August 19, 2014
Ebola, globalisation and Sri Lanka in 2039

Ebola, globalisation and Sri Lanka in 2039

  •  The Ceylon Chamber’s 175th anniversary celebration- August 19, 2014 
At the recent 175th anniversary celebrations of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, its Chairman Suresh Shah provided a ‘fast forward’ , describing how the business community wished Sri Lanka would be in the year 2039, when the Chamber will celebrate its 100th year of existence.
Ebola, Globalisation and Sri Lanka in 2039 by Thavam

August 19, 2014
Liberman not scheduled to visit Australia

Liberman not scheduled to visit Australia

J-Wire

J-Wire

August 17, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
A Jewish newspaper published an “exclusive” report that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was “set for an Oz Tour” later this month.  J-Wire can confirm he is not.
Foreign Ministers Julie Bishop [Australia] and Avigdor Lieberman [Israel]
Foreign Ministers Julie Bishop [Australia] and Avigdor Liberman [Israel]
The Australian Jewish News published in its current edition that Liberman  would “address a dinner in Melbourne next Sunday night hosted by the ZFA and the ZCV”.
But the Israel Embassy in Canberra has told J-Wire that the Foreign Minister has no scheduled visit this month. According to the report Lieberman was also expected to meet community leadership in Sydney.
Invitations had been sent out to the Melbourne event.
President of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Yair Miller told J-Wire after confirming the visit was not going to take place: “We are obviously disappointed that the Foreign Minister’s muted visit is not taking place. We fully appreciate the volatile and uncertain period in which the State of Israel finds herself and the Minister’s need to be there. We look forward to welcoming him at the earliest possible opportunity.”

August 19, 2014
Israel launches fresh air strikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire

Israel launches fresh air strikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire

Ceasefire and negotiations in Cairo in jeopardy after rockets are fired from Gaza, sparking swift response from Israel
Palestinians flee their destroyed neighbourhood in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, on Monday. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images
Gaza bomb damageThe Guardian home
 in Gaza City and  in Cairo-
Tuesday 19 August 2014 14
The temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was in jeopardy on Tuesday after rockets were fired from Gaza, triggering a swift military and political response from Israel.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it was targeting “terror sites across the Gaza Strip” in retaliation, and the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, ordered his negotiating team to pull out of talks on finding a durable ceasefire agreement in Cairo.
Gaza has been relatively quiet for the past eight days as two successive ceasefires have been in place to allow negotiations to be conducted. A further 24-hour ceasefire – due to expire at midnight on Tuesday – was agreed in Cairo late on Monday night.
Israel accused Hamas of breaching the ceasefire after three rockets fell near the city of Beersheba in southern Israel. There were no reports of casualties or damage.
Lt Col Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesperson, said: “Yet again, terrorists breach the ceasefire and renew fire at Israeli civilians from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. This continued aggression will be addressed accordingly by the IDF; we will continue striking terror infrastructure, pursuing terrorists, and eliminating terror capabilities in the Gaza Strip, in order to restore security for the state of Israel.”
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, hinted at more rocket fire. “If Netanyahu doesn’t understand … the language of politics in Cairo, we know how to make him understand,” he said according to the Israeli news website Ynet.
However, it was not clear whether a significant return to hostilities was imminent, or if the renewed military exchanges would prove to be short-lived.
The negotiations in Cairo have struggled to secure a long-term deal to end the six-week conflict. On Monday, the Palestinian delegation claimed the two sides were still some way from an agreement, and hinted that the ceasefire would not be extended again if a lasting truce still could not be finalised on Tuesday.
"Until now there is no progress," said Azzam al-Ahmad, the chief Palestinian negotiator. "There are hidden voices who are trying to put obstacles in our way. We have agreed on an extension for another day – just one day. Whether we agree or not, just one day."
Negotiators spent Sunday and Monday conducting indirect talks mediated by Egyptian intelligence officers, but failed to reach agreement about a draft treaty proposed by Egyptian officials on Sunday.
According to leaks, the outline agreement included the opening of crossings between Israel and Gaza, the importation of construction materials under international supervision, and the expansion of the permitted fishing zone to 12 miles over a period of six months.
The demand for a seaport was reportedly agreed in principle, but detailed discussions have been deferred for at least a month. There was no mention of a parallel Palestinian demand to rebuild and reopen an international airport in Gaza.
A Palestinian demand for the release of dozens of Hamas members arrested by Israel over the past few months was also deferred.
Israel wants the disarmament of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza as well as the return of the remains of two soldiers killed in fighting, which Hamas is believed to be holding. All Palestinian factions say the demilitarisation of Gaza is not up for negotiation. But Hamas publicly claims it is ready to share power in Gaza with the Palestinian Authority, which currently runs the West Bank.
The war in Gaza, which began on 8 July, is the most intense of three conflicts in the past five and a half years, with massive destruction of homes, mosques, schools and hospitals, and the shelling of six UN premises being used to shelter people who had fled the fighting.
The Palestinian death toll on Monday stood at 2,016, including 541 children. More than 10,000 people have been injured and about 17,000 homes destroyed or severely damaged.
Israel has lost 64 soldiers in fighting, including five killed by friendly fire. Three civilians – two Israelis and a Thai agricultural worker – were killed by rockets launched from Gaza.
Robert Serry, the United Nation’s most senior official for the Middle East, told the UN security council on Monday that “the volume of reconstruction will be about three times” what it was after the 2008‑09 Gaza conflict. The scale of destruction and corresponding humanitarian needs were unprecedented, he said.
"Reconstruction of the magnitude which is now needed can only be addressed with the involvement at scale of the Palestinian Authority and the private sector in Gaza, meaning larger quantities of materials are required to enter Gaza."
On Monday, Egypt promised to host a donors’ conference in Cairo to help raise money for Gaza’s reconstruction, once a lasting ceasefire is eventually brokered.

August 19, 2014
Islamic State fighters halt Iraqi offensive to recapture Saddam’s home town

Islamic State fighters halt Iraqi offensive to recapture Saddam’s home town

Iraqi security forces and volunteers take part in a mission to secure an area from militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Udhaim district, north of Baghdad, August 6, 2014.
Iraqi security forces and volunteers take part in a mission to secure an area from militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Udhaim district, north of Baghdad, August 6, 2014. REUTERS/StringerBY AHMED RASHEED AND MICHAEL GEORGY-Aug 19, 2014
Reuters(Reuters) - Iraqi forces halted a short-lived offensive on Tuesday to recapture Tikrit, home town of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, due to fierce resistance from Islamic state fighters who have also threatened to attack Americans “in any place”.

August 19, 2014
Afghanistan bars New York Times reporter from leaving country

Afghanistan bars New York Times reporter from leaving country

New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg. (The New York Times)
Photo August 19 at 12:30 PM 
Afghanistan’s attorney general banned a New York Times reporter from leaving the country Tuesday because of a controversial story about the country’s recent presidential election, the newspaper said.
Matthew Rosenberg, 40, who joined the Times in 2011 and splits his time between Kabul and Washington, was not being allowed to leave Afghanistan by the office of Attorney General Muhammad Ishaq Aloko. The ban was first reported by Afghanistan’s TOLO news television channel.
In response to an inquiry from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Rosenberg tweeted confirmation of the report. “Yes, the attorney general’s spokesman told us a short while ago about the travel ban,” he wrote. “They apparently told Tolo first.”
Times international editor Joe Kahn later said in a statement: “The Afghan attorney general’s office has advised Matthew Rosenberg that he must remain in Afghanistan while an investigation into his article is ongoing. We are eager to work with the Afghan authorities to resolve any concerns about the article, which we feel is fair and accurate.”
The Times reported that Rosenberg was called in for questioning about the article by a senior prosecutor, Gen. Sayed Noorullah Sadat, whose title is general director for crimes against external and internal security. It said Sadat asked Rosenberg to identify anonymous government sources quoted in the story and that Rosenberg refused.
The newspaper identified the article in question as one in Tuesday’s editions in which Rosenberg reported that a coterie of powerful Afghan officials with ties to the security forces was threatening to seize power if the country’s current election impasse remained unresolved. The article said the officials hoped that the mere threat of forming an interim government in what could amount to a coup would prompt two rival presidential candidates to compromise and end the crisis.
The newspaper said the case marked “the fourth time this year that the Afghan government has threatened or initiated legal action against The Times because of complaints by senior Afghan officials over articles it has published.”
Former finance minister Ashraf Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah have been locked in a dispute over a presidential runoff vote in June. Afghanistan’s official Independent Election Commission reported last month that Ghani was ahead in preliminary results. Abdullah, who finished on top in a first round of voting in April but fell short of a majority, charged that he was the victim of massive electoral fraud.
A U.N.-backed recount was initiated, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry undertook a mediation effort to bring the two sides together, but they have continued to squabble. The dispute threatens to destabilize Afghanistan at a time when its security forces are struggling to assume greater responsibility in the fight against the radical Islamist Taliban movement and as the United States moves to withdraw combat troops by the end of the year.
Washington also has been awaiting the inauguration of a new president willing to sign a bilateral security agreement that would allow the United States to maintain a residual force in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai, who was not allowed to run for reelection because of term limits, has refused to sign the agreement, insisting that it be left to his successor.
TOLOnews reported the action against Rosenberg on its Twitter feed but did not immediately provide details.
Before joining the Times, Rosenberg was a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, covering stories in Afghanistan and South Asia. He previously worked for the Associated Press and reported from South Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and the Caribbean.
Paul Farhi contributed to this report.

August 19, 2014
Would Sweden Ever Extradite Assange to the United States?

Would Sweden Ever Extradite Assange to the United States?
Two years into his stay at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he is hiding from Swedish authorities looking to question him in connection with rape allegations, Julian Assange will leave his diplomatic redoubt “soon,” he revealed on Monday. Cryptic as ever, the Australian freedom-of-information activist did not explain why, nor exactly when he would depart the embassy.
Would Sweden Ever Extradite Assange to the United States by Thavam

August 19, 2014
Lord Birt says Scotland would lose many BBC services after yes vote

Lord Birt says Scotland would lose many BBC services after yes vote

Former director general rubbishes claims independent nation would receive same TV, radio and online output
BBC Scotland’s complex at Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Birt says an independent Scotland would face deep cuts by the corporation. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian
BBC Scotland's complex at Pacific Quay, Glasgow.
The Guardian homeScotland correspondent
 Tuesday 19 August 2014 
Lord Birt, a former director general of the BBC, has warned that the corporation would be forced to make deep cuts if Scotland votes for independence, losing up to a quarter of its current spending.
He said the BBC would have to make “fundamental” changes to its programming and operations after a yes vote, while Scottish viewers would lose automatic access to all the corporation’s TV and radio output.
Birt, writing for the Guardian, said the 15% spending cuts already forced on the BBC by the Westminster government would be greatly worsened after a yes vote, since it would then lose another 10% of its funding – the £320m currently paid each year by Scottish licence fee payers.
The former director general, now a crossbench peer, predicted the BBC would reject proposals by Alex Salmond’s government for a close working relationship with a new publicly owned Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS). It would sell its shows to the highest bidder in Scotland, such as STV, partly because it was becoming so strapped for cash.
"The bold assertion in the Scottish government’s white paper that a new Scottish public service broadcaster will work with the BBC in a programme-swapping joint venture is make believe," Birt states. "One way or another, after independence, Scottish viewers would have to pay to receive BBC services."
The future of the BBC – which stages a major live debate next Monday on independence between Salmond and the pro-UK campaign leader, Alistair Darling, remains a significant concern for Scottish voters, a substantial majority of whom want the corporation to remain serving Scotland if there was a yes vote.
The Scottish social attitudes survey in June said 61% of voters wanted to keep all BBC’s services intact and did not want a separate Scottish broadcaster, with 25% wanting both the BBC and a new Scottish service; and 11% wanting the BBC to be replaced in Scotland.
Salmond’s government has proposed that a future SBS would take over all the BBC’s assets and staff in Scotland, where BBC Scotland currently has a £205m budget – about £115m less than collected from the licence fee. Partly funded too by a £13m share of BBC Worldwide’s profits and the £12m Scottish ministers give Gaelic digital channel BBC Alba, the SBS would have a £345m budget to run its own TV, digital and radio channels – a tenth of overall BBC spending.
The SBS would form a joint venture agreement with the BBC where it would continue supplying the corporation with the same amount of programmes from Scotland, in return for BBC services continuing as before, Scottish ministers argue.
The Scottish government’s white paper in November stated: “Current programming like EastEnders, Doctor Who, and Strictly Come Dancing and channels like CBeebies, will still be available in Scotland. The SBS will continue to co-commission, co-produce and co-operate with the BBC network.”
Birt retorted that this was highly unlikely to happen: “The BBC is, thankfully, independent of government – so whatever is asserted wishfully in the white paper, the BBC will have no alternative whatsoever but to act in the interests of its licence payers, and to seek the best possible commercial terms for the sale of its programmes in Scotland, not least because of the aforementioned financial impoverishment it will just have suffered.
"And, of course, there may be commercial broadcasters in a new Scotland willing and able to pay more for the BBC’s most successful programmes than an impecunious SBS."
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has refused to respond to these proposals in any detail or publish its own assessment of the broadcasting industry in Scotland and the future of the BBC. But in June, Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told the Guardianthat ministers in London would negotiate with Scottish ministers about the BBC if there was a yes vote; opinion polls currently show a large but shrinking gap between yes and no support.
Alexander said: “I’m very sceptical about such proposals but clearly if Scotland votes yes and there are negotiations, these are things that they can put forward. I’m sure that [the Scottish government] would put them forward.”
Senior industry figures in Scotland believe that after independence, the UK government and BBC would want to agree a close working relationship with a Scottish public broadcaster because the corporation was protective of its British status, and its wider interests.
One production executive said Birt was unsurprisingly defending the status quo. Even if the BBC sold its shows to STV, few Scottish viewers would mind as long as they got to see EastEnders or Strictly Come Dancing, in a broadcasting world with new entrants like Netflix and Amazon. “From a consumers point of view, if you’re getting Sherlock, does it bother you if it’s on the BBC?” they said.
Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish culture secretary, declined to comment on Birt’s criticisms and his claims BBC programmes would be sold to the highest bidder in Scotland. Her spokeswoman repeated the position taken in the white paper, saying a joint venture between the BBC and SBS would “give continuity of supply to the BBC and continuity of programming to the SBS, such an arrangement is in the best interest of all concerned and will ensure that decisions about broadcasting in Scotland are made in Scotland”.

August 19, 2014
Japan rated Asia’s most peaceful country, China falters

Japan rated Asia’s most peaceful country, China falters

Police officers stand guard near a blast site in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang, earlier this year. Pic: AP.
By  Aug 19, 2014 
Japan is the most peaceful country in Asia, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s (IEP’s) 2014 Global Peace Index. Its fellow Asian powerhouse China, however, dropped in the rankings amid terrorist threats, international tensions  and rapid militarisation.
Ranked ninth most peaceful in the world, Japan also makes the exclusive list of just 11 countries (out of 162) that are deemed to be both free of both internal and external conflict. The only other Asian country to achieve this was Vietnam, though its overall rating (46th) was relatively poor due to other factors. Latin America dominated the list of 11 with five countries with no internal or external conflicts, but whether these are actually the most peaceful countries in the world may be open to some interpretation.
Natalie Southwick at Latin Correspondent writes:
While the low rankings for actual organized conflict are something for these five countries to celebrate, they are just part of the complete study.
The index ranks countries based on 22 different indicators that measure “the absence of violence or the fear of violence.” This means that in addition to a country’s actual involvement in domestic or international conflicts, the country is also ranked based on characteristics like weapons imports and exports, displaced persons, access to weapons, violent demonstrations, political instability and perceived criminality in society.
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was ranked the second most peaceful nation in Asia (16th overall), followed by Singapore (25th), Taiwan (28th), Malaysia (33rd), Laos (38th), Mongolia (41st) and Vietnam (45th).
While most East and Southeast Asian countries were safely ranked in the top half of the table, there were some notable exceptions. Regional powerhouse China was ranked 108th overall, down seven places from last year, with factors like militarisation, criminality, internal conflict and terrorist activity combining to keep it out of the top 100. The spike in violence in the restive Xinjiang reason in western China is likely a significant factor in China’s slide in the rankings.
ASEAN nations Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines and Burma also fared poorly. Particularly worrying is Thailand’s ranking at 126th after months of political turmoil culminating in the military coup of May 22 this year. Unlike Cambodia (106th) and Burma (136th), Thailand is considered an economic leader in the region.
Bottom of the Asian pile is North Korea, ranked at 153rd.
As Latin Correspondent reports, the overall global trends don’t make for easy reading:
The IEP found that only 51 of the countries studied have improved their levels of peace since 2008, while the other 111 have all gotten worse. Overall, “the world has become less peaceful over the last year” because of increased terrorist activity, a greater number of conflicts and growing populations of refugees and displaced persons.

August 18, 2014
OPPOSITION COOPERATION IS NECESSARY FOR CREDIBILITY IN TACKLING INTERNATIONAL PROBE—JEHAN PERERA

OPPOSITION COOPERATION IS NECESSARY FOR CREDIBILITY IN TACKLING INTERNATIONAL PROBE—JEHAN PERERA

18 August 2014

The government is financing more lobbying companies in the US to change the minds of the US leadership. It has been the United States that has been most strongly pushing for an international investigation into the conduct of the last phase of the war. But it is not going to be so easy as influencing the President of the United States through lobbying companies. For the government’s efforts to be successful it has to show progress in two areas that convinces the international community. First, it has to come up with a superior alternative to the UN investigation that is now underway. Second, it has to show that it is serious about practices of good governance that will support such an alternative mechanism. However, the government is having setbacks in both areas which is not a recipe for success, but is one for failure.

August 18, 2014
Kaushal Set to Urge Rajapaksa to Play Compromise Card

Kaushal Set to Urge Rajapaksa to Play Compromise Card

The New Indian ExpressBy P K Balachandran-18th August 2014
COLOMBO: Indian human rights activist, Avdhash Kaushal, who has been invited by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to join a panel of experts which will advise the Presidential Commission on missing persons and war crimes, will urge Rajapaksa and the minority Tamils to go for a compromise.
“I will suggest to Rajapaksa that he should go for a compromise with the Tamils, because peace is very important not only for Sri Lanka but for the whole of South Asia. And the Tamils should give up the bullet for the ballot, and negotiate with the government. The experts’ panel should render justice. We have to solve the problem,” Kaushal told Express over phone from Dehradun on Sunday.
The Lankan government is implementing the 13th constitutional amendment which devolves power to the provinces, but progress has hit the rocks because the Tamils want powers over the police, he said.
The 77-year old Padma Shri award winner said that India had taken a “wrong approach” to Lanka because of the “Tamil Nadu factor”.   
“Manmohan Singh made a big blunder by not attending the Commonwealth summit in Colombo, listening to Tamil Nadu politicians. It was not a bilateral meeting. I wrote to the PM expressing my displeasure,” Kaushal recalled.
When it was pointed out that as per the terms of reference for the “experts”, they cannot do any research or make any suggestion on their own, and that they can tender advice only when the commission seeks advice, Kaushal said that he can offer suggestions to the President in a bid to solve the problem, though he cannot force him to accept the suggestions.

August 18, 2014
Northern and Eastern Provincial Council members call for UN to investigate genocide

Northern and Eastern Provincial Council members call for UN to investigate genocide

18 August 2014
Thirty-three members of the Northern and Eastern Provincial Council have written to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), calling on the investigative team to examine the mass killings of Tamils from at least 1974 onwards and explore the charge of genocide against the Sri Lankan state.

In a letter sent to the OHCHR offices in Geneva, the provincial council members stated that “there were several major incidents of massacres of Tamils” and that “none of them were properly investigated by the Sri Lankan government.”

The letter went on to add,

“The Tamil people strongly believe that they have been, and continued to be subjected to Genocide by Sri Lanka. The Tamils were massacred in groups, their temples and churches were bombed, and their iconic Jaffna Public Library was burnt down in 1981 with its collection of largest oldest priceless irreplaceable Tamil manuscripts.  Systematic Sinhalese settlements and demographic changes with the intent to destroy the Tamil Nation, are taking place. We request the OHCHR investigative team to look into the pattern of all the atrocities against the Tamil people, and to determine if Genocide has taken place.”

Addressing the outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, the council members also stated,

“If the Government of Sri Lanka continues to reject entry for the OHCHR investigative team, we request that the team considers conducting its investigation in the State of Tamil Nadu, India.” 
See the full text of the letter and signatories here.

The UN High Commissioner had previously stated that a thorough and credible investigation could be carried out without access to the island, noting there was a “wealth of information” outside.

See our earlier posts: Access to Sri Lanka not necessary for investigation says UN Human Right Chief (11 August 2014)


Call for submissions as ‘OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka’ begins (05 August 2014)

Jaya urges Modi to ensure visas are granted to UN inquiry team
 (24 July 2014)

India should support UN inquiry on Sri Lanka urges Tamil Nadu delegation (16 July 2014)

Chennai should be a base for UN inquiry team says BJP ally
 (14 July 2014)

August 18, 2014
Full Text: Letter Censored By SL Media – International Bar Writes To Rajapaksa On Reported Surveillance Of BASL President

Full Text: Letter Censored By SL Media – International Bar Writes To Rajapaksa On Reported Surveillance Of BASL President

Colombo Telegraph
His Excellency Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 01
Sri Lanka
Your Excellency,
11 August 2014
Helena Kennedy
Helena Kennedy
We are writing to you on behalf of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) to express our grave concern over the reported surveillance of Mr Upul Jayasuriya, President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and to urge the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka) to undertake swift and effective investigations into all reported incidents of surveillance.
The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. It has a membership of over 55,000 individual lawyers and 206 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents. The IBAHRI works with the global legal community to promote and protect human rights and the independence of the legal profession worldwide. The IBAHRI takes a strong interest in the rule of law in Sri Lanka. In 2013, the IBAHRI conducted an investigation into the removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and the independence of the legal profession in Sri Lanka. The IBAHRI continues to monitor the situation in Sri Lanka and has spoken out on a number of issues relating to the independence of the legal profession and the rule of law in the country.
The IBAHRI understands that Mr Jayasuriya officially reported incidents of surveillance on at least two occasions. The incidents involved two vehicles: a motorcycle and a three-wheeler. Mr Jayasuriya filed official police complaints regarding the incidents and requested police protection. However, the IBAHRI understands that the authorities have thus far failed to identify the suspects or to provide any protection.
The IBHARI understands that these reported incidents of surveillance took place shortly after the BASL issued a public statement criticising a Sri Lankan National Secretariat for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) communiqué, issued on 7 July 2014, that prohibits NGOs from conducting press conferences, workshops and journalism training, and from disseminating press releases.
The IBAHRI is concerned that the reported surveillance of Mr Jayasuriya may be an attempt to intimidate him, following the public statement issued by the BASL. Further, the IBAHRI expresses concern that a lack of thorough and transparent investigations into the reported incidents could give rise to a culture of impunity in Sri Lanka, whereby individuals, including lawyers and judges, may be discouraged from speaking out in defence of the rule of law.
As such, the IBAHRI respectfully wishes to draw Your Excellency’s attention to both Sri Lankan domestic law provisions and international legal standards relating to the right to freedom of expression and the rights of lawyers.
With regard to concern that the reported surveillance is an attempt to intimidate Mr Jayasuriya, following the public statement issued by BASL, the IBAHRI respectfully reminds Your Excellency of Article 14 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, which enshrines the right to freedom of speech, assembly, association and movement. This right is also protected in international law under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The IBAHRI reminds Your Excellency that, as a State Party to the ICCPR, Sri Lanka is bound to the terms of the treaty. Furthermore, Principle 23 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers stipulates that lawyers in particular have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice, and the promotion of human rights.
With respect to the IBAHRI’s concerns over the personal safety of Mr Jayasuriya, the IBAHRI wishes to draw Your Excellency’s attention to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which states at Principle 16 that ‘Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.’ Principle 17 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers stipulates that ‘Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.’
In light of the above, the IBAHRI urges the relevant Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that all suspected incidents of intimidation or surveillance will be swiftly and effectively investigated, and that Mr Jayasuriya will be provided with the necessary protection to ensure his personal safety. The IBAHRI also urges the relevant authorities to protect the right to freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, as afforded under domestic and international law provisions.
We would be grateful to receive your assurances that our concerns will be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Yours sincerely,
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and Mr Sternford Moyo

August 18, 2014
Suicide Rate Up in Jaffna Post-war: Univ Professor

Suicide Rate Up in Jaffna Post-war: Univ Professor

The New Indian Express
Published: 17th August 2014 
COLOMBO: Peace returned to Jaffna after a 30-year brutal war in May 2009. But paradoxically, the suicide rate has gone up there since the end of the war.
Dr Daya SomasundaramStatistics collected by Dr Daya Somasundaram, Professor of Psychiatry at Jaffna University, show that in 2005, at the beginning of Eelam War IV (August 2005 to May 2009), the suicide rate in Jaffna district was about 23 per 100,000 population. But in 2006, when the war began to intensify, it came down to less than 20. As the war progressed in 2007 and 2008, the rate declined further. And in 2009, when the war was at its peak and Tamil society was under severe threat, the suicide rate went down to almost 15 per 100,000.
After the war, the suicide rate rose sharply, to cross 25 in 2011. It fell slightly below 25 in 2012, but only to rise in 2013 to the 2011 level. During the 2002-2004 peace process also, the suicide rate had increased as compared to the earlier period when military operations were on.
Explaining the phenomenon, Somasundaram told Express that during the war, frustrations were better managed because there was a strong social support system cushioning the impact of various kinds of traumas and stresses. Under the Lankan military siege, civilians clung together. But after the war, social cohesion and social support systems began to wear thin as families got splintered. Economic deprivation, which continues to this day thanks to unimaginative government rehabilitation policies, created family splits and interpersonal issues. After the war, an individual’s “social capital” dwindled, and was no longer a fall back option during stressful situations.
Somasundaram recommends that the government should help increase the “social capital” of war-affected people by restoring pre-existing social and familial networks, and making these groups the vehicle of rehabilitation schemes.
Since the traumas experienced during the war had been collective, rehabilitation should also be collective, he said. Against this background, even mourning has to be collective, he insists.
But government considers collective mourning by the Tamils of their war-dead as a grave “security threat”.

August 18, 2014
Pope Francis to visit Madhu shrine

Pope Francis to visit Madhu shrine 


By Ananth Palakidnar-August 18, 2014 

The Catholic Bishop of Mannar,
Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, said Pope Francis would visit the Madhu shrine during his January visit and bless the war victims at a special mass at the shrine.
Bishop Joseph along with Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith on Friday blessed thousands of pilgrims who gathered from various parts of the island for the August festival at the Madhu shrine. It was the first time the arrival of the Pontiff was officially announced.
 

During his address, Bishop Joseph said Pope Francis will arrive in Colombo on 13 January 2015 and would travel to the Madhu shrine the next day.
"Pope Francis will be the first Pontiff to travel out of Colombo whereas other Pontiffs confined themselves only to Colombo when they visited Sri Lanka in the past. The Pontiff is expected to closely interact with the war widows, disabled persons and orphans," Bishop Joseph said.

August 18, 2014
'கருமலையூற்று பள்ளிவாசல் உடைக்கப்பட்டது' - மாகாண சபை உறுப்பினர்

'கருமலையூற்று பள்ளிவாசல் உடைக்கப்பட்டது' - மாகாண சபை உறுப்பினர்

2012இல்  கருமலையுற்று நுழைவாயில் பொதுமக்கள் தடுக்கப்பட்ட போது
2012 இல் கருமலையுற்று நுழைவாயில் பொதுமக்கள் தடுக்கப்பட்ட போது
BBCகடைசியாக பிரசுரிக்கப்பட்டது: 17 ஆகஸ்ட், 2014 
திருகோணமலை மாவட்டத்தில் உயர் பாதுகாப்பு வலயத்திலுள்ள கருமலையூற்று பள்ளிவாசல் பாதுகாப்பு தரப்பினரால் உடைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளதாக கிழக்கு மாகாணசபை உறுப்பினரான மௌஃரூப் இம்ரான் கூறுகிறார்.
கிழக்கு மாகாண சபையின் ஐ. தே. கட்சி உறுப்பினர் மொகமட் மஹ்ருப் இம்ரான் இது தொடர்பான குற்றச்சாட்டொன்றை முன் வைத்துள்ளார்.
இது தொடர்பாக அந்த பகுதி மக்களால் கிழக்கு மாகாண முதலமைச்சர் நஜீப் அப்துல் மஜீத்தின் கவனத்திற்கு கொண்டு வரப்பட்டுள்ளதையடுத்து, உண்மை நிலையைக் கண்டறிவதற்காக இன்று மாலை அந்தப் பகுதிக்கு பொறுப்பான இராணுவ கட்டளை அதிகாரியை அவர் சந்திக்கவிருந்தார்.
திருகோணமலை பட்டினமும் சூழலும் பிரதேசத்திலுள்ள கருமலையூற்று கிராமத்தில் பள்ளிவாசல் அமைந்துள்ள பகுதி உயர் பாதுகாப்பு வலயமாக இருப்பதால், அங்கு வெளியார் செல்வதற்கு 2009ம் ஆண்டு தொடக்கம் தடை விதிக்கப்பட்டிருப்பதுடன் தொழுகையும் தடைப்பட்டுள்ளது.
1926ம் ஆண்டு நிர்மாணிக்கப்பட்ட இந்தப் பள்ளிவாசல், 1947ம் ஆண்டு ஜும்மா பள்ளி வாசலாக பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டு, அந்தப் பகுதி உயர் பாதுகாப்பு வலயமாக அடையாளமிடப்படும் வரை இஸ்லாமியர்களின் வழமையான தொழுகைகளும் அங்கு இடம்பெற்று வந்தன.
2007ம் ஆண்டு, தான் மத்திய அரசில் அமைச்சராக பதவி வகித்தவேளை, திருகோணமலை மாவட்ட மீலாத் விழாவின் போது தனது முன்மொழிவின் அடிப்படையில், அரசாங்கத்தினால் 4 இலட்சத்து 80 ஆயிரம் ருபா நிதி வழங்கப்பட்டு இந்த பள்ளிவாசல் புனரமைக்கப்பட்டதாக கிழக்கு மாகாண முதலமைச்சர் நஜீப் அப்துல் மஜீத் கூறுகின்றார்.
அந்தப் பகுதியில் இராணுவ முகாம் அமைந்திருந்ததால், 2009ம் ஆண்டு முதல் வெளியார் அந்த பகுதிக்குள் செல்வதற்கு அனுமதி மறுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளதாகவும் அவர் தெரிவிக்கின்றார்.
இறுதியாக 2012ம் ஆண்டு கிழக்கு மாகாண சபை தேர்தல் காலத்தில் ஐ.ம. சு. முன்னணி வேட்பாளராக போட்டியிட்ட முதலமைச்சர் நஜீப் அப்துல் மஜீத் மற்றும் நாடாளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர் ஏ. எச். எம். அஸ்வர் ஆகியோர் அந்தப் பகுதிக்கு சென்று பார்வையிட்டிருந்தனர் என்பதும் இங்கு குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.

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