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5th April 1998`

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Charles: more a man of action

Charles AbeysekeraCharles Abeysekera, the President of the movement for Inter Racial Justice and Equality (MERGE) will be best remembered as a pillar of the Human Rights and sociology establishment.

Founder of the Social Scientists Association, Charles Abeysekera was a father figure to many young sociologists who looked upto him as mentor and a man of academic standing that befitted his intellect as well as his six-foot physical stature. Though his work as an activist was substantial, Charles Abeysekera was also more of a background man, who worked hard for his causes more than he spoke hard for his causes. This work ethic regards his activism is testified to by the fact that he left many organisations founded by him as a legacy for human rights activism and for research work in the area of social sciences. He was a founder of the Asia Forum for human rights in Bangkok, and founder co-editor of Pravada, which later became a scholarly gospel on contemporary political and social issues.

This work belied his past, which was rooted in the establishment, first as an officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, and later as the Chairman of the Steel Corporation. He was also a former Chairman of the Official Languages Commission.

His commitment to human rights activism led him to many spheres of activity, which encompassed work in the area of campaigning for media freedom. This led him to be involved in the launching of Yukthiya with Sunanada Deshapriya. Though his work in non-governmental organisations saw him face many skirmishes with state and state-sponsored authority. Mr. Abeysekera was an unruffled man. A placid manner seemed to be part of his temperament.

His funeral will take place at the Galkissa Cemetery Kanatte at 3 p.m. on Monday.

Court says no to Thondamans

By S.S.Selvanayagam

CWC leader S. Thondaman and General Secretary Arumugam Thondaman have been re-summoned to appear in court on May 8 to face charges of contempt in relation to last months controversial party convention.

The veteran CWC leader and his grandson appeared in court last Friday and asked that the contempt charges against them be dropped on the basis that they had not received a restraining order issued by the District Court of Colombo two days before the party convention on March 8. But District Judge G. Ambepitiya rejected their appeal.

The restraining order had been obtained by former CWC stalwart M. S. Sellasamy who has challenged his removal from the post of General Secretary of the party.

He claimed his removal was illegal and that the March 8 convention by ratifying Arumugam Thondaman as General Secretary would do irreparable damage to him.

He Claims his lawyers took the Court order to the CWC convention at the Sugathadasa indoor stadium, but they were not allowed to enter.

Buddhist group denounces call for Indian intervention

By Shelani de Silva.

The Federation of Buddhist Organisation has hit out at some 37 Tamil Groups which requested the Indian Prime Minister to intervene in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

The organisation in a strongly worded letter to the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka has stated that the Tamil action groups in Sri Lanka have no national right to request the Indian Premier to intervene in Lankan politics. Nor does India have any international right to entertain such requests from any group.

The FBO says in the letter that the ethnic conflict is not a political problem. It is a terrorist problem created jointly by racial Tamils, successive Sri Lankan governments and Western Capitalist.

Secretary of the FBO Gallage Punyawardene told The Sunday Times that the government is trying to show that it does not care about what the Tamil groups request from the Indian Government.

"But it is a way of supporting the racial Tamils. The FBO strongly opposes this move made by the Tamil Groups. The FBO would like to request the Indian Prime Minister not only to reject the request. And also to issue a statement stating that the Indian Government is not prepared to entertain such request," he said.

Stay order extended

A court order preventing the warden-designate of S. Thomas' College from assuming office has been extended till April 30.

The Court of Appeal extended the stay order when it took up the case on March 23 before Justice H. Yapa and Justice U. De Z.Gunawardena. The case against the chairman and members of the Board of Governors of the College, and the Warden Designate was filed by S.A.W. Manawadu, a parent of a student.

President to review Maligawa security

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

Amidst repeated calls by the Mahanayakes for extra security at the Dalalda Maligawa, President Chandrika Kumaratunga is to visit the hallowed shrine on Friday to review the situation. While renovation work has been going on after the bombing of Maligawa on January 25, the Mahanayakes of the malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters have asked that special police and army units be sent in to patrol the Maligawa area and surrounding roads. Diyawadana Nilame Neranjan Wijeratne said that the kandy courts complex would also be moved from its position near the Maligawa as an additional security measure.

Aviation Minister's directive to AirLanka in the air

By Federica Jansz

A senior AirLanka official who was interdicted recently for not addressing a letter to Aviation Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake "in a proper manner" remains interdicted despite an assurance from the Minister that he will be reinstated.

Manoj Gunawar-dene, Promotions Executive of AirLanka was interdicted following a refusal by AirLanka top brass to honour a request from the Minister to provide a ticket on his recommendation to a known person. It was Mr. Gunawardene who wrote to the minister on behalf of AirLanka.

At a news conference this week Mr. Senanayake assured that Mr. Gunawardene would be reinstated and said he had already given AirLanka Chairman Harry Jayaw-ardene a directive to this effect.

Up to yesterday, The Sunday Times learns that the Minister's directive has not been looked into.

At the same news conference where AirLanka's partnership with Emirates was outlined, when asked why AirLanka's Chairman was not present and whether there was opposition from the top brass to the partnership, he replied in the negative.

When pressed by the media, the Minister said, "Don't worry Harry Jayawardene is under control." Mr. Senanayake who lost his Media portfolio last year said he will not be a lame duck Aviation Minister with the privatisation of AirLanka.

Who fuelled such speculation?

Sunethra Bandaranaike, the elder daughter of Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike, on Thursday sent the following letter to the Editor where she discounts speculation that she will be contesting the Chief Ministership of the Western Province on the PA ticket at the forthcoming elections.

Following is the full text of her two-paragraph statement:

"In the last few weeks there have been reports and speculation in the media that I will be contesting the forthcoming Provincial Council election as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the People's Alliance for the Western Province.

"I wish to state that there is absolutely no basis for these reports and speculation. I would appreciate it if you could publish this clarification in your newspaper and accord it the same prominence given to your front page story titled "Enter Sunethra for PC polls", in the Sunday Times of 29th March."

As far as The Sunday Times is concerned we did not say Ms. Sunethra Bandaranaike will be contesting the forthcoming PC elections as the PA's Chief Minister candidate for the Western Province.

Nor does Ms. Bandaranaike deny having told us inter alia, "if the PA finds me suitable, then yes. I will seriously consider re-entering mainstream politics. At this stage in my life I will not make any hasty decisions. But if there is a real need for me to fulfill in the public arena, I will certainly not hesitate to do so. The decision will be a mature one..."

She goes on to say "politics is nothing strange to my family. It is something we, the Bandaranaike's, are all comfortable with".

Now - who could have fuelled those speculations?

"LTTE and Tamils?"

Tamil United Liberation Front Leader H. Sivasithambaram in a letter to The Sunday Times says:

"Roshan Peiris under the title "Can LTTE represent Tamils?" has madee the baseless charge that I was apparently trying to ward off criticism by saying that my statement was a personal view and that my statement was a personal view and that I meant it only in terms of negotiations. She can make this charge only if I had not made these statements at the meeting of foreign journalists. She was not present at that meeting. I made these two statements at the meeting of foreign journalists at the Galle Face Hotel.

"Reputed foreign journalists who were present at that meeting will bear me out. If indeed I made those statements at the meeting, this allegation of Roshan Peiris is not only unworranted but mischievous.

"I would ask her kindly to refrain from giving left-hand compliments and from distorting facts."

Our reporter says she stands by the story.

Way clear for stranded maids in Saudi Arabia

From Mohammed Qassim in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia in to issue exit permits for 80 Sri Lankan housemaids who are stranded here for the past nine months.

These domestic aides who are temporarily sheltered at the Sri Lankan embassy in Riyadh cannot find their way home since the embassy finds it difficult to get the exit clearance from their sponsors due to various reasons.

The decision to issue exit visas to the housemaids was made following a request made by the Labour Minister John Seneviratne after a meeting with his counterpart, Mousaid Al Sonani in Saudi Arabia in March.

The labour counsellor of the mission Daya Senaratne told The Sunday Times these housemaids had sought the assistance of the embassy for settlement of their disputes with the sponsors, but all efforts at finding a solution had failed.

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