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The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

30th March 1997




Kumar calls for HR probe here

All Ceylon Tamil Congress leader Kumar Ponnambalam has appealed at a UN Human Rights session that a working group on arbitrary detention and the special rapporteur on torture to investigate and report on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Ponnambalam made the appeal at the 53rd session of the United Nations Commission on Humanitarian Rights in Geneva now in progress.

He said that one finds in Sri Lanka a total disregard of all the principles relating to detention, a negation of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocol and callous violations of the customary international humanitarian law that is universally accepted and applicable in times of armed conflicts.

"Every Tamil man or woman has become a target", he said.

"The reason behind this being that there is no uniformity in the legal provisions".

In the matter of detention, again there is no uniformity and during this period "hapless Tamils are tortured and confessions 'manufactured',", Mr. Ponn-ambalam said.

There has been a startling increase in the number of incidents of gang rape, involuntary disappearances, not only in the north and the east but in Colombo too, and cases of extra judicial killings.

In many of the human rights violations Tamils are at the receiving end he alleged and went onto challenge the Sri Lankan government to deny any incidents mentioned in the document put out for the session by the Tamil Centre for Human Rights.

He said that all this is justified by the fact the Sri Lankan government has prohibited foreign or local media from going to the North and the East to report the situation.

'Portraits' on Tuesdays

Portraits will henceforth be telecast on the first Tuesday of each month on Rupavahini at 9.10 p.m. The guest on April 1 will be Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne who in January received the Mahatma Gandhi peace award from Indian President Shanker Dayal Sharma. The programme will show Dr. Ariyaratne in conversation with Sujatha Jayawardena.

UK politics on the web

Election fever has gripped British Isles as well with the dissolution of the House of Commons and fresh elections on May 1.

The Sunday Times Internet edition has linked up with two of Britain's most prestigious and influential newspapers, The Guardian and The Observer and The Sunday Times readers will be able to keep in touch with the polls to the Mother Parliament through the election web site.

Web browsers can now access the Guardian's and the Observers election web site via The Sunday Timesby clicking the pointer on the Home Page of the Sunday Times Web site. Inturn, Guardian and Observer readers too can reach The Sunday Times the same way at the following address :

The Sunday Times invites its readers to contribute their views on the British elections. Selected articles will be printed in The Sunday Times and sent on the Internet Edition which is linked to the Guardian and Observer Internet editions.

Contributions should be addressed to The Editor, The Sunday Times, 47, W.A.D. Ramanayake Mawatha, Colombo 2 with British Elections Internet Edition marked on the top left hand corner. Contributions must not be more than 250-300 words.

The manifesto sites...

What the British political parties have to say? Visit the following websites and read each party's Manifesto:

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland




Liberal Democrats>

Monster Raving Loony

Plaid Cymru

Progressive Unionist


Scottish National

Sinn Fein

Social Democratic & Labour

Ulster Democratic

Ulster Democratic Unionist

Ulster Unionist

Visit a "one-stop" site which gives a link to all the parties contesting the General Election. This also gives a brief history of the parties:

'Yes for package, then yes for high prices too'

By Roshan Pieris

Four leading activists in the campaign against the devolution package have insisted that the PA victory at the local election was largely a vote on area issues and not a national endorsement of the proposals to solve the ethnic conflict.

They said if the PA claimed a national yes vote for the package then it must be also seen as popular approval for the sky rocketing cost of living.

Responding to the battering received by CWC leader S. Thondaman they said the young estate workers had thankfully seen through the Thondaman facade and now it was a case of the mountain turning out to be a mouse.

MEP leader Dinesh Gunewardene said: I want to make it clear the MEP is not a chauvinistic party. That is the view of people like the TULF leader. He is quite wrong. We stand firmly for a unitary state where all our citizens will enjoy equal rights based on our constitution. And so they can all take part in decision making at the centre where Parliament is supreme.

"We have by no means lost, going by the election results. The MEP has increased its national vote from 68,000 in 1994 to 109,000 in 1997, though we contested only 77 of the 238 local bodies. In contrast to the PA's share its vote reduced from 62% to 49% in a widely rigged election. We saw unprecedented state thuggery with the police taking little or no action.

"It is ridiculous to think that the people endorsed the devolution. If so is the PA saying they also endorsed the high price of essential foods? These issues were not even canvassed by the PA. Anyway with all the state machinery behind it, the PA's vote has decreased by 13 percent."

Commenting on the CWC's setback Mr. Gunewardena said it is now obvious Mr. Thondaman has lost the youth vote in the plantations. They have begun to think for themselves and moved away from Mr. Thondaman's brand of politics, thankfully.

Senior lawyer S. L. Gunesekera, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Ekiya Sanvidhanaya said I don't think the results are an endorsement of the devolution package. The questions on which the people voted in the 238 local bodies were parochial issues such as garbage, roads and sanitation. It was not a vote on national issues.

"President Kuma-ratunga in her speeches did not cover national issues or it was largely a matter of slandering the UNP. I cannot help but draw a parallel between what the PA did at this local election and what President Premadasa did in 1991 after they killed so many people and gave arms to the LTTE to kill others. Yet he won the local elections in 1991 with the same number of councils as the PA won this time. He too considered to a vindication of his policies as the PA is doing now."

Referring to the debacle of Minister Thondaman's CWC in plantation areas such as Nuwara Eliya, Mr Gunesekera said at last even the plantation people have realised that he is acting like an opportunist and has now lost his clout."

Former Minister Gamani Jayasuriya, President of the Sinhala Arakshaka Sanvidan-aya said. "The PA victory is by no means an endorsement of the devolution package or the government's stand on the ethnic conflict. The voters were mainly concerned about their local problems.

In a jocular reference to Thondaman's defeat, he said the poor man is under a bad star and will have to do a thovila. The results show his popularity was a myth. Mr. Jayasuriya quipped he is no longer the kingmaker here, but he will always be welcomed in South India and wish him well. I must also add that our personal relations when I was in Parliament were always good.

The Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, an activist in the campaign against the devolution package said " The PA victory at village level does not mean that the Sinhala people are accepting any part of the devolution package.

"One has nothing to do with the other. The endorsement of the devolution package must be done not at a local level but at national level.

Commenting on Mr. Thondaman's' defeat the Thera said he was a 'Kos-eta miyek' who thought he was an elephant. Now it has been amply proved that he is merely a flea "Kinithullek". I hope both major parties will recognise now what he really is and not pay much attention to him anymore. He has dominated our politics far too long."

TNL commission sits tomorrow

A government appointed commission probing allegations against the Teleshan Network Ltd. (TNL) television station will resume sittings under the chairmanship of former High Court Judge, G. L. M. de Silva tomorrow

K. N. Choksy will appear on behalf of TNL.

The Commission was appointed by the Media Ministry to probe allegations which included the telecast of a news item about an alleged LTTE attack on the Vellaveli STF camp which has been disputed by the government.

The probe came as the National Association of Broadcasters of the USA honoured the TNL radio with the NAB International Broadcasting Excellence Award for 1997.

Don't deport paedophile

By M. Ismeth

Plans to deport paedophile convict Armin Pfaffhauser and suspect Luc Koomans to Switzerland have been deferred following protests by children's rights groups, a lawyer said.

Arun Tampoe, legal officer of child protection group PEACE said Mr. Pfaffhauser who was convicted for two years on charges of child abuse on February 6 and Mr. Koomans who is now in remand and facing charges for child abuse at the Matara Court were to be deported yesterday to Switzerland. But the group had lodged a strong protest to the Ministry of Defence on Friday and got the deportation deferred. "But I do not know for how long it will be deferred. To send them away would be a mockery of justice," Mr. Tampoe said.

Mr. Pfaffhauser, though, sentenced for two years on February 6, has yet to "be the guest of the Government at Welikada, but instead is spending a leisurely and cosy life at the Mirihana deportation camp, meeting visitors and friends," the lawyer said. Meanwhile, Kasper Wiersz also a Swiss national and an accomplice of Mr. Pfaffhauser had left the country on a forged German passport only to be arrested by the Interpol on arrival in Geneva recently.

Meanwhile, Human Rights lawyer S. Thiranagama told 'The Sunday Times' a Magistrate from Switzerland would visit Sri Lanka next month to record the evidence of four children in connection with another child abuse suspect Victor Baumann, who is now in Police custody in Geneva.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - * In the jaws of the Tigers, * Dirty deal on dumping grounds?, * UNP collects evidence to file poll petitions, * Improvement plan ignores Central schools, * Employees will treat CMCs with 'Kiri Bath', * Package: PA's May Day theme, * AirLanka engineers clarify report, * Problems at Ayurveda College yet unsolved

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