President given tough message by UN
offers to send HR monitors to SL
UN has once again offered its services to
monitor human rights violations in Sri Lanka
during a meeting between President Mahinda
Rajapakse and UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Louise Arbour in Geneva on June 15.
relayed the international community’s concerns
about the situation in the South Asian country
and explained how her Office could assist in
promoting national human rights protection in
the South Asian country," the office of UN
Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said.
UN’s latest offer comes just a day after
Amnesty International (AI) called for UN human
rights monitors to be deployed in Sri Lanka
during a similar meeting.
urges President Rajapakse to open an immediate
dialogue with the Office of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights to set up an
international field operation. The government’s
efforts to date have been woefully
inadequate," AI head Irene Khan said soon
after her meeting.
also raised similar concerns during the meeting
that she described as "very
productive." It is the first such meeting
between Rajapakse and UN human rights officials
since the latter made calls for international
High Commissioner also underscored the
importance of accurate and independent reporting
of the human rights situation on the
ground," the UN said adding that recent
fighting had affected three million people,
forcing 500,000 out of their homes and killing
government has resisted calls for international
human rights monitors since calls intensified
with the rising wave of abductions, extra
judicial murders and killings of aid workers. It
has said that the Special Presidential
Commission investigating selected cases of
rights violations and the group of eminent
international persons assisting it were adequate
to investigate allegations. During his address
to the International Labour Organisation on the
same day as the Arbour meeting, President
Rajapakse indicated that the government had not
deviated from its policy.
Presidential Commission of Inquiry has been set
up to investigate into some of the killings that
had happened in the past. Its work is being
observed by an International Independent Group
of Eminent Persons. All the observers came on
our invitation as we want to establish the
truth," he said during his speech.
in fact said that international watchdogs were
making unreasonable demands.
few governments would have done what we did and
none has done it so far. We are open to scrutiny
because we respect human rights, democracy and
the freedom of the people. Unfortunately, it is
our flexibility and sincerity that seems to
encourage the global non governmental community
to demand further involvement."
very day the President made his address, the
Chairman of the IIGEP, Justice N. Baghwati
issued a statement in Colombo raising serious
issues with regard to the independence and
impartiality of the Commission of Inquiry.
major arms deal with China
of India’s opposition to Sri Lanka turning to
Pakistan and China for military hardware to
bolster its offensive against the Tamil Tigers,
Colombo has recently inked several significant
defence agreements with Beijing.
exclusive access to an internal Sri Lankan
cabinet document, Britain’s renowned Jane’s
Defence Weekly reported that Sri Lanka had
signed a classified $37.6 million deal with
China’s Poly Technologies in April to supply
its defence forces with ammunition and ordnance
for the army and navy in addition to varied
Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan defence secretary and
a brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, told
Indian authorities May 30 that ‘security
compulsions’ were driving Colombo to seek
military equipment from China, Pakistan and
is also believed to have informed India’s
security establishment that Colombo ‘understood’
New Delhi’s internal political compulsions,
foreclosing enhanced military co-operation
between the neighbours.
Sri Lankan official was reportedly making a
direct reference to Tamil Nadu, which is
separated from Sri Lanka by a strip of sea and
where there is considerable support for the
Tamil guerrillas. Senior security officials
concede that a bilateral defence agreement
between Colombo and New Delhi drawn up over two
years ago remains ‘hostage’ to India’s
Tamil concerns. This, in turn, forces Colombo to
seek alternate weapon suppliers.
current edition says that Colombo has declined
to renew its long standing agreement with China’s
North Industries Corporation (Norinco) for
defence equipment, opting instead for Poly
Technologies, founded as a rival in 1984 by
Beijing’s military establishment. While
outwardly a subsidiary of the China
International Trust and Investment Corp,
military analysts said that in reality the
Beijing-based Poly Technologies was a ‘front
company’ for China’s military-industrial
reports to the armament department of the People’s
Liberation Army General Staff Department and is
authorised to sell conventional military
equipment including short and medium-range
the reasons for the Sri Lankan government
switching to Poly Technologies appear unclear,
it seems the change was prompted by the debt of
$200 million it owed Norinco, which has
maintained a bonded warehouse in the southern
port city of Galle since 1993.
long-standing agreement with Norinco was
exclusive, prohibiting it from sourcing specific
military items from any another Chinese
contract with Poly Technologies, however,
contravenes this clause, seemingly invalidating
the earlier agreement providing the Sri Lankan
military an alternate materiel supplier, Jane’s
agreement with Poly Technologies, however, ‘aims
to avoid the development of any debt through a
system of staggered payments,’ Jane’s
says, necessitating an advance 25 percent
payment and the balance payable in 10 quarterly
largest single order with Poly Technologies is
for 120 mm mortar shells for the army, of which
70,000 rounds are priced at $10.4 million.
imports include 68,000 rounds of varied 152 mm
artillery shell worth nearly $20 million besides
50,000 81 mm high-explosive mortar bombs for
$3.7 million, all of which the army needs to
reinforce its ‘pro-active’ military strategy
against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Sri Lankan navy’s requirement valued at $ 2.7
million includes a varied range of ammunition
like 100,000 14.5 mm cartridges, 2,000 RPG-7
rockets and 500 81 mm airburst mortar shells.
are also 50 Type 82 14.5 mm twin-barrel naval
guns, 200 Type 85 12.7 mm heavy machine guns,
200 Type 80 7.62 mm multipurpose machine guns,
1,000 Type 56-2 7.62 mm submachine guns and
1,000 Type 56 7.62 mm submachine guns, Jane’s
meanwhile, is also helping Sri Lanka augment its
air defence capability following four recent
strikes by the fledgling Tamil Tiger air force
that has resulted in international airlines
declining to operate night flights to Colombo.
declared that the China National Electronics
Import Export Corp is to provide Sri Lanka a JY
11 3D radar for $5 million over the next few
weeks once the site for its location near
Colombo is ready.
was Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the defence secretary
who concluded the contract for the radar for the
Lanka Logistics and Technologies Co Ltd that he
had initially ordered the JY 11 radar two years
ago, making payments in advance but was forced
to call off the deal following Indian protests
that the system would ‘over arch’ into its
India supplied Sri Lanka two Indra IN-PC-2D
radars free of charge and is believed to have
agreed to Colombo’s request for at least one
more following the spate of LTTE air raids.
Indra radars have become a source of tension
with India, with some Sri Lankan officials
claiming they failed to detect the ingress by a
Tamil Tiger propeller aircraft to an air force
base outside Colombo in March. Three airmen were
killed and 16 wounded in the attack. Sri Lanka
is also negotiating with the Chinese
conglomerate for three additional mobile radars
for use across the country as the second Tiger
air strike was conducted against the government’s
Palaly military base in Jaffna peninsula.
an associated development, Sri Lanka is also
planning on acquiring an unspecified number of
MiG 29 fighters to boost its air power. The
director of Aeronautical Engineering, Air Vice
Marshal Prashantha de Silva, is scheduled to
visit Moscow to discuss the acquisition, states
defence sources said New Delhi, which also
operates at least three MiG 29 squadrons, could
play an ‘important’ role in Sri Lanka’s
proposed purchase of similar fighters by
agreeing to provide training, spares, servicing
and other logistic back-up. Sri Lankan officials
are also planning visiting Ulan Ude in Russia to
negotiate the purchase of four helicopter
gunships and to Ukraine for talks on overhauling
and possibly upgrading An 32 transport aircraft.
accuses Police of making money from lodgers
Justice Sarath N. Silva last week charged that
the police was making money when registering
Tamils living in lodges adding that was why the
Supreme Court had to intervene to prevent them
from being evicted from lodges.
a ceremony to mark a book launch by senior
Attorney Kandiah Neelakandan, the Chief Justice
observed that there are number of lodges in
Colombo and that the people living in these
lodges were registered everyday. However, he
noted the police was creating difficulties and
Colombo city, the majority of people living are
Tamils. There is no pressure of ethnic
cleansing. There are a number of lodges in
Colombo. People living in the lodges are
registered daily. The police try to make
difficulty and make money, that is why the
Supreme Court has intervened in the
matter," he said.
Chief Justice also said there was no point in
talking of constitutional reforms since what
needed to be done was to bring all communities
is no point in talking of constitutional
reforms, you have been talking of various
theories of constitution. What we must do is to
bring all communities together," he said.
observed that commerce was the best way to bind
together people of different races and religion
and called on the business community to bring
all the communities under the umbrella of
developing commercial law, we can achieve that
purpose," he said. Commenting on
Neelakandan’s book on the new Companies Act,
which came into effect May this year, Silva said
it would explain to people in a simplified
manner, the concepts of the new law.
new act, Silva said is meant to create a new
legal atmosphere for the companies to be managed
company directors and others should know what
the new law is. In that sense, this first book
on this new law written by Mr. Neelakandan is
useful for all those who are involved in running
businesses," he said.
plans for People Power campaign in July
UNP is to launch a massive People Power campaign
against the government end July with a public
rally in Colombo.
Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe last week announced
the UNP will take the battle to the government
from Parliament to the streets shortly.
series of protest rallies by the UNP in the
provinces are already underway as a build up to
the Colombo rally. A protest rally was also held
yesterday in Pelmedulla in the Ratnapura
district spearheaded by the party’s national
organiser S.B. Dissanayake.
General Secretatry confirmed a massive protest
rally will be held in Colombo in July to protest
the " Dooshanaya, Bheeshanaya and the
Rajapakse Poshanaya" of the Government.
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has told the
party membership to prepare for a relentless
street campaign after the July
rally.Wickremesinghe is to launch a major attack
on the Rajapakse brothers on June 22 at a public
decides to take on the govt.
JVP last week decided to launch a series of
massive protest campaign against the government
in the coming weeks over its failures on the
economic and military fronts including the
failure to combat corruption.
party’s politburo that met Friday also decided
to vote against the supplementary estimates for
several ministries the government is planning to
present in Parliament on Tuesday.
to JVP sources, the party plans to hold a series
of protests against the government commencing
this week. A press conference is to be held
today by party leaders to inform of the party’s
is learned there will be some dramatic moves in
Parliament this week.
plan to destroy port unearthed claims CID
CID has claimed in a report it unearthed an
elaborate plan by the LTTE to attack Colombo and
destroy the port.
plan was according to the CID discovered in a
shop at Vavuniya and is 80 per cent complete.
CID report reveals the LTTE plan was hatched by
its Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan with special
groups given specific tasks to perform.
to the CID report the area between Galle Face
and the Colombo Port has been identified as an
area under threat of an attack.
has been said that the aim of the attack is to
create an impact on the economy and thereby
destroy the balance in the security forces.
attack was planned to be implemented on a day in
mid 2007 the CID report also states. It further
names two TNA MPs who have agreed to assist the
operation by providing safe houses to the Tiger
CID also states the LTTE is to deploy five
separate teams to launch the attack and destroy
the Port of Colombo.
pressure mounts for UN resolution on Sri Lanka
human rights watchdogs last week warned that the
country was fast heading for lawlessness unless
the government steps in to halt the rising
violations, while renewing calls for the
induction of international human rights
the government does not begin to reassert the
rule of law, it may find itself unable to bring
under control the violent forces that have been
unleashed — including the TMVP, other Tamil
paramilitaries and criminal elements. The nature
of the campaign against the LTTE has spawned a
rise in general lawlessness," the Geneva
based International Crisis Group said in a
report last week.
Mahinda Rajapakse too was in Geneva to address
the sessions of the International Labour
Organisation and meet top human rights
report titled Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Crisis
urged the international community to be more
assertive and push for action from the
international community can no longer afford
simply to repeat formulaic criticisms of the
government’s human rights violations and
express hope that political proposals will be
forthcoming. More urgent action is needed,
including support for a resolution in the UN
Human Rights Council, an across the board
reassessment of aid policies and support for
more international involvement in monitoring
abuses. Until that action is forthcoming, the
victims of violence perpetrated by the state,
the LTTE, and other armed groups have nowhere to
turn," the ICG said.
44-page report dealt with the human rights
violations, abductions, extra judicial killings
and other violence.
report said that the Special Presidential
Commission investigating the selected cases of
rights abuses was inadequate to face the
human rights advocates say they would prefer to
see the CoI die a quick death, so the government
could no longer use it to block stronger
measures, such as an international human rights
monitoring mission," it said.
report however said that the commission should
try to record as many statements as it could and
widen investigations, adding that in any case,
the CoI is no substitute for proper action by
the law enforcement agencies and judiciary to
investigate and prosecute abuses. The national
Human Rights Commission is deeply flawed and has
lost all credibility after being stocked by
political appointees, it was also said.
can’t keep to prices set by govt.
Essential Food Commodities Importers and Traders
Association has stated that it cannot abide by
the maximum retail prices issued by the
association observed that uncontrollable factors
including transportation costs would affect the
retailers who buy the 10 items listed as
essential by the government last week.
the association hailed the government’s move
to bring down the VAT percentage of these
Secretary, Essential Food Commodities Importers
and Traders Association, Hemaka Fernando told The
Sunday Leader that their main concern would
be with regard to big onions and potatoes.
two essential items would be in short supply
very soon owing to rising international
costs," he said.
two essential items are imported mainly from
Pakistan and India where prices are soaring. The
association believes that this would pose a big
problem for Sri Lanka very soon.
big onions are listed at Rs 48 and in the Pettah
market they are sold at Rs 52. The listed price
for potatoes is Rs 55 and in Pettah they are
sold wholesale at over Rs 55.
association on June 8 had written to the
President requesting a meeting to discuss this
will be asking for some government intervention
to seek redress for these two listed items that
are going to be a problem very soon,"
explained that the association is confident that
they will be able to arrive at some agreement
with regard to the cost factors in order to keep
within the guidelines of providing the essential
items at reasonable rates for the public,
especially with regard to big onions and
says govt. supporting corruption
JVP last week accused the Rajapakse
administration of encouraging corruption within
JVP accused Highways and Road Development
Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle of supporting
corruption within the government by denying
punishment against those whose names have been
revealed in the COPE report. JVP Parliamentarian
Piyasiri Wijenayake told The Sunday Leader
that Fernandopulle’s recent remarks on
safeguarding those who have been exposed in the
COPE report has irritated the entire law abiding
population in the country.
is Fernandopulle to deny action against the
corrupt government officers and politicians who
have robbed government money amounting to Rs.150
billion? This clearly shows the government’s
attitude on corruption," claimed Wijenayake.
to Wijenayake, it is clear that the government’s
main aim is to protect political stooges and the
big wigs who have crossed over to the government
to receive a state pardon.
further reiterated that the country’s future
would be bleak unless stern action is taken
against these law-breakers immediately.
government’s annual income is Rs. 400 billion
and corruption has exceed Rs.150 billion which
is a little less than half the annual income.
With all this why is Fernandopulle trying to
safeguard the culprits?" Wijenayake further
Fernandopulle keep silent if any of the
government officers rob his personal assets?
Like wise the people in this country will not
tolerate further when political stooges are
robbing their money. When Fernandopulle was
heading COPE he could not reveal the government
corruption but when the present COPE under the
chairmanship of their own MP Wijedasa Rajapakse
uncovered the facts and figures he is now coming
out denying probes against them. This clearly
shows what the government’s stance is,"
unions to protest land lease by cabinet
employees are to hold a protest campaign against
the cabinet decision to lease out prime railway
lands along the coastal belt.
JVP affiliated All Ceylon Railway Workers
General Union (ACRWGU) said the Transport
Ministry has decided to lease out prime railway
lands from Maradana to Panadura on a 50-year
lease and the railway employees are to agitate
against the decision on July 4 followed by trade
union action if the plan is not dropped.
is of the view that the government’s
arrangement is to sell the railway lands to
prospective foreign and local investors after a
few years, which would be the initial step in a
railway privatisation programme.
Transport Minister Dulles Alahapperuma plans to
improve the Sri Lanka Railway (SLR) from the
lease money, Secretary ACRWGU, Sumathipala
Manawadu told The Sunday Leader that the
railway could improve through proper management
if the government could put a halt to the
corruption at the SLR.
government is to uplift the SLR through leasing
railway lands to private parties. At a time when
the SLR has failed to maintain lease agreements
of shanty dwellers how can it do so with
investors," Manawadu questioned.
Manawadu said that since Minister Alahapperuma
has so far failed to address the railway salary
issue the trade unions have decided to take it
up at the proposed protest on July 4.
to act against vehicles parked on pavements
have been advised to complain to the police
regarding problems due to parking of vehicles on
to the parking of school vans and trishaws on
pavements along bylanes pedestrians are forced
to walk on the roads.
to The Sunday Leader SSP Traffic, Y.G.M.R.
Laffir said vehicle owners have no right to park
their vehicles on pavements. "The pavements
are for the pedestrians. If vehicles are parked
on the pavements pedestrians can complain to the
traffic division," he explained.
SSP added that the public has to write a letter
of complaint with details of the name of the
road to the traffic division. "Police
officers from the traffic division will look
into the matter and take necessary action
against the traffic law violators.
senior official from the Colombo Municipal
Council (CMC) said they had erected poles on
some pavements in the city to prevent vehicles
being parked. "We cannot afford to erect
these poles on all payments. It is the traffic
police who have to take action against these
people," the official said.
surrounds UAV deal
surrounds government moves to purchase an
Israeli built Blue Horizon II UAV system at a
cost of over US$ five million by the Sri Lanka
Air Force based on an unsolicited offer.
controversy stems from allegations that the
system is untested and had been decided upon
without calling for other offers.
inspection tour to verify its suitability ended
in tragedy when a member of the Sri Lanka
Defence delegation conducting a performance test
died in Israel last week.
Munindradasa a technical and UAV expert died
last Tuesday (12) in a Tel Aviv hospital,
following an attack of pneumonia.
four member delegation including Professor
Munidradasa were staying at the Marina Hotel in
Tel Aviv when he was found ailing by other
members of the delegation.
Professor was taken in an ambulance following an
examination by a doctor to the Icholov Hospital
near the city centre.
Munindradasa was attached as a senior lecturer
to the Department of Electronic and
Telecommunications Engineering of The Moratuwa
was in Israel to conduct a performance test on
the Blue Horizon together with recently promoted
Air Commodore PB Ratnayake, Squadron Leader KGDN
Jayasinghe and the local agent for the Blue
Horizon UAV system Arjuna Gunawardena.
EMIT Aviation Consult Ltd Israel carried out a
presentation of the Blue Horizon II UAV system
in October 2005.
Commander of the Air Force had appointed a six
member team to evaluate their system and based
on the recommendations of the evaluation team, a
delegation of four officers were sent to carry
out an in depth evaluation including on site
team comprising Group Captain PB Ratnayake, Wing
Commander M.D.J Wasage, Squadron Leader K.G.D.N
Jayasinghe and Flt Lt WMA Warnasooriya were in
Israel from March 4 - 15, 2006 to physically
inspect and evaluate the BHII system.
the team had been unable to carry out endurance
altitude and range testing due to aerodrome
restrictions reportedly imposed by the Israel
authorities. Defence experts say these are vital
parameters and some sources allege EMIT Aviation
has little experience in the field.
the TEC had recommended the purchase of the Blue
Horizon system subject to a performance test of
the vital parameters in Israel prior to release
of the first 50% of the payment. It was to this
end the team including Dr. Munindradasa had left
to Israel on June 7 but due to his untimely
death the vital performance test was not carried
experts question why despite awaiting the test
results, a tender has already been called on
June 1, 2007 to purchase a colour day
observation payload for Blue horizon II UAV
system. Experts asked why the Air Force had
already made moves to purchase the system
despite the TEC recommendations which called for
a second performance test of the vital
parameters such as endurance range and altitude.
to declare International Non-Violence day
United Nations General Assembly is to declare
October 2 - the birth anniversary of India’s
freedom fighter and the promoter of non violent
protests, Mahatma Gandhi as the ‘International
Day of Non-Violence’.
day is to be so declared in recognition of
Mahatma’s role in promoting the message of
peace around the world.
resolution reaffirming the universal relevance
of non-violence initiated by India and
co-sponsored by more than 120 of the 191 members
of the assembly was to be adopted last week
day will be observed for the first time on
October 2 this year following which it is to
become an annual event.
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand
Sharma participated in the formal adoption of
the resolution on Friday 15.
countries including Russia, China, United
Kingdom, France and Germany, are among the
co-sponsors. From the subcontinent, Bangladesh,
Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bhutan also
sponsored the resolution.
resolution stresses non-violence, tolerance,
respect for human rights and fundamental freedom
for all, democracy, development, mutual
understanding and respect for diversity.
intimidating media — UNP
UNP yesterday warned the recent assault on Maubima
Journalist Munusamy Parameshwari was an
attempt to threaten and intimidate the media
into further silence.
that the incident happened in broad daylight in
the heart of the city where security personnel
abound – in addition to which Parameshwari had
said one of the persons who abducted her the
first time was also involved in the incident,
the government must be held responsible,"
UNP MP and Media Spokesman Gayantha
said this was particularly evident since
Parameshwari had already been imprisoned by the
government and released after being proven
was accosted in Borella last week and her
passport and NIC were taken away.
is one of a string of incidents, including the
assault on a Lakbima photographer,
killing of two Red Cross workers and a series of
other human rights abuses aimed at silencing
opposition," Karunathilleke said.
condemn HR situation
Congress of Religions on Friday strongly
condemned the current human rights situation in
the country, citing in particular the recent
move to evict Tamil lodgers and the killing of
two Red Cross workers.
organisation, which comprises religious leaders
including ranking members of the Buddhist,
Hindu, Christian and Muslim clergy, came out
strongly against the violation of fundamental
and human rights that have been taking place for
over a year, at a press conference last Friday.