Sri Lankan & Indian Catholic Fishermen Get St Anthony’s Blessing at Kachchathivu Annual Feast

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Annual feast of St. Anthony’s Church Kachchathivu on Sunday (16) drew a huge crowd from Sri Lanka and India. Over 5200 Catholic fishermen from both countries had arrived with their families to fill the small island where majority stayed their night with Sri Lanka Navy’s protection.

Sri Lanka Navy had taken necessary steps to provide security and all facilities including water, food, and medicine for the crowd. Vicar General Jaffna Rev. Fr. Dr. Justin Gnanaprakasam conducted the prayers. Rev. Fr. Sahayaraj of Rameswaram, Rev. Fr. Amal Raj of Delft and a large number of catholic priests also attended the feast.

Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Jayanath Kolombage, Director General Coast Guard Rear Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne and Commander Security Force – Jaffna Major General Udaya Perera were also among the participants.
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Updated on 19.03.2014

Inadvertently, the name of Rear Admiral Sarath Dissanayake, Commander Northern Naval Area is not mentioned in the text above. He who coordinated the event on behalf of the Sri Lanka Navy too was among the distinguished crowd.

 

http://www.cimicjaffna.lk/Cimicnews_2014_03_17.php

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The fog of war in Sri Lanka

Berne (1)

By Michael Roberts and Padraig Colman

Reporting of the civil war in Sri Lanka has tended to distort various aspects of the violence that ensued, particularly in terms of the number of civilian casualties and the causes of their deaths.

Although Western media have been critical of both sides in the conflict between the Sinhala-dominated government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), they tend to see Tamils (and thus the LTTE) as underdogs.

Sri Lankan Tamils have been emigrating since the fifties. There is a substantial body of intelligent and prosperous Tamils abroad alienated from Sri Lankan politics and governments. The patriotism of expatriate Tamils increased when the government defeated the LTTE in 2009. They are receptive to the propaganda of Tiger activists.

Tamil nationalists or sympathizers now hold key positions in the west. Sri Lankan government PR is ineffective in comparison with the coordinated campaign of the Tamil diaspora using such outlets as the BBC, ABC, Sky, Channel Four, New York TimesDer Spiegel and their like.

The result has been distortion.

  • Western media erroneously describe it as “a war without witnesses” even though a restricted number of foreign reporters were transported to the rear battle front on several occasions.(1)
  • The received wisdom is that at the end of war there was “merciless shelling” and “extermination” and that subsequently some 300,000 civilians were “interned” in “concentration camps”. Both claims are exaggerations, the latter being quite gross.
  • Ban Ki-Moon’s Panel of Experts (Darusman Report) said that “a number of credible sources have estimated that there “could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths”. Despite the questionable methodology pursued by this panel, (2) its guesswork became a definite figure of at least 40,000 civilian dead; and, in the indelible words of a British parliamentarian named Lee Scott, 40,000 “slaughtered”.

British parliamentarians did not allow for the following factors during the last five months of the war in the patch of LTTE territory we term the “Vanni Pocket”:

  • It was difficult to distinguish between civilians and combatants;
  • The LTTE often fired on Tamil civilians;
  • US Ambassador Butenis confirmed the government’s claim that they made a conscious decision to prolong the war and risk more SL Army casualties in order to protect civilians. Red Cross representative Jacques de Maio, Robert O Blake of the US State Department and Jim Grant of UNICEF echoed this in their secret memoranda during the height of the war;
  • The Sri Lankan authorities knew that USA and India were tracking the battles on satellite and would spot any inordinate use of force; Continue reading

521 Brigade Releases 50 Houses & 22 Lands to Their Owners

Army serving in Jaffna, continuing to shift its camps to government lands, handed over 50 houses and 22 plots of lands hitherto occupied by the troops to their legitimate owners Saturday (09) morning.

Headquarters 521 Brigade of Point Pedro (PPD) released 29 houses and 03 lands while Headquarters 7th Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (7 VIR) of Valvettithurai handed back 19 houses and 18 blocks of lands. Meanwhile, 2 more houses and 01 block of land used as a Company Headquarters at Sakkottai by the 7 VIR were also given to their owners during a brief function held at PPD Saturday morning.

Commander 521 Brigade Colonel Tikiri Dissanayake delivered the documents with regard to release of civilians’ property to Divisional Secretary PPD Mr. R.T. Jeyaseelan.

Assistant Divisional Secretary PPD Ms. Usha, Mayor PPD Mr. Ravindran, senior officers of Army and Police serving in the area, owners of released lands and houses and distinguished guests attended the occasion.

PPD jetty road so far remained within the former 521 Brigade Headquarters premises was also opened for public use during the ceremony.

http://www.cimicjaffna.lk/Cimicnews_2013_11_10.php

A Response to Rajan Phillips and L. Jayasooriya

A few comments on the paper delivered in Brazil indicate how deeply Sri Lankans have absorbed the oppositional mindsets that Nirmal Verma and Tagore deplored. One generalization occurred in the Sunday Island, to which a response was made. Another appeared only in the electronic media, but was obligingly sent in. Published here are the response to the Sunday Island and a response to another comment, since it seems important to explain to those who seem confused the idea between a nation in which there is a majority of a particular religion, and characterizing the state as that of a particular religion.

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The Editor

Sunday Island

 

Dear Sir

I read with some interest Rajan Philips’ account of ‘Anglo-Indo-Lanka ties and tangles from DS Senanayake to Mahinda Rajapaksa’  in your columns last week. In the midst of an interesting thesis, he made a gratuitous reference to a paper I had delivered in Brazil last month, and claimed that my thesis seemed to have been ‘to attribute the foreign policy differences between DS Senanayake and the UNP, on the one hand, and SWRD Bandaranaike and the Left on the other, to the difference between a supposedly dichotomous Western view of things and a contrastingly unifying Eastern vision’.

I am grateful to him for having so graphically illustrated a dichotomizing view of things, and sorry that his mindset seems to be ‘Western’ in this regard, as defined by Nimal Verma and Tagore. I did not talk about differences between Senanayake and Bandaranaike, and indeed I pointed out that the Rubber Rice Pact with China was signed during a UNP regime. I did note that J R Jayewardene had abandoned traditional Sri Lankan foreign policy because of his decision to enter the Cold War on one side, but I would certainly not describe the traditional UNP, as represented by the Senanayakes, as dichotomizing.

I attach a copy of the full paper and hope that you might be able to publish it in full, since Mr Philips’ account is misleading.

Yours sincerely

Rajiva Wijesinha

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Thanks for writing to me personally. I am sorry you have only blind copied to others, so please do pass this on to all those others as well. I have taken the liberty of copying this to many of those on these lists who have written to me personally recently, but I assume there are many more.

I have long realized that few people read carefully, and that comments on what others say are

a) based generally on what one assumes they have said

b) intended to make points one makes anyway

In this instance it seems that you, like Shenali, have confused my criticism of those who think Sri Lanka is a Buddhist state with those who refer to it as a Buddhist nation. The latter is not a problem, since it means a nation where the majority is Buddhist, which is of course true of Sri Lanka. But thinking of Sri Lanka as a Buddhist state (or of France as a Catholic state) is inaccurate, since this is not the case constitutionally, and it is generally not acceptable to give a state a particular religious identity when there are substantial portions of its populace who belong to other religions. Continue reading

The World Today: China, India and the United States as seen from Sri Lanka

Text of a presentation by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP, at the Seminar on:

Crossed Perceptions: China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil and the Emerging World

October 22nd 2013, Rio de Janeiro

 

Let me begin with one of the formative myths of the Sri Lankan state. It deals with the introduction of Buddhism to the country, in the 2nd century BC. The king at the time, Devanampiyatissa, was out hunting when he came across a strange man in the forests of Mihintale. This was Mahinda, the son, or some say the brother, of the Mauryan Emperor Asoka, who had converted to Buddhism after a terrible war in which, to complete his conquest of India, he had slaughtered thousands.

When the monk saw Tissa, he asked him whether he saw the mango tree before them. Tissa said yes, and then the monk asked whether there were other mango trees. Tissa said yes, and then the monk asked if there were trees other than mango trees. Tissa said yes again, whereupon the monk asked whether, apart from all the other mango trees, and all the other trees that were not mango trees in the world, there were any other trees.

Tissa thought hard, and then replied that there was indeed the original mango tree the monk had pointed out. This was when Mahinda decided that Tissa was a fit person to understand the doctrines of Buddhism, so he preached to him and converted him and through him his people. Buddhism has since been the dominant religion in Sri Lanka, though, I think uniquely, we also have substantial proportions of our population belonging to the other principal faiths of the world, Hinduism and Islam and Christianity.

When I was young I used to think the story a silly one, but I have since understood its implications for the way we should look at the world. It seems to me now the epitome of what I would describe as the Eastern vision of the individual, society and the world, as opposed to the dichotomies the West believes in, and therefore often creates. In what I would posit as an ideal concept of our relations with the world, we should see ourselves as existing at the centre of several concentric circles, to all of which we belong. While we share aspects of identity with others belonging to those circles, ultimately we need also to be aware of the unique nature of our own individuality.

Continue reading

Towards Reconciliation

Rajiva Wijesinha

Adviser on Reconciliation to HE the President

 

Four years after the conclusion of conflict, Sri Lanka still has a long way to go to achieve Reconciliation. This is unfortunate, given the enormous efforts made by government to improve facilities for the people most affected by war. But it is not surprising that, as indicated by the results of the last election held in the Northern Province, we have failed to win hearts and minds.

That would not have been difficult had a concerted effort been made. But this requires planning, and unfortunately planning is not something Sri Lanka has been good at. For over three decades now, we have tended to respond to events or rather to crises. The one exception was the care with which, in the period after 2005, we approached the conflict, with all branches of government working together and care taken to ensure the dissemination of clear and convincing information. Following the conclusion of the conflict however all that broke down, and propaganda, often based on parochial electoral considerations, took over, with little attempt at intelligent analysis of ground realities.

Thus we seemed to believe that reconstruction alone would suffice, and reconstruction that placed a premium on cement rather than people. This is on par with the worst delusions of capitalism as elevated into a political philosophy, the assumption that prosperity will trickle down. But this does not work, and Sri Lanka may in the end have to pay heavily for the failure to conceptualize with sensitivity of those who took on responsibility only for construction and not for consultation, who concentrated only on resettlement and not rather on restoration.

Continue reading

Right to Development: Political will urgently needed to address rising inequalities

NEW YORK / GENEVA (31 October 2013) – The Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development speaking to diplomats in New York has warned about the dramatic increase of inequalities within and between countries during the unprecedented current global economic and financial crisis.

The surge in inequalities has brought “countless victims, violating their human rights, and threatening the ecosystem upon which life depends,” said Tamara Kunanayakam, who currently chairs the Working Group charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the promotion and implementation of the right to development.

“We are lacking neither in the means nor in the resources to confront these historical challenges through international cooperation and solidarity. Problems of a global character can only be resolved through collective action,” Ms. Kunanayakam told the UN General Assembly during the presentation of the Working Group’s latest report.* “The question is: Is there the political will to do so?”

If any progress is to be made in the realization of the right to development, then social justice and equality, as well as national and international justice, must be given the prominence they deserve in today’s development discourse.

Ms. Kunanayakam urged Governments worldwide to implement the Declaration on the Right to Development, calling it “an instrument that provides a framework for building a human society based on justice, equality, non-discrimination and solidarity.”

The Working Group was established in 1998 by the then Commission on Human Rights to monitor and review progress made in the promotion and implementation of the right to development in the world.

Tamara Kunanayakam (Sri Lanka) took up her functions as Chairperson-Rapporteur of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development in 2011. Ms. Kunanayakam has worked as both international and national civil servant, inter alia as Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva. She has also worked for civil society organizations and as independent researcher and is a recognized expert on the right to development. As Chairperson-Rapporteur she serves in her personal capacity. Learn more, log on to:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Development/Pages/WGRightToDevelopment.aspx orhttp://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Development/Pages/DevelopmentIndex.aspx

(*) Read the full report: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session24/Documents/A-HRC-24-37_en.pdf

The UN Declaration on the Right to Development:http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Development/DeclarationRightDevelopment_en.pdf

Jaffna Teaching Hospital Authorities Turn to Army for Blood

More than 200 officers and other ranks as well as members of the civil staff serving the 55 Division Headquarters atVettalaikerny, Jaffna, in response to a request gave away their blood for the use of Tamil civilians under treatment at Jaffna Teaching Hospital during a mobile project on account of Poson Full Moon Day (23).

The Army was compelled to organize this campaign after medical officers at Jaffna Teaching Hospital turned to the Army for blood since an acute shortage exists in the Jaffna Blood Bank. The matter was brought to the notice of the 55 Division Headquarters by medical authorities.

Continue reading

From recrimination to reconciliation: the path to peace in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is at a crossroads. After the end of a long civil war, the country has an historic opportunity to draw on its strengths and riches to create a unified, prosperous and just society.

But it is also faced with complex problems, mostly arising from its recent history. In Australia, we only see the influx of Sri Lankan refugees. But this is merely a symptom, hinting at the larger problem of post-war reconciliation at home.

Sri Lanka is beginning to exorcise its ghosts, but Australia and the international community need to help it on its path to peace.

What is needed now

Reconstruction and reconciliation in post-conflict settings have to occur together. The top-down provision of resources by governments or international agencies needs to be combined with the process of bringing communities together to heal old wounds and where appropriate, to find ways to resume communication with old enemies.

This process of reconciliation is painstaking and can be difficult. Without reconciliation, facts can take on lives of their own, acquiring perverse meanings. The building of roads can be seen as an act of colonisation. The construction of schools and the provision of learning materials can be seen as brainwashing. Even the provision of food and medical care can be interpreted as tools for enforcing and entrenching dependence.

In Sri Lanka, reconciliation and healing has to be undertaken at the level of civil society and encompass all ethnicities, religions and communities. The role of the government is not unimportant but should not be overestimated: in fact, there are things here that governments simply cannot do. Continue reading