The Sunday Leader

Hit “Double Standards” Exponents Hard

It would seem that Britain, among some other countries, will attend CHOGM in November in Sri Lanka not with the intention of genuine participation for mutual benefit and Commonwealth solidarity, but with the sole purpose of putting Sri Lanka on the chopping block of alleged Human Rights (HR) violations and seeking to penalise this country with various sanctions and sundry UNHCR ‘summonses’.

Says Cameron, the British Premier: “My decision” is to have some tough conversations with the SL Govt. I’m not happy with their HR record with what they’ve done following the conflict, and we’ll have some very frank conversations to make those points” (AFP Report). On Suu Kyi’s advice, he’ll “engage all stakeholders, not only the Govt.”

Well, let him have any amount of “tough, frank conversations,” meet any stakeholder. But here’s the rub so far as the Sri Lanka is concerned. Enough is enough. No longer must the Govt engage in mere passive exercises of rebuttal (of any false charges),which is mostly what it has done to date, but go on to give as much as it gets.

When Cameron, whoever, engages in “tough, frank conversations,” the President must in the first instance, boldly challenge their locus standi to accuse Sri Lanka of HR violations and like abuses, when their own record, specially Britain’s and Canada’s among Commonwealth countries, and America’s (whose accusations against Sri Lanka on alleged HR violations at UNHCR is strongly seconded by Britain) are the worst on record, and their abuses continue to date. The Govt must take the attack to our accusers, and show them for what they really are, Britain with America being the biggest violators of HR in history. First thing first. The right of a particular Govt , its locus standi to accuse another Govt, when the accuser Govt is also guilty of the accusations made, and even more, must first be challenged before all-else.

Further, if Cameron’s wants “tough, frank conversations” the Govt must let him have them, and have “tough, frank conversations” itself with Cameron. Lets be “tough” too. Bring up the several HR abuses being even now committed, and committed in the past as well by Britain,current abuses by British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the torture of prisoners in British prisons there (Abu Graib etc.).

US spying on foreign Govts including its friends, the phone tapping that the CIA has been indulging in over years, even of private citizens’ phones, an ugly HR scandal must be brought up and Cameron must be questioned as to whether Britain will bring it up before the UNHCR in Geneva. Surely such mention of questioning will accord with Cameron’s desire for “tough, frank conversation” with the Govt. The “toughness need not emanate from Cameron only. The Sri Lanka Govt must itself take a “tough, frank” stance, as it justly can, with him.

Regarding past abuses, Britain’s horrible colonial record, specially where suppression of rebellions was concerned in then Ceylon, in Kenya (against the Mau Mau) Maldives’ Diego Garcia depopulation horror etc must be mentioned, and Cameron answer “how come, you accuse us”? The list of British colonial HR abuses is too long to detail here, but can be given if they request it.
Furthermore, rebuttal of specific allegations should follow only after the two aspects referred to above have been dealt with during Cameron’s proposed “tough, frank “ talks. The “Rebuttal “exercise is one usually carried out by the Govt as a stock response/answer to HR abuse allegations, but is not sufficiently effective when not combined with the aspects mentioned above.

It was heartening to read in the Daily Mirror of 28.10.13 that the President has hit out at the International Communities “Double Standards”, its practice of only speaking of alleged HR abuses, ignoring Sri Lanka’s achievements in the eradication of terrorism, which other countries have failed to achieve, and the rehabilitation and development work that has been undertaken in and continues in the formerly terrorism ravaged areas. The Minister of External Affairs Dr G.L. Pieris would, no doubt, prepare a document for discussion both at CHOGM. and at the “tough, frank” talks that Cameron is keen on. He thinks that he alone will have a field day at CHOGM against Sri Lanka, and be able to point fingers at Sri Lanka, that Britain itself is immune from a similar attack. Dr GLP must rise to the occasion in getting up a formidable and brilliant answer, which should be bold and revealing of Britain’s and the IC’s crude Double Standards. Dr GLP with assistance from relevant authorities is quite capable of doing so.

While couching it in diplomatic language the Document must clearly point out Britain’s and the International Community’s, even the UN’s gross hypocrisy/discrimination as regards non-Westerns countries, specially as regards the ear splitting silence and inaction on British/American/Western HR abuses.



Letter To Canadian PM

It is with great regret I learnt your decision of not attending the summit in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Whilst respecting the circumstances which may have led to your decision, I would like to present a few salient facts. I also respect the emotions shared by a segment of Sri Lankan population in your country, though I wish to differ. I am too a Sri Lankan of Tamil ethnic origins. I proudly served the Sri Lanka forces for 30 plus years and retired after two years of the end of the civil war.

No doubt, it was a difficult war against a brutal enemy and due to its own conduct, it was banned even in your country and tagged as a terrorist organisation. This organisation has had many an opportunity to reconcile, but used all such opportunities to recuperate and rearm. They back stabbed the peace process at each time to restart the war. Even the last war was thrust on the government when they attempted to assassinate the then Commander of Sri Lanka Army.

In response, the government launches a campaign and cleared the East of Sri Lanka. People from unclear areas were taken care of. There were no major complaints of genocide or Human rights abuses. In contrast, in the northern front, heavy battles were fought. As the LTTE withdrew, they took all the civilians at gunpoint. The purpose of this was to have them as human shields, Sri Lankan armed forces did not fall to this trap that clinically targeted the LTTE and reduced the land area.

By April 2009, the LTTE was confined to approximately 30 square kilometres that was holding 300,000 innocent people living in the open as human shields. On April 14, 2009, a two-day ceasefire was declared to enable the release of the civilians and the government was also willing to accept an unconditional surrender.

Honourable Prime Minister, those who supported the LTTE in your country did neither held rallies nor send a clear signal to LTTE to release the civilians the least. In my opinion, they wanted to protect the terrorists at any cost and create genocide in the face of an impending defeat. They were doing this whilst living comfortably in your country.

The government of Sri Lanka conducted the final phase with ultimate prudence suffering heavy casualties for its own troops and rescued 300,000 traumatised civilians from the clutches of the LTTE. I am sure these civilians will vouch for what I have said.

I do not say there was zero collateral damage. Wars are cruel in nature. History shows us what happened in World War II, Vietnam War or the current War on Terror. There was carpet bombing in German cities to break the will of the civilians. When Japanese did not surrender, atom bombs were exploding killing and maiming generations of Japanese. ‘Agent Orange’ was used in Vietnam and even unborn generations felt the negative effects. There are many more. No one called these genocide or Human Rights violations.
In Sri Lanka, there was nothing of this magnitude. Today, Japan and Vietnam are close allies of world nations. They have re-built or are rebuilding their countries.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government summit is being held at the time the government is developing the country after recovering from three decades of war. Political process has begun in the North under a neutral Chief Minister who has been mandated by the people. If my reading is correct of his view, which appeared in online news networks on boycotting CHOGM, his sentiments were, “it does not help anyone”. He has said in the past Sri Lankan Tamils have lost due to boycotting and I too strongly feel the same.

Engagement, reconciliation, rehabilitation and development are the ‘need of the hour’ of any nation recovering from a civil war.
Honourable Prime Minister, as a proud Sri Lankan of Tamil origin, I humbly request you to reconsider and represent your country in the CHOGM summit. Your engagement and assistance will greatly help all communities in Sri Lanka.
I am representing the views on my own accord and not under persuasion by anyone.
Assuring you my highest consideration at all times,
Yours Sincerely,

Air Vice Marshal (Retd.)


Appeal  For Help

A.S. Gaffer, father of four, appeals for financial assistance for the medical treatment of his 08-year-old daughter Rikasa who suffers from Leukemia. This unfortunate child lost her mother a year ago.

The treatment for her is available only in Meenatchy Mission Hospital India. The cost for the treatment has been estimated, Rs. 25 hundred thousand.

The head of the family drives a three-wheeler for hire and he cannot afford the estimated amount of money.

He, therefore, appeals to the kind-hearted benefactors to extend their helping hand towards his ailing child by depositing any amount of money possible in A/C: 71449879, BANK OF CEYLON, NURAICHCHOLAI. CONTACT No. 0723584862.

Ailing Tea Industry

Reading some of the views expressed by eminent personnel in the tea industry, it is quite apparent that this industry is in dire straits, giving a symptomatic impression that viability is being seriously threatened.

The primary cause for this predicament is, as those entrusted to manage these holdings have repeatedly said, is the shortage of workers. At the recent global tea producers’ meeting in London, the Managing Director of Kelani Valley and Talawakelle PLC Roshan Rajadurai said that sustainability of the industry was linked to the sustainability of workers.

“It is important to raise workers’ dignity and morale if the industry is to become more attractive to young workers,” he said.
Lalith Obesekara, the outgoing chairman of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon, was of the same view at the 159th AGM of the Planters’ Association held recently in Colombo.

There are several reasons for the younger generation to seek employment elsewhere. Nearly two decades ago after re-privatisation, working days were restricted or curtailed, especially Sunday work since there was no replanting and infilling.
This was one of the reasons that affected the yields in Sri Lanka. In those days it was the practice to register the children eligible on casual basis and later to be taken into the permanent carder. The uneconomic tea areas together with available fallow land were planted with timber.
Whenever there is no work in the estates the workers went for outside jobs. Some went for harvesting sugar cane in Monaragala. This was the turning point. The workers who went for outside work were well paid and well looked after. They gave their children a good education expecting employment outside.

There is now marked improvement in estate sector living conditions such as housing, health and sanitation, income levels and other benefits. All such facilities were free of charge but the industry failed to provide levels of social recognition. In this regard several types of mechanical harvesters were tried out. The Tea Research Institute has initiated many trials but not concerned about the quality of the end product and possible lowering of yields in the long term. In spite of these concerns, would it not be a better option than abandoning fields/delaying plucking rounds and incurring losses. This needs evaluation and grist to one’s mill.

Who is responsible for the worker exodus? We as planters, politicians, and the trade unionists should all be held responsible. It is true that the estate workers should be given equal political status but the sustainability of the industry has to be ensured. Some trade unionists have blamed regional plantation companies for the present situation but that is a questionable assessment, which I do not subscribe to.

Workers who leave cannot be readily wooed back. This is where the voice of unions and the politicians should play an important role. They can prevent the worker exit by negotiating a workable alternative.
We request all concerned to take appropriate steps for the long term sustainability of the industry and for a better livelihood of estate workers.

Lalin De Silva


Ministerial Outburst

Several Ministers during their political addresses more than expressing their success stories are now in the habit of expressing critical views on the plight of the UNP.

The Minister with an American State name, who is fortunate to receive a pension for warming up a ministerial seat, and the harbour minister and several others are the major culprits. They are aware that in the present context, they could rule for the next 15 or more years and they are also responsible for buying over UNP parliamentarians.

The UNP situation is their own creation and the person making a bold attempt to be the Head of the UNP, often announces that he is not clamouring for position or hierarchy place and without such positions he is able to work for the good of the people, forgetting that it is his outburst for position that the UNP has lost not only its political position but lost too many of its members to the government.


New Bus Fare Hike

Private bus fare was increased with effect from November 1. However, as bus commuters, we agree with the 7% increase in bus fare, though we have been affected by it, because now there is no cause for arguments between commuters and bus conductors when commuters ask for balance money from bus conductors.

Bus fares should be fixed so as to make them rounded figures where the change receivable by the passengers does not amoun to Rs. 1/-. The bus fares i.e. 9/-, 14/-, 19/-, 24/-, 29/- and so forth result in argument between bus conductors and commuters on balanced one rupee. The new bus fare hike does not create such problems.

Imalka Perera

3 Comments for “Hit “Double Standards” Exponents Hard”

  1. Shaik Anwar Ahamath

    I raise my hat to A.Kumaresan, Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) for his sentiments, that I share, in his letter to the Canadian PM. Sadly, he gets no recognition from our government but he is sure to be targteted by the vociferous LTTE rump.

  2. NAK

    On Mr. Camaron’s visit, My advise to Mr. Camaron is to come wearing a strong belt because without one he might find his pants down at some stage. It is with a similar attitude that Mr. Milliband visited Sri Lanka in 2009 and he also got an earful of ground reality and Mr. Camaron is bound to get the same but more spicy this time around!

    On bus fare hike, It is understandable, even though with much unpopularity, the request of the private bus owners to raise bus fares. We all know that they have to pay the installments on lease for the buses on top of meeting license, route permits and many other running expenses.
    My question is what justification does the SLTB has to quietly increase their fares along with the private buses when they are not subjected to any of the expenses that private bus operators have to incur.
    More importantly the SLTB receives huge subsidies from the treasury which are in turn paid by the general public,taxing the public twice.
    The minister of Transport does not seem to mind this and happy to play the joker on stage! You can’t be throwing sticks at the moon at the expense of the travelling public.
    We have enough jokers Mr. Minister. Stop your joking and attend to your job!!!

    There is only one solution to this problem. It is patently apparent that private bus operation is not a viable business proposition and they should be told so in no uncertain terms and asked voluntarily give up the business. As a mode of accommodating them in this the treasury can intervene in acquiring the buses on behalf of the SLTB. With this the employees of the private buses could also be absorbed in to the SLTB and made their jobs secure.
    For this to work SLTB must be run under capable hands who could be held responsible for the smooth operation of the passenger bus services.

    In this I must emphasize that being lorry owners do not necessarily qualify to handle passenger transport.

  3. Indika Sanjeewa

    Director of Channel 4 Callum McRae should be deported.

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