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UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people

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November 29 has been named as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people by the United Nations. 

In drawing attention to the struggle of the Palestinian people we cannot but remember the firm stand that the United Nations took against racism, against the evil of Apartheid and supported the liberation struggle of the people of South Africa, Imthiaz Bakeer Markar, MP, Co-chairman Sri Lanka – Palestine Solidarity Committee, said in a statement to mark the occasion.

At the time his people were liberated, the celebrated leader of the liberation struggle for South Africa Nelson Mandela made a profound statement, which resonates around the world to this day, he noted.

He further said: “For many years, the United Nations stood firm against racism. Because of that a worldwide consensus was built against this unfair system. We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

“The Palestinian conflict is a complex one and it is a mistake for us to make judgements by viewing it on the surface with pre-conceived notions. Instead, I urge everyone to understand the underlying deep reasons why the Palestinian conflict has not been resolved after all these years. We have to take a humane view of their issues, their status and problems, and understand the realities. In short, we need to address these issues in a correct and just manner.

“The Palestinian struggle has gone on for seven long decades and we are disturbed to note that currently moves are afoot so that the Palestinians will lose their motherland forever. 

“The world has failed to implement the international consensus sought by the United Nations to find a fair and just solution to the Palestinian issue because the Superpowers in the United Nations Security Council have used their veto powers to stop important UN Resolutions aimed at actualizing the broader view of the majority of the countries around the world. It is with sadness that we observe that the UN has been powerless to do the right thing for the Palestinians.

“At this time I remember the statement made by President Barack Obama, who lit up the hopes of all those who sought a solution to the Palestinian issue when he made the famous “Cairo declaration.” 

In that statement Obama said: “It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighbouring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

Little has happened since and unfortunately we have to add Obama to the list of US Presidents who have historically been unable to fulfil its promise to provide a just solution to the Palestinian question, Bakeer Markar said.

He added: President Bush also asked once “why do these people hate us so much?” It is also said that a US President who was there before Bush, Eisenhower, in a discussion with his staff asked the same question: “Why does the Arab world look at us in such a wrong way?”

“Actually the question arises not from the governments but from the ordinary people of the Arab world. The people rightly accuse the United States of safeguarding corrupt and autocratic regimes in the Middle East preventing the dawn of democracy in the region. The actual actions of the United States in the Middle East is contrary to its claim of being the “watchdog of democracy” in the region.

“The initiatives made by Washington to bring peace to the Palestinians from the Camp David Accords to the Oslo Accords have been rendered useless by Israel. 

“In January 1976 the United Nations, backed by a wide global consensus, passed a Resolution granting Palestine political sovereignty. This Resolution received the support of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the Arab countries, the European Bloc and the Soviet Bloc. However this UN effort was also stopped by the exercise of a veto from the United States. The 1981 initiative from Saudi Arabia called the FAHAD peace deal was also rejected by Israel.

“For decades the world has been helplessly watching the Palestinian tragedy unfold as the people of this land are being driven out of their homes which are being destroyed. They are forced to wander as they are constantly harassed and deprived of the very basic necessities such as water. “They have no freedom of movement, as they are being arrested arbitrarily, even little children and women have been detained. 

“In the year 2020 alone 684 homes and other buildings in the West Bank were completely destroyed by Israelis.

“In October 2000, the UN Security Council resolved with a 14 to 0 vote that Israel should act according to the obligations and agreements contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention and return all Palestinian lands that have been occupied. At that time the US abstained from voting. 

“In addition, in 2001 when Israeli troops clashed with Palestinians, attempts by the United Nations to send in international observers to minimize violence under the so-called Michael plan was opposed by Israel and the United States. 

“These actions of the US has damaged its credentials as a neutral player in resolving issues in the Middle East and has ruined its reputation as a champion of democracy and global justice.

“Under President Donald Trump the US Middle East policy has been very one-sided. However under the new Democratic President it is hoped that the policy towards this region will be fairer and more progressive. If that does not happen then it will be a big blow against America’s boast of being a country that is a proponent of peace and democracy across the world.

“We wish all the peoples in the region a secure peace, in which they may live with dignity and mutual respect”.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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