Sonali wins international
Sonali receiving her award from
one of the Judges, Sandra Bartlett
Sonali Samarasinghe, the
Editor of The Morning Leader and
Consultant Editor of The Sunday Leader
won the Global Shining Light Award-2008 for
Investigative Journalism at a grand ceremony
in Lillehammer, Norway, last week.
Samarasinghe was one of
the five journalists shortlisted for the
global award at a ceremony which saw the
participation of 88 countries and over 500
Sonaliís work to reveal
misuse of power and corruption in Sri Lanka
made her the second winner of the Global
Shining Light Award at the Gobal
Investigative Journalistsís Conference held
this year in Lillehammer, Norway.
"I cannot accept this
prize without remembering my colleagues in
Sri Lanka. During the last two years 12
journalists have been killed according to
statistics documented by the Free Media
Movement in Sri Lanka. One of my colleagues
from another newspaper, Mr. Tissainayagam is
being held under the Prevention of Terrorism
Act even as I speak.
"Despite all efforts by local and
international media organisations for his
release there appears to be no hope of his
release any time soon. It will be nearly 180
days he has been in custody," Samarasinghe
said when she was brought to stage to
receive the Global Shining Light Award,
stating Tissainayagam worked for another
newspaper, The Sunday Times.
Samarasinghe was awarded for a series of
articles she wrote on "Gangsterism and the
faulty legal system" for The Sunday
In presenting the award to Samarasinghe,
the judges stated in their citation "Sonali
Samarasinghe and The Sunday Leader
decided enough was enough. What started out
as an attempt to follow-up on the beating up
of a bar patron by the son and body guards
of a powerful government minister became an
investigation that exposed how that
government minister used his power and
connections to the Prime Minister, to run
roughshod over the media and the justice
system. Samarasinghe tracked down all the
people connected to the beating and in the
process found many other people, including
police officers and lawyers with stories of
corruption and brutality by the government
minister and his son.
"This global award sends a signal to the
authorities that our work does not pass
unnoticed internationally, and it sends a
signal to Sri Lankan journalists they are
not alone in their struggle to ensure
freedom of expression," the prize-winning
journalist said on stage.
The winner was selected by a three member
panel of international judges and comprised
The jury :Professor Rune Ottosen, Oslo
University College, Norway; national
reporter Sandra Bartlett, CBC National
Radio, Canada and Nils Mulvad, researcher
and analyst, Kaas and Mulvad, Denmark.
The international award for Samarasinghe
and The Sunday Leader came in the
backdrop of Sri Lankaís own journalism
awards organised by the Sri Lanka Press
Institute, the Editorsí Guild and the
Newspaper Society keeping the Leader Group
out of its awards scheme this year.
The Leader Group had topped the Editorsí
Guild Awards every year it participated
since the inception in 1998, but were
excluded from this yearís awards. At the
time of the local awards ceremony in July
this year, The Sunday Leader reported
that the SLPI organised awards by excluding
The Leader Group had made it akin to staging
the Cricket World Cup without
Australia.Winning the Global Shining Light
Award-2008 has vindicated that stand of The
The five short listed finalists were:
(1)1"Child Alert," Anas Aremeyaw Anas,
Crusading Guide, Ghana.
(2) "Gangsterism and the faulty legal
system," Sonali Samarasinghe, The Sunday
Leader, Sri Lanka.
(3) "The Government 60 bn Rands Arms
Deal," the Investigation team, Mail and
Guardian, South Africa.
(4) "The Minister and the Mining Sector,"
Edik Baghdasaryan, Hetq Online,
(5)"Abuja Environmental Task Force,"
Solomon Adelbayo, Federal Radio
Corporation of Nigeria.
Make or break cases
for Govt. before SC tomorrow
A number of cases which are vitally
important for the government and civil
society including the implementation of the
Constitutional Council are to be taken up
before the Supreme Court for argument
The Supreme Court has already issued
notice on President Mahinda Rajapakse in the
Constitutional Council case stating nobody
is above the law in the country.
The Supreme Court issued notice on the
President notwithstanding an application by
the Attorney General that no notice should
be issued since the Chief Executive enjoys
In this case a declaratory order is
sought from the Supreme Court calling upon
President Mahinda Rajapakse to appoint the
Constitutional Council and activate the 17th
Amendment to the Constitution.
Supreme Court Justice Saleem Marsoof
making the K.C. Kamalasabayson Memorial
Oration last month said the failure to
implement the 17th Amendment to the
Constitution impacted negatively on the rule
It is learned the fundamental rights
application filed by the Centre for Policy
Alternatives challenging a Gazette
notification issued by the President giving
him the authority to extend the retirement
age of any public servant beyond the age of
60 years is also to be supported in the
Supreme Court tomorrow.
The CPA in its petition has alleged such
authority vested in the President is
arbitrary and against the rule of law. The
President last month extended the services
of Attorney General C.R. de Silva by six
months under the said Gazette.
Another application challenging the right
of the Defence Secretary to issue a
detention order detaining a person at a
place specified by him for 18 months as
opposed to 90 days under emergency
regulations is also coming up for support
The Sunday Leader learns another
motion is to be filed in the Supreme Court
tomorrow challenging a government
directive demanding all persons who have
moved out from the
north and east in the last five years to
get registered with the police by today,
This directive is applicable to all
persons who have even registered earlier, it
The government it is learned, had given
an undertaking to court when the
earlier eviction of Tamils from Colombo was
challenged that such discriminatory
practices would not be adopted in the
Police Spokesman SSP Gunasekera on
September 18 at a press conference announced
the new directive prompting the filing of a
motion in the Supreme Court tomorrow
challenging the order.
Informed sources said an application is
also to be made in the Supreme Court
tomorrow to file an affidavit of a man who
was abducted in a white van but later found
in the custody of the police.
Govt. imposes cess on
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The government has introduced a Rs. 15
and Rs. 10 import cess on petrol and diesel
respectively from last Wednesday (17).
Trade unions attached to the CPC say that
the governmentís decision to introduce the
new cess would have a direct impact on any
possible reduction of local fuel prices in
the near future. CPC Chairman, Asantha de
Mel told The Sunday Leader that the
cess on petrol and diesel is now in effect
as the Gazette notification has
already been issued. According to the
Gazette notification, a cess of Rs. 15
has been added to a litre of petrol and Rs.
10 to a litre of diesel imported into the
According to de Mel, the cess would be
applicable to the CPC as well as the LIOC.
De Mel also ruled out any chances of
reducing local fuel prices any time soon
saying the Corporation needed to recover
over Rs. 50 billion of the money lost by the
We cannot bring down prices immediately
as we are burdened with outstanding dues and
until we recover these dues the CPC is not
in a position to bring down fuel prices, he
De Mel added that if the world oil prices
remained the same or continued to decline,
the government might be in a position to
reduce local fuel prices through the next
CPC trade unions however claim that the
government should not burden the consumers
with high fuel prices due to the outstanding
dues amounting to billions of rupees.
Secretary, Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya CPC
branch, Ananda Palitha told The Sunday
Leader that recovering outstanding dues
of the CPC was a matter the government had
to deal with without burdening the people.
The CEB owes Rs. 40 billion and other
state institutions have to pay the CPC Rs.
10 billion. The government has to find a way
of recovering the money and increasing
prices is not the answer, Palitha said.
He also said that the new cess on petrol
and diesel would prevent the local fuel
prices from being reduced.
"When the world market prices increase,
the government is quick to increase local
prices, but when there is a decline, local
fuel prices remain the same and new levies
are added to it. The government should
immediately bring down local fuel prices,
According to Palitha, the government
could sell a litre of petrol for
approximately Rs. 111 after purchasing a
barrel of petrol at US$ 108 and adding all
the relevant taxes.
Petroleum and Petroleum Resources
Minister A.H..M. Fowzie was not available
Wanni civilians in grave danger
The pull out of UN and other
international relief groups from the Wanni
has placed tens of thousands of civilians in
grave danger a report by the Christian
Solidarity Movement (CSM) said. The report
filed on the basis of eyewitness accounts
from priests and lay persons in the Wanni or
with access to it, said that there was the
threat of forced recruitment, civilians
being used as human shields and ending up
with collateral damage as well as the lack
of supplies and shortages.
The report said that there were no
independent witnesses to ensure that
international humanitarian norms are
followed in these areas and added that it
was likely that both the government and the
LTTE would disregard the civilian concerns
in the absence of monitors.
The CSM report also said that the Tigers
had intensified their recruitment with even
the elderly persons being recruited into the
organisation. "The present policy of one
person recruited per family seemed to be
strictly implemented and there were fears
that this would be extended to cover two per
"Even older men are being recruited by
the LTTE," the report said.The Tigers have
also imposed strict restrictions on those
who are leaving the Wanni. "It is clear the
LTTE doesnít want the civilian population
trapped in the Wanni to leave, as it is
likely that this population would serve as a
buffer (or human shield) from an all out
attack from the Sri Lankan armed forces.
"The report further stated that people
especially the children and pregnant mothers
were in desperate need of food, medicine,
sanitation facilities and shelter."Priests
and aid workers told CSM members that they
leave vehicles and motorbikes at Omanthai
and walked across the checkpoint to avoid
the intensive checking.
If they cross on motorbikes, they have to
remove and reassemble all the parts of
motorbike, including tank, seat and petrol
tank, which might take up to three hours.
The number of vehicles given permission to
cross Omanthai had reduced and it is
increasingly difficult to get permission for
aid workers and priests, even for the
Bishops," the CSM also said.
Co-Chairs may meet in New
By Arthur Wamanan
An informal meeting of the Tokyo donor
Co-Chairs is tentatively scheduled on the
sidelines of the UN General Assembly
Sessions during the last week of September,
Western diplomatic sources said. The agenda
for the meeting, which has been tentatively
scheduled, is still being discussed, the
The meeting comes in the backdrop of the
pullout of humanitarian organisations from
the LTTE controlled areas in the north. The
UN agencies and the INGOs were asked by the
government to relocate to Vavuniya on
September 8, as they could not guarantee the
safety of these organisations within the
Tiger controlled areas. The last of the UN
convoys left the Wanni on September 16.
over Wanni situation
The French government last week expressed
its serious concern over the humanitarian
situation in the Wanni.
"Faced with the massive displacements of
the population triggered by recent fighting
in the north and east of Sri Lanka, it is
necessary to continue humanitarian access to
this population," the French Foreign
Ministry said in a statement on September
18. The statement also expressed the French
governmentís concern over the directive
issued to humanitarian agencies to pull out
of the Wanni.
"France expresses its concern over the
directive issued by Sri Lankan authorities
to international humanitarian agencies to
evacuate from areas of combat," it was
The statement added the humanitarian
workers played an essential role during
times of combat. France holds the current
Presidency of the European Union.
provide Rs.3 bn for Mihin in 2009 budget
The Aviation Ministry has asked the
Treasury to provide a sum of Rs. 3 billion
to Mihin Lanka in the 2009 budget, The
Sunday Leader learns.
Aviation Ministry Secretary Thosapala
Hewage confirmed that this amount was
requested by the ministry and that a
confirmation from the Treasury had not yet
been received. He added that Mihin "could
manage" with this amount.
The state-owned budget airline is
currently non-functional with a stagnant
debt of over Rs. 3.7 billion rupees. The
Treasury has earlier this year invested Rs.
450 million on the airline, which still owes
Rs. 645 million to the Ceylon Petroleum
Corporation and over Rs. 1.2 billion to the
Bank of Ceylon.
The airline is hoping to lease or procure
new aircraft with which to restart
operations as soon as possible.
Aviation Minister Chamal Rajapakse has
proposed to cabinet that Mihin be allowed to
acquire six ageing A-60 aircraft from a
Chinese corporation, with financing provided
by a Chinese bank.
The main opposition UNP has opposed the
move to re-finance Mihin Lanka. UNP MP, Ravi
Karunanayake, told The Sunday Leader
that the opposition is planning to debate
the plight of the state aviation industry in
parliament on Tuesday.
celebrations to commemorate Intíl.
By Shezna Shums
The Department of Probation and Child
Care Services has organised events at
national, district and regional level to
commemorate International Childrenís Day
which. falls on October 1.
The Commissioner of Probation and Child
Care, D.M.S.Abeyagunawardena told The
Sunday Leader that the Ministry of Child
Development and Womenís Empowerment along
with the Probation Department is carrying
out various events to celebrate this day
with the children.
The national event is being celebrated in
the Moneragala District and there will be a
three-day camp organised for the children.
About 350 children from the districts of
Moneragala, Ampara, Badulla, and Hambantota
will participate in the events.
Some of the children attending would be
from state homes as well. This three day
camp will be held at the Moneragala Mahanama
Cultural, health and other events will be
held at this camp which will be free for all
the attending children attending the camp.
To mark the International Childrenís Day
a special flag will be distributed
islandwide, and the first to receive this
flag would be President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Along with these events, the District
Secretaries and the Regional Child Care
Probation Officers have also been instructed
to organise events in their areas for the
children to celebrate International
Tigers prevent Wanni
residents from leaving
Wanni residents working in international
NGOs were prevented from leaving the Wanni
by the Tigers, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC),
one of the INGOs that relocated last week
The DRC relocated to Vauniya together
with the other humanitarian agencies on the
request of the government on September 16.
The DRC however said that the local
nationals were not allowed to relocate to
Vavuniya by the LTTE. "We are extremely
concerned at the plight of the displaced
persons in this area. We are looking at all
options to be able to provide them with
further support as soon as possible. We hope
that the displaced peoplesí rights to
freedom of movement will be respected in
order for them to be able to move to safer
areas," Head of the Europe-Asia Section at
DRC, Rikke Friis said.
DRC said that its national staff
continued to remain in the Wanni region
adding that most activities were on hold.
DRC has been unable to bring out national
staff due to the LTTE pass system that
currently does not allow local residents to
leave the area.
"It is a terrible situation also for our
national staff. We are doing everything we
can to be able to evacuate them and hope
that we will find a solution soon," he
Currently, it is estimated that 200,000
IDPs are affected by the current escalation
of the conflict between the Sri Lankan
Government and the LTTE. Further multiple
displacements are expected in the very near
future, the DRC said.
Police to register those fleeing the
By Shezna Shums
The Police has informed
all persons fleeing some of the areas in the
north to register themselves at the relevant
police stations in the south today (21).
The persons who are
fleeing these districts from the north and
are making their way to the south are being
advised to register with the police
Police Spokesperson SSP
Ranjith Gunasekera told The Sunday Leader
that the registration of persons can be done
from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. today at any of the
"All persons fleeing the
districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu,
Vavuniya and Mannar have to register
themselves with the police department," he
This registration process
is only applicable to persons who have fled
these districts within the last five years.
The police stations would require the
individualís temporary address, their
identity cards numbers and other basic
The persons who are
fleeing their homes in the north will be
given an official form to be filled and
returned to the police station to be
According to the police,
in the case of persons who have fled their
homes some time ago, they need not register
again if they have registered themselves at
the time they arrived in the south.
While a large number of
civilians are fleeing the areas of Jaffna,
Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya
many of them are seeking shelter with
relatives and friends and even in lodges in
various places within the Western Province.
"The main purpose is to
have systematic records and data on the
civilians who have arrived from the North
and the Wanni. This would help the public
and the police as there are instances where
INGOís, NGOís and government organisations
request police for statistics and details of
the refugees living in the Western Province
in order to provide assistance and welfare.
The system is legally approved and applies
to all communities," Gunasekera said.
Soldiers in FDL get gas masks
The army has provided gas
masks to soldiers fighting in the forward
defence line (FDL) in the north.
Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The
Sunday Leader that following last
Mondayís CS gas attack on soldiers fighting
in the Northern FDL by the LTTE, the army
decided to provide them with gas masks.
He said although gas
masks are part of a soldierís kit, it was
never incorporated with the Sri Lankan
soldiers, as the army had never experienced
gas attacks previously. "Till now only the
Commandos and the special forces personnel
were provided with gas masks. However, now
gas masks have been provided to all soldiers
fighting in the Northern FDL," Nanayakkara
Two youth killed
Two youths have been shot
dead by unidentified gunmen in separate
incidents in Kotahena and Negombo yesterday.
According to the police,
the youth killed in Kotahena has been
identified as Gajan Kuhanendran (22).
Kuhanendran was shot by
two unidentified gunmen riding a bike around
8.30 a.m. yesterday. He had succumbed to his
injuries upon admission to hospital.
Another youth was killed in Negombo
around 11.30 a.m. yesterday, once again by
Hantana, Karagahatanna declared prohibited
Two mountain ranges, Hantana and
Karagahtanna were declared prohibited areas
for the public by Gazette
notification last week .
"The Secretary to the Ministry of the
Minister in charge of Defence shall be
the Competent Authority," for the two
ranges, the Gazette states.
"No person, other than a person to whom
the Competent Authority has in terms of
Section 15 issued permit, may enter or
Mountain Range (s) Prohibited Places," the
Gazette notifications signed by President
Mahinda Rajapakse said.
"Any person authorised to enter or remain
within the Karagahathanna/ Hantana Mountain
Range Prohibited Place shall within such
place engage only in such purpose and
subject such conditions as shall be
specified in the permit," they said.
Teachers refuse to call off trade union
By Nirmala Kannangara
The government approved teacher /
principal services salary anomaly
rectification scheme, will not meet the 11
year old demands of the teacher services
trade unions in the country.
The government last week decided to
rectify the salary anomalies in the teacher
services. But the trade unions claimed that
the minor adjustments proposed by the
government were not acceptable and demanded
that the proposals put forward by them be
"Since the government has had to face an
uphill task in getting the A/L papers
evaluated, they are now trying to lobby us
by proposing a minor salary adjustment.
Although the government claims that it has
allocated a large sum of money for the
rectification of the salary anomaly, the
proposal benefited only a few in the
education sector, and a majority would not
get a salary increase of more than two
hundred rupees per person," President Ceylon
Teachersí Union (CTU) Joseph Stalin told
The Sunday Leader.
According to Stalin this dubious salary
anomaly rectification structure, was first
proposed by the Salaries and Cadre
Commission on March 8 this year. It was
brought up again on August 19 but was turned
down by the trade union representatives.
"When we met President Mahinda Rajapakse
on June 26 seeking his intervention to get
the 11 year old salary anomaly rectified, we
put forward our proposal to have the issue
resolved. We presented the same proposals to
Presidentís Secretary Lalith Weeratunge last
But, the government without considering
our proposals is trying to push us to accept
the government proposal which will not be
beneficial to our members. We will not give
up our struggle till we win our demands,"
Criticising the governmentís unsuccessful
attempts to lobby the teachers to get the
examination scripts evaluated, the General
Secretary, Ceylon Teachersí Service Union (CTSU)
Mahinda Jayasinghe told The Sunday Leader
that the trade unions had refused to accept
the proposals put forward by the government.
"Although the government claims that it
would rectify the salary anomaly it is not
willing to implement our proposals, but only
theirs. We are therefore not ready to call
off our struggle," claimed Jayasinghe.
Education Ministry Secretary N. Bandara
was not available for comment.
Punished for divulging land grab deal to the
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Trade unions attached to the Sri Lanka
Land Reclamation and Development Corporation
(SLLRDC) allege that following several
exposes made by the media with regard to the
alleged land grab in the Kelaniya area, two
union members have been given transfers with
immediate effect by the Corporation head.
The SLLRDC Workersí Union charges that
two of its members have been transferred
from their present office due to their
alleged involvement in revealing details of
the alleged land grab in Kelaniya by
Minister Mervyn Silva to the media.
President, SLLRDC Workers Union, W.R.A.
Priyankara told The Sunday Leader
that when the union members met one of the
Corporation general managers last Thursday,
they were informed that he had no knowledge
of the said transfers.
"He asked us to speak to the chairman and
when we went to the chairmanís office we
were told that he was not in. We then went
to meet the other general manager. She said
the Corporation had the mandate to transfer
any employee at any time it wishes," he
Priyankara said that when they inquired
from her the reason for the transfers, she
had redirected the question to them and
asked the unionists as to what they felt was
the reason for the transfers.
"She asked us and we said that it was due
to the recent media exposes on the illegal
land grab in Kelaniya. She said that the
union had given the details to the media and
that was the reason for issuing the new
circular preventing any one from giving
details relating to the activities of the
Corporation to the media," Priyankara
Priyankara also said that the Corporation
had issued a circular to the workers
preventing them from giving any details to
According to Priyankara, the two
employees who had been transferred were the
Treasurer and Assistant Secretary of the
SLLRDC Workersí Union.
He said that while the Treasurer has been
transferred to the Corporationís head office
the Assistant Secretary has been transferred
to one of the Corporationís land sites in
Mudun Ela, Kelaniya.
Incidentally, the Mudun Ela land in
Kelaniya is one of the lands that have been
allegedly taken over by Silva to build a
According to Priyankara, transferring one
of the union members to the Mudun Ela
project would place his life under threat as
the alleged land grabbers would harm him.
However, SLLRDC Chairman, Karunasena
Hettiarachchi told The Sunday Leader
that the transfers were made for management
reasons and said they were in no way
connected to the stories in the media with
regard to the alleged land acquisition by
Silva in Kelaniya.
Hettiarachchi said that a separate
inquiry is being held at the Corporation to
find out how internal information reached
Two sick zoo animals die following treatment
By Risidra Mendis
Animal rights activists have criticised
zoo authorities for the recent deaths of two
Animal rights activists have alleged that
a ring tailed coati and a patagonium cavy
died after veterinary surgeons injected the
animals with a medication.
Speaking to The Morning Leader
animal rights activists said the ring tailed
coati died around two days ago while the
patagonium cavy died about a week ago. "The
ring tailed coati had a problem with its
leg. But after the veterinary surgeon
injected the animal with medication it died.
The patagonium cavy suffered a similar
fate," animal rights activists said.
The pair of ring tailed coati and three
pairs of patagonium cavy were brought to the
zoo from the Praha zoo in the Czech Republic
on June 10. The ring tailed male coati is
around four years old while the female is
around two years old. The male patagonium
cavy are between the ages of two to four
years old while the females are between
three to four years old.
Zoo director Duminda Jayaratne was not
available for comment.
Police beat wood-cutter to death
Muslims in Pothuvil, Ampara have raised
concerns over the arrest of 26 Muslims who
had gone to cut wood. One person who was
arrested had been beaten to death allegedly
by the police.
The victim has been identified as 30
year-old Mohammed Aliyar Saleem, a father of
A relative of the victim who did not want
to be identified said that the arrested
Muslims were asked to pose for photographs
by the police holding guns.
The persons were arrested by the police a
month ago by the Moneragala police. They had
gone into the jungle to collect wood, the
They were labelled as LTTE supporters,
the relative said.
The relative also said that the others
who were arrested were badly beaten by the
The Moneragala police stated that there
were no such incidents reported.