Fun flying in Sri Lanka
Thank you for publishing my dear friend Capt. Elmo Jayawardena’s article on ‘Fun Flying’ in The Island of 1 Nov. I totally agree with him. May I be permitted to reproduce the following article with the full story, which was aimed at the golfing community in Sri Lanka? It was published in your esteemed newspaper some time ago.
RECREATIONAL FLYING AND GOLF
“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned upward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
– Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), painter, artist, engineer & Renaissance genius from Florence, Italy.
The art as well as science of flight is indeed very interesting to learn and practise. Like golf, it takes a little time to accomplish, depending on your instructor’s ability to teach and your ability to learn. One does not need to have special skills except a passion for flight. Sacrifices have to be made, like waking up early to get to the airport. Everyone can fly. Like riding a bicycle. The prospective pilot is taught to fly, navigate and communicate up to a required level of proficiency, and then the sky’s the limit.
For most people, the sky may be the limit, but as someone once said, for those who love aviation, the sky is their home. One thing is for sure: once the bug bites, it is forever. The most memorable day in a fledgling pilot’s life is the day he/she is allowed (cleared) to fly solo. That is, all by oneself, without the benefit of an instructor in the next seat to give guidance. This also means that the instructor is confident that the trainee is a safe pilot and ready to learn more by himself or herself. A milestone that will usually be celebrated among like-minded friends in the fraternity. In fact, in flying, as in golf, you are always learning and you are so focused, you leave your problems behind (on ground).
“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things …” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There are 16 airports approved by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) at locations across Sri Lanka: KKS (Jaffna), Iranamadu, Vavuniya, Thalladi (Mannar), China Bay (Trincomalee), Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Minneriya, Batticaloa, Ampara, BIA/Katunayake, Ratmalana, Katukurunda, Koggala, Weerawila and Mattala. Light aircraft could land at any of these airports. At the moment, although manned by the Sri Lanka Airports and Aviation Ltd., and the Sri Lanka Air Force, some of them are rarely used.
Flying schools in Sri Lanka
There are many CAASL-approved flying schools at Ratmalana and Katukurunda. They will be only too happy to provide an aircraft and an instructor to teach anyone interested in taking up this wonderful hobby. Imagine, after you are trained and qualified you could fly from Ratmalana to Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Koggala or KKS in the morning, have lunch there, and get back to Ratmalana by evening.
“You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.” – Amelia Earhart (1897-1937).
When one acquires the skill to fly with reference solely to instruments one could obtain an Instrument Rating (IR). This will allow the pilot to confidently fly through and above the clouds without being always restricted to be in sight of ground or water. The trainee pilot could also learn to fly in the night and get a ‘Night Rating’. This will provide more flexibility by not being restricted to daylight flying hours between dawn and dusk. Initially, the trainees start practising early in the morning, at a time when the winds are usually calm and the air is smooth. When they gather more experience (counted in hours of flying), they will be allowed to fly later in the day when the air is more turbulent, due to heating of the ground by the sun. The winds also usually build up by then. They will also reach competency in landing and taking off in crosswind conditions, at their home airport, before they are allowed to fly in command on cross-country flights to other airports. Being the ‘Pilot in Command’ of the light aircraft builds up the new pilot’s confidence and develops a healthy respect for weather in the tropics. Checklists will also be introduced, so that the pilot will ‘do things right and do the right things’!
Thrill of flying
Once you are competent and comfortable with the type of aircraft you were trained on, you may even want to buy your own aircraft which could be parked at and maintained by one of the many flying organisations/schools. On the other hand, if you don’t plan to fly too often, hiring may be a cheaper option. When you experience the thrill of almost ‘two hundred horses’ hauling you down the runway and the acceleration in the seat of your pants, you never forget it and will come back for more. Come to think of it, pilots are connected to the aircraft only by the seat of their pants! The nerves, muscles and skin in the pilot’s posterior, how it reacts to gravity and acceleration/deceleration, is collectively known as the ‘somatosensory feel’. Along with what you see with your eyes and experience through the balance organs in your ears, it helps in orientation. Age is no barrier as long as you are medically fit (this writer is now past his 72nd birthday!). So, as one gets older, it will be necessary to do regular medical check-ups to ensure that everything is in order. In one way, it helps one keep fit. Bear in mind that the CAASL does not require your health to be that of an astronaut. You can fly with corrective lenses (spectacles), and even if you are slightly deaf in one or both ears, for there is a volume control in the radio receiver to help! You could fly after heart surgery, even a by-pass. Diabetes need not keep you grounded. There are many waivers in the medical regulations for the Private Pilots’ licence category.
“Can the magic of flight ever be carried by words? I think not.” — Michael Parfit, Smithsonian magazine, May 2000
During training, one will acquire ‘stick and rudder’ skills. One will also acquire a working knowledge of Air Navigation Regulations (ANR), engines and airframes, aircraft and human performance limitations, flight planning, weight and balance theory, GPS navigation, meteorology (weather), map reading, the use of the slide rule, protractor and compass. Every minute of flight is exciting, but how safe is it? It is certainly safer than crossing a road in Sri Lanka or riding in a three-wheeler. From the first day, you are taught to be safe and think safety.
Hardly any emergency landing
Modern aircraft engines are very reliable and run smoothly, like proverbial sewing machines. Although fledgling pilots are trained extensively to competently handle emergencies, one hardly hears of an emergency landing due to engine failure nowadays. Engines don’t usually fail suddenly. They usually give some indication of a pending problem in the form of noise, vibration, fluctuations of oil pressure, oil temperature, cylinder head temperatures, coolant temperature, power produced, etc. The pilot could safely reach ‘terra firma’ as soon as possible and have the problem attended to, if necessary. Statistics from around the world show that most engine failures in small aircraft have been due to bad fuel management. resulting in fuel starvation.
“The engine is the heart of an aeroplane, but the pilot is its soul.” — Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (RAF)
To fly over our Fair Isle with your family or friends, spending quality time and watching the places familiar to you as they unravel from the air, makes one appreciate our country. For example, flying over the cities of Kandy, Kurunegala, Jaffna, Bible Rock, Sigiriya, Castlereigh, Victoria, Kothmale, Senanayake Samudra, Lunugamwehera and the Bolgoda Lake. To spot elephants after takeoff from Mattala or Weerawila, see Adam’s Peak in the distance, or the Mahaweli meandering northwards towards Trincomalee from Kandy, and the Mahiyangana Stupa shining in the morning sun. Flying to Anuradhapura and navigating by Ruwanwelisaya to locate the airport. Following roads, rivers and railway lines. Flying over Iranamadu, Fort Hammenhiel guarding the entrance to Jaffna Lagoon, and much more with your newly acquired skill. Flying an Instrument Landing System (ILS), as if on rails, in between the big jets at Bandaranaike International Airport, down to 400 feet followed by a ‘greased landing’, where the tyres kiss the runway.
There are two other fun categories that are practised in other parts of the world, requiring qualifications other than the Private Pilots’ Licence (PPL): ‘sport aviation’ and ultralight flying licences, where the aircraft are smaller, simpler and, in the case of the latter category, allow one to fly with no certification. Unfortunately, such freedoms are still to be implemented in our part of the world.
Here’s a quick comparison of the restrictions and privileges in each category in the USA, as quoted by Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA): (see table)
Unfortunately, at this point in time the CAASL can only provide a Private Pilot’s Licence Category for recreational (leisure) pilots.
Striving for perfection
Flying, like golf, is striving for perfection. You can play golf against yourself. The mathematics involved in flying is perhaps a little more complicated. It is challenging, but not competitive. At the end of the day you have the satisfaction of pitting yourself with nature and doing a good job of it. As in golf, flying has its own jargon.
As one golfer says: “For me, it’s largely that sensation of raw power that comes from hitting a little white ball 250+ yards, sky high, and in all sorts of shapes and sexily curved flights. As others have mentioned, the feel of striking the ball purely and watching it pierce the air like a bullet – or, at the other end of the shot-making spectrum, float on the wind, balloon-like – is, very arguably, a euphoria unmatched in any other sport. “It’s incredibly satisfying when you hit the ball just perfectly.
Another golfer says: “I love taking all of the variables into account: wind speed, wind direction, fairway slope, club limitations, ball placement, and more. Then the whole analysis comes down to one simple swing that’s over in seconds. It’s fun (or sometimes not so much) to see the results immediately, where in business it may take weeks, months, or years to see the results of a strategic decision.”
It is the same with flying. The strategic use of your knowledge and experience in a more acute sense as your decisions will affect you directly. You don’t need to watch anymore. Now you can be a part of it. Although there are many common elements in flying and golf such as self-improvement, determination, concentration and enjoying fresh air, flying must obviously be more fascinating and personal as I have yet to see poems, such as the one below, written about golf.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr
Fun fliers harassed
There is a small community of ‘fun flyers’ who are harassed by the authorities who drive them from pillar to post as they have to work with bureaucrats who don’t know how an aircraft flies. Above all, they don’t have a passion for aviation. There is a National Aviation Policy (NAP), which has now been issued as a Government Gazette (No 2214/54 of 10th Feb 2021). Encouraging the formation of flying clubs is one of the declared objectives of this policy.
Instead of facilitating ‘Fun Flying’ (officially known as General Flying), these ‘seat warmers’ tend to obstruct their activities by attempting to enforce the archaic Administrative and Financial Regulations (ARs and FRs). The two frontline entities in charge, i. e. the Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka and the Airport and Aviation Sri Lanka, were formed to eliminate ‘red tape’ in the 1970s. Since then, red tape has crept in through the backdoor, and things have moved back to square one or are even worse in the ‘permanent administration’. To add insult to injury, after the 30-year war the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) behaves like aviation’s self-appointed ‘Dr. No’.
Prospective pilots have to wait for over six months to obtain security clearance from the SIS, NIB, CAASL, SLAF and what have you. In fact, the Aircraft Owners and Operators Association (AOAOA) asked the authorities for a quicker IT-based system more than two years ago, and are still waiting. Capt. Elmo’s suggestion of the practical and profitable possibility of flying training for tourists could be achieved only if and when the security system is revamped and put on a fast track, especially when the country is short of valuable foreign exchange.
As we are not at war anymore, the planning of air space and airports in the country is the sole responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka (CAASL) as mentioned in the said government Gazette. Instead of coordination with the CAASL, the SLAF still seems to want absolute control of civil airspace over our fair isle. To illustrate the point, a few days ago there was the funeral at the General Cemetery, Borella, of a lady who was a well-known anti-cancer activist who died of cancer herself. In her last will, there was a handwritten request for a ‘flower drop’ at her funeral. After her death, the Ministry of Defence and CAASL were duly contacted and permission granted to carry out a flower drop from a civil helicopter. Flowers worth thousands of rupees were bought, but at the eleventh-hour permission was refused by the SLAF for no apparent reason. However, a week later when a scholar monk died, the SLAF sprinkled flowers at his funeral – demonstrating the existence of two different laws in one country. The tail seems to wag the dog!
President’s efforts require parliamentary support
By Jehan Perera
With less than a year and half to the presidential elections, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has a tight deadline to meet if he is to attain his aspirations for the country. His visit last week to Japan where he sought to renew ties which had made it Sri Lanka’s largest aid donor for decades, was reported to be highly successful. During his visit, the President had apologized to the Japanese government leaders regarding the cancellation of the Light Rail Transit project which was subsequently delivered by Japan to Bangladesh. The completion of the elevated railroad would have significantly reduced Colombo’s traffic jams. The disastrous mistake the previous government made in crudely cancelling the project unilaterally and without rational reason lost Sri Lanka the goodwill of Japan which will not be easy to get back. Getting Japan back as a donor partner would be a great boon. Overcoming the serious economic crisis that besets the country and its people would require a massive infusion of foreign assistance if the period of recovery is to be kept short and not prolonged indefinitely.
President Wickremesinghe’s leadership is also being credited with the structural economic reforms that the country is undertaking with regard to revenue generation and cost cutting. Undertaking economic reforms that would streamline the economy has been a long term desire on the part of the President and seen during his past stints as Prime Minister. During the period 2001 to 2004, when he effectively led the government as Prime Minister and entered into the ceasefire agreement with the LTTE, he tried to implement the same set of economic reforms. Both of these radical measures proved to be too much for the population to bear and he suffered defeat at the elections that followed. Typically, the reform measures he presents is based on the “trickle down” theory, which, in highly corrupt polities, like Sri Lanka, means that the poor have to be content with the crumbs falling off the table. Once again, and unfazed, he is taking up the challenge of taking up unpopular economic measures, such as cutting subsidies, increasing taxes and privatizing state owned enterprises.
As part of the IMF recovery plan for the country, the government, under his leadership, is putting in place anti-corruption legislation that is required by the IMF. It appears that this legislation, which is still in its draft form, is being pushed more by the President than by the government. This was evident when a civil society group, led by the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, held a meeting for parliamentarians of all parties within the parliamentary complex. The attendance from the government side was limited, though the Opposition participated in strength. The top leadership of most of the Opposition parties, was in attendance, especially the largest Opposition party, the SJB, whose leader Sajith Premadasa also made an appearance. They gave an inkling of the change of faces that needs to accompany any “system change.” The consensus of the discussion was that the draft legislation was a positive addition to the fight against corruption.
The situation on the ground, in terms of implementation of the laws pertaining to good governance and accountability, continue to be highly unsatisfactory. The protest movement that was in evidence a year ago, gave its attention to issues of corruption and economic mismanagement for the reason that it had led to the economic collapse of the country that affected the entirety of its population. Both corruption and economic mismanagement had been facilitated by the concentration of political power in the executive. One of President Wickremesinghe’s first actions was to give astute political leadership to the passage of the 21st Amendment which sought to restore the independence of key state institutions necessary for a check and balance function. The most important aspect of the 21st Amendment is to protect those who are in charge of oversight bodies from interference by the political authority.
A notable feature of the present is that the parliamentary majority has shown itself to be willing to follow President Wickremesinghe’s lead when it comes to putting frameworks of good governance and accountability in place for the future. But when it comes to implementing them in the present, the ruling party, in particular, works in its own self-interest and to protect its own. Unfortunately, there are a growing number of instances in which it can be seen that the parliamentary majority, led by the ruling party, continues to flout the spirit of the law and practices of good governance. This was seen in the manner in which the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission was forced out of his position through a majority vote in Parliament. Regrettably, the protections afforded by the 21st Amendment could not protect the Chairman of the regulatory authority who opposed the electricity price hikes that led to the price hike to the poorest being up to 500 percent, while to the super rich and companies it was only 50 percent.
The second incident, in the same week, has been the apprehension of a parliamentarian at the airport for gold smuggling who was let off with a fine that was much less than the fine provided for by law for such offenses. The parliamentarian himself has shown no remorse whatsoever and on the contrary has argued with considerable gumption that he is a victim of injustice as he did not pack his own bag and it was done by another. The very same day that he paid his fine and was released by the Customs he went to Parliament, as if he had no problems. Opposition parliamentarians have urged that the parliamentarian, caught gold smuggling, should resign, but so far to no avail. The question is whether he will be held accountable for the discredit he has brought upon himself, his political party, Parliament and the country or whether he will be judged to be no worse than many of his peers and the matter put aside.
The third incident, in the same week, is that of a foreign national who entered the country, on a forged passport, and was apprehended, at the airport, by Immigration officers. They were instructed by a government minister to release the foreign person on the grounds that he was a businessman who had come to invest in the country. However, when the incident was reported in the media, the government decided to deport him and said it will take action against the Immigration officers who had followed illegal orders in releasing him. The media reported that no inquiry will be held against the Minister for influencing the Immigration officials to release the arrested foreign national as anybody could make a request like that but that an inquiry should be held against the Immigration officials for obeying the wrong instructions.
President Wickremesinghe has won many plaudits for his willingness to take up the challenge of rescuing the country from the abyss when he accepted former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s offer to become Prime Minister. It has now become clear that the President is determined to set laws and frameworks for the future. Unfortunately, it appears that the implementation of good governance practices and accountability is simply impossible in a context in which the parliamentary majority is not willing to follow them. As a result, the crackdown on corruption and abuse of power that was hoped for when President Wickremesinghe took over has not manifested itself on the ground.
There is still little or no evidence that President Wickremesinghe is able or willing to take action against those within his government who violate the laws and frameworks of good governance that he is setting for the future of the country. Up to now, the President has only been able to use the security forces and the parliamentary majority to crack down on the protest movement which demanded an end to corruption and accountability for abuse of power. If this situation continues, the President will lose both credibility and authority while those who engage in corruption and abuse of power will once again entrench themselves and become impossible to dislodge to the detriment of the national interest. There is a need for all in the polity, both government and opposition, to strengthen the hand of the President to make a break with the past so that the resources of the country will be used for the common good rather than end up in private pockets.
Sri Lanka’s ignorance matches that of US – II
Human Rights and war crimes:
By Daya Gamage
Foreign Service National Political Specialist (ret.)
US Department of State
(Continued from yesterday)
It is essential to note the most fundamental divide in the country is between rural and urban populations. Sri Lanka’s economy has always been essentially agricultural and even today some 77 percent of the population lives in rural districts. The ratio of Sinhalese to Tamils living in rural districts nationally approximates their ratio in the population at large. Rural areas include Tamil-majority parts of Vanni (Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya Districts) and the Kilinochchi District in the Northern Province. Similarly, such Sinhalese-majority districts as Monaragala and Badulla in the southern province of Uva, and Hambantota in the south are mostly rural. During the colonial period and until the early 1970s the economic and political elites of Sri Lanka were almost exclusively a subset of the approximately 19 percent of the population living in urban areas.
These areas were privileged in terms of better economic infrastructure, better health and other government services, and better educational and employment opportunities. These advantages were shared by all communities living in the cities: Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, who coexisted and cooperated in general harmony. Again, all three ethnic communities in the rural sector face inadequate educational facilities, less economic infrastructure and employment opportunities.
Post-independence leaders faced a prickly dilemma: the economic development and broadened enfranchisement demanded by democratic politics required that more resources and opportunities be shared with the countryside, which would dilute the power and privileges of the 19 percent. All sections of the educated urban class were threatened by this, and none more than urban Tamils. Not surprisingly, political leaders reacted to this broadening competition for national resources by reaching out to their ethnic constituencies for support in defending their privileges.
Let’s turn to war crimes and human rights violations the 18 May 2023 US House of Representative Resolution and the Canadian prime minister were referring to. The data and facts given below could be new to policymakers and lawmakers in Sri Lanka as well as to their counterparts in Washington. I say this because there was no evidence that Sri Lanka ever presented these factual data to the West. If the policymakers and lawmakers in Washington were aware of the following data the Resolution would have taken a different tone.
The question of war crimes—and related charges of crimes against humanity and even of genocide—are a telling example of the frequent gulf between complex facts and simplistic popular beliefs that has distorted perceptions of the Sri Lankan civil war and, one would argue, US policy towards Sri Lanka. In a broader sense, this writer believes that the persistent fictions that have grown up around the separatist conflict are symptomatic of a larger problem in the crafting of policy toward countries that are insufficiently or incorrectly understood.
In the case of Sri Lanka, the tendency of international observers to rush to judgment— and censure—under worst-case assumptions is evidenced by the civilian fatalities figure cited extensively in print and public discourse. This figure of 40,000 is alleged to be the number of unarmed Tamils who were killed during the final stage of the war (January–May 2009). These deaths are blamed largely on the Sri Lankan military, which is accused of using excessive and indiscriminate force, and thereby of committing war crimes. The 40,000 figure became an item of international orthodoxy after it was mentioned in the report, often referred to as the Darusman Report, by an “unofficial” panel of experts appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The figure was arrived at by simply subtracting the number of internally displaced civilians who were administratively processed after the hostilities from the UN’s estimate of the number of civilians caught up in the final offensive.
To be precise, the March 2011 Darusman report conceded that “there is still no reliable figure for civilian deaths” but stated that the figure of 40,000 “cannot be ruled out” and needs further investigation. The report did not refer to “credible evidence,” much less adduce any, using instead the vague expression “credible allegations.” This verdict was not voted upon or endorsed by the United Nations as an organisation, and despite its questionable logic and conflicting figures from other sources, the UN Secretary General pronounced the figure of 40,000 to be definitive. In a strange case of groupthink, most western governments and international NGOs have accepted it unquestioningly and wielded it rhetorically.
Disputed death count
The currency and obduracy of the death count, to which the Darusman Report gave birth, is all the more mystifying because it represents a major departure from calculations made not only by other reputable observers but even by UN staff on the ground in Sri Lanka. On March 9 (2009), the country team of the UN mission in Colombo briefed local diplomats for the first and only time on the civilian casualty figures it had collected from its Humanitarian Convoy.
According to this briefing, 2,683 civilians had died between January 20 and March 7, and 7241 had been wounded. The UN country team did not indicate to the diplomats that the majority of these casualties were due to government shelling. According to a cable from the US embassy in April 2009, the UN had estimated that from January 20 to April 6 civilian fatalities numbered 4,164, plus a further 10,002 wounded. The International Crisis Group is quoted as reporting that “U.N. agencies, working closely with officials and aid workers located in the conflict zone, documented nearly 7,000 civilians killed from January to April 2009.
Those who compiled these internal numbers deemed them reliable to the extent they reflected actual conflict deaths but maintain it was a work in progress and incomplete.” Some three weeks before the end of the war, Reuters reported that “A UN working document, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, says 6,432 civilians have been killed and 13,946 wounded in fighting since the end of January.” An unpublished report by the United Nations country team in Sri Lanka stated that from August 2008 to May 13, 2009 (five days before the war ended), the number of civilians killed was 7,721. Even if the UN Secretary General chose to ignore reporting from his own staff in the field, there were reports from other sources that should have tempered the figures adopted by other international organizations and governments with diplomatic representation in Colombo.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the only outside agency present in the war zone during the final phase, used various statistical indicators to conclude that the total number of noncombatants killed was around 7,000. Lord Naseby, a British parliamentarian and longtime advocate for Sri Lanka, announced in the House of Lords in November 2017 that he had managed to pry classified documents out of the Foreign Office through a freedom of information inquiry. These documents, which were dispatched from the British Defense Attaché in Colombo during the final days of the war, reported that about 7000 people had been killed. Amnesty International wrote that . . . “derived independently from eyewitness testimony and information from aid workers [we estimate that] at least 10,000 civilians were killed.” This figure is in line with the estimate of an anthropologist working in Australia who questioned LTTE government servants and others who survived the final battles. This academician estimates that total fatalities from January 1 to May 19 ranged from 15,000 to 16,000, including some 5,000 Tiger dead. He cautions that any final figure must take into account the 600-900 deaths due to non-military causes that would be expected at standard death rates for a population of several hundred thousand over a period of five months, especially under very difficult conditions. He emphasizes that it was very difficult to distinguish civilians from combatants because the latter often did not wear uniforms.
According to some commentators, the prevalence and resilience of the 40,000-fatality figure can be attributed in significant measure to the publicity given to it by Gordon Weiss, an Australian journalist, who served as spokesperson for the UN mission in Sri Lanka from 2006 to 2009. In that official capacity Weiss reportedly used the fatality figure of 7,000 for 2009 and noted that, for the Sri Lankan Army, it made no tactical sense to kill civilians. Yet, in interviews to promote his popular book on the final days of the war, he used the unsubstantiated figure of 40,000, presumably for its shock value. When the book was published, the fatality figure had been reduced to 10,000.
On July 9, 2009, the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, John Clint Williamson, met in Geneva with Jacques de Maio, Head of Operations for South Asia for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Williamson requested the meeting in order to collect information required for reporting to the US Congress. This information was invaluable because the ICRC was the only international organisation allowed by the GSL onto the northeastern battlefield for humanitarian work. In his diplomatic cable to Washington on that meeting, Williamson quoted de Maio as saying that “the Sri Lankan military was somewhat responsive to accusations of violations of international humanitarian law and was open to adapting its actions to reduce casualties.” The ambassador added that de Maio . . . “could cite examples of where the Army had stopped shelling when ICRC informed them it was killing civilians. In fact, the Army actually could have won the military battle faster with higher civilian casualties, yet chose a slower approach which led to a greater number of Sri Lankan military deaths …. On the LTTE, de Maio said that it had tried to keep civilians in the middle of a permanent state of violence. It saw the civilian population as a ‘protective asset’ and kept its fighters embedded amongst them.
De Maio said that the LTTE commanders’ objective had been to keep the distinction between civilian and military assets blurred.” In April, as the fighting was nearing its climax, both the United Nations and the Group of Eight nations strongly condemned the LTTE for using civilians as human shields.
This writer can assure that the manuscript he is preparing with the retired Senior Foreign Service and Intelligence Officer of the Department of State Dr. Robert K. Boggs will disclose startling evidence of Washington’s foreign policy trajectory toward Sri Lanka, and how successive governments in Sri Lanka since 1980 – to date – displayed their utter ignorance that led to the infantile foreign policy approaches.
(The writer, Daya Gamage, is a retired Foreign Service National Political Specialist of the U.S. Department of State accredited to the Political Section of the American Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka)
Excitement galore for Janaka
Another artiste who is very much in the limelight, these days, is singer Janaka Palapathwala, who specializes in the golden hits of the past, made popular by Engelbert Humperdinck, Elvis, Tom Jones, Jim Reeves, and the like.
He has been seen crooning away at some of the prestigious events, in Colombo, and is now ready to entertain those who love the golden oldies…in Canada and the States.
Janaka, who plans to reveal a new identity soon, indicated to us that he is eagerly looking forward to this particular overseas tour as he has already been informed that the opener, on 3rd June, in Washington D.C., is a ‘sold out’ event.
“Summer Mega Blast’, on 3rd June, will have in attendance the band Binara & The Clan and DJ Shawn Groove.
On 16th June, he will be in Toronto, Canada, for ‘Starlight Night’, with the band 7th String.
He has two dates in New York, on 24th June and 28th July (‘Welcome To My World’); Nebraska, 4th July (‘An Evening With Janaka’): Los Angeles, 15th July, and San Francisco, 22nd July.
Both the Los Angeles and San Francisco events are titled ‘Memories Are Made Of This’ and Janaka will perform, backed by the group Dynasty (Apple Green).
On his return home, he says he has to do the St. Peter’s College Welfare Society Dinner Dance, “Wild West’, scheduled for 26th July.
There will be plenty of action at this Peterite event, with the bands Misty, and Genesis, Shawn Groove, Frank David, Mazo, Ricardo Deen, Dinesh Subasinghe and Clifford Richards.
Navy divers retrieve 148 from watery graves within a year
Establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Draft report on the inquiry into the destruction of North-Eastern archaeological sites and interference with conservation activities handed over to the Prime Minister
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
#Sundayisland Sunday Island- 31 January- Headlines
Features7 days ago
Jerome Fernando and his profane gimmicks
Opinion7 days ago
Pastor Jerome Saga: Buddhist perspective
News6 days ago
Gold smuggling govt. MP walks free after paying Rs 7.4 mn fine
Opinion6 days ago
Jerome Fernando and his profane gimmicks – II
Business7 days ago
Elephant House SuperHeroes powered by Dialog returns for a second phase to discover Sri Lanka’s future leaders
Sports6 days ago
When sport clean-bowls politics
Features5 days ago
Murders, exhumations, sacking: hence never a dull day in Paradise
Business7 days ago
Report to be soon out on those who slip through the tax net