Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Questions on Genocide and Reconciliation


It is obvious that the Northern Provincial Council has jumped from ‘war crimes’ to ‘genocide’ claims within the pace of one year, for some reason, strangely in a context where an overwhelming majority of Tamil people on the direction of the TNA had voted to bring a new government that promised for good governance, rule of law and reconciliation. The resolution accuses even the new government in the process of genocide.  
by Laksiri Fernando
( February 28, 2015, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) The sensibility of the resolution passed by the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) requesting “the ongoing United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) to investigate the claim of genocide and recommend appropriate investigations and prosecutions by the International Criminal Court” has come to a major focus as it is done barely a month after the presidential elections when the TNA and the NPC opted to support Maithripala Sirisen’s candidacy for the Presidency.
Trincomalee protesters reject domestic probe into disappearances
28 February 2015
All photographs Tamil Guardian
Protestors gathered outside the Kuchchaveli Divisional Secretariat in Trincomalee in a silent demonstration against the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons, set up by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, which held a sitting in the town on the eastern coast on Saturday.

Sri Lanka’s Right To Information Bill 2015 – Clearing Up Misconceptions And Recommending Revisions

Contrary to the popular perception of some therefore, the RTI Bill now in the public domain is not the end product of a new drafting process initiated by this Government in 2015. That exercise still remains to be engaged in, which is presumably why the call for public feedback was issued.
by Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena and Venkatesh Nayak
( February 28, 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In giving necessary context to Sri Lanka’s draft Right to Information (RTI) law disseminated by the current Government in order to obtain feedback from citizens, a few matters need to be clarified. In substantial respects, this draft is the 2003/2004 Bill of the United National Front (UNF) administration. This is quite evident by the insertion of the Legislative Draftsman’s Department, LDO Number 23/2003 on the left hand side of the Bill.

TGTE Wants Human Rights Chief To Present “Oral Report” On Sri Lanka War Crimes

Colombo Telegraph
February 28, 2015 
The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) has again written to all members of the UNHRC expressing concern and disappointment by the UNHRC High Commissioner, to delay an important report into human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. TGTE believes that the mandated resolutions of the UNHRC and Human Rights issues should never be compromised or dictated by any third party.
Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran - PM – TGTE
Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran – PM – TGTE
It also expressed its disappointment that the Tamil victims and witnesses were not consulted and UNHRC did not lay any conditions on the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL), to adhere for this delay, such as:
allow unrestricted access for the OISL team into the NorthEast and to gather information from victims and witnesses
access to AI, HRW and international media into Sri Lanka and the NorthEast.
Strict adherence to protection for witnesses and victims and for Human Rights activists
Release of all political prisoners
Immediate release of all women and children from custody
Provide list of all those in custody
Release all land grabbed by the army
Stop immediately the colonization and the structural genocide.
Remove the army from the Tamil areas.
It stated that the new GoSL continues to prevent or accept UNHRC resolution to complete its mandate, and wants to promote another “Internal Domestic Commission”, with international technical input. This is a deliberate attempt to protect the past and current perpetrators from the international community, to slow down and delay the processes for accountability and justice for the victims, and should not be allowed to derail and undermine the UNHRC mandated OISL.
Only an Independent and credible comprehensive international investigation will be accepted by the victims, their dependents, to other victims worldwide waiting for justice and accountability and to safe guard humanity.
It is the believe and expectations of many that the OISL investigation, reporting and recommendation would be a strong deterrent to any current or future regimes, that war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide against minorities by state sponsored terrorism will be accounted for, and perpetrators will be brought to justice.
TGTE and Tamils worldwide still have faith and trust on the High Commissioner and the UNHRC, that this will be the once only “extension of time”, and that a final strong report with recommendations to Council will be presented and with a referral to ICC or UN security Council.
It also brought to their attention that:
A mass rally of protest was held in Jaffna against the delay, and is expected to continue in various districts.
Continuing genocidal intent – cultural and structural by the vast majority of Sinhala people and by Sri Lanka military, need to be stopped immediately.
Continuing military presence to instil fear and terror on the people. Reports of human rights violation including rape by the Military & Para-Military.
Preventing Humanitarian Assistance from the Tamil Diaspora
Tamil Refugees(IDPs and from overseas ) are still waiting to return to their homes and land
Restricted Political Space, PTA and 6th Amendment is in place.
The TGTE says, that an “Oral Report” be presented by the High Commissioner to Council in March, on the OISL findings so far, as per the original schedule, with considerations for any actions that need to be included or addressed for inclusion in the September report.
Sri Lanka: Press Ahead on Rights Reforms

Human Rights WatchFEBRUARY 26, 2015
(New York) – Sri Lanka’s new government should advance a reform agenda to address past and ongoing human rights problems in the country, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena. The government has already undertaken important new initiatives, such as reviewing cases of detainees under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, lifting restrictions on media reporting, ending Internet censorship, and removing nongovernmental organizations from Defense Ministry oversight.  

What will be said and not said by Mangala Samaraweera in the UN HRC

by S. V. Kirubaharan. France
( February 27, 2015, Paris, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraweera, is scheduled to speak on the opening day of the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council – UN HRC, in Geneva, on 02 March 2015.
With my experience of Sri Lanka and the UN Human Rights forums, I predict that the following will be said. Many facts and realities will not be disclosed to this august forum.
1 –       Mangala Samaraweera will inform the UN HRC that a new President has been elected by all communities – Singhalese, Tamil and Muslims. He will also say that the Tamils’ leading political party, the Tamil National Alliance – TNA, fully supported the new President.
But he will not mention that the new President won the election mainly because of votes from the North and Eastern Provinces which are predominantly inhabited by Tamils.
2 –       He will not disclose to the UN HRC that this is an interim government. Also he will not say that the present government is waiting for a parliamentary election to be held.
It looks likely that the Parliamentary election which was expected to be held in April will be postponed indefinitely.
3 –       He will hint that this interim government, like the previous government, wants only a domestic investigation and will oppose an international investigation into war crimes.
4 –       He will not say how many world leaders they have lobbied to pressurise the UN Human Rights Commissioner and members of the Human Rights Council, to postpone the investigation report which was due to be released on 25th March during the 28th session.
5 –       He will certainly make much of the ‘Witness protection bill’.
But he will not disclose to the HRC that even though this bill has been passed, witnesses will only come forward to give evidence to an international inquiry, not a domestic inquiry.
6 –       As he has no information on land forcibly taken by the Sri Lankan security forces in the North and East, he cannot give any statistics on expected return of land to the owners.
7 –       He will not tell the HRC that there are still Internally Displaced People in camps in the North and East, many of whom have been IDPs for decades.
8 –       He will say that freedom of expression for the media is back on track and that the investigation into the killing of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga has begun.
But he will say nothing about what they are doing about the killing of Tamil Journalists, Parliamentarians and Human Rights Defenders. Nor about the many arson attacks on the Tamil newspaper Uthayan.
9 –       He will not say how many Ministers in the present 50 to 55-days-old cabinet are unhappy and waiting to resign.
In other words the coalition of the present interim government is on the verge of collapse.
10 –     He will not tell the UN HRC that the new President used his executive powers so far only to re-instate the Chief-Justice and pardon and re-instate an Army Commander as a General. The earlier government had taken revenge on these two.
However the new President is not ready to use his executive powers to do anything to remedy the situation of the people of the North and East – neither regarding their political and civil rights nor their socio-economic cultural rights nor human rights.
In the past, the North and East were merged as the North East Province by President J. R. Jayewardene, under the 13thAmendment, using Presidential executive powers.
Without further ado, the current president could do the same – merge the North and east – thus taking the step needed towards fulfilling Tamils’ political rights.
11 –     He may say that the government is taking action on corruption which was ignored by the earlier government. But he will not indicate that this action concerns only the South.
Whereas corrupt actions of their former allies – Douglas Devananda, Karuna alias Muralitharan and Pillyan in the North and East are ignored by this interim government.
12 –     He will not inform the UN HRC that their 100-days-programme – abolition of the executive presidency, calling for a parliamentary election and many other issues, is not going to take place as scheduled.
It looks as if this 100-days-programme may not take place even within 1000 days.
13 –     Finally he will never ever disclose to the UN HRC that he and many other ministers in the present interim government were with the earlier government.
They were ardent supporters of all affairs of the earlier government.
It is to be noted that the people who talk about democracy in the present interim government, including former Chief-justice Sarath N Silva were the very people who made the pathway for Rajapaksa’s dictatorial regime.

Dr Brian Senewiratne Our Hero Amongst The Sinhalese

Colombo Telegraph
By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah –February 28, 2015
Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah
Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah
Dr Brian Senewiratne is our hero and more precisely our hero amongst the Sinhalese. So much so I had written an ‘Ode’ to him in 2006 and my husband wrote about him in October 2011 calling him a true consummate humanitarian – both of which I want so much to share – especially when I read some of the flak he gets for fervently defending the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and drawing world attention to their plight. It’s during these times I feel sick in my stomach and want to shout out loud to the whole world and to the Sinhalese people what a great man and a rare Gem he truly is.
I have always been interested in politics and government and was a keen follower of the Tamil Satyagraha movement; an interest triggered off at school during my Government and Politics lessons. I used to admire the Federal Party leader S.J.V Chelvanayakam [1]; I watched him in awe as he took his walks in Galle Face Green, he was then already suffering from Parkinson’s disease. When I was a little girl I remember one of his sons, Vaseeharan was my uncle’s good friend; and they used to study together in our veranda. SJV was the darling of the Tamil Nation and mine too and Brian to me was the Sinhala equivalent.
There was a time when I only heard of him, read about him and of course admired everything about him from a far for I had never met Dr Brian Senewiratne at that point. I couldn’t believe that there even existed one such rare specimen of Sinhala origin, that I know of, who genuinely cared for the welfare of the Tamils as much as he cared for the wellbeing of his own Sinhala brethren; someone who could feel so passionately for the rights of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka the way he does.
BrianI have so much respect and reverence for him that I cannot bring myself to calling him Brian, even after we have become so very close; sometimes I do try but don’t feel comfortable doing it.

Unscrupulous Nimal Siripala gives a kick on the teeth for people’s mandate and Maithri

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News- 28.Feb.2015, 9.00PM) After 6.2 million people of the country had given a clear mandate on the 8 th of January 2015 in favor of the abolition of the most obnoxious executive Presidency which is a thorn in the flesh of every citizen of the country , and even the opposition leader  Nimal Siripala stating in public categorically  that he will support the 100 days program of the new government ,it is now reported  that the same opposition leader Nimal  Siripala De Silva and a group are opposing the abolition.
When the party leaders met in Parliament yesterday chaired by the Prime minister in connection with the proposed conceptual paper on the constitutional proposals made by the President and the government  with a view to invite the views of the other parties , the opposition leader doing   a sudden abominable U turn brought  forward a proposal against  the abolition of the executive presidency .
Nimal Siripala , G.L. Peiris ,John Seneviratne on behalf of the SLFP ; Sumenthiran of the TNA ; Vijitha Herath of the JVP ; Rauf Hakeem of SLMC ; Rishad Baduideen of  All Ceylon Muslim Congress ; Presidential advisor Dr. Jayampathy Wickremeratne chief of the constitution formulating  council; and former general secretary of parliament Priyani Wijesekera attended the  meeting . Dr. Wijedasa Rajapakse could not attend as he is abroad.
Nimal Siripala who presented the proposal of the main opposition party and his group against the abolition claimed that the executive president should be the leader of the government and  the leader of the cabinet , as well as  have the power to dissolve provincial councils  and so forth . This means that  their proposal is ,  only a very small fraction of the  executive presidency power shall be abolished.
The changes to the electoral system should also be made subordinate  to and compatible with this proposal , the Nimal Siripala group stated .Hence , they declared if their support is expected , the proposed amendments must be in accord with their proposals.
Nimal Siripala’s  proposals are clearly and diametrically opposed to the will and wishes of the people of the country , and is absolutely running counter to the mandate given by the people to Maithripala Sirisena on the 8 th of January, while also confirming that  Nimal Siripala and his groups are still renegades by pursuing and persisting in their favorite reprehensible policies of stupid power craze , mendacity and hypocrisy which indeed truly , with or without their knowledge   precipitated their  party calamity at the recent elections. No doubt this is a most insidious and sinister  move to obstruct the new government from fulfilling its agenda under the 100 day program .
Instead of the government’s proposal for the constitutional amendment that the leader of the State shall be the president , and the leader of the government shall be the Prime Minister ,whereby the parliament will be vested with the executive power , in the proposal of Nimal Siripala what is stipulated is,  the leader of the government and the leader who can summon parliament  shall be the president . This means that it is again the creation of executive presidency.
The Prime minister and Sumenthiran M.P. whereupon pointed out to Nimal Siripala , that he  is opposing his own party leader, Maithripala and questioned whether he  doesn’t understand that simple fact. They also pinpointed that Maithripala became the president to abolish the executive presidency ,and moreover , it is after his victory at elections ,Nimal Siripala and his party made Maithripala  the party president . Nimal Siripala and his group were also reminded and enlightened that Mathripala ‘s mandate was made known to them , and therefore why it is being opposed now. 
Nimal Siripalaaaaa who is  a perfect illustration of the common saying ,  brawn and brain  are inversely proportional , in reply to this ,remarked in his characteristic moronic style that Maithripala did not contest the Presidential election as SLFP president .
The prime minister who was listening to all this having no choice said , the mandate of the people cannot be transgressed , and in that case going for parliamentary election after dissolving Parliament is the next thing to do. There is pressure being exerted that the parliament be dissolved by the 20 th of April , and hold elections, he added. The P.M. who knew very well the selfish self seeking nature of the politicos,  hinted that if the parliament is dissolved before the 20 th of April , 60 SLFP parliamentarians  will be deprived of their pension.
Nevertheless, based on reports reaching Lanka e news , at the workshop held last weekend for SLFP activists , President Mathripala had made it abundantly clear to the SLFP leaders that the executive presidency shall compulsorily  be abolished in fulfillment of the promise  made to the people  , while also requesting  the SLFP leaders to understand this situation from the correct standpoint.
In the circumstances ,obviously  Nimal Siripala had trespassed on his limits yesterday, since his self seeking personal agendas are overriding  genuine party interests . He is making these disastrous and desperate moves because he knows deep within his bones that if  the government holds elections after its 100 days program  , the SLFP will surely lose , and he will not be able to become the Prime minister . Therefore , it is Nimal  Siripala’s aim to cause delays, overturn the government’s 100 day program , exploit  the situation resulting thereby , and somehow by hook or by crook become the prime minister , a bosom pal of Nimal Siripala  told Lanka e news.
 May we remind this stupid Humpty Dumpty, his mentor the ex president Mahinda Rajapakse too wanted to capture power by hook or by crook and had a fall worse than that of Humpty Dumpty. Finally, neither  his ‘kudu men,’ nor his ethanol dealers could put him together again.
In addition , a prominent  SLFP er expressing his views to Lanka e news  said, while this fool  has the opportunity to become  a prime minister some day , he is wasting everybody’s time by indulging in buffoonery and tomfoolery by bringing a proposal against the abolition of the executive presidency.
Following the conclusion of the party leaders’ meeting ,opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who went to Sri Kotha , to attend a party activists meeting gave instructions to get ready for elections after the 23 rd of April. 
Meanwhile , former President Chandrika Kumaratunge who is away in London is due to arrive in SL on Monday
by     (2015-02-28 15:57:26)

Unusual politics: SLFP-UNP cohabitation in the south, and TNA power struggle in the north

by Rajan Philips-

The north and south are different again. The SLFP and the UNP are uneasily cohabiting in the current parliament. The minority UNP is running the government and the majority SLFP is constrained to go along with it. The situation is unprecedented and unusual, but not undemocratic or unconstitutional. The constraint on the SLFP is a democratic extensionof the January 8 presidential election in which the incumbent president and then leader of the SLFP, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was defeated by the common opposition candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, who is now the new President of Sri Lanka and the new leader of the SLFP. The unusual state of affairs between the SLFP and the UNP is an inevitable transient period in politics as the new president and the old parliament collaborate to implement the January 8 mandate, which is to (a) hold accountable the previous regime for abuse of power and corruption, and (b) to abolish the current presidential system that enabled the abuse of power and corruption. That is a quick summary of current politics in the south.

The northern solitude is a different story, but it involves what was mostly a subtext to the presidential election. The subtext was that a new government under President Sirisena would take a positively different and inclusive approach, from that of the Rajapaksa government, to addressing the concerns of the Tamils and the Muslims. It was on this basis the Muslim political parties and the TNA supported the common opposition candidate, who went on to receive overwhelming support in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The Tamil voters in particular enthusiastically endorsed the TNA’s position and emphatically rejected the lunatic boycott call of the TNA’s extremist detractors. The current ‘power struggle’ in the TNA is a continuation of the failed boycott attempt.

Unlike the SLFP and the UNP having each other to contend with electorally (while sharing the same ‘President’!), the TNA has no serious electoral contender. Its detractors are internal to the organization and internal to the Tamil political society at large, which manifestly is comprised of a (Sri Lankan) resident constituent and a non-resident (diaspora) component. The power struggle in the TNA is not about challenging and ousting the two principal TNA leaders, Mr. R. Sampanthan and Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran. It is about intimidating them against any engagement with the new president and the new government, a continuation of the earlier effort to manipulate the Tamil voters into boycotting the presidential election.

The detractors of the TNA know that they can never measure up to the TNA in an electoral contest. They have tried and failed, often losing their deposits. But they know that between elections they can cause maximum disruption by their intimidatory tactics. Sampanthan and Sumanthiran are frequently the direct and indirect targets of the so called Tamil civil society assertions made under episcopal cover, and political assertions made from episcopal pulpit. Their effigies have recently been burnt by hotheads in Jaffna and in London. A resolution in grand language alleging genocide was passed in the Northern Provincial Council primarily to embarrass and handcuff Sampanthan and Sumanthiran. The resolution is a politically amateurish exercise in rhetorical overkill that will only give fodder to the campaign in the south for the return of Rajapaksa that took off in Nugegoda two weeks ago, but it will not persuade anybody of consequence anywhere else. Post-war Tamil society in Sri Lanka is in need of practical redress on the ground, and not vacuous rhetoric on paper.

Opportunity or pitfall?

Although the southern co-habitation and the northern power struggle are geographically isolated, they are politically connected. They can be mutually disruptive, or positively reinforcing. Regardless of what their detractors might assert, the TNA leaders have the mandate from the Tamil people to work with the new government to address their immediate concerns over land and security and establish a positive foundation for long term political solution. The new administration, for its part, must do better than its predecessor to restore Sri Lanka’s global credibility by positively dealing with the TNA at home. In this regard, the current political situation in the country and the unusual state of affairs between the SLFP and the UNP in parliament can be cleverly used as a positive opportunity, or turned into a pitfall by inaction or stupidity.

Let us discuss the disagreement over the April 23 dissolution deadline. From Sobitha Thero and President Sirisena to a majority of current parliamentarians, the emerging consensus is to have the election after the current parliament complete its term in April 2016. This would enable the full implementation of the 100-Day Plan including reforms to the electoral system. No positive purpose will be served by rushing to have the next parliamentary election under the current proportional-preferential voting system. That would also mean going back on one of the key promises in the 100-Day Plan. The concern in some quarters appears to be that it would be less risky to have an early election and address the Tamil question thereafter rather than having to deal with it first in the run up to a delayed election. This might have been a key consideration in the government’s successful representation to the UNHRC to defer the release of its report on Sri Lanka from March to September. Thus, the UNHRC report can be avoided by dissolving parliament on April 23, and having a June election this year, whereas an election after April 2016 will have to deal with whatever wounds that might be opened by the release of the report in September.

I beg to disagree with this thinking because it is more applicable to the conventional parliamentary situation of government-opposition dichotomy, but not to the situation of SLFP-UNP cohabitation in the current parliament. By allowing the current parliament to continue till April 2016, the 100-Day Plan can be extended to a 350-Day Plan and the extended plan could and should provide for dealing with Tamil and Muslim concerns using the LLRC recommendations as a starting point. There will not be a better opportunity to accomplish this task in a Sri Lankan parliament than in the current situation of SLFP-UNP cohabitation under a shared president. By transparently establishing a normative bi-party consensus before the next parliamentary election, the president and the current parliament can make the Tamil question at least a non-explosive, if not neutral, election question in the south.

What is being suggested here is not a full blown and endlessly debatable constitutional solution in the next 350 days, but a series of practical steps collectively undertaken by the government, the TNA and the Provincial Councils, to legally and administratively address the very real postwar problems faced by the people in the northern and eastern provinces. These steps could become the foundation for long term political solutions. In the process, the TNA can neutralize its detractors and the government can fulfill its commitments both internally and internationally. There is no certainty that any or all of this will happen in the next 350 days, but there will not be a better opportunity, nor is there a better approach, to make anything positive happen.

Sri Lanka concerned by China loans, rules out submarine visits

Sri Lanka's newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena (C) arrives for his swearing-in ceremony in Colombo January 9, 2015.  REUTERS/StringerSri Lanka's newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena (C) arrives for his swearing-in ceremony in Colombo January 9, 2015.
ReutersBY BEN BLANCHARD-Sat Feb 28, 2015
(Reuters) - Sri Lanka is concerned with the roughly $5 billion in Chinese loans it has and will send its finance minister to Beijing to discuss the issue, the foreign minister said on Saturday, as he also ruled out future Chinese submarine visits to the country.
New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has unnerved China with his re-examination of certain projects that China has invested in, including a $1.5 billion "port city" project in the capital Colombo.
India, which lost out to China in infrastructure development on the Indian Ocean island, was in particular concerned about the security threat posed by Chinese ownership of land, aggravated by the docking of Chinese submarines in Colombo last year.
India had grown increasingly wary of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's pursuit of closer ties with China, which became a key supporter of the island's economy after its 26-year-civil war ended in 2009.
Speaking in Beijing at the end of a two-day visit, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said there were concerns about the manner in which the some $5 billion Chinese loans for his country had been raised.
"During the run up to the last presidential campaign the people of Sri Lanka raised many, many questions about the interest rates especially, and also in certain cases about the manner in which these loans were raised," he told a news conference.
"So we will, as a government committed to transparency, want to go into each of these matters."
The country's finance minister will visit Beijing after President Sirisena's state visit to China, slated for March 26-28, Samaraweera said.
China has built a seaport and airport in the south of the country, raising fears it is seeking influence in a country with which India has traditionally had deep ties.
India's concern grew after the Rajapaksa government allowed the Chinese submarines to dock.
Asked whether there would be any Chinese submarine visits in the near future, Samaraweera said: "I don't see any".
"I really don't know which circumstances lead to some submarines coming to the port of Colombo on the very day the Japanese prime minister was visiting Sri Lanka, but we will ensure that such incidents -- from whatever quarters -- do not happen during our tenure."
Samaraweera said the re-examination of certain projects was actually a good thing for foreign, including Chinese, investors.
"We want to create a rule-based investor climate because we feel that some of the investments which were decided upon by the previous government were not totally given on merit," he said.
(Editing by Louise Heavens)

CID grills an ex-navy spokesman

0Colombo Gazette
By admin-February 28, 2015
The Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) questioned former navy spokesman D K P Dassanayake today over allegations that some officers in the navy were involved in the disappearance of several people.
Police spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said that in 2010 the CID had launched investigations into complaints received over the disappearance of some youth and their parents between 2007 and 2009 in Colombo and other areas.
He said that based on statements received as part of the investigations, it had been revealed that some navy officers and others were involved in the disappearances.
Ajith Rohana said that a navy officer was questioned by the CID yesterday over the allegations and more statements are to be recorded from others in the coming days. (Colombo Gazette)

Jewish (And Sri Lankan) Identity

Colombo Telegraph
By Charles Sarvan -February 28, 2015
Charles Sarvan
Charles Sarvan
The title of Shlomo Sand’s book, How I Stopped Being A Jew (2014), intrigued me. Isn’t it as impossible for a Jew to cease to be a Jew as it is difficult and unusual for a man to become a woman or vice versa? Isn’t identity in these terms inscribed at birth and, in most cases, unalterable? A Jew is a Jew, and there is no way a person can escape an identity given at birth. It is not within the range of free choice (Sand, pages 1-2.) However, Tamils can become Sinhalese; often it is as simple as changing the consonant ending of the surname into a vowel, Rajaratnam becoming Rajasinghe; Gunaratnam becoming Gunaratne. I quote from my Public Writings on Sri Lanka, Volume 2:
SWRD Bandaranaike
“Professor Yasmine Gooneratne (born Bandaranaike; a niece of SWRD Bandaranaike) suggests in her Relative Merits: A Personal Memoir of the Bandaranaike Family of Sri Lanka that the family name may have come from a Tamil officer, Neela Perumal, made high priest of the Temple of the god Saman, and in 1454 ordered to take the name of Nayaka Pandaram, that is, Chief Record Keeper. With time, the name changed to Pandara Nayaka, and thence to the present Bandaranaike. Similarly, there is evidence that the Salagama, Durava and Karava castes were originally Tamil, from South India, and that ‘Hettiarachige’ derives from ‘chief of the Chettis’. (The chettis are described as “a Tamil trading caste”.) End of quote.
Shlomo Sand, born in a displaced-persons’ camp in Austria in 1946 to parents who had survived the Shoah, is now Professor of History at the University of Tel Aviv and the author, among other works, of The Invention of the Jewish People: see, Sarvan, ‘Groundviews’, Colombo, 3 July 2013. Professor Sand is an atheist and holds that human beings created god or the gods, and not vice versa. But, as he observes, a Christian who gave up her religion would not be classified as a Christian – so too, in the Sri Lankan context, a Buddhist who gave up Buddhism – but a Jewish atheist still remains a Jew.Read More

Will formula a mechanism to repay depositors


by Suresh Perera

The Central Bank will be moving the Supreme Court (SC) to take over the management of the failed Golden Key and formulate a mechanism to reimburse depositors, a high-ranking official of the regulatory body said yesterday.

"We will be appealing to the SC through the Attorney General’s Department next week to acquire the operations of this company, which collapsed in 2008", he said.

The Fundamental Rights (FR) plea filed by a group of GK depositors will resume before the SC on March 11, 2015.

He said that the Central Bank will examine the possibility of liquidating assets and repaying investors if the SC gives the green light to directly intervene and take over the management of this Ceylinco subsidiary.

Asked whether the Central Bank will formulate a fresh repayment solution to grant relief to struggling depositors, the senior official replied, "Yes, we will work out a traditional plan on the lines of the formula adopted for Mercantile Credit".

He said that the newly-constituted GK Board of Directors has failed to restructure the company and move in a positive direction. "All the directors, except Mrs. Dushanthi Hapugoda, have already resigned".

"That’s not correct. Only three directors – Priyantha Fernando, Aruna Lekamge and Jehan Amaratunge – have stepped down so far", Hapugoda countered. "The others are intact".

She said that she tendered her resignation at the last board meeting on Wednesday, but the Chairman had declined to accept it saying that Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran had wanted the company to function smoothly for the next three months.

"I am prepared to bow down at any time", she noted. "It is not my intention to hang on to this if there are changes in the pipeline".

Asked whether the appointment of a full-time Task Force to GK by the Central Bank was decided on at Friday’s meeting depositors’ associations had with the Governor, the top official said, "There is no such move. We want to acquire GK with SC approval and look at how redress could be granted to investors".

It has transpired that the GK CEO, Dinesh Perera has drawn a salary of Rs. 5.3 million over the past eleven months. He had been recruited on a monthly remuneration of Rs. 525,000, which was subsequently reduced to Rs. 375,000 despite the Monetary Board of the Central Bank indicating that individual salaries should not exceed Rs. 200,000, an official said.

Amidst last week’s assurance by Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake that funds of GK depositors will be reimbursed, there were reservations in some quarters whether Lalith Kotelawala will fall in line to return billions of rupees to investors.

"That is the critical question because Kotelawala was personally not a party to this undertaking by the Finance Minister", depositors pointed out. "If he can give television interviews, he could have, at least, issued a statement supporting the Minister’s pledge".

Asked by The Sunday Island whether Kotelawala has given a firm assurance that all GK depositors will be repaid their dues, Karunanayake replied, "No, there is no such undertaking, but the Finance Ministry has intervened to look at what is going on".

This is akin to Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark, an investor protested. "As it was Kotelawala who mustered deposits as the then GK Chairman, he should have corroborated the Minister’s statement".

"Since this Ceylinco subsidiary folded up six years ago, has Kotelawala ever honored his pledges to depositors?", queried Hapugoda, president of the GKCC All Depositors’ Association.

More than 20 depositors have died so far and many more were thrown on to the streets after they lost their hard-earned savings, but what has Kotelawala done to offer relief?, she asked. "All his promises were mere empty words".

"We find it difficult to trust a man who gave a categorical assurance to depositors at the BMICH meeting, shortly after GK crashed in December 2008, that every cent would be paid back", Hapugoda elaborated. "Then in June 2011, he submitted a repayment plan to the Supreme Court to repay 80% of investments".

Three years have gone by, but this undertaking is yet to see the light of day, she said. "He could not be contacted for many months since assuring court that he will reimburse deposits".

Kotelawala didn’t give any assets voluntarily and as a result, it was a battle to liquidate some of his properties and repay Rs. 300,000 per depositor over a six-year period. "We could have certainly done more to grant redress, but he has continuously blocked us from acquiring his assets".

Asked whether a repayment plan has been worked out to settle depositors within the limited 100-day timeframe, Minister Karunanayake said that discussions and negotiations are ongoing.

"Without speculating on this, it is better that we meet up to discuss the issue", he suggested. "We have intervened to grant relief".

Karunanayake told the meeting that the management of the Ceylinco Group of Companies has given a written undertaking to pay back the money to GK depositors prior to the completion of the 100-day program of the government.

It was reported that the Ceylinco Group, at the discussion with the Minister, expressed their willingness to settle the matter without litigation. They had assured him that they would dispose of assets to repay depositors.

They were also scheduled to meet with the Central Bank Governor for advice on a repayment mechanism.

The Minister told the media that the issue had dragged on because of the adverse economic situation in the country during the Rajapaksa regime and lukewarm attitude of the then Central Bank Governor.

Hapugoda said that Kotalawala was not present at the meeting the Minister summoned with depositors’ associations, where a document was passed around seeking consent for the new repayment initiative.

"I declined to sign it as there is an ongoing case before the Supreme Court and any settlement outside the judicial process could amount to contempt of court", she asserted.

"How can we sign a document without any knowledge of the repayment formula to be adopted?", she asked. "It is nothing but fair that we should be told how the whole process will work and how justice will be meted out".

"It’s good if the Minister can resolve this protracted issue, but it should be done within the ambit of the law", she suggested. "It should be borne in mind that Kotelawala doesn’t do what he says and is swift to capitalize on opportunities".

He didn’t implement his own repayment plan forwarded to the Supreme Court in 2011, she noted. "He has been playing around with the hopes of 9,000 helpless investors", she asserted.

Hapugoda stressed that despite pressure, the FR case will not be withdrawn. "What would be our plight if Kotelawala refused to reimburse depositors after we withdraw the case?"

"The bitter experiences with him were many and we don’t want a repetition of the ‘frying pan into the fire’ episode", she said. "We cannot allow him to continue leading us up the garden path".

She said that the meeting with the Minister was a sequel to written representations made to President Maithripala Sirisena.