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TNA’s diplomacy
Published Date: 30/11/2016 (Wednesday)
An important meeting between President Maithripala Sirisena and Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarians, led by Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan, took place in Parliament last Thursday (24). The TNA played a tremendous role in ousting the Rajapaksa regime and establishing the National Unity Government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in January 2015. Later, with the guidance of R. Sampanthan, the TNA as the main Opposition in Parliament played a responsible role to deal with Tamil political issues as well as voicing on national issues.
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‘…they are most probably dead…’
Published Date: 30/11/2016 (Wednesday)
Expectantly she comes to meet them, her plastic bag of documents clasped tightly under her arm. Her face weary, and tear-stained, but, ready to tell her story one more time. White journalists, local activists, big people from big international human rights organisations, government commissions, the police, army camp officials……it’s all a blur now.
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Phantoms of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka’s reign of terror
Published Date: 30/11/2016 (Wednesday)
Mahinda Rajapaksa sits at a desk in his party office beneath a photo of himself. He’s not especially tall but solid in the chest and arms; like an old rugby prop, his head seems to rest on his shoulders without much need for a neck. He’s never seen in public without his brown scarf, supposedly signifying the sweaty rags of Sri Lanka’s hard-toiling farmers. On his fingers this man of the people wears three chunky gold rings and on his wrist a bracelet of jade balls. Everyone here still calls him Mr President.
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Trouble once again in paradise
Published Date: 30/11/2016 (Wednesday)
The fluid political situation in Sri Lanka, and the erosion of popular support for the Sirisen a - W i c k r e m e s i n g h e combine, have together created in the minds of the minority Tamils, doubts about the regime’s ability to draft a Tamil-friendly constitution and face the political storm that will certainly follow. Sensing a drift towards abandonment of the constitution- making exercise and its substitution by a few amendments to the existing constitution along with electoral reforms, the MPs of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the largest Tamil party in Parliament with 16 MPs, met President Maithripala Sirisena recently to air their concerns. Sirisena assured the MPs that he is keen on a new constitution as promised to the Tamils in the run-up to the 2015 presidential election, which he won thanks in part to the overwhelming support of the Tamils.
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Constitution, devolution and minorities
Published Date: 30/11/2016 (Wednesday)
A national debate on the proposed new constitution commenced with the recent session of the Constitutional Council and drafting of proposals by different Committees. To set the tone, President Maithripala Sirisena referred to the conceptual positions with regard to the proposed constitution in his recent interview with The Hindu. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Opposition Leader R Sampanthan made statements in Parliament and Northern Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran also made few comments in the Provincial Council and outside. Talking to Meera Sirinivasan of The Hindu, President Sirisena did not hesitate to give his honest opinion. “People of the south are scared of the word federal. People of the north are scared of the word unitary. What we should do is not fight over these two words. We should come up with a formula that is acceptable to all,” he said.
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Karuna Amman arrested
Published Date: 30/11/2016 (Wednesday)
Former Minister Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan and former LTTE eastern leader alias Karuna Amman was arrested today after he appeared before the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID). Amman was asked to appear before the FCID to record a statement on the alleged misuse of a Government vehicle.
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Proposed Constitution - a pretext to divide the country
Published Date: 29/11/2016 (Tuesday)
Leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF) parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa stated that Tamils are one step away from claiming self determination in the Northern Province. He expressed these sentiments during an interview with Ceylon Today. Excerpts: ?: The government had criticized your earlier comments on the proposed Constitution by stating that you were unacquainted on the subject, thus you are merely trying to create bogies over the matter. However six parliamentary subcommittees have presented their reports to the steering committee of the Constitutional Assembly by now. What do you have to say about the facts presented in the reports?
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Opposition Leader issues glowing tribute to Fidel Castro
Published Date: 29/11/2016 (Tuesday)
TNA and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, paying a tribute to the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro has said, in a statement: "My heartfelt sympathies go to the people of Cuba on the demise of their great leader Commander Fidel Castro. The former Cuban leader who stood by his principles and convictions and led the people of Cuba for more than 50 years. He championed the revolutionary movement in 1959 and stood as one of the towering figures of the people of Cuba.
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Sri Lanka: De Facto State of Emergency? -Basil Fernando
Published Date: 26/11/2016 (Saturday)
When the high level delegation of Sri Lanka met the UN Committee against Torture (CAT Committee) last week on the 5th Periodic Review, one of the Committee members raised an important issue. The Member asked whether the dysfunctionality of the justice system in Sri Lanka has virtually created a situation of a de facto emergency. It is worth taking a little time to grasp the meaning of a de facto emergency. Normally, an emergency would mean the de jure state of emergency, or in other words a legally declared emergency. This is when creating safeguards on people’s rights are being suspended for a specific period due to an extraordinary situation facing a nation. The relevant Article in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), is Article 4 which states the following:
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Sri Lanka's ex-leader slams India over China ties
Published Date: 25/11/2016 (Friday)
Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa launched an attack on India on Tuesday, ahead of his visit to China, a country that strongly backed the island politically and financially during his decade in power. The former leader told a group of local newspaper editors that India had been "furious" when Chinese submarines docked at the Colombo harbour in 2014, towards the end of his presidency.
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Published Date: 25/11/2016 (Friday)
Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga, Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M.Swaminathan and Muslim Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Haleem are to join hands to make necessary interventions. Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told the Daily News the four ministers would offer leadership to ‘meaningful and constructive dialogue’ towards ending communal and religious mistrust.The ministerial group, the minister said, would soon facilitate a meeting with the various religious groups to iron out their differences.
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Deal firmly with extremists, PM tells police
Published Date: 25/11/2016 (Friday)
“The Good Governance Government has worked to establish national unity since President Maithripala Sirisena was elected the President. We all have a right to take pride over our race and religion whether we be Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher or Malay,” he said. “Above all this, we should take pride about our Sri Lankan identity. If we don’t respect our Sri Lankan identity and try to hurl abuse at other communities and religions, we would be branded as extremists bent on breaking and disrupting national unity. The duty of preventing such people from acting for personal gain or a long term objective wittingly or unwittingly lies with the police,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said. The Prime Minister expressed these sentiments presiding over the passing out parade of a batch of apprentice policemen who had completed training at the Kalutara Police Training College on November 20.
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Rapp says Govt. delays could be attempt to avoid justice for alleged war crimes
Published Date: 25/11/2016 (Friday)
Delaying the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms, including a special court to prosecute alleged war crimes, could be viewed as an attempt by the Government of Sri Lanka to “avoid” delivering on truth and justice for thousands of victims of the country’s civil war, a former top official in the US Government’s Office of Criminal Justice said. Former US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Stephen J. Rapp said at the sidelines of the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court now underway in The Hague, Netherlands, that there was no reason the Government of Sri Lanka could not begin setting up the office of the prosecutor and putting frameworks in place, even if the court would not get off the ground immediately.
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Land, police powers to be devolved Bill of Rights in keeping with South African model
Published Date: 23/11/2016 (Wednesday)
The government said yesterday that the Parliamentary Sub Committee on Devolution had proposed that land and police powers be devolved to the provinces in keeping with the provisions of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Senior Constitutional lawyer Jayampathi Wickremeratne MP, told a news conference in Colombo, that proposals made by the six parliamentary sub committees appointed to submit proposals on various subjects including the national question, human rights and public administration to be included in the proposed new Constitution had been submitted to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had in turn presented it to Parliament.
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Life lessons from Medical knight of Lankan origin
Published Date: 23/11/2016 (Wednesday)
Since beginning of November, there are renewed calls to shut down or nationalize South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM). On November 15, SAITM responded by having their fourth Convocation to recognize its MBBS graduates from their first and second batches at the BMICH. This also marked the passing out of graduates from the faculties, ICT & Media, and Management & Finance. This momentous occasion for SAITM was graced by the distinguished Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran - Professor Emeritus in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, St. George’s University, London.
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Sri Lankan Official Dodges UN Questions Over Alleged Torture
Published Date: 18/11/2016 (Friday)
A United Nations committee that monitors acts of torture in member countries grilled an intelligence chief Wednesday over the alleged abuse of detainees during Sri Lanka's bloody civil war, only to have the nation's attorney general step in to deflect the questions. The mere presence of Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis at the Committee Against Torture's two-day hearing on Sri Lanka was already a surprise to both panel members and many non-governmental groups that have raised concerns about his war-time activities. .
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Conspiracy to smuggle out infamous criminal Duminda ! -Fudging judge, medical specialists and media coolie involved
Published Date: 17/11/2016 (Thursday)
The notorious drug Kingpin who is now in the death row in connection with the cold blooded ruthless murder of Baratha Lakshman and three others in broad daylight is somehow, either by hoodwinking the authorities ,or by secret methods is to be found an escape route from jail . Plans are afoot to smuggle him out of the country by sea, based on information reaching Lanka e news inside information division.
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MoU on Hambantota Port handover nearing finalisation: Malik
Published Date: 17/11/2016 (Thursday)
The Government is to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Hambantota port with the Chinese consortium by January with the document being finalised soon. Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama disclosed on Friday that 95% of the plans have been finalised. “We have more or less concluded our plans. The MOU will be finalised by end November leading to its signing in January,” the Minister told the Ernst & Young post-Budget Forum.
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Sri Lanka grilled at UN Committee Against Torture
Published Date: 17/11/2016 (Thursday)
A Sri Lankan Government delegation faced tough questions before the 59th Session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) yesterday, about torture and sexual violence by police and the military and the scope of its proposed counter-terrorism legal framework that will replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). For three hours at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, Government representatives were grilled by the independent experts on the Committee Against Torture about abductions, secret detention centres, torture in custody, custodial death and other rights violations.
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Reconciliation a priority for Sri Lanka’s government: Harsha De Silva
Published Date: 15/11/2016 (Tuesday)
Reconciliation is a priority for Sri Lanka’s unity government and transitional justice is an important aspect of this, Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva said. “Reconciliation is not a box that can be ticked or a journey that can end as per a timeline. There are no magic portions to achieve what we set out to achieve,” he said. “It requires hard work and constant striving, and a commitment towards which our nation should be bound across generations.”
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TNA denounces 2017 Budget priorities
Published Date: 13/11/2016 (Sunday)
The main opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday issued a scathing critique on the National Unity Government’s budget for 2017, saying it proposed a “grossly inadequate” allocation for development of the North and East and reconciliation work and neglected spending for priority sectors such as education.
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Farming for the future
Published Date: 11/11/2016 (Friday)
Supporting tobacco farmers find alternative livelihoods is both necessary and proper. As demand for tobacco products among wealthier countries declines, and as measures to roll-back tobacco consumption in the developing world take effect, farming communities must have the tools needed to secure their future. This is especially so in the WHO South-East Asia Region. Ten of the Region’s 11 countries are Parties to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Each one of them is taking meaningful, evidence-based steps to slash tobacco consumption and demand, which at present kills around 1.3 million people in the Region every year. And each one of them is looking for ways to shore-up the economy, avoid tobacco-related costs and fast-track development in an age of unrivalled opportunity.
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Sri Lanka sees easy passage at rights council under Trump
Published Date: 09/11/2016 (Wednesday)
The upset victory of Donald Trump is seen a blessing for Sri Lanka which could have faced renewed pressure at next year's UN Human Rights Council over war crimes accountability and reconciliation. The outgoing US President Barak Obama's UN ambassador Samantha Power had been a key figure behind the 2014 resolution against Sri Lanka and calls for international investigations if Colombo failed to probe war crimes.
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Progressive Constitution Needed To Prevent Repeat Of War
Published Date: 01/11/2016 (Tuesday)
The shooting of the two Jaffna University students is a tragedy just waiting to happen. During the last few years tension between the armed forces and the general public was on the rise. Reluctance of the armed forces to release occupied lands belonging to Tamil people and failure to dismantle the numerous army camps in built up areas even after the war ended 7 years ago led to friction and despair.
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CB bond issue report presented to House
Published Date: 31/10/2016 (Monday)
Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) had tabled in Parliament the final report of the Central Bank (CB) Treasury Bonds probe which concluded that former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran was directly responsible for the questionable bond transaction and recommended that legal action be taken against him and other CB officials involved in it. In his address to Parliament, Mr. Handunnetti said that while all members agreed to the 15 recommendations of the report, there was a dissenting opinion in the report.
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