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Better to be good neighbours than perish as one family

Born and brought up in Colombo, I was a proud Sri Lankan. Royal College taught me respect, tolerance and friendship. I was always the first to be called to the stage to sing our national anthem on any occasion. Yes, I was a proud Sri Lankan who never wanted to leave the paradise on Earth. I had dreams of making my country one of the best in the world. Better than Singapore. Most of my best friends were Sinhalese (I still value and maintain their friendship).

 Even though I had terrible experiences in school due to my ethnicity, I was taught to tolerate as I was taught that the bad people belonged to all communities. When I was assaulted by two students in school for racial reasons my Vice Principal Mr. Gunasekara gave the healing touch. I never understood why people behaved like that. I also never understood why one of my dear friends was arrested. He came back with a broken bone and a permanent psychological scar for doing no wrong but being a Tamil.

 1983 communal riots shattered all hopes in me. By the way, the word communal riots means two communities fighting with each other. But what happened in 1983 was not that. Innocent Tamils were butchered by organised gangs with the government watching the act. Instead of giving a healing touch, the government tried to justify and cover-up everything. My house was burnt, my dear friends killed, entire families wiped out and I was kicked out of the country as a refugee.

 Now I am in Canada — a respected citizen of this country, which only looks at you as a fellow human being. I am proud to work for this great nation, for its development. Who cares whether you are a Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim, Italian, white, black or any other damn thing. You are respected for the talents and hard work you put in.

I do not say that this is the perfect world but people here seem to have learned the lessons and the bitter truth of what racism could do to a country from places like Sri Lanka. Who is the loser? Definitely Sri Lanka. It has lost its former faithful citizens both Tamils and Sinhalese to many countries in the world.  

I still love Sri Lanka. I still maintain great friendship with my Sinhalese brothers who share my thoughts. When two brothers in the family cannot live together and there is irreparable damage done by poisoning of innocent hearts permanently, with stupid history tellers of Dutugemunu, why not we live as good neighbours? It is time to part rather than live in misery as one family and kill each other.

 Live and let live as neighbours of two countries than perish as one.

Varagunan
Canada


Kosovo’s Independence — a boost for the minorities

Though many international entities are reserved to call it a victory for minority rights, fearing sharp criticism from countries which are dealing with separatist conflicts, the minorities who are currently oppressed and are demanding their freedom and self-governance have shown satisfaction with the outcome of the Kosovo Independence.

 The upcoming weeks will be a very tense period for the international community, as severe discussions emerge regarding the procedure of the independence of Kosovo and the impact of it on other historic conflicts, which are still awaiting to be resolved.

 Especially the conflicts within Georgia, Taiwan, Somaliland and Northern Sri Lanka will be in the picture, as these unique minorities are still expected to strengthen the process to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination, which in many of the cases would lead to a unilateral declaration of independence.

 Tamils in Sri Lanka are in heavy fighting with the Sri Lankan security forces for over three decades and have shown to be successful to carve out an independent state in the north and east of the island, as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam maintaining a de facto state that covers at least a 10% of the island (including the maritime border), that is no longer under the control of the national army.

However international recognition under the current circumstances is unlikely to happen unless the Tamil leadership is prepared to implement a democratic system instead of the current military regime.

 For Taiwan this latest event is a major boost, as a former province of Serbia has been able to achieve independence and international recognition. China maintains a very dominant factor in the world politics that makes it most unlikely that Western nations are able, due to their economical interest, to recognise Taiwan. However the Taiwanese democratic system, which is acceptable to the Western world, is far better if you compare it to the Chinese one and therefore deserves outright recognition by the West.

 Nevertheless a rich history as the Ceylon Tamils have, so enjoy the Somali Landers, will lay the foundation for freedom to preserve their heritage and dignity. If a state chooses to oppress minority rights by policies, which are blocking the expression of the minority’s culture and equal power sharing, these are the perfect components for a struggle to emerge with an uncertain outcome.

Paul Williams
Ex-MP, Third Chamber of The Netherlands


DIG Prathapasinghe Vs. Lakmal

In The Sunday Leader publication of 17th February 2008, under the caption "Killed journalist was a paid military information – CID" had erroneously reported that I have told Mr. Sampath Lakmal De Silva who was killed on 2nd July 2007 was a paid military informant.

When I was contacted by The Sunday Leader over the telephone to ascertain the progress of the investigations on the murder of Mr. Sampath Lakmal De Silva, I told them that investigations are still continuing and at no stage I told that Mr. Sampath Lakmal De Silva was a paid military informant.

Hence, it would be appreciated if you could publish a correction in The Sunday Leader giving the same prominence.

D.W. Prathapasinghe

Deputy Inspector General of Police

Criminal Investigation Department


The Sunday Leader:

We reiterate that Mr. Prathapasinghe was quoted accurately. Two reporters spoke to the DIG, one in English and one in Sinhala to be certain Mr. Prathapasinghe’s comments were reported accurately, given the seriousness of the charge made. It needs to be noted that Mr. Prathapasinghe’s denial comes four days after the publication and in the backdrop of an outcry by media organisations both locally and internationally on the allegations made by DIG Prathapasinghe on journalist Sampath Lakmal de Silva.


Country needs National Congress

It was heartening to read the Focus column by Sonali Samarasinghe in The Sunday Leader of February 17, titled "Be the change you want to see."

First, it highlights the hope the nation can have in this belated national act, and the other, helps open Lankans’ eyes to the admirable performance of post Independence India, particularly with reference to its management of the pluralist society that India is, and to the monumental blunders that Sri Lanka has made on this front.

The example of India obviously offers many points that can feed into the discussion of national policy.

The leadership of the National Congress is the only source in contemporary Lanka that can envision making an unconditional apology to the whole nation for the wrongs done against the harmony, peaceful co-existence and collaboration on a number of fronts. For example:

1. From the activities of the Sinhala Maha Sabha to the formation of the SLFP in the 1950s and the adoption of ‘Sinhala only’ as National Language Policy to the pogrom of 1983, an unconditional apology to the Tamil brethren for actions that ‘…(negated) the concept of nationhood,’ in violation of the form and spirit of Section 29 of the 1948 Constitution.

2. For the reactionary and narrow-minded politics that came to hold sway from 1948 and particularly, since the bifurcation of the UNP in 1951, that always put party before country, to the utter detriment of the social and economic progress of the peoples’ who merely wanted to get on with the exercise of their legitimate liberties that were supposed to have been secured in 1948.

3. Flowing from (2), for the betrayal of the fiduciary trust that was placed on each government of Sri Lanka on behalf of the State of Lanka to protect the rights and liberties of all communities.

These have, in Lanka’s own example, ‘…inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow (Lankans)’ and worse, continue to do so under the present incompetent and murderous regime which has no legitimacy (if the alleged fraudulent election victory of the incumbent President is a fact), vision or capability.

Formulation of national policy must necessarily investigate this angle of how political chicanery came to hold sway to the extent that it did in Lanka!

To regain the trust of the moderate Tamils, to attempt to discuss matters with the militant LTTE at this stage, and to give proper leadership to the majority Sinhalese and other communities is serious business for those with intelligence, sincerity and seriousness of purpose, and moral courage. Surely all average Lankans would seriously wish to redeem the national character and secure their future.

With best wishes and blessings to the leadership of the National Congress.

Panduka Dassanayake


Biggest mistake CBK forgot to mention

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has admitted to three big political mistakes in her interview in The Sunday Leader on February 17. Sacking the UNF government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe she had said was one of them. In my opinion, giving the SLFP presidential nomination to Mahinda Rajapakse was the biggest mistake.

K. Mohamed


Kane’s visit ‘to strengthen relations’

We are writing with respect to your article on the visit to Sri Lanka of Angela Kane, United Nations Assistant Secretary General. The purpose of Ms. Kane’s visit is to focus on the relationship between the United Nations Country Team working in Sri Lanka, and the Government of Sri Lanka, so that the work of the United Nations’ agencies in Sri Lanka can be most effective.

She is visiting upon the invitation of the Sri Lankan Government, and as agreed with the United Nations. The visit is part of her regular responsibilities, and is not as a special envoy of the Secretary General to report on the situation in Sri Lanka, as your article incorrectly states. The clear objective of the visit is to strengthen the relationship between the United Nations and Sri Lanka.

We also note the photo published in your journal purporting to be that of Ms. Angela Kane, is someone else’s.

We would appreciate if this letter is printed to set the record straight.

Palitha Kohona,

Secretary

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Neil Buhne,

UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka

The Sunday Leader:

We regret the error over the publication of the wrong photograph of Assistant Secretary General Ms. Angela Kane. We are also happy to note that neither Mr. Buhne nor Mr. Kohona have denied the fact that the visit of Ms. Kane is consequent to a telephone conversation between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President Mahinda Rajapakse as exclusively reported by The Sunday Leader.

We also note that the clear objective of the visit according to both Mr Buhne and Mr Kohona is to strengthen the relationship between the UN and Sri Lanka. Needless to say there is such a need considering the harsh criticism leveled against UN agencies working in Sri Lanka by the state with some ministers even going so far as to identify UN emissaries as ‘terrorist supporters.’

Are we to assume that Ms Kane will not submit any report to the UNSG upon her return on her findings in Sri Lanka including the workings of the UN agencies? It is not without significance that Ms Kane is scheduled to meet with the Human Rights Minister and the Defence Secretary. Are we to assume that no report will be submitted on the outcome of those discussions?

It is also not without significance that Mr Kohona and Mr Buhne thought it fit to issue a joint clarification which raises more questions than answers. That the government is under pressure by the JVP not to allow any visits by members of the UN, a condition the party imposed for their support for the budget in November will also not be lost on our readers given the nuances of the joint statement of clarification.

 Appreciation

Ruvani Aloysius

Days pass by - as time flies

It’s ten years since your sad demise

You haven’t really gone away

We feel your presence every day

We hear you speak and laugh with glee

At every turn your face we see

Your footsteps follow everywhere

Wherever we go, you are there

You are the joy of our lives, our hearts’ delight

The star in our skies, our beaming light

And when you bid us sad ‘adieu’

You took a part of us with you

We are sad to think those days are gone

Without you - life drags on

Wounds heal as time goes by

But scars remain all the while

Thoughts of you still crowd our minds

Memories last for all time.

We love you, miss you and you’ll always be

Fondly treasured in our memory

We’ll meet again in Heaven above

United in God’s infinite love.

Chrissie and Dennis Aloysius

 


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