Sunday, September 30, 2012

Can The Judiciary Resist The Rajapaksa Familial Rule

By Tisaranee Gunasekara -September 29, 2012
“…the real tyrant is a man who sacrifices a whole nation to his ideal or his ambition’. Camus (Caligula)
Colombo TelegraphSeparation of powers and power-devolution are alien to Rajapaksa thinking and inimical to the Dynastic Project.
History’s watershed moments are generally identifiable only with hindsight. Sri Lanka might be experiencing an exception to this rule, as a government scheming to ‘overstep its proper powers’ is being resisted by a Judiciary trying to retain its constitutional role and democratic relevance.
Gathering all reins of power into Familial hands is a central tenet in Rajapaksa thought. Measures to empower the Siblings by disempowering Lankan citizens and institutions have been a ubiquitous feature of Rajapaksa rule.
The 1978 Constitution created an all powerful presidency with just two shackles. The PR system was expected to deny the executive a complete stranglehold over the legislature. The term-limit provision prevented the über-powerful president from staying on beyond two terms. J. R. Jayewardene had to leave after two terms. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s attempts to elongate her political life were defeated by the PR system.
The Rajapaksas have overcome both constraints. A concoction of managed elections, inducements and compulsions has enabled the UPFA to obtain a two-thirds majority in parliament. The 18th Amendment removed the term-limit provision while empowering the Presidency still further. The Ruling Siblings’ appetite for power is limitless.  The next (interrelated) goals are to subjugate the Judiciary and to emasculate the 13th Amendment by repossessing the powers of the provincial councils. Thus the immediacy and import of theDivineguma Bill.
The Divineguma Bill is the successor to several failed attempts to empower the Rajapaksas at the expense of provincial/local authorities. These included amending the Town and Country Planning Act to enable the regime to expropriate any piece of land by declaring it a sacred area; setting up a ‘Corporation’ under the purview ofGotabaya Rajapaksa to take-over the functions currently allocated to CMC and several other municipal councils; and the Jana Sabha Bill aimed at rendering the elected provincial councils and local government authorities subservient to the unelected Jana Sabhas, controlled by Minister Basil Rajapaksa. The regime had to abandon each of these measures due to judicial intervention and public opposition.
In 2010, the Supreme Court approved the 18th Amendment, which re-conferred a lethal level of power on a president unimpeded by term-limits. The Chief Justice who oversaw that cardinal error acknowledged it obliquely, just before his retirement. In an April 2011 interview with the BBC, Asoka de Silva emphasised that Sri Lanka needs a system in which one person does not have the ‘discretionary powers’ to make top judicial appointments. The 17th Amendment removed this ‘discretionary power’ but it was ‘re-established by the 18th Amendment’ he admitted.
Last week Wijedasa Rajapaksa, the President of the Bar Association, made a similar point: “There is too much power concentrated on the executive. The leaders have become arrogant. They seem to think that everybody should succumb to their power…” (Daily Mirror – 25.9.2012).  Mr. Rajapaksa also identified the recent Supreme Court determination on the Divineguma Bill as the immediate reason for the executive’s current ire against the Judiciary.
The assertion makes sense. The Divineguma Bill is aimed at further extending the already extensive economic empire of Basil Rajapaksa. Public funds amounting to Rs. 80 billion will reportedly be allocated to the Divineguma Department and a policy of total secrecy imposed on all its employees. The Bill will also denude the provincial councils of quite a few powers. Thus the Bill, if enacted, would constitute a great leap in the anti-devolution and anti-democratic direction.
Just hours after his Brother, the Speaker, announced the Supreme Court decision regarding the Divineguma Bill, Minister Basil Rajapaksa “assured hundreds of agitators that the proposed Divineguma Department would be established under an Act of Parliament irrespective of whatever the constraints were” (Island – 18.9.2012). Given the disarray in the opposition and the supine conduct of the SLMC, the only really existing constraint before the Divineguma Bill remains the Judiciary. Thus subjugating the Judiciary would be a matter of priority for the Rajapaksas.
Fernand Braudel in his seminal work, ‘A History of Civilisations’ posits that the word ‘civilisation’ in its plural form is used to denote ‘the characteristics common to the collective life of a period or a group’.
The Rajapaksa civilisation is characterised by Rajapaksa power manifested as Familial Rule. For instance, in a normal lawful democracy, Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be just a senior bureaucrat. As the President’s brother he may enjoy some privileges but that biological fact would not entitle him to super powers. But under Familial Rule, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the de jure bureaucrat is almost as powerful as the President.
Soon after the parliamentary election of 2010, Mr. Rajapaksa, in a thought-provoking interview, expressed “concern that a section of officialdom could help the separatist cause by trying to appease foreign governments and some funding agencies” and highlighted the “pivotal importance of the Judiciary, particularly the Attorney General’s Department, in supporting the government’s efforts to suppress terrorism” (The Island – 17.4.2010). These opinions indicated a future time when not just the democratic opposition and peaceful dissent but also any manifestation of independence and constitutional fidelity by the bureaucracy or the Judiciary will be conflated with treason. That time is here.
The Divineguma Bill will be approved by all UPFA-controlled provincial councils. It will encounter impediments only in the East and the North. The Eastern outcome will depend on whether Rauf Hakeem is willing to do irreparable harm to fellow Muslims by obeying the Rajapaksa-dictat and voting for the Bill. The North will present a far more dilemmatic logjam. There is no elected provincial council in the North and short of a large-scale daylight robbery the UPFA will not be able to win an election there. So the regime will insist that its hand-picked Governor has the power to approve the Bill, in the absence of an elected council. Eventually the issue will have to be decided by the Supreme Court. Thus the urgent Rajapaksa need to suborn the Judiciary.
According to media reports, the regime is planning to move against the Judiciary for its insistence on playing its constitutionally mandated role as a coequal pillar of the Lankan state. “The battle between the government and the Judicial Service Commission is likely to intensify, in the wake of certain decisions taken at an emergency meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa had with several ministers and presidential advisors… According to highly placed government sources, one of the recommendations made at the meeting was for the President to take stern action against certain JSC officials…  the emergency meeting was called as a response to a statement issued by Secretary of the JSC, Manjula Tilakaratne, alleging various elements were exerting pressure and influence on the JSC…” (Ceylon Today – 26.9.2012). The Rajapaksas’ Southern modus operandi constitutes not of generalised offensives but of targeted attacks, to render silent/inactive the more vocal/active members of the entity they seek to control. The reported plan to target the Secretary of the JSC fits in with this mode.
Will the Judiciary save itself from irrelevance by preventing the further erosion of democracy and rule of law?


SRI LANKA BRIEFIndia accepted only 56 out of 169 recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review 2012

SLB news
India has refused to accept most far reaching recommendations proposed by Human Rights Council members to India under the second circle of UPR.  The accepted recommendations are mainly related to social, cultural and economic issues. Recommendations related to civil and political rights  have been left without any positive response.
Some of the important recommendations that were not accepted by India are listed below:
138.9. Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance and recognize the competence of its Committee, in accordance with articles 31 and 32 (Uruguay);
P - 138.14. Ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, including its Agreement on Privileges and Immunities (Slovakia);
P - 138.19. Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Brazil);
P - 138.25. Consider the recommendation made by UNHCR to ratifying the Conventions relating to refugees and stateless persons (Ghana);
P - 138.26. Ratification of ILO Conventions Nos. 138 concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment; 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour;
P - 138.35. Review the law on the special powers of the armed forces to align it with its obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (Switzerland);
P - 138.44. Repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or adopt the negotiated amendments to it that would address the accountability of security personnel, the regulation concerning detentions as well as victims’ right to appeal in accordance to international standards (Slovakia);
P - 138.47. Take adequate measures to guarantee and monitor the effective implementation of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, providing legal means for an increased protection of vulnerable groups like the Dalit, including the access to legal remedies for affected persons (Germany);
P - 138.50. Reconsider current local legislation on freedom of religion, that uses vague or broad terminology and discriminatory provisions, and impedes the possibility for conversion of faith for those who wish to do so (Netherlands);
P - 138.56. Implement the 2011 recommendations of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to ensure the high standards and independence of India’s National Human Rights Institutions (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland);
P - 138.62. Strengthen the process for ensuring independent and timely investigation mechanisms to address and eliminate corruption; and provide for and facilitate increased accountability and transparency in this process (United States of America);
P - 138.68. Implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of human right defenders following her visit in 2011, with particular emphasis on recommendations that concern defenders of women’s and children’s rights, defenders of minorities rights, including Dalits and Adavasi, and right to information activists (Norway);
P - 138.92. Abolish capital punishment and commute existing death sentences to life imprisonments terms (Slovakia);
P - 138.109. Continue stepping up efforts in the area of fighting trafficking as well as consider the possibility of inviting the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, to visit the country (Belarus);
P - 138.119. Guarantee effective access to justice in cases of human rights violations committed by security forces personnel with regard to the use of torture (Spain);
P - 138.126. Ensure that measures limiting freedom of expression on the internet is based on clearly defined criteria in accordance with international human rights standard (Sweden);
P - 138.149. Meet the stated commitment from the Common Minimum Program of 2004 to dedicate 3 percent of India’s GDP to health and 6 percent to education (Slovenia);
138.8. Ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment as soon as possible (Maldives);
-          UPR INFO
List of accepted recommendation by India click here
Stake holder submissions for UPR India 2012  click here
Stuffing The Mouths Of The Ignorant And The Outdated – Six Percent? YES WE CAN!
By Kumar David -September 29, 2012
Prof. Kumar David
An aged man is but a paltry thing
A tattered coat upon a stick
Unless soul clap its hands and sing
Colombo TelegraphFor every tatter in that mortal dress
-WB Yeats (I can’t remember where)
Various folks have weighed in on the FUTA initiated demand, now taken on by the public at large (it’s not FUTA’s business anymore, it’s now we the people’s business), that 6% of GDP be budgeted by the State for education. Yes that’s right 6% of GDP, yes it’s 20% of government expenditure as per the 2011 Estimates. I write this perfectly cognizant of the facts and figures. Aged, past their useful-shelf-life Central Bank bureaucrats and ill informed lesser persons please note that intelligent Lanka is aware of the statistics. As Obama said of Romney, some people shoot their mouths first and take aim later.
This piece will use data provided by Professor Dileepa Witharana at a symposium conducted by FUTA in Colombo on 19 September, but should some figure here or there, or some decimal be imprecise, I stand by my case on the basis of broadly accredited knowledge. The telling comparison is that Lanka is the lousiest among many nations graphed in the accompanying illustration in respect of our (meaning the Rajapakse state’s) commitment to education. Is it surprising then that literacy, which had peaked at 99% before 2005, has now fallen back to 94% and is declining?
Notwithstanding the pleadings of the Uswatte Arachis and such like slayers of education, as a percentage of GDP and state expenditure, we are behind Bangladesh(heaven help!),Nepal,Pakistan and India. So what are these aged types trying to do?  Is their purpose to construct a case for further numbing public universities to pave the way for private alternatives with the side benefit that contingent parties can line their pockets?  Or in their blindness will they end up breeding another generation of Tigers and 1971-Insurrectionists?
The most telling item in the FUTA data set is comparison of Lankan state expenditure on education with a gamut of countries stratified by income level. The data in tabular form shows Lanka at 2.06% of GDP (2009 data), lower than any country grouping. At 8.08% of budget spending it is again the lowest. By 2011 the first number had fallen to 1.9% of GDP and in 2012 I believe it is even less flattering.
Even in the low to middle income country group, where Lanka belongs, the average expenditure is over 4%. Therefore to redress the sustained damage that has been done by budgetary slashing on education sinceMahinda Rajapakse took office, expenditure must be raised to 6% of GDP for five years, though thereafter the capital component can be gradually scaled to reduce the total to 4.5% of GDP.
All governments in South Asia spend more than Lanka as a percentage of GDP:Bangladesh(2.23%), Buhtan (4.63),India(3.09%),Maldives(8.71%),Nepal(4.66%) and Pakistan(2.69%) while Lanka is 1.9%. All of them also spend more than Lanka as a proportion of state expenditure, ranging from a high of 19% in Nepal to a low of 11% India, while poor Lanka limps along at a mere 8%.
The coup de grace to the motley crew of apologists who have raised their heads in recent weeks is the precipitate decline in the Rajapakse years in government spending on universities. Of the miserly 8% it now spends on education as a whole, a mere 1.2% reaches the universities as the graph shows.
Nobody in his right mind will suggest that the university’s share be increased by cutting the miserable allocations made to schools. No the point is this; there has been a precipitate overall decline because of factors I will touch on before closing. I do not know for how long the Rajapakse-SB Dissanayake-IMF combine has been hatching to administer extreme unction to the public university system, degrade it to third rate borstals for the yakko class and open the royal road to private fee levying institutions of higher education. The graph suggests the plot has been brewing since the early years of Rajapakse’s first term.
One final matter and I am done for the day. According to the budget allocations for 2012 the top five ministries in order of funding are Finance and Planning (47%), Defence & Urban Planning (10.5%), Ports & Highways (6.6%), Public Administration (6.3%) and Local Government & Provincial Councils (5.9%). About 40% of the 47% swallowed by the Finance Ministry is for debt servicing. Conditions are worsening as the government is getting deeper into debt by the day; it is into the business of acquiring more debt to service unsustainable existing debt. This is aggravated as the regime runs amok with vast and wasteful white-elephant show case grandiosities.
In the circumstances not only is the government unwilling to improve provision of public goods like health, education, transport and energy, it is also readying to crush dissent since that is the only language dictators know to speak. How to remove dictators is a Herculean task that national opinion is now beginning to ask itself

The Sundaytimes Sri LankaThe Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

A joint survey cum poll by the Business Times (BT) and the Colombo-based Research Consultancy Bureau (RCB) this week on concerns relating to the judiciary found an overwhelmingly number of respondents saying there is interference in the judiciary.
A similar number agreed that Sri Lankan judges are unable to discharge their duties and deliver judgments and orders without fear or favour. The poll, through email and street surveys in Nugegoda and Nawala, came on the back of a recent statement issued by the Judicial Services Commission
(JSC) over attempts to interfere in the duties and independence of judges. Results of the poll are shown in the graph.
The BT poll drew responses from some of the 422 people while the RCB’s street polls involved more than 1000 respondents. The BT email poll had two questions while the RCB poll had a third question.
Excerpts of comments from the RCB street poll:
(Note: some comments have been edited for legal reasons)
1.Money and power can make anything happen in this country.
2.The authorities are unable to take action against Minister Mervyn Silva’s son Malaka (in the alleged assault case) despite evidence in the form of CCTV (camera) at the location.
3.The army major’s contradictory statement in this case is an issue.
Now we don’t have confidence in the forces, also.
4.Anyone with commonsense will understand the Mervyn Silva issue, more than what is publicly known and reported
5.Why are they still keeping Mervyn in the cabinet? If so, we don’t have any confidence in the President.
6.The situation is very disappointing. The last time, I voted for the People’s Alliance. The next time I am going to cancel my vote.
7.Government doesn’t take judgments seriously. Look at the Z-score fiasco.
8.It is the lower income classes that suffer and don’t get relief from the law.
9.Even at police stations, a complaint by the public can be stopped by a mere call to the officer from a powerful politician.
10.The judiciary is something we cannot discuss.
Comments from the BT email poll:
11.Judges may be able to decide without any bias. But he or she would need to be very bold to go against the mainstream trend.
12.YES absolutely – there is NO independence of the judiciary!
13.The constitution does not provide for the independence of the judiciary
14.While there is an environment where judges find it difficult to discharge their duties by the book, some judges do still come true to their conscience!
Some examples are Justice T.M.P.B. Warawewa’s dissenting judgment amidst pressures and threats in the ‘White Flag case’ involving former army commander Sarath Fonseka, and Justice Shirani Thilakawardene’s dissenting judgment in Dr P.B. Jayasundera’s reinstatement as Treasury Secretary.
Judges need a lot of courage to discharge their duties
* With the annulment of the 17th Amendment and the passage of the 18th Amendment, public institutions will find it difficult to ensure the rule of law, which is one of the basic functions of the state. This will have drastic consequences on economic development and social stability. For instance, how can investors, particularly FDIs, be assured that their property and persons will be protected in such a situation? How can an ordinary citizen feel safe/ secure and be sure one is allowed to seek all opportunities for advancement or be entitled to be treated fairly and efficiently by the public service?

‘Sugar coated reforms intend to make education a commodity’ - IUSF Convener

The Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) was formed in 1978 and remains the largest student led organization in Sri Lanka to date. It represents the voice of student councils and action committees in 15 higher education institutes including all the major universities and technical colleges in the southern part of the island.

Sanjeewa Bandara serves as the current convener of the IUSF. Despite being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned under fabricated charges, he shows a strong sense of resilience  in the face of tragetd political repression. ‘What matters most is whether we really care about the future consequences of the draconian government policies ’ he says.

JDS’ Kithsiri Wijesinghe* spoke to Sanjeewa Bandara on government cut backs, marketisation of education and ongoing collective union action of the university academics.

Excerpts of the interview follow:
JDS: The crisis in the education sector has been brewing for years and it now seems to have reached a point where the entire education system is on the brink of collapse.  How does the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) respond to the worsening crisis?
Sanjeewa Bandara: At the moment we are working round the clock, putting all our effort to explain the magnitude of the crisis, build awareness and to mobilize the masses. The government however, seems determined to snatch away the right to free education while laying the foundation to make education a privilege by offering more springboards for the private investors to enter the education sector. They are also determined to crush any opposition  which is emerging against their plans. The immediate plan is to implement drastic measures which would ensure reduced state intervention in education sector and more cut backs.
JDS: Given the fact that the government has repeatedly denied any plans to privatize education or to implement further cut backs, how do you justify your allegations?
SB: What the government is doing is just a routine denial. Let me put the facts straight. Sri Lanka, along with many other countries, is obligated to reach the benchmark of devoting 6% of the GDP to education. Setting this benchmark was not done by the striking university academics or the students - it is an international obligation that Sri Lanka is bound to respect. But if you don’t want to turn a blind eye to the grim reality on the ground, you should be able to see the widening gulf between the promise and performance. At the moment, the government has only allocated 1.8% of GDP to education, which represents one of the lowest in the region. As a matter of fact, this is even less than the amount that was allocated during the tenure of previous government, which remained at 2.9%. This exposes the undeniable fact that the government is dodging its responsibility to safeguard free education.
During the past few years, many rural schools were forced to shut down due to lack of funding, as the government deliberately refrained from allocating sufficient funds. The parents were deterred from admitting their children to some of these schools, as the government had plans already in place to close them down. Consequently, over 350 such schools have been shut down during the current president’s term of office while the parents have been forced to bear the burden of absorbing the maintenance costs. They have to pay admission fees, facility fees, school development fees etc., apart from providing the basic material needs such as desks and chairs. Therefore in reality, the government’s denial does not make any sense at all.
JDS: How do such policies affect the university system?
SB: There is not much difference as far as government’s strategy is concerned. We are already witnessing drastic cuts in state funding to the universities while commercialization of university education has been accelerated. Due to lack of funds, the universities have gradually been forced to invent and redesign the course content to meet the market trends. The commercialization of higher education will inevitably bring the market competition further into the university system which will have a huge impact on student and academic life. We are already witnessing the consequences and there is a strong tendency to turn education and knowledge into mere commodities. When the profit becomes the primary concern, the quality of education fades away and it affects the social values as well as ethical standards upon which the society is grounded. The aim of the whole plan is to establish a cheap, flexible labour pool through a market oriented education policies in order to create a generation that has no passion to expand their intellectual horizons through a social oriented education. You can already see how determined the government is in introducing private medical colleges, universities etc.
For example, the private medical college in Malambe, Colombo offers a medical degree for about 6.5 million rupees. The students hailing from wealthy families who didn’t even managed to get through their Advanced levels, can simply walk in and come out as doctors while the children of the less privileged classes will be blocked from entering into a university even after excelling A-levels, simply because they have fallen short off a few marks.
There is no other intention behind the sugar-coated education reforms than commodification of education. When education becomes a commodity, it becomes a luxury only few can afford.  
JDS: There is an ongoing strike action called by the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) for several months now. The action has gained momentum, despite the government’s stubborn stance. What is the IUSF position?
SB: The strike action is remarkable in every sense and it has raised confidence inside the trade union movement while strengthening the collective faith in organized action. That is why it has gained a considerable popular support. When the university academics decide to take to the streets, it re-energized the whole working class layers and therefore it carries a historical importance. We, as the IUSF, have pledged our unreserved support to the academics from the beginning and we have called several student protest actions in solidarity with them. We continue to stand by them and firmly uphold their important demand to allocate 6% of the GDP to education.
At the same time, the IUSF condemn outright the intransigent and repressive behaviour of the Government, which wants to terrorize the striking academics into submission.
JDS: You mentioned about the cut backs in education and reduction of state funding. But during the war, when the government continuously increased defence spending at the expense of education, health etc., there was no real opposition from many quarters including the student movement in the south?
SB: There had been shortcomings. I agree. But even during the war time, the IUSF continued it’s struggle to safeguard the educational rights. We campaigned against privatizing public education and demanded increased spending on education. But I know that the responsibility to confront the government was subordinated to ‘patriotism’ by certain sections during the war. Patriotism was used to anesthetise the south politically and to gain opportunistic political advantages. But we think that the masses have now realized the blunder they all made as they are now being forced to pay for their mistakes.
JDS: But I think you missed the crucial point I wanted to make. My point is whether the student movement understand the complicity they have in their own predicament. Don’t you think that the Sinhala student movement has also been instrumental in legitimizing and strengthening a repressive state - which now you have been compelled to confront -  by failing to challenge its’ brutal war policy against the Tamil people?
SB: We do have a self critical understanding regarding the past. Many realize the errors only after making it. Generally, individuals as well as organizations tend to change their thinking and their work, only when they come to realize the grave mistakes they committed and their destructive consequences. The same rule applies to us as well. It is true that we failed to prevent each and every arrest and abduction carried out against Tamil students during that period. But it does not negate the legitimacy of our current actions. We are promoting the north-south dialogue through special programs between students while we continue to campaign against disappearances, militarization and other rights violations in the north.
For example, when some of the Tamil student leaders were recently attacked, the IUSF visited them and made representations on their behalf. We are also in the middle of a process in building up our relationship with the Tamil community in general through frequent discussions. These steps need to be seen as positive developments.
Kithisiri Wijesinghe worked as a journalist attached to several Sinhala language weekly newspapers and periodicals  including Ravaya, Mawbima and Diyesa journal. In March 2008 - while working for the news website  - he was arrested by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) along with senior journalist J.S.Tissainayagam, and detained. He now lives in exile in Europe.

Shadow Boxing With The Independence Of The Judiciary

By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena -September 29, 2012
Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena
Colombo TelegraphPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa’s indignant retort to newspaper editors this week that he did not attempt to interfere with the independence of Sri Lanka’s judiciary has all the hallmarks of the classic ‘swing and swerve’ tactics adopted by his administration. In other words, this refers to its now entrenched policy of swinging out at an individual or institution and then adroitly swerving sideways to avoid consequences while engaging in the most palpable if not absurd falsehoods to serve its purpose.
Ambiguities in the Presidential utterances
Sweetly reasonable as the President’s words may appear to be, closer dissection of what he said by those of us who care to utilize our mental faculties to do so, exposes clear ambiguities. For example, the thrust of his explanation was that he had requested a meeting with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to ‘discuss with them some matters such as training, welfare, allocations from the forthcoming budget,’ (The Island, September 27th 2012).
But are we then required to believe that the JSC and its unfortunate Secretary who is now reportedly to be inquired into by the Government for matters that remain shrouded in secrecy (as reported in that same newspaper), would have taken leave of its collective and individual senses to publicly complain that ‘it is regrettable to note that the JSC has been subjected to threats and intimidation from persons holding different status’ merely over a pedestrian discussion on training et al? Surely this is to strain our credulity too far, to put it in the most understated terms?
Note that the JSC statement, specific details of which became public over last weekend, did not mention a Presidential request to meet the JSC. This request was merely circulated through public rumor and it is certainly good to know that confirmation of the same was provided by the President himself later on in the week, despite the unconvincing explanation advanced as to the reasons therein.
Due credit to the JSC for going public                                     Read More

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Secretary Manjula Tillekaratne said yesterday there was a danger to the security of all of them and their families beginning from the person holding the highest position in the judicial system.

“A situation has arisen where there is a danger to the security of all of us and our families beginning from the person holding the highest position in the judicial system,” Mr. Tillekaratne said.

Denying the allegations levelled against him and the JSC, he said the media statement issued by him on September 18 might have led to a mudslinging campaign against him and the JSC.

“I absolutely reject the malicious and baseless allegations levelled against me and the Judicial Services Commission these days. We see the only reason for this malicious mudslinging campaign was the media statement issued by me on the directions of the Judicial Services Commission,” Mr. Tillekaratne said.

He had earlier issued a media statement criticising the alleged intervention in the judiciary by the executive.

It was also reported that on Wednesday the Cabinet on Wednesday had discussed the possibility of initiating disciplinary action against the JSC Secretary over a complaint.

Meanwhile, the Lawyers Association attached to the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday staged a protest at Hulftsdorp over the mudslinging campaign against the JSC secretary.

A large number of lawyers who participated in the protest urged the authorities not to interfere in the judiciary saying it could lead to the end of democracy in Sri Lanka.

Association’s Secretary Pradeep Gamage said the Lawyers Association decided to engage in this protest with the objective of safeguarding the independence of the judiciary. “Safeguarding the independence of the judiciary is one of the key responsibilities of the lawyers. So, we request the authorities not to interfere with the judiciary,” Attorney-at-Law Gamage said.

Attorney-at-law Nelson de Silva expressing his views said interference in the judiciary could be considered as the end of democracy. He said JSC secretary Manjula Tillekaratne had rendered yeoman service to the country as the JSC Secretary and as a Magistrate.  (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)
Rajapaksa Army Attacked US

Colombo TelegraphWe went to Mullativu last week, and it was my first visit to this place. As we turned from the A9 road all indications were that we are entering a miserable area. The road was under construction and we had to move slowly. Fortunately it not raining, or we could have faced greater difficulties. I saw roughly assembled houses here and there. They were not even mud houses but assembled structures with tin foil to serve as a roof. We could see people struggling to survive. The army was everywhere and their presence was always felt. Our purpose was to protest about the displacement of the people from the village of Thepapilau. Villagers who wanted to go back and who were settled are being pushed out to make way to provide around 2500 acres to the armed forces. This is not an isolated incident. Such things happen regularly and we wanted to use this incident to highlight the issue of land grabbing and displacement of Tamils from their villages.
We arrived at Oddusudan around 8 am. At Oddusudan, I saw a well constructed army camp with all facilities. It stood out sharply within the cluster of sheds and clumsy huts. It is difficult for anybody to believe that the government has carried out its promise of rehabilitation and reconstruction. We rested for a while and moved to Mullativu by 10 am. There were some displaced people from the village that was taken over and those who answered our call who were waiting for us. As expected, police trucks arrived with anti riot gear. I thought all that was redundant when one compares it with the deployment of the army. Army officers were there in a big way with a large contingent of plain clothed persons. About half an hour later, the main organizer of the event, TNPF leader Gajendran Ponnambalam arrived, and all those who wanted to participate gathered opposite the AGA’s office. More and more people came and by the time Mano Ganesan and TNA MPs arrived the crowd had swelled to around 500. At 12 pm, as we were getting ready to start our protest and demonstration, SSP Janaka Gunathilaka came and started a pleasant discussion with me about the time scale of our protest! I could see that he was also in a trap in balancing armed power with the civil force. I told him that we did not come to challenge the government agent but to present our case to the available civil agent of the government, and our non-violent protest will last till 2 pm. He concurred, thanked me, and went. I thought ‘this is not as bad as I expected.’ I came to realize how wrong I was only later!
Sudden intrusion
As soon as the TNA leaders came we started the protest with banners, placards and slogans. In the middle of our protest, suddenly from behind came a polythene bag filled with crude engine oil that landed on the ground before the protesters. Oil splashed around but no one was affected. Two plain clothed men who were suspected to be from the army ran away, and escaped, while no policemen dared to intervene. We continued unabated and finished the protest with a meeting addressed by all leaders who were present. Around 2 pm we dispersed for lunch which was arranged by TNPF. Just then, a dozen youth came to the place where we had the demonstration, and started shouting while displaying placards. Later I got to know that these placards had the message ‘Army will not leave Thepapilau,’ written in Tamil. Obviously that was a lame effort by the army to counter our successful protest.
Anyway this incident came as a ‘warning’ that the army will not let us go without more disruption. We therefore thought that we should travel together until we reached the A9 route. However, because of several organizational problems we could not carry out that plan, fully. The NSSP group left Mullativu in a van around 2.30 pm and we were moving slowly towards the A9 road. Mano went before us and Gajendran followed us in his vehicle. As the road was bad and still under construction we had to move slowly. On our way, we passed two military men on a parked motorcycle. As we passed them two men in plain clothes appeared from behind the bushes and started throwing stones at us. The first one hit the side mirror on the right hand side and the mirror broke into  pieces. Fortunately a truck came towards us and covered us from a second attack. The two men ran away while the uniformed men watched. Obviously these uniformed men have come to give cover to the new military operation of their colleagues! We drove off as fast as we could, away from this terrible place.
A few minutes later, Gajendran informed us that they were also attacked and their windscreen was damaged. Even the police agreed that these attacks could have been done only by the army because there are no other terror units in that area which could engage in such activities. We should be grateful to the army of Rajapaksa for not resorting to shooting or abduction, and instead allowing us to get away with lesser attacks by crude oil and stones!
Protest against Land Grabbing of Northern Province _ Part 01
Protest against Land Grabbing of Northern Province _ Part 02
Protest against Land Grabbing of Northern Province _ Part 03

8-1By Namini Wijedasa

The Divineguma Bill will be challenged again if it is placed on the order paper of parliament without the Northern Provincial Council commenting on it, said TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, yesterday.
If it is placed on the order paper again without the North commenting on it, we will challenge it,” he told LAKBIMAnEWS. “The requirement is that the Northern Provincial Council, too, must discuss and resolve the matter.”
“The governor of the Northern Province cannot substitute himself for the provincial council,” he stressed. “The bill will be challenged since it does not comply with the constitutional requirement.”
The government last week withdrew the Divineguma Bill and sent it to the provincial councils for approval in keeping with the Supreme Court determination on the matter. Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa, whose ministry submitted the bill for enactment, said he is confident the councils would sanction it. However, the Northern Provincial Council is not operational.
Four petitioners challenged the constitutionality of the Divineguma bill by three petitions presented to the Supreme Court. The proposed legislation seeks to repeal the Southern Development Authority, the Udarata Development Authority and the Samurdhi Development Authority, transferring their powers and functions to the Department of Divineguma Development. This new department would function countrywide.
The three-judge bench that heard submissions comprised Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and Justices Priyasath Dep and S.E. Wanasundera. The petitions were filed by Chamara Madumma Kaluge, general secretary of the Samurdhi Development Officers’ Union, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and Wijitha Nanayakkara. Sumanthiran is one of the attorneys for the CPA.

Sri Lanka military behind attack on politicians - Bahu

Saturday, 29 September 2012
The Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) has accused the Sri Lankan military of being involved in an attack against opposition politicians and peaceful demonatrators.
NSSP General Secretary and Dehiwala Municipal Councillor Vickramabahu Karunaratne has informed President Mahinda Rajapaksa and that vehicles carrying Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) Leader  Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and him has come under attack in the northern Vanni area on the 22nd of September. They have been returning from a peaceful demonstration held in Mullaitheevu against the military grabbing civillian land and property, where protesters also had to face a crude oil attack. In a letter to the Senior Superintendant of police in the Mullaitheevu district calling for an impartial investigation Dr. Bahu says, ” Since this was done while there was heavy military presence, I suspect that military was behind this”.
When the demonstration was conducted opposite the Mullaitheevu government agent’s office, police officers who were present have not arrested the culprits, the NSSP general sercetary has also said.
Letter to police and president
Janaka Gunathilake esq.
SSP Mulative,
C/o OIC,
Police station,
May I draw your kind attention to the attacks made by some people to the peaceful demonstration conducted by us with your knowledge? We expected police protection to this protest held on 22 September 2012, opposite Mulative AG office. However during the demonstration an engine oil bag was thrown at us; police could not arrest culprits. This happened around 1 pm.
Then after the demonstration, on our return, around 2.45 pm, about 12 km from AG office, we were attacked by two men in civil clothes while two others in military uniform were present. Vehicle I used 252- 5038 was damaged; RHS mirror was smashed. Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s vehicle was badly damaged.
Since this was done while there was heavy military presence, I suspect that military was behind this. I expect an impartial investigation.
Janaka Gunathilake esq.
SSP Mulative,
C/o OIC,
Police station,
May I draw your kind attention to the attacks made by some people to the peaceful demonstration conducted by us with your knowledge? We expected police protection to this protest held on 22 September 2012, opposite Mulative AG office. However during the demonstration an engine oil bag was thrown at us; police could not arrest culprits. This happened around 1 pm.
Then after the demonstration, on our return, around 2.45 pm, about 12 km from AG office, we were attacked by two men in civil clothes while two others in military uniform were present. Vehicle I used 252- 5038 was damaged; RHS mirror was smashed. Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s vehicle was badly damaged.
Since this was done while there was heavy military presence, I suspect that military was behind this. I expect an impartial investigation.

Sri Lanka’s War Crimes: US Should Not Dance Around UN And UNHRC
By Donald Gnanakone -

Sri Lanka-Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

- Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka-Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

United States of America

இறந்த போராளிகளின் உடல் மீது சிறுநீர் கழித்த அமெரிக்க இராணுவமும், நிர்வாணமாக்கி பார்த்து ரசித்த இலங்கை இராணுவமும் – (வீடியோ இணைப்பு)

US marines to probe 'abuse video'


The US Marine Corps says it is launching an investigation after a video was published on the internet appearing to show US marines urinating on dead bodies in Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice’s Life In Danger – JSC

By Colombo Telegraph -September 29, 2012
Colombo Telegraph
“A situation has arisen where there is a danger to the security of all of us and our families beginning from the person holding the highest position in the judicial system,” Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Secretary Manjula Tillekaratne said yesterday.
Manjula Tillekaratne said yesterday there was a danger to the security of all of them and their families beginning from the person holding the highest position in the judicial system.
“I absolutely reject the malicious and baseless allegations levelled against me and the Judicial Services Commission these days. We see the only reason for this malicious mudslinging campaign was the mediastatement issued by me on the directions of the Judicial Services Commission,” Manjula Tillekaratne said.
Lawyers protest
In the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday President Mahinda Rajapaksa had discussed the possibility of initiating disciplinary action against the JSC Secretary over a complaint .
Meanwhile, the Lawyers Association attached to the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday staged a protest at Hulftsdorp over the mudslinging campaign against the JSC secretary.
A large number of lawyers who participated in the protest urged the authorities not to interfere in the judiciary saying it could lead to the end of democracy in Sri Lanka.
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