President’s Uhana speech:
Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) National List MP Harin Fernando has drawn IGP C.D. Wickramaratne’s attention to what he claims is a threat to him. Referring to a speech President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made at Uhana, Ampara on Saturday (9), the former UNP MP has, in a letter to the IGP, asserted that it is for the first time he ever received a death threat. The MP has alleged that President Rajapaksa issued a veiled threat.
Fernando said he would copy his letter to the Speaker of Parliament, the Attorney General, heads of foreign missions in Colombo and the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.
Excerpts of MP Fernando’s lettter: “Yesterday, I saw video footage of President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa delivering remarks at an event in Uhuna, Ampara. In his remarks, the President refers to me by name and speeches made by me in Parliament in which I referred to his first name, Nandasena. The President stated that he had a peaceful side and a dark side, and that he was capable of returning to his dark roots from his tenure as Secretary of Defence.
“As you can see from the annexed video clip and transcript, the President fails to differentiate between a seditious, genocidal terrorist tyrant and a legislator exercising his fundamental right to freedom of speech in Parliament. He must be reminded that I have never engaged with terrorists. I have never bribed terrorists to prevent the Tamil people from voting. I have not embraced Karuna Amman, who has butchered more police officers than any man who ever lived. Above all, I am, and have always been, a citizen of Sri Lanka and no other country.
“The President clearly insinuates that he is capable of having me “killed like a dog” if I continue saying things that displease him. So long as he continues to fail in his duties, I must do my own duty by continuing to say things that displease him, whatever the risk to my life. Therefore, I must bring this matter to your urgent attention. Given the serious nature of the threat made by President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the security forces and Minister of Defence, I have no reason to doubt him when he implies that he is capable of doing me harm.
“But I am stunned that the President is so agitated simply because I mentioned his first name. Presidents have long been called by their names or initials. No one has been threatened with death for using the names “JRJ”, “Premadasa”, “DB”, “Chandrika”, “Mahinda” or “Sirisena”. Unless the President proves otherwise, I find it difficult to believe that members of the Buddhist clergy have truly advised him to resort to violence. My understanding as a Catholic is that Buddhism shuns violence and espouses peace.
“I ask that you kindly arrange without delay to provide me with adequate security against this grave threat to my life and to my duty to speak freely on behalf of the 2.8 million voters who supported the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. It is my fundamental right to say what I wish without fear of being summarily executed like a terrorist.
“Mr. Wickremaratne, I must remind you that you are the Inspector-General of Police for the Republic of Sri Lanka, not the personal servant of Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Protecting the life and liberty of Members of Parliament discharging their duties is not a personal favour I am asking of you, but an exercise of your solemn duty to defend the Constitution of the Republic, which you are sworn to do. As a career police officer, I trust that you do not want to be remembered as the IGP who oversaw the first assassination of a Sri Lankan Parliamentarian since the end of the civil war.
“For the record, this is the first time I have ever received a credible death threat. I am used to democratic politics, where politicians engage each other and debate their ideas and opinions. This is my first experience of a political opponent trying to terrorise me into silence using fear and the threat of violence.”
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
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