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‘Muslim govts stood by Sri Lanka at UNHRC’’



In spite of some members of the government attacking Muslims, Islamic governments didn’t abandon Sri Lanka at the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council), a group of Muslim civil society activists said in a statement issued yesterday.

The following is the text of the statement issued by M M. Zuhair PC, former MP, Latheef Farook, Journalist and Author, Mass L Usuf, Attorney-at-Law and Advocacy Columnist and Mansoor Dahlan, Theology Scholar: “We as a country may not be happy about the outcome of the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) resolution adopted on 23rd March 2021. Indeed the government must explain the serious implications of the ‘anti-Sri Lanka resolution’ to all Sri Lankans without attempting to save face on deceptive technicalities. We need to explain how and why the development and economic recovery of the nation will be adversely affected, unless the early warnings are heeded. The government must, as a necessary preliminary step, take the lead in encouraging all ethnic and religious groups to come under the umbrella of a united nation, eschewing all divisive rhetoric.

Neither the contents of the UNHRC resolution nor the detailed report of the High Commissioner that preceded it, has received the coverage they deserve, particularly in the country’s Sinhala media. On the other hand the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the 21/4 Easter Sunday attacks (COI) had however received ‘anti-Muslim coverage’ excessively in sections of the country’s mainstream Sinhala media over a continuous period of two years. This has regrettably created unwarranted new lines of hatred and divisions instead of unitedly overcoming the 21/4 tragedy. We appeal to the Sinhala media to give reasonable coverage to Muslim responses, which only sections amongst them have done.

 Primarily the COI report is faulty, ignores geo-politico-strategic implications and in addition Sinhala media coverage on the subject is mostly one sided. What is required today is a fair, balanced and robust public discussion on the UNHRC report and resolution, followed by remedial action on the issues, the UN-HCHR was tasked with on 23/3 by the UNHRC.  That will help avoid Sri Lanka’s economy plunging down any further.

 We need to make a passing reference to the deceptive technicalities. We have been told that the UNHRC resolution is illegal! But have we not signed UN treaties and covenants over the past several decades including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 23rd March 1976? Did we not sign the 2009 joint statement with the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon agreeing to many matters? Can the Sri Lankan State now argue that we are not bound by the UN treaties and joint statements that we had signed?

If we as a country behave inconsistently, can we blame the promoters of the resolution, arising from the resolution or otherwise, imposing at the minimum individual country level travel bans on Sri Lankans who in any capacity such as minister, parliamentarian, investigator, prosecutor, judge for having violated or aided, abetted or conspired in the violation of Sri Lankan human rights laws, international human rights and humanitarian laws? What prevents those countries from extending the damaging restrictions to the families of the alleged violators, as was done to the family of the present Army Commander though wrongfully? Commercial restrictions too can be later on imposed on Sri Lanka by countries using the resolution as a weapon.

Let us remember that in 2009 Sri Lanka received 29 votes in its favour at the UNHRC but dropped to 15 in 2012, 13 in 2013, 12 in 2014 and 11 in 2021. The trend is very clear. We should change gear! We requested at the highest level, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the OIC comprising 57 Muslim countries for support at the UNHRC. Not one Muslim country did vote against Sri Lanka, though four countries voted for Sri Lanka, notwithstanding utterances by sections in the government violative of the human rights of the Muslims. In 2012/14, Arabic conversant Muslim delegations visited Geneva and successfully canvassed for support for Sri Lanka from Muslim member states in the UNHRC. According to the evidence at the Easter Sunday Commission, at the same time BBS admittedly was in Norway, a prime supporter of several anti-Sri Lankan moves, getting brainwashed in Oslo against the Muslims of Sri Lanka! Muslim bashing need to stop but Easter attackers need to be punished or rehabilitated and not brainwashed.

The simple truth is that there was no need for Sri Lanka to plead with any country if it would honour its constitutional obligations, treat all its citizens particularly the minorities as equal citizens without discrimination and not abuse 21/4 to marginalize the Muslims or any other minority. There is an urgent need, from now onwards for the government to take the public into confidence and encourage free and transparent discussion as the first step.”

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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign



… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds



Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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