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LSSP leaders to pay floral tribute to Dr. N. M. Perera’s statue on August 14



The 68th anniversary of the Great Hartal and the 42nd death anniversary of Dr. N. M. Perera falls on the 12th and the 14th of August respectively.

These are historic dates in the politics of Sri Lanka. The leaders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) will place a floral tribute at the statue of Dr. N. M. Perera at 9.30 am on August 14 this year and follow it up with a felicitation meeting at the LSSP headquarters on the same day. Other left leaders will be invited to participate.

Dr.N . M. Perera was a founder leader of the LSSP in 1935 and remained its leader right up to his death in 1979. He completed his studies in the London School of Economics where he obtain a PhD and D.Sc. He was known as the favorite pupil of Prof. Harold Laski who was a chief adviser to the British Labour Party. While in London, he together with the other founder leaders of the LSSP, Dr.Colvin Silva, Leslie Gunawardana, Dr.S.A.Wickremasinghe and Philip Gunawardena (who did his post graduate studies in the USA) changed from Social Democratic to Marxist politics. They returned to Sri Lanka which was under cruel British imperialist rule and formed the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, as a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party. The suffering of the people during the Malaria epidemic led them to shift their focus to the rural poor, while developing the Trade Union Movement in the urban and plantation areas. They faced opposition from the local capitalist class which later became the United National Party (UNP) as well as the British rulers and their agents in Sri Lanka. In the General Election of 1936 the plantation workers supported the LSSP and the UNP retaliated by disenfranchising the plantation workers. The outcome was that large sections of the Tamil voters also supported the LSSP.

The LSSP fought for complete independence for Sri Lanka while the UNP was content for Sri Lanka to remain a semi colony of Britain under dominion status. The LSSP wanted to do away with exploitation by the British and the local capitalist class and establish an “equal society” (a Sama Samajaya), and build a truly Sri Lankan Society free from any type of discrimination based on race, religion or cast.

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 resulted in the formation of the Communist Party (CP) from within the LSSP, which chose to support the British war effort. But the LSSP chose to continue the struggle for independence and as a result the LSSP was banned (it had to go underground) and its leaders were imprisoned by the British rulers. The LSSP leaders escaped from jail and joined the independence struggle in India led by Nehru and Gandhi. They were caught and imprisoned while in India and finally released in 1945 with the end of the war.

The LSSP leaders who returned to Sri Lanka became politically active on behalf of the people. The workers were organized into a powerful Trade Union Movement and carried out several mass protest and strikes to win their rights and improve their working and living conditions. The struggle for complete independence was intensified and on the 4thof February 1948 (after India won independence in 1947) the British conceded independence to Sri Lanka.

In the General Election held at that time UNP became the ruling party and allowed the British to continue to exploit our country. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who was then a Minister in the UNP Government, broke away in 1951 and formed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). This was not enough to end UNP rule. The people remained frightened and servile.

The Great Hartal

With the onset of an economic crisis the UNP decided to pass the burden of the emerging crisis on to the people rather than the rich capitalist class. The price of rice was increased from 25 cents a measure to 70 cents and the UNP also raised price of sugar and other essentials. The LSSP took the lead in protesting on behalf of the people, organizing mass actions in the work places and the villages. It was supported in this by the SLFP and the CP. The mass protests spread throughout the country, but mainly in the Western, Southern and Central provinces. The main demand was that the increase in prices should be reversed. The LSSP promoted strikes in the work places and there were also protests in the rural areas. The fear that the people had over the rule by the UNP supported by the British had to be overcome if a significant change in the policies of the UNP were to be made.

The LSSP with the support of the other opposition parties decided to have a day of struggle on the 12th of August 1953. The people responded and besides protest meetings and wide spread undress led to interference with public transport and communications by cutting trees across the roads and telephone posts.

The mass response to this one day struggle, the Great Hartal, led to an emergency meeting of the Cabinet in a British warship in the Colombo Harbour. The British and the local capitalist class prevailed on the Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake, to resign, and replaced him with a strong man with a military background, Sir John Kotelawala, as the Prime Minister. The UNP Government pacified the people by reducing the prices of the essential commodities. With backing given to Sir John by the British Government and because a General Election was due in 1956, where the people could defeat the UNP, the LSSP took the decision, along with the other left parties, to save the people from the danger of a massacre by not extending the Hartal.

History has proved that this decision was correct by the fact that S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike was able to lead the SLFP to power with the support of the left. Philip Gunawardena joined the Government and became a Minister along with his with VLSSP Party. At that time LSSP wanted Tamil also made an official language, in addition to Sinhala, if it was to join the SLFP led Government. But later in 1964 the LSSP also joined the SLFP led Government.

The outcome has been historic, because the SLFP and the LSSP have come together with the other progressive parties. This has made it possible to formed successive progressive Governments which has led to Sri Lanka becoming a completely independent, sovereign nation, not subservient to imperialism. Further it has enabled Sri Lanka to be able to develop a NATIONAL ECONOMY to satisfy the needs of all its people. The LSSP calls upon all progressive people and political parties to join us in celebrating these historic events.

– Prof Tissa Vitarana

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President instructs officials to vaccinate kids with Pfizer



Health Ministry still deliberating pros and cons

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had instructed health officers to inoculate children between the age 15 to 19 with Pfizer vaccine, Army Commander General Shavendra Silva said yesterday.

General Silva added that the President had also instructed officials to inoculate children with special needs above the age of 12, with the Pfizer vaccines. He there are around 50,000 children with special needs.

General Silva said Sri Lanka would receive adequate Pfizer vaccine doses in the coming weeks. During the Presidential Task Force meeting, on Covid-19, it was decided to allow the Department of Motor Traffic, and the Land Registry to operate during the lockdown, which was extended until 01 October. However, a few hours before this statement was made, Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath told the media that no decision had been taken on vaccinating children.

He, however, said that discussions were ongoing about vaccinating children.

“There are a number of discussions on this because this is a serious matter. We have also decided that when we vaccinate the priority will be given to children with comorbidities. Then the rest will be vaccinated based on age groups. But we have not decided on anything else,” he said.

The dates, the brand and other details would be announced once the Health Ministry was done with consultations with experts. Once the decisions were taken the Ministry would prepare guidelines which would then be made available to the public, he said.

“So, I urge the parents not to worry or panic. They can vaccinate their children once we issue guidelines. We will ensure that this will be done safely and with virtually no side-effects or shortages,” Dr. Herath said.

The Deputy Director General of Health Services also urged people not to be misled by claims that those who had been double jabbed and being treated at home were dying in increasing numbers. Some people with serious underlying issues could die even if they were double jabbed, he said.

“However, as we vaccinate an increasing number of Sri Lankans, the deaths and those who need ICU treatment will decline rapidly. Don’t be fooled by various unscientific claims. We are a nation that has universal vaccine rates and we should maintain that tradition with COVID,” he said.

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Sumanthiran demands immediate due process against Lohan



Immediate legal action including arrest and prosecution must be taken against Lohan Ratwatte and others who were involved in the incidents at Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons, TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said on Thursday. He said Ratwatte’s mere resignation from one portfolio would not do.

“The Presidential Secretariat has issued a statement that Lohan Ratwatte has taken responsibility for the incidents that transpired at Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons. Although Ratwatte is said to have resigned from his post as Minister for Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation, he continues to be a minister in charge of other subjects. This is not something we can accept,” he said.

The TNA MP said that the State Minister should be removed from all his positions immediately and the pistol he carried with him should be taken away from him.

“Otherwise, it’s a grave threat to the public at large,” Sumanthiran said. There had been other incidents where Ratwatte brandished his weapon in public spaces, he added.

The TNA MP said that an independent investigation should be held with regard to those incidents and Ratwatte and others involved in entering the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons should be arrested and charged.

“The police have still not taken any action in this regard. The question that must be posed is how he was able to carry his personal firearm inside the prison premises. Prison officials must answer these questions,” he said.

MP Sumanthiran said that given that the prisoners were wards of the state, their security was in the hands of the state.

“Therefore, this is a very serious incident. Action must be taken accordingly,” he said.

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Taking contradictory stand on 2015 Geneva Resolution



‘Govt. seeking credit for accountability mechanisms set up by previous administration

UNHRC 48th sessions:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney-at-law Sudarshana Gunawardena has alleged that the government’s stand on accountability issues at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council is contradictory to its much publicised opposition to the Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by the previous administration.

Sri Lanka co-sponsored 30/1, on Oct 1, 2015. The then Foreign Minister the late Mangala Samaraweera is on record as having said that the UNP-led government had President Maithripala Sirisena’s consent to go ahead with the co-sponsorship.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s media spokesperson Gunawardena yesterday (17) pointed out that the government, at the ongoing 48th sessions of the UNHRC, has reiterated its commitment to key accountability mechanisms set up in terms of the Geneva Resolution.

Civil society activist Gunawardena, who also functioned as the Director General, Information Department during the previous administration said that the assurance given by Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris last Tuesday (14) should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from 30/1 resolution.

Prof. Peiris’ predecessor, Dinesh Gunawardena announced Sri Lanka’s withdrawal at the Feb-March 2020 sessions.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) owed an explanation, Gunawardena stressed, urging the government to take the public into confidence. “Stop playing politics at the expense of our international relations,” Gunawardena said, underscoring the need for what he called a national consensus on the post-war reconciliation process.

Responding to another query, Gunawardena said that FM Prof. Peiris in his address to the Geneva sessions discussed the progress in what he described as a domestic process in respect of accountability issues. Reference was made to the Office on Missing Persons (OMP), the Office for Reparations (OR) and the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR). However, the FM conveniently failed to acknowledge that the OMP, OR and ONUR had been established in keeping with the 2015 Geneva Resolution that covered broader understanding of transitional justice.

The SLPP, while taking credit for the ongoing transitional justice process, continued to publicly reject 30/1, the very basis of the solution, Gunawardena said. “In other words, the SLPP’s actions are very different from their pledges before the electorate in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary polls in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Referring to the assurance given by Prof. Peiris at the UNHRC that Sri Lanka Human Rights Council was carrying on its mandate, Gunawardena challenged the government to prove its sincerity by allowing no holds barred investigation into SLPP lawmaker Lohan Ratwatte’s raids on Welikada and Anuradhapura prisons on Sept 6 and 12, respectively.

The announcement made by the HRCSL regarding its decision to initiate an inquiry of its own in the absence of police investigation received public attention and appreciation, Gunawardena said.

Commenting on the declaration that Sri Lanka was engaged in an integrated process to bring the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in line with international norms and best practices, lawyer Gunawardena urged the government to study the work done by the previous government in that regard. Referring to statements made by then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in that regard, Gunawardena said that the then Joint

Opposition quite maliciously rejected the move. “They should be ashamed of theirconduct,” relevant ministers and the Attorney General Department couldn’t be unaware of the agreement on new anti-terrorism law.

Gunawardena said that the SLPP administration shouldn’t hesitate to appreciate the previous government’s achievements. “We are quite pleased that mechanisms accepted by the previous government continue to be in operation even though the progress seems slow. However, the SLPP cannot deprive the UNP-led administration of the credit it deserved,” lawyer Gunawardena said.

Gunawardena urged the government to examine the report of the Committee appointed by then Premier Wickremesinghe to develop what he called the policy and legal framework of the proposed Counter Terrorism Act of Sri Lanka. He said that a politically motivated campaign derailed that effort whereas the Opposition propagated the lie the yahapalana government intended to deprive Sri Lanka of anti-terrorism law.

Asked to comment on the revelation of the SLPP government having talks with a group of civil society activists to explore ways and means to strengthening the reconciliation process, Gunawardena said that a 13-page Foreign Ministry note dated Aug. 31, 2021 addressed to Colombo-based diplomatic missions acknowledged the pivotal role played by the civil society. Having always accused the civil society of being part of a Western strategy, the same lot exposed their duplicity by meeting a group of civil society activists.

Gunawardena was referring to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Ministers, Basil Rakapaksa, Prof. Peiris, Dinesh Gunawardena, Ali Sabry, PC, and Namal Rajapaksa having separate meetings with SLCC (Sri Lanka Collective for Consensus) in the run-up to the Geneva confab. SLCC comprises 16 individuals.

Gunawardena noted the Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, too, in her hard-hitting Sept 13 statement on Sri Lanka referred to President Rajapaksa’s meeting with the SLCC.

Gunawardena said that in addition to the SLCC, another group styled itself as the Civil Society Platform (CSP) in a statement issued on Sept. 13 made its position clear on a range of accountability issues as well as stepped up pressure on the civil society. CSP consists of 30 organizations and 36 individuals.

Responding to declarations by FM Prof Peiris and Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage that external investigations wouldn’t be acceptable, lawyer Gunawardena said that instead of rejecting the investigation the government should furbish whatever information in its hands or had access to the new investigative mechanism. The government couldn’t ignore the fact that the UNHRC authorized the fresh investigative mechanism at the 46th session with an overwhelming majority with 22 countries voting for the resolution, 11 against and 14 missing the vote.

Gunawardena urged the government to take a realistic view as Sri Lanka didn’t have time and space to engage in silly maneuvers. The bottom line was that the March 2020 announcement that Sri Lanka withdrew from 30/1 was nothing but a farce, Gunawardena said.

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