question does not arise of Mahinda Rajapaksa contesting Presidential elections as it is a question of a political party nominating him for the post of presidency in 2015. Mahinda Rajapaksa on his own is not made ineligible as eligibility criteria become operative with a political party deciding to nominate him for Presidency for a third time. Even in the case of Chandrika Kumaratunga a political party is not debarred from nominating her for presidency in 2015, and we would have to await decisions by the commissioner of elections and/or the Supreme Court in case a political party does so, on her eligibility.

Now in the case of Chandrika Kumaratunga, even if one were to argue that she became disqualified to contest in 2005, before the eighteenth amendment, the way the constitution was operative then, after the eighteenth amendment the "obstacles" have been removed. Sarath Silva’s argument is on the criteria as laid down in the constitution that is operative at the time of election to the post of President a second time, and this implies, if the argument is valid, that 31(2) has to be on elections held after the date of election for the second time under the pre eighteenth amendment constitution. Thus even if we go by Sarath Silva’s argument, and assuming that it is valid, Chandrika Kumaratunga would not have been eligible to contest only in 2005 or 2010. However, after the eighteenth amendment she is qualified and it is not a case of eighteenth amendment being made valid with retrospective effect.

In the case of Mahinda Rajapaksa the case is very much clear. There had been no third time Presidential elections since 2004 and the eighteenth amendment has come before such third time elections. Even if one were to argue that in the case of Chandrika Kumaratunga a third time Presidential election was held before the eighteenth amendment, in the case of Mahinda Rajapaksa no such third time presidential elections had been announced under the pre eighteenth amendment constitution. The next Presidential Elections will be held under the post eighteenth amendment constitution and what is valid as far as eligibility criteria is the constitution after the eighteenth amendment and not the pre eighteenth amendment constitution that was in operation at the time of election of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the President for the second time. Chandrika Kumaratunga was not nominated by any political party in 2005 or 2010 as probably the political parties understood the consequences. However, the pre eighteenth amendment constitution belongs to the past and if at all, she would not have been disqualified to be nominated as a candidate at Presidential elections held before the eighteenth amendment. If a political party is interested she could be nominated for the post of President in 2015, as the word thereafter in 31(2) refers to elections held when 31(2) was operative and not thereafter. The words are valid only in a context and they have to be interpreted in that context. They are relative and not absolute.

Renewing resolve

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| Editorial Tamil Guardian

( September 17, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The start of the UN Human Rights Council's 27th session this week saw the welcome reaffirmation of resolve to pursue accountability for mass atrocities in Sri Lanka through a UN inquiry from the newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid al-Hussein and the US and UK missions. Amid the crises unfolding in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, the High Commissioner's pointed statement highlighting the importance he places on the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) is a significant pledge to fulfill the commendable legacy of his predecessor, Navi Pillay. Equally resolved however was Sri Lanka in its determination to oppose it. Reiterating its categorical rejection of the inquiry, Sri Lanka renewed its refusal to cooperate with UN investigators. Its seemingly desperate attempts to block the functioning of the inquiry, only serve to vindicate the basis on which member states led and supported the resolution in March mandating an international inquiry – Sri Lanka will not deliver accountability and justice for the deaths of over 70,000 Tamils during the final stages of the armed conflict itself.

In the five months since the resolution, Sri Lanka has systematically sought to criminalise NGOs and activists who were principal in its passage, proscribing key Tamil diaspora organisations and activists as 'terrorists' and imposing restrictions targeting the notable handful of Sinhala human rights activists and organisations who supported the inquiry. The diaspora proscriptions not only target those individuals, but seek to prevent evidence outflow from Tamils on the island, to the UN investigators via diaspora networks. Meanwhile, Tamils in the North-East have been collectively punished for their support of the inquiry and are increasingly terrorised in an effort to stop them from engaging with it. Many of the Tamils arrested in mass round-ups around March, including the prominent disappearances campaigner Balendran Jeyakumari, remain under detention in prisons notorious for torture and sexual violence. Tamils found talking to international officials have faced harassment and death threats by state backed mobs and military intelligence officers, while government officials have openly discussed the possibility of reprisal measures against individuals who engage with the inquiry.

It is in this context of five years of absolute refusal to even acknowledge mass atrocities committed against the Tamil people followed by five months of increasingly frenzied attempts to obstruct the international inquiry, that Sri Lanka's claims to the Council of domestic accountability via an internal probe with an international garnish must be viewed. Sri Lanka cannot investigate itself. The alleged crimes are too grave and the state has over several decades under successive administrations, proved itself unwilling to deliver justice to the Tamil people. Indeed even now, the opposition UNP, far from pressing the government to cooperate with the inquiry, criticises the government for placing Sri Lanka under international scrutiny and its armed forces at risk of prosecution.

Amid this intensifying climate of intimidation, the willingness of Tamil people - living under effective military occupation in the North-East and having sought asylum abroad - to come forward as witnesses at great risk to themselves and their families, demonstrates the Tamil people's resolve to pursue accountability, and ultimately justice. It was for these victims that the Council voted to mandate the inquiry, and it is for them that the Council must now ensure sustained scrutiny of Sri Lanka over coming months. Intoxicated with the impunity it continues to enjoy, Sri Lanka's conduct illustrates it will not think twice before intensifying repression of the Tamil people. As the March 2015 deadline for the inquiry approaches, it is clear attacks on Tamils will increase. It beholds member states to ensure the safety of witnesses and safeguard them from reprisal. This must go beyond calls on Sri Lanka to restrain itself and become tangible reprimand and action.

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