People and events

Thalif Deen wins the 2010 “Project Censored” awards

Sri Lankan journalist Thalif Deen, currently UN Bureau Chief for Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency, has won the 2010 '''Project Censored'' awards for two of his news reports widely published in 2008-2009. The coveted annual awards are made by the Sonoma State University in California for "outstanding investigative journalism”.

His first award-winning story, ''US Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza,'' was among the top 10 (ranked No. 9) for 2008-2009, and the second story, ''ICC Facilitates US Covert War in Sudan'' was ranked 17 in the top 25.

The Gaza story focused on the use of American weapons, provided free to Israel and funded by US taxpayers, to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza last December. The second story focused on how the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague has indicted the Sudanese President Omar Ahmad al-Bashir for war crimes while the US has received immunity for American soldiers responsible for killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Deen wrote the Sunday Times column ‘Inside the Glass House’ until he recently stopped after he had written 500 of them.

Justice is back

"Justice" a monthly magazine edited by Lalith Allahakkoon and published by the Ministry of Justice & Law Reform is now available. The objective of "Justice" is to discuss legal and policy related issues that plague the country from time to time.

"Justice" was first published when former Supreme Court Judge A.R.B. Amarasinghe functioned as the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice. Though it continued for some time, after Justice Amarasinghe was elevated to the Supreme Court, it died a natural death.

The revival of this magazine is to continue the tradition created by him and to get the legal fraternity and others involved in a healthy debate on legal and other policy related issues. The magazine will also be available on the ministry web shortly.

The official launch of the magazine will be on November 10 by Chief Justice J.A.N. de Silva and Minister of Justice & Law Reform Milinda Moragoda.

Seminar by the International Catholic Union of the Press

By Lenard R Mahaarachchi
Two of the speakers

The International Catholic Union of the Press held a seminar for foreign and local delegates from October 21 to 23 at Tewatta, on the theme "The Role of Media in Modern Digital Society”.

The seminar was opened by Rt. Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis, retired Archbishop and Joseph Cittiappilly, Secretary General of the union who were the chief guests. The National Catholic Writers' Association (NCWA) represented the local team.

Lectures were delivered by Rev. Fr. Benedict Joseph, Edwin Ariyadasa, Thilina Samarasooriya, Snr. Radio Technologist, SLBC, Nilani Kumudini Manthirnayake and Jesuit Fr. Varghese Paul of India.

On the final day the participants went on an excursion to Kandy visiting the Gadaladeniya Rajamaha Viharaya in Pilimatalawa and the Dalada Maligawa.

ZONTA International: 90 years of service to less privileged women

Zonta International celebrates 90 years of yeoman service to improve the status of less privileged women, today.

Zonta is a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy.

Nearly 33,000 members belong to more than 1,200 Zonta Clubs in 67 countries and geographic areas. Zonta's mission to improve the legal, political, economic, health, educational and professional status of women, is implemented through a range of projects that address at grassroots level, the plight of downtrodden, harassed and discriminated women.

Zonta Clubs in Sri Lanka will celebrate this milestone with several service projects. Zonta Club 11 of Colombo will celebrate this day with 81 orphaned girls between the ages of 5-18 and 30 elderly inmates of the Sri Lankadara Home in Colombo 6. The morning will include an interactive session on basic hygiene and coping with stress and illnesses, with the medical members of the club.

Among Zonta Club 11's many service projects are the donation of medical equipment to several hospitals dealing with the care of women and children. The donation of a shower trolley for the Burns Unit of the National Hospital, Colombo, is the highlight for 2009. This is the only Burns Unit for the entire country and was in urgent need of a shower trolley.

The fact that available statistics indicate that most of the burn patients are women, the majority of whom are victims of domestic violence, added impetus to Zonta's fund raising efforts to provide this vital equipment. Sri Lanka's only Paediatric Cardiology High Dependency Unit at Lady Ridgeway Hospital which was functioning with only the bare necessities, received cardiac monitors, pulse oxemeters, an ECG machine, infusion pumps as well as refrigerators from Zonta Club 11 while the Castle Street Maternity Hospital was the recipient of pulse oxemeters to the ICU.

The Prevention of HIV/AIDS is another project initiated by Zonta Club 11, for those living in Angulana. It seeks to improve knowledge and attitudes towards HIV and to reduce HIV related risk behaviours.
Zonta Club 11 has also provided toilet and sickroom facilities to an underprivileged school in Wanathamulla. Numerous Health Camps were also conducted in five different locations for underprivileged women and children.

The renovation of tsunami damaged houses was yet another project, as was providing essential items for internally displaced women in camps in Vavuniya.

Zonta's mentoring project mentors underprivileged women from Angulana by motivating them into varied livelihood projects that include fund management, housekeeping, image building and skills development, which grant them independence and respect as contributing members of their families.
Under its advocacy arm, Zonta Club 11 introduced career development programmes for less privileged schoolgirls, which instruct them on the advantages of planning a career, with interactive educational programmes that encourage them to think 'out of the box'.

To commemorate the International Day for Violence against Women on November 25, last year, Zonta Club 11 conducted two programmes to discuss violence against women and related medico legal aspects, with Justice Shirani Tilakawardane as keynote speaker of one programme.

The current board of Zonta Club 11 is headed by President Chathuri Ranasinghe, President- elect Ganga de Zilwa, Vice President Lilamani Dias Benson, Directors Dr. Mala Tudawa, Shirani Fernando, Treasurer Sandra Jayaweera, Asst. Treasurer Janaki de Soysa, Secretary Tara Ramanayake and Assistant Secretary Dr. Indira Hettiarachchi.

Please help Sameera and Rikaza

Fourteen-year-old Fatima Sameera Gafoor and Fatima Rikaza Gafoor (9) are two sisters suffering from Leukaemia. Dr. V.N. Rajasekaran, Medical Director of Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre in India has recommended surgery followed by blood transfusions.

The total cost including surgery room rent, medicine and blood transfusion after surgery will be approximately Rs. 2.5 million. The President's Fund has borne the cost of the infusion pumps for both Rikaza and Sameera.

Their father A. Gafoor, a three-wheel driver who is desperate to save the lives of his motherless children amidst financial difficulties is appealing to kind donors for contributions to A/C 8570008679, Commercial Bank, Grandpass Branch. His address is A. Gafoor, 66/F, Joseph Street, Colombo 14 and contact no. 0723 584862.

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