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Implementing Geneva resolutions

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By Dayantha Laksiri Mendis

“Treaties and Non-treaty instruments are the bones and sinews of global politic, making it possible for states to move from talk through compromise to solemn commitment.”

Professor Thomas M. Frank

Taking Treaties Seriously

[1988] 82 AJIL 67

 

Implementation of the Geneva Resolution is an onerous task. It will encounter various challenges and dilemmas. It requires the establishment of institutional structures and national legislation to give effect to operative part of the Geneva Resolutions. Implementing legislation must not offend the 1978 Constitution and the 1976 Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties (VCLT 1976)

 

The Geneva Resolutions

The Geneva Resolution can be classified as a non-treaty instrument. It is different from a treaty in many respects (Anthony Aust – Modern Treaty Practice). It does not require the consent of the State to be bound by such Resolutions. It has a preambular and operative part. It is likely to be interpreted in the same way as a treaty by reference to articles 31 and 32 of the VCLT 1969. It resembles the Resolutions of other UN Specialized Agencies such as IMO or ICAO which are of a binding nature.

The proposed Geneva Resolution is likely to be different and devastating for Sri Lanka if it is based on the Report of the UN High Commissioner for HR. If so, it is desirable at this point of time to draft a counter resolution and outline Sri Lanka’s proposals relating to reconciliation and accountability without taking a confrontational approach at this time.

 

Operative part of the Geneva Resolutions

Implementation of the operative part of the Geneva Resolutions can be dealt under four areas. These areas are – (a) Establishment of a Truth-seeking and reconciliation commission; (b) Investigation into violations relating to human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL); (c) Reparation to victims; and (d) Guarantee of non-recurrence. All these areas are seen as an integral part of transitional justice.

 

(a) Truth-seeking and reconciliation

Establishment of a Commission for Truth-seeking and Reconciliation is an important consideration in dealing with transitional justice. It is a sensitive area. It can “open old wounds” and therefore such investigation should not be undertaken in Sri Lanka. It can create “new wounds” that can get festered over a period of time. If so, the situation might become worse for reconciliation.

In South Africa, such a commission was established under National Unity and Reconciliation Act No. 34 of 1995. It was necessary to do so as apartheid was inherently anti-democratic and unjust system perpetrated by a white minority. The global community denounced apartheid with sanctions and recognized the right to self determination by the majority community. In Sri Lanka, LTTE was engaged in an armed conflict to establish a separate state in defiance of the Constitution and International law. The global community proscribed LTTE as a terrorist organisation.

Hence, we should gently reject this requirement in the preambular part by reciting the reasons as outlined above.

 

(b) Investigation into violations relating to human rights and humanitarian law

Geneva Resolutions require investigation into violations relating to human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL). It is a requirement of transitional justice. Investigation should not be restricted to the final phase of the war, where Sri Lankan security forces had to proceed, amidst protests, to save the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka from the tentacles of the rebel forces who used child soldiers and civilians as a human shield

The Resolution requires Sri Lanka to establish a credible domestic mechanism. It must be fair to the accused as well as to the victims. The Resolution requires the inclusion of Commonwealth judges and prosecutors along with national judges and prosecutors. Inclusion of Commonwealth Judges and Prosecutors may encounter political and constitutional issues. In this context, when formulating the Report on Sri Lanka, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should read article 46 of VCLT 1969 which says that any treaty or non-treaty instrument should not offend the fundamental principles of the Constitution.

Any investigation relating to violations of human rights law or IHL would be dangerous in Sri Lanka, unless such investigation is conducted as a non-international armed conflict under common article 3 of Geneva conventions 1949.

Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka, the Common Article 3 was not given effect to by the Geneva Conventions Act of 2006. The initial draft Bill prepared by me in 2001 incorporated the provisions relating to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (draft Bill is on file with me) on the advice of the top legal advisers at ICRC headquarters in Geneva. These legal advisers came to the conclusion after consulting Jean Simon Pictet’s five points enshrined in the negotiating record (travaux preparatoires) of the Geneva Conventions 1949 and I was given the go ahead to draft the requisite legislation.

International human rights standards are also not properly transformed into national legislation in Sri Lanka. There are many “deficiencies” and “inconsistencies” in our national legislation. Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act, No. 4 of 2015 requires substantial amendments.

 

 

 

Unless international human rights standards are properly transformed into the domestic legal system by way of new legislation or amendment to existing law using the correct legislative techniques, any domestic mechanism established for this purpose will not be effective and will not be able to function according to international standards.

Operative part of the resolution will recite that accountability will be determined under common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and therefore national legislation needs to be enacted to incorporate common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to the existing Geneva Conventions Act 2006 (A draft Bill is annexed as a schedule to this paper to illustrate the requisite amendment).

 

(c) Reparation to victims and tracing missing persons

Reparation to victims is also an important requirement under Geneva Resolutions to promote reconciliation. Legislation has been already enacted to establish a domestic mechanism for such reparation. The amount granted is too small and may be increased in the future.

It does not take into account reparation already provided to victims of war either through legislation or army routine orders or Cabinet Memoranda.

Unfortunately, the civilian victims, especially women who have lost their husbands or children have not been adequately compensated. Hence, there is a great need to compensate civilians who have suffered due to eviction, injuries, unlawful killing and/or and those who have suffered due to suicide bomb attacks. The legislation must clearly identify those who are really entitled to these benefits in the context of the Sri Lanka’s armed conflict.

Operative part should recite the continued implementation of national legislation relating reparation and of missing persons.

 

(d) Guarantee of non-recurrence

Guarantee of non recurrence is a very challenging requirement of the Geneva Resolutions.

In most countries, the reconciliation between ethnic and religious groups are handled by an Ethnic Relations Commissions. In developing countries such as Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, these Commissions are established through constitutional provisions. These Commissions are empowered by law to take action where there is a threat to ethnic or religious harmony.

These Commissions have produced enormous literature relating to peace, harmony and development and organised drama festivals to promote racial and ethnic reconciliation. I have seen many plays written by Eric Brathwaite in Georgetown and Port of Spain and cried how backward my beloved country is in regard to reconciliation and creating ethnic harmony and unity. We have not understood that national security is ethnic harmony and unity, and ethnic harmony and unity is national security.

These Commissions are empowered to refer any matter to a Tribunal established by legislation. Such matters include “hate speech” or any act which causes ethnic disharmony. Issues relating to burial or cremation regard to those who died from covid19 should be referred to such a Commission and not to politicians or religious bigots

Establishment of an Ethnic Relations Commission and a Tribunal may satisfy the reconciliation requirement, as these Commissions have prevented a fully fledged armed conflict between diverse religious groups and ethnicities in many countries.

Operative Part should recite the establishment of such institutions to make reconciliation more effective and efficient. It can be described as a 13+.Ethnic harmony is national security.

 

Additional requirements

Geneva Resolutions imposes additional requirements. These include the full implementation of the 13th Amendment, reform of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Public Security Ordinance. Implementation of the 13th Amendment, PSO and the PTA is part of the “domain reserve” under article 2(7) of the Charter of the United Nations. Hence, such intervention is not fair and legitimate.

 

Impact on State sovereignty

Implementation of the Geneva Resolutions and the recent Report of the HR Commissioner can impact on State sovereignty. In today’s world, State sovereignty is diminished through ratification, accession or succession to treaties. A treaty per defitionem may restrict State sovereignty. However, a non- treaty instrument is not in the same category unless there is express or implied consent to be bound by it. Co-sponsoring gives implied consent

In regard to ratified treaties, a State cannot hide behind state sovereignty to avoid international obligations. International compliance and control measures established by various legal regimes demonstrate that state sovereignty is diminished and the Westphalian Order does not exist anymore in its pristine form.

Implementation of the Resolutions may offend the provisions of the Constitution. In Sri Lanka, the Constitution grants sovereignty to the people and its elements are enshrined under Article 4 of the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka. If the legislative implementation of the proposed Resolution offends the Constitution, Sri Lanka should propose an alternative counter resolution which is in harmony with our constitutional provisions.

 

Conclusions

Implementing the Geneva Resolutions is an exacting task. It will encounter many challenges and dilemmas. The draft report evince that High Commissioner has not understood the atrocities committed by the rebel forces or Kadi’s Case in the European Court of Justice on freezing of assets without due process.

High Commissioner has gone on to declare unfairly and wrongly that security forces who saved Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as enemies of mankind (Hostes Humanis) by subjecting them to universal jurisdiction and International Criminal court. (preambular part).

At this time, we must not forget that President Mahinda Rajapaksa saved the country from the rebel forces. If not for him, the armed conflict would have dragged on for many years. In this context, he was assisted by India, Pakistan, USA and many other countries. He was also assisted by the Defence Secretary, Army Commander and many others. Since then, we have enjoyed freedom from fear and freedom from unlawful killing. (preambular part need to recite this fact).

Geneva Resolution must not be rejected in toto. A rejection might send wrong signals to UN Member States. After all, the UN is the best friend of small and weak States, although the Thucydides’ doctrine (powerful States do what they can and small States must accept what they must) still continue to apply in the conduct of international relations and diplomacy. Notwithstanding the aforementioned phenomenon, the UN has assisted small and weak States in situations where might is not right. Let us engage with quiet diplomacy and convince the international community to go along with our counter resolution. (preambular part needs to recite some of these observations)

Hence, it is necessary to draft a counter resolution and identify how we intend to deal with reconciliation and accountability taking into account ground realities, constitutional provisions and the political ramifications.

We need to understand Morgenthau’s realism in dealing with this vexed issue and not engage in an unnecessary confrontation with Western countries. In my career, I have experienced quiet diplomacy and good reasoning with my Western counterparts at the UN or in diplomatic circles constitute the best tools that lead to victory at the end of the day. Such a strategic approach is important as the victories on the battlefield.

ANNEX

GENEVA CONVENTIONS (AMENDMENT) ACT 2021

 

AN ACT

to amend the Geneva Conventions Act 2006 (No. 4 of 2006); to give effect to common article 3 and for connected matters.

BE IT ENACTED

by the Parliament of ……………

Short title and date of commencement

1. This Act may be cited as the Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act 2021 and shall come into operation as the Minister may appoint by Order published in the Gazette.

 

Amendment of section 2 of the Act

2. Section 2 of the Geneva Conventions Act No. 4 of 2006 is hereby amended by adding immediately after section 2, the following section 2A.

“2A.(1) A person who in Sri Lanka commits or aids, abets or procures any other person to commit a breach of paragraphs (a), (b), (c) or (d) in sub-article (1) of Common Article 3 of the Conventions as provided in Schedule V to this Act is guilty of an indictable offence.

7

(2) A person who commits an offence under section 2A is liable –

(a) Imprisonment for life or any lesser period where the offence involves the willful killing of a person protected by the relevant Convention; and

(b) Imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years for any other offence.

 

(3) An offence against section 2A shall not be prosecuted in a Court except by indictment in the name of the Attorney General.”

 

Amendment of the Schedules

(3) The Schedules to the Geneva Conventions Act No. 4 of 2006 is hereby amended by inserting immediately after Schedule IV, the following new Schedule V

SCHEDULE V (Section 2A)

CONFLICTS NOT OF AN INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER

In the case of an armed conflict, not of an international character occurring in the territory of the one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions.

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth or any other similar criteria.

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced and regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

 

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

 

Mendis LLB (Cey), MPhil (Cantab) is former Legal Adviser to the ICRC, Lecturer on IHL at the KDU and University of Colombo, former Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna, former UN Legal Expert and Legal Adviser to several Caribbean, African and Asian countries. He has drafted diverse legislation, treaties and non non-treaty instruments at the time he served as Commonwealth Legal Expert to the Caribbean Community Secretariat in Guyana, South America.



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THE DEMOCRATIC PARADOX OF SRI LANKA

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by R.J. de Silva, Attorney-at-law

In the distant past, there were many approaches to running civilizations. Cruel and ruthless dictators perpetrated assault on human rights, with impunity. The best known among these tyrants were ATTILA the HUN (AD 434-453 of present day Hungary ), GENGHIS KHAN ( 1206-1227 in Central Asia and China ), TIMUR ( 1370-1405 of modern Syria, Iran , Afghanistan) and QUEEN MARY alias ‘Bloody Mary’(1553-1558 in England ).

The combination of divine or absolute power and lack of contact with people made Dictators and Autocrats fascinating as well as terrifying. It is unclear if such characters suffered from mental illness as defined by current standards or whether their lives were marked by incidents that made them ruthless.

Hadenius and Teorell ( 2007 ) identified distinct dictatorships in monarchies, military regimes, one party regimes and restricted multiparty regimes. Studies have revealed that many dictatorial regimes, have democratic facades or some functioning democratic institutions, some holding regular elections and some having operational political parties and legislatures.

Dictatorships are a form of government in which all power remains in the hands of one person enjoying unlimited governmental power obtained by force or fraudulent means in sham elections. Dictatorships are often characterized by deaths or killings because of greed, hatred, pride and yearning for power. For instance, Hitler caused millions of deaths of Jews, Pol Pot killed millions of Cambodians to forcibly change its culture and Idi Amin was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Indians in Uganda.

Autocracy is very similar to a dictatorship. Here too, the supreme power lies in the hands of an individual with some supported by a slavish political party. Autocrats use little or no consultation when making decisions and exercise independent authority over policies and procedures. Their decisions are not subject to any legal restraints. The system suppresses public debate and makes criticism of the government, a criminal offence.

Like in dictatorships, autocracies also use force and punishments to those who disobey the leader’s commands. Autocrats manifest in many ways in despotism, oligarchy and fascism.

In the ideology of benevolent or enlightened despotism (popular in the 18th Century Europe),a absolute monarchs enacted a number of changes in political institutions and enlightened governance. Most of the despots started their careers as “freedom fighters”. Many of them amassed wealth abroad while the world was in denial.

An oligarchy is a form of government where power is in the hands of a small group of elite people, holding wealth or family or military prowess. Oligarchies are where a small minority rules the government and exercise power in corrupt ways. Such governments are frequently ruled by prominent families whose children are raised and coached as oligarchy’s heirs.

Fascism is a political ideology that elevates the nation and race above the individual and advocates a ‘Consolidated Autocratic government’ led by a dictator under strict economic and social regulation while suppressing the opposition. Fascist administrations were seen in Italy’s Fascist Party under Mussolini ( 1925-1945 )and the National Socialist German Worker’s Party ( Nazi Party ) under Adolf Hitler ( 1925-1943). Interestingly, the majority of the modern dictatorial regimes refer to their leaders by a variety of titles such as President, King and Prime Minister.

The 20th and 21st Century dictators and autocrats ruled with tyrannical power and never tolerated dissent. Some of them were VALDIMIR LENIN ( 1917-1924 Russia ), JOSEPH STALIN ( 1924-1953 Russia ), BENITO MUSSOLINI ( 1925-1945 Italy ), ADOLF HITLER ( 1933-1945 Germany ), FRANCISCO FRANCO ( 1939-1975 Spain ), MAO ZEDONG (1949-1976- China ), IDI AMIN (1971-1979 Uganda), AUGUSTO PINOCHET ( 1973- 1990 Chile ), GEOGIS PAPANDUPOULUS ( 1967-1974 Greece ), COL MUAMMER GADAFI ( 1969-2011 Libya ).

Dictator led countries are also associated with severe poverty, repression, decreasing health and life expectancy, famine, poor education and rising mental illnesses. Eight of these brutal and repressive autocracies which caused poverty in their countries were : KIM JONG UN since 2011 ( North Korea- 40% poverty ), NICOLAS MANDURO since 2013 with his Presidency in dispute ( Venezuela – 82% poverty ) , BASHA AL ASSAD since 2020 ( Syria -82% poverty ), PAUL KAGME since March 2000 (Rwanda -39.1% poverty ), RECEP ERDOGAN since 2014 ( an elected President in Turkey- 21.9% poverty ), and NGUEMA MBASOSGO longest standing President in the world since 1979 for 40 years to date ( Equatorial Guinea -76. 8% poverty). Two of them – PIERRE NKURUNZIZA ( Burundi ) and IDRIS DEBBY ( Chad ) died in June 2020 April 2021 leaving 64.6% and 46.7% poverty respectively, in their impoverished countries. However, VADIMIR PUTIN (since 2000 Russia ) and XI JING PING ( since 2013 China ) are leading economic powers, but these two countries have also never tolerated dissent.

It is common to see dictators and autocrats appointing prominent members of armed forces in civilian positions and show disrespect towards the independence of the judiciary and freedom for the media. Such systems and their rulers show no concern for human rights or dissent. For instance in China, when a popular national movement for democracy was precipitated by Chinese youth and students calling for greater accountability, constitutional due process, freedom of the Press, speech and association drawing about one million people to the Tiananman Square and about 400 other cities, China’s Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping violently suppressed the movement in one day on June 4, 1986, similar to what happened in Rathupaswela in Sri Lanka, subsequently.

The suppression of the Pro- Democracy movement by the use of the army was followed by the wide spread arrest and deportation of foreign journalists and the strict control of the Press. In Russia, VADIMIR PUTIN, characterized his rule with endemic corruption, jailing political opponents, intimidating media freedom and free and fair elections. When Russia invaded Ukrain in February 2022, Putin ordered the arrest of thousands of its own citizens for protesting against the war. Tsarist minded Putin decreed that the independent media and journalists will be will be given 15 year jail terms if the cruel destruction of Ukrain’s infrastructure, historical monuments, hospitals and bombing civilian targets are reported to the Russian people.

Dictators and Autocrats are prone to create personality based autocracies surrounded by family members. Family bandyism weakened State infrastructure in Sri Lanka after 2005. The Rajapaksa family based autocracy weakened the State, democratic practices and institutionalized corruption. Family members and lackeys of Iraq and Libyan leaders weakened the State apparatus of Iraq and Libya. The weakened States of Iraq and Libya were such that, it failed to produce nuclear weapons as planned, to meet the threat of Israeli expansion. Saddam Hussain ( Iraq ) appointed his son- in- law and notoriously brutal Hussein Kamil, to fast track the production of nuclear weapons. That resulted in scientists in Iraq intentionally further slowing down the programme and nicknamed it the “unclear power”.

In contrast, the tyrant Gadaffi ( Libya ) was surrounded by ‘yes men’ and female bodyguards and an ego trip as a result of which, had no inclination to produce scientists and engineers for the country capable of dealing with complex technicalities associated with the production of nuclear power.

Dictators and Autocrats are prone to interfere with the sovereignty of other countries. Chinese dictator XI JING PING despite being an economic power, is accused of subtle problematic debt trap diplomacy since 2018 in many poor countries in Africa and Asia ruled by corrupt and mismanaging leaders. PUTIN is facing credible allegations of gross violation of human rights in Ukrain and widespread calls for investigation leading up to a trial for war crimes.

Citizen tired of being oppressed and controlled made widespread demands for democracy and the creation of independent Nation States in Europe. Those revolutions popularly known as the ‘Peoples Spring’ in 1848, brought upheavals in Europe mainly due to the dissatisfaction with monarchies, which were at the helm of each country. The revolution started in Sicily and spread to France, Netherlands, Italy and Hungary, Austrian Empire, German Empire and the whole of Europe. Monarchies were replaced by Republics. Old leaders were forced to grant liberal constitutions.

Caught off guard, aristocracy and their allies plotted to return to power and many leaders of the revolutions went into exile. In the decades after 1848, little had changed. Many historians considered the “People’s Spring” a failure, due to the seemingly lack of permanent structural changes. Karl Marx, disappointed with the bourgeois character of the revolution, expressed the theory of a permanent revolution according to which the proletariat should strengthen democratic bourgeois revolutionary forces, until the proletariat itself was ready to seize power.

The Autumn of Nations between 1981 and 1991 (143 years after the political upheavals in Europe), brought down the former Soviet Union (USSR) which was beset with economic stagnation, mismanagement and excessive dogmatism of the Communist Party. It disintegrated USSR without bloodshed to endorse democratic reforms in their countries. Poland was the first to shrug off communism in 1989 after almost a decade of struggles. It was followed by Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Another wave of pro- democracy uprisings began in Muslim countries such as Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain in 2010/2011. It was named the “Arab Spring” and started in December 2010 from Tunisia. However, not all the nations that witnessed such social and political upheaval changed for the better. Some of the very same leaders who fought for democracy in the Muslim world (and in many other parts of the world), presided over the gradual decline of democratic rule in their countries.

In Egypt for example, despite the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, authoritarian rule returned after the controversial election of Morsi in 2012 leading to a coup by his Defence Minister Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in 2013 and he remains in power till today. Libya, since Col Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown violently in October 2011, has remained in a state of civil war with two opposing governments ruling separate regions of the country. The civil war that began in Syria with the Arab Spring has lasted for several years due to ISIS declaring a CALIPHATE governed by Islamic Law in North East of Syria. The ISIS has been effectively defeated, but the oppressive regime of BASHAR AL ASSAD continues with Russian support.

Democracy

In modern times, generations have rebelled against dictatorships and autocrdacy and fought for human rights and respect for the Rule of law. DEMOCRACY is the method of rule most countries have begun to approve. Although democracy is vulnerable it is very resilient. Mahatma Gandhi said: “Democracy and violence go ill together. States that are today minimally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian or if they must become fully democratic, they must become courageously nonviolent” and Langstone Hughes ( 1902 – 1967 ) wrote “Democracy will not come today, this year, not ever through compromise and fear. I tire so of hearing people say, let’s things take its own course. Tomorrow is another day. I do not need any freedom when I am dead. I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.”

To be continued

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My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment says Beyonce

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Beyonce, shown attending the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, is slated to release a new album in July 2022

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, r Six years after she shook the culture with her powerful visual album “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s seventh solo studio work is a pulsating, sweaty collection of club tracks aimed at liberating a world consumed by ennui.

Beyonce, the paradigm-shifting music royal whose art has long established her as one of entertainment’s seminal stars, released her hotly anticipated album “Renaissance,” a house-tinged dance record primed for its summer needle drop

Eminently danceable and rife with nods to disco and EDM history — Queen Bey interpolates Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder along with James Brown and the archetypal synth line from “Show Me Love,” the 1990s house smash by Robin S — the 16-song album is poised to reign over the season.

Prior to releasing her opus Beyonce had dropped “Break My Soul” to acclaim, setting the tone for her house revival that highlighted the Black, queer and working-class artists and communities who molded the electronic dance genre, which first developed in Chicago in the 1980s.The megastar has indicated that “Renaissance” is but the first act of three, in a project she said she recorded over the course of three years during the pandemic.

“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” Beyonce on her website.

“It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving,” she continued. “My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking.”

“A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”

– ‘Expansive listening journey’ –

In the weeks preceding the release of “Renaissance” Beyonce teased the album with the steady stream of glossy, curated portraits of herself that over the past decade have become her signature.But though she’s received wide praise for keeping the world of music videos on the cutting edge, Beyonce put out her latest record sans visuals (they’re promised at a later date.)

In a statement her label Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records lent insight into the decision, saying the artist “decided to lead without visuals giving fans the opportunity to be limitless in their expansive listening journey.”

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, rap, house and disco.

“Unique / That’s what you are /Stilettos kicking vintage crystal off the bar,” she sings on “Alien Superstar,” which samples Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” in a sonic ode to voguing, the stylized house dance that emerged from the Black LGBTQ ballroom culture of the 1960s.

That song closes by sampling a speech from Barbara Ann Teer, who founded Harlem’s National Black Theatre.

On “Virgo’s Groove” Beyonce gets raunchy with an unabashed sex anthem, adding a titular nod to her star sign — the Virgo turns 41 on September 4.Along with a smattering of deep house cuts as well as tributes to gospel, funk and soul, Beyonce’s collaborators on “Renaissance” include Nile Rodgers, Skrillex, Nigerian singer Tems, Grace Jones, Pharrell and, of course, her rap mogul husband Jay-Z.

– Album leaks, Beyhive stings –

Beyonce has long bucked music’s conventional wisdom, and is credited with popularizing the surprise album drop.She later made waves by releasing “Lemonade” — the groundbreaking work that chronicled her own emotional catharsis following infidelity within a generational and racial context — first on cable television, and limiting its streaming availability.

Since “Lemonade” she’s released “Homecoming,” a live album and film featuring footage from her mythic 2018 Coachella performance, as well as the critically acclaimed song “Black Parade” — which dropped amid mass protests ignited by the police murder of George Floyd.

That song saw the megastar, who first gained fame as a member of Destiny’s Child, become the winningest woman ever at the Grammys with 28, and the gala’s most decorated singer.But for all her cultural clout and an indisputable throne in music’s pantheon, Beyonce’s songs have not seen the same commercial dominance as other contemporary global stars — her last number one solo hit was 2008’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

That’s poised to change with “Renaissance.”

The album’s release saw Queen Bey return to music business as usual, deploying pre-sales, a lead single drop, a tracklist and polished social media fodder.But it wasn’t without a hitch — in the days prior to the official release, the album leaked online.

Bey thanked her hive for waiting, and added that “I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early.”

“We are going to take our time and Enjoy the music,” the megastar told her fandom. “I love you deep.”–AFP

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Are we to burn borrowed dollars just to cook a meal?

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Eng. Parakrama Jayasinghe

How many of the consumers who opt to use LPG for cooking, realize that they are burning the dollars borrowed with difficulty, just to cook a meal, while the use of LPG hardly brings in any foreign exchange? The reality is that while the country is struggling to raise the dollars even through loans to import adequate supplies of transport fuel, taking loans to import LPG, which will not result in any Forex earnings could hardly be considered ethical or a priority.

The CBSL data below shows the immense amount of dollars drained out of the country in the past years, purely due to the high powered promotions to coerce and trap the consumers to this non sustainable consumption.

With the escalation of world market prices and the depreciation of the rupee , the impact in rupee terms in year 2022, if we are to import the same quantities, would be much greater as estimated. The Governor of the Central Bank has quite rightly stated that

Sri Lanka will have to manage with available dollar inflows, not bridging finance: CB Governor

By Economy Next • Issue #391

However, the attempt by the government appears to be determined to continue this practice at whatever cost and detriment to the economy, to perpetuate a practice foisted on the people by unscrupulous officials, and thereby try and pretend that the gas queues are over. This has been achieved for the present, thanks to a further loan of $ 70 Million from the World Bank, to import 30,000 tons of LPG recently. Perhaps the daily visuals of the gas queues, that the electronic media took pleasure in broadcasting, may also have pushed the government to this short sighted move.

The other side of the coin is that, before the arrival of this load of LPG, while the empty cylinders remained in the queues, the people were absent. No doubt they sought and found alternative means of cooking their meals, albeit with less convenience than using gas. Obviously they would also have been helped in this by the intrepid efforts of many Sri Lankan entrepreneurs who designed and manufactured cooking stoves to use either fuel wood or charcoal, which do not require any dollars.

The novel stoves are yet to be available in adequate numbers in the market, although the manufacturers are running long waiting lists. As such some consumers may have been forced to revert to direct use of fire wood, accepting the disadvantage of smoke and soot. But Sri Lanka has already introduced most acceptable models of cooking stoves to use wood and wood charcoal, devoid of any smoke and soot. These have proved to be acceptable alternatives to the use of gas stoves for the daily cooking needs, even in high rise apartments.

The reality is that the consumers have recognized the fact that the government or the officials cannot be relied upon to provide their essential needs, and their salvation lies in seeking indigenous alternative solutions themselves which have proven to be equally effective.

But shouldn’t this positive change have been noted by the authorities and fostered with the same vigour with which the use of the imported LPG was promoted? What about the media? They diverted their cameras to the petrol and diesel queues, obviously the emerging negative scene of news value.

The officials of the Litro gas company are heard to give assurances of continued supply of LPG in the future, while they admit the loan received is adequate for supplies up to October only. According to their web page their customer base exceeds 4,000,000. The consumption in 2020 was 437,000 tons, purchased at a cost of $ 236 Million. By now it would exceed 450,000 tons annually. How far would the $ 70 Million loan go at present day gas prices? What happens next? Are they hoping to get yet another loan, when the Ministry of Power and Energy is forced to restrict the issue of essential transport fuels to a minimum, due to lack of dollars? Isn’t this a willful deception of the consumers?

Therefore, the discerning consumers are well advised to consider the following points in their decision making for the future.

  • = The import of LPG is possible only through loans which will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren
  • = Continued dependence on LPG is a never ending problem and will need more and more loans with no chance of the LPG used leading to any foreign exchange earnings
  • = The loans taken have to be repaid by the entire country ,while the benefit is enjoyed by only a limited section of the society, which is morally unacceptable
  • = For those fortunate to get even a cylinder of LPG, adopting the already available options of stoves using either charcoal or wood , for the cooking of the main meals , would substantially reduce the monthly expenditure as shown below. This would preserve the LPG cylinder bought with difficulty, to be available for any limited usage in between and for any emergencies for many months
  • = The consumers can be the drivers of the change which would reduce the demand for LPG and thus save the country millions of dollars year after year
  • = This would create a significant indigenous industry whereby the millions of dollars sent out would flow to the local industrialists and rural communities supplying the charcoal and wood. Even a 50% reduction of the imports could result in a local industry worth over Rs 80 Billion annually.

These are indeed practical and worthwhile contributions to resolve a national problem. Are each of us ready to commit to extend the use of our LPG cylinder to last several months, thereby reducing the demand to 50% or even to 25% in the coming year? This should be considered a national duty by all of us.

Just to assuage any fears of deforestation, contrary to popular belief, Sri Lanka already has adequate renewable and sustainable biomass resources formally counted as over 12,000,000 tons annually, contributing to 50% of the total primary energy demand. Simultaneously, a practical program of social reforestation has to be encouraged where the user of charcoal, plants wherever he can, plants trees to compensate for the charcoal he uses. In this way the next generation will also be assured of their own sustainable supply with absolutely no impact on the forest cover. A plant that can be recommended is Gliricidia Sepium among others, which can be harvested in two years, and thereafter every eight months.

(The writer is past president of the Bio Energy Association of Sri Lanka www.bioenergysrilanka.lk
Email: parajayasinghe@gmail.com)

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