Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Agreements that betrayed Sri Lanka : 2002 Ceasefire Agreement


- by Shenali D Waduge -

Winning hearts and minds of terrorists, mentality of surrender, advocating theory of “unwinnable war” and policy of appeasing, reducing the country to a pariah state, knowingly giving a terrorist organization status on par with a sovereign state and a democratic government were the characteristics of those led by Ranil Wickremasinghe that went on to sign the 2002 infamous ceasefire agreement today described as one of the greatest betrayals of the nation. Ranil Wickremasinghe was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka who entered into the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement that signed sovereign territory to a terrorist organization so that he could stay in power. The chance given to Ranil Wickremasinghe to lead Sri Lanka was destroyed by his own folly the country cannot and should not trust him again. Those that boast of Ranil Wickremasinghe's vision must take note that this single agreement was detrimental to the country, the people and the forces and this remains an unpardonable crime never to be forgotten.

The supporters of the ceasefire were those that equated the removal of checkpoints giving them freedom of movement as a victory for freedom and peace to the entire nation. Little did these people think what these “removals” and carte blanches would eventually mean to the entire nation.

Lust for power is what we have seen in the manner cross overs are taking place. People have waited for elections to be announced and deals to be struck to cry foul about corruption. Those that hunger for personal glory and international acceptance rarely view what is good for the nation above their personal gains. These weaknesses as one should view them led to blindness to the reality of what the 2002 ceasefire agreement actually entailed. The lack of consultation and the total disregard for the views of the People of Sri Lanka depicted arrogance of those that hungered for personal glory. The lessons are that these very protagonists signatory to the agreement and those that praised it and spoke in favor of it are not suited to be entrusted with handling any matters related to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – ever.Unfortunately, some of these players continue to hold key portfolios and continue to maintain the same mentality and questions those that watch these officials once again attempt to dig Sri Lanka’s grave.

It was Kathy Stone writing to the Weekend Liberal in 2002 that exposed how LTTE would have used Charles Gnanakone to strike a deal with the UNF Government that led to the 2002 CFA. Incidentally, it was Gnanakone’s brother who smuggled shipments of weapons to the LTTE via our own customs.

It was Ranil’s Chief Negotiator and our present Foreign Minister who went to the extent of requesting the lifting of the ban on the LTTE that his predecessor Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar worked hard to achieve. Did we also forget to say that this same Chief Negotiator and present Foreign Minister called Anton Balasingham as “Your Excellency”!

It was Subramaniam Swamy who declared that the UNF Government of Ranil Wickremasinghe functioned according to a “Surrender Mentality” and when the entire show was being led by a Chief Negotiator and present FM we realize that same mentality prevails. The question is did the present Government win a war to succumb to surrender? The bargaining was what was missing on the side of SL at all times throughout the peace talks. Why are the Sri Lankan leaders not reading between the lines of the dangers likely to result. GLP called his victory of negotiating the CFA deal with the LTTE a “road map for peace” – and yes, he remains our FM, did he meant it or was he told to say so. In our eyes, anyone honourable would depart like Mr. Gamini Jayasuriya when he disagreed with the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord. We have no regard for people who cross over during elections and call leaders worse than Prabakaran just to please a gallery.
It was Madam Maria Carrilho, Member of the EU Parliament and Head of Parliament Delegation for Relations with South Asia who went on to say that a new autonomous State will emerge as a result of the CFA and a flag and new anthem should also be given and the then PM’s secretary appears not to have even protested against it.

Let us first look at some key facts:

Date Signed : CFA MOU signed on 22 February 2002

Signatories : GOSL and LTTE (Ranil Wickremasinghe and Prabakaran) Ranil signed agreement and handed it to Norways Ambassador John Westburg in Vavuniya, while Prabakaran signed in Kilinochchi.

Mediator : Norwegian Government

Important:
  • Ranil Wickremasinghe (then Prime Minister of UNF Government) did not inform his own cabinet nor the President of Sri Lanka (Chandrika Bandaranaike) of the agreement being signed.
  • The nationalists viewed the signing as one of the greatest betrayals of the nation no different to the signing of the Kotte Kingdom to the Portuguese  by Don Juan Dharmapala and the signing of the Kandyan Convention on 2 March 1815 to the British. In fact many a time, Ranil Wickremasinghe has been likened to Don Juan Dharmapala!
  • 6 rounds of talks abroad were subsequently held between GOSL and LTTE – all failed.
  • Significant was the Karuna-split from LTTE in March 2004
  • Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission were empowered to only tabulate the violations and NOT to prevent or punish
Key personnel involved in 2002 ceasefire
  • Government Chief Negotiator – GL Peiris
  • Defence Minister – Tilak Marapana “I have no intention at all in waging war with the LTTE at the moment. We have embarked on a peace mission and our target today, and my role as Defence Minister, is not to plan strategy to attack but merely to ready ourselves to defend”
  • Secretary Defense (Dec 2001) – Austin Fernando  http://groundviews.org/2008/11/02/interview-with-austin-fernando-a-peacetime-secretary-of-defence-in-sri-lanka/
  • Chief Spokesman/Secretary for the UNF – Bradmon Weerakoon later to be the Secretary to the PM and thereon to ICES NGO
  • Head of S L Peace Secretariat – Bernard Goonetilake and Jayantha Dhanapala
  • Deputy Director General, Peace Secretariat in Colombo, Dr. John Gunaratne
  • Head, LTTE Peace Secretariat, S. Puleedevan
  • Head, SLMM, Tryggve Tellefssen
  • Army Commander – Gen. Balagalle (25 Aug 2000 – 30 Jun 2004)
  • SL Legal – Lakshman Marasinghe
What the LTTE gained from the CFASri Lanka’s sovereignty betrayed
· LTTE violated the CFA on more than 10,000 occasions · Impunity for Crimes – From 22 February 2002 to 4 February 2006 – LTTE ceasefire violations number 5464. LTTE killed 174 security forces personnel and 388 civilians while 117 were attempted murders, 620 abductions, 46 attempted abductions, 106 cases of extortion, 2199 conscriptions, 875 injury to persons, 22 instances of torture, 128 cases of intimidation (GOSL)· February 2002 to April 2005 LTTE had recruited 1200 children to turn into killers
· LTTE granted an official recognition through CFA (as first clause mentions SL State and LTTE as equal stakeholders
· CFA helped legitimize LTTE’s defacto state.
· LTTE cadres were allowed to freely move throughout Sri Lanka
· LTTE got Ranil to dismantle the Army’s Long Range Reconnaissance Unit (Athurugiriya Safe House) LTTE’s suicide cadres and pistol gangs ended up killing virtually all of Sri Lanka’s intelligence units whose names were divulged by the UNF Govt
· LTTE smuggled shipments of arms, sophisticated communication equipment through SL’s own customs and there are officials and advisors even with the present Govt who were responsible for those approvals.
· These smuggled equipment helped LTTE build an air strip with the asphalt meant for the A9 Highway, assemble small planes
· LTTE even built illegal bunkers in Govt controlled areas
· Ranil’s Govt gave LTTE 95% of their Eelaam and the rest the LTTE planned to secure through the ISGA/PTOMS with the former President playing Santa with Sri Lanka.

· Constitutional violation – for Ranil Wickremasinge to sign an agreement with a proscribed terrorist· The MOU was signed without the consent of the People of Sri Lanka (much like how the same UNP Govt signed the Indo-Lanka Agreement again without the consent of the People)· 2002 CFA was really an unauthorized secret MOU which Ranil Wickremasinghe did not share with his own cabinet or the President of Sri Lanka
· Equating a terrorist organization with a legally established armed forces of a nation
· Forcing the armed forces to shake hands with terrorists who were killers
· Armed forces were continuously humiliated by LTTE
· Security Forces restricted to barracks
· The free access given to LTTE resulted in LTTE assassinating Sri Lanka’s intelligence unit members(violating Article 1 of CFA)
· Maj. Muthalif – Army intelligence May 31, 2005
· Lt. Col. T. Rizvi Meedin – Senior Military intelligence
· UNF Government disclosing Sri Lanka’s long range deployment members causing their deaths by LTTE who hunted them down one after the other (Millenium City Athurugiriya)
· Lakshman Kadiragamar – SL Foreign Minister assassinated
· Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga – Deputy Chief of Staff of Army killed
· Journalist Sivaram (Taraki) in Colombo on April 28, 2005 killed
Article 1: The Modalities of the Ceasefire Agreement
· Neither party to engage in any offensive military operation (total cessation of all military action – inclusive of ambushes, assassinations, abductions, destruction of civilian or military property, suicide missions, activities by deep penetration units, aerial bombardments, offensive naval operations,
· SL army can continue to perform legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in offensive operations against the LTTE

· Separation of Forces:
o   Forward defense locations – GOSL and LTTE can hold their ground positions maintaining separation of 600metres, movement possible but an absolute minimum distance of 400metres to be kept between them.
· GOSL and LTTE to provide information to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) regarding defense localities in all areas and SLMM will draw up demarcation lines.
· GOSL and LTTE cannot move munitions, explosives or military equipment into area controlled by the other Party.
· Tamil paramilitary groups to be disarmed by GOSL.

· Freedom of movement:
  • GOSL and LTTE shall stay in areas under their respective control
  • Unarmed GOSL troops shall be permitted unlimited passage between Jaffna and Vavuniya using Jaffna-Kandy road (A9)
  • “individual combatants” unarmed and in plain clothes can visit families and friends under control of GOSL and visits to be limited to 6 days every second month.
  • GOSL and LTTE reserve right to deny entry to specified military areas.
  • 50 unarmed LTTE members shall for political work be permitted freedom of movement in areas of North and East dominated by GOSL.
  • 100 unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day +60, and all unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day+90.
  • LTTE members to carry ID papers.
  • GOSL has right to deny entry to specified military areas
Article 2 : Measures to restore normalcy
  • GOSL and LTTE to undertake confidence-building measures to restore normalcy.
  • GOSL and LTTE shall abstain from hostile acts against civilian population including acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.
  • GOSL and LTTE shall refrain from engaging in activities or propagating ideas that could offend cultural or religious sensitivities. SL Army to vacate all places of worship that it is occupying.
  • GOSL and LTTE to vacate school buildings
  • A schedule to indicate return of all other public buildings
  • GOSL and LTTE to review security measures and checkpoints particularly in densely populated cities and towns to prevent harassment of civilian population (indirectly aiming at reducing Colombo’s high security checkpoints)
  • GOSL and LTTE to ensure unimpeded flow of non-military goods to and from the LTTE-dominated areas with exception of certain items.
  • GOSL and LTTE to establish checkpoints at locations on their line of control to facilitate flow of goods and movement of civilians.
  • GOSL and LTTE to ensure Trincomalee-Habarana road remains open 24×7 for passenger traffic
  • GOSL and LTTE to facilitate extension of rail service on Batticoloa-line to Welikanda – repairs to be done by GOSL.
  • GOSL and LTTE to open Kandy-Jaffna road (A9) to non-military traffic of goods and passengers modalities to be worked out with Norway
  • Easing of fishing restrictions – but fishing will not be permitted in harbours or approaches to harbours, bays and estuaries along the coast.
  • Norway to appoint Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (HoM) who will be final authority regarding interpretation of CFA.
  • SLMM to liaise with GOSL and LTTE and report to Norway
  • Head of SLMM to decide date of SLMM’s operations.
  • SLMM will have offices in Colombo, Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticoloa, Amparai
  • GOSL and LTTE agree that search operations and arrests under Prevention of Terrorism Act shall not take place. Arrests will be under Criminal Procedure Code.
Article 3: The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
  • To inquire into instances of violation of the Agreement
  • Local monitoring committee in each of the 6 offices set up shall have 5 members (2 appointed by GOSL, 2 by LTTE and 1 appointed by HoM) the international monitor shall chair committee.
  • The local committee shall advise SLMM
  • GOSL and LTTE responsible for protection and security arrangements of all SLMM members.
  • SLMM shall have access to areas where violations take place
  • SLMM to take immediate action on complaints made by GOSL or LTTE
Article 4 : Entry into force, amendments and termination of the Agreement
  • GOSL and LTTE to notify consent to be bound by the Agreement through letter to the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
  • Agreement may be amended and modified by mutual agreement
  • Termination of agreement can be given by either Party to Norway within 14 days of advance notice.
The number of violations committed by the LTTE was well over 10,000 as many of these were not even tabulated. The LTTE violations included constructing new positions, firing weapons, moving military equipment, deploying weapons, carrying out offensive naval operations, illegally transporting arms and committing hostile acts against civilians which included intimidation and abductions of adults and children –  every clause of the agreement violated by the LTTE and not a hum from even Norway or SL Government that signed the agreement.

The very fact that those signatory agreed to place LTTE a terrorist organization in par with a democratic government itself is shameful and allowing LTTE free movement and the capacity to virtually redraw their boundaries only sums the fact that there is no better word to describe these protagonists of the ceasefire than “traitors”.

These are reasons not to trust Ranil Wickremasinghe. His vision, his competencies and abilities aside the 2002 agreement was signed with LTTE in secret and his own Ministers were clueless and that does not give the people any confidence as a result of his conduct however likable a person he is. The country and the people cannot be entrusted to him especially in the manner he has put Maithripala to contest on his behalf until he takes over after 100 days. It is these factors that are being viewed by the majority of the people.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who will rule? A question from an undecided voter


article_imageBy Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

Like the majority of my fellow citizens I am an undecided voter.My father Mervyn de Silva used to characterize me slightly critically, as "a Romantic", and the romantic in me would like to vote for change. But right now, I cannot make that decision because the Realist in me raises a fundamental question: "who rules?" Or rather, who would rule, if Mr. Sirisena wins?Sadly, the answer to that question is not "Mr. Sirisena, would, of course". That is because Mr. Sirisena has told us categorically that he would abolish the executive presidency within one hundred days. He has also told us that he would appoint Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, when he could have said instead that the Prime Ministership would be given to the UNP (the party, not the person). In addition, as Maithripala’s media conference and more tellingly his homage at the Bandaranaike Samadhi tells us, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga would be a key player in the bloc that succeeds Mahinda Rajapaksa.

So the question—and it is the most basic question of politics— remains: Who will rule? We know who will not rule, namely Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Is that good enough? Is that enough to make a decision to vote for Maithripala? Not for me, and I daresay, not for the majority of our citizens. That may have been enough if the President were quite as unpopular as President Jayewardene in his last few years in office. But that is not the case with Mahinda. Furthermore, even in the case of JRJ, the voter was fastidious about whom we would replace him with—Sirima Bandaranaike or Ranasinghe Premadasa? In short, would we go back to the bad old days of ’70-’77, or forward to a socially fairer future?

If Maithripala Sirisena steps down after abolishing the presidency in a hundred days or whenever, who would lead this country and how would that person be chosen? Under the executive presidency power resides in the hands of the institution occupied by the individual who has won a majority of the votes of the citizens of this island taken as a single whole. After the abolition of the presidency that would not be the case. If executive power has been transferred to the Prime Minister, then the country would be led by someone who has not been elected by the majority of our citizens but by those of a single electoral unit, a district—which is a far more narrowly restricted base. Is that what we want? Certainly I do not.

If the choice is between the Presidency as it is,and a reformed Presidency which is less centralized and top-heavy, I would certainly opt for the reformed version. If however the choice is between the existing presidency and no executive presidency at all and an executive Prime Ministership instead, I would reluctantly take my chances with the status quo.

That is a rather abstract choice, but there is a far more concrete one to be made. If we vote in Mr. Sirisena and he is no longer the occupant of the office we voted him into because he has abolished it, and instead Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Prime Minister with executive powers (as they proclaim on the UNP platform), then the closest approximation of an answer to the question ‘who will rule?’ becomes clear: the PM, to wit, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mr.Sirisena has already sought permission to address him as "Sir". Obviously, no leader of a country will address Mr. Wickremesinghe as "Sir" if he hopes to remain the leader de jure of the country. It is also obvious that Mr. Wickremsinghe is and will be in an alliance with Ms. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, whom Mr. Sirisena calls "Madam".

So it will no longer be Mahinda Rajapaksa, who as a President elected by our votes does not and will not call Ranil "Sir" and Chandrika "Madam", who will rule us. Rather, after Mr. Sirisena has done his job as "an interim President" as Mano Ganeshan has accurately termed it, it is "Sir" and "Madam" who will jointly rule this country, as they so splendidly did from 1994 to 2005. Is that really the change we want? Is that the change we seek and deserve? Pardon me if I have second thoughts.

Change is needed. Iran needed a moderate nationalist in the form of Dr. Hassan Rouhani, to re-set relations with the West. He beat the nominee of the hawkish populist, Mr. Ahmadinejad. But what if Dr. Rouhani had pledged to step down in a hundred days and bring back the Shah or a member of the deposed pro-Western monarchy? Mr. Sirisena’s pledge to abolish the Presidency while making Ranil the PM, and worse still the written pledge reported in the Sunday Times to the effect that he will hand over executive powers to Ranil within 24 hours, smacks of a restorationist project to bring back the ancient regime of Chandrika-Ranil. Churchill was defeated by Attlee. What if Attlee has promised to bring back Neville Chamberlain and step down from office upon election?

Much as I would like to believe otherwise and unless I am convinced to the contrary by what Mr. Sirisena might do by or on Nomination Day, my lucid Realism overcomes my Romanticism and tells me that the real choice here is not Maithripala versus Mahinda, but precisely the following: "do we prefer Ranil and Chandrika to Mahinda (with his clan)?" I must confess that I for one am not convinced that the former combination is the more desirable. Nor do I think that the majority of voters will opt for that duo, any more than the majority of Russian voters (who are provincial and patriotic) would have opted for the return of a combination of Yeltsin plus Gorbachev, over Putin.

I am inclined under the current circumstances, to prefer the ‘containment’ of the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency, to his electoral overthrow. Therefore, unless the Opposition discourse, agenda and trajectory are dramatically re-set, I shall content myself with wishing Mr. Sirisena good luck, hoping he gives Mahinda a real run for his money, and simply staying home. As would appear to be the case with the JVP, my hopes for change are probably best transferred to the parliamentary election.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Editorial: Common Candidate!



පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක!

මී ළඟ ජනාධිපතිවරණය සඳහා පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකයකු සොයා ගැනීම තරම් දුෂ්කර සහ කරදරකාරී දෙයක්‌ ලංකා ඉතිහාසය තුළ වාර්තා වී නැත. ස්‌වෙච්ඡාවෙන් සයනයිඩ් කන්නට කැමැති මිනිහකු මෙයට වඩා පහසුවෙන් සොයා ගත හැක. පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකත්වය ගැන ලැබෙන හැම ආරංචියක්‌ ම ඉතාම කුසීත, අලස හැඟීමක්‌ සිත තුළ ඇති කරයි. පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකයකු එන්නේ ඇයි? විධායක ජනාධිපති ධුරය අහෝසි කර දෙනු පිණිසය. මෙම සිද්ධියෙහි තිබෙන ලොකුම විහිළුව නම් විධායක ජනාධිපති ධුරය අහෝසි කරන බව ලංකාවට පමණක්‌ නොව සදෙව් ලොවටත් ඇහෙන පරිදි කියාගෙන, එක්‌වරක්‌ නොව දෙවරක්‌ ම ජනාධිපති වීත් එම පොරොන්දුව ඉටු නො කළ චJද්‍රිකා කුමාරතුංග මහත්මියට ද පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක වන ලෙස විපක්‍ෂය ආරාධනා කිරීම ය. එහෙත් ඇය එම ඉල්ලීම ප්‍රතික්‍ෂේප කර ඇත. එමගින් හැඟෙන්නේ ඇයට 'දේශපාලන ලඡ්ජා බය' තිබෙන බව ය. පූජ්‍ය මාදුළුවාවේ සෝභිත ස්‌වාමිපාදයාණන් වහන්සේ ද පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකයකු වීම පිණිස මහත් ආසාවෙන් සිටි(න) කෙනෙකි. තරගය සහ බලයට මුල් තැන දෙන ගිහියන්ට පමණක්‌ සුදුසු දේශපාලනය වැනි පරිහානිගත සාධකයක්‌ වැළඳ ගැනීමට යැමෙන් මාදුළුවාවේ සෝභිත අපේ හාමුදුරුවන් වහන්සේ සංසාරය තව තවත් දීර්ඝ කර ගන්නට උත්සාහ කරන්නේ යෑයි අප නිකමටවත් කල්පනා නො කළ යුතු ය.

එහෙත් උන්වහන්සේගේ පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකකම කවදාවත් ඉටු නොවන බව පෙනෙයි. තමන් පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක වීමට සූදානම් බව උන්වහන්සේ විසින් කටින්ම කියන ලද නමුදු උන්වහන්සේ වටා සිටින තණ්‌aහාධික දේශපාලන ගිහියන්ට ඒ තැන උන්වහන්සේට දීමට වුවමනා නැත. පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකකම කොහොම වුණත් එජාපයේ අපේක්‍ෂකයා රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ මහතා ය. පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක වීමේ නිකැලැල් ආශාව කරු ජයසූරියට ඇති නමුදු කොළඹින් පිට ගම්වල වෙසෙන අය එතුමාගේ නම පවා නො දන්නා නිසා එම තැන ලබා ගැනීම දුෂ්කර ය. ඒ අතර ඉතා හොඳට සිහි බුද්ධියෙන් සිටි අර්ජුන රණතුංග ද පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක වීමට කැමැති බව පළ කෙරෙන කටකතා පැතිර යයි. ලෝක පූජිත ක්‍රිකට්‌ ක්‍රීඩකයකු සහ තඹ සල්ලියක හොරයක්‌ බොරුවක්‌ නැති යහපත් මනුස්‌සයකු වශයෙන් අර්ජුනට ලංකාවාසීන් අතර ලොකු තැනක්‌ තිබේ. පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක වීමෙන් ඔහු මේ උත්සාහ කරන්නේ ඒ තැන නැති කර ගැනීමට ය. ගිය සැරේ වූ ඇබැද්දිය මතක ඇති නම් හිටපු ජෙනරාල් සරත් පොන්සේකා පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක වීමට පවා ලංකාවේ ජීවත් වීමටවත් කැමැති නො වන බව අපට විශ්වාස ය. ඉකුත් ජනාධිපතිවරණයේදී ජ.වි.පෙ. සහ යූඑන්පීය එකතු වී ඔහු පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකයකු කර ඔහු පරාජය වන තුරු බලා සිට සකල අමාරුවක හෙළී ය. යූඑන්පිය නම් එවර ජෙනරාල්ට පරාජය වන්නට ඉඩ දී ඔහේ බලා සිටියේ ය. ජෙනරාල් පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක කිරීමට වැඩේ සෙට්‌ කළ මංගල සමරවීර ටික කලක්‌ යන තුරු ආගිය අතක්‌ පවා නැති විය. අන්තිමේදී ජෙනරාල් තනි විය. ඔහුගේ සබ්බ සකලමනාව පමණක්‌ නොව කෝට්‌ එකත් එහි තිබූ තරු ටිකත් නැති විය. මෙවැනි විපත් මිනිසුන්ට නො විය යුතු ය. ඉන් පසු ඔහුගේම දේශපාලන පක්‍ෂයේ අය එකා බැගින් ඔහු අත්හැර යන්නට පටන් ගත්හ.

මාස ගණනාවක්‌ තිස්‌සේ සියලු නාඩගම් නැටීමෙන් පසුත් මහින්ද රාජපක්‍ෂට විරුද්ධව පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකයකු සොයා ගැනීමට බැරි වීමෙන් පෙනී යන්නේ මේ රටේ විපක්‍ෂය කොතරම් දුර්වල ද යන්නය. අපට දැන ගන්නට තිබෙන පරිදි පොදු අපේක්‍ෂකකමට තමිල්නාඩුවේ ජයලලිතා හැර අන් සියලු දෙනාටම ආරාධනා කර අවසන් ය. (ජයලලිතාට තහනම් වන්නේ තමිල්නාඩුවේ ඡන්දය ඉල්ලීම පමණි) අද පොදු අපේක්‍ෂක යනු මහත් වූ විහිළු රසයක්‌ සපයන වචනයකි. බලන්නකෝ ඒකෙත් හැටි!


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Gambling for a Common Candidate as Sri Lankan President and Global Leader

The Common Candidate Search Group all agree for the need for a Common Candidate but for months on now they are in a twist who to choose. As for the voters of Sri Lanka, what is important when casting their vote is to realize how far they want change, what that change is likely to result for the country and whether any reversal of the gains are likely to result in bringing about that change. It becomes all the more important that our choice of leader for Sri Lanka needs to be looked more upon the ability to protect Sri Lanka from the global sharks than simply wearing the crown of President of Sri Lanka. The contenders all of whom had held leadership roles in the past it is good to look back and take cognisance of how far they have actually protected and guarded the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. If they have not they do not deserve any place in re-contesting to repeat their felonies.

Candidate 1: Ranil Wickremasinghe
Gambling with the prospects of
  • Winning UNP votes (significant number though let’s not forget that there are some UNP voters who put their brains before their hearts and place the interest of the country first. They have done so in the past and they are likely to be the key decider for this election)
  • Winning Muslim votes (significant number of commercially inclined Muslims who believe that only the UNP is capable of drawing Western investments. Lets not forget that a large number of rural Muslims did not vote for the UNP or the Muslim Congress at the last election)
  • Winning Tamil votes (the Northern and Southern votes assured as has always happened)
  • Winning the Christian/Catholic votes (these votes are now split in half and there are again large numbers of people who put brains before heart and vote and generally large numbers of urban voters end up not going to vote too)
  • Not wanting to win the Buddhist vote (this has been a known fact. UNP have never cared to change the status quo and instead preferred to woo the non-majority voters only – a mathematical hara kiri)
  • Will people remember or care to remember
    • The betrayal of the nation and the soldiers as well as over 60 intelligence officers in agreeing to sign an agreement not shared with even his key Ministers? (Cease Fire Agreement of 2002)
    • The appeasement and subservience towards Western domination likely to leave Sri Lanka as a servant state with a puppet leader and bring down the country and reverse all that we have gained post-conflict?
    • The ability to actually lead the nation when needs of the majority populace are purposely ignored in UNP policies is a key obstacle
    • What has Ranil done for Sri Lanka in 40 years of politics – Is 30 election losses an achievement!
Candidate 2: Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
Gambling with the prospects of
  • Winning support of the current Ministers in the UPFA as a support base and cross over
  • Winning support of the majority Buddhist bloc aligned to organizations now calling for the abolition of the Presidency – aim to divide the Buddhist vote
  • Winning support of the UNP vote base as common candidate
  • Winning support of the Muslim vote base as common candidate relying on Muslim Congress support
  • Winning support of the Tamil vote base as common candidate assured of TNA support
  • Winning support of the Christian/Catholic vote base as common candidate
  • Winning the JVP insignificant vote base through friend Mangala
  • Will people remember or care to remember
    • The beeshana period under both her terms
    • Now promises end to corruption – Lest we forget - The ‘chowra rajina’ Bandit Queen allegations and Water’s Edge verdict
    • Now promises Rights for Women - women supporters of the UNP stripped naked and forced to march along the street under her rule
    • Didn’t she pledge to remove the Executive President in six months in 1994 and stayed on for 2 terms!
    • She did promise Prabakaran to allow him to rule the Northern Province for 10 years without elections!
    • We are now told she has bowed out of the Common Candidate race – there’s also the possibility to change one’s mind too!

The web comments are quite interesting and reveal the views of people for other prospective Common Candidates
Anura Kumara Dissanayake – able to drag Sri Lanka into stoneage. Lets also remember that all the people they killed were Sinhala Buddhists and not a single LTTE terrorist!
Sarath Fonseka – Revenge mantra will lead to doom but people like to hear some ‘kalawedda’ stories!
Sajith Premadasa – All Talk No Action
Sobitha thero – Referred to as Mr. by some and that says it all! The thero promises he will hold forte for 6 months if elected and then abolish the Executive Presidency …. Similar story was told by that trishaw driver to Sirisena Cooray at the Municipality Elections but refused to step down thereafter!
Karu – A Journalist claimed he was bribed Rs.50,000 per month for publicity! Not a good start for a Common Candidate
Arjuna – Leading Sri Lanka and representing Sri Lanka on world political stage is no game of cricket!

The common candidate confusion cannot erase and in fact has raised people’s doubts of how the country can be led when the parties vying to select a common candidate have yet to select one and they have been on the job for quite some time now. Just imagine how decisions may be taken after their Common Candidate gets elected and the disagreements likely to arise given the ideological and other political agendas each of the common candidate group are all aligned to. How many promises and pledges must be taking place for the support of each group, what are their demands to canvass their people for votes, will the common candidate President be able to give in to all these demands and will he/she actually honor these demands or will all this end up in further chaos for the nation – these are factors that Sri Lanka’s voters be they Sinhalese, Tamil Muslim, Burgher, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian/Catholic, Islam or atheists and agnostics will need to think about BEFORE they cast their vote!
While the common candidate group are busy selecting a candidate it is good for voters to think about their selection too and most of all imagine what Sri Lanka is likely to be like if their choice of common candidate wins and he/she can’t or won’t honor the promises made to appear as common candidate.
It is also a good time for the general public too to realize that each of us individually have a greater role to play and are ourselves accountable by our actions for taking the country forward or backwards – the blame cannot always be placed on the doorstep of the politicians.

“A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and has shown the way’.

“Aspirants for that role are those who don’t know the way, have gone the wrong way and can’t show the way”.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Legal Marriage Age Changed to 7 for Muslim Girls from a Gazette Notification?

New Gazette notification has come last month.

Here is the government website link: http://www.gic.gov.lk/gic/index.php?option=com_info&task=info&id=1847&lang=en

Read carefully...above age of 12 years, Quasi does not have to approve. Below age of 12 years, Quasi has to approve. Quasi can approve up to age of 7 years.

Isn't this a violation of women and children rights and all the accepted norms of a civilized society? This law has to be changed to 18 years as with the common law in Sri Lanka.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Defence Seminar 2013: Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision for Sri Lanka

Making the keynote address at the 3rd consecutive Sri Lanka Army organized ‘Defence Seminar-2013 on the theme ‘Post-Conflict Sri Lanka: Challenges and Regional Stability’, held from 3rd to 5th September at the Galadari Hotel, Colombo, Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa delivered a spectacular and visonary speech to the more than 300 participants including 66 foreign delegates from 29 countries.
The 1st Defence Seminar focused on Lessons Learnt by the Sri Lankan Defence establishment in defeating LTTE terrorism.
The 2nd Defence Seminar focused on Post-war efforts to create lasting peace and stability examining steps under 5 areas of Reconstruction, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Reconciliation.  
Secretary Defence on Sri Lanka’s immediate post-war challenge successes  
1.         Accommodating and ensuring the welfare of nearly 300,000 Internally Displaced Persons
2.         Demining and Reconstruction of Infrastructure/facilities – nearly 5000sq.km of land demined. 
3.         Resettling the IDPs in their places of origin (All IDPs in welfare camps were resettled from October 2009 – August 2012) inclusive of other displaced persons. This achievement took 3 years and 3 months after elimination of LTTE.
4.         Rehabilitating nearly 12,000 ex-LTTE cadres and
5.         Reintegrating them to society.
Independent Surveys 1:
UNHCR survey confirmed Sri Lanka’s resettlement success (Nov 2012-Mar 2013) assessing Sri Lanka against global standard of Inter Agency Standing Committee Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons – Sri Lanka is mentioned under–
a) access to personal and other documentation without discrimination
b) family reunification
c) access to effective remedies and justice
d) safety and security
e) access to livelihoods
f) participation in public affairs
Note: Only 29% of respondents had negative views on military presence.
Independent Surveys 2:
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Field Mission survey (May-June 2013)
§  ‘remarkable improvement in infrastructure development in many sectors including transportation, communication, roads, railways and health facilities’
§  Survey observed that there was no visible presence of armed military personnel in uniforms that military support was primarily for ‘immediate and development needs of the population’ (building houses, shelter, water, sanitation, scholarships for schools and children, vocational training, organizing tours for people of North to visit other parts of Sri Lanka) – efforts to help civilians return to normal life.
Independent Surveys 3: Foreign Researchers/Dr. Kruglanski & Dr. Gelfland of the University of Maryland
§  LTTE cadres showed reduction in support for violence after rehabilitation program
Other successfully completed post-war challenges:
§  Setting up Livelihood Assistance programs
§  Material Assistance programs – donation of fishing gear, utilities for farming, provision of livestock and seeds for agriculture
Secretary Defence on shifting military from combat with terrorists to cooperation with civilians/society:
§  Gradual reduction of military camps/troops but military will remain for strategic security reasons.
§  Engineering battalions engaged in reconstruction and national development programs
§  Redrawing internal security policies and procedures and expanding intelligence units
§  Handing over to police the maintenance of law and order – establishment of more police stations and recruitment of Tamil speaking police personnel
§  Helping restore civil administration mechanism
§  Disarming former armed groups
§  Civilian properties in the process of being handed over once legal proof of ownership is established.
§  Removing restrictions previously placed for security reasons (movement in high security zones, limitation to fishing, restrictions in trade of classified items) Palaly cantonment is open to all with free access to airport and Kankasanthurai harbour.
§  Releasing detainees for involvement in LTTE activities while a handful remains in detention for prosecution. Database of all detainees available with police. Lawyers, family, Human Rights Commission and ICRC given access to them
§  Repealing of Emergency Regulations in August 2011
Secretary Defence responds to allegations against Military : Number of Civilian Casualties
Number of civilian casualties (during final stage of war) ranged from 7000 to more than 40,000. The allegations were all guestimates without sources and ignored independent and credible sources (Dept of Census & Statistics/UNICEF/LLRC).
If LTTE had 30,000 approximate cadres at the start of the Humanitarian Operation and nearly 12,000 surrendered to the Armed Forces either the remaining had been killed, they are posing as civilians or have fled the country.
It must be also noted that Sri Lanka lost nearly 6000 of its personnel in combat while 20,000 or so were injured. Such a number of casualties in the army could not have happened if the enemy was not engaged in intense battle with the Sri Lankan military during the final stages of the war.
Department of Census and Statistics ‘Enumeration of Vital Events’ in Northern Province (June-Aug 2011) field data collected in July 2011 by 2500 Tamil and Muslim Government servants from North. Report revealed:
a.  7896 deaths due to unnatural causes (Jan-May 2009) included LTTE cadres killed in action,
b.  2635 persons reported as untraceable (parents/next of kin had not recovered their bodies or knew their whereabouts)
c.   Of 2360 cases investigations reveal that 1625 persons had been forcibly recruited by the LTTE.
d.  Only 26 instances of people reported by the next of kin who had surrendered to the Security Forces and subsequently disappeared.
Secretary Defence on reasons for civilian deaths/missing  
§  civilians killed by LTTE trying to escape to Govt controlled areas,
§  civilians detained and killed by LTTE for other reasons
§  civilian deaths from being forcefully used in combat by LTTE
§  civilians deaths from crossfire
§  civilians reported dead but likely to have escaped or illegally migrated overseas. An unknown number of persons have left Sri Lanka and are now living overseas. The countries hosting them have not revealed their details to the Government of Sri Lanka.
§  deaths not occurring during Humanitarian Operation but reported to claim compensation
§  false reporting
UNICEF with Probation and Child Care Commission of North and Government Agent of Vavuniya – Family Reunification Project (confirms and corroborates with Sri Lanka’s findings)
§  2564 tracing applications received by July 2011
§  1888 applications related to missing adults
§  676 applications related to missing children
§  64% parents of missing children claimed LTTE had recruited their children.
Those making allegations against the Sri Lankan military may like to explain how any military should confront a non-state actor using asymmetric warfare strategies with no compunctions to safeguard civilian lives and oft times using civilians as human shields in order to attract external intervention and to once again gain themselves breathing space?
Those throwing stones at the Sri Lankan military may also like to explain why LTTE would deliberately and repeatedly launch artillery and mortar attacks at the military from No Fire Zones/ civilian installations like hospitals and churches which were created for the civilians and not for LTTE to place their weapons and ammunition or take refuge amongst the Tamil civilians?
Secretary Defence on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Report  
§  LLRC concluded that there was No DELIBERATE targeting of civilians by Sri Lankan Military
§  LTTE responsible for violations of international humanitarian law
Secretary Defence on International Commentaries on Post-Conflict
§  Negative feedback on Reconciliation – lacked holistic perspective did not consider ground realities as reconciliation is a process and takes time to accomplish and cannot give overnight results.
§  Negative feedback ignored type of rule under LTTE – people of the North and parts of East had no democratic freedoms – no room for dissent, no alternate views, everyone disagreeing with LTTE were silenced. People living amongst LTTE were taught to hate the Sinhalese and the State. Removing 30 years of indoctrination inspite of resettlement, reconstruction and even rehabilitation is not easy.
Secretary Defence on Democratic Process in Sri Lanka (contrary to the statement by Navi Pillai claiming Sri Lanka was heading towards an Authoritarian rule)
§  Provincial Council elections held in Eastern Province in 2008 before the Humanitarian Operation ended
§  Local Authority elections for Jaffna Municipal Council / Vavuniya Urban Council in August 2009
§  Presidential Election held in 2010
§  General Elections held in 2010
§  Local authority elections held island-wide in 2011
§  Provincial Council elections to be held in September 2013 – the 1st after 1989 elections of merged North-East province through 13th amendment. North-East demerged in 2006.
Secretary Defence on LTTE-fronts continuing to pose threat to Sri Lanka
§  LTTE’s extensive international network remains intact and their propaganda needs to be effectively countered.
§  Extremist elements within Tamil expat community part of this network
§  Their intent is to divide Sri Lanka
§  Strategies used include winning international opinion for separatist cause, increasing international pressure on Sri Lanka, undermining Government efforts for reconciliation and economic development, attempting to resume conflict by reorganizing local militant activities
§  These LTTE-linked groups influence foreign NGOs, foreign parliamentarians and even fund local groups masquerading as democratic
§  The LTTE international network comprises
a.    Tamil Coordinating Committee based in Norway led by Nediyawan
b.    Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam in US led by Rudrakumaran
c.    LTTE headquarter group in France led by Vinayagam
d.    Global Tamil Forum led by Father Emmanuel who coordinates all above groups.
§  Foreign Service and Foreign Ministry despite lack of resources need to counter by communicating the true picture globally.
Secretary Defence on Threats from Extremist Groups (including those involved in previous insurgencies)
§  Groups attempting to mobilize people to take up extreme left wing causes
§  Groups radicalizing students / the public and encouraging them to take to the streets in protest
§  Increase in communalism amongst ethnic groups – increased insularity of ethnic groups may lead to fragmentation of the Sri Lankan identity into ethno-religious lines
§  Some in the Tamil community who identify more with Tamil Nadu than with fellow Sri Lankans.
§  Some foreign groups encouraging Sri Lankan Muslims to identify themselves with global Muslim community distancing them from integrating with other communities
§  Muslim fundamentalism spreading all over the world and in Asia and concerns Sri Lanka’s Law Enforcement agencies and Security Forces.
§  Extremist groups have been in transit in Sri Lanka and may promote Muslim extremism in Sri Lanka
§  Consequence of increasing narrow-mindedness of minority ethnic groups is emergence of hardline groups within majority community which will lead to further tensions and a vicious cycle affecting overall unity.
Secretary Defence on Organized Crime
§  Rise of terrorism and insurrection required state to procure arms and ammunition some of which have fallen into criminal hands.
§  Rise of underworld engaged in organized crime – drugs, armed robberies, kidnappings for ransom, financial frauds, seizing land illegally are a handful of activities that need to be tackled.

Secretary Defence on Media Freedom
§   Legitimate media channels, newspapers, websites freely operate in Sri Lanka
§   Some illegal sources also engage in false propaganda to damage the country’s image internationally.
§   Negative image campaigning will impact on tourism, foreign investment and even trade
§   Media organizations (every citizen and political group) must exercise their democratic freedoms with responsibility – they should not engage in unlawful activity under the guise of exercising their freedoms.
Secretary Defence on India and Sri Lanka’s strategic geographical location in South Asia
§   Continued inter-linking domestic issues between Sri Lanka and India (India’s sensitivity to events in Sri Lanka due to influence of Tamil Nadu state on Tamil issues especially at times of elections)
§   Bilateral issues – increasing incidents of illegal fishing by Tamil Nadu fishermen on Sri Lankan waters
§   India is the most important and powerful country in South Asia, but Sri Lanka is a completely independent sovereign nation which India is aware of
§   Critical that both India and Sri Lanka retain a meaningful and close relationship despite issues arising between them
Secretary Defence on Sri Lanka’s relationship with China
§  China’s involvement in Sri Lanka is purely diplomatic and economic
§  China has been one of Sri Lanka’s foremost development partners contributing richly to key economic development projects.
§  Sri Lanka’s relationship with China should not be regarded as a threat by any other nation.
Secretary Defence on Regional Issues Sri Lanka faces due to Sri Lanka’s geo-strategic position
§  Asian region becoming increasingly important in global affairs
§  India and China increasing economic and military development bring Asian region into global focus
§  Western Governments may attempt to influence Sri Lanka to align to their interests in the Asian region
§  Power politics between nations will affect Sri Lanka’s relations with these nations.
Secretary Defence on Maritime Security
§   Sri Lanka does not have land borders
§   Sri Lanka does need to protect its maritime security and prevent transnational crimes – drugs, smuggling, arms smuggling and human trafficking, maritime assets within Exclusive Economic Zone, safeguarding Sea Lines of Communication against piracy.
Secretary Defence on National Economy
§   War suppressed economic potential and held back Sri Lanka’s growth
§   History reveals that majority of problems were fundamentally economic (insurrections of 1970s, 1980s even LTTE manipulated economic aspect along ethnic /racial lines)
§   Post-war needs to address unequal development / rural underdevelopment and uplift standard of living in rural areas to standards enjoyed in cities.
§   Establishing highways to connect distant cities – reduce travel time.
§   Rural masses must not feel marginalized or feel economic compulsion to move to cities (education, healthcare, meaningful employment without leaving their places of origin)
§   Need to promote tourism, foreign direct investment, industrial development, value addition in agriculture, service economy
§   Retain talented young people and encourage them to remain in Sri Lanka.
§   Keeping with our traditional way of living develop our agriculture, animal husbandry and seek self-sufficiency.
§   Adapt 5-hub strategy to develop Sri Lanka as a Knowledge Hub, Commercial Hub, Naval and Maritime Hub, Aviation Hub and Energy Hub.
§   Hambantota Port and Mattala Airport is a long term plan to derive economic potential to maximize on volume of ships that pass through the sea lines making the Hambantota region as an industrial and transhipment cargo hub.
Secretary Defence on Sri Lanka’s Future
§  Being able to navigate present issues (national security, geo-politics etc) will determine Sri Lanka’s destiny.
§  Looking ahead positively and confidently without focusing on issues inherited from the past
§  People need to develop mentality beyond that of a developing nation shedding Third World Mentality.
§  All Sri Lankans must accept challenge and move forward together into a shared future as one Sri Lankan nation.
Secretary Defence on Safeguarding Democracy
§  Handling subversive elements from using modern communication technology (internet, global news media, mobile phones etc) to attempting to disseminate wrong information and arouse people negatively.
Secretary Defence on future challenges:
1.    Preventing the re-emergence of terrorism
2.    Establishing effective methods to project Sri Lanka to the international community
3.    Suppressing the emergence of other extremist groups
4.    Preventing further ethnic divisions and communal violence
5.    Challenges of maritime security and border control
6.    Curtailing the growth of organised crime, and
7.    New challenges in safeguarding a just and wholesome democracy.
Secretary Defence on way forward:
§  Secretary Defence on a Government obligations:
o   Ensure national reconciliation is achieved
o   Move Sri Lanka into the future together as one nation without fragmentation into groups based on ethnicity, religion, caste or place of origin.
o   Ensure all Sri Lankans have same opportunities and unobstructed access to state services
o   Ensure Sri Lanka is a peaceful, stable and rapidly development democracy.
o   Holding elections after restoring normalcy to North and East provinces
o   Issues delayed due to terrorism must be attended to
o   Economic issues as a result of global economic conditions need to be solved gradually instead of using them as political slogans.

§  Secretary Defence on People’s obligations:
o   People must move forward as a nation – united by what we have in common.
o   People must not stay locked in a post-conflict mentality
o   People must remove from ‘Third-World Mentality’
o   People must understand freedoms guaranteed through democracy must be exercised with responsibility. Ex: right to public assembly – freedom to demonstrate on issues that they feel are important does not give freedom to engage in violent protest, incite violence or act in other undemocratic ways. Then they would have exploited and abused their democratic freedoms. When this happens other people with vested interests use this to turn the situation to their advantage and project a negative image of the country internationally as well as amongst the locals themselves.
§  Secretary Defence  on Politicians/political Party’s obligations:
o   
Political parties must promote the interests of the nation without focusing on one group
o   Political parties must bring all ethnicities and cultures together into one Sri Lankan identity so that the nation can progress.
o   Main political parties must stop politicizing divisive issues for petty political gain
A fine picture of Sri Lanka’s future was articulated in the key note address by the Secretary Defence covering the immediate post-war challenges, the achievements of the armed forces in their new role of capacity building in cooperation with civilians and society. It has heralded a distinctly unique partnership one that combines the value-added logistical capabilities and discipline of the armed forces with the new challenges that face a Sri Lanka journeying towards a future without terrorism and ushering a new chapter in uniting nations of the Asian continent for regional stability, economic growth and overall a shared future.


Shenali D Waduge