The Sinhala Commission yesterday denied allegations by Media Minister, Mangala Samaraweera that the recommendations in their report were 'premeditated' and said the interim report contains conclusions which the commission reached with an open mind after listening to evidence.
The Secretary of the Sinhala Commission, Padmashantha Wickramasooriya in a statement said the Minister would not have made his statement if he had read and correctly understood the report and the duties cast on a responsible commission.
The statement set out in detail the background for releasing the interim report and said that the interim report was issued in response to several requests made by persons who gave evidence before the commission.
'They suggested that the interim report should contain political and economic consequences of the devolution proposals, the implementation of which seemed imminent. This is stated in the preamble to the interim report. Other injustices caused to the Sinhala people, falling within the terms of reference, will be dealt with in the final report,' the statement said.
He said the interim report of the Sinhala Commission was prepared taking into consideration all the evidence given for and against the devolution proposals.
The Sinhala Commission also denied the allegation by the Media Minister that the commission did not provide an opportunity to those who supported the government proposals for devolution of power to place their views before the commission.
At its very inception, the commission requested the general public to make representations on the matters pertaining to the terms of reference in all the three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English through newspapers. In fact, this notice had been reproduced in the 'London Tamil Times' also.
'In addition, the commission invited among others the following individuals by registered post to make representations on the government devolution proposals:-
Prof. G.L. Peiris, M.P., Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, M.P., Lionel Fernando, Jayampathi Wickramaratne, Attorney-at-Law, Ven. Watinapaha Somananda Thera, Prof. Vishva Warnapala, M.P., Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne, Dr. Rohan Edrisinghe, Dr. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Prof. Carlo Fonseka and Charles Abeysekera.
''Only two of them responded, the Ven. Watinapaha Somananda and Lionel Fernando. The latter had said that he was unable to be present before the commission as he was going abroad. On the suggestion of the Ven. Watinapaha Somananda Thera, the Ven. Athuraliye Indraratna Thera (Dakshina Lanka Adhikarana Sangha Nayake) and the Ven. Nedagamuve Vijaya Maithree Thera were invited by the commission and they gave evidence.
Subsequently, the Editor of the 'Yuktiya,' Sunanda Deshapriya, and Shiral Laktilake, Attorney-at-Law, gave evidence.
''The interim report of the Sinhala Commission was prepared taking into consideration all the evidence given for and against the devolution proposals,'' says the statement.
S.L. Gunasekara, the Joint Secretary of the Sri Lanka Ekeeya Sanvidhanaya in response to Minister Mangala Samaraweera's recent remarks on the Sinhala Commission and an SLES statement has said that the package if implemented will lead to ethnic disharmony and bloodbath.
The text of Mr. Gunasekera's the statement:
Mangala Samaraweera's latest comments on the Sinhala Commission reported in the 'Island' of 3.10.97 are quite as queer as his previous comments.
Mangala Samaraweera says that the Interim Report of the Sinhala Commission does not refer to any grievances of the Sinhala people but was only designed to attack the Government's 'Devolution Proposals'!!
The Government's 'Devolution Proposals' are manifestly the biggest grievance of the Sinhala people. What bigger grievance can the Sinhala people have than the conduct of the Government elected by their votes seeking by means of the 'Devolution Proposals' to dismember for all time, the only country that is the home of virtually the entirety of the Sinhala Race upon the face of this earth; destroy the ethnic harmony that now exists among her citizens of diverse races; plunge the country into a bloodbath of unprecedented magnitude; destroy her economy; create limitless administrative chaos and deprive her citizens of equal rights to the natural resources of the land? These are the grievances of the Sinhala people that have been rightly dealt with in the Interim Report.
Yet Mangala in his 'Innocence' cannot see these glaring facts. He cannot see the wood for the trees or the trees for the wood.
Mangala Samaraweera says that I said that he is 'Queer'. I never said anything of the sort - what Mangala Samaraweera is or is not is a matter of no concern whatever to me. What I did say is that his vituperation against the Sinhala Commission while maintaining a deafening silence in respect of both the opposition of the SLFP to the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Councils Act and the statements supportive of the LTTE made by Minister Thondaman and the so-called 'Moderate' Tamil Parties is decidedly queer.
Drawing a distinction between being "queer" and being a "pervert", Mangala Samaraweera proceeds to say that he prefers to be "queer" than being a "pervert" who gets a thrill out of seeing other people's sons getting killed. He does not specify who these "perverts" are. However, if there are such "perverts" outside the ranks of the LTTE, they can only be among the ranks of those who support the 'Devolution Proposals' - for as I have explained in my book "Tigers 'Moderates' and Pandora's Package," not only are the 'Devolution Proposals' incapable of restoring peace, but will, if implemented, only result in the ethnic harmony that now exists in the country being destroyed and lead to a bloodbath, the like of which we have never experienced in the long history of our land.
Sri Lanka Ekeeya Sanvidhanaya
A movement for the protection of the motherland has expressed its unhappiness over a comment made by President Chandrika Kumaratunga that "dogs may bark at the 'Thawalama', peace campaign, but we cannot afford to stop''.
The Mavubima Surekeeme Viyaparaya, referring to a newspaper report about the President's comments made at a ceremony in a state bank, said the President's statement was not in keeping with the high post she holds.
"Isn't President Kumaratunga's comments a confirmation of the comments made by Minister Mangala Samaraweera,'' the Movement asked in a statement signed by the Ven. Muruthettuwe Ananda Thera.
"Our hope is that all communities Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher would live in a united Sri Lanka. It has been known traditionally that bulls used to draw the caravans. But in modern days people are drawing the caravan and we should be happy that dogs understand it better than the people'', the movement said in a statement.
"We are sorry that the country's leadership has deteriorated to an extent that something done by bulls earlier are now being done by the people. This shows that those who draw caravans dominate in this ruling system'', the statement said.
"We want any child who has suffered abuse to know that now they don't have to suffer in silence any more: There is hope, there is help. We also want abusers and perpetrators to know that they will not be tolerated any longer. If they too need help to quit abuse it is available. If they don't - then justice is on its way."
This is the message that came from the World Day of the Child in Sri Lanka when several NGO's launched intense action programmes to address the crisis of child abuse which has grown to alarming proportions in recent years.
One of the NGO's in the forefront of this 'Save the Children' campaign are the volunteers for the Eradication of Sexual Abuse, Prostitution and Exploitation (ESCAPE).
An ESCAPE official said ABN-AMRO Bank had given them financial support for an awareness campaign in six major towns - Colombo, Kandy, Kurunegala, Negombo, Hikkaduwa and Galle. She said the action programme would be sustained until practical results were seen.
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