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US blacklists Karannagoda on the basis of findings of NGOs, ‘independent investigations’



‘I haven’t sought US visa for more than 15 years’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda yesterday (27) said that he had not applied for a visa to visit the US and was not planning to do so. He said so when The Island sought his response to him being designated by the US State Department.

The action is the first since the US designation of the then Commander of the Army General Shavendra Silva in Feb 2020.

Sri Lanka’s most successful Navy Commander said that his designation over 12 years after the eradication of the LTTE had come as a shock because the US provided the much-required intelligence to hunt down some of the LTTE’s floating arsenals.

“In fact, I haven’t visited the US since 2007,” Karannagoda said. The US owed an explanation as one time US Ambassador in Colombo Robert O Blake, who was instrumental in providing US intelligence in 2015––six years after the conclusion of the war––didn’t have any hesitation in solidly standing by the Navy.

Blake, who served as US Ambassador in Jakarta in 2015, is on record as having said that he facilitated help for two reasons, namely the Navy hadn’t been responsible for gross human rights violations and it was their interest to thwart weapons transfers to any terrorist group.

Referring to the US State Department announcement on the latest designation, the former Navy Chief said that it was difficult to believe a senior retired officer or any person for that matter could be designated simply on the basis of ‘a gross human rights violation documented by NGOs and independent investigations is absurd’.

The Admiral of the Fleet responded to the US statement as the Foreign Ministry declared that such unilateral action by the US without following due process is counter-productive to the holistic approach that Sri Lanka has taken on addressing national unity and reconciliation.

In January, this year, Canada imposed sanctions on former presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake and Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi over “gross and systematic violations of human rights” during armed conflict. In all these instances Sri Lanka hasn’t done anything other than regretting such actions.

Regretting the US decision to target Karannagida, the Foreign Ministry said that Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, expressed grave concerns to US Ambassador Julie Chung.

The FM stated: “As a longstanding bilateral partner of Sri Lanka, such unilateral action by the U.S. without following due process is counter-productive to the holistic approach that Sri Lanka has taken on addressing national unity and reconciliation. It is also unfortunate that the announcement emanates against the backdrop of tangible progress made by the Government in strengthening the country’s democratic governance and reconciliation structures.

Despite these challenges, Sri Lanka will continue in its ongoing efforts to achieve reconciliation, economic recovery and socio-economic development.”

The US State Department has announced Karannagoda has been designated in terms of Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023, due to his involvement in a gross violation of human rights during his tenure as a Naval Commander. “As a result of today’s action, Karannagoda and his wife, Srimathi Ashoka Karannagoda, are ineligible for entry into the United States,” the State Department declared on April 26.

“The allegation that Wasantha Karannagoda committed a gross human rights violation, documented by NGOs and independent investigations, is serious and credible. By designating Wasantha Karannagoda, the United States reaffirms its commitment to upholding human rights, ending impunity for human rights violators, acknowledging the suffering of victims and survivors, and promoting accountability for perpetrators in Sri Lanka.

The bilateral relationship between the United States and the Government of Sri Lanka is based on 75 years of shared history, values, and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. As we continue to build our bilateral relationship, we are committed to working with the Sri Lankan government on advancing justice, accountability, and reconciliation, including promoting security reform that maintains human rights at the forefront while ensuring Sri Lanka has the resources and training to properly address emerging security concerns”, the State Department said.


High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka meets with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament & Secretary-General of Parliament




Michael Appelton, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka, accompanied by Andrew Traveller, Deputy High Commissioner, met with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle MP, and Secretary-General of Parliament, Kushani Rohanadeera, recently.

During the meeting, the Ambassador emphasized that gender equality in politics is vital for the achievement of peaceful societies, the realization of full human potential, and sustainable development. He also stated that they have taken several initiatives to ensure equal women’s participation in the New Zealand Parliament.

Dr. Fernandopulle, MP, shared her concerns regarding the lack of gender sensitivity in Sri Lankan politics. She drew attention to the urgent need for a more inclusive political framework that ensures equal representation and participation for women.

The Secretary-General of Parliament affirmed that Parliament has taken actions to increase youth and women’s representation in committees and is currently working on improving disability access to Parliament.



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Climate Change University to be launched next year




At the briefing on the progress of Climate Change and Green Growth held on Wednesday (31) at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and officials of the Climate Change Secretariat led by President’s Adviser on Climate Change  Ruwan Wijewardene it was revealed that the Climate Change University would be launched next year and that the University Grants Commission had  identified approximately 130 scientists who have gained international recognition for their research on climate change who, together with their international affiliations would be brought together as part of the initiative.

President Wickremesinghe expressing  his perspective on the International Climate Change University, emphasized that it should be a post-graduate institution solely focused on research which does not offer undergraduate courses. Any country or organization that contributes to the university becomes a stakeholder and gains membership on the Board of Governance. The Korean Exim Bank has expressed interest in partnering with the university and  negotiations between Sri Lanka and the Korea Exim Bank, led by the External Resource Department have concluded successfully. The President said that prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT have also expressed interest in collaboration.

The discussions also revolved around inviting a group of international experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tentatively scheduled for July/August to engage in policy conversations, addressing global issues, and exploring potential research projects that could be derived from these policy dialogues.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized that all future research in the field of climate change should be conducted at this institution.

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IUSF threatens showdown



By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

The university system is facing a grave crisis as around 40 percent of the lecturers have left the state education system, says the Convenor of the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Madushan Chandrajith.

Chandrajith said the ‘exodus’ of top academics would lead to a massive drop in the quality of education as most of those who have left are among the cream of scholars.Chandrajith said that about one-third of students in state universities, eligible for hostel facilities, did not have access to them.He warned that the IUSF will organise massive protests, in the coming weeks, if steps are not taken to resolve the many issues in the University system.

While the Mahapola scholarship has not been increased, the prices of food in the hostels have risen dramatically, he said.

“About 2,500 students in Kelaniya, 4,000 students in Rajarata and 6,000 in Peradeniya do not have hostel accommodation,” he went on to say..According to Chandrajith, a student needs about Rs 20,000 a month to meet basic needs.

“One requires about Rs 12,000 a month for food alone,” he said.

A senior official at the Ministry of Public Administration told The Island that some lecturers and doctors had a 100 percent attendance record but they avoided work.

“They are responsible for the attendance registry and they cook up the books to have full attendance. They take a lot of OT payments by doing this. We are looking at introducing a digital mechanism to mark attendance at universities and hospitals,” he said.

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