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Wiggy complains of systemic racism against Tamils, Muslims

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by Saman Indrajith

Thamizh Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK) leader and Jaffna District MP C.V. Wigneswaran says that the government continues to treat Tamil people in the North as the vanquished, and not as fellow humans in the same country.

Participating in the budget debate under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday (9) MP Wigneswaran said that the government had not indicated any genuine interest in achieving a permanent peace. “Is the present government interested in working for peace and therefore justice? I doubt it. If you had the slightest feeling for your co- citizens you would not expropriate the lands of indigent Tamils as done even today. You would not destroy the archaeological sites and heritage symbols of the Tamils. You would not be gathering and accumulating such large numbers of the Sinhala Military amidst the Tamil speaking denizens of the North and East. If this Government has feelings for the affected and the downtrodden they would not try to grab from them but give them instead help and solace. If this Government has feelings for their fellow human brethren they would treat them with love and respect. But you are interested in grabbing from us our land, our traditional way of life and our freedom. You continue to treat our people as the vanquished not as co- humans in this Isle. None of us have been vanquished. We still carry the torch of freedom in our hearts.”

The TMTK leader said: “Speaking of Justice I like to point out that in this country we appear to be on the side of the wrongdoers rather than the innocents. Have we punished one single person who was involved in the torture, murder, arson and rape committed during the 1956, 1958,1961,1977,1981 and 1983 pogroms? ” Have we punished one single person involved in the burning of the Jaffna Public Library which housed 97,000 rare books and manuscripts? It was the best Library in South East Asia at that time. Have we punished one single person involved in the crimes against the Muslims in recent times? At least has there been an attempt at accountability in this regard? Have we enforced the recommendations of several Reports of Commissioners submitted to the successive Governments? They have all been conveniently shelved!

“Despite a Muslim Minister and a Tamil Minister in authority let us not forget that power is in the hands of the majority community. It is they who decide what is best for us all even in areas where we are in the majority. Since Independence that has been the case. We have no inclusive Justice in Sri Lanka. We have only selective Justice. Nowadays, it is a justice selected for the wellbeing of Sinhala Buddhists only.

“We have a peculiar political culture growing up here now. Rewards and high governmental positions are today lavishly distributed only on the basis of how much suffering such individuals have brought to the minorities in this country. This culture is prevalent in this House too. That is why learned parliamentarians are today vying with each other to provoke their minority colleagues to shut them up from speaking and bringing out facts about themselves and the government.

“There is systemic racism now being promoted in the country against the Muslims and the Tamils. Racism has become an ideology. It is now being sowed freely in the far corners of this blessed Isle. Government departments have been made the instruments to promote such ideology. Parliamentarians behaving indecently in this august Assembly are carriers of this ideology. Even the press is being made into an instrument to sow the seeds of racism. Such racism is not going to take us anywhere. On the contrary this country is soon going to suffer by such propagation of negative and vituperative ideas and ideology.

“Let us not forget the Tamil youth took up arms not against the Sinhalese and their sovereignty. They took up arms because there was danger to their sovereignty in their areas in the same country. They wanted to protect their identity. But they were called terrorists and brutally dealt with getting help from no less than twenty other countries.

“Let us remember it is the sovereignty of the people which is paramount not of the State. That is the International take on this at present. Let us not deceive ourselves that we could take shelter under state sovereignty and destroy the people’s sovereignty. The concept of state sovereignty which prevailed in the 18th century is no more accepted by the international community. When human rights of people in a country are violated it is possible to disregard the state sovereignty of that country. This is the modern concept.”

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GL sounds far-reaching educational reforms  

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Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (21) acknowledged that for want of tangible measures on the part of successive governments, there was a critical mismatch between the education provided and the availability of job opportunities.

The academic, in quarantine as a result being identified as potential Covid-19 contact, emphasised the need for far reaching changes to address the issue as part of their efforts to restructure the entire system.

Prof. Peiris said so in his short remarks at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the University of Colombo.

The one-time External Affairs Minister said: “It is a great pleasure for me to felicitate the University of Colombo, my alma mater on this happy occasion. It is a significant milestone because we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the faculty of arts, faculty of science and the library of the University of Colombo. As we look back on that span of a full century, the characteristics of the University which comes to mind is its resilience. During that period the University has had to face and indeed overcome many challenges. The society of our country has undergone a fundamental transformation during that period.

The University had the strength to cope with rapidly changing circumstances. I would identify that as a principal accomplishment of the University of Colombo.

The University proved its capacity for development, change and refinement and adaptation in order to keep pace with dramatically changing circumstances. The University proud as its history is I am sure will have an even more magnificent future. It has an important role to play in the far reaching changes we are contemplating in the educational system of our country. It is our intention in the course of this year 2021 to restructure the entire system in order to address the fundamental problem of a rather critical mismatch between the education we provide in our Universities and other educational institutions on the one hand and the availability of employment, livelihoods on the other. There is regrettably gap in this regard and it should be our collective endeavor to address this problem. We are also revisiting the curricular. The substance of our curricular  the methods of teaching in such a way  as to serve better the public in a  better way   In all these efforts I have no doubt the expertise of the University of Colombo by any standards  will be of enormous assistance to us in achieving goals we have set ourselves (SF)

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China slaps sanctions on 28 Trump administration officials, including Pompeo

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China has imposed sanctions on 28 former Trump administration officials, including outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, agency reports said yesterday.

In a statement released just minutes after President Biden took office, China’s foreign ministry said it had decided to sanction those “who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues.”

The list of names features former Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar; former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro; former national security adviser Robert O’Brien; Kelly Craft, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Matthew Pottinger, who recently resigned as deputy national security adviser. Former national security adviser John Bolton and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon were also included.

The sanctions prohibit those individuals and their immediate family members from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. They are also restricted from doing business with China, as are any companies or institutions associated with them.

“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations,” the ministry said.

The move comes just one day after Pompeo issued a forceful statement accusing China of committing genocide against Muslim Uighurs and other minority groups in its Xinjiang region, for which the U.S. sanctioned several Chinese officials in July. That was one of numerous instances of sanctions, visa bans and trade restrictions imposed on Chinese politicians and Communist Party officials in the Trump administration’s final year.

Relations between the U.S. and China deteriorated considerably under the previous administration, which took an unusually confrontational approach. Pompeo and other officials referred to China as constituting America’s greatest threat, as NPR’s John Ruwitch has reported.

In fact, Bolton appeared to celebrate the sanction against him, calling it “great news” in a tweet posted Wednesday afternoon.

“I accept this prestigious recognition of my unrelenting efforts to defend American freedom,” he wrote.

It is unclear what changes Biden plans, but Ruwitch noted, “Even if the Biden team moves swiftly to put the U.S.-China relationship back on a less antagonistic track, Beijing will be wary after the dramatic changes of the past four years.”

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Expert Committee appointed to report on gold, copper and iron ore deposits

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By Ifham Nizam

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweeera yesterday appointed an expert committee to conduct a scientific study on the Seruwawila gold, copper and iron ore deposits.

With iron ore prices skyrocketing worldwide and both neighbouring giant India and China having huge demands, Sri Lanka was keen on tapping natural resources, an official said.  

The committee will be coordinated by an Additional Secretary to the Ministry and will be chaired by Prof. Athula Senaratne of the University of Peradeniya and its other members are H W. Navaratne, Dr. Stalin Fernando, Dr. Bernard Perera, Dr. C.H.K.R. Siriwardena and Dr. O.K. Dissanayake.

Amaraweera, addressing the media, at his Ministry yesterday said the mineral deposit had been explored in the 1970s with the help of technology available at that time, and it had been found that there was iron, copper as well as a certain amount of gold in the Seruwawila deposit.

As today’s excavation technology was very advanced, it was possible to dig up to 250-300 metres, the Minister said.

The Minister also said that all possible steps would be taken to increase the value of the mineral resources through value addition locally to ensure higher prices.

 

 

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