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  • Technical committee gives clearance; ban on COVID-19 burial revoked
    The government decided today to allow the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims after the technical committee appointed in this regard gave clearance, a Minister said today. The decision follows the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressing concerns over the cremation of dead bodies of Muslims at a high level meeting. OIC Secretary General Yousef Al Othaimeen said the OIC is “concerned on the situation of Muslims in Sri Lanka." Sri Lanka counts on the support of these countries to defeat a resolution to be moved by the core group of countries led by the United Kingdom. Earlier, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announced in Parliament that burials would be allowed. Later, State Minister Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said it would be referred to the technical committee of experts to take the final decision. (Kelum Bandara)   http://www.dailymirror.lk/top_story/Technical-committee-gives-clearance-ban-on-COVID-19-burial-revoked/155-206622
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  • කොරෝනා මළ සිරුරු භූමදානයට අවසර
    කොරෝනා වයිරසය ආසාදනය වීමෙන් සිදුවන මරණවලදී මළ සිරුරු භූමදානය කිරීමට රජය අවසර දී තිබේ. ඒ සඳහා වන ගැසට් පත්‍රය අද (25) රාත්‍රියේ මුද්‍රණයට යැවුණ අතර සෞඛ්‍ය ඇමතිනී පවිත්‍රා වන්නිආරච්චි මහත්මිය ඊට අත්සන් තබා තිබේ.


    http://www.lankadeepa.lk/latest_news/%E0%B6%9A%E0%B7%9C%E0%B6%BB%E0%B7%9D%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%8F-%E0%B6%B8%E0%B7%85-%E0%B7%83%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%BB%E0%B7%94%E0%B6%BB%E0%B7%94-%E0%B6%B7%E0%B7%96%E0%B6%B8%E0%B6%AF%E0%B7%8F%E0%B6%B1%E0%B6%BA%E0%B6%A7-%E0%B6%85%E0%B7%80%E0%B7%83%E0%B6%BB/1-586600
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  • Justice has failed Sri Lanka civil war victims: UNHCR
    Efforts to ensure justice for victims have failed, Michelle Bachelet says while introducing her report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council.
    Twelve years after the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka, domestic efforts to ensure justice for victims have failed, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday.

    Introducing her report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet said the effect of the conflict on thousands of survivors from all communities was devastating.
    “Despite commitments made in 2015, the current government, like its predecessor, has failed to pursue genuine truth-seeking or accountability processes,” she said.

    “The impact on thousands of survivors, from all communities, is devastating. Moreover, the systems, structures, policies...
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  • හිජාස් පෙත්සම ඉල්ලා අස්කරගනී
    (තිළිණි ද සිල්වා සහ රංජන් කටුගම්පොළ)

    රැඳවුම් නියෝග මත රදවා සිටින තමාව වහාම මුදාහරින්නැයි පොලිස්පතිවරයාට සහ අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවට නියෝග කරන ලෙස  ඉල්ලා නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අභියාචනාධිකරණය ගොනු කළ රිට් පෙත්සම අද (24) ඒ මහතා විසින්ම ඉල්ලා අස් කරගන්නා ලදි.

    පාස්කු ඉරුදින කොළඹ සිනමන් ග්‍රෑන්ඩ් හෝටලයේ සිදුවූ...
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  • Disappointed to see Govt. backing away from ending cremation policy: US
    US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B Teplitz said she was disappointed to see that the Government and Prime Minister are backing away from ending discriminatory cremation policy. She tweeted that “People, including loved ones recently passed away, deserve more respect for their rights from a democratic government”.   http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Disappointed-to-see-Govt-backing-away-from-ending-cremation-policy-US/108-206094



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  • Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal remanded
    Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were remanded till March 3 by the Fort Magistrate’s Court today. The Attorney General yesterday directed the IGP to produce them in a relevant court under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA and section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act.   http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Hizbullah-and-Madrasa-School-Principal-remanded/108-206092 Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
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  • හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා කොටුව අධිකරණයට

    (රොමේෂ් ධනුෂ්ක ද සිල්වා) පාස්කු ප්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධයෙන් රහස් පොලිසිය මගින්  අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන මාස 10කට අධික කාලයක් රැඳවුම් නියෝග මත සිටි නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අද(18) පස්වරුවේ කොළඹ කොටුව මහේස්ත්‍රාත් අධිකරණයට ඉදිරිපත් කරනු ලැබීය. හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා සමඟ අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් පුත්තලම, මද්‍රසා පාසලේ විදුහල්පති මොහොමඩ්...
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  • හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලාගේ පෙත්සම 24 දා සළකා බලයි
    (තිළිණි ද සිල්වා සහ රංජන් කටුගම්පොළ)

    නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා ගොනු කළ රිට් පෙත්සම මෙම මස 24 වැනිදා සළකා බැලීමට අභියාචනාධිකරණය අද (16) තීරණය කළේය.

    පාස්කු ඉරුදින කොළඹ සිනමන් ග්‍රෑන්ඩ් හෝටලයේ සිදුවූ මරාගෙන මැරෙන බෝම්බ ප්‍රහාරය සිදුකළ බෝම්බකරු සමඟ සම්බන්ධතා පැවැත්වුයැයි කියන සිද්ධියකට සැකපිට...
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  • UK Muslims complain to UN over Sri Lanka’s cremation policy
    Muslim Council of Britain leads calls for an end to the ‘unjust and discriminatory’ mandatory cremation policy.
    9 Feb 2021
    Muslim families in the United Kingdom whose loved ones have been cremated in Sri Lanka have submitted a complaint to the United Nations, branding the South Asian country’s controversial policy “unjust and discriminatory” and calling for its immediate suspension.

    Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka made cremation mandatory last March for people who die, or are suspected to have died, with coronavirus.

    KEEP READING
    Sri Lanka vaccinates health workers, troops after India donation
    UN rights chief seeks sanctions against Sri Lankan generals: AFP
    Sri Lanka’s cremation of COVID dead a ‘human rights violation’
    Thousands in Sri Lanka drink ‘miracle’ COVID potion, minister...
    Read More...
  • කොවිඩ් සිරුරු භූමදානයට ඉඩදෙන බව අගමැති කියයි
    බන්දුල ඉලේපෙරුම

    කොවිඩ් 19 ආසාදනය වීමෙන් මියයන පුද්ගලයන්ගේ සිරුරු භූමදානයට ඉඩදෙන බව අගමැති මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ මහතා අද(10) පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේදී පැවසීය.
    අගමැතිවරයා සභාවේ නැගී සිටිමින් එසේ කියා සිටියේ එස්.එම්.මරික්කාර් මන්ත්‍රීවරයා නැගූ පැනයකට පිළිතුරු වශයෙනි.
    ජලයෙන් කොවිඩ් 19 ‍බෝ නොවන බවට සුදර්ශනී ප්‍රනාන්දුපුල්ලේ ඇමැතිවරිය...
    Read More...
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Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution

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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. When I inquired, I was told untruthfully that he never reported it. Sasilan has what it takes to be a good officer. His experience also shows the challenges of office: fear of and the need to please the political authorities who recently just ahead of elections transferred new GAs to key electoral districts.

Our franchise is safeguarded by people like Sasilan. May these quarters give comfort to those who come to live here, safeguarding our franchise instead of to promote themselves by service to political authorities.

SLAS: SL Administrative Service or SL Association of Schemers?

Sasilan’s experience shows the triple challenges faced by election officials: impunity (on which I have written much and will not touch on here), political pressure, and threats to distributed power. As for political pressure, as you know the COVID curfews were mysteriously announced lifted on 19 April to clear the way for elections, a day after Defence-Secretary Kamal Gunaratne stated firmly that until COVID is curbed, curfew cannot be lifted. Now the 100 limit on political meetings is increased. The relevant gazette is delayed. Science services political authority.

When the Colombo Returning Office had a Facebook post calling a Presidential candidate the son of a donkey, an inquiry was held. The inquiry was scheduled for 5 pm, I left the Commission after 5:30 pm when the meeting was not convened. The delay was that one officer was drunk. They met very late and declared that the RO had a new telephone, he was reading someone else’s post, his finger slipped on the polished screen, and that got posted as his. Not even a child would believe what the SLAS officers and an IT expert proffered as an excuse. I perceived a need not to find anything against a fellow SLAS officer. After the elections, the man retired and sought nomination from the ruling party. Impunity!

Today we have a situation where an RO was brought at the last minute to a big district. Gifts given for those without work under COVID came to the Kachcheri. These went to an MP who distributed them as if they are from him. There is a photo from his Facebook where his youth leader gives the package from a GS office. The furniture stock marks identify the office. An inquiry had to be launched.

SLAS officers were the inquirers. The pickup from the Disaster Management Service was tracked by the GPS showing that the vehicle running charts are cooked up. It had stopped at a home for long periods where the contributions were offloaded on the relevant days (13-19 April). It had not gone to the Divisional Secretary’s office as claimed. The GA/District Secretary claimed he had given the goods to an Additional GA with correct instructions and certified that the distribution was perfectly done. The Additional GA claimed he had distributed the goods as instructed by the GA. The Accountant of the Divisional Secretariat where the gifts were claimed to have been given, testified that nothing was given there. The beneficiary list given by the GA’s office was clearly cooked up and duplicated pages with beneficiary signatures not matching the signatory’s names.

 

The inquirers did not dare to question the driver who asked him to go to the unauthorized places. They claimed to lack the capacity to ask the alleged beneficiaries who they were told the donor is. They claimed to lack the capacity to check the Facebook photo claiming the goods were from an MP. No one asked the GA how he certified distribution as he instructed.

The SLAS inquiry team cleared the GA claiming there was no evidence against him (although he certified that the distribution was properly done) and that he had handed over everything properly to the Additional GA. The Inquirers did not want to let down a political corrupt RO on whose reputation the electoral system hangs.

Democracy in Danger: Threat to Distributing Power

Our franchise is in danger. One source is the SLAS itself whose structure upholds authority and impunity. The other is rolling back devolution of powers from which we have all benefitted, including the Election Commission where three members have replaced the one Commissioner. This permits greater role for dissent and alternative voices. I will focus on the distribution of power for lack of time.

Imagine Sri Lanka is one electorate. The majority will win most of the seats. It is in recognizing that different peoples have different needs to articulate, that we have several electorates to send different representatives knowing the needs of each electorate. Similarly, we have multi-member seats to allow, say Muslims to be able to return a Muslim MP in a Tamil majority electorate. The Provincial Councils are a boon to truly representative democracy. What has happened to them is like what happened to a friend’s Volkswagen Beetle when I went with him to a mechanic’s. The foot board was rusty. The mechanic kicked it hard and broke it. Then he said, “See. It needs fixing.”

Likewise, the Provincial Councils have problems. We need to fix them without breaking them.

In my LLRC testimony, I argued for a united but federal Sri Lanka. I have three daughters and a son. They are all equally my children and equally loved. But the girls have different shared bedrooms in our house because their needs are different. Under one roof we are one family but with different living quarters. The arrangement does not make my son with his own bedroom unequal to my daughters.

Indeed the arrangement gives them greater freedom to lead fuller lives, one room with boy toys and comics and the others with dolls, wall posters, and a library with books like Pride and Prejudice. Giving us, Tamil people, different space where we can give expression and life to our peculiar needs is not separation but true happy integration.

Let me also paraphrase another family-based argument that my daughter who worked for Dr. Jehan Perera heard from him. If I were to have a voting system among my children every time we go out as a family, the three girls would outvote my son and we would always end up shopping or eating at a restaurant. My son, who would prefer Casuarina Beach, would get outvoted. In time, he would want to break off from the family and go to the beach with his friends. Majority vote would lead to separation but sharing leads to integration.

That is, the wishes of the majority cannot be forced on minorities in the name of democracy and must be mediated through a federal arrangement. Yes, a good society must allow those who wish to be different to be different.

Women

Women also are a minority in terms of power. They have different needs and sensibilities. Getting some 95% male Parliament to be their representative is not democracy. The Mannar Women’s Development Federation has said “Give one of your votes to a woman.” I endorse this. As they say, women’s rule uplifts our democracy.

There is some confusion, however. At the Presidential Elections, when MWDF urged you to vote for at least one woman, you could choose any of the female candidates. Now, however, in the Parliamentary elections, you must first choose a party, whatever it may be, and then vote for a woman from that same party. If you chose a woman from a party that you did not choose, your vote will be spoilt.

We must give choices to everyone in how our lives are run. Women especially must have a greater choice in running their lives. Vote for at least one woman from your party.

*Text of speech on 5 July, 2020 at the Election Commission’s Grand Opening of the New Quarters Building, Saravana Road, Kallady, Batticaloa

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/democracy-threatened-impunity-political-patronage-rollback-of-devolution/


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