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17th January 1999
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Action group details woes of Jaffna people

Adequate food and medicine to over 350,000 people living in the Wanni are being denied by the government. The government had refused to accept the figure of 350,000 given by the Government Agent, according to the Action Group of Tamils in Colombo (AGOTIC).

In a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga the President of AGOTIC N.Vijayasingam states that the government insisted that there is a little over 100,000 people and had now raised it to 190,000.

The letter states: Unfortunately todate there have been no positive signs from the government side to the offer of the hand of reconciliation extended by LTTE leader V.Prabhakaran and we only continue to hear war drums.The PA is continuing to accuse the UNP of failure to co-operate to find a joint solution.The UNP on its part is asking the government to hold unconditional talks with the LTTE within a set time frame. In the meantime hundreds are dying and many more are being maimed."

It states that policies of destruction and deception have to be replaced with policies of reconciliation.

Explaining the ground situation, Mr.Vijayasingam says people in Jaffna are not being allowed to settle in their own villages and cultivation is not possible under Army occupation.

Doors and roofing sheets of houses have been removed by the forces for use in bunkers.Over 80 percent of the houses in Jaffna are either destroyed or partly damaged, he said.

He has further stated that over 600 persons are reported missing in Jaffna. Generations of fishermen known for their outstanding skills are being denied their vocation of not being allowed to go out fishing. School children in many Army occupied areas in the Wanni are denied education due to destruction of school buildings, displacement of teachers and occupation of schools by security forces. Denial of kerosene in the absence of electricity deprives children of facilities to study. Disruption of educational facilities to Tamil children had been done systematically by successive governments, he states.

Alleged LTTEer wins right to stay in Canada

A man suspected of being a Tamil terrorist and believed by security officials to be a key fund-raiser for a violent guerrilla group is to be allowed to remain in Canada following a ground-breaking court ruling in Ottawa yesterday. 

The federal government lost an important legal battle when the Ontario Court upheld an injunction that stops immigration officials from deporting the Sri Lankan man, Manickavasagam Suresh, 43, even though he has been declared a threat to national security.

The case is considered a legal precedent because it strengthens the notion that, under certain circumstances, the provincial court can step into a case ruled on by the Federal Court of Canada.

"Of course the department is disappointed with the decision," said Huguette Shouldice, an immigration department official. "However, we are going to look at the decision and the reasons from the court to decide what our next step will be."

Barbara Jackman, Mr. Suresh's lawyer said, the decision establishes there are times when the provincial court can rule on a case dealt with in federal court.

After arriving in Canada in 1990 as a refugee, Mr. Suresh became co-ordinator of the World Tamil Movement, which the US State Department describes as a "front organization" for the Tamil Tigers.

Canadian intelligence officials believe Mr. Suresh was sent to Canada by the Tigers to raise funds to finance weapons exports to Sri Lanka, the scene of a separatist uprising by ethnic Tamils. He was arrested in Toronto in 1995 after the solicitor-general and the minister of immigration invoked a rarely used section of the Immigration Act and signed a certificate declaring him a threat to national security.

The federal court ruled the certificate was reasonable and denied Mr. Suresh's application to set aside his deportation. The federal judge also ruled that Mr. Suresh obtained his refugee status "by wilful misrepresentation of facts" and lied under oath. But as he was about to be removed, Ms. Jackman made an unusual appeal to the Ontario court, which stopped the deportation, even though it does not normally hear immigration matters. 

Canada appealed and a lawyer for the immigration department was in court this week arguing the provincial court should leave the matter to federal court.

If the government had been successful, officials planned to deport Mr. Suresh immediately. 

"The judges in their reasons just said this was an exceptional case," said Ms. Jackman. 

"They didn't really spell it out but there was pretty strong evidence that there was a risk" to Mr. Suresh's safety if he was sent back to Sri Lanka, she said. 

Ontario has stepped into federal cases before, but the practice has generally been discouraged. Immigration is a shared jurisdiction under Canada's constitution. 

The injunction prevents Canada from removing Mr. Suresh until 10 days after the federal court has handed down a decision on his constitutional challenge to the law under which he is being deported. 

That law says Canada can only deport a refugee that fears for his safety if the person is a terrorist or a danger to national security. The challenge is scheduled to be heard on February 2. 

Gazette to be on the worldwide web 

Sri Lankans all over the world will be able to access the gazette notifications on their computer screens when the Government Printer establishes a web site.

Government Printer Neville Nanayakkara told The Sunday Times they hoped to set up a website with a server and ten lines to enable Sri Lankans in any part of the world to have access to Gazette Notifications.

He said the service would be user friendly and the charges moderate through an arrangement with Sri Lanka Telecom. 

All the information on state vacancies, tenders, examinations, etc. would be available on the web site, he said. 

CID grills Kumar

The CID has questioned All Ceylon Tamil Congress Leader, Kumar Ponnambalam over a live TV programme.

Mr. Ponnambalam was questioned on thursday for four hours by detectives who were trying to ascertain whether he had incited violence and caused disharmony among race, an offence punishable under the PTA.

Mr. Ponnambalam who gave his statement to the CID in Tamil, would be further questioned if necessary, the CID said.

Lankan dies in Italy crash

A Sri Lankan was killed in a car crash in Milan, Italy recently.

The body of Clement Nixon Fernando (27) now lies in his residence at Government Flats, St. Anthony's Mawatha, Colombo 3. 

Top Tigers die mysteriously'

Nine LTTE cadres including top rungers have reportedly died of undisclosed disease, in a LTTE Trincomalee base.

These deaths have occurred within the four days from Sunday(10) to Wednesday(13) with six cadres dying on Wednesday .

Sampath 'Premadasa' visits Sucharita

Faraza Farook and Shane Seneviratne 
The baby from Hanguranketha, believed to be the reincarnation of Sri Lanka's assassinated President, Ranasinghe Premadasa yesterday visited 'Sucharitha', the home of the ex-President and appeared to be familiar with the setting, eyewitnesses said.

The boy, Sampath Bandara Wijebahu and his parents on Friday had suddenly gone missing fuelling speculation that they had been abducted but Police denied the report immediately.

OIC Hanguranketha Police, IP Gunaratna confirmed that he had seen the child along with the parents being driven towards Colombo and the Policemen at a checkpoint had spoken to them.

Yesterday morning the child and parents were brought to Sucharitha and later taken to Armour Street the place where Mr. Premadasa was killed by a suicide bomber on May day in 1993.

The child who was said to be anxious, had not responded to the questions asked by the people who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the baby at Sucharitha.

Colombo's former Mayor, Ratnasiri Rajapakse said: "On Friday I went up to Hanguranketha about 11.30 in the morning and saw this child. Professor Granville Dharmawardena and Director of Studies Willesden International College, Battaramulla, was reportedly involved in bringing the child to Colombo.

"At a glance I saw the extraordinary quality of this boy even though he is only 1 1/2 years old. I asked him 'Do you recognize me?' and he suddenly looked at me, for 30-40 seconds, like President Premadasa. He was eating some sweets out of a packet and when I asked him for one he gave me but would not give the others.."Later on he was taken to Armour street junction where the child showed signs of fear. (See Plus page 1 for feature article)

Activists push for ad ban

By Chamintha Thilakarathna
Groups involved in the campaign against liquor and tobacco advertising have expressed disappointment over the government's delay in implementing a ban as promised from the New Year.

A spokesman for the joint non governmental anti-alcohol and tobacco association told The Sunday Times they would be meeting soon to decide on how to bring more pressure on the Kumaratunga administration to implement the ban. 

Olcott Gunesekara, a spokesman for Sober Sri Lanka and member of the task force which recommended the ban, said he believed the delay in implementing the decision was partly due to pressure from tobacco and alcohol lobbies.

Little action on child abuse cases

By Ayesha R.Rafiq
Although the number of child abuse cases reported has recently been on the rise, the relevant authorities seem to be disinterested and taking little action to prosecute the suspects. 

To begin with, a suspected Italian paedophile who was taken into custody and remanded by the Negombo magistrate in January last year, has been allowed to slip out of police hands due to the alleged ignorance of the police about the law.

The paedophile who was arrested in January last year was released on a personal bail of Rs. 100,000 and has now fled to Italy. The police version is, reportedly, that they could not hold him any longer due to lack of evidence. Reliable sources say the police were allegedly ignorant of the amendment to the law which was brought in 1997, stating that suspects in such cases could be remanded for up to one year by the Magistrates Court, giving the police enough time to gather evidence. 

Sources say that even if enough evidence is gathered eventually, the suspect cannot be charged or tried as Sri Lanka does not have an extradition treaty with Italy.

Mr. Arun Tampoe, says that a regulation which was passed more than 50 years ago under the Children's and Young Persons Ordinance has still not been enforced.

The Sunday Times learns that convicted paedophile Pfaffhauser who has been languishing in jail since his arrest in February 1997 is being given somewhat preferential treatment and has been the recipient of a number of Christmas hampers and other treats. 

Meanwhile, the police child abuse desk which was shifted to a new location in the first week of January this year, has still not received telephone connections, giving complainants no way to lodge entries or child abuse complaints.

Loudspeakers: contempt of court

The organiser of a commemorative meeting attended by several ministers in Kalutara has been charged with contempt of court for putting up loudspeakers and causing a disturbance to court proceedings.

Kalutara High Court Judge Sarath Gunethilaka directed police to bring in those who were responsible for disrupting court proceedings by making announcements of meetings to commemorate the tenth death anniversary of Indrapala Abeyweera, father of Deputy Minister Sumithra Priyangani Abeyweera. 

The police first produced Kalutara Urban Council Chairman Nalin Mahesh Perera but he denied responsibility for what had happened. He said the UC employee D.A. Dumiduwardenewas the organiser.

The judge then discharged the UC chairman but said he as a lawyer had not acted in a responsible way. Later the police produced the organiser, Mr. Dumiduwardene and another in court. 

They were allowed bail and the case was fixed for February 18. Several VIPs, including cabinet ministers, participated in the commemorating meeting.

2,000 religious leaders at historic meeting

Upto 2,000 prelates, members of the clergy and lay people of all four major religions were present at a historic peace prayer held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute auditorium, near the Independent Square on Wednesday.

The Ven. Kottegoda Dhammawansa Anunayake Thera who represented the Buddhist along with other monks said that as seen in the gathering the solution to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict would come in a deep and lasting way when the people of all religions and races came together in a spirit of unity in diversity.

He said such meetings of all religions and races above prejudices and party politics should continue on a regular basis and the all-religious alliance should have common symbols like a flag which is accepted as a flag of peace and neutrality even in conflict areas.

Colombo's Archbishop Nicholas Marcus Fernando who represented the Catholic Church along with other bishops, hundreds of priests and nuns, made a stirring call for reconciliation of all races through a spirit of forgiveness and understanding.

He spoke in Sinhala, Tamil and English.

Swami Athmagananandaji of the Ramakrishna mission spoke on behalf of the Hindu community while Al-Alim A. R. M. Zarook represented the Muslims.

The prayer meeting for peace began with the traditional Jayamangala Gatha while the choirs of St. Bridget's, Holy Family and Hindu Ladies College were in attendance.

The peace meeting was arranged by the Conference of Major Religious Superiors under the guidance of its former president, Father Alfred Alexander, who has for several years played a crusading role in bringing about reconciliation through regular visits to the north.

22 ASPs petition Supreme Court

By Frederica Jansz
Twenty two Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs) have filed a fundamental rights petition challenging a cabinet memorandum which they say will cause a grave injustice to their promotional opportunities. 

These 22 officers say they have not been promoted for the past 10 years due to yet another cabinet memorandum initiated in 1993 which was a deviation from normal procedures.

The Sunday Times last week highlighted the plight of these 22 officers. Inspector General Lucky Kodituwakku has also written to the Defence Secretary, objecting to the new cabinet memorandum.

IGP Kodituwakku says this action has resulted in a grave injustice to this group of 22 officers. An ASP is normally promoted within six years. 

The IGP asserts that the predicament of these 22 officers is in no way due to any fault on their part as they have a clean record.

Meanwhile some 45 inspectors last week also filed fundamental rights applications objecting to this same memorandum which they say hampers their right to promotions. For the past four years there have been no promotions for more than 300 chief inspectors.

Granville is no more

By Kumaradasa Wagista
It may sound unbelievable to thousands of television viewers in Sri Lanka that Granville Rodrigo is no more. He was only 40.Granville who has played various characters in teledramas, films and dramas died at the National Hospital Colombo on Thursday evening.

Granville was injured in an accident that occurred at Pannipitiya while travelling in a van to participate in a Daham Pasal prizegiving.'Kopi Kade'artistes K.D.Siripala, K.A.Piyakaru and Sanjaya Leelananda were also in the vehicle. The injured were admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Television viewers couldn't believe when the media announced that their heart throb 'Nihal' in 'Nonawaruni Mahathwaruni' was dead.

Although Granville appeared in many teledramas, his favourite role was in Suranjith de Silva's 'Manokaya'(Astral Body).

The funeral of Granville will take place today at the Madampitiya public cemetery.

Power supply to Batti restored

By S.S.Selvanayagam
The electricity supply to Batticaloa which was allegedly disrupted by the LTTE , has been restored from Thursday after a lapse of three months, reports said.

Supply from Inginiyagala to Batticaloa town and from Laxapana up to Vakaneri have been restored but villages between Vakaneri and Batticaloa town had to wait another one week for power supplies according to sources.

32 main electricity posts along the 20 mile stretch from Vakaneri to Batticaloa have to be installed to restore the supply to these villages but authorities seem to be cautious as this area may have been mined. Reports from Batticaloa says the LTTE has given the green light for the restoration of electricity.

GMOA poised for action on Monday

Faraza Farook
The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) is meeting today with Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and ministry officials, the Association's President Dr. Ananda Samarasekera said.

"If the ministry fails to agree to implement our demands, we will have to resort to trade union action on Monday," Dr. Samarasekera said.

However, the minister told 'The Sunday Times' that the doctors will not go on strike as he claimed the problems have already been settled. "All these demands have been met a long time ago. The GMOA had a meeting with the Ministry Secretary and withdrew its intention of resorting to trade union action."

Dr. Samarasekera denied any such decision and said that the GMOA would withdraw only if the ministry agrees to solve their problems and even that would be after the meeting today.

At a press conference held last week the GMOA stated that if their demands are not met, the health sector is likely to collapse. "We will see a disaster in two years time," Dr. Samarasekera said.

Of the 15 demands put forward, the GMOA was adamant in its demand that administrative authority pertaining to the transfer, recruitment and disciplinary control of doctors be vested with the Central Public Service Commission.

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