20th July 1997


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Judges Upali de Zoysa Gunawardena and T.B. Weerasooriya, and Deputy Solicitor General N.A.C. de Silva Jayasinghe were sworn in as judges of Court of Appeal by President Kumaratunga at Temple Trees on Tuesday. Pix: Courtesy Dept. of Information.

Violence at mini polls worst ever, says report

The Sri Lankan elections have become violent, incident-ridden in the last thirty years or so and the recent Local Government Elections were demonstrably more violent than all previous local government elections held so far. a report by the Centre for Monitoring Elections Violence (CMEV) said.

The CMEV in a report released last week said that combined culpability of the PA and the UNP together account for 94% of all incidents. The CMEV suggests that the only way to contain the violence is for the leaders of the parties to take immediate steps to act on the more serious complaints and to make sure that such incidents are not repeated. According to statistics, the police have taken significant action on less than 1% of the complaints made.

In relation to rigging at polling centres the CMEV states, that if there are more voters that are listed then it is reasonable to treat such votes with some suspicion.

Among the methods used to scare voters at the polling centres, the CMEV lists assaulting, intimidating, chasing out the polling agents of the opponents and seizing the voters’ lists, stuffing ballot boxes, collecting blank ballots, stealing polling cards from post offices and individuals, intimidatory presence outside polling centres, the use of Samurdhi workers (they being reserved for party work) .

The report comments that the narrow partisan politicisation of the police which reached its peak in the 17 years of the UNP administration appears to have been taken on board by the new govt. as well. While, a disturbing feature of this election was the refusal of police in certain districts to act, the report said.

Forgotten Muslims turn to Jaffna again

By S.S. Selvanayagam

Representatives of some 70,000 Muslims who were forced to flee Jaffna in 1990 are to return to the cleared northern capital later this month to assess the situation for their possible return, a spokesman said.

Jaffna’s former Deputy Mayor M.C Basheer, spokesman for an organisation that seeks to rehabilitate and re-settle the displaced Muslims said that after their visit they would seek compensation or assistance from the government for re-settlement.

He said the Tamil and Muslim people had until 1990 lived together amicably with the latter having upto three representatives in the Jaffna Municipal Council. But the Muslims had to flee when the LTTE turned its guns on them.

Now it was reported that the LTTE regretted that action and therefore there was room to make a new start, the organisation’s secretary, K.M.S. Hameed said.

Political sources said the return of this forgotten third party in the bloody Jaffna scenario could turn out to be an important factor in the eventual settlement.

Attack on Eravur repulsed

Police shot dead two suspected Tamil rebels in eastern Sri Lankan Friday as security forces resisted another rebel assault and killed at least 25 rebels, officials said.

Police opened fired on three guerrillas of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who tried to attack the Eravur police station in the Batticaloa district at dawn Friday, officials said. They said two Tigers were killed and the third escaped with injuries.

Automatic assault rifles and locally-made hand bombs were seized from the two victims, officials said.

The incident came after the LTTE mounted a fresh assault against security forces at Nedunkerni in the north of the country on Thursday, following fierce fighting in the area the day before which left 77 people dead on both sides.

Charges against Cooray: “Incredible, amusing,” says Kongahage

By Roshan Pieris

UNP Parliamentarian Sarath Kongahage has hailed former Minister Sirisena Cooray as a true democrat and dismissed as “incredible and amusing” the charges by the government that Mr. Cooray had plotted to kill or harm President Kumaratunga.

“I can’t imagine such a thing in my wildest dreams. What they are suggesting is preposterous. It is ridiculous to suggest he wanted to become the President and make Sothi Upali the Prime Minister,” Mr. Kongahage told ‘The Sunday Times’ in an interview.

Mr. Kongahage said the President appeared to be having some assassination phobia. It was once suggested that the SLMP under Ossie Abeygunesekera was trying to kill her, then someone in the Army and later someone in the business community. She had also alleged that former President Premadasa might have been involved in the killing of her husband Vijaya Kumaratunga, but there had been no substantial evidence for that charge.

Mr. Kongahage, who is known to be close to Mr. Cooray said he had not tried to resolve the dispute between UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mr. Cooray over the activities of the Premadasa Centre. Asked whether he was a Cooray loyalist, Mr. Kongahage said he was essentially a UNP loyalist but he saw Mr. Cooray as a cultured, sober and efficient man who was not the “tough schemer” that some thought him to be.

Mr. Kongahage who is reported to have had differences with Mr. Wickremesinghe in recent weeks, paid a tribute to the UNP leader as a dedicated, hardworking and sharp person who would deliver the goods.

As for rivalry in the UNP, he said such things happen to any party in opposition but like elephants did, the UNP would strike together when the need arose.

JVP wants interim govt. before polls

By Shyamal A. Collure

As a means of preventing rigging and impersonation at future general elections, the JVP has called for an interim administration headed by the Chief Justice to run the country and oversee elections after parliament is dissolved.

The JVP is also caling for national indentity cards to be made compulsory for all voters — a proposal being pressed by the MEP following allegations of widespread rigging at the March 21 local elections, JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa said.

Mr. Weerawansa also told The Sunday Times the governemnt was trying to hoodwink or conspiring against the people to get the devolution package passed under the guise of abolishing the executive presidency.

Mr. Weerawansa said government plans to hold the referendum on the draft constitution were mainly intended to get the devolution package through and the JVP would not fall for such political tricks.

‘I did not plot to kill President’

By S. S. Selvanayagam

A fundamental rights petition has been filed in respect of an astrologer’s son who was taken into custody by the Nuwara Eliya Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) from the hospital where he was taking treatment for a cut injury sustained when he tried to avoid a blow with a knife by one Toori.

OIC Fonseka and SI Rifaideen of Nuwara Eliya CSU along with the OIC of Kandy CSU, Wattegama Police OIC the IGP and the Attorney General have been cited as respondents in the petition filed by counsel Appathurey Vinayagamoorthy on behalf of the petitioner Kitnasamy Gangadaran of Nuwara Eliya.

The petition inter alia, said that the former OIC of the Nuwara Eliya CSU Dissanayake demanded compensation in Rs. 100,000 from Gangadaran in January 1997 for some minor injuries sustained by a relative of his when the van belonging to Gangadaran knocked him.

It added the Gangadaran refused to pay the compensation demanded and told Dissanayake that negligence was on the part of the injured man and that he could collect the compensation from the Insurance Corporation.

Mr. Dissanayake got angry and told Gangadaran that he would take revenge on him. Dissanayake visited Gangadaran at the Wattegama Police Station and questioned him in a sarcastic way, the petition said.

It added that that the police were trying to extract an incriminating statement from Gangadaran.

M. F. Mohideen, the regional coordinator of the Kandy regional office of Human Rights Task Force (HRTF) visited Gangadaran at the Wattegama Police Station thrice and made his observations.

Mr. Mohideen in his observations has stated, “N’Eliya police had arrested one Suresh Kumar as a suspected LTTE activist. In order to implicate Gangadaran further, the Kandy SIU unit under SI Rafaideen and others had assaulted Gangadaran and had forced him to admit that a meeting had taken place at his house and at the meeting Suresh Kumar had conspired to murder the President and the Deputy Defence Minister.”

He has added, “Since Mr. Gangadaran had no other choice and in order to safeguard himself from inhuman torture and also to protect the lives of his wife and son he had under duress involuntarily accepted the alleged meeting which took place in his house to be true.”

“He vehemently denies having any involvement in these types of clandestine affairs and that he has no truck with any terrorist organisation,” the observation stated.

The petition seeks the court to grant leave to proceed and to direct the Kandy JMO to examine Gangadaran and forward a report to the court early.

It also seeks the court to direct the 3rd respondent to produce Gangadaran before a Magistrate forthwith and get him released or remanded.

The petition prays the court to order the release of Gangadaran and to order payment of compensation in a sum of Rs.100,000.

Fruit jam hits Kalutara

By H. P. P. Perera

The luscious Mangosteen, a symbol of Kalutara for generations has now become a fruit of contention amidst the exigencies of modern life.

It’s the mangosteen season in the Pasdun-Rata and fruits from Kalutara, Matugama, Agalawatta, Manana and Badureliya have been stacked up as usual on the pavements of the town. But this year the police have moved in and arrested sellers on the basis that their mangosteen sales were causing traffic jams.

Traditionally travellers to and from the South stop at Kalutara to buy a bagfull of Mangosteens. With the traffic flow having increased manifold, the mangosteen stopover has caused severe congestion.

Mangosteen sellers are bitter about the police action.

Mangala Peiris who served for some time as a member of the Kalutara Urban Council said his family from the time of his grandfather had sold Mangosteens near the Kalutara North bridge without any restriction. Now it was sad to see police breaking up a fruitful tradition.

Shiromani a 29 year old mother of three said her family had for years earned their livelihood from mangosteens, putting up temporary sheds for big sales during the season. But this year no sheds were allowed and they were being pushed around.

Amidst a growing controversy, Urban Council Chairman Nalin Mahes Perera intervened and worked out a compromise - the mangosteen brigade should confine themselves to Kalutara North and they must not cause any traffic blocks.

Police inspector C. E. Vidisinghe said such an arrangement would be fine so long as the sellers did not block the Galle road.

So it seems a kind of truce has been reached in the battle of the mangosteen which incidentally is the tag given to the big cricket match between the two major schools in this town, while the U. C. itself carries the fruit as its official emblem.

Stepping stone for Asoka to build new life

By M. Ismeth

A better deal is being lined up for Peradeniya University graduate Asoka, the girl who was forced to break stone to support her family because the cold hard world had no proper job opportunity for her.

Under the headline “She asked for bread but got a stone” The Sunday Times last week focussed attention on the plight of Asoka who had struggled through poverty to get her degree but found she was still bound by the chain of social oppression and inequality.

Almost as soon as the newspaper hit the stands, generous hands reached out to Asoka.

The Sunday Times had a stream of calls from business establishments such as the Hatton National Bank, philanthropists and others including the Human Resources Development Centre. We also had a call from Army Headquarters. They wanted to get in touch with Asoka apparently feeling that the tough stone cutting graduate would make a good officer.

From Britain a philanthropist faxed The Sunday Times saying he wanted to immediately send Rs 10,000 to Asoka not as a dole but as a stepping stone to venture out on her own.

“It is easy for me to say it is a donation. But I think it is better if I say to her it is a loan and one day when her financial situation gets better, she could repay the loan without interest, in small instalments. I request her if possible to repay in small instalments to a charity fund which I started with the YMBA,” the philanthropist said. When our Kandy correspondent visited Asoka at her little home in Handessa she said, ‘thank you’ with tears of joy and gratitude.

Despite all its shame, drudgery and shattered dreams, the world is still a beautiful place. For our readers who wish to contact Asoka her full name and address are U.G Chandra Asoka 60/4 Dangolla, Rabbegamuwa Handessa.

Sanlakshi wins contest

The 11th Light Of The World speech contest organized by the Wendy Whatmore Academy and sponsored by the Ceylon Bible Society was held recently. Sanlakshi Liyanagama of Visakha Vidyalaya emerged as the winners of the Intermediate category as well as over-all championship. She is a student of the Wendy Whatmore Academy.

TULF MP to explain rights violations

TULF parliamentary group leader Joseph Pararajasingham left yesterday for the USA on a three week tour.

He has been invited by an NGO in America.

Mr. Pararajasingham who plans to visit Washington, New York and Los Angeles and meet the Director Country Affairs Steve Mann, Steve Coffey and Bruce Neuling of the Human Rights section of the State Department, Hiram Ruiz of the US Committee on Refugees, NGO Forum, Amnesty International, Congressmen Hamilton and Beureter and Patrick Kennedy.

He is expected to explain to them the Human Rights violations by the Security Forces, refugee problem, government’s restriction on food and various other issues affecting the Tamils, particularly in North-East.

He will also meet the members of Tamil Sangam in New York and Geneine Guthrie of the Human Rights Watch (Asia), Frances Vendrell and Tamarat Samuel of the Political Affairs Department.

He is also expected to meet the Acting Chief, Humanitarian Affairs Congressman Benjamin Gillman.

Provide security to MMCs plea

The Batticaloa mayor has appealed to the government to ensure the security of members of local authorities following a recent attack on a municipal councillors.

At a special meeting of the Municipal Council, the Mayor Chelliyan J. Perinpanayakam said “Batticaloa Municipal Councillor R. Prabaharan, his wife, his son and other three members of his family were attacked with swords. This incident shows that members of local authorities are under threat.”

He called for tighter security to heads and members of local authorities. The municipal area comes under the security zone. A similar incident has never happened before. An incident like this should not occur again, he said.

The resolution condemning this incident was unanimously passed.

Better deal

Proposals for domestic aides in Sri Lankan homes to sign contracts with their employers regarding working hours, salaries, holidays and other facilities will be discussed at a forum to be held next Sunday at Dehiwela, the organisers said. NGO’s, and trade unions will share their views at this forum.

Close look at changing times

In the context of a pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi- religious environment in Sri Lanka, the National Christian Conference will hold a five-day ecumenical dialogue from July 25 to 30 at the Oblate Scholasticate in Ampitiya, Kandy.

With changes taking place all over in politics, economics, culture and religion, the theme will be ‘Affirming the faith in changing times’.

Among the speakers will be Anuradhapura’s Bishop Oswald Gomis, Colombo’s Bishop Kenneth Fernando, and Anita Nesaiah of the Family Rehabilitation Centre.

Calling for Justice

The Teldeniya Magistrate does not have a telephone at his residence though an application had been made as far back as 1991.

If that is unjust, yet more unjust is the fact that the Justice Ministry has not bothered to pay the telephone installation fees of Rs 16,000 yet - though the Teldeniya courts earn as much as Rs 100,000 a day by way of fines.

So the hard pressed magistrate has to trek to the police station everytime he needs to take a telephone call regarding court matters.

Death of woman PC: police on the trail of poison drink

By Christopher Kamalendran

As Police are probing whether the death of the woman constable attached to the Reserve Police Headquarters was caused by poisoning, a relative of her says that the deceased told him that she became sick soon after she had a cool drink offered to her at the office.Subramaniam Shanthi, 30, who was attached to the Reserve Police headquarters at the time of her death had been serving in the police force for the past 10 years.

She died on Wednesday after doctors battled for her life for two weeks.

City Coroner Edward Ahangama said according to available medical reports the death could have been caused by poisoning and he called for a further report on the death from the Police on July 31. Specimens of her body and blood samples have been sent to the Government Analysts Department for examination.

According to the relative, Shanthi regularly travelled by bus to work from Avissawella. One day while returning after work she had fainted inside the bus. She somehow managed to come home and started vomiting. She was admitted to the Avissawella hospital and as her condition worsened, she was transferred to the National hospital in Colombo. “We were not satisfied about the treatment and we admitted her to a private hospital in Colombo. But we were forced to transfer her back to the National Hospital as we could not meet the cost,” the relative said.

“When she was in hospital she told us that she developed the problems after she had taken a cool drink offered to her at the office,” he said.

“Since she was feeding her one year old child too fell ill and was admitted to the Lady Ridgeway hospital,” he said.

Shanthi was earlier serving in Vavuniya and was transferred to the Reserve Police Headquarters three years ago. The Deputy Inspector General in charge of the Reserve Police Headquarters, T. E. Anandarajah, told ‘The Sunday Times’ the Cinnamon Gardens police were conducting investigations and was awaiting a report on the matter.

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