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Genocide Bill against Sri Lanka passed in Canada

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Influential Ontario Legislative Assembly has resolved that Sri Lanka subjected the Tamil community to genocide during the armed conflict. The Legislative Assembly voted in favour of Bill 104 (aka the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act),moved by Sri Lankan asylum seeker-turned Scarborough-Rouge Park member of Parliament Vijay Thanigasalam, at the third reading in the legislature, Canada and the UK-based sources told The Island. The first reading took place on April 30th, 2019, and the second on May 16, 2019.

 A key member of the Sri Lanka Core Group, at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, Canada backed the vote on March 23, 2021 against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. Argentina, Armenia, Austria, the Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay voted against Sri Lanka.

The passage of Bill 104 took place on May 6, 2021 in the absence of a cohesive campaign by Sri Lanka to oppose the Canadian move, sources said.

On Twitter, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario MP Vijay Thanigasalam declared the passage of Bill 104 ‘a historic event for Tamil people in Ontario and across the world. The Canadian media quoted Thanigasalam as having said: “Ontario is the first government worldwide to pass such a law.”

Thanigasalam, in addition to being Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly is also member, Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs as well as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation.

Sources said that the Canadian move had been made in the wake of the unprecedented rejection of retired Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner therein. Sources said that AM Dias was rejected on the basis of unsubstantiated war crimes accusations. 

Former journalist Sithara Khan functions as the Acting High Commissioner since the SLPP government recalled Sri Lanka Ambassador there Asoka Girihagama, a career diplomat who reached the retirement age during his stint there. Girihagama, however, hasn’t returned to the country yet. Girihagama succeeded another career diplomat Ahmed A Jawad in late 2018.

The government recently made an abortive bid to dispatch outgoing Attorney General Dappula de Livera PC, to Canada.

The Bill 104, the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, establishes seven days each year, May 11 to 18, during which Ontarians “are encouraged to educate themselves about, and to maintain their awareness of, the Tamil genocide and other genocides that have occurred in world history.” The weeklong event coincides with the conclusion of Sri Lanka’s successful war against the LTTE on the morning of May 19, 2009, on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, sources said.

Several Sri Lankan organizations strongly opposed the move with some making representations to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills. Among them was Dr. Neville Hewage, research fellow, Public Policy and Governance, International Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Law, Laurentian University, Ontario.

Hewage told The Island that the Ontario Legislative Assembly lacked jurisdiction to pass Bill 104 under any circumstances. Hewage in his comprehensive submission pointed out that the adopted Bill while making reference to a death toll of 40,000 to 75,000 in May 2009, referred to what it called other estimates which placed the number of deaths in 2009 (January 1 to May 18, 2009) at 146,679.

Canada based sources said that Vijay Thanigasalam openly identified himself with the LTTE even after the end of war. On Nov 26, 2011, Vijay Thanigasalam in a Facebook post stated: “Happy 57th birthday to our national Leader V. Prabhakaran.” However, Vijay Thanigasalam apologized for sharing LTTE material. The politician stated: “In the past I shared material related to the Tamil Tigers. I apologize and I no longer hold those views.”:



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Debt-ridden CEB goes ahead with shocking pay hike amidst pandemic

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Workers offered 25% increase this year…12% annually over three-year period
 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Two days after the Presidential Secretariat stated that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) owed two state banks––Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank, a staggering Rs 85 bn, the cash-strapped enterprise announced an annual 12 percent salary increase to its employees.

Vijitha Herath, Chairman, of the CEB, yesterday (15) said that the salary increase in terms of the collective agreement for 2021-2023 period would enable the workers to receive 25 per cent in the first year whereas annually it would be 12 percent over a period of three years.

The ministry said that in spite of severe difficulties caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic, the salary increment was granted in response to workers’ request.

Declaring that the Cabinet and the Board of Directors of the CEB had approved the salary increase, the ministry has sought cooperation of the CEB trade unions to finalise the collective agreement.

The ministry claimed that CEB workers had been granted a spate of privileges not given to other state sector employees hence consensus on collective agreement was expected soon.

The Presidential Secretariat on Sunday explained that one reason for the banking sector crisis was the failure on the part of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the CEB to settle Rs 562 bn and Rs 85 bn, respectively.

The Presidential Secretariat issued the statement in the wake of SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, triggering a political storm by demanding Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila’s immediate resignation over recent increase in fuel prices.

The CEB Chairman also claimed that they had been able to bring down the accumulated losses to Rs 56 bn last year from Rs 97 bn in the previous year.

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Indian fishers riled by SL moves to create new fish breeding grounds

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

 

Fishermen from Rameswaran will hold a protest today (16) against Sri Lanka’s decision to submerge 20 old buses in the seas off Jaffna to create breeding grounds for fish.

Members of 17 fisheries associations in Tamil Nadu and Rameswaran claim that this will affect their yield as more fish will be attracted to the breeding grounds created by submerged buses.

The Ministry said that sinking those buses was nothing new and that such buses provided a hard surface for invertebrates to live on, some of which could not live on the sand bottom that is naturally there.

“Some fish are not fast swimmers, so they need a structure to provide both food and shelter; they wouldn’t, for example, be able to outswim a shark, but they could duck into the shelter instead,” a Sri Lankan fisheries association representative said.

However N. Devadas, the head of the Indian fishermen’s association in Rameswaram, said that they would also hand over a petition against that decision to the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka has been submerging old SLTB buses in the deep sea for many years as a part of the Deep Sea Fish Development Project.

 

 

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Three more weeks needed to see drop in COVID deaths – Dr. Fernandopulle

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It would take at least three more weeks to see a drop in COVID-19 related deaths in the country, Minister of COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle said yesterday.

There had been a drop in the number of cases reported already, she said.

“The number of patients is coming down but there has been an increase in deaths. However, this too will come down.

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