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With JVP also in turmoil, Rajapaksa rides high

  • Veteran radical leads revolt by hardline faction; crisis deepens despite Somawansa's denial
By Our Political Editor

Internecine battles within the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), between the now liberal, metamorphosed moderate leadership and radical extremists have come into the open spilling in its wake many secrets hitherto unknown of the Marxist party.

The latest casualty is a rebel politburo member who is accused of divulging party secrets to the media. The Central Committee decided just a week ago to suspend him from membership and pursue disciplinary action. Media exposure of an internal crisis, first revealed in the front page of the Sunday Times (September 4), has led to the news spreading to grassroots-level party cadres in the districts.
At the centre of the crisis are six key members, some whose identity is only known by just one name. The group of six is led by Premakumaran Gunaratnam better known among his colleagues as Kumara.

Born in Kegalle and using another name, 46-year old Rathnayaka Mudiyanselage Dayalal Wanniyakalge Daskon, is fluent in Sinhala but cannot speak Tamil. Both his parents were Tamil. Others are Opatha (real name Induruwage), Marlon (real name Wijesiri), Asoka, Dimuthu Attygalle and Pubudu Jagoda also known as Lasith. Until recently, these six, lesser known, were members of the politburo (PB) together with better known politicians like Somawansa Amerasinghe (the leader), Tilvin Silva (General Secretary), Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Vijitha Herath, G. Kularatne and K.D. Lalkantha. As has been the practice, some of the names in the PB are not contained in the declaration made to the Commissioner General of Elections.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) was formed on May 14, 1965 by a small group in Galle led by Rohana Wijeweera. JVP cadres refer to this as the Kalattewa sakachchava, or the Kalattewa Discussion named after the village where the formation took place. It came after Wijeweera failed to return to Russia where he was studying medicine at the Patrice Lumumba University. He had also studied Marxist ideology as part of his university course and came to Sri Lanka on a short break.

Premakumara Gunaratnam (Kumara) heads the extremist wing of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). JVP leader Somawansa Amerasinghe

He was thereafter denied a visa to return to Russia as he was suspected by the Russians to have links with the Peking wing of the local Communist Party during the height of the ideological split in the Communist world led by Russia and China.

Among his contemporaries at the university was Daniel Arup Moi who was to become the President of Kenya from 1978 to 2002. The JVP was responsible for the abortive armed insurgency in April 1971.

With crudely turned out pistols (Galkatas) and shot guns, JVP militants attacked several police stations, killing policemen and seizing weaponry. Whilst the JVP was proscribed, an estimated 7,500 youth were killed and more than twice that number detained under a state of emergency. The emergency lapsed in 1976.

However, once again in July 1983 the party was proscribed after the outbreak of the race riots. Six years later, JVP leader Wijeweera was arrested on November 13, 1989, and died whilst in custody. The present leader, Somawansa Amerasinghe, was the only surviving member of the original PB. He had already left for Britain from where he led the party.

The JVP entered mainstream politics in 1994, after the state of emergency was withdrawn. It re-emerged as the National Salvation Front (NSF) and won a parliamentary seat in the Hambantota District. During the presidential election of 1994, it nominated Nihal Galappathy as the NSF candidate. During the 2000 parliamentary elections, ten JVPers were elected. Later at the general elections on December 5, 2001, the party won 16 seats in Parliament. The JVP was also successful in winning 219 seats at the local government elections in 2002. After protracted discussions for more than ten months with the People's Alliance, the JVP formed the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in January 2004. The UPFA government was formed on April 2, 2004. The JVP secured 39 parliamentary seats and won 80 seats at the Provincial Council elections in 2004. The party quit the UPFA then led by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in early 2005. This was after a dispute with her over spending of funds in the then LTTE-dominated north for tsunami rehabilitation. The JVP strongly opposed funds going to Tiger guerrillas for tsunami rehabilitation work.

Frictions within the JVP exacerbated in the weeks preceding the Presidential elections of January 2010. The PB was called upon to endorse a decision for the JVP to join other opposition parties to field former Army Commander, one time General and celebrated war hero, Sarath Fonseka, as the common candidate. The resolution was moved at the PB by Anura K. Dissanayake but was defeated by a majority vote. That saw a disappointed Dissanayake threatening to quit politics. It was Tilvin Silva who urged him to calm down and made a fervent appeal to the PB members. His speech, where he stressed the need for the party to change in keeping with the times, led to a change of heart. The PB reversed its original decision. The party was now willing to change with the times than change the times.

That was how the JVP came to support Sarath Fonseka and its leaders brushed shoulders with parties whom they branded earlier as "decadent capitalists" and lackeys of "western imperialists". They indulged in what was taboo by frequenting the ballrooms of leading city hotels taking part in receptions, lectures for the capitalist businessmen, news conferences and cocktail parties in support of Fonseka's candidature.
In July, this year, the inner sanctum sanctorum (the holiest of holies wedded to the JVP ideology), styling itself the 'Bolshevik Party' met at a secret location in Gampaha. Though it is called a party, it is made up of the staunchest and most-dedicated among the JVPers and their strength is anything from 150 to 175. Ahead of the meeting, the extremists had raised issue over matters arising out of Sarath Fonseka's defeat at the presidential election.

They asked how one man -- Anura K. Dissanayake -- could change the destiny of the party and emphasised that having truck with other political parties or groups was not going to help JVP achieve its goals. The Bolsheviks, named after the revolutionaries of Russia led by Vladimir Lenin almost a hundred years ago, faced three different reports for discussion on the future of the party. Leader Amerasinghe and General Secretary Tilvin Silva gave two. Their views converged on each other's, were moderate and spoke of interaction for the party's benefit with other opposition groups. Here was a hardline entity melting to change with the new political environment.

However, Kumara was different. Co-operating with the other political parties, he said, was a big mistake and insisted the party should re-assert its own identity. He has insisted that there should be no truck with the "capitalists" under any circumstances. Now that the Tiger guerrillas are defeated, he opined that the JVP should have a different approach to the Tamil people of the north. In fact, Kumara and leader Amerasinghe, had a spat when the funeral of Tiger guerrilla leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran's mother Parvathi, was held in the north. Kumara had asked one of the party MPs (among 39 then represented in Parliament), Ramalingam Chandrasekeran, a former Chairman of Committees, to attend the funeral. However, when the news reached Amerasinghe, he was angry and stopped him. This had led to a heated verbal exchange.

Though Kumara's view not to ally the JVP with other parties won the endorsement of the Bolsheviks, he received hardly any support in the JVP Central Committee. During several meetings, the differences surfaced openly. At one point, at a PB meeting, Anura K. Dissanayake proposed that Anoma, wife of Sarath Fonseka, be made the common candidate by all opposition parties for the Colombo Mayoralty. The idea was to defeat the UPFA and thus demonstrate that the opposition was united to move forward as a single entity. However, the proposal did not materialise. Even leading UNPers were approached towards this effort though it did not meet with favour from the leaders. A media campaign was also launched. Kumara also raised issue over plans by Anura K. Dissanayake to stage a protest in Colombo wearing black clothes to demand the release of Fonseka from jail. He said the JVP should not take part. However, his efforts did not meet with success. The protest was held outside the Welikade Prison on August 8 to mark the 150th day of Fonseka in jail.

It is in this backdrop that K.D. Lalkantha proposed at a PB meeting that this body be dissolved and the Central Committee be empowered to pick another one through secret ballot. This is how Marlon, Asoka, Lasith (Jagoda) and Dimuthu came to be dropped from the PB. Now, the Kumara faction is branding the exercise a conspiracy to rid "those who stood for the party ideals" and say part of the move was to bring Bimal Ratnayake as a member of the PB. The extremists accuse Ratnayaka of being a jathikavaadiya or nationalist. The extremist rebels are now spreading the message about the paradigm shift in the JVP leadership's attitude, abandoning party principles, to members in the Kalutara, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Gampaha and Polonnaruwa districts among others. They have found themselves in an advantageous position since they not only control the party's propaganda unit but also their newspaper, Lanka. The latter is under the charge of Jagoda.

This is whilst senior JVP leaders say that the party should be purged of "extremist dissidents". The old guard has set in motion a process of gaining control of district level leadership. The extremist group is resisting this in some districts. Therein lay the crunch. The question is whether the grassroots-level JVPers would endorse the new moderate look their leaders want to give their party or would they back the extremist group? The new slogan for JVP is"Rata avulaka, Perata Enna" (Country in chaos, come forward). A witty member of the old guard could not contain his emotions. He said, "Rata Avul Nevai. Apey Oluva Avul Vela Thiyanney" (It is not the chaos in the country. It is our head that is in chaos).

As the rift widens, some in the old guard have sent feelers to those in the government asking whether the law enforcement authorities could move into deal with Kumara. This is for allegedly travelling to Australia on a forged passport. This is despite his holding a passport issued to him on October 23, 2000. If the effort succeeds, there are others who fear it could also boomerang on the old guard. A Kumara-faction supporter said in the event of an arrest, Kumara and his supporters were willing to go public with more of what they call secrets including how some seniors acquired assets not compatible with their standing or income as JVPers.

Also on offer are well documented files about houses constructed by some leaders allegedly with material brought for the construction of their new headquarters in Battaramulla. They claim that the same contractor, a party supporter, had built the houses in question. Most JVPers are known to come from poorer income groups though some have struck it rich thereafter. He also said that such an arrest would give the required exposure to Kumara and send a strong message to grassroots-level JVPers that their leaders were now enjoying luxury lifestyles.

Officially, the JVP is known to keep a tighter rein on party finances and maintain stricter discipline. Salaries earned by MPs are pooled and money for expenditure is doled out. Even vehicles are apportioned by the party after they are imported using privileges extended to parliamentarians. If members are found violating a code of conduct, they are required to write a confession (self-criticism) to the party leadership seeking forgiveness and assuring that they would not do it again. In most cases, the punishment is severe admonishment. Serious misdemeanours, however, lead to dismissal.

Several weeks ago, the JVP's two storied headquarters and property were in the name of Madanayake (not his real name but one given by the party). They were transferred in the name of General Secretary Tilvin Silva. This week, when Madanayake was asked to transfer two vehicles belonging to the JVP that remains registered under his name, he had refused and wanted the crisis within the party resolved first. Except for three, all others deployed at the party headquarters have been moved out on suspicion that they were supporting the extremist group.

On Friday, the person under whose name the JVP branch office property in Gampaha is registered was invited to the Battaramulla office. He was asked by Tilvin Silva to sign a deed transferring it in his name. He had refused and urged that the current crisis be resolved.

The Sunday Times learnt that the state of play in the JVP, particularly Kumara's allegedly illegal travel abroad, has received the government's attention at the highest levels. In fact, Kumara, who was leader during the spate of JVP violence in the mid-1980s was arrested by then troop commander in Trincomalee, Col. Sarath Fonseka. The arrest came after a soldier, who had been befriended by Kumara, disclosed that the latter was planning attacks. He was among a group that was "rehabilitated". For a long period of time, he helped the Army taking them to an undersea explosive dump and baring details of how he carried out an attack on an Indian navy vessel, part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). Besides assisting the Army on their rehabilitation programmes, he was also employed as a sign board painter. A retired officer said Kumara made a significant contribution during the rehabilitation process. "He told us to feed the detainees, clothe them and talk politely to them. This paid dividends. They began baring details of the JVP modus operandi and their battle plans," he said.

A group of 21 "rehabilitated" cadres had opted to travel to Japan. However, Kumara had chosen to leave for Australia where he had relatives. He was later known to have gone to Australia with his wife, a doctor and his children. He had returned alone. Thereafter, CID detectives believe he used the name of an employee of the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation (who has a similar name to his) to obtain a forged passport in his name. Kumara had allegedly used this for travel to Australia before returning to Sri Lanka recently. A source close to Kumara, however, denied the claim and said he had remained in Sri Lanka throughout. In the event of Kumara being arrested and indicted, the onus of proving that he did not travel illegally to Australia falls on his shoulders.

One government source who spoke on grounds of anonymity said, "we are watching the situation very closely and weighing the pros and cons of an arrest carefully."

The remarks made clear the government wanted to avoid any action that would drive the Kumara faction underground. Towards this end, even CID detectives on the trail of Kumara have slowed down. This is despite claims by Kumara's antagonists that members of his group purchased some weapons from one time Tiger guerrillas when former LTTE eastern commander, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan (now a government deputy minister) broke ranks. However, the Kumara faction strongly denies it is in possession of any weapons. Another reason is to prevent any environment being created for political groups to go underground and resort to violence.

When present UPFA Minister Wimal Weerawansa was in the JVP, he was the promoter of National Patriotic Front. It did not meet with favour from the Kumara faction. Kumara, who then headed the education wing of the JVP, had his own publication to criticise him. Named Sarya after a Russian Publication, Kumara hit out strongly against Weerawansa's role then. Kumara's brother, Ragunathan Gunaratnam was killed during the JVP-instigated violence in 1987-89.

Despite the internecine battles, senior party leaders insist there are no immediate signs that the party would split. Talks are under way by emissaries of the two sides to have a joint convention to resolve matters. Such a move comes amidst reports that leader Amerasinghe would prefer to step down paving the way for a younger person to succeed him. Amerasinghe, however, has not confirmed these reports. Kumara has insisted that under no circumstances would he or his backers agree to coalesce with any party including capitalist ones. He wants to formulate the party's own plans to come to power.

Yet, without doubt the JVP is in a serious internal crisis despite denials by its old guard. Leader Somawansa Amerasinghe was asked to comment. At first, he said, he would not be available (on Friday) to make any remarks. Upon being pressed about the rift within the party, he said, "There is no such rift in the party. There is no rift at all. I have not seen anything of this nature within the party. I have not heard anything about a rift."

Amerasinghe, the amiable politician he is, is no doubt, in an unenviable position. With the news of the rift reaching the grassroots level, he cannot remain in a state of denial for many weeks to come.
In the country's overall political context, the crisis within the JVP is certainly not a healthy one. It comes at a time when the main opposition United National Party (UNP) is in tatters and whatever little remaining efficacy depends on the outcome of the polls to 23 local bodies on October 8. In the absence of a proactive role played by the UNP, it was the JVP that filled in the vacuum to a large extent. It is now preoccupied. Sooner than later it could turn into a bigger vacuum with little or no effective opposition in the country. There is little doubt; this will come as another feather in the cap for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He will reap a bountiful political harvest after sowing little or nothing.

Lanka fights back after Ban's bombshell at UNHRC

The shock for the Sri Lanka delegation to the UN Human Rights Council's 18th sessions in Geneva came from an unexpected quarter. They were neither prepared nor did the office of Sri Lanka's Permanent Mission to the UN in New York have any prior knowledge to warn them.

President Rajapaksa meeting US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake and Ambassador Patricia Butenis at Temple Trees

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote to Uruguay's Laura Dupuy Lasserre, current President of the Council forwarding two documents -- the UN panel's report on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka and the government's answer -- "Humanitarian Operation - Factual Analysis." For reasons of clarity, the full text is reproduced below:

"It is my pleasure to share with you the Report of my Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.
"At the conclusion of my visit to Sri Lanka on 23 May 2009, a few days after the cessation of the armed conflict there, H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and I issued a joint statement including a commitment to an accountability process to address allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed during the military operations between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. I established my Panel of Experts on 22 June 2010 to advise me on the implementation of the joint commitment.

"The Panel reported to me on 13th April 2011 and, especially in light of the many recommendations directed at the Government of Sri Lanka, I shared the report immediately with the Government, inviting it to provide me with its response. While no formal response as such has been forthcoming, however, the Government shared with me on 19 August 2011 a report entitled "Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis: July 2006 - May 2009" which, it informed me, seeks to address key issues raised in the report of the Panel of Experts. The Government's report is attached for your information.

"I wish to inform you that in addition to sharing this report with you, I am acting on my Expert Panel's recommendation that I should conduct a review of actions by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and its aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates, and I intend to appoint Ms. Thoraya Obaid, former Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, to lead this review.

"Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
BAN KI-moon."

According to diplomatic sources, the letter has also been copied to Navaneethan Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. A copy has also been sent to Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative in New York, Dr. Palitha Kohona for onward transmission to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The letter and the documents arrived at the UNHRC in Geneva only on Tuesday. On Monday, Pillay, who gave the inaugural address, had already made some strong references to Sri Lanka. She said "…..let me note that the countermeasures adopted by States to combat terrorism have frequently been designed with insufficient regard for human rights.

This has all too often led to an erosion of rights and fostered a culture of diffidence and discrimination which, in turn, perpetuates cycles of violence and retribution. Sri Lanka is one such case. For three decades, not only has that country suffered the brutal effects of terrorist acts, but the response of successive governments over the years has undermined independent institutions, human rights and the rule of law. I note the President's decision to allow some emergency measures to lapse, but strongly urge the Government to follow up with a comprehensive review of all security-related legislation and detentions……….If left unaddressed, or addressed in ways contrary to human rights, intolerance spreads the seeds of distrust among diverse communities and may ultimately jeopardize their peaceful coexistence……."

Sri Lanka's high-powered delegation to Geneva breathed a sigh of relief that other than Pillay's remarks, a week of the UNHRC sessions has passed without much hassle. For UPFA leaders, buoying their confidence was an assurance given by Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary in the State Department during talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the US had no plans to move any resolution at the on-going UNHRC Geneva sessions. A team headed by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has been meeting individual delegations for bi-lateral talks where the theme has been "it would be Sri Lanka today and another country tomorrow." It was also pointed out that the UN panel was an internal mechanism and was not one approved by an inter-governmental UN body.

However, the argument appeared somewhat diluted since a Sri Lanka delegation had secretly met the panel in March, this year, thus giving it legal and official recognition. Joining him were Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and MP Sajin Vaas Gunawardena (who overlooks the External Affairs Ministry). Among the resource personnel who have gone to Geneva are Imelda Sukumar, Government Agent, Jaffna, S.B. Divaratne, Secretary to the Presidential Task Force on Rehabilitation, T.R.N.M. Liyanaratchchi, Government Analyst and two officials from the Attorney General's Department.

Both UPFA leaders as well as members of the Sri Lanka delegation are also buoyed by another factor. They opine that UNSG Ban Ki-moon has not made any recommendation to the UNHRC except to forward the two reports, one from his panel of experts and the other from the government of Sri Lanka. They say his letter to the current UNHRC President is merely to share the two reports and to inform her that a review of UN actions would be carried out by Ms. Obaid. Nevertheless, the Sri Lanka delegation is on the watch for the next ten days (from tomorrow until September 30) to ensure no resolutions are moved against Sri Lanka. There are still fears, though not reflected at all levels of government, about a hitherto unidentified country moving a resolution calling for a discussion on the UN panel's report or on the government's document as well. Here again, the government has taken up the position that several issues raised were being addressed by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).


Sri Lanka has succeeded in having some members of the UNHRC to sign a letter to the current President urging that the report of the UN Panel should not be tabled even as a document for "information" among members. According to a delegation source, among the signatories are Russia, China, Cuba, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Maldives and the Philippines.

During his talks with Rajapaksa, Blake urged the need for the upcoming LLRC report to be credible to meet the scrutiny of the international community. The report is on track to be released on November 15. He also discussed reports of militarisation in the north, a claim which Rajapaksa strongly refuted.
Associated with Blake at the talks was US Ambassador Patricia Butenis.

Talks with civil society leaders, the TNA as well as a delegation from the United National Party (UNP) were to provide some interesting insights. At least two leading civil society figures who left the country immediately after the Blake meeting, were bitterly critical of the government. One of them named a senior, powerful official and said that it was he who was running the country. Another was to urge that Blake, who was headed to New Delhi for a meeting of junior US diplomats serving in the Asian region, to tell Indian leaders about what is going on in Sri Lanka. However, Blake has no official engagements in the Indian capital. At one point, Blake was to remind participants that they should confine their comments to matters affecting civil society. A witty participant said "some thought Blake had arrived in Sri Lanka in an aircraft carrier. All they wanted him to do was to bomb this and smash that." Also discussed were issues related to good governance. No sooner this meeting ended, government leaders who learnt of the proceedings, were livid with some of the civil society participants.

A TNA delegation headed by its leader R. Sampanthan also met Blake at the Colombo Hilton to complain that more Army camps were being opened in the north. The TNA leaders alleged that civilians were not being allowed to resettle and a fear psychosis had gripped the area. They also said that the government was yet to address Tamil grievances and the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act were being used even after the lapse of the state of emergency.

A four-member UNP delegation led by deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya met Blake at 'Jefferson House,' the official residence of the American Ambassador at Horton Place in Colombo. UNP leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was away in Kandy taking part in a Bala Mandalaya (party branch) meeting as well as chairing a conference with party candidates for the local polls. Others in the delegation were former Foreign Minister in the Rajapaksa government, Mangala Samaraweera, Ravi Karunanayake and Sagala Ratnayake, the newly appointed Secretary for International Relations.

The UNP delegation's meeting turned out to be a Q & A where Blake ended up asking the most questions. Also present were Ambassador Butenis and Political Counsellor Paul Carter. Among the probing questions asked by Blake was what the UNP delegation thought about the Indian role in Sri Lanka, media freedom issues, issues connected with local polls, directives of the Commissioner General of Elections and the lapse of the emergency regulations.

In Jaffna, Blake faced a protest organised by Minister Douglas Devananda's supporters and had to shift a venue where he met university students. He also met civil society organisations. C.V.K. Sivagnanam, a former Jaffna Municipal Commissioner, complained that there was a fear psychosis among the people and normalcy had not returned to the peninsula. He also complained that incidents were not being probed by law enforcement agencies.

Not surprisingly though, President Rajapaksa appeared up to date with detailed developments arising out of the Blake visit and his interactions with several local participants. At the weekly Cabinet meeting last Wednesday, he told his ministers that there were countries that were harping a lot on the virtues of good governance. "They are the same countries that were pressuring us to give contracts to their companies. They are the same countries that were giving foreign jaunts to win over junior officials," he declared. Rajapaksa's remarks came during a discussion on issues raised by Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena over a decision to make some 400 posts of acting principals in Government schools permanent. However, Rajapaksa did not identify the country. Yet, it was clear to most ministers. The US is making strong bids for the sale of passenger aircraft to Sri Lanka running into millions of dollars, among other deals.

It was Blake who announced at a news conference on Wednesday that the government would resume talks with the TNA. This was not to the liking of some ministers. Minister Wimal Weerawansa, known to often express sentiments reflecting the highest levels of government, told an election meeting in Kolonnawa that Blake was not only an official of the State Department but also a spokesperson for the TNA. "We now know the TNA is hiding behind him," he said.

The fact that Blake would request the government to hold such talks, whilst the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) had its own deliberations, was reported earlier in these columns. Blake, however, dodged questions from reporters on an official request made by the US Government to have an "interactive dialogue" on the impending final report of the LLRC. With the Sri Lanka Government's consent, the US was to propose this at the current UNHRC sessions so that the matter could be listed for discussion in March, next year. However, the proposal was rejected by Sri Lanka. The government felt the US move would internationalise the Sri Lankan issue by this means.

Asked whether the US proposal for an "interactive dialogue" was discussed with Rajapaksa, he replied "I talked with all of the senior government officials about the need for the government of Sri Lanka to engage positively with the UN Human Rights Council……"

He was also asked: Would the US like the LLRC final report to be before the UN Human Rights Council for consideration in March (next year)?

He replied, "I think it's premature to make any judgement about that….."

In response to another query, Blake concurred with the Indian Government's position that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was an "important starting point" in addressing Tamil grievances. However, President Rajapaksa has made clear that more on the 13th Amendment is no longer on offer.
Anxiety among government leaders will remain at peak level until the conclusion of the UNHRC sessions now in progress in Geneva. The chances are that Sri Lanka may not figure in any resolution at the current 18th session. But one thing still remains certain -- the issue is not going to go away.

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