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Sunday, 30 March 2014

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Forged currency case of Sajith's sister Dulanjali:

Private newspapers played State media's role, says Dayasiri

All political parties, which contested for 155 seats in the Western and Southern Provincial Councils, were extremely busy during the early part of last week as their election campaigns reached the climax with the final rallies held on Wednesday.

Many thought that the questioning of UNP parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa's sister Dulanjali Premadasa would be used by the Government for its election campaign. Even Sajith's loyalists in Hambantota thought that would seriously affect their campaign in the district that was conducted without obtaining the services of Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe or any other UNP seniors.

But the Government set an example by not making use of the incident to sling mud at Sajith or the UNP campaign. However, it was Ranil's loyalists who made the maximum use of the incident to settle internal conflicts.

North Western Province Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera paid a tribute to our sister paper Dinamina for 'playing' it clean while some rival newspapers went to town by blowing the incident out of proportion.

Addressing a massive UPFA final election rally held at Gothatuwa New Town held in support of Colombo District candidate Ajith Subasinghe, Dayasiri said the State media has conducted themselves in an exemplary manner whereas so-called private and independent media has now take over the role of state media.

"When this type of incident takes place, the State media had taken minimum mileage in the past. I checked the Dinamina but there were no banner headlines on page one. But Ranil's uncle's newspaper had reported that incident as the lead story in its front page in bold letters.

That newspaper is now playing the role of state media,. The UNP had fallen to such low ebb now," Dayasiri said.

Dayasiri who had earned a name out of politics too as a mega star singer in a popular reality show on television, was singing a popular Sinhala number when Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa climbed on to the stage. Despite being the busiest final day in Provincial Council election campaign, many ministers attended the rally to extend their support to millionaire businessman Ajith Subasinghe.

Among them were Ministers Susil Premajayantha, Maithripala Sirisena, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Dinesh Gunawardena, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Athauda Seneviratne, Milroy Fernando, Faiser Mustapha, parliamentarians R. Duminda Silva, Arundika Fernando and former Foreign Minister Rothitha Bogollagama.

For the first time after surviving a fatal motor accident, the main vocalist of the popular band Sunflowers Nelson Vaas made a public performance to support his childhood friend Ajith.

"I am not sure whether I could still sing because this is the first time that I am appearing on stage after the accident," he said.

But there was no difference in his voice, except for the fact that he preferred to be seated when singing his last song for the day.

Nelson promised that Sunflowers will perform at the same venue free of change in the event his fans elect Ajith to the Western Provincial Council.

Gammanpila leads from the front

UPFA's Colombo District leader Udaya Gammanpila continued his election campaign in highly exemplary manner. Before winding up his election campaign, Gammanpila invited all UPFA contestants for a common rally at Nugegoda. All UPFA candidates were allocated equal time slots to address the massive gathering.

Wayamba Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera and Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake were among the main invitees, along with UPFA Secretary General Susil Premajayantha, Former Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and the Mayor of Kotte Janaka Ranawaka.

Recalling his 23-year-old friendship with Gammapila, Dayasiri said the people in Colombo District would beat all overwhelming odds to bring the JHU stalwart to the top. At the end of his speech, there was a special request from the audience for a popular fast number.

But Dayasiri said he has never sung 'baila' at election platforms. "What suits here the most is a Amaradeva master's song," Dayasiri said. But the band in attendance was not in a position to supply music to the popular Amaradeva number. Hence, Dayasiri was compelled to sing another slow number.

On the following day after closing election propaganda at Wednesday midnight, Gammanpila set another example. In keeping with the election law, Gammanpila personally removed all the stickers with preferential numbers that had been passed on his vehicle.

US fails to muster expected support

The United States, after exerting pressure on UNHRC countries through all possible means, failed to muster support even the half of its members for the Resolution against Sri Lanka last week. The US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka at the 25th session of the UNHRC in Geneva was adopted with only 23 countries out of 47 member states voting in favour of it.

Political observers stated that it was a big setback for the US which exerted tremendous pressure on smaller countries of the UNHRC. There had been various unofficial way of lobbying with intimidations such as aid cuts and sanctions. But the US and the UK could not win votes of 24 UNHRC member countries with 12 voting against and 12 abstaining from voting. The most notable feature were the decisions of India and South Africa to abstain themselves from voting.

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha described the resolution and its content which calls for an international investigation on Sri Lanka as a serious breach of international law and added it 'poses a grave threat to the sovereign independence of the states in the UN.'

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha responding to a statement made by the US said there is no urgent situation in Sri Lanka which warrants interests that were expressed before the UNHRC.

Ravinatha also criticized the contents of the resolution as one that 'deceptively opens doors for third party elements' to interfere with internal affairs of Sri Lanka due to its lingo being 'crafted in ambiguous language.

President rejects UNHRC Resolution

President Mahinda Rajapaksa rejected the UNHRC resolution calling for a probe into alleged human rights violations, telling that he would instead press ahead with Sri Lanka's own reconciliation plan of the LLRC.

"We reject this. This resolution only hurts our reconciliation efforts. It does not help. But, I am not discouraged. We will continue with the reconciliation process I have started," he was quoted as saying.

The President said he had drawn comfort from India's abstention in Geneva. "I think it is encouraging that India did not vote against us," he said. The President said the LLRC's home-grown process had made sweeping recommendations to ensure ethnic unity and the government was implementing them.

"We need time to implement the recommendations of the LLRC. I want to repeat again that we are going ahead with this process," the President added.

He said the US had mounted a major campaign to drum up support for the censure motion and he was at a disadvantage from the start. "The EU votes as a block and the US had more than a dozen votes already in the bag while we started with none," he said.

Commenting on the voting pattern, External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said the outcome of the US sponsored resolution reflects that more countries are against the US at the UNHRC.

US disappointed over Indian decision

The United States has expressed disappointment over India's decision to abstain from voting on the resolution against Sri Lanka.

"It is disappointing to us that India abstained from voting on this resolution when they voted yes for the last two years," Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department Marie Harf was quoted as saying.

She further said that Washington has conveyed this disappointment to New Delhi.

"We have made our disappointment known to Indian officials. Beyond that, I'd refer you to them in terms of how they voted," she said, during the daily press briefing on Friday.

For the first time, the resolution requests a comprehensive investigation to be undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into alleged violations and abuses of human rights.

"In addition, it requests that OHCR monitor, assess, report on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including any relevant domestic processes dealing with reconciliation and accountability," Harf said.

India justify its decision Meanwhile, India has justified its abstention from voting on the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC, saying the decision was driven by welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said India's position on the UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka has always been consistent with its view that the process of national reconciliation must be expedited in a manner that meets aspirations of the Tamil community for a "life of equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka".

"We believe that our abstention yesterday is in the best interest of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and will assist us in our efforts to help them," Singh said.

India, along with 11 other countries, abstained from voting while 12 other countries including Russia, China and Pakistan opposed the resolution.

The Foreign Secretary said the decision was also in the interest of the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. "You would have seen the announcement by the government of Sri Lanka of their decision to release all Indian fishermen in custody as a goodwill gesture.

This is the first step towards a long-term solution to the fishermen's issue," she said.

Asserting that India always attached "highest priority" to the welfare and well-being of Tamils in Sri Lanka, she said the international community needs to work with Sri Lankan government in ensuring justice and progress for Tamils.

"We believe that our decision to abstain on the UNHRC resolution adopted would strengthen our hand in achieving our objective vis-a-vis the Tamil community of Sri Lanka," she said. The Foreign Secretary said India was of the view that the end of LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka in 2009 provided a unique opportunity to pursue a lasting political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.

"We have acknowledged whatever progress has been made. We have also clearly indicated the areas where we expect progress to be made including on missing persons, detainees, reduction of 'high security zones', return of private lands by the military and withdrawal of security forces from the civilian domain in the Northern province," she said.

Giving details of India's assistance programme in Sri Lanka, she said it has extended assistance worth USD 1.3 billion in terms of loans and grants for various projects for the rehabilitation of internally-displaced people and reconstruction of infrastructure in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Lanka to build on goodwill

Sri Lanka must build on the goodwill shown by India at the UNHRC where it abstained from voting on a resolution against Colombo, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's special human rights envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

Samarasinghe, who is also the Minister of Plantation, said that India had been with Sri Lanka on two side votes before the main vote.

"India voted with Sri Lanka on the vote on the 'no action motion' while they also voted with us on deleting the operative paragraph 10," Samarasinghe said.

Pakistan moved the no action motion after raising a budget query on the proposed international investigation on Sri Lanka.

They also moved the deletion of the para which empowered the UN rights chief to proceed with the international investigation.

"The Indian Ambassador used two very important words - 'intrusive' and 'constructive'. Those two words said all about the resolution. We must build on this goodwill shown by India. We have to act more cordially with them," Samarasinghe said.

Elated by the India's abstention at the vote on the resolution, Sri Lanka decided to release Indian fishermen arrested by the Navy for alleged poaching.

Ninety-eight fishermen with their boats were ordered to be released.

The frequent arrest of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy has become a major irritant in bilateral ties.

President Rajapaksa hailed India's abstention as a very welcome and significant development which was very encouraging towards Sri Lanka. India had supported both previous US-moved resolutions in 2012 and 2013.

BJP rejects Vaiko's 'Eelam' call

India's Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) has emphasised that it will never permit the establishment of a 'Tamil Eelam State' within Sri Lanka. A BJP leader Venkiah Naidu had said his party constantly supports the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and said that a solution should be sought within the structure of the Sri Lankan Constitution.

"As far as the BJP is concerned we are for maintaining the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka and for a solution within the Constitutional frame work of that country," Naidu said addressing a media conference in New Delhi. "If you support the demand for a separate nation, it will have its repercussion in your own country," he said in reply to a question on the pro-Eelam statement issued by V. Gopalasamy alias Vaiko, leader of MDMK.

The BJP reiterated that it would not support any element to set up an Eelam state in Sri Lanka and stated that supporting a separate state in Sri Lanka could bring adverse effects on India itself.

Tamil Nadu MDMK party which expects to form a coalition with the BJP has proposed in its election manifesto to hold a referendum for a separate state in Sri Lanka. Rejecting the MDMK proposal, the BJP leader said that any party has the liberty to express its opinion. According to independent polls, the BJP is likely to be the largest single party in the forthcoming Indian general elections.

Resolution cannot be justified, says Russia

The US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka cannot be justified in any way as the Sri Lankan government has succeeded in ensuring the people's right to live by eliminating terrorism from the country, Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alexander Kerchava said.

"Sri Lanka has succeeded in securing and providing the most valuable right of a human being - the right to live," he said.

Commenting on the allegation of excessive use of force at the final stage of war against terrorists, the Russian envoy said the world has many examples where the excessive use of force was adopted at war.

"Japan was practically defeated in 1945 but the country is still suffering from nuclear bombardment. This was not necessary," he said. The Russian ambassador said his government opposed the US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council. "Sri Lanka has very strong support from countries like Pakistan, China and Cuba," he said.

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