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SLPP goon attacks trigger massive wave of violence

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A bus carrying SLPP supporters set on fire by a group of anti-government protesters at Panchikawatte

PM resigns; govt. collapses

Sajith and his MPs encounter hostility, but not JVP leaders 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The entire Cabinet of Ministers, including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned hours after protests erupted in Colombo, its suburbs and several other parts of the country. Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Local Government members and their henchmen attacked those who had been demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, including Premier Mahinda Rajapkasa over the current economic crisis.

SLPP mobs destroyed Opposition activists’ constructions and property opposite Temple Trees and then they marched to the Galle Face Green, where they demolished well over a dozen tents. At both places, mobs ,burnt protesters’ belongings while the police made a feeble attempt to rein them in.

Television channels and social media provided uninterrupted coverage of the mob attacks. SLPP activists were shown walking out of Temple Trees and then going on the rampage following a meeting with Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (09).

Premier Rajapaksa called the hastily arranged meeting in spite of the promulgation of emergency effective midnight 07 May.

Police at Temple Trees looked the other way as mobs swung into action and cleared the protest site within minutes and marched towards Galle Face. They easily broke through the police line near the Galle Face Hotel and went on the rampage at the Galle Face site. They set fire to a makeshift library.

The police fired tear gas and water cannon at the attackers invading the Galle Face Green with little success. At one point, a Buddhist monk, who had accompanied the SLPP mob, blocked the path of water cannon as goons controlled the protest site. They forced the protesters to abandon the area. About 80 protesters who had been wounded at Galle Face were rushed to the National Hospital.

However, around 2.30 pm- 3 pm, the situation changed with the arrival of large groups of youth and Opposition activists at Galle Face, where they mounted a fresh protest demanding the resignation of the government.  The public defied the countrywide curfew declared by the government and large groups of public servants, too, joined the protest. After the arrival of reinforcements, protesters, too, hit back hard. The video footage of some of the attackers caught by the public is now in the public domain.  Some of those who attended the Temple Trees meeting earlier in the day were plunged into the Beira Lake.

MPJohnston Fernando’s vehicle was also pushed into the Beira.

Near the National Hospital, medical staff blocked a police jeep. The driver was compelled to reverse the vehicle. Protesting public urged the police and the military not to protect the government.

Opposition and Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa alleged that the government unleashed goons on the public demanding the resignation of the government.  Lawmaker Premadasa said that the government should be held accountable for unprovoked attacks on the public.

Earlier, SJB Chief Premadasa and several of his MPs, including Eran Wickremaratne and Mujibur Rahuman had to flee Galle Face when protesters threw various objects at them. Their bodyguards had to evacuate them.

Teacher trade union leader Joseph Stalin, addressing the media at the scene of the incidents said that the SLPP attackers had arrived there with the police. Stalin alleged that the police had actually facilitated the goons operation. Stalin vowed to continue their campaign until the Rajapaksas resigned.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and former MPs, Lal Kantha, Wasantha Samarasinghe and Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa visited the scene without any problem.

By yesterday evening thousands of people converged on Galle Face, where they demanded the arrest of those responsible for unprovoked attacks on the public. The public protests at the Galle Face got underway on 09 April following 03 April countrywide protest demanding the resignation of the incumbent administration.

The attacks on the anti-government protesters triggered a wave of violence across many parts of the country, and houses of some SLPP politicians were set on fire.

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Houses, etc., of SLPP politicians torched

Vehicles and houses of several SLPP politicians were damaged in various parts of the country yesterday.

The house of MP Sanath Nishantha seen with the SLPP goons at the Galle Face attack on protestors was set on fire. People who staged a protest in the Arachchikattuwa town yesterday afternoon marched to MP Nishantha’s house and pelted stones at it. Later they set it on fire.

Protesters torched Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa’s house too. There had been a protest in the Kurunegala town earlier in the day to condemn the SLPP goons attack on protestors demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Galle Face.

The protesters in the Kurunegala town later marched to the residence of Mayor Sanjeewa and set it on fire.

Meanwhile, a group of persons set fire to the residence of Moratuwa Mayor Saman Lal Fernando, in Willorawatte.

Former Minister Johnston Fernando’s party office in Kurunegala too had been set on fire.

Former Minister Nimal Lanza’s residence and his father’s house too were set on fire by a mob.

Police said former minister Dr Ramesh Pathirana’s house too had been ransacked and set on fire by a group of unidentified protestors.



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Bipartisan US Congress legislation calls for self-determination for Eelam Tamils

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Wiley

…proposes South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo style solution

A controversial resolution has been introduced to the US Congress calling on the United States to work towards an independence referendum for Eelam Tamils and recognize the genocide committed against them by the Sri Lankan state.

The resolution, introduced by Wiley Nickel, is the first of its kind to be brought to the US Congress. It comes as Tamils marked the LTTE’s defeat 15 years ago, with May 18 commemorated as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day, worldwide.

The resolution calls for the “no recurrence of past violence, including the ‘Tamil Genocide’, by supporting the right to self-determination of Eelam Tamil people and their call for an independence referendum for a lasting peaceful resolution”.

It goes on to detail historic Tamil support for independence and how “similar conflicts have successfully been democratically, peacefully, and legally resolved by exercising the right to self-determination by the people in countries such as South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo via independence referendums with support from the United States and other countries”.

It resolves that the House of Representatives:

(1) urges the United States to strengthen diplomatic channels with the Eelam Tamils and collaborate toward peace and stability in the South Asian region of the Indo-Pacific;

(2) urges the United States and the international community to advocate for and protect the political rights of the Eelam Tamil people and work toward a permanent political solution based on their right to self-determination that is democratically and peacefully approved by them through a universally accepted process of independence referendum; and

(3) recognizes the genocide against the Eelam Tamil people by Sri Lanka.

The resolution has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Susan Wild, Danny K. Davis, Nicole Malliotakis, Mike Carey, Donald G. Davis, Summer L. Lee, and Jeff Jackson.

The full text of the resolution: “This conflict shattered families and communities, leaving deep scars that are still felt to this day,” said Nickel as he addressed the United States Congress today (May 15).

“My resolution recognizes the genocide in Sri Lanka and affirms the right of Tamils to self-determination through a democratic process.” Nickel stated that the resolution “emphasises the need for a peaceful and democratic solution to ongoing tensions in Sri Lanka”.

“It advocates an independence referendum, a process that has been used successfully to resolve similar conflicts in other parts of the world. This echoes our commitment to democratic principles and underscores our support for human rights globally.”

“The resolution is a significant step forward in our struggle for self-determination,” said an Eelam Tamil activist who worked closely with US representatives, from Washington DC. They were present alongside dozens of others, as Nickel spoke.

“This is the first time that support for an independent Tamil Eelam has been publicly and explicitly advocated for at the United States Congress. Fifteen years since the end of the Mullivaikkal genocide, our struggle is continuing and support for it has only grown. We are not a defeated people.”

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Refugee from Sri Lankan now Labour Party Mayor of UK town

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A smiling Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan (left) at a ceremony where he was accepted as the Mayor of Ipswich Borough Council.

…worked in India, Uganda and Ruwanda before arriving in the UK

A Sri Lankan Tamil, who fled the country during the conflict, has been appointed the Mayor of Ipswich Borough Council.

According to the British media, Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan is the first Hindu to hold that position. Members of Ipswich’s Hindu community attended Wednesday (15) evening’s ceremony, with celebrations at the nearby temple planned for later in the week.

Having fled Sri Lanka, Elavalakan lived and worked in India, Uganda and Rwanda before moving to the UK, the media reported. He initially moved to Ilford, in east London, before moving to Ipswich in 2006.

Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan has taken over the ceremonial role after a unanimous vote at Ipswich Borough Council’s annual meeting.

“I’m so happy today, and very proud to be Mayor of this great town,” the media quoted Elavalakan as having said.

Council leader Neil MacDonald, who proposed the nomination, said Elavalakan would get to read out a general election result during his year in office.

“The announcement by a refugee who fled war and persecution, and who has made a new life and contributed to society here, will send a message,” MacDonald said.

Dr. Sachin Karale, Chair of Ipswich Hindu Samaj, said: “It shows the great diversity and multiculturalism of Ipswich town that a Hindu man is becoming Mayor. I’m really proud.”Elavalakan’s wife, Manchula Elavalakan, will be his consort.

The Mayor’s theme for the year will be “support and wellbeing” with his two chosen charities Genesis Orwell Mencap and Cancer Support Suffolk. ‘Ipswich is my home town’

“When I came for one project here, in Ipswich, I felt the people were very friendly,” he said. “So I decided, Ipswich is my home town.” He became a Labour councillor for St John’s ward in 2014.

“Having lived in many different countries and experienced many different lifestyles, I have always been interested in helping those that need it,” he said. “I am passionate about empowering communities and representing those in need.” Elavalakan is not the first Ipswich Mayor from the Indian sub-continent, however.

Kavas Jamas Bashah was born in Mumbai and was a senior officer of the Indian Civil Service.

He retired to Ipswich and became Mayor in 1925.

The town elected its first Mayor, Benjamin Brame, in 1836, following the Municipal Corporations Act the previous year which reformed local government and made Ipswich a municipal borough. Its first female mayor was Mary Whitmore, in 1946.

She was a suffragette and member of Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and was made MBE in 1951 for her contribution to public services.

Albert Grant became Ipswich’s first black councillor and mayor of Ipswich in 1995.

He moved to the UK in 1955 at the age of 21 and has dedicated his life to tackling racism and fighting to secure equality and justice.

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Govt. asked how it intends to counter US-Eelam lobby

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Dr. Wasantha Bandara

‘Far worse than Canadian declaration of Tamil genocide’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Top Patriotic National Movement (PNM) spokesperson Dr. Wasantha Bandara said that the government should explain how it intended to counter the powerful Eelamist lobby seeking to divide the country on ethnic lines with the help of the US, a self-appointed world policeman.

Dr. Bandara said so commenting on a resolution that had been introduced to the US Congress calling on the government to work towards an independence referendum in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and recognise the genocide committed.

Dr. Bandara pointed out that the US move should be examined also taking into consideration the continuing Western support extended to the Khalistan movement seeking an independent state in India’s Punjab region.

The civil society activist said that the so-called bipartisan resolution had been timed for the 15th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s triumph over the separatist terrorist agenda.

Responding to another query, Dr. Bandara said that the US resolution meant that though the LTTE’s conventional military/terrorist power had been eradicated in the battlefield, the Eelamist lobby was busy in Western capitals.

According to him, the US-British led grouping pushed Sri Lanka over the accountability issue as part of their overall strategy to pressure the government on a solution that would end the country’s unitary status.

Dr. Bandara asked how could the government and the Opposition remain silent when the US-backed Eelamists’ push for a solution similar to self-determination granted to South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo through ‘independence referendums’ with support from the United States and other powerful countries.

The heightened threat to our unitary status should be one of the major issues at the forthcoming presidential poll, Dr. Bandara said, demanding that all political parties state their positions on the US moves.

Dr. Bandara said that the government should set the record straight in Washington and Geneva where agendas inimical to post-war Sri Lanka were being hatched.

Dr. Bandara said that successive governments, including the current dispensation, should be ashamed of their failure to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations.

The US move, unless countered, could be far worse than the Canadian declaration of Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day on May 18 and sanctions on former Presidents, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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