The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

13th, October 1996



CRM dismayed by alleged speech of President condemning violence

All democratic parties should make a public reaffirmation of their commitment to non-violence and to make it known in no uncertain terms to their own supporters that acts of thuggery, and taking the law into their own hands, whatever the provocation, will not be tolerated, according to a statement issued by the Civil Rights Movement (CRM).

The CRM calls on the police, on whom so much depends at this crucial juncture, to uphold the rule of law, and to perform their duty effectively and impartially, irrespective of whatever pressures to the contrary may be exerted on them from whatever source.

It also emphasizes the particular responsibility that lies upon supporters, members and leaders of those in power and the Head of State. Sri Lanka's recent political history has regrettably proved again and again that persons who enjoy or think they enjoy political patronage often feel they can break the law with impunity. This dangerous mindset has to be eliminated from our political life once and for all.

In this context the CRM expresses its dismay at the alleged speech of the President as reported in a Sinhala daily of 17 September, parts of which could be construed as a condonation of violence.

The statement adds that in the view of the CRM this recent spate of killings and thuggery, though extremely serious, is not irreversible and a spiral of retaliatory violence still can and must be prevented by prompt and effective measures to restore and protect the right of free and peaceful political expression.

The CRM is appalled at the reappearance on our political scene of violence which has resulted in several deaths and injury to many more. What is most horrifying is that these are not the actions of extremist terrorist groups of which Sri Lanka has certainly had its fill. They are the result of clashes between supporters of the major political parties which claim to be wedded to democratic ideals and which, it was hoped, whether in their role in government or in opposition, would now help restore their faith in the democratic process which had been seriously eroded in recent years.

The statement says: "There can be no excuse or justification for political thuggery. CRM is aware of and has documented many instances of such violence committed, instigated or condoned by the state during the last regime. The present government pledged to end that era.

During recent months CRM has felt increasingly alarmed at a series of violent clashes between UNP and PA supporters and has been seeking more information about them. Their context has ranged from cooperative society elections, the affixing of posters and banners, the disruption of meetings and rallies of political parties and attacks on political activists including in their homes.

They include reports of incidents at Anamaduwa, Kuliyapitiya, Matale, Anuradhapura, Piliyandala and Matugama. There were also the clashes amongst UNP members themselves at Maligakanda. The most recent killings in Negombo however make it necessary for defenders of civil liberties to raise their voices with no further delay. These incidents include the killing of a PA supporter and another and an attack on a church service commemorating the 50th anniversary of the UNP at the end of August, the shooting dead of four UNP members and a bystander on Friday, September 20 and the killing of a further UNP activist - a Pradeshiya Sabha Member - the next day

Company shows its gas say dealers

The scarcity of gas in the open market may continue as several dealers are closing down alleging they are being given a raw deal by the Shell Gas Company, dealers said.

Some dealers told Sunday Times their lorries were kept waiting at the Sapugaskanda wholesale outlet for several hours and sometimes even for a whole day. They alleged that lorries of favored city customers were given special treatment while others were kept waiting. Even when the gas was given, often there were no company laborers to do the loading and this had to be done by the lorry driver and cleaner.

Dealers said their lorry crews were also subjected to much harassment by security officers at Sapugaskanda.

Kandy MC disrupts sale of newspapers

A sudden raid on newspaper stands, along Station Road in Kandy, by the Municipal Council has brought about protests from newspaper vendors.

The officials claiming to be from a special police unit had removed all the papers from the pavement stands to the Municipal Council.

Meanwhile angry newspaper vendors, said the raid had been launched by some members of the Council who suffered from newspaper phobia. They also said no one had the right to take away the peoples' privilege to read newspapers.

A spokesman for the vendors said, they had made representations to the Council authorities but no action has been taken.

Meanwhile the officers who conducted the raid have said, they did so, on orders from the top.

Lightning strikes MP

Parliamentarian D.M. Dassanayaka of the PA was struck by lightning yesterday while taking a telephone call at his residence in Anamaduwa and was admitted to hospital last night.

Mr. Dassanayaka was first rushed to the Chillaw hospital and then transferred to the National Hospital in Colombo.

Hospital sources said he was out of danger.

Refugee status: Lanka warns world community

Sri Lanka's UN envoy H.L. de Silva has urged the world community to re-examine the question of granting refugee status, calling for a realistic appraisal of the actual circumstances of each applicant.

Addressing the 6th Committee of the 51st UN General Assembly, Mr. de Silva said one of the principal causes for the continuance of terrorist movements was the sustenance obtained from hard-core supporters and sympathizers resident abroad who have abused the rights granted under the Geneva Convention of 1951 on refugees.

Mr. de Silva emphasized that even after the admission of asylum seekers it became necessary to maintain a strict surveilance of their subsequent activities.

He said the vast sums contributed by the so-called refugees, who even manipulate and abuse the welfare systems to syphon off funds for terrorist activity in the home country, represent a gross distortion of a system of protection that has now been transformed into an engine of oppression against the state of origin and its people.

In this way the protecting state has unwittingly become the providers of those who seek to terrorize and torment the people of the country from which they emigrated, he said.

He added that the problem of a suicide bomber who does not value his or her life and cares naught for the lives of others must show an utter disregard for human life itself and that those who glorify such heartless men and women as martyrs to a cause had strangely perverted minds.

He called upon the international community to seek to formulate clear principles against the continuance of this great evil in our midst.

Service medals: Navy seniors left out

Some senior Navy officers say they are concerned about a move where about 20 relatively junior navy men are to receive service medals while several others with more than 20 years of service have been overlooked.

Rear Admiral Cecil Tissera, who has 29 years of service is among those who have been overlooked for this medal. He is the most senior Naval officer next to the Navy Commander, and is attached presently to the Naval Headquarters.

Among the others overlooked are Rear Admiral Dassanayake of the Trinco Naval Camp, Rear Admiral Sandagiri, Commanding officer in charge of the Western Province Naval Headquarters, Commodore H.R. Amarawira, Commodore Razeek, Commanding Officer in charge of the Northern Command, Commodore Mohan Wijewickrema, Commodores Karannagoda and T. Karnelis, said a Navy source.

A group of 20 at the rate of four a year for the five years, 1992-96 have been earmarked for the award, and one cannot understand on what criterion selections have been made, said the affected Naval men. The only officer with over 20 years service among the selected is, retired Rear Admiral Pieris, according to a senior Navy officer

Tiger buses to boost revenue

The LTTE has withdrawn permission given to private bus operators to ply their buses in the Vanni area.

Instead they are plying 37 buses marked M.R.X. according to a report handed over to the Navy Commander by the intelligence units of the Navy and to the Defense Ministry last week. These 37 buses have been stolen by the LTTE from the peopelised bus depots and private bus owners. The LTTE hopes to add to its revenue by operating bus services.

IPU assures to look into Jayalath's case

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has given an assurance it will look into the case of UNP national list MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene, who claims he is being politically victimized by the government.

Dr. Jayawardene had written to several international organizations including the UN, the IPU, and the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association (CLA) protesting the government was planning to file a case against him for political reasons. The CLA has written to President Kumaratunga and the Attorney General in this connection.


A panel discussion on the subject of 'Transference of Merit: is it compatible with the doctrine of Kamma" will be held at the library of the YMBA in Borella on October 20. Panelists for the discussion would be Professor K. B. Ratnayake, M. V. Mendis and Dr. H. A. P. Abeywardene and the moderator will be Rajah Kuruppu. It is open to all.

'Firewood ban will make tasteless tea'

By Chamila Jayaweera

The Planters' Association of Ceylon has strongly criticized the so-called "blanket-ban" imposed by the government on the felling of trees, for any purpose on state-owned estates, whether privatized, or pending privatization.

Pointing out that timber is deliberately cultivated on estates for fuelwood and as a crop, the association which represents the interests of 23 managing companies in the private sector, has warned that the indiscriminate ban on felling, which has been in force for the past two months, will cause serious problems on the estates.

Planters' Association Secretary General S.K. Seneviratne said that tea factories which need firewood for their drier furnaces will suffer, so with the rubber sector.

He said that the government had ruled that all factories be inspected by regional assistant tea commissioners before permission was granted for felling, and this could result in serious delays in tea production. Factories keep a buffer stock of fuelwood sufficient for about three months and the two month old ban had prevented any replenishment and serious fuel shortages were inevitable on the estates, he warned. If undried or semidried firewood is used it could damage the drier tubes, and the excess smoke could taint the tea and make it unpalatable.

Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Forestry D.M. Jayaratne when contacted by The Sunday Times said that the ban was restricted only to certain areas where the cutting down of trees could result in serious damage to the land.

"We specified that trees growing on the side of rivers and streams and close to marshy land be left untouched, but that it was quite all right within the estates," he said. "We also asked that they first get permission from either the forestry department or the divisional secretariat before cutting down any trees."

An official from the forestry department pointed out that the ban was only a temporary measure, issued by the President herself, and they were awaiting further instructions about this.

However, the Planters' Association said the authorities appeared to be ignorant of and naive about agricultural practices on plantations, and not mindful of the need for such practices to be carried out at the right time.

Continue to the News/Comment page 3 - Vultures menace school girls in buses, Gamini Dissanayake remembered, It doesn't pay to pretend, Dead soldier back in three wheeler, Buddhist monks protest Steel Corp. Sale, 'Karunanidhi never helped Tamil groups', 'Impossibly naive journalist will be ultimately his own worst enemy'

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