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  • Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution
    By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – R. Sasilan: Assistant Commissioner of Elections Today we are opening new living quarters for our Election Commission’s man-in-charge in Batticaloa. I am so glad because R. Sasilan is a man I am proud of. He stands up for what is right without fear or favor. When a minister distributed gifts in elections some years ago, he confiscated a gift pack and filed a complaint with the police. The police, as often happens, disappeared the evidence. Sasilan sent a report to the Commission and that too disappeared....
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  • Coronavirus funerals: Sri Lanka's Muslims decry forced cremation
      Image copyrightEPA Image captionSri Lankan Muslim women wait for a Covid-19 test. Some in the community are fighting cremation rules Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims - a practice forbidden by Islam. The nation's minority Muslim community says they are using the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala's Saroj Pathirana. On 4 May, Fathima Rinoza, a 44-year-old mother of three from Sri Lanka's minority Muslim population, was admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Covid-19. Fathima, who lived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, had been suffering from respiratory problems and the authorities feared she had caught the virus. On the day she was admitted to hospital, the family was "set upon" by the authorities, her husband Mohamed Shafeek said. "The police and military along with...
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  • ජිනීවා මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී රටවල් 5කින් ලංකාවට චෝදනා
    පාස්කු ප්‍රහාර සම්බන්ධයෙන් සැකපිට අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා රඳවා තබාගැනීම, විශේෂ බළකායේ සැරයන් සුනිල් රත්නායකට ජනාධිපති සමාව ලබාදීම ඇතුළු කරුණු ගණනාවක් පදනම් කරගනිමින් එක්සත් රාජධානිය ඇතුළු රටවල් 5ක කණ්ඩායමක් එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට චෝදනා එල්ල කර ඇතැයි ජිනීවා තානාපති...
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  • මුස්ලිම් නීතිඥයාට එරෙහිව 'ත්‍රස්ත සාක්කි' ගෙතූ රහස් පොලිසියට විනිසුරු විරෝධය

      පාස්කු බෝම්බ ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ යැයි ජනමාධ්‍ය මගින් ප්‍රචාරය කරමින් ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ අත්අඩංගුවට ගනු ලැබු මුස්ලිම් ජාතික නීතිඥවරයකුට එරෙහිව ව්‍යාජ සාක්ෂි ගෙතීමට රහස් පොලිසිය විසින් දරණ ලද උත්සාහයක් විනිසුරුවරයකුගේ මැදිහත්වීම නිසා ව්‍යර්ථ වී තිබේ.

    නීතිඥ හිජාස් ඕමර් හිස්බුල්ලාහ් රඳවා...
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  • Gnanasara Thero Once Again Inciting Sinhalese Against Muslims
    Malicious campaign pushing discriminated and frustrated Muslims to wall Few weeks ago Ven Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero, known for inciting Sinhalese and unleashing violence against Muslims, said he would dissolve his organisation Bodu Bala Sena as it has achieved its target of setting up a Sinhala Buddhist government without minority support. Latheef Farook Following the election of the present government to power on 15 November 2019, he was rather quiet. Now that the parliamentary election is forthcoming, he has started his campaign once again pitting the Sinhalese against Muslims.There were reports that during the presidential elections in November 2019 Buddhist monks and temples were used to demonize Muslims to win Sinhala votes assuring security. As part of this campaign to win Sinhala votes, he attempted to brand as extremist, several...
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  • Hejaaz: A lawyer for all seasons

    A year has passed since the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. Victims, survivors, and the general public still await answers. Amidst these desperate demands for accountability, Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Muslim lawyer, is suddenly – and most unexpectedly – arrested and detained.

    I met Hejaaz during the first-ever debating tournament I participated in. He led the team from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, and I represented St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. Our teams made it to the finals that year. I recall Hejaaz as a fierce competitor with the rare gift for conveying an argument with charisma and conviction. He also had a great sense of humour, taking friendly banter in good spirit. The Thomians triumphed that year, and deservedly so.

    What strikes me now is...
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  • Muslim writer in jail for 60 days without "explicit evidence"
    A group of activists in Sri Lanka has called upon the government for the unconditional release of a Muslim writer who has been held in detention for more than
    sixty days without “explicit evidence being produced”.

    In a letter to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim activists say that Ramzy Razeek arrested on April 09 for allegedly violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Cyber Crimes Legislation has also been denied medical treatment and legal access in detention.

    “Despite orders from the Magistrate to allow him access to medicine, reliable sources state that his health condition is deteriorating due to lack of access to specific medicines of which he is in dire need. A lawyer attempting to visit Razeek this week, was also denied...
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  • அடையாள அணிவகுப்புக்கு முன் ஹிஜாஸின் அடையாளத்தைக் காட்ட சிஐடியினர் முயற்சித்தார்கள்
    இரு சிறுவர்களிடமிருந்தும் வாக்குமூலம் பெறுவதற்கு முன்னர் சிஐடியினர் தனது அறையில் வைத்து ஹிஜாஸ் ஹிஸ்புல்லாஹ்வின் புகைப்படத்தை அவர்களுக்குக் காண்பிப்பதற்கு முயற்சித்தார்கள் என கோட்டை நீதவான் ரங்க திசாநாயக்க தெரிவித்துள்ளார்.

    புத்தளம் மத்ரஸாவொன்றின் மாணவர்களுக்கு தீவிரவாதத்தைப் போதித்தார் என சிஐடியினர்...
    Read More...
  • CID attempted to show photograph of Hejaaz to children before ID parade: Fort Magistrate
    Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayaka said in open court that officers of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had attempted to show photographs of Hejaaz Hizbullah at his chambers prior to the recording of statements from two children.

    When the matter was taken up before Dissanayake on 24 June, he told Hizbullah’s lawyers that prior to the recording of the statements from the two children, this attempt had been made: “I want to reveal this. The CID officers tried to show pictures and I had to tell them to leave the Chamber.”

    Two children had made “voluntary statements” on 12 May to the Magistrate on camera regarding Hizbullah. An identification parade was to be held including Hizbullah with 10 children being summoned as witnesses to identify Hizbullah.

    Nawarathna Bandara PC, appearing with Harshana...
    Read More...
  • Magistrate disallows ID parade for detained lawyer
    Counsel for Hejaaz Hizbullah objects to ID parade Says children lined up to identify suspect have been shown his photograph during questioning Magistrate uploads objections, fixes 1 July for next hearing Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday disallowed the Police from presenting detained attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah for an identification parade after counsel for the suspect objected to the move. Hejaaz Hizbullah   President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara, who appeared for Hizbullah, said that the 10 children lined up to identify the suspect have been shown his photograph by the Police when they recorded a statement from them, and hence objected to holding the identification parade.

    CID officers who appeared in Court however...
    Read More...
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Facebook staff to learn Sinhala insults after Sri Lanka riots

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Three months after Sri Lanka was rocked by deadly anti-Muslim riots fuelled by online vitriol, Facebook is training its staff to identify inflammatory content in the country’s local languages.

The social network has been seeking penance in Sri Lanka after authorities blocked Facebook in March as incendiary posts by Buddhist hardliners fanned religious violence that left three people dead and reduced hundreds of mosques, homes and businesses to ashes.

Until the week-long ban, appeals to Facebook to act against the contagion of hate speech had been met with deafening silence, at a time when the California-based tech giant was reeling from unprecedented global scrutiny over fake news and user privacy.

“We did make mistakes and we were slow,” Facebook spokeswoman Amrit Ahuja told AFP in Colombo.

The dearth of staff fluent in Sinhala -- the language spoken by Sri Lanka’s largest ethnic group -- compounded the issue, with government officials and activists saying the oversight allowed extremist content to flourish undetected on the platform.

Ahuja said Facebook was committed to hiring more Sinhala speakers but declined to say how many were currently employed in Sri Lanka.

“This is the problem we are trying to address with Facebook. They need more Sinhala resources”, said the island’s telecommunications minister Harin Fernando.

Since the violence broke out in March, two high-level delegations from the company have visited Sri Lanka, where ethnic divisions linger after decades of war, to assure the government of its intent.

Ahuja said Facebook was working with civil society organisations to familiarise its staff with Sinhala slurs and racist epithets.

Complex local nuances have added to the challenge. The word for “brother” in Tamil -- also an official language in the country -- can be a derogatory term in Sinhala when a slight inflection is used.

Fernando said the decision to impose an island-wide blackout on Facebook -- used by one in three Sri Lankans -- was taken as a last resort to prevent an escalation of violence.

Buddhist monks freely shared images of masked men attacking mosques and urged others to do the same in the weeks before the riots erupted in Kandy.

Sinhala extremists used the social network to recruit rioters and organise their travel to the troubled area, from where violence later spread.

A meme in Sinhala, which remained online for weeks, urged death to all Muslims, including children.

A man who reported it to Facebook was told it did not violate “specific community standards”.

In addition to government warnings, Fernando told AFP that Facebook users lodged thousands of complaints over extremist content, but were met with silence.

“It was not something that I liked doing. But if we didn’t block Facebook, the violence would have spread out of control,” he said.

Eventually the army was given special powers to restore order under the first state of emergency declared in the 21-million-strong nation since the end of the civil war in 2009.

Ahuja said Facebook has since taken down “hate figures and organisations” in Sri Lanka including the Bodu Bala Sena, a radical Buddhist outfit that is blamed for attacks against Muslims in recent years.

Its spokesman Dilantha Withanage complained the group and its leader – Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara -- were being unfairly targeted.

“We can’t even post a photo of venerable Gnanasara on Facebook,” Withanage told AFP.

But videos of his sermons can still be seen on the social network. Other extremists have also slipped through the cracks, activists say, despite repeated requests to have their accounts removed.

Last year another extremist Buddhist group, Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa, urged followers via Facebook Live to storm a UN compound sheltering Rohingya Muslims. Police had to be called in to protect the refugees from the mob.

Several Facebook pages for the group have been blocked in Sri Lanka but the same content can be viewed under alternate names, activists say.

“Facebook is only now being held to account over things that since 2013 were evident...(to) us,” said Sanjana Hattotuwa, a researcher who has studied Islamophobia on Facebook in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Centre for Policy Alternatives said Facebook needed to offer more than “cookie cutter” pledges to clean up its act.

”The time for promises has passed. Action is what’s needed, and transparency and accountability,” said Hattotuwa.

Source: AFP

-Agencies

http://www.adaderana.lk/news/47953/facebook-staff-to-learn-sinhala-insults-after-sri-lanka-riots

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