Canadian still being held?
By Ranjit Jayasundera
Sunday Leader last week spoke to MP Bob Rae’s Office.
Rae was denied entry into Sri Lanka on June 10,
reportedly because of his criticism of the country’s
offensive against the Tamil Tigers. Rae has been elected
10 times to federal and provincial parliaments, winning
every election he contested. He currently serves as the
foreign affairs critic for the Liberal Party of Canada.
don’t in fact know who is in custody, or what anyone is
accused of doing. There are thousands of people who have
dual citizenship, as well as many who went regularly to
the Wanni to visit families and who were trapped in the
not know who were combatants and who were not, and the
lack of international access to the camps means it is
difficult to assess what may or may not have happened.
has a responsibility to protect the interests of its
citizens. The circumstances of the last several months
in the north and east of Sri Lanka make it even more
incumbent on governments to protect and advance the
interests of any citizen in a camp.”
sense is things changed on the government side with the
election of the Rajakapsa government and the decision to
seek a military solution. The LTTE clearly
under-estimated the political determination of the
government to carry through right to the end.
Julius came to
in September or October 2007, he said that he had
informed the Army when he came to their positions on May
17th that he had been forcibly conscripted by the LTTE.
George lived in Toronto, Canada with his family since he
was 12 years old.
Julius family has told the National Post they knew
nothing about him having been conscripted by the rebels,
and the Canadian Tamil Congress has said such claims
should be viewed with skepticism because they could be
the product of torture.
Noble, freelancing journalist who met up with one
Canadian combatant in an interview with The Sunday
When did you first meet George Julius?
A: I’ve met George on only one occasion - June 26th. I
was visiting a location in which people said to be LTTE
cadres were being held. One of the other residents, who
claimed to have been a medic with the LTTE for the last
nine years, brought him to my attention, because he
thought that I might be interested in talking to a
When did he come to
and what area was he visiting when he arrived?
told me that he came to Sri Lanka in September or
October 2007, to visit some relatives in Kilinochchi.
I understand that he had a one month visa, but I haven’t
checked on that or his arrival date with the
Q: Which area is he being held, and did he say if he had
been arrested as a Canadian Combatant?
When I met him, he was being held in a school building
in Vavuniya town. He said that he had informed the Army
when he came to their positions on May 17th that he had
been forcibly conscripted by the LTTE.
Q: What were the conditions of where he was being held,
is he being fed daily meals?
It was a school building, so there were proper shelter
and sanitary facilities. I imagine that there would be
shortcomings, given that it isn’t normally used for
accommodation purposes. Unlike the other location that I
visited, where female LTTE cadres were being held, there
was very little outdoor space, so activities were
constrained to the main hall. I was led to believe that
it was only a holding centre, and that after some time
the residents would be moved. There are apparently
9,500 people who have surrendered or been identified as
members of the LTTE, which is probably a lot more than
was expected. Several residents told me that the
conditions were acceptable. They said that they were
being fed properly, and they looked healthy.
Q: How long has he been held for and is there any family
where he is being held?
He told me that he had surrendered to the Army on May
17th, so he had been held for a little over a month at
the time that I met him. A person that he identified as
his cousin was also in the same camp. He explained that
his cousin, who was 24 years old, had been working in a
garage in Kilinochchi and had been recruited by the LTTE
when they withdrew at the beginning of this year.
Q: Was he scared or is he afraid he will never return
home to Canada?
From the way he spoke, making a joke about losing his
hair at 26 years old because of having to wear a lot of
woolly hats in the Canadian winters, and telling a story
about a visit that he had made to Cuba with some friends
just before coming to Sri Lanka, I would say that he
wasn’t scared. He seemed confident that he would get to
go back to Canada, saying that he would be going
straight to a therapist to talk through his ordeal.
Q: How long did you get to talk to him, what else did
you get to speak about?
I probably spoke to him for about fifteen or twenty
minutes. I’ve mentioned some of the things that we
talked about in my other answers. He also told me a
little of his family background, that they had moved to
the Toronto area when he was 12 years old, and he gave
me his home address and telephone number. He said that
one of his relatives in Sri Lanka had been to visit him
in the camp the previous week.
Q: Do you happen to have a picture of the Camp?
No, photos weren’t allowed in that camp.
Q: How does it look, how is he being treated and do you
think he will return home soon?
From what I saw, the government isn’t treating George
any differently from the others who had surrendered as
LTTE cadres. They should decide on their approach to
rehabilitation as soon as possible. Obviously what
makes sense for Sri Lankans may not be so useful for
Canadians, and I don’t know if they have thought about
that yet — the number of foreign passport holders is
very small. Sending him back without looking into his
story or formulating a coherent policy doesn’t seem to
me to be appropriate, but it will be very sad for both
George and the others if that process takes much longer.
The search for greener pastures
By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Sri Lankans fantasise about living the good life in a
developed country such as the
United States of America
going through some of the strictest of procedures to
obtain visas, a handful gets an opportunity to live
their dream but which comes at a massive cost. However
the US Green Card Lottery is the key to realising this
fantasy of some at a minimal cost.
this month, the US Embassy in Colombo announced that the
Green Card Lottery is now open for applications and have
started accepting them on line since October 2. The 2011
Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Programme more commonly
known as the Green Card Lottery gives 50,000 randomly
selected applicants from across the world a chance to
legally live, work or study in the United States every
lottery was started in 1990 by the US Congress to give
people from countries with low rates of immigration a
chance to legally enter the United States with the first
visa being issued in 1995. It is partially funded by
visa fees and by US tax payers.
has been eligible for the lottery right from the start
with the number of applicants rapidly increasing every
year’s DV lottery saw around 400,000 applicants from Sri
Lanka alone and a stunning 13.6 million applicants
worldwide. This year’s estimate places the number of
applicants at around 19 million.
last year, one of the winners of the lottery from Sri
Lanka was a 17 year old who successfully met all the
criteria required,” Joel Wiegert, the Vice Consul of the
US Embassy in
told The Sunday Leader.
lottery has been conducted on line since 2007. People
who want to register should visit
www.dvlottery.state.gov and fill out the application
given there after taking note of the instructions and
rules for the lottery.
candidate must be born in a qualifying country and the
only other qualifications required are the completion of
6 GCE O-Level subjects, including mathematics and
Sinhala or Tamil or job experience in certain fields
specified at the following web site: http://onlineonetcenter.org.
Age is not a restriction as long as the above-mentioned
qualifications are met.
applications are then processed in the US and all the
eligible candidates are selected after which the winners
are randomly chosen electronically from all across the
winners will then be notified by post, not by e-mail or
they can check the status of their entry on line. They
have to then prepare for an immigration interview which
will determine if the candidate should receive permanent
residency in the
must be noted that the DV Lottery is legitimate and
registration for it is completely free. There are many
false web sites on line that try to con hopeful
candidates into paying sums of money to fill out entry
forms. Such scams have given many people the impression
that the lottery is a sham and this discourages them for
applying for it,” the embassy said in a statement.
applicant is asked to submit a photograph with their
applications which is subjected to face recognition
tests during the selection process to make sure that a
candidate does not apply more than once. Doing so
results in immediate disqualification from the lottery.
Candidates who disclose inaccurate information in an
application are also disqualified.
year alone 29 applicants from Sri Lanka were refused
visas but there still has been a steady increase in the
number of visas issued to Sri Lankans.
lottery 2005 saw 278 applicants given green cards and
the most recent DV lottery had 496 applicants granted
visas, a steady increase over the years.
asked if there would be a notable fall in the number of
applicants for the lottery from
now that the war has ended, the Vice Consul said he
doubted that would happen as Sri Lankans still seem
interested in migrating abroad.
is proven by the current statistics of DV 2010 which
started on October first, and already 606 applicants
have applied for the lottery.
Embassy will also be hosting out reach programmes in
several parts of the country to educate the public about
the lottery. The applications for the lottery will be
accepted from October 2 to November 30. If selected,
the candidate will be informed via post between May and
July 2010 after which they will have one year to
immigrate to the States.
reach programmes in Central and Eastern Province:
– Town Hall – 5.00 p.m.
– Town Hall –
Eliya – Town Hall – 9 a.m.
reach programmes in the Southern Province:
– Town Hall – 5.00 p.m.
reach programmes in
Hall, Negombo –
Milagiriya Church Hall – 5.30 pm
Fat Controller and doubting Thomases,
beware: this train is going to Hollywood
HIT Entertainment is seeking growth for the Thomas
the Tank Engine characters with their second foray
four years after he first appeared amid a puff of smoke,
Thomas, the small blue railway engine created by a
clergyman for his son, is to steam into Hollywood for
the second time.
Entertainment, Thomas the Tank Engine’s owner, yesterday
took the first steps towards making a new feature film,
a decade after a previous attempt was panned by critics
for Americanising a post-war British brand.
has signed up Josh Klausner, the writer of Shrek the
Third, to act as the screenwriter for a movie that the
company hopes will lead to a film emerging from the
tunnel of production some time in 2011. Julia Pistor,
the head of HIT’s newly created film division, said that
it made sense for the company - also home to Bob the
Builder and Pingu the Penguin - to start its film
business with Thomas because the engine is a
phenomenally successful and versatile brand.
Created by the Rev Wilbert Awdry to comfort his son, who
was afflicted with measles during the Second World War,
Thomas first appeared to the British public in a 1945
book, The Three Railway Engines. Since then, the
adventures of the steam engines have become one of the
world’s biggest preschool children’s businesses.
million copies of the original 26 stories written by Mr
Awdry, and the 13 then written by his son, Christopher,
have been sold worldwide. The Thomas television series,
narrated by the former Beatle Ringo Starr, has
generated 45 million DVD sales in the United States
alone. Parents and grandparents have bought 30 million
replica engines and enough track to lay 1,902 miles of
all the durability of Thomas, the tank engine has not
always enjoyed roaring success. The previous attempt to
take Thomas to the big screen resulted in a film
released in 2000 called Thomas And The Magic Railroad,
in which the principal parts were voiced by Alec Baldwin
and Peter Fonda, the Hollywood stars, in film that
strayed far from its UK origins, reviewed badly and
fared poorly at the box office.
disappointing was the film that Britt Allcroft was
forced out and the company she founded to exploit the
Thomas brand was acquired by HIT Entertainment. HIT, in
turn, was taken private by Apax Partners, the private
equity firm, in 2005 after the company’s other
properties, particularly Bob the Builder, began to lose
their popularity with the under-Ewes.
Marple and Hercule Poirot look like they are staying put
after talks about a £40 million sale were on the point
of collapse last night.
Chorion, the owner of the Agatha Christie estate,
publicly contradicted Coolabi, the would-be buyer, which
only hours earlier had said that negotiations about a
sale were continuing.
Coolabi, which owns Purple Ronnie, had told the London
market yesterday morning that it was still in “ongoing”
negotiations about an unspecified transaction,
understood to be the purchase of the rights to the
Agatha Christie crime books, as it reported full-year
hours later, a spokesman for Chorion said: “Coolabi was
not able to raise the funding and the deal is
Coolabi’s shares have been suspended for the past five
months because the company is so small that a £40
million purchase would constitute a “reverse takeover”
under Stock Exchange rules.
Banks, the chief executive of Coolabi, insisted that he
had checked with Chorion, which is run by Lord Alli, the
media entrepreneur, about the statement his company put
out in the morning. He added that he was urgently
trying to clarify the situation.
— Dan Sabbagh, Media Editor
Courtesy The Times
Chuggington, the hit children’s TV series based on
the adventures of trains and their drivers, has now
been sold to 165 countries worldwide, Ludorum, its
maker, said yesterday (Ian King writes).
The computer-generated 3D series, which launched on
CBeebies, the BBC’s digital children’s channel, this
year, has already become one of the highest-rated
Rob Lawes, chief executive of Ludorum, said a deal
had been struck in recent weeks with the Disney
Channel in the US, which will screen an
American-voiced version of Chuggington next year.
The series has also been bought by Fuji Networks,
making it the Japanese broadcaster’s first Western
TV import for the pre-school market in more than 15