| by Menaka Indrakumar
( March 8, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The ex-wife of cricketer Thilakaratne Dilshan was also known as Tuwan Mohammad Dilshan before his conversion to Buddhism, has lodged a complaint with the Talangama Police that the cricketer is attempting to kidnap their child.
By an order of Court, Dilshan is allowed to visit his child on Saturdays, Sundays and on Poya days. She added that Dilshan was planning to kidnap the child and take him
Following news exclusively published by the Lanka News Web, a website based in London.
( March 8, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sajin Vaas Gunawardena, a Member of Parliament and also known as the ‘baggage boy’, especially among the members of the Rajapaksa family, has created a serious split between the President and the First Lady Mrs. Wickramasinghe, according to a reliable source.
In order to facilitate the carnal needs of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his foreign trips, he has appointed Vaas as the Monitoring MP of the External Affairs Ministry, is an open secret.
Knowing the pimp’s duties being done by Sajin Vaas to be in the good books of the President, the first lady and the three children had severely reprimanded him on several occasions.
Click here to read the story carried by the website.
| by Laksiri Fernando
( March 8, 2014, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) The West has employed overtly a soft approach towards Sri Lanka, or rather the Rajapaksa regime, nevertheless tightening its grip firmly around its neck where the barren diplomatic efforts to shake off that grip will take the country towards an abysmal future both nationally and internationally. It is not merely or mainly the sterile nature of the diplomatic efforts that is reprehensible, but its duplicity and dishonesty. Accountability is not only a requirement of international law or relations, but also a national imperative of any democratic system of government.
In Sri Lanka, accountability is required for reconciliation with the Tamil community. It is required to prevent a possible re-emergence of an outfit like the LTTE, by punishing the perpetrators on both dies. It is required to halt impunity, create disciplined security forces and to break the cycles of violence that has been gripping the country for many decades. It is also an imperative of the rule of law.
The above does not mean that some ‘perpetrators’ cannot be pardoned if they genuinely confess and repent. But that has to be done in a systematic manner and the government also should be responsible for the chain of command during the last stages of the war where the lives of thousands of civilians were involved. Even according to the most conservative estimates, the magnitude of the death toll of civilians requires a full and impartial investigation. This is where the international participation and/or monitoring are necessary. The regime is no longer reliable.
Coming back to what is happening in Geneva, the proposed resolution - if the leak draft is any indication - does not propose a separate international investigation on war crimes which can call alleged perpetrators as respondents. Obviously, that is beyond UNHRC’s mandate. It can be done only by the Security Council (SC) or the International Criminal Court (ICC). The UNHRC nevertheless can recommend or propose the SC or the ICC to do so. Even that is not there in the draft resolution, perhaps believing that either it is premature or would not carry the majority support. For that step to be taken by the UNHRC, it should have its own evidence or preliminary investigation to convince the member states. Although there is the Darusman Report it is not of its own and it is rather old.
What is proposed in the draft resolution is not even what the UNHRC proposed in the case of North Korea last year (A/HRC/RES/22/13) to appoint a Commission of Inquiry. One may think that what is proposed for Sri Lanka this year is weaker than what was proposed for South Korea, but that is also not the case. What is central is the section 8 of the draft resolution as follows.
“Welcomes the High Commissioner’s recommendations and conclusions on the need for an independent and credible international investigation in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to assess progress toward accountability and reconciliation, to monitor relevant national processes, and to investigate alleged violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka, with input from relevant special procedures mandate holders as appropriate and to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its twenty-eighth session.” (My emphasis).
The draft resolution may appear convoluted as it is also a cut and paste job from the last resolution. However, the central intent and the principle recommendations are crystal clear as could be seen from the above quoted section. It “welcomes the High Commissioner’s recommendations and conclusions on the need for an independent and credible international investigation.” Then it requests the Office of the High Commissioner “to investigate alleged violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka.”
The process suggested is mainly to conduct the investigation by the High Commissioner and her staff “with input from relevant special procedures mandate holders as appropriate.” This is why I say that Sri Lanka is badly cornered and in a tight grip because of the short sighted and dishonourable polices of the Rajapaksa regime.
The UNP is absolutely correct in its recent statement that “We must understand that this militaristic regime that continues to curtail our democratic freedoms in their attempts to establish a dynasty while making Sri Lanka the drug capital of Asia is solely responsible for our current plight.” I am quoting only one sentence.
Why the UNP is correct in this statement? The reason is clear. If not for the present nature of the regime, largely militaristic, and its continuous curtailment of the people’s democratic rights and the attempts to establish a family dynasty, there is no reason why the government couldn’t investigated the alleged violations and crimes that the UN and others are talking about.
Can there be an Escape?
No, there is no escape now. This is not only due to the pathetic diplomacy that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducts now, but also due to the policy guidelines that the Presidential Secretariat or perhaps the Defence Ministry issues. The heart of the matter is the steady deviation from Sri Lanka’s non-aligned policy and the erosion of good relations with its closest neighbour India.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or Crimea, the Rajapaksa regime’s traditional supporters are in a greater shamble at the UNHRC meeting. How can you claim the proposed UNHRC investigation on human rights violations as an interference in sovereignty, if the regime or its supporters do not condemned the Russian invasion? The Ukraine issue would figure most prominently in the UNHRC debates in the coming days.
What is reflected in the Rajapaksa regime’s policy at the UNHRC is the lack of commitment to or even a basic understating of human rights and humanitarian concerns not in other countries but in Sri Lanka itself. Prof G. L. Peiris’ statement to the High Level Segment of the Session was rather hilarious.
After some formal preliminaries, he uttered quite an archaic argument to emphasise the importance of the Right to Development and Economic, Social and Cultural rights. Then this is what he said immediately thereafter.
“At the same time, we remain deeply concerned that the lack of financial independence of the OHCHR leads to the erosion of independence in its overall functioning. For example, the disproportionate attention being paid to country-specific action in the Council which selectively targets some countries, while situations, human rights violations and restrictive practices in other parts of the world that warrant more urgent and immediate attention and action remain conveniently ignored, is a matter of serious concern. The stark reality is that the continuation and proliferation of the practice of the selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Council is a tool that exploits human rights for political purposes. Regrettably, a similar pattern is evident in the case of continued action on Sri Lanka in this Council. We reiterate that such politicized action is contrary to the high purposes and principles of the Council and must be arrested. We believe that additional budgetary allocations from regular funding would lessen the OHCHR’s dependence on voluntary contributions and earmarked funding and thus would allow it to function in an independent manner.”
He tried to picture, perhaps naively believing so, that lack of funds for or financial independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights might be the reason for what he termed as the “disproportionate attention being paid to country-specific action in the Council which selectively targets some countries” and not others. But he didn’t have the spine to name the other countries. This is perhaps how he sees the connection between economic and political matters, or economic rights and political rights. How hilarious?
Of course he repeated the regime’s usual lamentation that “the selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Council is a tool that exploits human rights for political purposes.” For what political purposes, he didn’t explain. It is also interesting to note that he didn’t object to ‘country specific’ resolutions as such which was the old argument. The objection was for “selective targeting.” Does this mean that if not for the “disproportionate attention” or the ‘selection of Sri Lanka’ rather than the others, the accusations or allegations are true and correct? That is the impression given throughout his lamentation.
Most comical was the conclusion that proposed to increase “budgetary allocations from regular funding” to OHCHR and lessen the “dependence on voluntary contributions and earmarked funding” to avoid selective political targeting of countries like Sri Lanka.
It may be correct that if the proposed resolution goes through the Council, and it certainly would, and an investigation proceeds through the OHCHR as proposed, then some countries would make ‘voluntary and earmarked funding’ available for that purpose. It is not healthy, but that cannot be avoided given the way that the regime has antagonised some of the important countries or even as a practical requirement. There is no point in trying to close the stable after the horse has bolted.
It should be recollected that even for the ‘peace process’ that G. L. Peiris handled (2002-2005), the Co-Chairs (US, EU, Japan and Norway) pledged US $ 4.5 billion on which he didn’t have any qualms. All those were voluntary and earmarked funding from the same sources. Now to talk about ‘undue influence’ through ‘voluntary and earmarked funding’ for the UNHRC by the same person would appear utter hypocrisy to any perceptible person or country.
The draft resolution has not closed all doors to Sri Lanka. Out of 10 specific recommendations for the Council, even before the recommendation for the investigations by the OHCHR (no. 8), the following is the specific call for Sri Lanka in section 2.
Call upon the Government of Sri Lanka: to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable; to hold accountable those responsible for such violations; to end continuing incidents of human rights violations and abuses in Sri Lanka; and to implement the recommendations made in the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner;
This should mean that if the Sri Lankan government even now initiates ‘independent and credible investigations into alleged violations,’ there is still a possibility of avoiding separate investigations by the OHCHR; however on the premise that other integral recommendations are also followed up and technical assistance and cooperation are sought from the OHCHR.
As still a citizen of Sri Lanka, also with an academic expertise or background on human rights, I have no disagreement or objection for the draft resolution on Sri Lanka and wish to call upon the government to pledge particularly its agreement with section 2 of the draft resolution and cooperate with the OHCHR in implementing its recommendations as applicable.
( Laksiri Fernando's new book is, Thomas More's Socialist Utopia And Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Click here to order your copy)
( March 8, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In post-war phase, discourse around women and their rights remains extremely weak. As such, attention must be paid to the day- to- day increase of violence against women and girls across the country. The continuing ethnic issues and insecurity together with other socio-economic factors, including the rising cost of living, have placed a great burden upon the women in the North and East as well as women island-wide who have faced the consequences of the war. Systematic steps have been taken to dismantle democracy in Sri Lanka. The judiciary, which was once considered an independent institution that had a few women holding top positions including that of Chief Justice, has since been entirely compromised. In 2012, the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake in an unconstitutional manner provided us further insight in to what has become a increasingly totalitarian State.
Recently at the “Deyata Kirula” event that was held in Kurunagala, the Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs presented a book titled “Strong Women in Sri Lanka” to the public. This English language book listed 47 women in various fields in 2012 as “strong women”.
The term strong women connotes women who have posed a challenge to patriarchal norms and have been able to rise above the various strictures placed on them by society and family. While the women in these books are indeed women who have made some impact in politics, education, the public sector and culture, many of them are women from the ruling party and women holding strong political positions within the party. It is therefore important to question this and force a look at the real women leaders in society. Furthermore, it must be noted that this publication focuses on women primarily from a singular ethnic, class, language and political background. Thus, for a book titled “Strong Women in Sri Lanka” it appears that little attention has in fact be paid to the word ‘strong’.
In this day and age women play an important role and are leaders in numerous and varied fields. The exclusion of women from the North and the East and other grassroots women therefore reflect the level of discrimination women face as a direct result of their gender, ethnicity, class, caste and religion. This book further reflects the limited knowledge and understanding that the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs has on rural women their achievements and their contributions towards Sri Lankan society.
If we look at the political arena in our country, the women in politics have typically been women who have filled gaps left by male family members or women who have achieved success and popularity in other fields. Ideally women who enter the field of politics should be those who challenge the male dominated space and fulfill their duties as representatives of their constituencies. In this regard, we also note that UNP Member of Parliament Rosy Senanayake, who has raised several women’s issues has not been included in this book.
Thangesvari Kathirgamam who was elected following the Parliamentarian Elections in 2004 and who is from Kannankuda in Batticaloa; Saraswathi Thevanthirum who won elections held in 2011 in Mullaiteevu after three decades; Jensila Majeed, who was evicted from the North by the LTTE and has challenged social and cultural norms through her work on women rights and equality for 22 years and was awarded the US State Department's International Women of Courage Award in 2010 and Shila Irudayaraj from Jaffna, who was nominated in 2005 for a Nobel prize with 1000 other women from 150 countries for her work on women who have lost their husbands; all these women find no mention in this book.
The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs also does not consider Chandiraka Kumaratunga who was the 5thPresident of Sri Lanka for two consecutive terms and was also the 1st woman President of Sri Lanka as a strong woman. Furthermore, women such as the former Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Shirani Bandaranayake or internationally acclaimed human rights and women’s rights activist Sunila Abeyasekera who established several organisations for human rights and for women’s rights, Radhika Coomaraswamy who was the Under Secretary General of the United Nations; scholar and academic Kumari Jayawardena, who’s contribution to political science and women’s histories, have all excluded in this book. Women who have earned space and acclaim in fields that historically excluded women, women writers, artists, dramatists and journalists who have courageously written and expressed dissenting views and raised important issues, all find no mention. It is clear therefore, that human rights and women’s rights activists, women from other political parties, critics of the current repressive government have been consciously excluded.
Thus, it appears that pleasing the political party in power and maintaining the status quo has been the sole aim of the publishers of this book.
The Ministry of Women’s and Children’s affairs is mandated to work towards women’s empowerment and equality. However once again it has failed to do so, instead exposing its ethnic, religious and class bias. The Ministry’s opinion that only women working in the field of politics and that too mostly in the ruling party, and government sector are to be considered ‘strong women’ is in line with the overall regressive attitude of the Sri Lankan government towards women and women’s rights.
-Women’s Action Network-
Amnesty International is a global movement of over 4.6 million people committed to defending those who are denied justice or freedom.
International Women's Day - 8 March
( March 8, 2014, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) Today, on International Women’s Day, We’d like you to meet the bravest women in the world.
They are the Malalas you’ve never heard of, women who literally risk their lives every day through their determination to fight for other people's rights.
They don’t have to do it. They could choose to keep their heads down, lead a quiet existence, and look out for their own and their families’ safety.
But they are so moved by injustice and the need to help others that they continue their work, knowingly becoming the targets of governments,
corporations and armed groups who have an interest in keeping them silent.
These eight women are just a handful of the many thousands of women and
girls around the world who are the unsung heroines of human rights.
|Yasmin Gull © Khwendo Kor|
In her daily work, Pakistani woman Yasmin Gull defies the Taliban, who have banned women in her region from working on social issues.
Women and girls are prevented from leaving their homes, so Ms Gull risks her safety by going to visit them, taking with her a message of education and empowerment.
Her organisation is Khwendo Kor – literally, ‘Sisters’ Home’ – which teaches girls and women they have rights to an education, to vote and to health care.
She told me, “My strong determination, solid commitment and above all unshakable faith in Heaven could not make me bow in front of all these threats and challenges.”
|Monica Paulus in Goroka, PNG © AIA|
More than two out of three women in Papua New Guinea experience gender violence – from domestic violence to horrific attacks by villagers accusing them of ‘sorcery’.
There are almost no shelters in PNG, so Monica Paulus volunteers her time – and puts herself in great danger – by finding out about women being held hostage in violent situations, convincing PNG police to rescue them, and providing food and safe shelter.
She told Amnesty International: “You see a lot of women going through torture, going through trauma. Sitting back and watching will not help. One way or another we just have to do what we have to do to help women of our kind.”
Dr Isatou Touray
|Isatou Touray © GAMCOTRAP|
Gambian woman Dr Isatou Touray has spent her career campaigning against female genital mutilation (FGM), which is endured by four out of five women in The Gambia.
Dr Touray is the founder and Executive Director of The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices.
Because of her work, she has been constantly threatened by the authorities, falsely charged and imprisoned.
Despite this, her organisation’s outreach has resulted in 125 practitioners of FGM agreeing to ‘drop the knife’ and over 900 communities in The Gambia ending FGM in their area.
|Nasrin Sotoudeh © AIA/Payvand.com|
“Spreading propaganda against the system” was the absurd charge made by Iranian authorities against human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
For this, she served several years in prison, with restricted visits by her husband and two children.
The real purpose of her sentence was punishment by the Iranian government for her peaceful work as a human rights lawyer, for which she won a European Union prize.
After she was released early from her prison sentence, she thanked Amnesty International for standing with her.
|Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena © Private|
Lawyer and media columnist Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena is one of Sri Lanka’s most outspoken critics of human rights abuses.
In Sri Lanka anyone who dares speak out against the regime can be intimidated, arrested or killed. She has said, “In this country, public opinion commentators may write if they wish, but at their own peril.”
But Ms Pinto-Jayawardena continues to risk her safety by highlighting torture, ‘disappearances’, repression of minority groups, unlawful detention and press freedom in the country.
She was acknowledged for her work as the Sri Lankan recipient of the US 2007 International Women of Courage Award.
|Mao Hengfeng's torture marks © Private|
She has survived the unimaginable: solitary confinement in one of China’s notorious Re-Education Through Labour camps.
It is one of many times over the last decade that Chinese woman Mao Hengfeng has been tortured and detained by the Chinese regime.
And yet, these brutalities have not deterred her from fighting on behalf of people who have been evicted from their homes, and for the right of women not to be forced to have abortions.
|Wajeha al-Huwaider © Saudi Women To Drive|
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most gender-divided countries, where women are not even allowed to drive.
Authorities harass, intimidate and arrest women who get behind the wheel, even sentencing one woman driver to 10 lashes, which was later overturned.
Saudi woman’s activist Wajeha al-Huwaider was the first Saudi woman to post on YouTube a video of herself driving a car in Saudi Arabia.
Since that time, the campaign to allow Saudi woman drivers has grown from strength to strength.
|Najia Nasim © Women for Afghan Women|
Najia Nasim is the country director of ‘Women for Afghan Women', which runs shelters for girls and women escaping forced marriages and violence.
One of the girls they helped was Sahar Gul, who received worldwide attention when she was rescued from a basement where she was tortured and imprisoned by her in-laws.
On a daily basis, Najia and her colleagues receive threats from families, conservatives and the Taliban alike, which they have to navigate whilst continuing their vital work to protect women.
Add your voice to our petition calling on the incoming Afghan President to strengthen the rights of women and girls.
This article was first published on Daily Life.
| by Izeth Hussain
( March 8, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) At the moment of writing I have not had access to the full text of the US Draft Resolution on Sri Lanka that has been presented at the UNHRC Meeting in Geneva. But the most important fact about it is known: there will be no meaningful action of any sort at the present stage, and there will be such action only after the lapse of another year if Sri Lanka fails to show that there has been progress in taking credible action on internal investigations into war crimes etc. In the meanwhile there will be no international investigations into war crimes and no sanctions, both of which were being confidently anticipated. We don’t of course know what might happen by the time of the final vote on the Resolution. But it does seem that what threatened to be a dazzling Western pyrotechnic display at the expense of Sri Lanka has turned out to be a damp squib – not pathos for Sri Lanka but bathos for the US and the West.
|Image by Ishara Kodikara|
What went wrong for the latter? Probably nothing. We are probably witnessing the unfolding of a game plan worked out between the US and India in 2011, as I argued in my article The Ban Ki-moon Conspiracy.(Island of May 2, 2011). Everything falls into place, in my view, if were recognize the fact that the outcome in Geneva depends not on the US, not on the Eu, not on the international community, but on India as I argued in my article Dawn on the Ethnic Front? In the Island of February 17. I quote from that article: "The present expectation is that the UNHRC vote will go against us I believe that the best way of countering that possibility would be to get India to act on our behalf, not necessarily openly but effectively. There are several reasons why India could have very special clout with the Western bloc. It is a regional power and an emerging great power, for which reason the Western bloc would very probably be prepared to recognize that Sri Lanka is India’s turf.
"I have in mind two other reasons as well. As I have been arguing in earlier articles the Sri Lankan Tamil ethnic problem is really an Indo-Sri Lankan ethnic problem because Delhi can never ignore the fall-out in Tamil Nadu of what happens to the SL Tamils. India is therefore an integral part of the SL Tamil ethnic problem, not just an ancillary factor. The Western bloc would therefore probably recognize that India should have a legitimate say in any action to be taken against Sri Lanka in connection with the SL Tamils. My other reason why India could have very special clout with the Western bloc is my theory propounded in 2011 that the Us and India were engaged in a benign conspiracy to make Sri Lanka move towards a political solution and ethnic reconciliation by using the threat of war crimes investigations as an instrument of pressure. My guess, for all these reasons, is that the US – which will be the prime mover behind any anti-Sri Lankan Resolution – will go along with India if the latter adopts firm positions against war crimes allegations and sanctions".
A clarification is due at this point. The interests of India and the US in regard to Sri Lanka are not identical. For the US the fate of the Sri Lankan Tamils is of no great moment whereas for India it could be of vital importance, vital in the sense that under certain contingencies it could even threaten the very unity of India. We do not know what dark forces might not be unleashed by the coming to power of the neo-Fascist BJP. On the other hand, the issue of war crimes investigations probably matters little or nothing to India, except as an instrument of pressure. It could matter much more for the US as it could serve the purposes of American imperialism – I will explain this point later.
The reason why India would not be enthusiastic about war crimes investigations, or rather would be against them – perhaps accepting them only if they are of a token order – is that they would be incompatible with moving meaningfully towards a political solution of the ethnic problem and ethnic reconciliation. Our Government has in recent weeks taken to emphasizing this argument and giving it central importance. However this argument can be taken seriously only if the Government is really serious about moving towards a political solution and ethnic reconciliation. But for almost five years it has given the contrary impression: it sees no need for any special action towards a political solution or ethnic reconciliation because all that will follow if the Tamils accept the gifts of the benign Rajapakse Government which embodies the will of the majority.
There might apparently be a case for arguing that war crimes investigations will not be really divisive if the actions of both sides – the Government forces and the LTTE – are investigated, and the investigations are not limited to the final phase of the war. There will be impartiality if there is no invidious focusing on the actions of the Government forces alone. May be, but it is impossible to believe that the whole process of investigations involving allegations and counter-allegations and detailed enquiries stretching over years will not further polarize and envenom our ethnic relations,, making impossible the spirit of mutual accommodation required for ethnic harmony. The dead cannot be resurrected and our primary obligation is to the living. This means that accountability has to follow at some stage after the process of ethnic reconciliation takes hold.
The Congress Government is practically certain of losing the next elections, and it would not want to leave office with the record of having been a party to the creation of an insuperable problem for Sri Lanka. The ethnic problem has to be sorted by the next Indian Government on the basis of a quadripartite agreement or understanding involving the SL Government, the SL Tamils, the Indian Government, and Tamil Nadu. That will probably become inevitable unless the present SL Government changes course and becomes fully democratic, which could lead to a political solution. For these reasons it seems very probable that the Indian Government would want to see that war crimes investigations are postponed.
There is a new factor that could make the US give much weight to what India wants. I refer to Ukraine, the most momentous development in international relations since 2000, which will come to be seen retrospectively as a landmark, a landmark in the US imperialist strategy of containing Russia. I am influenced to think along these lines by my experience of Russia from 1995 to 1998. At that time Russia was in a state of collapse but it was apparent that it would, sooner rather than later, get a grip on itself and re-establish itself as a power that the rest of the world has to reckon with. That is happening under Putin. The American Empire has been in decline since the 1970s and is most certainly doomed. But Russia can establish itself as the centre of a Eurasian configuration, not an imperialist centre, but some sort of centre exercising influence in an important segment of the world. Kissinger and Brzezinski, both of whom influenced American foreign policy even after they left office, saw all that very clearly and advocated a policy of containment of Russia. That policy has consisted of expanding NATO right up to the borders of Russia and the prizing away from Russian control and influence of some countries on the Russian periphery. That is how we have to make sense of ongoing developments in Ukraine.
But what has all that got to do with India? I used to think that the special, very special Indo-Soviet relations were a product of the Cold War and had disappeared after the collapse of the Soviet Union. During my spell in Moscow I found that that was far from being the case. The prestige and influence of India in Russia was really on a grand scale, partly a result of the fact that over many decades India sent many of its ablest diplomats to Moscow. The point I am getting to is that the US will give much to loosen or break the Indo-Russian special relationship. That means, I think, that if India wants the US to forget about international investigations into war crimes in Sri Lanka, the US will probably do so.
| by Kurukshetran
Nagendram Seevaratnam What is in the bag?
( March 8, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Following publication of the translation of the London based Thesam Tamil newspaper news ( English translation published by the Sri Lanka Guardian) about Sivayogam Trust in London, further serious violations by the former international head of the LTTE finances Nagendram Seevaratnam has been revealed by persons associated with him until recently.
Seevaratnam deceived the British immigration service
Contrary to the belief that Nagendram Seevaratnam is an asylum claimant, he was given investor visa by the British government to enter the United Kingdom in October 1987. Following dismissal from his short lived employment in Papua New Guinea on the grounds of submitting false curriculum vitae, he moved to Chennai and stayed with his family briefly. From there, he applied for investor visa to the British High Commission showing hundreds of thousands of US dollars in his bank account. At the time of claiming the immigration status, he was managing millions of dollars of LTTE funds in various international bank accounts.
In 1990, he was kicked out of the LTTE cold-heartedly and all the funds held by him were taken away. A big hole was found in the funds returned by him. Following heavy pressures put on him to the extent of his brother Nagendram Karunanithy being held in captivity in Trincomalee by the LTTE, he found ways to settle the funds he siphoned off.
Seevaratnam’s investment proposal presented to the UK immigration was never implemented. But he went on the binge to flout the British laws and regulations systematically starting with the violation of his immigration status. Blackmail, intimidation, manipulation, scheming, menacing, neuro-hormonal behaviour of homosexuality-heterosexuality and corruption are his inborn disorders unashamedly and scandalously exercised in collusion with the supporting members of his family.
Charity Commission kicked in its teeth
‘In 2008/09, the Charity Commission used its powers to remove Nagendram Seevaratnam as trustee of Sivayogam. But this removal was overturned by the Charity Tribunal in the first case of a Charity Commission decision ever overturned’ (Civil Society, 6 Sep 2012).According to one time confidante of Seevaratnam, Seevaratnam cornered the Charity Commission by denying everything he admitted or gave way to the investigators of the Charity Commission at the Charity Tribunal. He played the old age image at the Tribunal that he is feeble and suffering from dementia.
His soft spoken and pretentious attitude worked in his favour and the Charity Commission botched by failing to adequately evidence their findings that Seevaratnam manifestly contradicted at the Charity Tribunal.
Despite the scale of the fraud perpetrated, Charity Commission has not moved any further to deal with him or his Charity and he is rough riding the Sivayogam Charity under his bogus saint name with absolute authority as a shadow trustee. Charity Commission seems to fear of being seen vindictive towards him following the outcome of the Charity Tribunal and the regulator is the silent spectator of events unfolding with the Sivayogam Charity when he is on course to squander its finances.
The very same confidante of Seevaratnam confirmed that Seevaratnam is attempting to sell the property of the Charity in Wembley bought for over £1 million pounds in a private deal at a much lesser price of £500,000. The source said that his plan is to siphon off the funds of the decaying Charity to pay off any shortfall in the loan and there is said to be kick back arrangement with the purchaser. The balance of the mortgage with Clydesdale Bank is said to be £750,000.
Official Receiver hoodwinked
Seevartatnam was made bankrupt at the High Court on 11 October 2010. In the statement of affairs and the correspondences filed (based on information filtering) with the Trustee in Bankruptcy who is administering the bankruptcy of Seevaratnam brothers, both have determinedly falsified their asset base by not declaring and understating the values.
Nagendram Seevaratnam has confirmed to the Trustee in Bankruptcy that his residential property in north London was worth only £250,000 when the market value was £375,000. As the property was given as collateral security for the loan with Clydesdale Bank for Sivayogam, the Trustee in Bankruptcy could not lay his hands on it to recover the judgment debt of the landlord of Sivayogam Trust.
Seevaratnam has disclosed to the Trustee in Bankruptcy that his income is only state pension of £110 per week and this is merely adequate for his menial expenses. According to a source close to Seevaratnam, he has given a cash donation of £5,000 to build the Mullivaykal memorial in Tamil Nadu in 2013 and travelled to India for the opening ceremony. He also became a shareholder of Sivayogam Ltd by officially paying £5,000 in cash in the Sivayogam Ltd bank account on 20 December 2011.
He has also visited a Hindu temple in Holland and have given an undisclosed sum of donation for the special Kumba-Abishegam event in 2013.
All these were done whilst continuing with his (shadow) controlling interest in the Charity and officially not having any other source of income.
One time confidante of Seevaratnam confirmed that Seevaratnam failed to disclose to the Trustee in Bankruptcy five properties bought and dedicated to his family members in Sri Lanka. These properties were said to be purchased using the bankrolled Charity’s funds.
The Trustee in Bankruptcy appointed by the Official Receiver is: Mr Dermot Coakley, MBI Coakley Ltd, Second Floor, Tunsgate Square, 98-110 High Street, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3HE.
Private company Sivayogam Ltd.
The controversial Sivayogam Ltd under company reference number 06661332 was incorporated on 31/07/2008. The prime object of the company is ‘buying and selling and own real estate’. Seevaratnam failed to disclose his shareholding interest and directorship to the Trustee in Bankruptcy though the company remained dormant according to Companies House records. When the questioning members in the Board of Trustees started to agitate over Sivaratnam’s misconduct and unacceptable behaviour, the registered address of the company from 624 Kenton Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA3 9NR ( His daughter Ambihai Seevaratnam’s home address) was changed to Sivayogam’s Wembley temple address 13B Ranelah Road, Wembley, Middlesex HA0 4TW.
According to the source, Ambihai Seevaratnam was troubled that any public revelation about Sivayogam will have consequence for her employment with the government Treasury as Civil Servant.
The dormant accounts of Sivayogam Ltd filed with the Companies House shows there is no movement in the Balance Sheet for two successive years. On reviewing the bank statements provided by his employee, it has come to light that false accounts have been filed with the Companies House
According to the Companies House guideline based on the Companies Act 2006: ‘A Company can be non-trading in the sense that it isn’t doing business. But it may still have other accounting transactions going through its books which means that it is not dormant in legal sense. A dormant company must not have any accounting transactions except specific allowable transactions that it can disregard’.
The summary of the transactions in bank account of Sivayogam Ltd for the year ended 31 July 2011 confirm significant transactions and these are not accurately reflected in the accounts. According to the staff of Sivayogam, the aggregate sum of £15,000 credited is the paid up share capital of the company. Instead, the accounts filed confirms issued share capital of £20,000 that correspond with the bank balance in the accounts and the bank statement showed a balance of £14,926.25.
Trf. Swaminathan S -Wembley
Seevaratnam S Ref: N Seevaratnam
There are many transactions in the year ended 31 July 2012 but Sivayogam Ltd filed dormant accounts (see above). The transactions to 16 January 2012 confirms serious failures in proper accounting and compliance by the directors, in particular, Ambihai Seevaratnam who is a qualified Certified Accountant and is working for the Civil Service.
Trf Loan from Ambihai 81 Fleet St
Trf from Seevaratnam A- Loan Ambihai
AFTS from Sivayogam Building
Deposit - Seeva Shares
Trf: Loan from Seevaratnam -Ambi2Siv
Trf from Seevaratnam A- Loan Ambihai
Nagendram Seevaratnam only paid his shares on 20 December 2011 to make the paid up share capital £20,000. These transactions confirms that the Sivayogam Ltd should have filed detailed accounts instead of the dormant accounts.
The staff and former Trustee of Sivayogam Trust confirmed that funds other than the £235,000 transferred from the Charity, contrary to the Charity rules are money laundering funds. These were funds siphoned off from the Charity that found its way into the Sivayogam Ltd bank account in the names of Seevaratnam family and the priest Swaminathan.
Though the company was formed on 31 July 2008, the financial transactions only took place one year after the bankruptcy. According to the rules, a bankrupt is free to start a new life after the bankruptcy order.
The prime objective of Sivayogam Ltd is‘buying and selling and own real estates’ and Seevaratnam clearly had schemed to use the temple funds for this purpose. The bank statement of Sivayogam Ltd shows suspicious transactions. In addition to the £235,000 transferred from the Charity, there appears to be various other transactions confirming the company is not dormant. The dormant accounts for the year ended 31 July 2012 filed with the Companies House confirms Cash and Bank balance of £20,000 equivalent to the issued share capital. Even the monthly bank charges are not shown in the accounts filed with the Companies House.
Sivayogam Trust funds (Building Funds) transferred to family company of Seevaratnam:
Confirmation of Sivayogam Trust fund credited to the family company Sivayogam Ltd of Seevaratnam:
According to the staff of Sivayogam, Nagendram Seevaratnam was appealing for funds for his private company from the devotees of the temple. Notices were distributed appealing for donations for both Sivayogam Trust and his private Sivayogam Ltd.
Charity Trustees are required to abide by the conflict of interest policy and the engagement of a private limited company in which Seevaratnam and children are shareholders is clear breach of the policy.
Private, Limited by guarantee company Sivayogam (UK)
Sivayogam UK was formed on 4 February 2013 under company reference 08387033. This company started following difficulties experienced to transfer £100,000 from the charity funds to Sivayogam Ltd for the eventual benefit of Seevaratnam’s daughter Ambikai Seevaratnam.
The directors of Sivayogam UK and their occupation registered are Nagendram Seevaratnam (Company Director), Ambihai Seevaratnam (Civil Servant), Nimalan Seevaratnam (marketing Executive), Shanmugarajaj Ptanarajah (Accountant) and Swaminathan Shankar (Hindu Priest). Ambihai Seevaratnam is the Secretary.
The occupations disclosed confirm the holy swamy (who gives up material life) Nagendram Seevaratnam claiming the possessive title of Company Directorship and the unemployed playboy son Nimalan Seevaratnam declaring him as Marketing Executive - a title he has created when he is living on the siphoned off funds of the Charity. Ambihai Seevaratnam too has undermined her employment with the government Treasury by engaging in the unacceptable transactions.
The Statement of Guarantee of the Company exposes the deception of Seevaratnam family. Having established absolute control of management of the Company with the three Seevaratnams exercising the power, they have disowned the ultimate financial responsibilities by passing the risk to the two non-family members. In the event of winding up of the company, the two non-family members will be fully responsible for discharging the liabilities.
Interestingly, all the office holders and members have disclosed their address as 13b Ranelah Road, Wembley, Middlesex HA0 4TW- the address of the Sivayogam temple in Wembley. This is clearly another violation of the rules and the Companies Act.
The memorandum of Sivayogam UK extensively deals with conflict of interest but the trio have given scant regard to the provisions and systematically violated the very rules they have agreed to abide by.
Inland Revenue deceived on Gift Aid scandal
Gift Aid is a government scheme to help the charities to claim tax credits on donations received from tax payers at the prevailing basic tax rate, which is 20% at present.
This facility has been systematically violated by spurious (Arulmigu Swamy) Seevaratnam by fraudulently claiming amounts that are not donations. Sums paid for the performance of religious services at the temple (i.e., pooja income) have been used as donations and claimed tax relief. Income of the temple fraudulently converted into funds of Seevaratnam’s children, ex-wife, son in law and grandson and are said to be used to claim Gift Aid Relief.
In addition, there are questions to be answered on the payments siphoned off from the donation boxes as wages and illegal transfers to individuals overseas. £12,000 (net) pa was given to Nimalan Seevaratnam without declaring to the Revenue. In addition, Seevatanam too had dipped in to the finances of the charity for his own personal use. In addition to nicks from the Undiyal, the Swamy Seevaratnam pocketed some of the undisclosed sales income of the temple.
Jewelleries donated by the devotees too were not fully accounted for. At the peak of his ride on the finances of the Charity, Seevaratnam has publicly pulled out jewellery from his pockets and gifted to children(girls) at Arangetrams. He has also unashamedly presented jewelleries at wedding ceremonies.
His extravaganza was at a cost to the Sivayogam Charity. Since he settled in the UK, he only worked for wages for about two years with the London Borough of Ealing. How he was able to fund his outgoings including the repayment of mortgage of his property is not difficult find if he presents his means testing and the full yearly asset and liability statements since his arrival to the United Kingdom in 1987. He has a lot to answer, if the Revenue undertakes an investigation of him and his family members.
Seevaratnam is accused of targeting the vulnerable female and males attending the temple. His romantic indignation is common knowledge to those whom he is very well known. When he knows that he can have easy go at a person, he will endeavour to achieve his objectives. He is such a schemer that with is subdued and emotional voice, he will attempt to mesmerize the person for sexual advantage. If his soft approach does not work, he will become very aggressive and agitated.
Once, an unmarried Tamil woman attending Sri Muththumari Amman temple was relentlessly harassed to the extent of attempting to force his way into her home. The disgusted devotee stayed away from the temple thereafter to avoid him.
In another situation, he was dawdling with a twenty five year old Sinhalese woman in 2011. He was dishing out cash to her and permitted her free access to the temple even through the back door. In order to win the confidence, the woman too handed over her credit cards to Seevaratnam for safe keeping to prove her trust in him. Excited Seevaratnam was dishing out more cash as and when asked for. She was even appointed as trustee of Sivayogam. The woman suddenly disappeared from the scene. Unable to trace her, he went on to check her credit cards held by him. He got a shivering shock that the woman had duped her by giving him her expired credit cards.
According to his one time employee, Seevaratnam’s sex abuse with a male staff was investigated by the Metropolitan Police. He was held in custody for many hours and released. The victim who was on work permit lost his job and forced to return to India.
Seevaratnam’s son Nimalan too is of compatible behaviour of his father. In addition to his unemployment status, he is one who attempts to live on high grounds playing disparaging and foul acts. According to a close friend until ten years ago, he is a habitual curb crawler of red light districts of London and when visiting Tamil Nadu.
He is now an MP of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam and has no other preoccupation other than causing harm to the very TNGTE by engaging in activities beyond limits to harm the organisation.
Sri Lanka Guardian published ‘Foul play suspected in the death of wife’ detailing the cruelty experienced by his late wife Nivatha following her marriage to Nimalan.
He too has not paid a fair share of the tax to the state from the chunks of the money taken from the Sivagogam Charity. A simple means testing statement of his finances will confirm the scale of his deception since he arrived in the UK in 1987.
There is extensive internal documents and witness accounts exposing the diabolical conduct of Seevaratnam troika. The question remains to be answered as to why the various established British investigative mechanisms failed to deal with such blatant violations for such a long time. Nagaratnam Seevaratnam has brought untold pain and hurt to many victims and the Tamil cultural conditions too have helped the secrecy of the wanton violations to progress for a very long time.
One of the victim of Nagaratnam Seevaratnam said (name withheld) that ‘only until Seevaratnam’s conduct in fully investigated and justice provided, Tamils cannot see British justice system is working’.