Saturday, November 28, 2009

Commonwealth leaders must focus on Sri Lanka crisis

Amnesty International has called on Commonwealth leaders to press the Sri Lankan government about the plight of the displaced.

The organization made the call in an open letter to heads of government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago this week.

The UK government said on Friday that it will oppose Sri Lanka hosting the next Commonwealth summit because of concerns over its conduct in the conflict and its treatment of refugees.

At least 130,000 people displaced by war and living in government camps in northern Sri Lanka are being denied their basic human rights, including liberty and freedom of movement.

Amnesty International has a global campaign, Unlock the Camps, calling on the Sri Lankan government to end its policy of forcibly confining people to camps, which amounts to arbitrary detention.

In recent weeks the government has speeded up releases from the camps. Amnesty International has welcomed the Sri Lankan government's recent promise to lift any restrictions on movement of at least 130,000 people still unlawfully detained by 1 December.

However, amid reports of some re-arrests following releases from the camps, the organization has called on the Sri Lankan authorities to abide by the principles of international humanitarian law and ensure that displaced people are supported to make voluntary and informed decisions about their future.

The open letter also asked Commonwealth leaders to support calls for greater accountability for abuses of human rights and humanitarian law suffered by Sri Lankan civilians.

Click here to read the open letter to Heads of Government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

© Amnesty International

Related Links:
UK wants to prevent Sri Lanka from hosting Commonwealth summit - Guardian
Canada opposes Sri Lanka's bid to host Commonwealth - The Star

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

"No need to reveal" journalists' sources

A court in Sri Lanka has rejected a police request to order a journalist to reveal his sources regarding a news story.

The Colombo magistrate said journalists cannot be forced to reveal their sources.

The court made the decision after considering a case filed by police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) against the editor of Lankaenews web newspaper.

The magistrate ordered the editor of the website, Sandaruwan Senadheera, to report to the CID and record a statement within two weeks.

The police wanted to know the source for a Lankaenews report regarding the transfers of police officers.

The counsel representing the website, Gunaratna Wanninayake, told BBC Sandeshaya that the CID is "trying their best" to find the source of the story.

"But the magistrate clearly said that my client is not bound by the law to do that," he added.

© BBC Sinhala

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

National Unity based on Equality, Autonomy, and the Rights of Self Determination - Dr.Vickramabahu

Presidential candidate of the Left Front Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne say that he will take up the issue of national unity based on Equality, Autonomy, and the Rights of Self Determination. Announcing the decision by left and democratic parties, organizations and intellectuals Dr. Vickramabahu said that the incumbent president followed the agenda given by the Indian rulers backed by global powers while the terrible bankruptcy in Lankan society is used by far-right militaristic section of the global powers to put forward the former military chief.

Following is the statement issued by the Left Front:

"We are suffering because we have failed to resolve basic problems in our country. We cannot claim to be a free and democratic country unless we resolve the national problem and also stop international global capitalist interference. Mahinda regime used military forces backed by India and global powers to crush the Tamil uprising caused by continuous discrimination and repression. They claim it is a great victory. However our country is devastated. The Tamil homeland is in ruins and people are made paupers drifting here and there. Thousands were killed; thousands disappeared; thousands are disabled, and thousands are made political prisoners. Large numbers living abroad curse the rulers who brought this misery to them. In Sinhala areas too a large number is killed while a larger number are made invalids. The people in general are made poorer. Many young people are unemployed. Cost of living is simply unbearable and the working masses are forced to bear the cost of the war. Continuation of 300,000 armed forces means that they are unable to find suitable jobs for them. On the other hand the war is not over. If this situation continues, and there is no other way out, inevitably youth will take up arms against oppression and discrimination. In the mean time unbelievable corruption exists from top to bottom. Corruption and misappropriation has become the common practice in society. Indian and global companies are gobbling up the economy. We have become vassals of Indian rulers.

Estate worker's powerful strike started a wave of strikes that came to Colombo shaking the regime. The inability of Mahinda to use the military power accumulated during the war, against the workers, created a big hole in the system. The repercussion of this strike wave was a split in the monolithic chauvinist structure. The inability of Mahinda Regime to crush worker's strikes, student's actions and mass protests, made the capitalists to seek an alternative leadership from a military hard liner, General Sarath.

Mahinda followed the agenda given by the Indian rulers backed by Global powers. He is still prompted by these masters to continue their agenda. On the other hand the terrible bankruptcy in Lankan society is used by far-right militaristic section of the global powers to put forward General Sarath. Sarath hails bloody devastation created by the war and stands for strengthening the military, and also for centralization. JVP four points proposal designed to eliminate devolution and crush aspirations of Tamil speaking people is accepted as the common programme of General Sarath. It is no way an answer to the tragedy created by Mahinda Chinthanaya.

It is necessary to condemn what Mahinda regime has done and sharply take up the issue of national unity based on Equality, Autonomy, and the Rights of Self Determination. Democracy and freedom can prevail only if there is state based on national unity. Without this fundamental task achieved, no development could take place, and we will be eternally trampled by Global powers. Therefore on behalf of workers, peasants, fishers and other suffering masses, Left Front with the support of other left and democratic parties, organizations and intellectuals decided to put forward Comrade Vickramabahu as its Presidential Candidate."

© NSSP Info

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lanka presidential polls on Jan 26

Sri Lanka’s Election Commission on Friday announced that the Presidential elections will be held on January 26 next year, with incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa expected to face a challenge from former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka, architect of the military victory against the LTTE.

“Elections will be held on the 26th of January,” Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake said. An official statement said that nominations would be accepted on December 17. Sri Lanka has over 14 million eligible voters.

The announcement came four days after President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to advance the polls by nearly two years.

Rajapaksa and his allies decided to hold the polls by January next year apparently to cash in on the military victory against LTTE, which held one-third of Sri Lanka’s land under its control when he took over as President in 2005.

However, the President is expected to face a tough challenge from Sarath Fonseka, who quit as Chief of Defence Staff a fortnight ago following a spat with Rajapaksa, as he is expected to enter the fray as the common candidate for the Opposition.

Almost all the Opposition parties, including former Premier Ranil Wickremasinghe’s United National Party, have expressed support for Fonseka’s candidature.

Fonseka is yet to formally announce his candidature. However, local media reported that the Army General may formally announce his decision on Sunday.

UNP chief Wickremesinghe had on Thursday announced his party’s support to Fonseka. Earlier, the radical JVP had announced shifting of its support from President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Fonseka.

In his bid to unseat Rajapaksa, Fonseka is also expected to get the backing of regional and minority parties, who have formed an umbrella grouping along with the UNP to contest the elections.

An ally of the United National Front in Sri Lanka has said if Fonseka wins the presidential polls, UNP chief Ranil Wickremasinghe will be made the Prime Minister.

“If Fonseka wins, UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe will be appointed the Prime Minister,” Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Mahajana wing) leader Mangala Samaraweera, said on Thursday. He said the government had been spreading rumours that Fonsaka’s victory would pave way for a military rule, the Island newspaper reported.

© Indian Express

Related Links:
Sri Lanka's presidential poll set for Jan. 26 - AP
Sri Lanka to hold presidential poll on Jan. 26 - Reuters

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