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Foreign Minister explains vision of govt to people of Trincomalee

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Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena cutting the ribbon to open the Eastern Province Regional Consular Office of the Foreign Ministry in Trincomalee.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the people of Trincomalee recently that the present Government was committed to develop the country for all communities, while protecting the independent, sovereign, free and unitary state. He made these remarks while speaking at the opening ceremony of the Eastern Province Regional Consular Office of the Foreign Ministry in Trincomalee.

“The Government has taken steps to provide equal rights to all the people of the country as a unitary state, including the North and the East. Thirty years of terrorism has disrupted life in these areas and development had declined. However, following the defeat of LTTE terrorism, steps were taken to develop these areas during the time of Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The people have not forgotten how the water supply system in the Muttur area was restored and how the service was provided to the people of this area by setting up a hospital in a ship received from the Italian government docked at the Trincomalee harbour during the tsunami disaster that befell on our country. The present government is resuming development activities that were started after the victory of the war and is working currently to improve the living standards of the people in this area. At that time, we solved the water problem in Trincomalee through the Kantale water supply scheme. At present, our government is taking steps to provide the facilities available in Colombo to the villages as well. We all must work together to make the vision of ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ a reality and develop the country. The people know that under our government, we work to make all people be able to live happily. Our humanistic programme receives international support. We urge you not to act in a way that undermines that support. It is to develop this country that the majority of the people in this country have given us power and helped us to form a strong government at the last Presidential election as well as in the General Election.”

The Trincomalee district is one of the most fortunate areas in the country. All ethnic groups, Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims live here and this area is developing as an economic hub, rich in the country’s resources. Even in the distant past, the Trincomalee sea area has been used for international trade and other exchanges. The Trincomalee Port is a resource that can recover the economy of the area. The government has already taken steps to develop it and create an economy that can improve the living standards of the people in this area. In line with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy framework of ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’, the government has now begun to move government services to those areas so that the people can easily access them. Accordingly, a Consular Office of the Foreign Ministry is established and declared open in Trincomalee. The people here now do not have to travel to Colombo for consular services. This has given the people the opportunity to save their time and money, the Minister said.

SLMC Trincomalee District MP M.S. Thowfeek, and TNA MP Shanaakkian Rasamanikkam were present at the opening of the Consular Office. Chairman of the Trincomalee District Coordinating Committee Thilak Athukorala, State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya, Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage and several others were also present.



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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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