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 President of Sihala Urumaya, S. L. Gunasekera, General Secretary Thilak Karunaratne in the company of the central committee members of the party lighting the traditional oil lamp launching their new political movement. (Pic. by Arjuna Samaraweera)

If Parliament not summoned to debate security situation
UNP to bring no-confidence motion against govt.
by Walter Nanayakkara

The United National Party will bring in a no-confidence motion against the government if it does not accede to the party’s call to summon an emergency session of parliament to debate the security situation in the country following the Elephant Pass debacle, Opposition Chief Whip W. J. M. Lokubandara MP told "The Island" yesterday.

Lokubandara said that the Leader of the House and Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs Ratnasiri Wickramanayake wanted the UNP to reconsider the party’s call for an emergency session of parliament, in view of the sensitive nature of the issues concerned.

The Opposition Chief Whip’s request to the Acting Speaker Anil Moonesinghe three days ago, to summon an emergency session of parliament is now with the Acting Speaker.

Leader of the House Ratnasiri Wickramanayake is scheduled to meet the Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe to persuade him to reconsider the party’s request for an emergency session of parliament at this juncture.

Meanwhile, the Opposition UNP Parliamentary Group will hold an emergency meeting at the Sri Jayawardenapura Parliamentary Complex at 10.00 a.m. today to discuss the situation in the country, following the latest military setbacks suffered by the government forces in the North, Tyronne Fernando MP said.

This will be followed by a meeting of the UNP working committee.

Lokubandara said the ruling People’s Alliance on April 5 proved to the country that it can no longer claim the confidence of the legislature, when the government lost its motion on the Paddy Marketing Board dissolution.

The military debacle in Elephant Pass has ultimately proved that the ruling party can no longer be trusted with the job of running the country, Lokubandara added.

"If the government does not want to accede to our request for an emergency session we will resort to other measures. We will be bringing a no-confidence motion against the government," he said.

He said the UNP never questioned when large sums of monies are allocated for defence. "We supported all requests for funds for defence, at all times. Now we have a right to question the government how they are spending these monies. Parliament has a right to know what went wrong in the Elephant Pass", he said.

The next normal sitting of parliament is scheduled for May 9.

The UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, accompanied by the party General Secretary Gamini Athukorale and other party members, visited the Army Hospital yesterday and met the wounded soldiers receiving treatment there.

LTTE captured only one artillery piece - Military
by Shamindra Ferdinando

Terrorists last week captured a Chinese built 152 mm artillery piece from troops withdrawing from the Elephant Pass base, military sources said.

Army Commander Lieutenant General Srilal Weerasooriya Monday night said that one artillery piece was lost to the enemy. Addressing a press conference at his headquarters, the army chief denied LTTE claims that several artillery pieces, heavy mortars, armoured fighting vehicles and other equipment were captured by terrorists.

"We lost only one artillery piece," he said.

Military sources said that troops engaged in transporting three artillery pieces out of the Elephant Pass-Iyakachchi base complex were attacked. During the confrontation terrorists seized one 152 mm which has a 15 km range.

The sources said that the captured gun was fired on the same day.

However, troops managed to take the remaining two guns to safety.

Lieutenant General Weerasooriya said armaments and heavy equipment which could not be moved were made unserviceable. Among the items destroyed were two 152 mm and 122 mm guns, he told the briefing.

Terrorists had captured a number of artillery pieces and mortars from security forces over the past few years.

Meanwhile, terrorists continue to fire mortars at troops engaged in consolidating their new positions a few kms Northwest of Elephant Pass, a senior military officer said last night.

However, there had been no serious fighting since troops completed their withdrawal from Elephant Pass last Saturday [22].

The military said that troops in Point Pedro remain on alert to face possible attacks in the area. Terrorists control Vadamarachchy east since they moved in late last month as part of their ongoing offensive aimed at wresting control, of the peninsula the sources said.

28 bodies of soldiers handed over to relatives, 98 cremated in North

The Security Forces Headquarters in Wanni yesterday handed over to the relatives 28 bodies of solders received from the LTTE.

They were among 126 bodies of soldiers which the LTTE had handed over to the ICRC and received by the Security Forces.

These were bodies of soldiers killed in the battle for Elephant Pass base last Saturday.

The Defence Ministry said in a press release that the Security Forces Headquarters in Wanni received 126 bodies from the ICRC around 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Piramanalankulam. They were received by the staff of the Security Forces HQ in Wanni and the 21 Division. After checking the vehicles for security, the vehicles were directed to the place where identification was conducted.

The unit representatives for the purpose of identification were flown to Wanni from Jaffna in a special flight.

Around 7.30 p.m. on April 25, five lorries which were carrying the 126 bodies arrived at the place of identification.

The process of identification was carried out thoroughly by the unit representatives which took nearly five hours.

Sihala Urumaya party president at official launching
‘We do what we say and say what we mean’
by Kesara Abeywardena

The newly formed political party Sihala Urumaya was officially launched in the presence of a large gathering and marked with national pride and dignity at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute auditorium, yesterday.

The "sannasa" bearing the official announcement of the political party was brought to the assembly room by a young girl and a boy dressed in national dress accompanied by the intonation of ‘magul bera’. The ‘sannasa’ proclaimed the new political party Sihala Urumaya as dedicated to the national cause and to protect the generations beginning with Ravana who had been inhabiting this island while taking the country to the future.

The large gathering present included eminent persons from all walks of life and ages. The auditorium was packed and a section of the crowd was seated outside following the proceedings of the simple ceremony through a video projection, while some were standing inside.

President of Sihala Urumaya leading lawyer S. L. Gunasekera in a moving speech said that the moment was not a happy one for him as a large number of sons of the soil who had laid down their lives for the country in a war fought on a political agenda, were going their last journey. He said that they would have never wanted to form a political party of this nature if the main political parties and the leaders had worked for the country at large and took genuine steps to eradicate the terrorist menace.

"The two main parties have betrayed the Sinhalese and all other communities in the country. They are still trying to give a part of this country to Prabhakaran after all that has happened," he said. He charged President Kumaratunga and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to leave their positions and appoint capable people to those places and enjoy more foreign trips and boat rides to their pleasure.

Addressing the minorities he said they would be much more secure with them than any other political party since they were for equality and for developing the country according to a national policy. "We do what we say and say what we mean," he said.

Quoting from the famous Gettysburg address of Abraham Lincoln he said that they were committed to the cause of they who had laid their lives so that the "nation might live." To a captivated crowd he said that they were for democracy and establishing a democratic state where all communities would live in harmony. "We believe that this country is the motherland of all communities. We are against carving an exclusive imaginary homeland only for one ethnic group in a part of this country," he said.

Tilak Karunaratne, Secretary General of Sihala Urumaya said that he would resign from Parliament on May 9 — the next sitting day — and work full-time for the victory of the new party which has a national vision lacking in the main parties. He charged the foreign funded NGOs and the government ministers for the military tragedies as they have been responsible in bringing down the morale of the army.

He urged the government to immediately stop sending food and medicine to LTTE held areas as they are not been given to the innocent civilians but used by the LTTE. "We must be the only country in the world which feeds its own enemy," he said.

Champika Ranawaka, National Organiser of Sihala Urumaya said that the government had betrayed soldiers who had laid down their lives to capture Jaffna and Wanni in the Jayasikuru operation. "If the racism of Prabhakaran continues this country would be taken over by him very quickly and the two main parties just don’t care," he said.

The Central Committee of Sihala Urumaya consists of

President: S. L. Gunasekera
General Secretary: Thilak Karunaratne
National Organiser: Patali Champika Ranawake
Treasurer: Dr. Neville Kanakaratne

Deputy Presidents: Prof. C. M. Madduma Bandara, Prof. A. D. V. de S. Indraratna, Maj. Gen. Thilak Paranagama. Lt. Col. Anil Amarasekera

Deputy Secretaries: Dr. Piyasena Dissanayake, Mrs. Anuradha Yahampath

Deputy Treasurer: Anil Jayawardena

Committee Members: Chula de Silva - PC, Gamini Perera, Dr. Mrs. Ranjani Ratnapala, Kamal Deshapriya, Malinga H. Guneratne, Sujith Akkarawaththa

The official proclamation of Sihala Urumaya reads as follows:

Let us build the Sihala Urumaya

The Sinhalese who built the immeasurably valuable civilization of Sri Lanka, our beloved motherland is plunged today tragically into despair, desperation and marginalisation.

On the one hand the Tamil expansionist movement has reached the highest point of its campaign for the conquest of the whole of Sri Lanka. After the failure of the strong endeavours made by the Ponnambalam brothers to take over the governance of the whole country. G. G. Ponnambalam devised the strategy of demanding an unequal share of state power for the small Tamil minority. Subsequently S. J. V. Chelvanayakam launched his campaign for an exclusive separate Tamil State. After distorting the history of this country, the Tamil racists set out to militarily gain their aim by the power of the bullet.

Thanks to the short-sighted unpatriotic policies of our previous rulers such as the UNP and SLFP at this moment we are faced with the challenge of the most awesome politico-military gains of the Tamil racist terrorism.

At this critical moment in our history the PA-UNP and the leftists are kneeling in servile abjection before the terrorists and their foreign Godfathers to betray our beloved motherland and its sacred soil to the terrorists.

This grave situation has given rise to the birth of Sihala Urumaya. Our aim is to restore to the Sinhala people their lost right to live in any part of the country and to carry on a livelihood, be free from fear and terrorism. One of our most estimable aims is to bring back to the Sinhalese justice, equal treatment and their rightful place in this country’s polity and society.

We are dedicated to the supreme purpose of wiping out terrorism from this country and establishing a society, in which all citizens have equal rights, equal freedom irrespective of their community, religion and status in society. We take the solemn vow this day to protect the territorial integrity, unitary status and sovereignty of this country and its democratic institutions.

Over the past five decades under the rulership of the two main political parties, the economy and environment of this country have been destroyed. Our aim is to construct a modernized national economy giving due consideration to principles which were the foundation of our ancient heritage.

We undertake to protect the environment, its rich and varied bio-diversity, our natural resources and utilize those resources wisely in a sustainable manner.

We see around us an alarming deterioration of the values we have inherited from thousands of years of civilization. It is our duty to restore to our people particularly the young an appreciation and practice of those value systems. What we seek is both a revival and a renaissance in our society.

Despite the process of globalization, many nations Such as India are seeking their cultural roots. We too must join that momentum if our country is to survive progress and flourish in this present atmosphere of globalization.

We call upon the Sinhalese who have lost their way in a dark tunnel of divisive politics, to unite and join us in this sacred cause.

This is the liberation struggle of the Sinhalese.

Join us; trust us to build a Sinhala Nation with the true sons of Sri Lanka.

Army chief says he never wanted censorship

Army Commander Lieutenant General Srilal Weerasooriya Monday night said that he never asked for a censorship on war reporting.

Replying a question, raised by a journalist at the media briefing held at the army headquarters to explain the security situation in the north, the army chief said that he never requested for a censorship. Asked to comment on claims that the censorship was imposed to prevent the media from leaking information to the enemy and demoralising the forces, the armed forces spokesman Brigadier Palitha Fernando said the army has a way of keeping the troops informed. "They get our internal newspaper," he said adding that copies are made available to every unit.

SLFP calls off May Day demo
by Walter Nanayakkara

Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the main political party in the ruling People’s Alliance will not take part in the May Day demonstration of the Alliance, this time.

SLFP General Secretary, Dharmasiri Senanyake has informed party organisations in Colombo District and trade unions affiliated to the party that the decision has been taken due to the security situation of the country.

Members of Colombo District organisations of the People’s Alliance and trade unions controlled by the Alliance parties were earlierl schedueld to converge at Campbell Park, Borella and march in demonstration to the Colombo Town Hall Grounds, where the rally takes place.

SLFP political organisations will not take part in the demonstration following the party decision but they will make their presence at the Town Hall ground

along with party workers of the other member organisations of the ruling People’s Alliance.

PA sources said there would be no party big wigs at this year’s May Day rally of the ruling coalition unlike in the previous years.

Town hall grounds, Colombo was the bloody scene of an attempt to asassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga by the LTTE, minutes after she addressed the last Presidential election meeting on December 18, last year.

In the outstations the organisations of the ruling People’s Alliance celebrate May Day, on a religious note, remembrance services on behalf of the soldiers killed in the latest engagements with the LTTE in the North, Bodhi Poojas, blood donation campaigns etc.

Members of the Trade Unions of the People’s Alliance will also donate a days pay to the War Heroes Fund, to provide relief to the injured soldiers and the bereaved families, Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Alavi Mowlana states.

Relief to coconut growers
Duty on imported edible oils to be increased
by Chittaranjan de Silva

The government is planning to increase the import tariffs on edible oils such as palm oil from 5% to 15%, in an effort to provide relief to coconut growers, who have complained that these imports have pushed down the demand for coconut oil, official sources said yesterday.

Officials said that the move is expected to encourage coconut oil producers, who had to close down coconut oil mills since 1996, due to the shortage of coconuts, to restart coconut oil production.

Meanwhile, the Coconut Growers Association of Sri Lanka (CGA) is demanding that edible oil imports be completely stopped to facilitate coconut oil production in the country.

A spokesman for the CGA said around 80% of the coconut oil producing mills had to be closed, when the coconut production dropped, five years ago.

The CGA as well as the coconut plantation authorities said that the decision to lower coconut oil production was correct at that time tariffs were lowered on edible oil imports. But, the scenario has changed today, since there is enough coconuts even for the coconut oil industry, they said. Therefore, the need has now arisen to restart the coconut oil mills which have been closed down, they said.

A spokesman for CGA said that growers are at present experiencing a price decline, while coconut production in 1999 reached 2800 million nuts, which is an increase over the average 2400 million nuts per year.

The spokesman told "The Island" that if large scale coconut oil production could be started, then consumption of coconuts for oil could again give the growers a better deal.

The CGA has also blamed the middlemen in the coconut trade, for the present crisis, in which the farm gate price of coconuts has been reduced.

According to the GGA, the present farm gate price is Rs.4.50 while the market price is around Rs.14.00 in Colombo.

But, when coconut production was low, a few years ago, when the farm gate price was Rs.10.00 the price of a nut was not different.

Meanwhile, the increased coconut production last year has also reduced the export price of desiccated coconut, which is the main foreign exchange earner in the coconut industry.

Officials said that it was to facilitate the export of desiccated coconut, that edible oil imports were earlier encouraged to the country, and coconut oil production was discouraged, four years ago.

According to the CGA, DC millers are now maintaining a monopoly status over the coconut miller and the Copra producer.

The DC producers, who argue that they could earn more foreign exchange to the country through the export of desiccated coconut and hence have convinced the authorities that their industry should be catered for before the coconut oil and copra producers, CGA said.

According to the association, the DC producers have disappointed the growers.

The increased coconut production last year had prompted the DC millers to produce more desiccated coconut, but the move back fired lowering the demand for desiccated coconut in the world market, thus affecting the price, the spokesman explained.

On average 58,210 tons of DC are exported per year. The export earnings from DC from January to November in 1999 was Rs.4650 million. But, the CGA has pointed out that during the same period, the value of animal and vegetable fats and oil imports was Rs.4592 million.

The CGA spokesman said that though it was considered a good move to close coconut oil mills earlier, it is now apparent that more money is being spent on edible oil imports than through DC exports.

Edible oils, mainly palm oil and other oil imports to the country amount to 30,000 tons, he said.

When coconut production is low, the desiccated coconut makers price is high, there is a case to import edible oil, and if the world market price of imported edible oil is high, there is case to lower the import duty to sustain the DC mills and maximise the foreign exchange earnings. But now the case is different, CGA said.

Three caught for sending Tamils abroad on forged documents
by Wimalkeerthi

Negombo: Two authorised officers of the Immigration and Emigration Department and a investigations officer of Sri Lankan Airlines produced before Negombo Magistrate and Additional District Judge Saman Wickramarachchi by the Criminal Investigations Department under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on charges of aiding and abetting Tamil nationals to migrate using Sri Lankan names to collect funds for the LTTE organisation have been ordered to be remanded indefinitely.

The suspects were M. Wimal Fernando of Francisco Place, Moratumulla, V. Saman Mahi Bandara of Alwis Place, Attidiya and Mohamed Sheefan Suwaheer of St. Lasarus Road, Negombo.

These suspects had been arrested after investigation carried out by the Criminal Investigations Department following the arrest of a foreign employment agency owner, Anura Abeywardane residing at Raddolugama housing scheme, Seeduwa. The Criminal Investigations Department also had recovered several forged documents and rubber seals pertaining to foreign employment in possession of this respect.

These suspects had aided and abetted fourteen Tamil nationals to go abroad using their official seals on forged foreign travel documents, police said.

Of these 14 Tamil nationals six had been nabbed at Katunayake Bandaranaike airport while the other 8 at Frankfurt Airport, Germany, Criminal Investigations Department, officials told the Courts.

Ten more suspects also had been arrested in connection with these underhand deals.

Malwatte prelate condemns ragging, calls for stern action
From Cyril Wimalasurendre

Kandy — Ven. Rajakeeya Panditha Ambanwela Sri Pagnasekera Anunayake Thera of Malwatte Chapter has called for stern action against those responsible for ragging in educational institutions and deplored the deterioration of standards in various aspects of life in the country since independence.

Ragging, the dreadful disease has spread to all educational institutions not sparing schools and pirivenas because the respective authorities failed to remedy it when it first started in the country’s universities observed Ven. Pagnasekera Anunayake Thera of Malwatte Chapter at the opening of the Palipana Sri Chandananda International Buddhist Research Centre, Asgiriya, Kandy.

Ven. Pagnasekera urged that even at this late stage the proper remedy should be applied to ragging to bring a lasting solution to the nasty disease.

Recalling his own experience when he was the head of the Sangaraja Pirivena in Kandy he sent away two young Bhikkus who were found responsible for an incident of ragging a novice fresher monk never to return to the pirivena and said that if stern action was taken at the first instance of an incident of ragging at the university this disease would not have been turned to be so dreadful as at present.

The Anunayake Thera said that nothing was pleasant in the country after 52 years of political freedom. It was the happiest day 52 years ago in 1948 when Sri Lanka gained her independence but nothing has turned to be better and happy ever since that day.

He said, we had high hopes of freedom in the year 1948 while we were pirivena students. We had the faith that we could have our cultural, social and economic renaissance. Instead of development we have today come to a state of degeneration in all aspects be it social, cultural or economic. We should be ashamed of this sorry state.

Where is this patriotism we had prior to gaining independence now gone? What has happened to pirivena education. There were only sixty or seventy pirivenas in the past in Sri Lanka while at present the number has increased to 571. Do we find the 571 pirivenas discharge the service that those 60 or 70 did?

The standard of education of the graduate Bhikkus is very low. There are graduate Bhikkus who cannot spell correctly the words like ‘pinkama’ and ‘pansala’ in Sinhala. There are also Bhikkus who cannot say by memory the correct form of the saying from the Dhamma. This is seen from the ‘Dharmadeshnavas’ over the radio and the television.

The aspirations of the universities of Vidyodaya and Vidyalankara were not achieved. In fact late Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike had no idea of converting the two premier pirivenas as universities. It was a demand by the Sangha, who wanted the two seats of education made universities. But could we be happy that the aspirations are fulfilled?

The prelate urged that all those vice and responsible should put their minds and energy together to formulate policies to make things better in this country.

He said that the new Research Institute named after the late Mahanayake Thero Ven. Palipana Sri Chandananda whose ambition was to find that his land and her people became prosperous in all aspects would be managed to achieve the objectives.

Chief Minister, Central Provincial Council said that the PC will provide all necessary assistance to the institute.

Prof. J. M. Gunadasa, former Vice Chancellor, University of Peradeniya and member of the Board of Management of the institute described the objectives and the various disciplines the institute was planning to execute.

Ven. Dr. Godagama Mangala, Registrar of the institute on behalf of the head of the institute Ven. Palipana Sirinivasa Thera welcomed the gathering including the Sangha.

Prof. P. D. Premasiri, University of Peradeniya and member of the Board of Management Dr. H. M. D. R. Herath, University of Peradeniya and member of the Board of Management and Dr. H. B. Jayasinghe also spoke.

Additional Secretary, Presidential Secretariat Thambugala Sumanatissa and the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana delivered the messages of congratulations to the occasion from the President and Prime Minister respectively.

Diyawadana Nilame Neranjan Wijeratne, the President of the Success Sri Lanka, Deshbandu Dr. Prem Weerakoon and Prof. C. Vithanachchi were among those present.

Education must be constantly updated, says GL
by Himangi Jayasundere

"Education must be socially relevant" Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs said on Tuesday. The Minister was speaking at a scholarship awarding ceremony organised by the Informatics Institute of Computer Studies (IICS). 180 students were granted scholarships worth Rs. 200 million to follow a degree course in B.Sc Information Systems, offered by the Institute in collaboration with the Manchester University in UK.

Chief Guest, Prof. Peiris said that it was necessary to gain training in the skills demanded by society, pointing out the problem of unemployed graduates and the insurrection of 1971, 1988 and 1989, which erupted because the social order was unable to deliver jobs that commiserated with the qualifications held by such graduates. "We have a uniquely high calibre of human resources," he said adding that the health and educational standards in Sri Lanka were the highest in South Asia. The literacy rate in Sri Lanka is 89%, in Nepal it’s 27% he said. However he pointed out that education required to be "constantly revived and updated", while innovation and adaptation to suit the requirements of the 21st century were required.

He said that specific provision were made in this years budget to establish 3 different industrial parks in Malabe, Pugoda and Kesbewa.

He further pointed out that IT could make life more productive, in such spheres as law, where global access could be created for statutory provisions and judicial precedents as well as for information on politics and police work, where information on crimes and criminals could be stored and retrieved when required.

Prof.Peiris also congratulated the IICS on their initiative which he described as "unprecedented", since this is the first time an institute of this nature has offered scholarships for a degree of International repute. He said that it has given an opportunity to bright students, who may have otherwise missed it due to financial constraints and congratulated the Institute on not having made the mistake made by some educational institutions, of offering a degree awarded by one of the local universities, using a diferent method. He further pointed out that as many of the students were sponsored by the private sector and as they were also employed, it should be an education intertwined with practical experience at every point.

Minister of Internal and International Food Commerce, Kingsly T. Wickramaratne speaking on the occasion spoke on the need to change with the times "We must be able to change with change otherwise we will be marginalised," he said. Speaking on the Mahapola scholarship scheme which is presently under his purview, the Minister said that it was important to diverge people into different areas and make education more market oriented.

Speaking on his travels abroad the Minsiter said that what was seen now was the "just the tip of an iceberg". "M. Commerce (mobile commerce) is on the way" he said referring to a new kind of technology that is soon to hit the global market.

He said that the scholarships offered by the IICS has created an opportunity for Sri Lankan students to enter the global work force.

Rs. 25 m. aid by Japan for goods purchase

An exchange of Notes, providing for a sum of Yen 36 million (approximately Rs. 25 million) in Grant Aid, was signed by Mr. Yoji Sugiyama, Ambassador of Japan, and Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning, yesterday.

The Japanese Embassy said that the Debt Relief Grant will make adjustments to the past bilateral aid from Japan to Sri Lanka to relieve the debt repayment difficulties Sri Lanka is likely to face. This grant has been extended annually since 1978 by Japan in keeping with Resolution 165 of the Ninth Special Session of the Trade and Development Board of the UNCTAD, dated March 11, 1978.

These "Untied Cash Grants" will enable the recipient country to purchase such goods aS vehicles, locomotives or spareparts from other countries, thus lessening international balance of payment difficulties, the Embassy said in a Press Release.

"It is the earnest wish of the Japanese Government that these bilateral grants, together with other Japanese Development Assistance (ODA) to Sri Lanka will promote the further development and prosperity of the country," it added.

Dissolve all unofficial detention camps, says UNHRC
by Saman Indrajith

The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UN-HRC) at its 56th Session now being held at Geneva stated all unofficial places of detention maintained by the paramilitary organisations such as PLOTE and TELO should be dissolved, a participant of the session said.

The UNHRC stated that the Sri Lankan Government has not implemented any of UNHRC’s nine recommendations to prevent enforced disappearances, or to bring the country to internationally accepted standards of human rights, he said.

The President of the Organisation of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared (OPF-MD), Chandra Peiris, who participated in UNHRC’s 56th Session at Geneva and returned at the end of human rights part of the session told "The Island" yesterday that UNHRC stated that Sri Lankan law enforcement bodies seemed not to know the safeguards for the prevention of arbitrary arrests and often disregarded in practice.

He said that UNHRC in its ‘Civil & Political Rights including Questions of Disappearances and Summary Executions: Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disapp-earances; Addendum: Report on visit to Sri Lanka by a member of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disapp-earances’ clearly states that the government has not maintained internationally accepted standards of human rights.

The UNHRC working group which had sent its member to Sri Lanka last October had met representatives of OPFMD, relatives of disappeared persons and law enforcement bodies.

Chandra Peiris said that he had raised the issue at the UNHRC session that no action had been taken by this government as promised by the working group member before he left the country last October.

"In reply the UNHRC authorities said that they had already addressed nine recommendations to the Sri Lankan government. But no action had been taken yet, Peiris said.

The report by the working group says:

The government should establish an independent body with the task of investigating all cases of disappearances occurred since 1995 and identifying the perpetrators.

The Government should speed up its efforts to bring the perpetrators of enforced disappearances, whether committed under the former or the present government, to justice. The Attorney-General or another independent authority should be empowered to investigate and indict suspected perpetrators of enforced disappearances irrespective of the outcome of investigations by the police.

The act of enforced disappearances should be made an independent offence under the criminal law of Sri Lanka punishable by appropriate penalties as stipulated in Article 4 of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappea-rances.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regul-ations currently in force should be abolished or otherwise brought into line with internationally accepted standards of personal liberty, due process of law and humane treatment of prisoners.

Any person deprived of liberty should be held only in an officially recognised place of detention as stipulated in article 10 (1) of the declaration. All unofficial places of detention, in particular those established by paramilitary organisations fighting alongside the security forces, such as PLOTE and TELO, should immediately be dissolved;

The Government should set up a central register of detainees as provided for in Article 10 (3) of the declaration. Since the Human Rights Commission needs to be informed immediately of every arrest and detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations, such a central computerised register of detainees might be established at its headquarters. Such a solution would, however, require a substantial increase in the powers and resources of the commission.

All families of disappeared persons should receive the same amount of compensation. The differentiation between public civil servants and others seem discriminatory and should, therefore, be abolished. Compensation should not be made dependent on the confirmation as "proven" by a Commission of Inquiry. In addition to these compensations, the families of the disappeared persons should be supported, according to their needs, by other means, such as low interest loan schemes or scholarships for the children.

The procedure for issuing death-certificates in cases of disappearances should be applied in an equal and non-discriminatory manner to all families.

The prohibition of enforced disappearances should be included as a fundamental right in the Constitution of Sri Lanka to which the remedy of a direct human rights complaint to the Supreme Court under Article 13 of the Constitution is applied irrespective of the fact whether the disappeared person is presumed to be alive or dead.

President, Dy. Defence Minister should take full responsibility for Pass debacle - Ranil
By Kesara Abeywardena

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the press just after arriving in the country charged the President, the government, Deputy Minister of Defence and some inefficient and dishonest military officers to take full responsibility for the Elephant Pass debacle.

Mr. Wickremesinghe who was for a political solution to the North-East conflict opined that the LTTE would come to discussions much more strengthened in the present context of affairs. When asked whether the LTTE would come for any discussions if not at all after these victories, Wickremesinghe said: "This shows that they will come to the negotiating table."

He said that the political and the military strategy of the LTTE is moving parallel while it is not so with the government. Therefore he said that the government was continuously failing in its military campaigns. He cited carrying on the war according to a political agenda and transferring and sidelining certain officers with proven track records and even compelling them to retire as main reasons for the repeated military failure.

Commenting on the strategic location of Elephant Pass he said the army had lost a location of vital military importance. "The gateway to Jaffna is now in the hands of the LTTE," he said. Wickremesinghe said that this important strip of land connecting the Jaffna peninsula with the mainland had been held by the army from 1983. "Even when the IPKF left and with the limited number of forces we were able to protect Elephant Pass," he said.

He asked the government to come up with a concrete plan to protect the other areas of the peninsula from falling since the LTTE assault is expected to continue. He also asked President Kumaratunga who is also the Commander in chief of the armed forces to come to Parliament and explain of the situation in full.

Mr. Wickremesinghe also said that when Jaffna was captured the UNP had predicted that it was only the beginning of another war and it has come true.

Referring to his tour in India, Mr. Wickremesinghe said it was successful and was able to meet a number of leaders including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Foreign Minister Advani. He had also met some political leaders from Tamil Nadu.

"I was to come to Sri Lanka in a good mood but now I have arrived at a time the whole country is crying," he said.

Interdiction of Rupavahini employees
Court refuses leave to proceed in fundamental rights plea
By Chitra Weerarathne

Wijedasa Rajapakse, Senior Attorney-at-Law, yesterday told the Supreme Court that the recent losses in advertising hours, at the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation had amounted up to Rs. 15 million, and the Media Minister had to appoint a fact finding Committee of Inquiry, to probe the issue.

Five persons had to be interdicted in consequence of the probe, done by that committee, he said.

Mr. Rajapakse was the senior counsel for the Rupavahini Corporation and its Directors, who were made respondents, in a Fundamental Rights violation plea, filed by Mrs. Kamala Senaweera, the Deputy Director General (Commercials), who had said she had been subjected to an arbitrary interdiction since March 14, this year, and up to date not told the charges against her.

Mohan Peiris, counsel for the petitioner said that according to the Establishment Code, a fact finding inquiry, is not a preliminary inquiry, which could lead to an interdiction of an officer. Once the Minister of Media had said the petitioner’s conduct was questionable, but the petitioner did not know that her conduct was being probed. The petitioner was not charged or accused of any wrong doing prior to the letter of interdiction was served, on her. The petition had requested the Supreme Court to suspend the interdiction, until the Fundamental Rights violation plea is finally determined. The Court, refused to grant leave to proceed with the Fundamental Rights violation plea.

Mr. Rajapakse told court that the charge sheet will be served on the interdicted persons, this week and they could defend themselves at the forthcoming inquiry.

Wijedasa Rajapakse instructed by Jayantha de Silva, appeared for the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and its Directors.

The bench comprised the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justice D. P. S. Gunasekera and Justice L. H. G. Weerasekera.