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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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Govt. MP Wijeyadasa strikes discordant note on Port City Bill

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… alleges bid to turn Port City into Chinese territory

Over 12 petitioners move SC against proposed law

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP lawmaker Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC, yesterday (15) alleged that the proposed Bill, titled ‘Colombo Port City Economic Commission,’ would transform the reclaimed land, adjacent to the Galle Face Green into a Chinese territory.

Addressing the media at the Abhayarama temple, under the auspices of Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, the former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Rajapakshe, warned of dire consequences if the government went ahead with what he termed the despicable project.

Sixteen parties had filed action against the Bill. Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda thera was among the petitioners.

The ruling party had placed the Bill on the Order Paper on April 8, just 15 calendar days after the publication of the Bill in the Gazette. In terms of the Constitution a citizen intending to challenge the constitutionality of a Bill had to do so within one week from the Bill being placed in the Order Paper of Parliament, Dr. Rajapakse said.

Among those who moved the SC were the General-Secretary of the UNP and the Chairman of the UNP. The Attorney-General has been named a respondent in the petition. The BASL, too, moved SC against the Attorney General. Three civil society activists, Oshala Herath, Dr. Ajantha Perera and Jeran Jegatheesan also filed action.

Lawmaker Rajapakse explained how the proposed Bill, if enacted, could allow independent status to USD 1.4 bn Colombo Port City. Former Justice Minister alleged that the Colombo Port City project was far worse than the selling of the strategic Hambantota port to the Chinese by the previous administration.

The Colombo District MP said the Parliament wouldn’t have financial control over the Colombo Port City Project whereas its independent status would legally empower those managing the project to finalise agreements with external parties

Referring to the previous administration, the former UNPer alleged that China had bribed members of Parliament. MP Rajapakse questioned the rationale behind China providing computers to all members of Parliament and officials as well as jaunts to China.

Rajapakse said that Sri Lanka shouldn’t give in to Chinese strategies aimed at bringing Sri Lanka under its control. The former minister explained the threat posed by the growing Chinese presence including the Colombo Port City, a terminal in the Colombo harbour and at the Hambantota port.

 

 

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Sooka pushing UK for punitive action against Army Commander

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An outfit, led by Yasmin Sooka, a member of the UNSG Panel of Experts’ (PoE), has urged the UK to take punitive measures against the Commander of the Army, General Shavendra Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

The Army headquarters told The Island that the matter had been brought to the notice of the relevant authorities. It said that it was all part of the ongoing well-funded campaign against the Sri Lankan military.

Issuing a statement from Johannesburg, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) said it had compiled a 50-page dossier which it has submitted to the Sanctions Department of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on General Shavendra Silva. The Submission argues why Silva, who is Sri Lanka’s current Army Commander, should be designated under the United Kingdom’s Global Human Rights (GHR) Sanctions Regime established on 6 July 2020.

“We have an extensive archive of evidence on the final phase of the civil war in Sri Lanka, meticulously collected by international prosecutors and lawyers. The testimony of victims and witnesses – many now in the UK – was vital in informing this Submission, and making the linkages to Shavendra Silva and those under his command,” said the organisation’s executive director, Yasmin Sooka.

The ITJP Submission details Shavendra Silva’s role in the perpetration of alleged gross human rights violations including of the right to life when he was 58 Division Commander during the final phase of the civil war in 2009 in the north of Sri Lanka. It draws on searing eyewitness testimony from Tamils who survived the government shelling and bombing of hospitals and food queues in the so called No Fire Zones, many of whom now reside in the UK as refugees. The Submission also looks at Silva’s alleged involvement in torture and sexual violence, including rape, which is a priority area of the UK Government’s foreign policy.

“The US State Department designated Shavendra Silva in 2020 for his alleged role in the violations at the end of the war but the remit of the UK sanctions regime works is broader and includes his role in the shelling of hospitals and other protected civilian sites during the military offensive. This is important in terms of recognising the full extent of the violations, as well as supporting the US action,” commented Ms. Sooka. “UK designation would be another significant step forward in terms of accountability and would be in line with the recent UN Human Rights Council Resolution passed in Geneva for which Britain was the penholder,” she added.

Political will in applying the UK’s new sanctions regime to Sri Lanka was apparent in a recent parliamentary debate which saw 11 British parliamentarians ask why the UK government had not applied sanctions against Sri Lankan military figures, including Shavendra Silva, who was named six times in this context.”

 

 

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Ten lives snuffed out in road accidents during festive period

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Road accidents had snuffed out 10 lives during the Sinhala and Tamil New year, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday, adding that 121 accidents had been reported on April 14 alone.

Twelve of the accidents took place on the Southern Expressway.

DIG Rohana also said that 758 drunk drivers had been arrested on April 14. He added that such drivers would not be released on police bail.

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