New Year Wish List 2011

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

(December 31, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) We hope that wishing for a happy new year in Sri Lanka is not just mere wishful thinking.

We wish:

1. That Rizana Nafeek, facing a death sentence in Saudi Arabia, will be released as soon as possible. This wish can become true only if the Sri Lankan government makes all the diplomatic efforts to seek pardon from His Royal Highness, the King of Saudi Arabia, and the family of the deceased child. The coming months will be for her crucial months, deciding her fate either way. We also wish a better deal for all migrant workers who are engaged in mostly tedious and difficult jobs in the Middle East and other countries with inadequate pay and hardly any protection.

2. We also wish that all unnecessary deaths be brought to an end by decisive actions by the government to strengthen the rule of law. The mysterious deaths heard from Jaffna these days is an indication of social conditions in which the normal controls for the protection of people from murder has been lost. The protection of life is the primary obligation of the state and this involves also the maintenance and improvement of healthcare for all. To not the sacrifice the life of the poor in the name of development should be a primary concern for the government and the society.

3. The greatest happiness of the greatest number of Sri Lankan people depends on the abdication of the excessive powers of the Executive President and that his status as Head of State should bring him no more privilege than available to heads of states of democratic countries such as the United States, France and other democratic countries that have a presidential system. Excessive power destroys social order and brings the public institutions to nothing. Above all, the Executive Presidency as it exists now has devoured and undermined the very principle of the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers. Judicial power has been reduced to a marginal and an insignificant level. The protection of individuals and the competing social interests depend on the restoration of the power of the judiciary to the same standard of democratic countries that respect independence of judiciary and separations of powers.

4. Sri Lanka is a country of low income earners. As such, untold increases of the prices of essential goods and essential services brings unhappiness for most of the families in Sri Lanka. Preventing such unhappiness should be a primary concern of the government and of all political parties.

5. Freedom and happiness always go together. The ordinary freedoms that people in democratic countries enjoy in participating in all social life, including political life, and the freedoms of the media and of publications, are essential to maintaining happiness within society. It is to be hoped that the government will not disturb such happiness and that all those who are deprived of freedoms, except due to legitimate reasons acceptable to a democratic society, be freed immediately. We hope that illegal arrest, illegal detention, unjust deprivation of bail and deprivation of fair trial will not be allowed to continue to disturb the happiness of the Sri Lankan people.

6. Torture practiced in all police stations everyday is a cause of unhappiness to many people throughout the country. Such practice of torture also creates intimidation and fear in a society. Fear destroys happiness. Every attempt must be made to end the indiscipline of the Sri Lankan policing system and the major illness of this system, which is known as politicization.

7. The happiness of children is the test of the happiness of any society. Providing adequate facilities for the education of all children should remain a primary goal of governance and also of development.

We hope the New Year will be a happier one than the years that have passed by. The war has ended but happiness has not returned to the people. We particularly express our concern for people in the north and east who have faced the brunt of all the difficulties of war and its aftermath. We also remember the displaced persons and all the persons who have been deprived of the protection of law.

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Out Lickspittle Press

Doorkeepers to the House of Lies
President Barack Obama pauses as he golfs with friends at Mid-Pacific County Club in Kailua, Hawaii, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010.
by Paul Craig Roberts

(December 31, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Anyone who doesn’t believe that the US is an incipient fascist state needs only to consult the latest assault on civil liberty by Fox News (sic). Instead of informing citizens, Fox News informs on citizens. Jason Ditz reports on that Fox News “no longer content to simply shill for a growing police state,” turned in a grandmother to the Department of Homeland Security for making “anti-American comments.”

The media have segued into the police attitude, which regards insistence on civil liberties and references to the Constitution as signs of extremism, especially when the Constitution is invoked in defense of dissent or privacy or placarded on a bumper sticker. President George W. Bush set the scene when he declared: “you are with us or against us.”

Bush’s words demonstrate a frightening decline in our government’s respect for dissent since the presidency of John F. Kennedy. In a speech to the Newspaper Publishers Association in 1961, President Kennedy said:

“No president should fear public scrutiny of his program, for from that scrutiny comes understanding, and from that understanding comes support or opposition; and both are necessary. . . . Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed, and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian law makers once decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment.”

The press is not protected, Kennedy told the newspaper publishers, in order that it can amuse and entertain, emphasize the trivial, or simply tell the public what it wants to hear. The press is protected so that it can find and report facts and, thus, inform, arouse “and sometimes even anger public opinion.”

In a statement unlikely to be repeated by an American president, Kennedy told the newspaper publishers: “I’m not asking your newspapers to support an administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people, for I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.” The America of Kennedy’s day and the America of today are two different worlds. In America today the media are expected to lie for the government in order to prevent the people from finding out what the government is up to.

If polls can be believed, Americans brainwashed and programmed by O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh want Bradley Manning and Julian Assange torn limb from limb for informing Americans of the criminal acts of their government. Politicians and journalists are screeching for their execution.

President Kennedy told the Newspaper Publishers Association that “it is to the printing press, the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news, that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: Free and Independent.” Who can imagine a Bill Clinton, a George W. Bush, or a Barack Obama saying such a thing today?

Today the press is a propaganda ministry for the government. Any member who departs from his duty to lie and spin the news is expelled from the fraternity. A public increasingly unemployed, broke and homeless is told that they have vast enemies plotting to destroy them in the absence of annual trillion dollar expenditures for the military/security complex, wars lasting decades, no-fly lists, unlimited spying and collecting of dossiers on citizens supplemented by neighbors reporting on neighbors, full body scanners at airports, shopping centers, metro and train stations, traffic checks, and the equivalence of treason with the uttering of a truth.

Two years ago when he came into office President Obama admitted that no one knew what the military mission was in Afghanistan, including the president himself, but that he would find a mission and define it. On his recent trip to Afghanistan, Obama came up with the mission: to make the families of the troops safe in America, his version of Bush’s “we have to kill them over there before they kill us over here.”

No one snorted with derision or even mildly giggled. Neither the New York Times nor Fox News dared to wonder if perhaps, maybe, murdering and displacing large numbers of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen and US support for Israel’s similar treatment of Lebanese and Palestinians might be creating a hostile environment that could breed terrorists. If there still is such a thing as the Newspaper Publishers Association, its members are incapable of such an unpatriotic thought.

Today no one believes that our country’s success depends on an informed public and a free press. America’s success depends on its financial and military hegemony over the world. Any information inconsistent with the indispensable people’s god-given right to dominate the world must be suppressed and the messenger discredited and destroyed.

Now that the press has voluntarily shed its First Amendment rights, the government is working to redefine free speech as a privilege limited to the media, not a right of citizens. Thus, the insistence that WikiLeaks is not a media organization and Fox News turning in a citizen for exercising free speech. Washington’s assault on Assange and WikiLeaks is an assault on what remains of the US Constitution. When we cheer for WikiLeaks’ demise, we are cheering for our own.

[Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He can be reached at: ]

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LLRC: Can reconciliation be achieved through a veil of secrecy?

by Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon

(December 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Centre for Human rights (CHR) strongly criticizes preventing journalists from covering the LLRC session in the Boossa Detention Centre today (December, 30, 2010.) the LLRC was to meet around 100 hardcore LTTE cadres detained in the camp.

The LLRC has the ultimate responsibility to make their actions transparent and accountable. It is widely accepted that openness of the process and the accessibility to information is important in achieving reconciliation since it clears away misunderstandings and prejudices. Therefore CHR feels that preventing independent journalists covering LLRC sessions and dousing the voice of a segment of the stakeholders is counter-productive in achieving the professed goal of reconciliation.

It is evident that transparency and accessibility is vital in bridging the gap which has been created between communities during the 30 year old civil war. And as a powerful commission appointed by the President it has the power and ability to assure transparency and accessibility.

Hundreds of suspected LLTE cadres are detained in the Boossa Detention Centre. During the LLRC sessions in Jaffna and Trincomalee it was clear that addressing the issue of detainees is vital in achieving reconciliation. We believe that the session in Boossa was one of the most pivotal and the most sensitive LLRC sitting because the Commission will have the chance to meet a group of young men who have believed in an army struggle, listen to what they have learnt and what they suggest to achieve reconciliation.

Journalists from the BBC, LAKBIMAnEWS, Thinakural, Weerakesari, Reuters and Tamil Mirror arrived at Boossa Detention Centre with the approval of Media Centre for National security (MCNS) Director Lakshman Hulugalle. MCNS Director had assured several journalists on December, 29 that they will be allowed to cover the session however at the last minuet the journalists were informed they cannot enter the Centre without Ministry of Defense (MoD) clearance. After waiting for nearly three hours and numerous phone calls to Hulugalle, LLRC Secretary and the TID the journalists returned to Colombo. For the first time a LLRC session was closed to media and in a few days various rumours on what transpired will start circulating.

CHR would reiterate that transparency and accessibility are pivotal in achieving reconciliation and that the LLRC is responsible for ensuring that. We hope that this would be the last time that the doors of the LLRC would be closed to the media.

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A statement from the son of a White Flag victim Mr. Nadesan

Media have received several testimonies from family members of those killed, including those who were killed while crossing into the Sri Lankan government held territory with white flags.

(December 30, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) A statement from the son of a White Flag victim Mr. Nadesan. Mr. Nadesan was the head of the political wing of the LTTE. and A statement from the wife of Col Ramesh. Col Ramesh was recently shown on Channel 4. In that video statement he was seen being interrogated by the Sri Lankan security forces in an undisclosed location. The Government now claims that he has been killed.

A statement from the son of a White Flag victim Mr. Nadesan. Mr. Nadesan was the head of the political section of the LTTE. His son’s statement:

Q: What is your name?
A: Prabath Suresh Mahendran.

Q: How are you related to Mr Mahindran Balasingham (Alias LTTE Nadasen).
A: Son of MR&Mrs Mahindran Balasingham

Q: When did you speak to him last?
A: 18th May 2009 at around 2am UK time (45 mins before he surrounded)I spoke to My dad, and rest of the family

Q: What did he say?
A: Dad said that he has spoken to diplomats, and that they advised him to go with a white flag and surrender to the Sri Lankan Army, but he said that he didn’t believe that him or anyone with him will be safe. He also said that there are more than 1000 wounded carders and families with him, because of them he had to go and surrender. He also said that he couldn’t contact Pirabaharan (LTTE leader) for any instructions. He said that mum and rest of the family were with him along Pulithevan. He said “If I don’t get back to you within half an hour, please assume that we are not safe.

Q: What do you think happened?
A: Sri Lankan army executed him.

Q: Why do you think so?
A: Because he was unarmed, and the people he was with were political wounded carders and families. I have had information from people who have seen my dad,mum and pulithevan and others being taken by the army. If needed I can give the details of those people, provided that UN panel gives them a witness protection scheme as they are still living in Sri Lanka.
In the last days, his main concern was the safety of the others, and he was always thinking and acting in the best interest of the people around him. Because he was the one who was in charge of the wounded and political persons and everyone wanted to get medical care for the wounded.

Q: What do you want from UN?
A: Independent enquiry into my family’s death and to bring the perpetrators to justice

A statement from the wife of Col Ramesh. Col Ramesh was recently shown in Channel 4. In that video he was seen interrogated by the Sri Lankan security forces in an undisclosed location. The Government now claims that he has been killed.

Col Ramesh's wife 's statement.

My name is Vathsala Devi I have three children. The eldest is a daughter 11 years called Meliha. The second is a son called Prathban nine years old. The third one is a girl four and a half years old. My husband is called Thurairajasingham born 1964 Sept 18th. He got involved with the LTTE in 1984. He was given a higher post in the organisation. The name he was given by the LTTE is Ramesh. He was given the position of Cornel. We were living in the open, because the war had escalated and the territory we lived was under the occupation by the SLA (Srilankan army). As the army was occupying our land we had to leave. I was a bit poorly and evacuated along with other civilians along with my three children. We left on 28th April. I was forced to live in various places due to the conflict for nearly one month. I was in contact with my husband all the time.

Q: Which year did you leave?
A: 2008 April 28th we left to Batticola in East. I had contact with my husband, but however the authorities got to know that Cornel Ramesh’s family have left the zone (escaped). We couldn’t stay there anymore and therefore left to South Africa. My Husband last spoke to me on 15th May 2008 in last time.

Q: 2008? 2009?
A: Yes 2009. My husband spoke to me on 15th May 2009 (Which was the last time) he said that the authorities have got to know that we have escaped and to leave the country in possible way. He also said that he will join us some time in the future. We will have to full fill our duties and will join you soon. Here may be a period of silence or quietness from our side, but we will be in touch after that period of silence. However, I have not heard or received any information in the last one and a half years. I hear and believe that my husband is still alive and that the UN is too aware of this episode by the leaked video. At the same time I am living with my three children here. It is also certain and proof that the SLA arrested him which is evident via the video. What I’m asking the UN is; that I am living with my three children here, and my request is to get my husband freed from prison and also away from Sri Lanka.

Q: Do you think that your husband is still alive in captivity by the SLA?
A: I’m not sure if he is alive, but the CD (Video) which is definite proof that he was captured alive. I’m not sure how old this Video is but the SLA should know that he is in captivity and is still alive. I hope and pray that my husband is still alive. SLA will have to inform me of my husbands’ whereabouts. The UN must intervene and urge the SLA to submit reports of my husbands’ situation. UN must investigate. My husband has been arrested for such a long time without any communication what so ever. We are living in suspense and in horror over my husbands’ safety. The UN must get a reply from the SLA. I have the right to know if my husband is still alive or not. If my husband is alive I demand that the UN gets him released and also get him out of Sri Lanka. People are telling different stories and I need to know the truth.

Q: If the SLG (Sri Lankan Government) says that he was killed in battle, what are your thoughts?
A: If my husband was killed in battle we would have got to know. When I was there, there were news reports that my husband was killed, but no corpse was shown, therefore I didn’t believe that. Now I am aware and have proof that my husband was arrested by the SLA thanks to the leaked video. This video is which is circulating shows my husbands’ surrender, therefore he didn’t die in battle. He was captured alive.

Q: So if he is dead, do you believe that the SLA killed him and there is reasonable evidence that this is war crime?
A: I agree fully. If a prisoner dies in custody then it is a matter for the UN to investigate.

Q: If your husband is alive, you will want him released and if he is dead, you demand a war-crimes investigation, is it right to assume so?
A: Yes of course. The SLA did arrest him and it is evident in the video, so I need to know what happened to him. What happened during investigations etc. The SLA had arrested him and remanded so it is their responsibility to explain. There is proof for his arrest and if anything has happened to him then the UN should investigate over his death. It is a war crime if my husband is no longer alive.

Q: We hope that the UN will investigate and hope they will be in touch with you. This may not be the only crime there are many others that the SLG, which is answerable. Do you give your consent for the UN authorities to contact you in the event of any further investigation into your husbands’ well-being?
A: Surely. I am ready to answer any questions in regards to my husband and willing to testify at anytime to save my husbands’ life.

Q: Thank you for this interview and we will do our best and hope the UN will take your husbands’ case seriously and do all it can to release him
A: Sorry to interrupt I want the UN to intervene into my husbands’ whereabouts and let me know immediately as a matter of urgency and get back to me ASAP.

I sincerely hope your request will be met by the UN and that you will hear soon from UN. Thank you. Mrs. Vathsala Devi

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Text of Norwegian letter to Prabhakaran follows

[December 30, London, Sri Lanka Guardian] 

"Letter from Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs
"To Mr. Velupillai Prabhakaran, Leader, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam:
16 August 2005
"Dear Mr. Prabhakaran

"As I am sure you realize, the peace process is now in a critical situation. The killings and counter-killings over the last few months have been watched with mounting concern by Norway and the international community. Along with the continued recruitment of children to the LTTE, this has created distrust about the LTTE´s intentions as regards the peace process.

"The assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has exacerbated the situation. It is not up to Norway to draw conclusions about the criminal investigations now under way in Colombo, or on any other judicial matter in relation with the killings. However, public perception both in Sri Lanka and internationally is that the LTTE is responsible. This public perception is a political reality.

The LTTE needs to respond to this situation in a way that demonstrates continued commitment to the peace process.

"I see it as my obligation to make clear to you the political choice now facing the LTTE. If the LTTE does not take a positive step forward at this critical juncture, the international reaction could be severe.

"Against this backdrop I would ask you urgently to consider the following steps:

"1. To accept the Norwegian Government´s invitation to participate in a review of the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement in order to find practical ways of ensuring full compliance by both parties.

"2. To establish direct communications between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army in the east, in order to improve security.

"3. To accept without delay the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission proposal for transportation of LTTE cadres.

"4. To collaborate in a practical way with government initiatives to speed up reconstruction in the north and east. The LTTE´s continued commitment to the P-TOMS agreement is vital in this regard.

"5. To take effective steps to halt killings and to cease the recruitment of underage combatants.

"I trust that you appreciate the gravity of the present situation and will take steps to demonstrate to the international community that the LTTE is committed to the peace process.

"Yours sincerely,
"Jan Petersen

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Nallur Kanthaswamy temple

by A. Theva Rajan

(December 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The article in the daily newspaper based in Colombo has suggests that the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple was built by Senpaka Peruumal (corrupted as Sapu Mal Kumaraya in Sinhala) of Keralam descent, and an adopted son of Parakrama Bahu VI of Kotte. (Sinhala name of Senpaka Poo is Sapu Mal)According to Chinese records, Parakrama Bahu was of Chola descent as much as his predecessor Bhuvaneka Bahu VI.. Kotte collapsed after the strong rule of Parakrama Bahu VI.

After the capture of the Jaffna Kingdom, Parakrama Bahu VI appointed Senapaka Perumal as his Yuwaraj or resident representative in Nallur. After the death of Parakrama Bahu VI Senapaka Perumal had to return to Kotte and Jaffna Kingdom became independent again. Kotte became chaos and Senpaka Perumal assumed kingship sporting the Royal Title Bhuvaneka Bahu VII but his reign was short lived.

Before going further, it is essential to know the connotation of the word Nallur in Tamil tradition. It connotes an area surrounded by Temples. As well explained by Prof. S. Krishnarajah in his book “Archaeology and the cultural antiquity of the Tamils of Jaffna” Nallur is surrounded by temples. Nallur has Saddanathar Temple in the North, Veyil Ukantha Pillaiyar Temple in the East, Veeramakali Amman Temple in the West and Kailaya Pillaiyar Temple in the South. It is further strengthened by an inscription found on a stone slab recovered from the pond in the Nayanmarkaddu Pillaiyar Temple that is close to Nallur. It says that the King Singai Aryan’s palace was in the midst of the four temples mentioned by Krishnarajah. Aryan only means the cultured . Indian scientists have recently dismissed the popular theory of Aryan and Dravidian races as myth.

Besides this Nallur, there are two other Nallurs in Sri Lanka (and aplenty in Tamil Nadu.)– one in mainland Jaffna near Poonagari and another in Panadura. Prof. P.Pushparatnam has identified the ruins of a Sivan temple bearing testimony of Chola the Nallur in mainland Jaffna. There is an old Skanda (Kanthaswamy) temple in the Nallur in Panadura. Even Panadura is a Tamil name. It means the Port of the Panars. Panars are traditional musicians still found in Keralam. Sangam literature abounds with references to the Panars. The high Priest of this temple was killed in the 1958 pogrom when mobs put him alive into a barrel of boiling tar. Even recently some vandals have stolen temple properties from this temple.

As resident representative of King Parakrama Bahu VI of Kotte and thereafter as short term King of Kotte Senpaka Perumal (Sapu Mal Kumaraya}, he supported the religion of the people –Saivism.. That is what all rulers did in those glorious days of the royal dynasties. , Duta Gamani, Vijaya Bahu I, Parakrama Bahu I and Parakrama Bahu VI the most celebrated kings besides many other kings of yonder years did much for Hindu Temples..

There are only two recorded incidents when Kings were intolerant towards Hinduism or Buddhism during pre-independence period. Mahasena (274-301 AD) destroyed the
Sivan Temple in Trincomalie (Koneswaram) and Rajasinha I destroyed Buddhist temples.

During the reign of Parakrama Bahu VI there were three separate huge temples for Lord Siva,. Skanda or Murugan and Vishnu or Nedumal. The area where the temple of Vishnu or Nedumal was, is today called Nedimale, in Dehiwala and the Vishnu temple has been renovated. The glory of the Sivan temple is attested to by the great Sinhala literati Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thero in one of his famous Sandesa Kavyas, the Selalihini Sandesaya.. The remnants of this temple, now called by locals as Gona Bendi Dewale is still in Ratmalana.. A pillar of the huge Skanda / Murugan temple with Tamil inscription about the endowments made to the temple by the King, that was at the National Museum, today supports the first culvert on the Colombo – Kandy Road – the fate of artifacts of Tamil / Hindu significance recovered from archaeology – unalloyed vandalism.. A vandal in the early eighties of the last century removed the decree issued by King Dutagamani near the tomb of King Elara which even the colonial masters did not dare to touch. It is therefore not strange that Senpaka Perumal patronized the Nallur temple.

The kattiyam recited during festival poojas runs thus –

Gajavalli Mahavalli sameta Subramanya paataaravinta janaatiroota Sotasa Mahadaana - Surriyavamsotbhava Sri Sangabodhi Bhuvaneka Bahu …….
Here, Gajavalli and Mahavalli refer to Devasena and Valli, the consorts of Lord Subramaya (Skanda / Murugan). It is a salutation to the King for his services to the temple. It does not mean that Bhuvaneka Bahu VII built the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple.

We have evidence of the existence of this temple during the Chola period. There is an oral tradition in Jaffna which claims that the Portuguese in 1620 after destroying the Fort in Nallur and the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple used the material found there – the stones, pillars and bricks to build the Fort near the Esplanade in Jaffna and some houses in (Paranki Theru) what is now the Main Street area. In a book published in 1915, A.Mootathambi Pillai, a scholar, lexicographer and historian has referred to this.

Prof. K.Indrapala in 1969 in his search for epigraphs in Jaffna stumbled on a limestone built into the floor of what then was Central Café on the Jaffna Main Street (Periya Kadai). From what was available on the stone, all that could b gathered is that that epigraph was caused to be inscribed by Parakrama Bahu VI. (1412-1467). Indrapala quotes from Mootathambi Pillai –

“Later, the Portuguese destroyed the Nallur Fort as well and with those stones (from the fort) they built several houses and mansions on Paranki Street (modern Main Street).
Of these stones from the fort, some stone inscriptions have been built in as steps in some
of the old houses on Paranki street and some have been built into the rampart of the (Jaffna) Fort. Of these, the one at Pajananantar’s house is notable.” (Epigraphia Tamilica, K.Indrapala, June 1971, p.30)

Indrapala taking the clue from here went to the Jaffna Fort and examined the rampart for any old stones with inscriptions. This is what he says :

“ .. and discovered a pillar inscription of the time of Rajendra Cola I and another record. The latter is inscribed on a stone brick which is built into the outer rampart of the fort and could only be partially seen. It appears to be written in Grantha characters of about the tenth century.” Indrapala, p 30

Having examined the text he says :

“Although the inscription on the face B is badly preserved, the few words that could be deciphered indicate that the purport of the inscription was to register the grant of some live stock , probably to a temple.

The portion of the inscription giving the name of the institution receiving the gift and its location is very illegible, partly because of the lime plaster covering it. The final part of the name of a village, evidently the place of the receiving institution, can be seen faintly in line 12 of Face B. It is possible to read this part as – nallur. If this reading were correct, we may find here .the earliest reference to the medieval city of Nallur.
This record was in all probability set up in a Hindu temple”.(Indrapala, op. cit. p.53) Queyroz in his historic work The Temporal and Spiritual conquest of Ceylon, says the Portugues forces led by Philipe de Oliveyra moved to Nallur on 2 February 1620 and razed the large Pagoda to the ground. Here Pagoda is a common term they have been using to denote Temples. Here it obviously means the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple.

The inscription found in the Jaffna Fort was caused to be indited by the Chola King Rajendra I.. His reign was in the eleventh century and this inscription is dated between 1018 and 1022 by Indrapala. It is also clear that during their expedition into Ceylon, the Cholas brought the Tamil Kingdom also under their suzerainty. It is further very clear the huge temple of Nallur Kanthaswamy existed with magnificent glory in the eleventh century and was probably built by the Arya Cakkaravartis. However, one thing is clear. It was not built by Senpaka Perumal alias Buvaneka Bahu VII though he patronised the temple.
The text of the Jaffna Fort inscription (Face B) runs thus – (transliteration)-

The illustrious Lord Rajendra Cola Tevar ……..I…an Cattan,
…of…(granted) ten{?}….,that neither die nor age , for (obtaining)…. Ghee….,….till the sun and moon last, …..for …. Lamp….set up….(at)…nallur,……(in) Ilam alias mum….”

When the Jaffna Fort was destroyed during the war this particular inscription was retrieved and cleaned and the place name Nallur was clearly identified in line 12 of Face B of the inscription. Prof. S. Krishnarajah has published this cleaned up inscription in his book “Archaeology and the cultural antiquity of the Tamils of Jaffna” at p 110. and is given below..

The text of the Jaffna Fort inscription (Face B) runs thus – (transliteration)-

The illustrious Lord Rajendra Cola Tevar ……..I…an Cattan, …of…(granted) ten{?}….,that neither die nor age , for (obtaining)…. Ghee….,….till the sun and moon last, …..for …. Lamp….set up….(at)…nallur,……(in) Ilam alias mum….”

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Happy Christmas & New Year Umbatai Mattai

"  A great war leaves the country with three armies: An army of mourners, army of cripples and an army of criminals."
 by Gamini Weerakoon

(December 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A happy Christmas and a merry new year it will be for those in the magic circle who will be driven to plush hotels in their brand new ‘chariots’ bought recently at around Rs. 15 million or more – duty free. They will dance till dawn to eat kiribath and lunumiris and wash it down with champagne – Dom Perignon preferably.

They are doing this for their country. (An Economics expert says: There was no financial liquidity and money was not flowing into the Treasury, so import taxes on luxury vehicles were reduced and black money flowed in). Not to be discouraged, there will be millions of others who too will be dancing the jig at home with a bottle of arrack bought on tick; who too will be tucking into kiribath and lunumiris at dawn. That’s new year, that’s life.

Wait for nuts to fall

There will be those — you know who — who will be wondering whether coconuts will arrive from Kerala and chicken from Chennai at affordable prices as promised by the Johnny Come Lately to the cabinet. But they cannot be too sure about it after the Brazilian chicken having seemingly chickened out on the way and Bombay onions from Mumbai being a non starter with Indians pelting rotten onions at their leaders last week, the price of onions having doubled.

Now we are told that onions will come from Pakistan even though it was said that there is not a bean left in the country after the worst floods experienced in living memory. Will Lankans have to await coconuts to fall from their tree in the front garden to have a substantial pol sambol for New Year or their chicks to cock-a-doodle-do early morning? Only 2011 will tell. Anyway, by the time these ‘essential goods arrive’, Christmas and New Year will be well over. New year is for optimists. Without being pessimists, let’s be realists and look at the past year, the year of great hope as some envisaged.

The past year

2010 was anticipated to be the year of resurrection for the ‘Resplendent Isle’. The year commenced seven months after the near 30 year conflict ended. It was time for rehabilitation, reconstruction and reinvigoration of the nation it was said. It was also time for the Rajapaksas and their cronies to reinstall themselves. And all credit to them, that’s what they did very well.

When the war is over

For many years the answer to all the fervent appeals of citizens to the powers that be was: “Wait till the war is over.” It has been over for one year and nine months, but the happy promised lands we are yet to see. It will be milk and honey once the war is over we thought. Hambantota way has been the traditional source of milk and honey. Milk and honey is still there but this time there are Chinese as well, we are told. Sri Lanka’s problem is that we did not have a war for generations and we don’t know what war is about. Those who have warred know it well, such as the Germans.

A German proverb says: A great war leaves the country with three armies: An army of mourners, army of cripples and an army of criminals. Needless to say we have all such armies and not much milk and honey. Now let’s consider what we did since we won the great historic war? True, around 300,000 internally displaced persons were settled, although whether the settled like the environment they were settled in or not, we do not know. The ‘international’ focus was on these unfortunate people and action had to be taken.

We’ve been celebrating

What else did we do? After Prabhakaran fell somewhere near Mullaitivu in May 2009, our leaders went on an orgy of kiributh gobbling, with kavum and kokis eating , dancing on the streets and lighting crackers to celebrate ‘the great historic victory’ till ‘the great and historic presidential election victory’ came in January 27. After that, we celebrated ‘the great historic victory’ of the Rajapaksa party at the polls in April this year. After that, we bought over the UNP stooges and since then we have been celebrating these four fold victories at any given occasion. Yes, we have been celebrating and the end of celebrations is not in sight.

Teaching Western powers lessons

In international relations, we have been attempting to teach Ban Ki Moon, Barack Obama and other western leaders lessons on how to deal with a powerful country like Sri Lanka. ‘Never ever say this country is small’. Who said that? No prizes are offered. Ban Ki Moon’s boys are now coming here to learn lessons from the Lessons Learnt Commission. We have been kowtowing to New Delhi whenever a political or bureaucratic Brahmin sneezed. India, we say is our great friend and continue to strengthen ties with Pakistan. ‘China and India are our friends’ we shout from the roof tops. China has certainly been our friend but what of Mother India?

Last week as we were penning these comments, we read a report of India’s crown prince Rahul Gandhi saying: Sri Lanka is not doing enough for Tamils and he would ensure that justice is done. These comments took our memory back to a few days before Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president for the second time. He told a press conference of foreign correspondents: War does not mean the end of the conflict. We need to politically address the needs of Tamils.

That is what the western nations are telling us and we are furious about that. The Oxford fiasco and Liam Fox foxing out of a visit to Sri Lanka are our latest achievements in foreign relations. That’s all folks for the Old Year. We send our humble greetings in ‘bi- lingual’ for 2011 by email not being able to afford glossy, beautiful cards as big as calendars. Our regrets for the rhyming and the inelegant expressions. It’s the thought that matters.

Happy Christmas and New Year Umbatai Mattai

And of course the maha raja pavulatai
Ring the bells and tell the pee…ple
They are as dumb as the beasts in the
The year before we won the glorious victory
This year we jailed the hero who made history
Promises not kept are like are kisses wasted
They are like kisses hardly tasted
Abolish the Exec Presidency they pledged each year
Now it will go on from year to year, for ever
I will not abandon you, we every day we hear
But what can we do but to say: Hear! hear! hear!
This Christmas will be merry have you heard,
Coconuts from Kerala,
Chicken from Brazil,
Bombay onions from Mumbai…..
O Come all ye faithful
Come and have a plateful
But there won’t be a glass full
‘Cos of Mathata Titha (full stop to booze)
The spirit of a spiritless nation

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Need to restore public confidence in CBI

"  What is even more disturbing is the seeming indifference of the Government to public criticism of the functioning of the CBI in relation to these and other cases. There has been no attempt on the part of the Government to take the CBI to task for the way it has handled these cases and to convince the public that it has tightened up the monitoring of the work of the CBI."

by B.Raman

(December 30, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Public confidence in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had gone up in the wake of the successful investigation and prosecution of the cases relating to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 and the Mumbai blasts of March 1993, has taken a series of beatings during 2010. The Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh has been watching helplessly as the CBI is coming to be viewed increasingly by growing sections of public opinion as a highly unprofessional and politicized agency with neither the will nor the capability to improve the quality of the investigation and prosecution of the cases entrusted to it.

2. The intriguingly belated response of the CBI to the investigation of the major corruption cases of 2010 entrusted to it has rightly or wrongly created an impression in the minds of the public that instead of guarding its reputation as the leading investigation agency of the country, it has let itself become the leading cover-up agency. Neither the senior officials of the agency nor the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat have come out with a convincing explanation as to why the CBI moved and continues to move with disturbing slowness in taking the necessary investigative steps such as raids of the houses and offices of the suspects, freezing of their bank accounts and their interrogation in the cases relating to alleged corruption in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games and the handling of the 2G spectrum by A.Raja, former Minister for Telecommunications. The public cannot be blamed if it concludes that the CBI’s objective seems to be not to find out the truth, but to cover up the truth for a sufficiently long time till public memory and outrage over the extent of corruption dissipates.

3. One saw during 2010 surprising instance of selective leaks to certain sections of the media of some of the tapped telephone conversations of Niira Radia, the lobbyist. Those sections of the tapes which would have contained evidence of criminal wrong-doing have been carefully protected from leakage to the media, but certain sections which had no evidence of criminal wrong-doing, but merely contained material tending to damage the personal reputation of certain eminent persons were leaked to the media by unidentified elements with a suspect motive.

4. Though the tapping was reportedly authorized at the request of agencies dealing with tax evasion and money-laundering, the CBI most probably had an interest in the tapping in connection with its investigations. It had an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the intercepts in order to protect the right to privacy of innocent persons. By failing to meet this obligation, the CBI and other agencies involved have let their reputation for professionalism be damaged.

5.The end of the year saw yet another blow to the reputation of the CBI when it moved the Ghaziabad Special Court on December 29 for permission to close the case relating to the alleged murder, under mysterious circumstances, of Aarushi, the 14-year-old daughter of Rajesh Talwar and Nupur, a dentist couple living in Noida near Delhi on May 16,2008.

6. The case was initially mishandled by the UP Police. It was handed over to the CBI on June 1,2008. Public expectation that the CBI, being a reputed professional agency with better capabilities and investigating skills than the UP Police, would unravel the mystery behind the murder and identify, arrest and prosecute the culprits has been belied. The CBI has moved for the closure of the investigation on the ground that it has not been able to make any headway in the investigation and there are no prospects of its making any headway in the future even if it continued with the investigation.

7. The murder of Aarushi and the subsequent death under mysterious circumstances of a domestic assistant of her parents had shocked the public. The public was equally shocked by the wildly contradictory accounts of the investigation by the Police and the CBI that were leaked out to the media without any regard to the reputation of Aarushi. The allegations, if true, made by her parents that they were not kept informed by the CBI of its decision to move for the closure of the investigation has shown shocking insensitivity on the part of the CBI.

8. The lethargic handling of the cases relating to corruption has created strong suspicions in the minds of the public that the CBI’s investigation has been influenced by political considerations. If true, this indicates a politicization of the agency to a degree unsuspected till now. The CBI’s apparent cluelessness in the Aarushi case speak of a worrisome deterioration in the investigation skills of the agency and in the quality of the supervision over its work.

9. What is even more disturbing is the seeming indifference of the Government to public criticism of the functioning of the CBI in relation to these and other cases. There has been no attempt on the part of the Government to take the CBI to task for the way it has handled these cases and to convince the public that it has tightened up the monitoring of the work of the CBI.

10. The CBI has come under criticism from time to time since the days of the State of Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi Government in 1975. The enquiries ordered by the Morarji Desai Government after it came to office in 1977 brought out many instances of serious misdeeds by the CBI during the Emergency. The CBI’s performance again came in for strong criticism during the enquiry into the Bofors scandal in the 1980s. There were allegations even then as there are now that the CBI acts not as an investigating agency, but as a cover-up agency doing the bidding of the party in power.

11. These criticisms have not led to a comprehensive enquiry into the functioning of the CBI either by a group of eminent professionals with untarnished reputation or by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. The CBI reportedly submits every year a report on its work during the year. These reports hardly figure in debates either in the public or in the Parliament.

12.The Chinese Government has issued a White Paper----the first of its kind—on December 29 on corruption in China and how the Government has been dealing with the problem. Even in an authoritarian country like China, the Government has felt the need for convincing the public that it is aware of their concerns over corruption and that it is alive to the need for dealing with the problem in a manner that brings satisfaction to the people.

13. Despite India being a democracy with its Government supposedly being accountable to the people, the Government has shown a shocking lack of concern over public criticism of the functioning of the CBI and over evidence of a general institutional decay which has permitted corruption to thrive. Public opinion should force the Government to institute a comprehensive enquiry into the functioning of the CBI and initiate measures to restore its image in the eyes of the public. The indifference of the Government to the institutional decay should not be tolerated by the public.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

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What can the Tamils do in Sri Lanka?

by Subramaniam Masilamany

(December 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Well, we made terrible mistakes, We never trusted each other, stayed divided and furthered our selfish goals.We have this sea sickness syndrome. We were crabs that pull each other down and fish that does not know the importance of community. A fish will only discover water last but too late. But the good news is we can come back.

We have to go back and rebuild, we assume our family like a nation and our home and land as our country. Become self sufficient in our own way, stay away from any form of governance. World powers are slow to respond and act. India and China of no help. Civilization has gone back to nature, might is right, and subjects are not armed with sticks and stones but with barrels and bombs. What can an ordinary Tamil person who prostituted his community do? Yes you did. No diseass can invade if the immune system is strong, barbarians are like a disease and they invade when the social immune system is weak. We had weak social immune system.

What can we do now, at this very moment? ordinary peace loving people killed in cold blood, they are not terrorists, so why then they are killed. No reason is given, No reason will be given. That is Mahinda Rajapaks'a rule, it looks more like a criminal's rule.

What can ordinary Tamil civilian do? You have to be Pro-active, Precautionary, Prudent, Pragmatic, Patient, Peaceful etc. Beacuse the enemy is bellgerent, stubbron, non reasoning and violent. The enemy has no remorse. As much as possible stay away from the mindless thugs roamning the streets, they are the proxies of the President.The President is the head of state terror cartel funded by India and China. So you have a formidable enemy. You are numerically and financially too weak. But you will come back.

Then as I told you earlier we are responsible for our own plight. We are divided, poorly of course united, selfishly motivated, sense of community is hard find. It is our rush to fame and fortune that we prostituted our future, that is our own children! But the enemy is intoxicated with Fanaticism, Racism, Barbarism. His mind is dull and no better than a donkey.

But stay firm and steadfast, beleive in yourself and in divine faith. Prayers never go unanswered. You can disarm any enemy with faith in the almighty. Do that daily and clean up your mind. What else can you do, but Jews and the American Africans over came their troubles, we shall too, what we need is faith that will move the mountain.

But I beg to some Tamils please as Jesus said "You were born to do good, if you cannot please do no harm". Some of you, can you please do no harm to your brother?

We also must pray for the enemy's proxies, they are misguided and they have no food, no bread, no eggs, no coconut, but they are given plenty of arms and amuunition. How?. When their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters have to resort to the oldest profession to make a living in the streets of colombo and the mansion of the middle east what can the children do? They become crooks and criminals, they have no one look upon to other than a terror king. He is their role model!

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lsrael ex-president guilty of rape

Moshe Katsav is found guilty of rape and other sexual offences by Israeli court.

(December 30, Jerusalem, Sri Lanka Guardian)  An Israeli court found Moshe Katsav, the country’s former president, guilty of rape and other offenses in a conviction of unprecedented gravity for a former head of state.

"Katsav's testimony was riddled with lies," the three-judge panel said in its ruling. "When a woman says no, she means no."

Katsav, president from 2000 to 2007, had denied the charges of rape, molestation or harassment lodged by three ex-aides.

But the judge found him guilty of two counts of rape against one woman, and of molesting two others.

The graphic allegations from his secretary when he was tourism minister in the late 1990s, of Katsav the rapist, his "monstrous" and "split personality" and subjecting her to "terror" shocked the Israeli public.

He had also been indicted for witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The court ordered Katsav to hand over his passport.

Katsav rejected a plea bargain if he admitted lesser sex charges and continues to maintain his innocence.

He may now try to contest the Tel Aviv District Court's verdict, and what could be a lengthy jail sentence, in the Supreme Court.

The minimum sentence for rape in Israel is four years' imprisonment, and the maximum 16 years.

Out of concern for the complainants' privacy, much of the trial had taken place behind closed doors. Some commentators predicted that Katsav, should he appeal, will argue that the proceedings had not been transparent enough.

In the courtroom on Thursday, Katsav's son yelled out "it's not true", the Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reported.

The 65-year-old Katsav had no comment for reporters as he left the court, ashen-faced and flanked by lawyers and bodyguards.

Gila, his loyal but humiliated wife, wasn't present, and hasn’t attended any of the court proceedings.

The allegations against the leader, whose rise from the slums once considered a shining example for disadvantaged Jewish immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, stirred deep emotions in Israel.

"It's unprecedented that someone of his status, a former president, has been convicted of rape," Al Jazeera's correspondent said.

Yet there has been a string of other prominent Israeli politicians who have been charged of criminal charges in recent years.

Former justice minister Haim Ramon who was accused and convicted of sexual misconduct, and the former defence and transport minister Yitzhak Mordechai was also convicted of sexual assault.

Then there’s those linked to ongoing corruption investigations, including Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, who was charged with fraud last year.

"So the public here really has … lost trust in their politicians and also of course the post of president is seen as a moral compass, so for a former president to be convicted of rape, really doesn’t bode very well," Dekker reported.

Katsav had cast himself as the victim of extortion and an ethnically motivated "witch-hunt", and had vowed to clear his name.

Katsav immigrated with his family to Israel in 1951. At age 24 he became the country's youngest mayor and went on to hold a number of cabinet posts as a member of the rightist Likud party.

The parliament elected him president in 2000 in an upset victory over Shimon Peres, who later succeeded Katsav as president.

Katsav resigned in June 2007 and became a leper of the political establishment.

He was only formally indicted in March 2009, more than two years after the case went public.

He initially accepted a plea bargain that incensed women's rights groups.

However, he later decided that instead of facing trial for lesser charges he would "fight until the truth comes out" and called the deal off.

As he read the verdict on Thursday, presiding Judge George Kara told the former president that this decision was "a grave mistake."

The prosecution was welcomed by women's groups that have long complained that Israeli authorities shrug off sexual harassment in workplaces.

Out of concern for the complainants' privacy, much of the trial had taken place behind closed doors. Some commentators predicted that Katsav, should he appeal, will argue that the Tel Aviv District Court proceedings had not been transparent enough.

"It's not pleasant to see a former president tried for serious crimes like this," Moshe Negbi, legal analyst for Israel Radio, said. "But on the other hand, I think every citizen should be proud that we live in a society where no citizen is above the law."

Source: Agencies 

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Senior official victim of witch hunting in the Sri Lankan High Commission

Kapila Fonseka (Sri Lanka) and M Subhashini (India)
(December 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Sri Lankan High Commission in London is said to be in a state of panic following the intervention by the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo to recall a senior official on alleged charges of informant.

The First Secretary for Communication and Media Kapilla Fonseka has been urgently recalled before the end of his term following complaints to the President Mahinda Rajapakse by the London branch of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Kapilla Fonseka is being accused of conspiring against the government and engaging with Dr Jayalath Jayawardene of the opposition United National Party and Dr Wickramabahu Karunaratne (LSSP) during their visit to London recently.

Sources in the High Commission told Sri Lanka Guardian confidentially that ‘Kapilla was taken by surprise when he was told to pack his bags up’. The disgruntled source said ‘we do not where to turn. It is the mandate of the SLFP and extremist Sinhala Balamandalaya that decides the fate of the genuine officials at the High Commission’. The source further said, ‘this is witch hunting and no one knows who is next on the line’.

According to information the term of the High Commissioner Nihal Jayasinghe has already ended and the government is still undecided on the successor. The government’s earlier decision to appoint a frontline military general has got into difficulties following the aborted visit of the President to address the Oxford Union. The government is said to have backed off of its decision to appoint a military man fearing war crimes charges may be brought against him in the British court.

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Colombo airport infested with intelligence sleuths

(December 29, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)Following the debacle visit of the President Mahinda Rajapakse to speak at the prestigious Oxford Union, the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse has ordered heavy screening of inbound passengers to the airport.

In addition to passengers being screened at the immigration desks, large number of Defence Ministry intelligence officials are stopping and interviewing passengers.

The intelligence officials are seen at the lobby and outside the airport. They were seen holding airline passenger lists. The passengers are stopped and probed for their involvement with the campaign against the government overseas. According to sources, Tamils are selectively targeted by these officials.

Sources also said, passengers from UK are put through rigorous interviews whereas those travelling from Asian countries are not harassed.

One passenger, a leading businessman travelling from Madras said ‘the experience outside the airport is very harrowing’. ‘You do not need this after travelling for over eight to ten hours’ he said. He further claimed these officials were dressed in civilian and even have taken some of the passengers in unmarked vehicles.

Sri Lanka Guardian tried to contact the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse on his mobile number to clarify the reasons for the clampdown, but his line remained switched off.

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INTERVIEW: Ex- Prisons Commissioner speaks out

Interviewed by  Harshi C. Perera
 (December 29, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)

1. Please introduce yourself, briefly.

I am Lionel Weerasinghe, Correctional Professional Commissioner. I retired after serving 34 years in Prison Department. My retiring position was Commissioner of Prisons (Welfare). I am a University Graduate and did my Post Graduate studies at Sri Jayawardenapura University, in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

2. What is your opinion about Women’s Wards in prisons and Women’s Detention Centers?

Prison Department maintains 10 Female Detention Units all over the island. Welikada Female Ward is the biggest where more than 500 females both convicted and suspected are detained, except the Badulla female section, which is located inside the male prison of Badulla. All other female wards are maintained as a wing of the male prison but stationed separately outside the male prison units.

When comparing with the population of prisoners in Sri Lanka, only 3% are females. Because of this, a very poor attention and priority is shown towards female detainees. Any one can easily criticize it as a forgotten group of human being.

And pathetically, this minority group is under males’ domination. The male dominant prison system does not give much room for the feminine behaviors and needs.

But, I should mention here that the female inmates of the Welikada prison enjoy more opportunities and facilities than the inmates in other female detention centers.

3. Can you point some difficulties the women detainees face?

Overcrowding, severely affect the female detainees in prisons. The space allocated for the females in Badulla, Galle and Tangalle prisons is not enough and very limited. They have to spend whole day and night in the limited space with inadequate facilities.

Some mothers spend their prison life with their infant or child who is under five years of age. I think it is a very difficult task for both the inmates and the officials to accommodate them in a limited, closed environment with other adult inmates.

Maintaining family relationship and communications with the children is another problem for female inmates.

In most of the female units, the inmates are idling. They are not engaged in activities of skill development or behavioral changes. In every female ward, I believe that there is a critical need for legal assistance for pre trial inmates who are detained inside, and social supporter measures for the relatives of the detainees who live out side helplessly in their homes.

Effective categorizing system has not been enforced inside the female sections. Inmates detained for minor offences are left to mingle with the criminal offenders, drug addicts and prostitutes. This is an inter defective and very harmful process which exists in both male and female prison institutions.

4. There have been several irregularities and ongoing illegal activities inside the prison. Are you familiar with these irregularities and illegal activities? How prevalent do you think these irregularities and illegal activities are?

Prison is a social creation and it gives the real reflection of the society. You can sight the social behaviors in the prison mirror.

In our country the authority of law has lost its supremacy. Social order has collapsed. Everywhere we experience bribery, corruption, wastage of resources and energy. All social institutions violate their norms and ethics but enjoy discriminating.

In such a social environment, you have to establish and maintain more prison to incarcerate certain amount of people.

And these prisons are governed by the officials who live and come from the same society, influenced by the prevailing trends of the society.

With such a social environment can you expect a well disciplined humanity, and safe secured prison system? You can’t.

As I have heard and learned, prisons are built by stones of laws. But the present situation is that these stones are gradually dismounted and hollowed. We have seen and heard about the worst situations of Sri Lankan prisons through the mass media. Not only the mass media, but also the former minister of prison reforms openly thrashed out recently the critical conditions of the prisons.

As a civilized society, we send criminals to prisons to protect the society from their criminal activities. In the meantime, we want to correct these wrong doers and reintegrate to the society. But the existing mechanism inside the prisons is not efficient for the said purpose. Then what might happen is not the good or the better, but not only the bad, the worst.

5. Do you think that violation of human rights occur inside the prisons? If so, what is your opinion on how prevalent these violations are?

Answer for the first part of the question, is yes.

I consider that the daily functions, based on the prison ordinance, are the biggest violations of human rights of the prisoners.

Sri Lankan prison system is based on the prison ordinance enacted in the year of 1884 by the British rulers, which was introduced in this country, before the Universal Declaration on human rights. This ancient ordinance consists and covers only the area of basic human needs of the detainees. (i.e. providing shelter, food, water, cloth, sanitary conditions, health care etc.)

In addition to that the constitutional rights, specially the fundamental rights protected by the Sri Lanka Constitution, is entitle also to prisoners without any exception.

But the actual and practical situation is entirely different.

Most of the humanitarian accesses of the prison ordinance are not effectively enforced by the prison authorities. And it is not so easy that the protection of constitutional fundamental right to reach a prisoner who is in a prison.

So I should mention that everyday the violations occur every where and degrading treatments exist in every corner. Assault and intimidation is the governing instrument in Sri Lankan prison. No remedial measures are being stabilized.

6. Is there or was there been any political influence in administrating your duties?

Prison is not an important institution for politicians. Because of that unimportant politicians do not interfere in the day to day activities of the prisons.

But the bad effects of the 1978 constitution affected the administration setup of the prison department in similar manner, as to how far the other departments and state institutions were affected.

Through the new practices, like appointing of heads of departments is influenced by politics and the quality of the correctional professionalism is minimized. Political interference in transfers or promotions of officials is very common.

In same way there is interference in new recruitments too.

7. There are lots of outside parties such as NGOs etc. that work with prisons. By exposing the internal working system of prisons to the International community, do you feel that they might be able to improve their economic positions and thus increase their ability to help in reforming the current prison system?

Here, I would like to mention that there are not very many NGOs but only a few works with prisons in Sri Lanka.

The reason why I would like to comment on this is that the Sri Lankan prison setup never prefers outsiders or organizations interfering in it, especially with regard to Human Rights objectives.

In prison attitudes, there are two categories of behaviors, the hardcore party believes that the outside interference is harmful or troublesome and they always discourage it.

The soft type party express the view that organizations which could easily controllable may be allowed to work only on selected fields like offering donations, instruments, materials, consumer commodities etc.

Meanwhile with the blessing of Sri Lanka Government, a few INGOs and NGOs are permitted to enter in assisting the process of developing prisons and its systems.

Any how, I should mention here, that the system of the Sri Lankan prisons is not updated by the state for a long time. Because of this, prisons cannot stand the developments without the engagement of outside organizations.

If we go through the prison history, we can notice that every major structural change in prison system or each and every new addiction have occurred with the external interference.

For example, in 1976, Ex Prison Officers Training Centre was established by UNDP fund. Separation and treatment of drug addict prisoners program was started with the interference of WHO. Prison Welfare Service was reopened by the initiation of Prisoners’ Welfare Association.

Therefore, I believe that the prison department needs self renovation or reformation. The relevancy of outside organizations which work in genuine intention can contribute a lot for the reformation of current prison system.

8. Today, prison reforms have become a popular topic of conversation. What thoughts do you have on prison reforms? How would you go along with reformation of prisons?

At first I should say not only the prison but the whole society need to be reformed and restructured.

Secondly, Sri Lankan Criminal Justice System needs to be reformed. Prison is only one part of the system and without redesigning the other part; it will not be able to produce the results we expect.

Acute overcrowding is the main cause for all problems. Because of the failure of the criminal justice system, a huge amount of unnecessary crowd flow into prisons.

From 1950 we face delays in the judicial service. Even after the very long 60 years of independency, we could not been able to stop or at less reduce the large percentage of count proceeds. More than 75% of prison population consist pre trial detainees. Convict rate of the major offences is only 4%. The general conviction rate is 25%; out of every 4 remanded prisoners, convict is only one. Majority of court conviction is on excise or narcotic drug offence. It counts up to 60%.

The convicted majority belongs to short term imprisonments, who are sentenced to less than 3 months or so. 50% of the imprisoned victims are those who couldn’t pay the fine.

The one, who is unable to pay the fine at the court house, will be sentenced to serve a term in prison.

The bail procedure of the judicial system does not rend any assistance to reduce the overcrowding in prisons. Most of the pretrial detainees are remanded by order of Magistrate Courts and they are considered as the bail able persons in the bail act.

I suggest that the following recommendations could be implemented when doing prison reforms:-

*Implement the bail act to full fill its basic principles.

*Implement the prison ordinance.

*Train the prison official to adjust to the reformed situations.

*Reserve the post of Commissioner General of Prison only for the deserving Correctional Professionals.

9. The prison systems in developed countries utilize a variety of approaches to prison administration, which Sri Lanka does not employ. Do you believe that we should employ their methods in our prisons? If so, what methods?

I firmly believe in implementing an advanced method, strategist of custodial care and correctional system. Because, every profession has its own and individual basic principals.

These principals are very common and with the beginning of overseas training, which exist everywhere universally, but with limitation and conditions.

New introductions by Magistrates make barriers on bail release. And in some occasions the wrong interpretation of law by police and the court house add extra burden onto the prison authorities.

So I would like to emphasize that:-

First, reform the prison system.

Then, prepare the prisons to accommodate the reformations.

Remove the unnecessary amount of inmates and reduce the crowd.

Categorize the prisoners who are sentenced for more than 5 years imprisonment and locate them separately.

Remove the term prisoners from custody by implementing community based correctional system, Probation and Compulsory Drug-treatment Act etc.

Improve the conditions on pre-release and include low risks to convicted prisoners

Reduce the residential congestions; stabilize the pre release preparations and voluntary after care scheme.

10. What can we do personally and officially to make the prisons a better place and to improve the status of women pre-trial detainees?

For the free trial women detainees:-

1. First we should unearth the real situation of pre trial woman prisoners; there cause of incarceration, the main problems, the grievances and difficulties they face.

2. When comparing with the population of male prisoners, as the pre trial women prisoners are very small in number, it could be done because it necessitates very low attention.

3. Pre trial woman inmates are located in number of prisons and detention centers all over the island. Only in Welikada female prison, the number amount to more than 400 but in other places it ranks in between 20 to 50.

In some prison and centers, the space for this minor group is very limited and within this limitation the basic needs of them can not be full filled.

3. Prisons are dominated by males. The administration setup is designed accordingly. Hence, there prevail unseen inconveniences which are very small and forgotten lot, especially in Anuradhapura, Negombo, Kandy, Welikada, Kuruvita and Kalutara prisons. The space in Galle, Tangalle and Badulla prisons is not enough.

Vagrancy Ordinance, implementing this ordinance crests most of congestion problems.

The prison officials who work there introduce some changes. Mr. V.N Pilla and Mr. J.P.Delgoda former commissioners, who had the intervention exposure, introduced the reformation aspect of departments.

From gained experience and knowledge Mr. Delgoda introduced the reform activities and he was been able to interpret prison ordinance for this purpose.

I believe that light fall on with his forgive exposure.

He had the strength of the UN standard rules for treatment of prisoners and International guide lines for prison administration.

We accepted the guidelines of UN in 1970, but now we are in 2010 and still we are not following these guidelines. As prison officials we have not come to an agreement in following this guide lines, because there is no encouragement to follow these guidelines.

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La Lanka’s Les Miserables in 2011; please Mr President, we are hungry

I rage at remand prisoners who are kept in custody without recourse to lawyers. I cannot feel the Christmas cheer when I find six years since Tsunami struck, the funds from abroad only fattened the coffers of  NGOs and politicians and that the victims are still living in misery; sans decent housing and wherewithal to sustain themselves.    

by Pearl Thevanayagam

(December 29, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) How do I greet the second decade of the new millennium? Some 6,000 miles away, away from my beloved country I envy even those in detention camps. What I would not give for a trip to sunny Sri Lanka and meet all my old friends and neighbours but I am warned that I could be charged with plotting to overthrow the government with my incendiary writings and held indefinitely under PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act).

The plotting is still in its embryo state; in that it is only in my mind. I plot so many things in my spare time. I plot against that old lady who swiped the one pound chicken I set my heart on after the nice boy at Sainsbury’s (a popular supermarket chain in the UK) reduced it from nine pounds. I vow to drag my ex-employer, a greedy Tamil solicitor, through all the Courts in the UK and report her to Law Society where she would be struck off, who fleeces innocent asylum seekers out of their meager earnings of three pounds an hour to sweat it out in sandwich factories, bakeries, cleaning toilets in airports and hotels and petrol stations by charging them £300.00 for preparing for an asylum interview when the government pays them legal aid.

I also plot against those by the Diyawanna Oya who perpetrated injustices on the common masses who cannot buy coconut at an affordable price and who are compelled to share an egg between three family members. I want to bring down this government which while defeating the terrorist outfit still cannot satisfy the hunger pangs of the average citizen.

All the while our President Rajapakse and his co-horts trot the globe luxuriating themselves in Dorchester in UK and Plaza in New York. To mask his thuggery and crass governance he co-opted GLP, a former VC and a party-hopping opportunist, into the cabinet and made him minister of external affairs. That he has not an honest vein in his bean-pole body does not go unnoticed.

Even Sirimavo appears a saint when she gave us bread queues, raw mouldy samba and strict rationing of sugar and milk in early’70s all the while stashing her wealth abroad for herself and cabinet of ministers. She was the predecessor for Mahinda in consorting with China and Tito from Yugoslavia who happened to be her personal friend and we all know what he did to his eastern bloc. Tito offered Sirimavo cure for her rheumatism but splintered the country and caused the bombing of Kosovo.

I rage at remand prisoners who are kept in custody without recourse to lawyers. I cannot feel the Christmas cheer when I find six years since Tsunami struck, the funds from abroad only fattened the coffers of NGOs and politicians and that the victims are still living in misery; sans decent housing and wherewithal to sustain themselves.

I do not wish for luxuries such as new clothes and kiributh with plenty of coconut milk and ambul thiyal for my brethren in sunny Sri Lanka. I want them to have three square meals a day with basic nourishment such as at least an egg a day and cow’s milk for the children. Is this too much on my wish-list?

Okay I imbibed a little bit too much for the Christmas cheer and I had duck for Christmas lunch with family. Except I managed to get away before the usual family feud started; such as reminiscing the time father bought me a cotton mattress because the coir ones itched my skin (Arpico was not dealing in Jaffna then) or when he took me with him on holiday to Maldives for a full six months to recuperate when I failed my GCE O/Ls due to stress and panic caused by more intelligent students qualifying for the A/Ls.

For some reason my other siblings studied like mad and got through. Perhaps I was too interested in Denise Robins’ Untrodden Snow, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and the evil lighthouse keeper in Enid Blyton, worshipped at Jaffna Library and cast knowing glances at the beloved gorgeous boys of St Patricks, my brother school, who sported batik shirts and rode racing bikes.

In a true sense I was the hot-blooded teenager who could not keep her raging hormones at bay. But alas, everything was cerebral and did not reach the practicals. Practicals were Miss Sinnathamby’s boring mercury experiment during physics when we purposely let the silver globules roll down the floor while we should be calibrating; or hiding behind the black screen pretending to simulate lunar eclipse. Miss Sinnathamby had to dye her hair before her late marriage to Mr Brodie thanks to her insufferable students. Practicals were when we opened the tap of the Kipp’s apparatus and let the lab stink with the sulphur stinking like rotten eggs.

It is important to stress here that I did qualify for the A/Ls on the third attempt through intensive coaching by tuition masters.

These trivia aside, this decade has seen Tsunami, Mahinda dynasty, the vanquishing of the LTTE along with decimation of thousands of Tamil civilians in the process, increasing intimidation of the media, plundering of the independence of the judiciary and the police commission, increase in the number of thugs in the cabinet and of course the starvation of the common masses through sky rocketing prices of essential commodities.

The afore-mentioned transformations are harbingers of worse things to come. In 2011 an average Sri Lankan would not only not have bread, eggs and coconut as daily dietary requirements he/she would be hard-pressed to eat one meal a day. After all a nation’s wealth is not measured by the girth of its politicians but by the contentment of its lowliest citizens. And the citizens are certainly not content and their revolt would be worse than the terror unleashed by the Tamil separatists.

Hungry citizens are angry sentients and if the present dynasty hopes to secure another term or hold onto this term then it had better feed them. I am dead serious.

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