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Preaching to Sri lanka about Internal Unity

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I refer to the article, under the heading “Internal Unity – a priority”, on the Opinion Page of The Island of 30th April. I have no disagreement with the assertion made by the writer that what Jehan Perera stated was a thoughtful and measured message. Jehan Perera usually offers wise and helpful messages to his countrymen, through his writing. But I have a problem about certain other things that the writer of this article: Mr Tony Witham (TW) referred to above.

From the content and tone of this article, I can easily guess on whose behalf that he wrote it. The official agency resident in this country, which should have responded to what TW called “shrill and hysterical words emanating from a large number of writers”, has significantly kept silent on this matter, because the shrill (but not hysterical) voices have been stating the truth. TW’s pathetic attempt to counter them has been a resounding failure.

Take for instance his argument that if someone is innocent of an accusation, one need not be worried about an investigation, because one would be invariably cleared eventually. I am greatly surprised at the extreme naivety displayed by this writer here. In the real world of ours, things are not as simple as that. Fair trials do not happen automatically. Too many innocent people are being convicted of crimes, which they never committed. In a recent research study by the Law Department of a University in USA (Boston College, Mass. USA) it was found that since 1989, more than 2,700 people in the USA have been first convicted of felony crimes, and then released later after they spent varying periods in prison, on finding new evidence. This amounts to an average of nearly 90 a year. Together, these unfortunate people have unnecessarily served 24,600 years in prison. Some others would have been even put to death. The Boston College researchers acknowledge that these were only the high profile cases that received publicity in the media, and that there could be many other lesser known cases not subjected to such re-examination. If this is the case with the USA, then the situation in the UK and other advanced or ‘civilized’ countries would not be any better, and what about other less developed countries? And what about those countries which have laws reminiscent of the Dark Ages.

I wonder whether TW would still recommend a passive behaviour to individuals and/or countries confronted with false accusations. TW, please note that miscarriages of justice often happen when the accusers resort to fabrication of evidence or suppression of evidence unfavourable to them, just like what the leader of the Core Group (UK) is doing right now in the case of Human Rights accusations against Sri Lanka.

Responding to very valid questions raised by the distinguished writers (TW’s expression), he cleverly downplays a valid issue by bringing in a story of how a group of kids playfully accused each other of some mischief by saying “You did it first”, etc. The issue Mr TW, is not who did the wrong thing first, the issue is the credentials of the so-called Leader of the ‘Core Group’. As I pointed out in a previous letter to the editor, this particular country being one of the greatest perpetrators of HR violations in history, has no moral right to talk about HR situations in other countries. We know that this country is certainly not the one that is without sin to claim the right to throw the first stone.

Mr Editor, thank you for publishing recently that picture of a whole contingent of African people enslaved, most probably by the British Slave Traders (who else?). That picture shows how a group of human beings with black skins – bare bodied, that the slave traders apparently caught to be sold like cows and sheep. These unfortunate men were linked to each other by a heavy steel chain welded to rings round their necks, the chain being similar in size to those used to control elephants in our country. I appeal to you to publish this picture or similar revealing pictures at least occasionally for the benefit of our readers, who may not be familiar with what the British slave traders have been doing during the 18th and 19th Centuries, with the full blessings of their home government.

The main concern of the writer TW appears to be the need for internal unity in our country: Sri Lanka. The country in whose defence TW is writing has, however, not proved its genuine interest in the internal unity of other countries. See what it has done to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Its interventions have resulted in converting these formerly peaceful countries into battlefields, causing the death of thousands of innocent people. These countries are now hotbeds of international terrorism. Given these facts, how can we have faith in your good intentions anymore?

TW should know that one big impediment to achieving that internal unity in this country of ours has been the activity of Tamil diaspora residents in the UK, which includes former members and sympathisers of the terrorist organization: the LTTE. We note that this group has been installed, nurtured and protected by the government of their host country. The LTTE activists command ample financial resources, which enable them to exert influence on the local (Sri Lankan) Tamil politics, encouraging extremist positions, and preventing the growth of moderate Tamil groups willing to cooperate with similar moderate groups among the majority community in the South, to forge internal unity in the country. Furthermore, over time, these UK-based Tamil groups have grown in numbers and reached positions where they are able to influence the outcomes of local and parliamentary elections of their host country. Often false propaganda against Sri Lanka are brought before the British Parliament, through some British parliamentarians, who are more often than not quite ignorant about the true situation in Sri Lanka. The LTTE groups have also used their political influence to prevent Her Majesty’s Government from dealing with perpetrators of war crimes in Sri Lanka, such as Adele Balasingham.

Mr TW, therefore, there are many things that the Leader of the Core Group has to accomplish to promote internal unity in Sri Lanka, before passing strictures, giving advice and passing baseless resolutions at the UNHRC. What I have tried to express in this letter are not trivial matters which can be dismissed as hysterical responses. However, Mr TW, thank you all the same.

S A K.



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Opinion

Nelum Kuluna poses danger to aircraft

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The top of Nelum Kuluna (Lotus Tower) stands 350 above sea level in the heart of Colombo City, as the air navigators of old would say, sticking out like a ’sore thumb’. It has to be lit up in accordance with the Aircraft Obstacle Lighting recommendations contained in Annex 14 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention originally signed by Ceylon in 1944.

A free-standing tower of that height is required by international law to be lit up not only at night with red lights, but also with high visibility white strobe lights during the day.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be on always during the day. The authorities concerned must realise that the strobe lighting during the day is not for beauty but for air safety, especially these days, when the air quality and visibility are low during the day.

Have those in charge of the tower been briefed properly on the legal requirement and the use of proper lighting? In case of an accident, this certainly will have implications on insurance claims.

I wonder whether the ‘Regulator’, Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka would like to comment.

If not rectified, it will be just a matter of time an aircraft will be impaled by the Nelum Kuluna.

I M Nervy (Aviator)

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Opinion

Simple questions to Sirisena and Gotabaya

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If Sirisena had not been informed of the plans to explode bombs on 21st of April 2019, as he has claimed, shouldn’t he have taken immediate action to call for explanation from Nilantha Jayawardena, then head of State Intelligent Service (SIS), who had been notified several times about the impending attack by the Indian intelligence.

Sirisena and Jayawardena should be prosecuted for allowing a mass murder to take place. Further Sirisena should be made to explain his famous uttering, “I will reveal everything, if somebody tries to implicate me”.

Why did Gotabaya, who announced his candidature for presidency almost immediately after the Easter Sunday attack and promised to punish those who were involved in it, pay no attention to Nilantha Jayawardena’s failure in taking necessary action with regard to information he received, instead he was given a promotion?

President Ranil Wickremesinghe at a meeting with USAID Administrator Samantha Power on September 11, 2022 had said that Scotland Yard had been requested to review the reports and reach a final conclusion on claims that there was a hidden hand behind the bombings.

We do not need Scotland Yard, just get an honest set of Sri Lankan police officers to question Nilantha, Sirisena and Gotabaya to find the “hidden hand behind the bombings”

B Perera

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Opinion

Open letter to Sirisena

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Y you were in Singapore when the Easter Sunday attacks took place. You claimed that you had not been informed of the intelligence received by your intelligence officers. However, the Supreme Court has ordered you to pay Rs 100M as compensation to the victims of the terror attacks. The reasons for the decision are stated in the judgement.

Acting on a claim that there was a conspiracy to assassinate you and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya you caused the interdiction and arrest of DIG Nalaka Silva, who was held in custody without bail for a long time.

In his testimony to the Presidential Commission  of Inquiry, Silva said that he had been interdicted while plans were in place to arrest Zaharan.

Due to the arrest of DIG Silva, Zaharan escaped arrest. Silva was never charged. Zaharan continued with his plans and the rest is history.

After the SC order you have been claiming that you have no money to pay the Rs 100M as compensation. You are asking for public help to pay compensation to Easter carnage victims. You even accepted some money collected by a person called Sudaththa Tilakasiri, who begged from people.

You have said publicly that you submitted your asset declarations. I suggest that you sell all your assets declared in the declarations before asking for funds from the public.

Hemal Perera

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