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Dinesh questions SL Core Group’s reluctance to peruse Lord Naseby’s disclosure

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…absence of reference to Easter Sunday carnage worrisome

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that overall perception of post-war Sri Lanka would change if those who had moved an accountability resolution in Geneva five years ago on unsubstantiated accusations examined Lord Naseby’s disclosure pertaining to 2009 when Sri Lankan military brought the war to a successful end.

Minister Gunawardena told The Island that continuing refusal or reluctance on the part of those reportedly concerned about genuine post-war reconciliation process to review the Geneva resolution after Lord Naseby exposed the truth cleared Sri Lanka of war crimes was puzzling.

On one hand unsubstantiated reports, claims, analysis and accusations had been accepted by a section of the international community but accurate wartime British diplomatic dispatches from Colombo were continued to be hidden and disregarded, the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) leader said.

Responding to questions, Minister Gunawardena pointed out that Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) should have never intruded in the constitution making process. The Minister was referring to 2016 Geneva statement on constitution making process undertaken by the previous yahapalana administration. Interested parties exploited unproved war crimes accusations to create an environment conducive to pave the way for a new Constitution tailor made to serve their agenda, Minister Gunawardena alleged. In spite of those propagated lies being exposed by Lord Naseby, an attempt was being made to sustain the despicable strategy.

Commenting on the recent statement issued by the self-appointed Sri Lanka Core Group in Geneva, Minister Gunawardena said that reference to Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah taken into custody over his alleged involvement with those responsible for THE heinous 2019 Easter Sunday attacks was quite disturbing. A concerned Minister said that the Geneva statement made no reference why Hejaaz Hizbullah was taken in nearly a year after suicide bombings claimed the lives of approximately 270 men, women and children. Blasts wounded over 400 persons. “Hejaaz Hizbullah matter is now before the country’s highest court,” Minister Gunawardena said adding that “the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) responsible for Easter Sunday massacre posed quite a threat to Sri Lanka. Members of the Core Group comprising the UK, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia and Montenegro couldn’t be unaware of the NTJ threat.

The Minister pointed out how the Attorney General compared the role played by Hejaaz Hizbullah to that of the late British passport holder Anton Balasingham, the LTTE theoretician.

Balasingham passed away in Dec 2006 in the UK. His Australian born wife, who brazenly promoted LTTE terrorism and went to the extent of handing over cyanide capsules to women LTTE cadres lives in the UK.

Minister Gunawardena said that those who had been routinely critical of the government of Sri Lanka in respect of accountability issues et al conveniently forgot Sri Lanka’s post-war efforts to address grievances of the Tamil community. In spite of knowing that the one-time LTTE mouthpiece TNA was certain to comfortably secure the Northern Provincial Council, the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa conducted the election believing the regional administration would work for the people. Instead, they propagated lies abroad at the expense of genuine post-war reconciliation, the minister said.

Minister Gunawardena said that he recently briefed the cabinet of ministers regarding the UK statement.

Responding to another query, the Foreign Minister alleged that some interested parties were making an effort to sustain pressure on the country on the basis of bogus war crimes accusations.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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