Thursday, April 01, 2010

CRNI calls on the Sri Lankan govt. to account for missing journalist's whereabouts

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) has called on the Sri Lankan Government to reveal the condition of missing Sri Lankan web journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda, who disappeared on January 24, 2010.

In a statement issued on Monday (29), CRNI condemned the inability of the relevant authorities to investigate the disappearance of the cartoonist and called on the "Sri Lankan government to account for his whereabouts and physical condition."

The full text of the statement follows:

"CRNI calls on the Government of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksha to stop avoiding responsibility for the whereabouts and condition of Prageeth Eknaligoda, a cartoonist and web journalist who has been missing since January 24, 2010 in Colombo. CRNI supports the peaceful demonstrations scheduled this week in Colombo calling for political accountability and relief from the growing harassment that journalists feel from government during the run-up to Parliamentary elections to be held on April 8th 2010.

CRNI calls on all political cartoonists to bring the case of this "disappeared" cartoonist to the attention of their readers.

After first reporting his disappearance, Eknaligoda's wife had been harassed by police and other services of the Sri Lankan government for making equerries about her husband's disappearance.

Police delayed the investigation, saying that they had "lost the file" a not very cleaver admission of either purposeful obfuscation or an admission of incompetence.

The stories coming out of both government officials and the police are contradictory and seem only to be intended to stop her from seeking accountability. Since the intervention of key international human rights organizations about a week ago the police harassment has stopped but the Eknaligoda home is still under daily surveillance.

Eknaligoda was associated with opposition leader General Sarath Fonseka who had been arrested by the Rajapaksha government after recent elections.

CRNI also calls on the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksha to account for his whereabouts and physical condition."


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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Sri Lanka: Government minister intimidates newspaper editor, manager in Jaffna

Douglas Devananda, a minister in Mahinda Rajapaksa's cabinet and the leader of the paramilitary-cum-political party Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), has publicly warned the editor of Yarl Thinakural K. Vamathevan and its administrative manager A. Nadarajah for having published front page news on the attack on Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) candidate Ankajan, stating that the reporting has negatively affected election propaganda for his party besides damaging his reputation. Douglas Devananda openly threatened that Vamathevan and Nadarajah will not be able to go for work Friday if they fail to apologize to him at a press meet he held for the local media in Jaffna Srithar Theatre Thursday morning. The open threat by Devananda to the lives of reputed editors of the daily has created fear and panic among the media persons in Jaffna peninsula.

The threat to media persons Thursday comes on the day President Mahinda Rajapaksa visits Jaffna to engage in election propaganda.

Minister Douglas Devananda further accused Yarl Thinakural editor and administrative manager for "purposely misreporting" the Thursday early morning attack and claimed that it was SLFP candidate Ankajan’s group that had opened fire on and burnt the vehicle of Jaffna Mayor Ms. Patkunam Yogeswary.

The EPDP leader further instructed Yarl Thinakural editor to publish his version of the attack in Friday Yarl Thinakural.

Besides, during the press meet Minister Douglas Devanada phoned the owner of Colombo Thinakural daily Samy and its chief editor Thanabalasingham and spoke to them with the phone speaker on so that the attendees of the press meet could hear the conversation.

Editor Thanabalasingham and owner Samy said that they knew nothing about the said news coverage and added that Yarl Thinakural has been "infiltrated by persons who act on their own".

They further requested Douglas Devananda to summon the persons involved to Srithar Theatre and warn them, the sources said.

This has caused shock and fear among the local media persons.

Conflict and clashes between the SFLP candidates and EPDP candidates contesting Jaffna electorate have begun to surface frequently in Jaffna peninsula.

© Tamil Net

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Suspension of GSP+ facility is not punishment - EU

Speaking at the 17th AGM of the Sri Lanka Garment Buying Offices Association, Mr Bernard Savage and Head of the European Union (EU) delegation said that EU has stood by Sri Lanka in difficult times and that the temporary suspension of the GSP+ facility is not a punishment.

He said, “The Government needs to carry out an action plan as per the dialogue it had with the European Union and since EU is a friend of Sri Lanka, we remain friends and hope the friendship will grow in future and there will be no break in the market access under the GSP+ facility”.

The Sri Lankan apparel export sector has charted a blazing trail in the last few years, partly helped by the concessions provided by the EU. Export revenues grew from US $2.68 billion before the expiry of the Multi- Fibre Agreement in 2005 to $3.3 billion in 2008.

However due to the impact of the economic turmoil, it dipped to $3.15 billion in 2009. Garment exports to the European too have grown by around 66 percent. From $996 million in 2005, it has now touched $1.64 billion in 2009, mainly due to the duty-tree access provided by the EU.

© Fibre2fashion

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

UN interferes with internal affairs of Lanka: PM

By Krishan Jeewaka Jayaruk - The Prime Minister said foreign elements were attempting to sabotage the country’s development effort and even the UN is interfering with the internal affairs of the country.

Addressing an election propaganda rally in Akuressa town on Monday (29) to support the UPFA candidates Manoj Sirisena and Vijeya Dahanayake, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake stressed any organization or a country did not have a right to interfere with the affairs of Sri Lanka which is an independent and sovereign state.

The Prime Minister further said: “The present Proportional Representation System should be changed and the people provided with the opportunity to elect their representatives on electoral basis.

“President J.R. Jayewardene who abolished the electoral basis, introduced the proportional representation and the preferential voting system to create conflicts among the candidates contesting one banner.

This prevented the people from electing their representatives for the electorate.

The present government was seeking a mandate with two thirds majority to amend the constitution and to re-introduce the electoral basis system, before 1977/78.

“The country should have a stable government to implement the development projects and to boost foreign investments. The enemies of the country could be defeated only by forming a strong government,” he said.

Former Chief Minister, Southern Province H.G. Sirisena, and Chairman of Akuressa Pradeshiya Sabha Munidasa Gamage attended the rally.

© Daily Mirror

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Sri Lanka: Laughing politicians - non stop

Photo courtesy of Rajitha Keerthi Thennakoon (

Upali Gajanayake - Early morning on Sunday (27 March) when I was coming through the exit doors of Katunayake International Airport the first scene that caught my eye was a huge vehicle decorated with election posters of a leading candidate of the ruling alliance contesting from the Colombo district.

The handsome candidate's laughing face covered almost every single inch of the vehicle. Not only Sri Lankans who were coming to their country to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year that falls in the middle of next month, but also many foreign tourists stopped near the decorated vehicle and tried to laugh at that poster politician.

Laughing all the way

There was another a huge cut-out only a few meters away from the main building of the airport where the laughing head of state was garlanded with a maroon shawl "Kurahan Satakaya".

The thriving election propaganda campaign is not limited to currently very eye-catching airport area. From Katunayake to the capital city one can see millions of laughing faces of our prospective guardians. I was able to recognise some former friends’ who are begging the people for preference.

There were laughing ministers, laughing war heroes, and A Buddhist monk as well. They were sticking on walls, standing on roofs, hanging on banners between trees and on cars buses, three wheelers and every where they like. They stood with their non-stop laughing.

Against the law

The election commissioner’s advice almost every day to the police force is to stop these laughing politicians from violating the law of the land. But the majority of the candidates who belong to the ruling alliance as well as the opposition keep on laughing on walls.

I talked to a leading lawyer who is well versed on election laws and active politics in the country for more than sixty years

"After the introduction of universal franchise by British colonialists there was a massive interest among the people to vote,” the lawyer said.

Weapons of propaganda

"But at that time the major weapons of political warfare were leaflets, mini advertisements about election meetings, pocket meetings and the main rallies."

Furthermore he said, "there weren’t any multi colour posters, cut-outs, illegal decorations or propaganda that destroyed the environment".

In today’s political gamble, elections can be won by laughing politicians only. For those who enter the fray from small political parties and are unable to spend millions of rupees to post their laughing faces on bright posters or in the middle of huge cut-outs the outcome could be miserable.

© BBC Sinhala

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