By LATHEEF FAROOK
This is in response to UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe cautioning the government against recognising the new Taliban government in Afghanistan.
This was disappointing, especially in the context of the absence of such statements from Mr. Wickrmesinghe who, as prime minister, refused to condemn the US invasion of Iraq, a friendly country to Sri Lanka, with regard to US-European and Israeli global terrorism, and war crimes on Muslim countries which make Taliban look like an angel.
The Taliban are sons of the soil. They are fiercely proud of their heritage and cherish their freedom in a system blending tribal traditions and Islam. They led a peaceful life until Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dispatched troops in December 1979, and installed a puppet government, destroying the delicate and unique Afghan political system, its infrastructure, economy and causing untold misery to its poverty-stricken people.
Millions ended up in refugee camps in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran
Taliban never invaded a country, destroyed their infrastructure, massacred innocent people and drove others to refugee camps to live in appalling condition, some, for more than two decades; in the way America and its European, Israeli, Saudi and UAE partners had done in nine Muslim countries.
According to United Nations reports, the US led invasions have caused around 40 million refugees who suffer in refugee camps. Besides, America looted these countries’ wealth. For example, America robbed more than 60 billion US dollars worth of gold from Libya. What about the looting in Iraq, Syria and other countries?
They also toppled President Mohamed Morsy’s democratically elected government in Egypt, and rolled a red carpet to receive the tyrant, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who destroyed democracy, which the US and Europe claim to champion.
Taliban never ousted people from their lands and homes and subjected them to frequent attacks and senseless killings in the same way US -European supported Zionist Jews did to create Israel in Palestine, by means of lies, deception, threats, blackmail and massacres.
It is common knowledge that the United Nations resolution partitioning Palestine was passed with bribery and blackmail.
Jewish terrorist Menachem Begin massacred 254 Palestinians in Dear Yasmin on 9 April 1948 to grab their lands. This very same Begin, was accepted as the Prime Minister of Israel and even awarded the coveted Nobel Prize. Since then, Israeli killings of Palestinians have become a daily occurrence, and the latest was last Monday’s bombing of Gaza.
No condemnation of such terrorism. Instead, dismissing the sentiments of the Muslim community in the island, Sri Lanka has allowed Israel to enter the country with its agenda. Even the recent Israeli bombing, killings and destruction in Gaza took place with the complete connivance of America and its European partners. Did the Taliban commit such crimes?
Mr Wickremesinghe accused Al Qaeda of bombing the World Trade Centre in New York. However, up to date American governments have failed to prove this. So far the US government also refused to disclose the findings of the commission which probed into WTO bombings, as they do not want the world to know the truth. Speculations were that it was an inside job involving FBI and Israel’s secret service Mossad, to invade Afghanistan
However, former President George Bush falsely accused Al Qaeda of committing this crime, the Taliban government of protecting Al Qaeda and its leader Osama Bi Laden, blackmailed the world and invaded Afghanistan. George Bush let loose his destructive military juggernaut on the poorest of the poor Afghans, killing thousands of civilians with carpet-bombing, missile attacks and cluster bombs.
He also launched a global campaign, replacing communism with Islam, and associating Islam with violence, to justify their subsequent wars on Muslims countries.
Did Mr Wickremasinghe condemn these crimes?
The Taliban would have been the darling of Washington had they agreed to be a party to the proposals of the US oil cartels to exploit the resources of Central Asia.
Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is also a victim of this destructive campaign, as global Islamophobia entered the island, where politicians used this slogan for political gains not realising the damage caused to communal harmony.
The US rushed to sign agreements with Central Asian countries for oil exploration to keep both China and Japan out of the scene, and brought back to power warlords, gangsters, hooligans and murderers who terrorised, looted and killed innocent people.
Opium production began to flourish and drug cartels again became active. Around 75 percent of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan, with opium poppy being cultivated in 28 out of 32 provinces and, according to UN sources, Afghan opium farmers and traffickers brought home about US$2.3 billion as of early this year.
Taliban never exported terrorism in the same way America and its European partners and Israel promoted. Many may not be aware that six months before Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, then American President Jimmy Carter approved US dollar 500 million to create extremist Islamic groups, to demonise them to justify American invasion of Muslim countries.
Earlier even Taliban’s harshest detractors conceded that the Taliban did “succeed in certain things” such as reducing corruption as they kept “a semblance” of law and order, although it was a harsh and twisted Islamic version of law and order. After the Taliban began enforcing a ban on the cultivation of opium poppy in September 2000, the total production of opium in Afghanistan dropped by 94 percent, thereby reducing the global annual supply by nearly 75 per cent.
Meanwhile, in an article titled “US humiliation in Afghanistan could be a turning point in world history” columnist Peter Oborne had this to state: Afghanistan has endured more than 40 years of conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979. Most people yearn for a quiet life, and Afghans have more reason to be tired of war than most. Taliban that seized power in Kabul in the mid-1990s, and committed terrible atrocities. By contrast, many Taliban leaders today are more sophisticated, some with university degrees, and far less sectarian.
This helps explain why their consistent message since winning power a week ago has been to reach out to all sides. On the other hand, reports now emerge that Taliban’s swift takeover of the country was in close coordination with America which still maintains close contact with the Taliban.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK will work with the Taliban to “find a solution for Afghanistan”. “What I want to assure people is that our political and diplomatic efforts to find a solution for Afghanistan, working with the Taliban, of course if necessary, will go on,” Johnson told reporters on Friday.
“If there is a knock on our door, we will open it for dialogue,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul. He criticised the Western world and Islamic states for their lack of interest and care for Afghanistan over the past two decades.
Russia and China maintain close relations with the Taliban who have promised to include women in their administration, and provided amnesty to all Afghans who served American sponsored governments. Last Saturday all government employees, including women, started resuming their work.
Under such circumstances it is difficult to understand the wisdom behind the call to ostracise Taliban by Mr Wickremesinghe, whose pro American, pro-European and pro-Israel policy is common knowledge.
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.
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.
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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