22nd June, 2003 Volume 9, Issue 49
this deafening silence of the TCHR?
a letter to The Sunday Leader recently I commended the Tamil Centre for
Human Rights (TCHR) writing through its general secretary, S.V. Kirubaharan
for bringing to the PM's notice matters connected with the restoration of
normalcy after the MoU, human rights, and the investigation of the 'brutal'
murder of Kumar Ponnambalam.
briefly summarise the TCHR's concerns thereon, it had brought to the PM's
attention the need for resettlement of civilians in the army's HSZs in
furtherance of "normalcy" under the MoU, the need for the
government to take four measures in regard to the investigations of KP's
"brutal" murder, and the need generally to maintain human rights.
agreeing with these concerns of the TCHR, I asked Kirubaharan whether in
pursuit of these noble, humanistic ideals, and in consistency therewith, he
had firstly also brought the following to the PM's attention, and secondly,
if he had not, why he had not. What I asked him were:
In quest of restoration of "normalcy" under the MoU, apart
from the army's HSZ matter whether the PM's attention was drawn to the need
for calling also the LTTE to account in regard to the continuing extortions,
abductions, taxing, murders,
child recruitment etc, as 'normalcy' must mean the total stoppage of these
activities too by the LTTE, and normalcy cannot mean only the army having to
comply while the LTTE is permitted not to comply.
might notice the PM also as regards the LTTE needing to permit civilian
resettlements in its own HSZs in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu in order to
Regarding KP's "brutal" murder and its alleged defective
investigations and the need for four further measures in regard there to as
set out by SVK I asked him whether he noticed the PM about other 'brutal'
(perhaps more brutal) murders by the LTTE as regards which too no proper
investigations were carried out by the PA government and even by the present
government. Apart from KP's murder which only SVK had noticed the PM, I
referred him to the murders of others like A. Amirthalingam, Mr and Mrs.
Yogarajan, Thambimudali, Neelan Tiruchelvam, R. Premadasa, Lalith
Athulathmudali, C.V. Gooneratne, the 600 odd policemen killed in cold blood
despite a safety guarantee given by the LTTE to the PM, the border village
massacres etc. Were their cases also noticed to the PM by the TCHR as was
Finally I asked SVK whether it is the TCHR's policy to be selective
in its noble, humanistic ideal of furthering 'normalcy' and human rights.
early response from the TCHR was expected, considering that its concerns
were certainly noble and idealistic as they appeared to be from its own
letter to your paper of February 9, which set out the matters it had raised
with the PM. My letter was in support of these ideals with a request for the
clarifications set out above. It is nearly three months since my letter
appeared. No following-up, clarification or elucidation of the matters I
raised (which too were in the same humanistic mould as the TCHR had seemed
to show in its letter to the PM) has come from the TCHR or SVK.
silence is indeed deafening and is bound to split the ears of those who like
the TCHR are concerned with restoration of 'normalcy' and regard for human
the TCHR via SVK or other office-bearer kindly respond to the clarifications
sought in my letter of March 9, as summarised above? We all support the TCHR
in its noble quest for normalcy and human rights, but on a non-selective,
non-discriminatory basis please.
people on peace process
not the President or the parliamentarians who will decide the fate of the
country but the ordinary people. At a referendum it is they who will accept
or reject the solution arrived at through months or years of negotiation.
Therefore, it is crucial that the people should be educated on the peace
process that is expected to go on. They have to be emotionally and
psychologically prepared to accept a negotiated settlement, be it federalism
or some other structure of government to accommodate our multi ethnic, multi
cultural and multi religious society.
a recent TV discussion Wickremabahu Karunaratne stressed the need for such
peace education and was very critical of the UNF government for not taking
adequate steps to counter the anti peace propaganda that is being
relentlessly carried on by extremist groups like the JVP, Sihala Urumaya and
the Anura group of the PA.
part in the same discussion was Tissa Vitharana whose main concern was that
the President and the PA had been left out of the peace talks. He stressed
the point that whatever solution that is arrived at would have to be
approved by a two third majority in parliament. If parliament refuses to
pass it, that would be the end of the matter, there would be no referendum,
the truth is that our parliamentarians are well known for their opportunism.
They will first test the mood of the people before they vote against the
solution in parliament. If they feel that the whole country enthusiastically
welcomes the proposed solutions, they will not vote against it (not even the
JVP), keeping an eye on the votes at the next general election. So really
the Prime Minister and the government should work on educating the people
and winning their approval rather than waste time on planning 'number games'
the people is a long process and it must begin now. If the government fails
to tell the people clearly what it plans to do and waits until the solution
is drafted and presented at a referendum, it may be too late. Not clearly
understanding what they are in for, the people may even vote against it on
the basis that the known devil is better. That would be a disaster for the
country. The LTTE could then go back to war claiming "The Sinhala
people are not willing to accept us as equals. Therefore, we are forced to
take up arms again to fight for a separate state."
one of the panelists pointed out that the President herself doesn't help in
promoting peace among the people, Wickremabahu spoke in her defence. He said
that on important occasions, she has always spoken in favour of the peace
process and her "Mahiyangana" type of speeches are not important,
and those utterances should not be taken seriously. But it is those very
Mahiyangana type of speeches that will shape and mould the opinion of the
ordinary Sinhalese villagers in those areas and not those lofty, pious
sentiments expressed by the
President on occasions, when she knows, she is being heard by the
international community. How is the villager to know that she does not mean
what she says to them? Surely they do not have the ability that Wickremabahu
seems to have to read her innermost thoughts.
speeches she makes when addressing the villagers are so full of fire and
passion that they could easily influence the voters to reject the Prime
Minister's peace solution in order to bring back the President's PA-JVP
alliance "to save the country." What she tells the international
community is not what she tells her party supporters and what she tells them
is certainly not helping to promote peace. And the government too is doing
precious little to promote its own peace process and make it acceptable to
to take the lid off the DLB 'gold mine'
is it not possible for parliament to monitor and correct such gross
violations? Why not rename it as the People's Fund and lay down stipulations
on how monies from this fund could be granted to those in dire need and
publish all such grants annually?
is there so much official secrecy about this fund? Where is the transparency
all political parties cry for? I think it is time to take the lid off and
reveal to the people all grants awarded from this fund from its very
inception to date and if necessary amend the relevant Act of Parliament by
which it was created.
area used as garbage dump
you take the road right opposite the Election Commissioner's office and come
down Rajagiriya Road about half a kilometre and look out for Madinnagoda
Road right opposite a red post office box, just before the bridge, there is
certainly a sight for sore eyes. Just next to the river there was only a
house but now there is a road full of garbage between the river and the
trucks brought in garbage about two years ago during the PA regime and
started filling the bank and narrowing the pathway of the river. It was said
that the road was being constructed for the then defence secretary to obtain
a road towards his ancestral property. What was there was only a footpath.
When the neightbours who had lived in the area for so many years rightly
complained it was said that they should perhaps go away if they could not
cope with the stench. I suppose they are small fry and considered
expendable. Minister Ravi Karunanayake made a big noise about it and came
and inspected it but it all came to nought.
the shift of power, construction came to a halt. Now there is a resurgence
of activity. The road is being widened and the stench is unbearable. There
is garbage falling into the river that is being used for fishing. There are
people who come and pick the garbage, which includes polythene, paper and
plastics. There are storks and cattle scavenging.
people in the neighbourhood have to put up with this for what purpose? They
have been asked not to complain and not to report the matter to the
newspapers. Why is this road being built? Who authorised it? And does it
matter to anyone especially the high and mighty that the people in the
vicinity have to put up with this unsightly sight, the unbearable stench and
the fear that they too would be prone to a flood, if there is a deluge?
residential area such as this should not be used as a garbage dump and the
fact that a road is being constructed with the river being polluted by
garbage is highly unethical.
and that Aryan myth
REFER to your editorial dated May 4, and the subsequent letter to the editor
by Ramani Gunatilleke. I was shocked by the nonsensical claim that the
Sinhalese are fairer than the Tamils. The Aryan myth of the Sinhalese has
been completely discredited by social scientists such as Prof. Gananath
Obeysekera and Prof. Bruce Kapferer. It stems from the 19th century racial
classification of the British.
source of the misunderstanding is confusion between Indo-Aryan language and
Indo-Aryan race. Though the Sinhalese language is derived from Sanskrit, it
does not follow that the Sinhalese belong to this mythical Aryan race.
the 1983 riots there were numerous examples of dark-skinned Sinhalese being
targeted as Tamils, and many fair-skinned Tamils escaping death. In fact,
the brother of a UNP member of parliament, Asoka Somaratne was mercilessly
thrashed because of his chocolate-coloured skin. Many Sinhalese can trace a
direct lineage to South India.
is a huge diversity of features and skin tones among all the ethnic groups
in Sri Lanka. The actions of the 1983 rioters and their perpetuation through
editorials such as yours, give credence to Jonathan Spencers' claim that the
'Sinhalese are committing atrocities because they believe in such
by Chandrika's first
WAS appalled at the content, delivery and body language that Chandrika
Kumaratunga displayed on her first TV interview over Australia Broadcasting
Corporation which went over the air a few days ago. As an Australian citizen
I have no political affiliations with my country of birth, Sri Lanka.
However, I do feel for my land of birth, and hence this letter.
points that have to be considered by her, if there is to be a second
interview are as follows:
Have a more positive body language, and a more relaxed expression. This
comes with inner peace, harmony and compassion, devoid of vindictiveness.
Make sure you speak the truth. She mentioned that Ranil Wickremesinghe's
party assassinated her father and husband. This is not true, and does not
win her any sympathy or mileage for her, the party or the country.
If she has forgiven Prabhakaran,
why not extend this spirit of forgiveness to all whom she thinks have
Never wash dirty linen in public, think of your country rather than your own
thirst for power.
We have forgiven the SLFP of 1956 which denied us access to English and thus
to the international arena of learning. So Madam President, why not ride
high on the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness? Be a leader.
You mentioned that you have a degree in political science? Is it a degree or
a diploma? Please at TV interviews never plug one's academic achievements.
These are not destructive comments but constructive, to give Sri Lanka a
better chance to come out of its web of disaster, personal vendettas and
selfish motives, all at the expense of the poor voter.
Australian Sri Lankans expect a more honest and a higher standard of
presentation next time she is interviewed for ABC.
of the strays
and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga has threatened to issue a
"shoot to kill" order to the police targeting stray dogs in the
Colombo city. He says he will carry out this threat if the CMC continues to
ignore his warning that stray dogs are a danger to the public and should be
destroyed. He also says that rabies is on the increase and the state must
take proper care to prevent it.
to him, the Mayor of Colombo has failed to take up his request to destroy
stray dogs, because the latter is under pressure by animal rights activists.
The Minister's threat to order the police to 'shoot to kill' dogs after one
week's notice is a threat to the dog population and a violation of animal
rights. It should be seen as a threat to human safety and human rights as
well. The human rights lobby should oppose the Minister's threat as much as
animal rights groups.
from the Minister's ruthless proposal, what is the justification for the
practice by the state of the indiscriminate destruction of dogs purportedly
for the control of dog populations and the eradication of rabies? It is an
increasingly recognised fact acknowledged by the WHO too that eliminating
stray dogs does not lead to the control of dog populations or rabies in the
Minister Amaratunga is threatening to shoot all dogs unless the CMC resumes
dog killings, it would surprise the Minister to know that in Kandy the mayor
has stopped the indiscriminate killing of dogs. Stray dogs are brought to
the KMC dog pound, sterilised, vaccinated and re - homed or returned to the
places they were brought from. At a seminar held recently in Kandy the
minister for health and indigenous medicine, the chancellor of the
University of Peradeniya, mayor of Kandy, and the WHO representative in Sri
Lanka, among others present condemned the practice of inhumane treatment and
elimination of dogs and welcomed the introduction of humane and scientific
methods of dog population control and rabies elimination.
is nearly one year since the passing away of my beloved uncle and mentor, a
former municipal commissioner. Uncle Felix to many of us, was a colossus
during his lifetime, but passed away as an unsung hero. I could still
remember nostalgically, how he encouraged me to join the Sri Lanka Navy way
back in 1956. Then, I did not know the difference between the stem or the
stern of a ship but uncle Felix encouraged me a great deal to join as he
knew that we Negombians have a life at sea and he who dares the waves, wins.
publication, titled Catholicism In Negombo is a treatise that traces the
advent of the Christian religion in 1505 by the Portugeese into Negombo.
Negombo is still the cradle of Catholicism in Sri Lanka which is dubbed
"Little Rome." Negombo, to its credit, has produced the largest
number of priests and religious dignitaries to date.
Felix was a pioneer in doing away with the "tithe" system which
required the poor fishermen to contribute ten per cent of their daily
earnings for the maintenance of the Grand Street Church, Negombo. This is
now being done directly by the Archbishop.
could vividly remember the comment made by another member of the community
praising the pandal erected opposite the Grand Street Church for their feast
day to which a poor fisherman standing next to him retorted "you are
praising the magnificent pandal without looking at the brilliant church we
have put up behind it with our bare hands."
Felix, you were not only a guiding light to your children and grand children
but also to several of your nephews and nieces and I consider it to be
privileged to be one of them. May your road to paradise be strewn with
flowers like Paradise Road, Negombo where you lived. May the turf rest
lightly over you till 'Thy Kingdom Come.'
A.R. Cyril Fernando SLN (rtd).
Publication (Pvt) Ltd.
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