Monday, January 11, 2010


By Susitha Fernando - Journalist J.S. Tissainayagam was released on a cash bail of Rs. 50, 000 by Courts today on medical grounds. He was sentenced to 20 years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) last year.

Tissainayagam was arrested on March 7, 2008 by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lanka Police. He was charged with attempting to cause the commission of acts of violence or racial or communal disharmony relating to articles he published in a North Eastern Monthly magazine in 2006 and 2007. He was also charged with collecting and obtaining information for the purpose of terrorism and for donating funds for the purpose of terrorism through the collection of funds for the magazine.

During his trial, Tissanayagam claimed that he was harassed and threatened by the TID while under detention. He has also filed a Fundamental rights petition with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. The TID have produced a confession allegedly signed by Tissanayagam, although he claimed it was dictated to him, and he was pressured to write it in his own handwriting.

The High Court in Sri Lanka sentenced Tissainayagam to a total of 20 years rigorous imprisonment on Monday 31 August 2009, for arousing "communal feelings" by writing and publishing articles that criticized the government's treatment of Sri Lankan Tamil civilians affected by the war, and for raising money to fund the magazine in which the articles were published.

© Daily Mirror

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Presidential candidate's envoy 'arrested'

A presidential candidate in Sri Lanka has accused the police of arresting his representative while delivering a speech at a funeral in Jaffna.

Presidential Candidate of Left Front Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne accused the police of being racist and violating election laws by arresting his representative Dharmasiri Lankapeli in Velvetithurai.

Mr. Lankapeli has been delivering an address in Sinhala language on behalf of the Left Front leader at the funeral of Thiruvenkadam Velupillai, the father of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

'Despicable act'

Mr. Velupillai passed away while in government's protective custody on 07 January.

The police, claiming that the address in Sinhala might provoke ethnic tensions, have removed the public address system while Mr. Lankapeli was speaking, according to Dr. Karunaratne.

"This is a very despicable action by the police," he told BBC Sandeshaya.

He also strongly condemned police action to disrupt a funeral ceremony.

"Any sensible person would not commit such an act," he added.

'No arrest'

Mr. Lankapeli was later released by the police after recording a statement.

However, the police have denied arresting Mr. Lankapeli.

Police spokesman SSP IM Karunaratne told BBC Sinhala service that only a statement was recorded from Mr. Lankapeli on Public Address Regulation violation.

The police have however allowed all the Tamil speakers, including politicians from Tamil Nadu, to deliver their speeches in Tamil, Dr. Karunaratne said.

© BBC Sinhala

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Rajapaksa woos minority Tamils as Sri Lanka presidential vote nears

Jeremy Page - President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka took his re-election campaign to the Tamil heartland of Jaffna yesterday on his first visit to the region since his army defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May.

Mr Rajapaksa, who is facing a presidential election in two weeks’ time, promised to speed up reconstruction and resettlement efforts for the 300,000 Tamils who fled from the conflict zone and were detained in internment camps until last month. “The President moved about freely and spoke with the civilians,” his spokesman, Chandrapala Liyanage, said.

The visit came just over a week after a similar campaign trip to Jaffna by General Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief who led the campaign against the Tigers but is now the main contender in the election.

Mr Rajapaksa and General Fonseka are both members of the ethnic Sinhalese majority, which widely supported their campaign to end the 26-year civil war. But with the Sinhalese vote now split, the two men are also now competing to woo the country’s Tamils, who constitute an eighth of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people.

General Fonseka has been courting Tamil votes particularly aggressively: he has even accused the Government of ordering the army to kill Tiger leaders as they surrendered. Last week he won the support of the Tamil National Alliance, the dominant Tamil political party, which used to be close to the Tigers.

Mr Rajapaksa responded on Saturday by attending a ceremony at which more than 700 former Tigers were reunited with family members after being released from internment camps. “The terrorists led you astray and the suffering you endured as a result is beyond words,” the President said, speaking in Tamil. “We will give you employment for your skills and you must start lives anew.”

But the opposition People’s Liberation Front (JVP), which also backs General Fonseka, said yesterday that the new concessions Mr Rajapaksa was offering Tamils were no more than an election gimmick.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake, a JVP spokesman, dismissed them as another ploy to win Tamil votes. “There is no transparent basis for the release,” he said. “We want to know on what basis they are still holding over 11,000 people in custody.”

The Government is also facing new calls for a war crimes investigation over video footage which appears to show troops shooting dead blindfolded, naked Tamils in the final months of the war.

Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said last week that the footage appeared to be authentic following examination by US-based independent experts.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, responded with fresh calls for an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the last stages of the conflict.

However, Sri Lankan officials repeated their assertion that the footage was fabricated and rejected any war crimes investigation, saying that Mr Alston was prejudiced against their country.

“We believe his conclusions are highly subjective and biased,” said Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Human Rights Minister.

“We believe he is on a crusade of his own to force a war-crime inquiry against Sri Lanka.”

© Times Online

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Rajapaksa, Fonseka face-off on cyberspace

Sutirtho Patranobis - They are not known to be geeks but Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his rival Sarath Fonseka have taken their political sabers to cyberspace.

With help from the Sinhala and Tamil diaspora, Rajapaksa and Fonseka are all over the internet. Scores of sites about the two have sprung up. Social networking sites are having a field day, and thousands of hits, with supporters of the two slugging it out virtually.

Both have websites and official facebook identities where followers are updating quotes and videos.

“There are groups of volunteers who are chipping in. We do not want to miss out on the advancement in technology,’’ a Presidential aide said, adding that during the last Presidential election in 2005 some of the new concepts were not yet popular.

Rajapaksa knows the power of the internet; he had invited India’s tech guru Narayan Murthy in 2008 to usher in the year of information technology in Sri Lanka. Fonseka too had told an interviewer that it’s easy to handle a war from anywhere with a map and satellite phone.

Of course, there is no doubt volunteers are chipping in; at 5.35 p.m. on Friday, Rajapaksa had 36,012 supporters on his facebook page, while Fonseka had 47,421 at the same time.

More than the official websites, interactive social networking sites have become more popular.

But not everything on the two is laudatory. There are several fake sites as well. The Tamil diaspora too is flooding the net with critical opinions against both. Video of the alleged execution of blind-folded prisoners by men in military fatigues is all over youtube.

© Hindustan Times

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