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Mano signs petition seeking pardon for Duminda to highlight Tamil prisoners’ plight

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… laments absence of consensus among Tamil parties regarding ex-LTTE cadres in custody

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Democratic People’s Front (DPF) leader Mano Ganesan, MP, has strongly defended signing a petition initiated by SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) seeking a presidential pardon for former UPFA Colombo District lawmaker Duminda Silva currently serving a life sentence for 2011 killing of ex-MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Ganesan, who is also the leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) explained how he sought to draw public attention to approximately 100 Tamil political prisoners languishing in jail by backing the move to secure presidential pardon for Silva.

MP Ganesan claimed he felt quite confident that the media coverage generated by the petition signed by nearly 150 lawmakers could help his longstanding cause to have the detained Tamils released.

Alleging that Tamil political prisoners issue hadn’t received sufficient public attention, Ganesan said that he believed the high profile initiative could help them as well.

At the successful conclusion of the war in May 2009, the government held over 12,000 LTTE cadres, the vast majority taken prisoner on the Vanni east front. In addition to them, there had been several hundred arrested during the conflict, some of them convicts. Of the total, approximately 100 remain in custody over a decade after the conflict.

Ganesan revealed that having signed the petition, he proposed to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to submit a separate petition seeking the release of Tamil political prisoners to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The DPF leader alleged that the TNA refrained from providing the required backing for his initiative.

The Lawmaker quoted Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran, PC as having told him that the time was not opportune for such an initiative. Vanni District MP Selvam Addaikalanathan had said that the matter would be considered later, Genesan told the media, while acknowledging the right of colleagues to take a different stand.

 Both Sumanthiran and Addaikalanathan didn’t respond to telephone calls.

The Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando’s Office circulated the petition in Parliament on behalf of Duminda Silva. Minister Fernando, too, didn’t respond to telephone calls.

Genesan said that those who had ignored his genuine intentions flayed him over social media and other forums. The former National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages Minister said that some sections of the Tamil community found fault with him for linking Tamil political prisoners issue with that of the former UPFA lawmaker. Ganesan pointed out though they called those in prison political prisoners, the majority community still considered them terrorists. The Tamil community should realize ground realities, the former Minister said.

 Pointing out that those the Tamil community described as fighters were criminals for the global community, MP Ganesan said that difficulties experienced by both Tamils and Muslims could be resolved by bringing their plight to the notice of the Sinhalese.

 TPA contested the August 2020 parliamentary election on Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) ticket.

MP Ganeshan said that his political career couldn’t be derailed by those exploiting the signing of the petition by him in support of former MP Silva’s release.

He wouldn’t give up efforts to secure Tamil prisoners’ release through legitimate measures and he would withdraw his signature from Silva’s petition to prevent interested parties from exploiting the situation, the former minister said.

At the onset of the briefing MP Ganeshan said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa granted presidential pardon for Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake found guilty of Dec 2000 Mirusuvil massacre. Ratnayake was sentenced to death in 2015 for the killing of eight persons. Ganesan further pointed out that former President Maithripala Sirisena pardoned Jude Jayamaha sentenced to death for killing teenager Yvonne Jonsson, a dual national whose mother was Sri Lankan. She was beaten to death after an earlier argument with Jayamaha, in the stairwell of posh Royal Park apartment complex, where her family was living in 2005.

Jayamaha was initially given 12 years in prison. His subsequent appeal against his jail term was rejected and he was sentenced to death instead, a sentence upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014.

MP Ganesan said that President Sirisena hastily released Jayamaha shortly before he left office.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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