December 2015

Swaminathan: 8,000 acres of private lands still under military

15th December 2015 // 0 Comments

By Saman Indrajith Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D. M. Swaminanthan yesterday told Parliament that about 8,000 acres of private lands were still under the control of the security forces and they would be gradually released for resettlement. Participating in the committee stage debate on the budget proposals under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, Minister Swaminathan said that the government was in the process of releasing land to ensure the resettlement of IDPs and returnees where they had lived previously.  He said that 1,000 acres of land from Jaffna, 500 acres from Kilinochchi and 1,000 acres from Sampoor, Trincomalee and other small parcels of lands had been released by the state […]

Referendum To Determine New Constitution

15th December 2015 // 0 Comments

by Easwaran Rutnam A referendum will be held to decide on the final proposals to the new Constitution, Minister for National Dialogue Mano Ganesan said. The Minister, who is part of a steering committee tasked with drafting a new constitution, told The Sunday Leader that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had proposed that the public be allowed to decide on the way forward. A Cabinet sub-committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was recently formed to draft the new Constitution. The committee comprises Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Lakshman Kiriella, Rauff Hakeem, Susil Premajayantha, Rishad Bathiyutheen, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, D.M. Swaminathan, Mano Ganesan, and Malik Samarawickrama. Ganesan said that the Cabinet sub-committee, or steering committee, had decided to form three technical committees to make […]

First US-Lanka Partnership Dialogue in Feb

15th December 2015 // 0 Comments

The first meeting of the US-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue will take place in February 2016 in Washington, a top US official visiting Sri Lanka said today. US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Designate) Thomas Shannon, speaking to reporters after Meeting with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, said that the annual meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss all aspects of the relationship and ways in which the United States may be able to engage directly with the people of Sri Lanka and the Government. “These efforts will be wide ranging, to the benefit of both countries. Our cooperation benefits communities where returnees are facing hardship. We will assist reconciliation and broader transitional efforts at the household level, community level, and national levels. We will […]

Another High-Level US Visit to Sri Lanka This Week

15th December 2015 // 0 Comments

In light of another visit by senior U.S. government officials, Colombo should clarify a few transitional justice issues. Another high-level U.S. visit to Sri Lanka occurs this week. Since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January, there seems to be no limit to the number of times that senior State Department officials visit the island nation. Counselor Thomas Shannon will be in Sri Lanka from December 14-16. He’ll spend a couple days in Bangladesh prior to his arrival. Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs will join him, as will Manpreet Singh Anand, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia. A brief State Department media note mentions the following about the Sri Lanka portion of the trip: In Sri Lanka, […]

Is North turning ‘Kool’?

15th December 2015 // 0 Comments

The Northern peninsula which blew hot due to mounting tension within the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) following  verbal clashes between the Northern Province Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran and TNA MP, M.A. Sumanthiran, interested parties have stepped in to ease the situation. According to sources close to the party, a group of TNA well wishers have made the initiative to act as mediators between the two camps in a bid to prevent party from cracking. Sumanthiran had recently called for Wigneswaran‘s expulsion from the party due to his failure to back the TNA on several key issues including its call for a domestic inquiry for alleged war crimes, monitored by the international community. Sources said that the move to commence talks was initiated, due to the […]

‘Former top minister got commissions from school uniform programme’

15th December 2015 // 0 Comments

A powerful minister in the previous regime had received commissions from the school uniforms programme too. The Good Governance government has cried halt to the era of ministers earning commissions, Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said. He was addressing the gathering at a felicitation ceremony organised in his honour by the Beruwala Good Governance Forum for receiving an International Award for Tobacco Control from the World Health Organisation. He said the government would continue the free school uniform programme without a break. The previous regime had to decide on two options namely whether the school uniform supply was to be handed over to local businessmen or to import it from China. Since the programme faced a delay, it was decided to import […]

US blocks visa for Field Marshal Fonseka

15th December 2015 // 0 Comments

The US Embassy has yet not given approval to the visa application submitted by Democratic Party Leader Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka two weeks ago, sources close to Field Marshal Fonseka said today Sources said the US State Department has blocked Field Marshal Fonseka’s visa application for the past two weeks in connection with war crimes charges against Sri Lanka during the time he was the army commander. “Most probably this must be why the US embassy has refused him a visa to visit the US. There are no other issues,” they said. “He has not visited the US during the past five years and his green card has also expired.” Sources also said Field Marshal Fonseka had applied for a visa to visit his daughters […]

Missing person commission receives 300 more new complaints in Jaffna district

14th December 2015 // 0 Comments

The Presidential Commission Investigating Cases of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka began its public sittings to hear cases of missing in Jaffna District Friday (11). Secretary of the Commission HW Gunadasa said the Commission has received 100 new complaints during the first two days of sessions in Jaffna today. The Secretary said it has received 1,620 complaints including new complaints to hear during this sitting. This is the second public sitting held in Jaffna to call for evidence regarding missing persons in the district. The Commission held sessions in Nallur on Friday and Jaffna on Saturday. It will continue hearing cases tomorrow in Vadamarachchi South West (Karaveddy) and Vadamarachchi East (Maruthankerny. On Monday, the Commission will have sittings in Vadamarachchi North (Point Pedro) and in […]

EU project to help conflict affected people resettle in N&E

14th December 2015 // 0 Comments

The European Union has signed an agreement to support internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugee returnees in nine Divisional Secretariat Divisions in the Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa districts, to build houses and improve community infrastructure facilities.  The scope of the project covers Kilinochchi district including Karachchi and Kadawalai divisions and Mullaitivu district including Maritime Pattu, Puthukudiyiruppu divisions and selected villages in the Welioya division and in Batticaloa Eravur Pattu, Manmunai west, Manmunai south west, Poraithivu Pattu divisions. The financial grant amounts to Euro 14 million. This programme is expected to benefit more than 300,000 people and the activities are to be implemented from 2016 – 2018 (36 months). This  project is to be executed under the overall supervision of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, […]

Sri Lanka’s Tamil Political Prisoners: An Abdication of Presidential Leadership

14th December 2015 // 0 Comments

Just days ago, a Tamil political prisoner being held in Jaffna Prison commenced a hunger strike. Similar hunger strikes have taken place this year, although this behavior doesn’t appear to have changed the government’s calculus in a significant way. This issue has been a source of ongoing debate and tension. The Sri Lankan government has shown, with great reluctance, that it’s willing to grant bail to some prisoners. On November 11 The Wall Street Journal, reported that “the country’s attorney general gave approvals to allow bail for 63 prisoners.” However, it’s important to keep in mind that these prisoners have been asking to be released and given some semblance of genuine freedom. They’ve not been requesting that they be released on bail, which ensures that […]

Expressway to Jaffna through Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

Three mega road projects to be launched next year, trip to Kandy in 75 minutesBy Damith Wickremasekara Three mega expressway projects, including one to the north through Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee, will be launched next year, officials said yesterday. Funding for the projects estimated to cost US$ 13.4 billion (Rs. 1,900 billion) will come from multiple sources including China, the Asian Development Bank and local avenues, Road Development Authority Director General M.P.K.L Gunaratne told the Sunday Times. He said the expressway to the Central Province will be the first to be started in March next year, followed by the expressway between Kahathuduwa and Pelmadulla and then the northern project.The northern expressway would start from Dambulla and cut across Polonnaruwa, Kantale, Trincomalee and Mullaitivu to reach Jaffna. […]

Tamil Parliamentary Group seeks clarification on UK’s funding to SL

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London Siobhain McDonagh, Senior Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils in the British Parliament, has sought a clarification from Foreign Minister Hugo Swires on how the £6.6m funding the British government has granted to Sri Lanka will be spent. In a letter, the Group has expressed concern over the money allocated for Sri Lanka’s military reforms as the country’s army has been accused of “war crimes”. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils has also expressed their displeasure over the Sri Lankan government’s failure to fully implement the UNHRC recommendations. The letter was also co-signed by MPs Joan Ryan, John Mann, Stephen Pound, Steve Reed, Wes Streeting and Stephen Timm

What of attacks on Tamil journalists in the North? -TNA MP

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

The owner of the Uthayan newspaper, Tamil National Alliance member and parliamentarian E Saravanbavan queried as to why the Government was only investigating the murder of editor Lasantha Wickrematunga and disappearance of cartoonist Pargeeth Eknaligoda and not the attacks on scribes in the North. While addressing Parliament yesterday, he commended the Government’s move to make sound progress on the two incidents but cited that there must also be a concerted effort to investigate incidents of attacks on journalists from the North and East. He said several such incidents had taken place in the North during the former regime where there was a strong military presence. The International Federation of Journalists last year inquired about the attack on journalist Sinnarasa Sivakumaran who was targeted at Kilinochchi […]

Two Tamil prisoners resume hunger strike

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

by P. Krishnasway Two disgruntled prisoners at the Welikada Magazine prison resumed their third day’s fast last week and more are expected to follow, demanding that the government keeps its promise on their early release, prison sources said. This follows one month after Tamil prisoners in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) called off their nine-day fast-unto-death, The second fast-unto-death staged by the Tamil prisoners in prisons across the country called off their fast on November 17 on the assurance given by Prisons Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M.Swaminathan in the presence of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) frontliners, including its Jaffna parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran. Murugiah Komagan and Sivarajah Jeneeban are the two prisoners who resumed the fast demanding their unconditional and […]

US and India Displeased With North Lankan CM Wigneswaran

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

COLOMBO: Super Power United States as well as Regional Power India are none too happy with the political conduct of C.V.Wigneswaran, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province. US and Indian envoys have directly conveyed to him their concern that his unhelpful and radical posturing could jeopardize the Lankan government’s bid to find an amicable solution to the long-standing Tamil question. Last Thursday, Indian High Commissioner Y.K.Sinha met Wigneswaran and urged him not to split the moderate Tamil National Alliance (TNA) but instead cooperate with the leaders of the TNA such as R.Sampanthan, M.A.Sumanthiran and Mavai Senathirajah in engaging the Lankan government to find a solution to the Tamil problem when there is light at the end of the tunnel. Wigneswaran told Sinha […]

Compensation soon for 44 slain media persons: PM

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday suggested a compensation scheme for families of journalists and other media persons killed while on duty. Mr. Wickremesinghe speaking during the committee stage budget debate on the allocation for the Ministry of Mass Media and Parliamentary Affairs said a compensation plan would be implemented for 44 media persons, who were killed during the period of the former regime due to political reasons. A majority of them were from the North. The Premier said President Maithripala Sirisena was also supporting the compensation plan which would be implemented soon. He praised media organisations and journalists, especially in the North, for the continuous struggle to provide information to the people despite regular threats during the previous regime. Mr. Wickremesinghe said he believed working […]

Web Terrorists operating from Colombo-London – More details reveal

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

A ‘Ransom Mafia’ that came into existence during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure in office ripped off rich business tycoons and other reputed persons. The mafia was peaking during the ethnic war and it made use of defence and security units to flourish. Some Tamil businessmen who feared losing their trade and being branded as ‘Tigers’ had no second thoughts about parting with in millions to appease the mafia. They offered millions to mafia members for the sake of their reputation. That was the only option they had as their complaints were ignored by the authorities. But this mafia disappeared after the Rajapaksa regime was ousted. The mobs withdrew with the fear of being arrested because their victims hesitated no more to go to the new authorities […]

Wigneswaran Assures India of Tamil National Alliance’s Unity

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

COLOMBO: The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has assured India that the differences in the  Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will be ironed out and that unity will be maintained to enable the Tamils to secure their rights in Sri Lanka. This assurance was given to the Indian High Commissioner in Lanka, Y.K.Sinha, when he had a two-hour meeting Chief Minister Wigneswaran in Jaffna on December 10. Sinha was on a three-day tour of the Northern Province which ended on Saturday. Briefing the media on his talks with the High Commissioner, Wigneswaran said that the envoy expressed concern over internal dissensions in the TNA and said that such dissensions could be used by the majority community to deny the Tamils their rights […]

Sri Lanka vs Human Rights: More To Be Done

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

y Easwaran Rutnam As International Human Rights Day was commemorated last Thursday, a top UN official said that there were encouraging signs that Sri Lanka will deal with human rights concerns related to the war but the new government was not willing to go all the way. Christof Heyns, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that for him Sri Lanka stands out as the most defining moment when carrying out his mandate in 2015. “To me, the case of Sri Lanka stands out. And the resolution that has been taken in Geneva about that, in many cases, I think one has a situation where there are large scale killings, violence, and with this impunity, and for some time it […]

Government Should Adopt Conditions That Were Laid Out By UNHRC – Selvam Adaikalanathan

13th December 2015 // 0 Comments

By Camelia Nathaniel The Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), a constituent party of the Tamil National Alliance, had announced earlier that it would not back the 2016 budget in parliament unless the Tamil political prisoners were freed. Leader of TELO and Deputy Chairman of Committees in Parliament, MP Selvam Adaikalanathan had also informed the TNA of his decision. However the  Tamil National Alliance, and its coalition of parties including TELO, backed the second reading of the 2016 budget. In an interview with The Sunday Leader, Adaikalanathan said the 13th Amendment to the Constitution must be fully implemented with powers fully devolved to the Northern provinces. Following are excerpts of the interview; Q:The TNA was complaining that the previous government had not allocated enough funds for […]

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