Britain to study 'ground situation' before backing US$
1.9 bn bail out
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Britain remains adamant to delay a multi billion dollar
bail-out pack age to Sri Lanka urging the West to
pressure the Sri Lankan government into taking more
precautionary measures to safeguard thousands of
civilians who continue to be trapped in the conflict
zone as war against the Tamil Tigers rages.
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband on Thursday
(30) informed the House of Commons that the UK
government would look “extremely carefully” at the
ground situation in Sri Lanka before backing the US$ 1.9
billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bail out
package for Sri Lanka.
Milliband made this statement in response to a question
posed to him on the stance of the UK government on the
US$ 1.9 billion IMF bail out package requested by the
Sri Lankan government.
are duty bound to look extremely carefully at the
situation on the ground should any plan be presented to
the IMF board. It is a basic tenet of the work of the
IMF that any money should be put to good use, and that
requires taking a close look at the situation on the
ground, which is what we will do,” Milliband told the
House of Commons.
Milliband was also scheduled to discuss the situation in
Sri Lanka with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
US meanwhile has denied involvement in exerting pressure
on the IMF to delay the release of the US$ 1.9 billion
bail out package to Sri Lanka.
Spokesperson for the US Embassy in Colombo, Jeff
Anderson told The Sunday Leader that the US
government had neither publicly nor privately spoken of
delaying the billion-dollar IMF loan to Sri Lanka. The
decision to grant the loan to Sri Lanka would be made by
the IMF in consultation with the US State Treasury and
the US State Department.
Anderson’s comment followed a story publicised last
Wednesday by a foreign news agency quoting US officials
that the US has decided to delay a US$ 1.9 billion IMF
loan to Sri Lanka to try to pressure Colombo to do more
to help civilians caught in the fighting between the
government and Tamil Tiger rebels.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other groups have also
urged the US and Britain not to approve the loan. “Sri
Lanka is in a fiscal mess in good part because it
massively overspent on this war,” Tom Malinowski, HRW’s
Washington advocacy director told the UK Sunday Times.
Other reports claim Western diplomats as saying the US,
Britain and other allies are reluctant to bail out
unconditionally a Government that has dismissed their
concerns about civilian casualties and human rights
issues in the past few months.
US, Britain and allies reports say are also anxious not
to lose their only real leverage over the Government in
continuing negotiations over the plight of tens of
thousands of civilians on the front line or in
“There’s a lot of discomfort in being seen to bail out
the Sri Lankan Government,” a Western diplomat has
Meanwhile, the IMF has said the loan was still being
2006 investigation into Golden Key
was squashed by then governor
By R. Wijewardene
Supreme Court’s ongoing investigation into Golden Key
has now uncovered evidence that Central Bank officials
colluded with representatives of Golden Key to enable
the company to keep functioning despite legislation that
states that companies are not authorised to take
deposits without a licence from the Central Bank.
Finance Companies Act of 1988, states that no deposits
can be taken from any company or persons without a
licence from the Central Bank. Golden Key of course
took deposits without a licence for decades.
has long been alleged that Golden Key’s flagrant
violation of various pieces of financial legislation
could not possibly have gone unnoticed by the Central
Bank, and it has now emerged that the Central Bank had
commissioned a special investigation into Golden Key in
investigations unit headed by the Central Bank’s
Investigation Section Director N. Gunatilake found,
unsurprisingly, that Golden Key was accepting deposits
without a licence and compiled a detailed report on
Golden Key’s violations of the Finance Companies Act.
However before the report could be presented to the
Monetary Board it is alleged that Lalith Kotelawala paid
senior politicians to negotiate with the Central Bank on
Sunil Mendis the then Central Bank Governor subsequently
announced that the investigation unit’s report into
Golden Key was unnecessary and unacceptable and the
report was effectively squashed allowing Golden Key to
These details emerged when a file containing the 2006
report was presented by the Central Bank at a Court
hearing to Justice Shirani Tilakawardena.
Attempting to ascertain the identity of the politician
who is alleged to have acted on Kotelawala’s behalf
The Sunday Leader contacted Wijedasa Rajapakse — who
is currently representing Kotelawala in the Golden Key
case, the parliamentarian however flatly denied having
any dealings with Sunil Mendis. “My only involvement
with Golden Key is this current case,” insisted
While the identity of Kotelawala’s political protector
remains a mystery Sunil Mendis’ involvement in
dismissing the investigation unit report is clear and
the former governor now finds himself with a fair amount
of explaining to do.
Feathers fly over peacock
By Risidra Mendis
Department of Wildlife and Conservation (DWC) has
violated the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO)
by granting permission to a film crew to use two
peacocks in a commercial, it has been found.
Peacocks are an endangered species and cannot be used in
commercials or for any other programmes without a
special licence issued by the DWC.
However The Sunday Leader learns that the crew was
filming a commercial for the Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB)
and had brought two peacocks for the shoot to the
Kaludiya Pokuna Sanctuary a few weeks ago.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader Zoologist Dilan Peiris
said he saw a crew of around 20 and two peacocks in
cages in the Kaludiya Pokuna Sanctuary.
immediately informed the Minneriya Park warden about the
film shoot. The park warden sent a ranger to the site of
the shooting. The two peacocks were tied outside their
cages and were getting wet in the rain. There was a
little water kept close by but no food. The crew did
nothing to prevent the two peacocks from getting wet in
the rain," Peiris said.
added that the Minneriya park ranger had informed DWC
flying squad chief Upali Padmasiri about the incident. "Padamasiri
had instructed the ranger to arrest the crew for
violating the FFPO since they failed to produce a
licence for the two birds.
of the crew then called up a secretary at the
Environment Ministry who in turn had spoken to a high
ranking wildlife officer. Instructions were then given
by the DWC for the filming to continue in the presence
of two wildlife officers. The crew were told to hand
over the two peacocks to the Minneriya park once the
filming was over, and obtain a licence from the DWC,"
However a ranger from the Minneriya National Park told
The Sunday Leader that the peacocks were not brought to
the park after the film shoot. A DWC official confirmed
that the peacocks could not be released to the national
park as they were brought from a temple in Attanagalla
and wouldn't survive if released to the national park.
added that one peacock was brought from a temple and the
other from a house in Habarana. Tame animals and birds
are not generally allowed into national parks as they
could infect the wild animals if infected with some
disease," Peiris explained.
Lotteries Board runs out of luck
By Nirmala Kannangara
Development Lotteries Board(DLB) has incurred huge
losses amounting to several millions of rupees from the
recently suspended Deyata Kirula lottery, All Ceylon
Lottery Dealers' Association (ACLDA) said.
Deyata Kirula lottery was first introduced solely for
the Deyata Kirula exhibition in February 2008 but later
on December 28, 2008 the lottery was once again released
to the market for a weekly draw, which could not last
for more than 17 weeks according to ACLDA Chairman
DLB's failure to keep the promises they made to buyers
from the very inception of the lottery has resulted in
the revenue loss to the Board, and their inability to
absorb the losses any longer has resulted in the
withdrawal of the lottery from the market," Herath said.
told The Sunday Leader that from each draw the Board
incurred a loss of nearly Rs. 2.3 million while there
was a 40.3% drop in sales from the first draw onwards.
According to Herath the drop in sales took a turn for
the worse in February when the DLB did not allow its
clients to use the free entrance tickets given away with
the lottery for the Deyata Kirula exhibition 2009.
month before the exhibition, the DLB released a new
Deyata Kirula lottery and gave away a free entrance
ticket for the exhibition. We were able to sell around
150,000 lottery tickets with the entrance tickets but
when these people turned up at the exhibition they were
not allowed to enter unless they produced the lottery
ticket at the entrance. This was hilarious, as nobody
keeps these sweep tickets if they haven't won any
later that we understood that the DLB had played out
their clients and since then the sale of tickets dropped
dramatically till the lottery was withdrawn from the
market last week," Herath said. Chairman DLB, Upali
Liyanage was not available for comment.
Concern over civilian casualties
By Raisa Wickrematunge
Humanitarian agencies last week continued to express
their concerns over the civilians still caught in the
conflict zone and called for wider access for aid
workers to the area.
ICRC last week stated that thousands were still trapped
in the narrow coastal strip, declared as the no-fire
zone in Mullaithivu.
than 115,450 persons had fled the LTTE controlled areas
since April 20. Government officials in Vavuniya said
that the displaced persons were being kept in 24 sites
including four transitional villages and around 15
said that more than 172,000 persons had managed to cross
over to government held territory since late October
ICRC had been carrying out frequent evacuations of
patients from Puthumathalan to Trincomalee and Pulmoddai.
ICRC has evacuated a total of 12,400 people since
February 10 when they started operations, with 520
civilians boarding the ICRC chartered vessel 'Green
Ocean,' on April 29.
the catastrophic situation of thousands of displaced,
sick and wounded people still in the conflict area, the
parties must do more to protect them and must allow more
food and medicine into the area," said Monica Zanarelli,
the ICRC's deputy head of operations for South Asia.
ICRC has taken up the task of reuniting the families
separated while fleeing the no-fire zone. There is also
difficulty in reuniting families who have been separated
and are in different camps.
ICRC report said that while steps had been taken to
start reuniting families, there were still thousands of
cases which needed to be addressed. This situation is
further complicated in Vavuniya, where the Defence,
Public Security, Law and Order Ministry has asked
individuals and organisations to refrain from entering
the Menik Farm Camp, since officials have informed the
Ministry that outside visitors are a hinderance to their
work in the camp.
Government officials rejected a suggestion by Emergency
Relief Coordinator John Holmes, who called for a
"humanitarian pause" in the combat zone in order to
allow UN humanitarian personnel to provide assistance to
the approximately 50,000 people trapped in the conflict
report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Holmes, returning from a
two day visit to Sri Lanka, said the civilians were not
only at risk from the heavy firing going on in the
combat zone, but that they were "suffering extensively
due to shortage of medical supplies, food and water." He
spoke of the need for the government to refrain from
using heavy weaponry as they had earlier promised, in
order to ensure the safety of these civilians.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also spoke of the need
for wider access for humanitarian agencies into the
no-fire zone as well as to the IDP camps. He added that
it was imperative to ensure the safety of civilians
fleeing the no-fire zone, to the point where they were
screened before entry into the IDP camps.
Although the OCHA report places the number of displaced
people at around 170,000, Media Minister Anura
Priyadarshana Yapa said that roughly 190,000 civilians
had crossed to safety. He said that they were currently
waiting for the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees (UNHCR) to finish demining and certify certain
villages as free of pressure bombs, and that they had
already begun to resettle some of the IDPs.
April 29, a UNHCR report confirmed that around 411 IDPs
returned to the Saveriyapuram village in Musali, located
in the Mannar District, with some 3000 IDPs registering
to return to 15 villages in Musali.
huge influx of civilians into the camps has lead to the
need for more camps to be built, and the OCHA report
noted that a new camp was under construction in
Kodikamam, Jaffna, which will accommodate up to 1500
families, while in Vavuniya some families had to be
transferred from Menik Farm Zone 2 to Zone 1 due to lack
Governmental Organisations, CARITAS and the World Food
Programme (WFP) are providing foodstuff to camps while
Sri Lanka Red Cross, Medicins Sans Frontiers and
Alliance Development Trust are providing medical
expertise to treat the injured and sick civilians in the
camps. In Jaffna, there are only 280 toilets available
for all the IDPs, which means at least 41 people have to
share one toilet.
the period October 27, 2008 to April 30 this year
172,291 persons have crossed to the government
controlled areas from the conflict zone. This represents
an increase of 1,107 IDPs since the last report (Sitrep
No.3) on April 29. More than 100,000 people have left
the conflict zone since April 20.
170,396 people are accommodated in the temporary camps
in Vavuniya, Mannar, Jaffna and Trincomalee
IDPs (injured and care givers) are in hospitals in
various districts as of 29 April 2009.
Military denies bombardment
military on Friday denied allegations that it bombed
civilian areas in the safe zone during the past months.
Satellite images of craters within the safety zones were
published in the international media last week.
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara denied
allegations, stating that the craters could also be
created due to bomb explosions within the safe zones.
“The images only showed craters. They do not have any
evidence that they were created due to air attacks.
These craters could also have been created due to
explosions within the safe zones,” Nanayakkara told
The Sunday Leader.
satelite images were contained in a confidential UN
report by Unosat, dated April 26. Manager, Unosat
Programme, Francesco Pisano had said that the analysts
had come to the conclusion that some of the damage shown
in the images could have been caused only by aerial
bombing. “This kind of accuracy you acquire only with
air power,” he said. “The craters beyond a certain size
also make our analysts almost certain that these were
air-dropped bombs,” Pisano was quoted as saying to
government on April 27 announced that it would stop
using heavy weapons in the safe zone.
However, pro-Tiger websites continuously stated that the
government continued to carry out attacks using heavy
weapons in the safe zones even after announcing that it
had stopped using such weapons.
have stopped using heavy weapons in the safe zones now,”
Nanayakkara further said.
Times reported that the Unosat report was based on the
images between February 5 and April 19. More than
100,000 civilians moved out of the no fire zone on April
government declared the eastern coastal strip in
Mullaithivu as a safe zone on February 12 and called
upon all the civilians to move into the area for safety.
Court orders police to submit final
murder trial of the slain Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday
Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge was postponed to May 14
and the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate ordered the police to
submit the final investigation report on the next date.
police failed to appear before the Mt. Lavinia
Magistrate when the case was taken up last Thursday
The Sunday Leader queried as to why the police failed to
appear before the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate, Police
Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekera said that he does
not know as to why the police failed to turn up but
added that they would be present at the next hearing
Gunasekera said that investigations into the
assassination of Wickrematunge are still in progress,
but failed to say anything further.
Digital Defenders: How 24/7 media
can help fight swine flu worldwide
By Nalaka Gunawardene
World Health Organisation (WHO) said this week that the
global spread of swine flu was highly likely, and raised
its alert level to Phase 5 the next to highest level in
the worldwide warning system. It also offered advice on
prevention, caring for persons with the flu and how to
seek medical help.
pandemic is not something to be taken lightly. President
Barack Obama has termed the outbreak "cause for deep
concern but not panic." On April 29, he took the
unusual step of using a prime time televised news
conference, convened to mark his 100th day in office, to
deliver a public health message to the American people.
your hands when you shake hands, cover your mouth when
you cough," he said. "It sounds trivial, but it makes a
huge difference. If you are sick, stay home. If your
child is sick, take them out of school. If you are
feeling certain flu symptoms, don't get on an airplane."
the basic preventive message that needs amplification
and repetition all over the world. While medical doctors
and researchers spearhead the public health response, we
need the mass media and all communications professionals
to support the public awareness response. Flu shots and
hospitals alone cannot win this battle.
the first time in history, we have the means of rapid
access to most of humanity. What we now need is clarity
of message, credible messengers and sustained delivery.
this as an interesting even if very risky, social
experiment on the preventive powers of our 24/7 media
and information devices. More than four billion mobile
phones are in use, most of them in the developing world.
Akashi calls for wider access to international bodies
By Raisa Wickrematunge
Japanese Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi has emphasized the
importance of full coordination between the Government,
NGOs and other international bodies to address issues
faced by the IDPs.
had also requested the government for wider access by
international bodies into the IDP camps.
Akashi told the media that he was greatly encouraged by
President Mahinda Rajapakse’s commitment to improve the
current situation in the country.
was heartened to hear that President Rajapakse attached
great importance to resolving the problem of Tamil
people, that is, how to give them a fair, democratic
type of life. The President also said that a political
and not a military solution was needed in order to
establish a sustainable community, where people of
different ethnic groups, cultures and religion lived
together,” Akashi said.
Akashi noted that the announcement of the cessation of
combat operations on April 27 did not prevent the
Government side taking defensive action for protection
of IDPs, or in self defence, and added that as long as
the firing was limited for this purposes, Japan had no
need to reexamine their policy with regard to assisting
the Government of Sri Lanka.
UN SG demands Lasantha assassins be
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Sri
Lankan government to find and prosecute those
responsible for The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha
his message for World Press Freedom Day, Ki-moon has
said, “I call on the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure
that those responsible for his murder are found and
has said attacks on journalists remain shockingly high
has also said according to the Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ), 11 journalists have been killed in
the line of duty so far this year. “Among them was
Lasantha Wickrematunge, a prominent Sri Lankan
journalist assassinated in January on his way to work.”
A reply to Dr. Jayan Mendis
the information that is available to us, we stand by our
original story when we reported that “Living Hell Girl”
Ashanthi visited the Asiri Hospital on her own accord,
to check on a bump to her skull which she sustained
during an attack on her by her husband and mother, in
According to a representative from Women-In-Need,
Ashanthi was not referred to Asiri by WIN. Her visit to
Asiri, was in the company of her mother, who was keen to
ensure that Ashanthi made no adverse statement regarding
the cause of the bump.
acknowledged that at some point during the period of
January 19 to January 27, independent of the events
described in our story, Ashanthi did visit another
independent psychiatrist, who did not refer her to the
National Mental Health Institute at Angoda, but,
instead, referred Ashanthi and her husband to Sumithrayo
own admission, Dr. Mendis has confirmed that Ashanthi
was admitted to Angoda as an “involuntary” patient.
Guidelines in place state that two medical practitioners
must certify the need for admission and treatment. It is
unclear from Dr. Mendis’ letter whether, in fact, the
second “independent” opinion was sought to comply with
the requirements of the Mental Health Act specifically
relating to the treatment and admission of ‘involuntary’
Mendis was contacted by a staff reporter well before
publication of our first story on Ashanthi. Despite at
least 14 attempts, Dr. Mendis was unable to be reached
for comment. A deputy registrar who answered one of
those calls reminded our staff reporter on the ethics of
reporting on a patient being treated for a mental
illness. Apart from that we had no response. Indeed we
did not run a story for at least two weeks thereafter,
and did so only to report on the court proceedings.
is no sensationalist angle to this story as claimed by
Dr. Mendis. What is sensational about this particular
case is the apparent personal interest Dr. Mendis has
had. It is a fact that even the courts enquired of Dr.
Mendis. Despite Dr. Mendis being on record as saying
that “over 50% of patients can be treated at home,”
Ashanthi has been subject to various forms of tests all
on the say so — therefore hearsay — of her mother. These
included rights violating tests like STD and HIV all
carried out as an involuntary patient at Angoda.
Mendis says that a lawyer from IHR was allowed access:
there is no mention that this “access” was granted not
on a one-to-one basis with Ashanthi and the lawyer,
where normal client-attorney privileges could have
applied. There was no privacy at all: the lawyer was
able to speak to Ashanthi in front of a panel of medical
staff that included Dr. Mendis. We aver that this too is
a violation of her rights. Despite all this Ashanthi
still plucked the courage to insist that she did not
wish to go home and wanted a divorce. The actions of a
person quite in control of her mind and focused on her
Subsequently, Dr. Mendis was served with a notice
requiring him to grant access to Ashanthi’s lawyer to
speak with Ashanthi. Despite this document being faxed
to his lawyers and despite being in receipt of his
lawyers’ advise, Dr. Mendis acting with complete
impunity refused that access.
senior figure such as Dr. Mendis ignored a court order.
That may be construed as sensational by some quarters.
On his subsequent appearance he had to apologise to
court for his intentional lapse. As we reported, the
Magistrate was “scathing in his criticism of Dr. Mendis’
Difficult to comprehend
circumstances of Ashanthi’s case certainly are difficult
to comprehend: she is being held in a marriage which she
has openly stated she does not wish to have; on her
first home leave release, she was categorically told
that she may use her phone, go wherever she wants and
that she was not restricted in any form.
she had to do was return to the hospital in a week. She
did not — she returned in a few hours, when her mother
refused to let her have her mobile phone. On the next
occasion she was allowed home leave again with access to
her phone — her apparent lifeline to “normality.”
well and good to gloss over personal achievements and
speak loosely of United Nations charters: the fact
remains that Ashanthi has been a victim of the
kaleidoscopic nature of Dr. Mendis’ and his colleagues’
pronouncements especially with regard to the use of
mobile phones and access to visitors of her choice.
since the court ordered access, Ashanthi has been on
home leave; inter-alia, thwarting the possibility of the
much desired access her lawyers had sought. Exactly,
which part of the UN Charter on Rights based care this
virtual “imprisonment” falls under is again, unclear.
Subject to court proceedings
Despite Dr. Mendis saying he does not wish to comment on
the medical aspect of the case as it is subject to court
proceedings, he goes on to discuss at some length her
care and treatment. We do so in the same spirit: For
Mendis states that he caused Ashanthi to undergo “CT
scan of the brain and electroencephalographic studies to
exclude any organic brain pathology.” Does he admit that
these tests were all negative? That by his own admission
she was suffering from early stages of “bi-polar
Mendis is on record as stating that “50% of patients can
be treated at home.” Ashanthi has been an “involuntary”
patient at Angoda since January 30. That’s three months
— and whilst she has not been discharged, her agony and
the abuse of her own desires and of her independence is
still anything but normal.
“Perfectly sane traits”
Mendis states that the patient claims she does not need
treatment “which is a trait of mentally ill patients.”
Certainly — but it is also a trait one can expect from a
perfectly sane person who is being accused of being
aspect of the story that was able to be investigated and
reported on, was done. Attempts have been made to speak
to the mother, husband and the medical staff. Mostly we
have been stonewalled, physically abused, assaulted with
handbags and dining forks even (with scars to boot)
until the matter came to court.
have a different scenario when our calls are being
returned and attempts being made to play by the book.
That in itself is a victory for journalism. However,
Ashanthi continues to be deprived of her mobile phone,
her stay is restricted to her home and when she has been
seen in public (never alone, always accompanied) it
appears that she is drugged — certainly she appears
listless and drowsy.
trick in the book is being played out in order that the
social pressures of this country’s pre-occupation with
marriage be sustained. Unfortunately when a marriage is
irretrievably broken down, one simply has to move on: in
Ashanthi’s case it appears that various forces are
conspiring from allowing her to act in her own
aver that contrary to the UN Charter on the care of
mentally ill patients, and Dr. Mendis’ claim that we
have sought to sensationalise the story, given the facts
of the case as we have reported on three occasions,
Ashanthi’s treatment has been flagitious.
from Dr. Mendis, other names have been changed to
protect their real identities. Any similarities are
purely coincidental and unintentional.)
West holding the economy hostage?
By R. Wijewardena
war in the north reaches a terminal phase, and images of
the ragged refugee exodus out of the safe zone are
beamed daily onto television screens across the world
the government has come under intense international
pressure to declare a ceasefire and allow international
aid agencies access to the displaced civilians in the
British and French foreign ministers don’t often visit
such insignificant nations as our own, and a
simultaneous visit by both David Milliband and Bernard
Kouchner on Wednesday was a clear indication that Sri
Lanka is now very much at the centre of the world stage.
pressure from powerful diaspora communities and amidst
daily media reports of a humanitarian crisis in the
island, the West — as the world’s paternal police force,
must be seen to be doing something.
its overtures to a government absolutely set on its
current course of action appear to have been an utter
failure and the Foreign Ministers’ calls for a ceasefire
and access to civilians fell on deaf ears.
Referring to the meeting President Rajapakse insisted
that there were “no plans for a ceasefire.” Defence
Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse bluntly referred to the
visits as “a waste of time.”
Resisting external interference
government’s tenacity in resisting external interference
is genuinely impressive. Small, insignificant nations do
not often deliver blunt rebuttals to representatives of
the world’s most powerful governments, but while the
President insists there is “only a little time left for
LTTE to lay down its arms,” time may also be running out
for the government’s offensive.
international calls for a ceasefire grow ever louder the
window for military operations in the north is clearly
not infinite – more images of suffering and reports of
hundreds of civilian casualties will lead to the
international community applying yet more pressure.
Thursday it was reported that an attempt was being made
by the USA to stall the loan the government is currently
negotiating with the IMF in order to put further
pressure on the government.
the President of the UN Security Council, Mexican
Ambassador Claude Heller subsequently announced that all
the members of the Security Council, including the US,
agreed that halting the IMF loan to Sri Lanka would be
unproductive, it is clear that the government is now
playing a high stakes game.
Without the IMF loan this country’s economy will simply
collapse and scenes of poverty and desperation will no
longer be confined to the Wanni.
Threat to withhold IMF loan
the LTTE may be holding thousands of civilians hostage
in the north, by threatening to withhold the IMF loan
deal the West is now holding this country’s entire
economy to ransom.
Unfortunately where this hostage situation is concerned
the Sri Lankan defence forces’ heroics are unlikely to
be of much help and only a concerted diplomatic effort
will allow the government to continue to pursue a
military solution and receive the international
assistance the country desperately needs.
bungled diplomacy of the past week however can hardly
have helped matters.
the presumption displayed by the European foreign
ministers in effectively inviting themselves to
interfere in this country’s internal affairs is
galling, the governments miscommunication regarding the
Swedish foreign minister’s visa request certainly didn’t
do the country’s relations with the international
community any good.
Following the visa incident the Czech foreign minister
whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency
declared that the Sri Lankan government’s actions were
“a grave mistake” that would have “repercussions in
Europe” — language usually reserved for such darlings of the international
the West’s hypocrisy in its dealings with Sri Lanka is
manifest, the government for all its bravado is
confronting a real dilemma.
Despite the West’s unproductive determination to
interfere in the historic events unfolding in the north
the government will need assistance from the EU, and G7
clubs of wealthy Western nations once the combat
operations are concluded.
fact even to deal completely with what little is left of
the LTTE the government will need to stave of bankruptcy
but following this week’s manoeuverings by the US and UK
the Rajapakse administration is facing a very stark
choice — the war or the economy and the government may
yet regret its off hand treatment of last week’s VIPs.
there is much to admire in the Sri Lankan David’s
decision to stand up to the Western Goliath — unlike the
biblical story, the ending of this particular parable
remains to be seen.