London police, Lewisham council under fire for using Tiger flag The Metropolitan Police and a local borough council in Britain that used the Tiger flag to point to the Tamil language translations of its information base has bowed to official protests and dropped the flag from its websites. The withdrawal of this symbol that signified [...]


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London police, Lewisham council under fire for using Tiger flag

The Metropolitan Police and a local borough council in Britain that used the Tiger flag to point to the Tamil language translations of its information base has bowed to official protests and dropped the flag from its websites.

The withdrawal of this symbol that signified the LTTE worldwide, came a few days after some Sri Lankan expatriates complained about the matter and the Sri Lanka High Commission in London sent a strong protest to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor of the Lewisham Borough Council. They demanded that the main symbol of a terrorist organisation that is outlawed even under British terrorism law be deleted as it was a “crass misrepresentation” and an insult to the Tamil language.

To cater to its many clients the Metropolitan Police and the Lewisham Council had translated some information and other data into several languages widely understood in their respective jurisdictions.

While all the other languages employed are depicted by placing the national flag of the country with which the language is commonly associated next to the language tag, the Tamil language translations are identified by a symbol of a slightly modified flag of the LTTE.

While Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock responded quickly to the High Commission protest by apologising for the mistake of using the Tiger flag in a one-off exercise, serious questions were being asked in the Sri Lanka community how the Metropolitan Police came to make this false representation.

“Surely, the Metropolitan Police could not have been ignorant of the fact that this flag has been publicly used by the ‘Tamil Tigers’ and their supporters not only in the UK but in other western cities over the years when they held sway especially in London and Toronto. After all the Metropolitan Police have kept an eye on Tiger activities in the UK and they know that this is the flag of a banned terrorist organisation,” said a Sri Lankan lawyer acquainted with the police through his professional work.

“What is so surprising is that a police force supposed to be dedicated to fighting terrorism and violence uses a prominent symbol of a banned terrorist organisation on its own website,” he said. Other community representatives were wondering whether this was the work of Tamil employees of the Metropolitan Police or policemen of some other nationality who have been ‘influenced’ to infiltrate the flag into the system.

Recent disclosures about the activities of the British police that have come to light in various inquiries are proof enough that they are not the clean bobbies they have been painted to be. In a letter of protest to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the High Commission asked: “If all the other languages in your list could have the national flag of the relevant country alongside, why has the Metropolitan Police deviated, in this particular instance of the Tamil language, from the practice it has adopted with regard to the other foreign languages?

“More importantly, why has the Metropolitan Police which should be fighting terrorism and being alert to the resurgence of terrorist objectives in innocuous guise, adopted a symbol that awakens memories of a bloody past.” The day after the letters of protest to the FCO, Metropolitan Police and the Lewisham Council, the flag disappeared from the two websites.

This may also be why the 80-odd million Tamils around the world want a nation of their own with a flag of their own.

Hambantota private company to conduct Asian Youth Games

The Government which wants to set up a Sports City in Hambantota has now decided to also form a private company to conduct the Asian Youth Games in 2017. Such a company, the Government has decided, will be exempted from taxes for any “payments, donations and other receipts.”

To be named A.Y.G. – 2017 Hambantota (Private) Limited, the company besides conducting the Asian Youth Games will also: 

  •  Organise National and International sports events in line with the Asian Youth Games.
  •  Provide funds for the organisational activities of the 2017 Asian Youth Games.
  •  Extend assistance to Institutes in relation to sports such as Schools, Universities, Armed Forces and National Sports Associations.
  •  Promote training facilities for development of Sports.

In January this year the Cabinet decided on the setting up of a Sports City in Hambantota. It has also decided to set up a High Altitude Sports Complex in Nuwara Eliya.

Hambantota is already the venue for an international conference hall, International airport, a sea port, a safari park and many other projects of interest.

Pillay visit: UNP speaks from many mouths

The UNP’s one time deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya, now back in the party fold, dropped an embarrassing bombshell.
At a news conference, this time authorised by the party leadership, he declared that the UNP would not make “political capital” out of the visit of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay. He made the same remarks whilst addressing polls meetings in the Central Province too.

Is that the official position of the UNP? The answer seems a firm “no.” Just a day after Jayasuriya made the declaration, the party’s communications chief Mangala Samaraweera held his regular news conference. Alluding to Ms. Pillay’s remarks that Sri Lanka is becoming “increasingly authoritarian,” he said she had forgotten to mention that it was also a kleptocracy. To add to that, the UNP report handed over to Ms. Pillay during a meeting with leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, took up a strong position over human rights violations, attacks on the media and other issues.

Meanwhile, former deputy leader Sajith Premadasa continued a different line from that of his party. He told a meeting in Angunukolapelessa that “certain foreign powers, global organisations, individuals and a section of the international community had prevented the people of Sri Lanka from fully enjoying the dividends of peace after eradication of terrorism.”
He said the “high hopes of Sri Lankan people have suffered a huge blow as many foreign elements have not given up interfering in our domestic affairs. This is unacceptable and against international law.”

Australia Ranjini still sees ex-child combatant as a threat

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), after a detailed review, has categorised a former LTTE child soldier and Australian asylum applicant as a threat to national security. Ranjini is being held in immigration detention in Sydney with her children, and is not permitted a visa to live in the community, despite having not been charged with a crime in Australia.

The secret security assessment cannot be appealed, and the Coalition has already flagged that an independent review of the ASIO findings would be abandoned. Australian media reports state that the woman, identified only as Ranjini, had been asked questions ”designed to test her commitment to the aims and methods” of the Tigers.

The answers, some of which have been blanked out for national security reasons, were found to support the ASIO conclusion that she was strongly devoted to the LTTE’s cause. For instance, Ranjini had described the terrorist movement’s leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as “kind”. 

Ranjini lives in a fenced-off village where the door to her house is set with a silent alarm every evening, an Australian media report said. Documents presented to the High Court state that she is not allowed to be alone with her husband, a permanent resident she met in Australia.

Ranjini’s two older children, who had fled to Australia with her, have been granted permanent residence. Her third son, born in January in detention, is an Australian citizen. Recruited to the Tiger ranks at the age of 11, Ranjini had stayed with the group for 17 years. The ASIO review says her time with the movement was “surprising and, presumably, very unusual”.

But Ranjini’s early indoctrination into the Tamil Tigers and her later disavowal of the cause after fleeing to Australia-insisting she just wanted to raise her three children- was not enough to overturn the ASIO finding, a media report states. 

The retired judge, tasked with reviewing the case, found Ranjini had displayed ”genuine commitment” by willingly staying with the Tigers for 17 years until 2008, even if it was ”not possible to say exactly when her childish determination flowered into real commitment”.

The case against Ranjini’s asylum application was buoyed by the conclusions earlier of a former federal court judge, Margaret Stone. She had dismissed as a “fallacy” arguments from Ranjini’s lawyers that the Tigers’ crushing military defeat in 2009 meant any future threat had been extinguished.

At least one country has already rejected Australian government requests to offer Ranjini a home.

MR’s hugging quip to Nimal

It was a surprise of sorts to President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was on the Central Provincial Council election campaign trail in Digana. He had to divert course for what he was told was a birthday party. When he turned up at the Earl’s Regency Hotel across the bridge over the Mahaweli River, he learnt it was a party for Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.

President Rajapaksa was invited to cut the cake. He fed a piece to Minister de Silva who in turn fed a piece to the President. Then Mr. Rajapaksa hugged his rather rotund Minister with some difficulty.

“Mage suba pathum Nimalta hariyanne nehe. Nimalta oney sundara mata silutu haadu (Nimal does not need my wishes. He wants a lovely and smooth hug from someone else),” declared President Rajapaksa.

Pramitha’s drummers annoy President

When President Mahinda Rajapaksa was addressing an election rally in Matale last week, a procession reached the meeting playing drums loudly.They were supporters of Pramitha Banadra Tennakoon, the son of Minister Janaka Bandara Tennekoon. They approached the stage with the roaring drum beats continuing.

“Mage kathawa tikakata nawathwannam oka iwara karanna. (I will stop my speech for a while. You’d better finish this soon),” President Rajapaksa said hoping Tennakoon’s supporters would stop their bajau.

Later, President Rajapaksa paid a visit to Janaka Banadara Tennakoon’s residence to see his Minister. He had fallen ill recently.

His son, Pramitha, too, was there. “Putha, apitath oya deshapalana una thibuna e kale. Hebai karana deyak vinayak athiwa karanna oney. (Son, we too had political fever those days. But do whatever you want in a disciplined manner),” the President advised young Tennakoon, who hurriedly apologised for the behaviour of his supporters.

Sampanthan stops Anandi’s Fonseka bashing

It was a political rally for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the Jaffna peninsula this week.  Anandi, wife of a former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) military wing leader, who is contesting opined it was a mistake to allow former General Sarath Fonseka to contest the Presidential elections. When she used harsh words like “war criminal,” it angered TNA leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan.

He admonished Anandi and told her not to make any such references in the future. The TNA supported Mr. Fonseka’s candidature at the last Presidential elections.

Montessori solution to human-elephant conflict

UPFA campaigners were trying to placate voters in Anamaduwa for next Saturday’s North Western Provincial Council elections. Their problem was over marauding elephants, not the ones from the United National Party (UNP) for whom the pachyderm is the polls symbol. It was over wild elephants that were a menace in the villages they live.

WildLife Conservation Minister Vijithamuni de Soysa was asked about the problem by affected villagers when he was addressing a meeting. They said they had earlier raised the issue with their MP and Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratna.

Minister de Soysa replied “Oka Montessori wedak ney.” Saying it was Montessori work, he was trying to make out that it was a simple exercise. The meeting ended and those who took part thought something would be done.

They were not wrong. In fact, the Minister of WildLife Conservation wanted to discuss the issue with his colleague, Jayaratne.
Minister de Soysa’s Private Secretary dialled the mobile telephone number of Minister Jayaratne. When he answered, the private secretary said his minister wanted to discuss the elephant issue. “He is now at the Montessori. Please ask him to ring after 11 a.m.,” replied Jayaratne.

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