23rd August 1998
Excerpts from Sinhala Commission Final Report summary - part 2
3) "Call upon the British Government to make amends and apologise to the Sinhala people and pay substantial compensation for:
(a) breaking a solemn International Treaty (Kandyan Convention) entered into by its predecessor with the representatives of the Sinhala people, inter alia, protect the Buddha Sasana "Religion of Budhoo";
(b) conducting campaigns of genocide against the Kandyan people, destroying their livelihood and depopulating their villages.
(c) expropriating and grabbing without compensation the ancestral lands of the Kandyan Sinhalese and selling them for nominal prices to foreigners among whom were their own officials:
(d) utilizing the forced labour of the Kandyan people and imposing special taxes on them for the construction of the roads required for the foreign-owned plantations.
(e) causing irreparable environmental degradation by large scale clearing of forests in the Kandyan areas;
(f) bringing in and settling an alien people (South Indian labour) in the lands expropriated and seized thereby causing severe political and social problems to the indigenous people and independent Government of Sri Lanka.
4) Ensure that funds made available by the British Government are paid directly to the Independent Development Authority.
5) Call upon the Government to formally abrogate the Indo-Lanka Accord. Besides the Accord was signed under duress and threats.
6) Call upon the Government to repeal the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the Provincial Councils Act and to rescind forthwith the temporary merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces all of which were steps taken in order to implement the Indo-Lanka Accord.
7) Call upon the Sinhala people to reject and not vote for or support any party that is in alliance or has a secret or open agreement with any communal party, whose agenda, secret or otherwise, is the creation of a federal or separate state in Sri Lanka.
8) Call upon the Sinhala people not to vote for and reject any party that is in alliance with or is secretly or openly supporting the CWC because its leader has called upon the Government to hand over the Northern and Eastern Provinces to the LTTE for ten years as a separate entity and is thereby advocating separatism in this country.
9) Call upon the Sinhala people to shed all differences and unite to safeguard their rights, protect the territorial integrity of our country and ensure a bright and prosperous future for themselves as well as all citizens of Sri Lanka.
10) Call upon the Government not to amend or pass any laws to facilitate or allow persons who failed to get Sri Lankan citizenship under the Sirima-Shastri Agreement to obtain such citizenship now.
11) Ensure that Article 157A of the Constitution is strictly enforced.
12) Reiterate that Sri Lanka is and has always been a Unitary State (in its strict legal sense) and take steps to see that it remains so for all time.
13) Declare and affirm that the whole of Sri Lanka is the homeland of all its citizens and that no part of it shall be recognised as the exclusive possession or habitation of any ethnic community or linguistic group.
14) Take steps to ensure that there is no division of the country for political or other purposes on the basis of ethnicity.
15) Consider ways and means of having a new Constitution for the country. In the challenges facing this country in the 21st century, it may be necessary to have a new Constitution. But such Constitution must be drawn up after consulting the whole people through their delegates specially appointed for that purpose alone. We have to design a political structure in consonance with the Buddhist social philosophy on which was based the governance of our country until the incursions of the western colonialists. This calls for two basic steps:-
(a) Namely the restructuring of our political institutions so as to replace the adversarial system introduced by the British which has been the bane of our country, by one where co-operation between the various groups is made the basis for governance in accordance with the principle enunciated by the Buddha in the Maha-parinibbana Sutta.
(b) The adoption of an economic system which will ensure a more equitable distribution of the country's wealth so as to provide at least the basic human needs to every member of our society.
16) See that those Sinhala people who in the recent past have been driven out of the North and East are re-settled in their former habitats and restored their political and civic rights in full.
17) establish a Permanent Sinhala Human Rights Commission to keep a watch and review of all developments affecting the Sinhala people in particular and the nation in general and to take suitable steps in regard to any action tending to adversely affect the Sinhala people and the nation and also to further and advance the cause of the Sinhala people and the nation. Such a Human Rights Commission consisting of three persons may be appointed by the President of the National Joint Committee as persona designata and this could be approved by the National Joint Committee.
-Dr. Piyasena Dissanayake,
A letter from AG's Dept. to then CID chief says it all
The Sunday Times exclusive exposures on the saga of the 32,400 rounds of 81 mm mortar bombs, ordered by the Sri Lanka Army from Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) and seized by the LTTE, have now taken an important turn.
When the reports began to appear, Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte declared in Parliament that the Government had received all items ordered from the ZDI. However, five months after this declaration, a top level CID team was appointed to probe the matter.
A CID team headed by Senior Superintendent A. N. Sisira Mendis concluded investigations locally and forwarded their findings to the Attorney General's Department. This was a prelude to the team visiting several capitals including Harare (Zimbabwe), Tel Aviv (Israel) and Seoul (South Korea). But the team has still not received Government approval to proceed abroad to unravel the deeper mystery behind the mortar deal.
After the conclusion of the local investigations, Additional Solicitor General C.R. de Silva discussed the matter with SSP Mendis and State Counsel S. Samaranayake. On May 4, 1998, he wrote to the then DIG CID, T.V. Sumanasekera, on matters that would be relevant in future investigations.
The text of the letter surfaced in an ongoing fundamental rights application by Raj Mylvaganam, a businessman linked to the deal, against his detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The case is due for further hearing on August 28.
The shipload of 32,400 mortars was part of a bigger consignment of military hardware the Sri Lanka Army ordered from the state-owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries. Four plane loads of military hardware arrived by air freight. The shipload of 32,400 mortars went missing while another shipload of 18,000 rounds of 120 m.m. mortars also arrived by ship.
In a series of exclusive exposures, The Sunday Times, revealed how the LTTE surreptitiously inveigled the shipload of mortar bombs into one of its own vessels from the Croatian port of Rijeka.
For unexplained reasons, further investigations into the mortar mystery have come to a halt.
This is what Additional Solicitor General wrote to then DIG CID, Mr. Sumanasekera:
Mr. T.V Sumanasekera,
The disappearance of a ship carrying mortar bombs from Zimbabwe to Sri Lanka
1. I refer to the letter of the Director/CID of 09.04.1998, the Information. Book Extracts submitted therewith, the other documents which were submitted when called for and the discussions held between Mr.. C. R. de Silva, Additional Solicitor General and Mr. S. Samaranayake, State Council with Mr. A. N. S. Mendis, S. P. on the above subject.
2. Upon a consideration of the material placed before me I am of the view that there is no evidence to institute criminal proceedings against Rajkumar Mylvaganam, the detenue being held in this connection.
However, I wish to place on record the following observations which may be of relevance to the authorities concerned in the conduct of any future investigations or inquiries into this frustrated transaction between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of Zimbabwe.
(a) The contract which was entered into between the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) and our government was a c.f.r. (cost and freight) contract. In such a contract the obligation of the seller is to arrange for the carriage of the goods to the place of destination (in this case the Port of Beira in Mozambique) and to pay the freight. He need not insure the goods. There was no material to show that the buyer, the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), had taken steps to insure the relevant cargo. If this is so, it would be a serious lapse.
(b) (i) This transaction was financed by a letter of credit (LC) opened by the Bank of Ceylon (the issuing bank) with the Korea Exchange Bank (the advising bank) in favour of a nominee of the seller, namely Kolon International Corporation. The LC specified the documents which had to be received by the Bank of Ceylon before 85% of the contract price was released to the seller's nominee. (The balance 15% was payable on arrival of the goods.)
(ii) The LC constitutes an autonomous banking transaction and the operating banks are not concerned with the underlying contract of sale. However the issuing bank will only honour the credit if the documents tendered by the seller are strictly in accordance with the instructions given by the buyer. The buyer has the undisputed right to withhold payment if the correct documents are not tendered because such a failure raises a doubt as to whether the seller has shipped the goods in accordance with the contract.
(iii) In the present case the bill of lading (issued by the ship owner or his agent) which was received by the Bank of Ceylon was self-contradictory in that it had been issued at Rijeka a port in Croatia whilst the port of shipment was described as Beira in Mozambique. This matter appears to have escaped both the Bank of Ceylon and the SLA. However the Bank did bring to the attention of the SLA a glaring discrepancy with regard to the presentation of the documents to the Korea Exchange Bank. The bill of lading which had to be submitted within 7 days of the date of shipment had only been submitted after 21 days. The bank sought instruction as to whether the funds should be released or withheld and also furnished the documents presented for payment for perusal.
(iv) By a letter dated 30.06.1997 Lt. Col. Nikahetiya and Chief Accountant Jayasinghe wrote and instructed the Bank to make payment notwithstanding the discrepancy brought to their attention. Copies of the aforesaid bill of lading and the two letters are annexed hereto marked A1, A2 and A3 respectively.
(v) The question arises as to whose interests the officers of the SLA who handled this transaction were serving having regard to the poor record the ZDI had already established in relation to this transaction.
Every shipment of the ZDI has been delayed. The ZDI had clearly misrepresented that the mortars were manufactured in Zimbabwe .Col L.B Aluvihara has reported to the Director Planning by a letter dated 27.03.1997 that the shipment of 1440 mortar bombs received on 18.03.1997 was in fact manufactured in Bulgaria.
(c) As stated above this was a transaction between two governments and the primary responsibility for its proper conduct lay with the relevant officers of the Sri Lanka Army. Rajkumar Mylvaganam was merely an agent of the General Trading Company which had done the initial spade work before the contract was made by the two governments. Mylvaganam has no status in the affair and he appears to have been motivated by the prospect of financial gain by way of a commission if the deal was successfully concluded. As a matter of fact however Mylvaganam appears to have been the only Sri Lankan who took any interest in the matter when it became increasingly apparent June and July 1997 that the shipment had been sabotaged. A perusal of the scanty correspondence by the SLA during this period reveals the degree of apathy and inaction shown by the SLA which ought to have been more concerned with the fate of the shipment than individuals driven by private gain.
(d) It also appears that Col.. Dube and the Company Secretary Mrewa had used the ZDI, the concern which they represented, as a convenient cover for a secret transaction which involved the Israeli firm LBG Military Supplies. Important details with regard to the manner in which the shipment was to be effected as well as the part that LBG, Military Supplies was to play in it were kept hidden from the SLA until the cargo disappeared without a trace. It is difficult to believe that ZDI would have entrusted the valuable cargo to LBG Military Supplies simply as a matter of "trust" as Col. Dube has subsequently stated.
While Mrewa states by a fax dated 15.07.1997 addressed to the SLA that he has been in touch with the vessel owners in order to locate the position of the vessel Col.. Dube feigns in a telephone interview given to Mr. Iqbal Athas - (Sunday Times Defence Correspondent) that ZDI knows nothing about the ship or its crew. These positions are contradictory
(e) The misrepresentation and suppressions of material facts by persons who acted on behalf of the ZDI in this transaction is something which should be taken. serious note of.
It is my view that the Government of Sri Lanka should agitate this matter at governmental level as it involves a fraudulent breach of contract in a transaction which was entered into at governmental level. The government of Zimbabwe should at least guarantee its full co-operation for an investigation to be carried out by Sri Lankan officers.
Additional Solicitor General
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