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Tissa Vitarana critical of budget in LSSP’s 86 the anniversary statement

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Says its focused on small section of capitalist class

Little support for small traders and SMEs

No program for overall development of agriculture sector

Expolitation of farmers continues without any govt. support

Opposition to Yugadanavi deal welcomed

 

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which was formed on the December 18, 1935, celebrates its 86th Anniversary on December 17 at party headquarters. The theme is “development towards elimination of poverty and for social justice” party leader Tissa Vitarana said in a news release critical of the budget 2022..

“There must be a well thought out plan to face and overcome the economic crisis, as well as the health problems, Covid-19 and hunger. While supporting the proposal to have a development oriented budget, it would appear to be one that is focused to a small section of the capitalist class but did not cover the overall economy.

“For instance there was little support for the small traders and the SME’s. It was disappointing to note that there was no programme for overall development of the agricultural sector. This includes ensuring the production and supply of adequate fertilizer.

“The exploitation of the farmer continues without any Government support through purchasing and marketing provisions like the marketing department. The high prices of foods are mainly due to exploitation by mill owners and traders. Strengthening of the producer and consumer cooperatives would eliminate the profiteering by middlemen.”

But he qualified: “Besides self-sufficiency in food, the decision by Government to promote local value added industry is welcome. The foundation laid by the Ministry of Science and Technology to do this through the Vidatha movement at the SME level and SLINTEC and SLIBTEC at the hi-tech level need to be further intensified. Sri Lanka must become an industrialized country. “

He urged that the threat from American led imperialism continues and must be opposed. It is focused on getting control of our economy through the MCC agreement and to establish a military base on the basis of the SOFA agreement.

“The resounding defeat of the UNP and its allies by the people at the last general election with the victory of the SLPP, prevented the signing of these two dangerous agreements. But these efforts of the USA are continuing, and the people led by the progressive forces in the Government and outside must counter all such efforts,” he said.

“The resistance to the 40% share in the Yugadanavi project being given away, with its danger of the USA controlling our power generation is welcome. Sri Lanka must stick to the principle that national assets should nor be sold to foreigners, and the drive for self-sufficiency must be intensified.

“The LSSP urges all progressive and nationalist forces to intensify the struggle against these moves by the USA and its allies, both foreign and local. However this should not prevent us from getting help from friendly countries like India, China and Cuba which are not imperialist and are focused on increasing trade for mutual benefit. But we welcome genuine help from all countries, even the USA.”

The statement continued:

“The problem of poverty continues, with 60% of families in Sri Lanka living below the poverty line. The problems of unemployment and under employment continue seriously affecting their incomes and purchasing power even of essentials. Along with rising high prices and with no effort on the part of the Government to reduce this by strengthening the Cooperative movement, both wholesale and retail, the people live in hunger with some having only one meal a day.

“The malnutrition level has increased to 18%, which means that one of five children are ill, and the others are also affected to some extent. This has an adverse effect on their growth not only of the body but also of the mind. If this continues the future generation will tend to be stunted, thin and with lower mental capacity.

“In my opinion the Government should give priority to the provision of adequate food and other essentials to all citizens. The development effort (highways etc.), can be delayed. The Government must make a proper assessment of those living in hunger and the supply of free dry rations weekly should be instituted.

“It is good that the drive to control the Covid-19 pandemic, where the Government has actively intervened by its immunization programme is welcome, though we have some reservations about the safety of the Pfizer and other mRNA vaccines. The onus is now on the people to comply with the preventive health regulations (wearing of masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing with soap and water and avoiding crowds). Where this is not being observed the Government needs to enforce it, setting up specialized covid control committees where necessary.

“Thus the LSSP is continuing its anti-imperialist and anti-big capitalist policies to solve the problems of the people. It is necessary to go in a socialist directions by strengthening state participation in the agricultural, industrial and marketing sectors of the economy. In addition the move towards a ‘Solidarity Economy’ should be intensified. All loss making institutions both public and private, should be run on solidarity principles.

“This means that they should be functions as companies (e.g. 30 years lease where Government land is used), which are owned solely by the employees of that institutions. This will not only give them a sense of ownership leading to greater commitment to improve the performance of the institutions, but also ensure that they get an equal share of the profit.

“The Workers Administrative Council will select professional management and technical personnel purely on merit. This proposal is no ideal dream. It is being practiced in several countries abroad, even in Europe. For instance in Kerala state, India where TATA’s claimed that they were running the tea estates (63,000 hectares) at a loss, the left Government took the land back and ran them on the solidarity principle. “

Not only have they become large profit making concerns but also generated a greater enthusiasm among the workers who have got a share of the profit in addition to their regular salary. All stealing and misconduct has ended as they have a sense of ownership. The LSSP demands that this policy be implemented not only in the plantation sector but in all public and private institutions, specially where they are running at a loss. This would increase productivity and also help in the transition to socialism.”

Vitarana continued: “It was the LSSP that led the independence struggle against imperialism and poverty in Sri Lanka from 1935. It built up a strong trade union movement to win the worker’s rights. It led the struggle against poverty by establishing a social welfare state. The leadership were given by Dr.N.M.Perera, Dr.Covin R.de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Bernard Soysa and others. “

This struggle must continue on the lines mentioned above for the development of the country in the interest of its entire people, irrespective of community differences, as one united Sri Lankan nation. The struggle in and out of jail for independence and people’s rights that our founder leaders started must be continued in the direction of Socialism.”



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NGO to move SC against acquittal and discharge of first accused

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Welikada Prison killings

‘The BASL should make its position clear now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chairman of the Committee to Protect the Rights of Prisoners, Attorney-at-Law, Senaka Perera, says his outfit will soon move the Supreme Court against the acquittal and discharging of Inspector Neomal Moses Rangajiva, the first accused in the Welikada Prison killings.

The civil society activist, in a brief interview with The Island, over the weekend, said that the relatives of those who perished in the violence in the Welikada Prison compound on Nov 09 and 10, 2012, had requested him to pursue this matter.

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar last Wednesday (12) sentenced to death ex-Welikada Prisons Chief Lamahewage Emil Ranjan over the Welikada killings. He was the second accused in the high-profile case, whereas Rangajiva, at that time attached to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB), was acquitted and released from all charges.

Lawyer Perera said that as the verdict had been given by a Trial-at-Bar, the appeal would have to be made to the Supreme Court. The Trial-at-Bar bench comprising High Court judges Gihan Kulathunga (President), Pradeep Hettiarachchi and Manjula Thilakarathna was unanimous in its decisions.

The Trial-at-Bar said that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the PNB officer beyond reasonable doubt.

Responding to questions, Senaka Perera said that if it hadn’t been a Trial-at-Bar, his group would have moved the Court of Appeal. Senaka Perera explained: “We intend to write to Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, in this regard. We are of the view the AG should appeal against the acquittal and discharging of Rangajiva. However, if the AG refrained from doing so,  the Committee to Protect the Rights of Prisoners will accept the responsibility.”

In terms of the Trial-at-Bar proceedings, the eight prison inmates who were killed in the incident are Kankanmalage Malinda Nilendra Pelpola alias Malan, Attapattu Sangakkara Nirmala Atapattu, Mohammed Wijaya Rohana alias Gundu, Chinthamani Mohottige Thushara Chandana alias Kalu Thushara, Asarappulige Jothipala alias Ponna Kapila, Harshan Sri Manakeerthi Perera alias Manju Sri, Raigamage Susantha Perera alias Mala Susantha, Devamullage Malith Sameera Perera alias Konda Amila.

However, lawyer Senaka Perera said that altogether 27 inmates had been killed after the deployment of the Special Task Force (STF) and the Army inside the Welikada Prison. According to official records, in addition to 27 deaths, at least 43 other inmates received injuries. The then Prisons Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera informed Parliament of the deaths of 27 inmates.

The then Police Spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakoday said that inmates had triggered violence as the STF was looking for drugs and hand phones inside the prison.

The Attorney General filed indictments against IP Rangajeewa, Lamahewage Emil Ranjan and Indika Sampath, an officer attached to the Prisons intelligence unit under 33 counts, including committing murder, conspiring to commit murder after being members of an unlawful assembly.

The Court proceeded in spite of the third accused Indika Sampath who managed to evade the police so far.

The human rights activist recalled how Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, named a Trial-at-Bar to hear the Welikada case on a request made by Rajaratnam’s predecessor, Dappula de Livera, PC. The latter made the request in late June 2019. Rajaratnam succeeded de Livera in late May 2021.

The Prisons Department and the Justice Ministry couldn’t absolve themselves of the responsibility for ensuring safety and security of those in their care, lawyer Senaka Perera said. Those who had been remanded and sentenced could be serious offenders and some may even deserve a death sentence but the State shouldn’t under any circumstances resort to extra judicial measures, the public litigation activist said.

Lawyer Senaka Perera said that he believed the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should examine the Welikada case and make its position known to the public. “Perhaps, the BASL, too, should consider moving the SC against the acquittal and discharging of the first accused,” the lawyer said.

Lawyer Senaka Perera said that before the former AG made an intervention the progress in investigations had been slow. In fact, real progress was made since 2017, two years after the change of government following the 2015 presidential election, the lawyer said, alleging that the powers that be continuously hindered the investigations.

According to lawyer Perera and other sources, there had been four separate investigations at different levels beginning with the one launched by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) immediately after the Welikada killings. Subsequently the then Prisons Minister the late Chandrasiri Gajadeera named a three-member team to inquire into the Welikada killings. The committee comprising retired High Court judge Bandula Atapattu, retired DIG Gunasena Thenabadu and Prisons Ministry Legal Officer Lalith Andrahannadi produced two reports in Feb 2013 and Nov 2013. There had been two other investigations ordered by the then Prisons Chief P.W. Kodipillai and the Human Rights Commission.

Lawyer Senaka Perera said that the four investigations undertaken during the Rajapaksa administration should be examined. The lawyer emphasized the importance of appraisal of the investigations as the Trial-at-Bar declared that the progress had been made only since 2017.

In addition to those four investigations, there had been another report prepared by the three-member committee comprising retired High Court judge Wimal Nambuwasam, retired Senior DIG Asoka Wijeyatilleke and senior public servant S.K. Liyanage. Appointed on January 22, 2015, less than two weeks after the presidential election, the committee handed over its report to the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, on June 09, 2015 as the latter appointed it.

Lawyer Perera said that the former Prisons Chief claimed that the inmates after having broken into the Prisons armoury seized weapons, including machine guns.

The activist pointed out that the 2012 incidents were the worst since the 1983 massacre of Tamil terrorist suspects. The public have lost faith in law enforcement authorities and the political leadership regardless of the party that held power, the lawyer said. There couldn’t be better example than how the current dispensation handled the then State Minister for Prisons Lohan Ratwatte’s ‘raids’ on Welikada and Anuradhapura prisons in September last year.

The report prepared by retired High Court judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena into the incidents involving Ratwatte should be made public as the police were yet to at least record the State Minister’s statement, lawyer Perera said.

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China donates shipment of rice to Sri Lanka

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By Anura Balasuriya

China will soon send a shipment of rice to Sri Lanka as a donation, a Ministry of Trade spokesman said.

The donation comes in the wake of the 70 year anniversary of the Sri Lanka – China Rubber Rice pact on 1952.

Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardane had discussed the matter recently with a senior Chinese Embassy officia, the Trade Ministry Spokesman said.

“The Chinese Embassy in Colombo is already doing the needful. The Trade Ministry has informed China of the varieties of rice that Sri Lankan consumers like,” the Trade Ministry Spokesman said.

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Rating downgrades discourage investors – JVP

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JVP MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, on Friday (14) day, said investors were discouraged by the continuous downgrading of the country’s credit ratings.

Speaking at an event in Colombo, MP Amarasuriya said import costs had increased as the country was going through a forex crisis. The President’s agricultural policy had been a disaster and that in the coming months, the government would have to import large volumes of food.

Amarasuriya added that Sri Lanka’s relations with other nations had deteriorated and that too would have an adverse impact on the country.

Dr. Amarasuriya said that international rating agencies were independent and that their ratings were very important for investors to make decisions.

“Investors don’t consult Ajith Nivard Cabraal before investing. Besides, in other countries, it is economic experts, not politicians, who become Central Bank Governors,” she added.

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