groups raise voice against war
from more than 50 movements held a peaceful demonstration outside
the Fort railway station in Colombo yesterday to protest against
the imminent US attack on Iraq.
As top Washington
officials indicated that the war had virtually started though the
UN Security Council is still bitterly divided, the anti-war groups
in Sri Lanka joined millions of people who were holding protests
in more than 500 cities throughout the world yesterday.
protest yesterday was coordinated by the Alliance for the Protection
of Natural Resources and Human Rights, and taking part were major
trade unions, civic action movements, women's, farmers and
fishermen's groups and religious leaders.
Sarath Fernando, a spokesman for the alliance, said that nearly
20% of the world's untapped energy resources were known to be in
the Persian Gulf area, and it was apparent that the hidden agenda
of the US establishment in attacking Afghanistan and now Iraq was
to gain control over that important area.
a non-party social justice activist, also said it was the United
States which had produced most of the weapons of mass destruction
and if such weapons in Iraq needed to be destroyed, such weapons
in the US also must be destroyed.
The main organizer
of yesterday's protest was the Ven. Mahamankadawala Piyaratana Nayaka
Thera, a social justice crusader better known as Eppawela Hamuduruwo.
Other prominent figures at yesterday's anti-Bush protest in Colombo
included the Ven. Samitha Thera, Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, Fr. Yohan
Devananda, Fr Reid Shelton and Vasudeva Nanayakkara.
up powers of Parliament
has submitted a set of far reaching proposals to party leaders aimed
at strengthening Parliament.
The new proposals
are aimed at getting away from the confrontational politics that
has plagued Parliament in recent years and getting all parties involved
in the various committees of the House.
of sectoral committees by the Committee of Selection at the commencement
of a Parliament will be among the changes suggested to Standing
Orders. The sectoral committees headed by a chairman who will be
a member of the opposition, will deal with sixteen subjects.
They will deal
with the subjects of environment, national integration and human
rights, public accounts, public enterprises, state revenue, parliamentary
petitions, foreign affairs and security, economic development, agriculture
and fisheries, commerce and labour, human settlements, tourism,
aviation and shipping, justice, human development, human welfare,
mass communication and technology and public management.
The other proposals
include the establishment of a National Audit Commission, which
will assist the Public Accounts Committees, the Committee on Public
Enterprises (COPE) and a new committee on revenue to be set up.
Muslim MPs want meeting with LTTE
A delegation of Muslim MPs from the North and East are
to meet on Tuesday afternoon in the Parliamentary complex to discuss
the arranging of a meeting with the LTTE.
comprises 15 Muslim parliamentarians from different political parties
who have united to protect the interests of the Muslims in their
When the delegation
met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday and called upon
him to accommodate a separate Muslim delegation at the peace talks,
he is reported to have said the delegation should also maintain
a dialogue with the LTTE.
While acknowledging the fact that a Muslim delegation should participate
at the talks, he had stated the government would have to work out
with the LTTE the modalities of the participation.
The seven parliamentarians
who met the Prime Minister are Ministers Rauff Hakeem and Noordeen
Mashoor and MPs Ferial Ashraff M.L.A.M. Hisbullah, M.H. Thowfeek,
M.H.M. Harees and Dr. Haffrath.
week the delegation had held discussions with the Norwegian ambassador.
the facilitator that Muslims should be accommodated as one party
at the seventh round of talks," Mr. Hisbullah told The Sunday
the Ashraff Congress, launched on February 25 and registered under
the Societies Ordinance held its first news conference at the Galadari
Hotel on Tuesday and introduced its office bearers.
Organiser of the Congress M.J.M. Muzzamil said the organisation
was not a political party. "This is a people's movement to
win the people their political rights. It can be a political movement,
but a political party and a political movement are two different
things," he said.
Ferial Ashraff is learnt to have expressed disapproval at the establishing
of the organisation.
The MEP is to
hold its 18th convention today (Sunday) at the New Town Hall at
party leaders are expected to attend this year's convention which
is focused on forming a broader alliance to safeguard the nation.
Dinesh Gunewardena said that issues such as terrorism, separatism,
CoL and security of the state will be discussed.
will be adopted to form a broader patriotic alliance. We feel that
the country is facing a crucial point where opposition parties have
to get together' he said.
hike on track
Senior Railway officials are preparing a report for an
increase in fares, an official said.
While Railway Chief Priyal de Silva declined to comment on this,
the official said the fares-hike report would be submitted to the
Minister and the Cabinet.
He said rail
fares had not been increased since 1996 when a litre of diesel cost
Rs. 12.80 compared to Rs. 30 today.
said the Railway needed extra funds urgently to improve services
and for maintenance.
response yet from Govt. and LTTE on missing persons issue
The ICRC is yet to get a response from the Government
and the LTTE on its proposal to form a committee on missing persons.
The ICRC handed
over a set of proposals at the fifth round of peace talks to both
parties on the forming of a joint committee or commission on missing
persons. However both parties did not take up the issue at the talks.
to form a commission was taken at the third round of peace talks
where both parties agreed that the ICRC should formulate a set of
proposals, after which the Government and the LTTE would come to
a joint agreement.
Sukumar Rockwood told The Sunday Times that the ICRC will not be
in the committee which would be a joint committee between the Government
and the LTTE.
take the role of advisor.
aspects of setting up such a committee are dealt with in the proposals.
Although we have not officially inquired from both parties as to
the delay we have spoken to them whenever we meet them on visits"
association of war affected women and parents of servicemen missing
in action has appealed to the Government to expedite the forming
of the committee.
Dharmadasa of the association told The Sunday Times that she has
appealed to the Government to include members from the association
in the committee.
want a retired judge to be appointed. We have also asked both parties
to take this issue at the next round of talks. This issue is very
important when it comes to the question of human rights" she