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Gampaha DCC decides to take over Muthurajawela Sensitive Zone area claimed by private party

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By Ifham Nizam

The Gampaha District Coordinating Committee on Wednesday (27) decided to take over the part of the Muthurajawela Environmentally Sensitive Zone, which is said to be owned by a private party. It has done so to prevent constructions in that section of the marsh, a senior environmentalist said.

He said that the decision had been taken at a meeting chaired by Western Province Governor Air Marshal (retd.) Roshan Goonetileke and District Coordinating Committee Chairman Sahan Pradeep Withana.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera recently said that action would be taken against any person who tried to damage environmentally sensitive places.

According to MP Sahan Pradeep Withana the government has decided to take over the privately owned sector in the area.

Governor Goonetileke has stated that the police should take necessary action regarding the decision and that no complaints are required for action to be taken.

Lalith Wickramaarachchi, Attorney-at-Law, Western Regional Assistant Director, Department of Wildlife Conservation, explained the current situation in Muthurajawela.

Gampaha District Secretary Sunil Jayalath and people’s representatives in the Muthurajawela area pointed out that there had been a massive protest against the environmental damage being caused to the wetland.



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UK, US urge Lanka to repeal PTA, decriminalise same-sex conduct

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The United Kingdom and the United States have urged Sri Lanka to repeal the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and decriminalise same-sex conduct.The UK and US representatives made this appeal at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group when Sri Lanka’s human rights record were examined for the fourth time on Feb. 01.

Sri Lanka is one of the countries reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its 42nd session in Geneva.Sri Lanka’s first, second and third UPR reviews took place in May 2008, October 2012 and November 2017, respectively.

The 4th Cycle of the UPR commenced in November 2022 and Sri Lanka’s 4th UPR was taken up for consideration today. Argentina, Benin, Czechia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Paksitan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Zambia are among the countries reviewed from January 23 to February 03, under the UPR’s 4th cycle at the ongoing session.

Sri Lanka’s National Report under the 4th Cycle of the UPR was submitted on 22 December 2022 and provides a self-assessment on the steps taken since the last UPR in November 2017, to fulfill our voluntarily undertaken human rights obligations.

The process of preparation of the National Report was undertaken under the guidance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Broad consultations were held with stakeholders from government and non-governmental organizations as well as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.

This year’s Review is taking place in a hybrid format. Due to the 75th Anniversary of Independence Day celebrations falling during the same period, Sri Lanka’s delegation to the Review is led by Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry by means of a pre-recorded video statement.

The in-person delegation, led by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Himalee Arunatilaka, comprises senior officials from the Presidential Secretariat, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva.

The UPR was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) in 2006, as a State-driven voluntary peer-review process which provides the opportunity for each State to declare the steps taken at the national level to improve the human rights situation in that State and to fulfill their human rights obligations.

At the UPR, all 193 Member States of the UN are reviewed without any selectivity or discrimination. It is periodic and is repeated every four-and half years. Three sessions are held each year and 14 countries are reviewed in one session. As such, each Member State of the UN is reviewed every 4 years.All UN member States, including Sri Lanka, have participated in 3 cycles of the UPR namely, in 2008 (first), 2012 (second) and 2017 (third).

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Lankan HC in New Delhi launches Sinhala translation of Jairam Ramesh’s The Light of Asia

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The Sinhala translation of renowned Indian author Jairam Ramesh’s book The Light of Asia; the poem that defined the BuddhaBudusiritha Lowata Genagiya Maha Kavyaya; Asiyawe Alokaya, published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence and the 75th anniversary of Sri Lanka- India diplomatic relations was presented to its author and the Maha Sangha at the Independence Day flag hoisting ceremony held at the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi on Saturday (4).

The Sinhala translation, published by the Pathfinder Foundation, was presented to the author of the original work, Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh and the Maha Sangha led by the General Secretary of the Mahabodhi Society of India Venerable Pelawatte Seewalee Nayaka Thero, by the translator Niluka Kadurugamuwa.

The Light of Asia ; the poem that defined the Buddha is a work of deep scholarship based on extensive research and serves as a biography of both the epic poem The Light of Asia and its author Sir Edwin Arnold. The book describes how the poem The Light of Asia, which is based on the life of the Buddha, captivated and inspired many iconic personalities both in India and Sri Lanka. The book is also a testimony to the strong relations between Sri Lanka and India, reinforced by the pillar of Buddhism. 

The solemn event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka commenced with the hoisting of the National Flag by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda, followed by the rendering of the National Anthem. A special feature of the event was that the National Anthem of Sri Lanka was sung by staff members of the High Commission, including six Indian nationals.

High Commissioner Moragoda also garlanded the bronze bust of Sir Don Baron Jayatilaka, the first Representative of Sri Lanka to India, which was installed in the High Commission premises last November to mark the 80th anniversary of Sri Lanka sending her first diplomatic representative to India.

Multi religious observances, representing four major religions in Sri Lanka were conducted and Independence Day messages by the President, Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs were read in all three languages at the ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, President of Indo-Sri Lanka International Buddhist Association in Sarnath, Varanasi Venerable Dr. K. Siri Sumedha Thero, on behalf of the Buddhist societies, temples, monasteries, and institutions situated in sacred Buddhist sites in India and the Sri Lankan Dharmaduta monks presented a memento to High Commissioner Moragoda marking the 75th anniversary of Independence.

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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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