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Battle against LTTE components abroad will continue – President

‘We have already commenced the battle against them in the international sphere and are committed to continue it’. President Rajapaksa said so at the ceremonial passing out parade of Cadet officers at the Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) in Diyatalawa
today (21 Dec).

We are now at a significant phase in the humanitarian operation. Our endeavour is to win hearts and minds after freeing the people and lands from terrorism. The humanitarian operation includes de-mining, resettlement and providing basic requirements among other tasks. All development programmes carried out in the North and East are part of the humanitarian operation, the President stated.

He stressed that this humanitarian operation will not stop until the painful memories of terrorism and all thoughts of separatism are
removed from people’s hearts.

‘You pass out today to contribute to this noble humanitarian operation’, the President told the Cadet officers.

A person does not excel through talent and knowledge alone. Instead, the most important element is the love for one’s country, he pointed out.
‘The government not only lined up the security forces for the humanitarian operation but also organized the people against terrorism.

The government received tremendous support from the people in eliminating terrorism’, he said.
‘The highest tribute to these people is to ensure that terrorism does not raise its ugly head’, he emphasized.>> Full Story

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Cargo Trends

Sri Lanka port handles record four million containers
Dec 21, 2010 (LBO) – Colombo port volumes hit a new record of 4 million containers Tuesday supported by powerful development in both transshipment and import-export cargo, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) stated in a statement.

The quantity of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers handled by the port is up 20 % so far this year from a year ago.
It is also up 11 percent compared with the total of 3.68 million TEUs accomplished in 2008, the highest-ever functionality by the port ahead of recession hit worldwide trade.

SLPA managing director Nihal Keppetipola mentioned efficiency improvements and removal of safety restrictions with the end of a war had helped boost cargo volumes and reinforce Colombo’s status as south Asia’s hub port.

The number of import-export containers handed by Colombo is up 25 percent this year compared with final year even though transshipment cargo has improved by 18 percent, the SLPA said.

The state-run Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) handling its highest-ever monthly volume of 201,217 TEUs in August this year.

Keppetipola said a new computerised terminal operating program at the JCT costing 800 million rupees helped integrate all terminal operation and strategy and optimize speedy movement of containers amongst the gate and the quay.

This decreased dwell instances for containers and turnaround occasions for vessels, Keppetipola said.

A satellite-based communication system was also added to monitor container stacking

&#8220Last year we reopened the northern entrance, which had been closed for ten years due to safety motives, to facilitate smoother maritime transportation and to enhance productivity in the port,: he stated.

“This move put an finish to the navigation restrictions that have brought on congestion at the port causing delays in cargo handling and turn-about instances of vessels.”

Sri Lanka’s 30-year ethnic war ended in May possibly 2009, resulting in the withdrawal of war danger insurance surcharges and accelerating financial development.
The JCT has handled 2.1 million TEUs this year with the remaining 1.9 million TEUs handled by the privately-owned South Asia Gateway Terminals in which Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings has a 42 % stake.

Keppetipola said the combined work of the state-run and privately-owned terminals was essential to Sri Lanka’s drive to turn out to be a major centre of shipping, trade and logistics in the region.

He said it was “an excellent test case of public-private partnership arrangements in the port management region.”
&gt&gt Complete Story

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UN SG Panel – LLRC will adhere to Warrant

In the event of the government facilitating UN Secretary General’s Panel to visit Sri Lanka, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings, the LLRC said in a statement.

Following is the statement:

UN SG’s Panel

There have been some inquiries from the national media regarding a visit to Sri Lanka by the UN Secretary General’s Panel. Any decision to facilitate the UN SG’s Panel to visit Sri Lanka lies entirely with the Government of Sri Lanka. If a decision is made to permit such a visit the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings
>> Full Story

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A Steep Upsurge in Enterprise for Commercial Banks

Commercial Banks in Sri Lanka have registered an upsurge in business in the recent months. In the month of October alone these banks have provided new loans amounting to Rs. 50 Billion, which registers a 20% increase over the same period last year.
Loans from foreign exchange banking units have increased by Rs. 5.2 billion to Rs. 156.3 billion.

However, loans to the government from the banking system, including the central bank, have fallen steeply by Rs. 36.6 billion to Rs. 565.5 billion as the government repaid credit following a billion dollar sovereign debt sale.

Credit from the Central Bank to government has also fallen by Rs. 15 billion to Rs. 85 billion.

Last year, loans to private business contracted as the government ran a deficit of around 10% of gross domestic product and banks bought risk free Treasury bills instead of lending to risky private business. Financial sources said that following a balance of payments crisis in 2008 and 2009, banks curtailed credit and were facing rising bad loans. Central bank data indicates that bad loans were now falling appreciably.

With many incentives and concessions given to the private sector in the new budget potential for banks to increase businesses, especially their lending portfolios have increased and business analysts comment that banks have every possibility of getting further strengthened in the future months.(niz).

>> Full Story

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Practically US$ 79 million earned from Duty Totally free Shops at KIA

By Lal Gunesekera

The Bonds Division of the Customs Department had a income collection of Rs. 7.three billion in 2009. A sum of US$ 56,978,451 was earned from the duty totally free shops at the arrivals lounge of the Katunayake International Airport (KIA) and US$ 22,570,509 from the departure lounge with total income earned becoming US$ 78,548,960. The Bonds Investigation Unit (BIU) recovered a total of Rs. 54,534,000 last year.

The Investor Facilitation Centre (INFAC) earned revenue of Rs. 10,664,211,070 from Board of Investment (BOI) enterprises with duty recovered from cancellation of agreements getting Rs. 12,766,307.

The Customs at the KIA had a income collection of Rs. 452,853,349 last year, even though Rs. 84,316,750 was collected mainly from currency circumstances (Rs. 30,315,241) and gold jewellery instances which was Rs. 28,795,405.

Also in the course of the year (2009), the Customs Narcotics Manage Unit (NCU) produced two noteworthy detections resulting in the seizure of 2kg 798 grams of heroin concealed in potatoes and continued to maintain its surveillance on all flights arriving from source nations and suspected airports. The NCU performed joint operations with the Police Narcotics Bureau at KIA, Air Cargo, LCL Warehouses and Container yards.

Given that 1984, the NCU has seized 385.723 kg of heroin with the biggest seizure of 62.607 kg becoming in 1990. Among the other narcotics that have been seized considering that 1984 was hashish (88.904 kg), opium (95.98 kg), cannabis 2.45 kg), cocaine (9.018 kg) and hashish oil (.0028) in 1994.

The Excise (Specific Provisions) division collected Rs. 47,996.88 million throughout final year (2009) mainly from cigarettes (Rs. 37,670.16 million) and petroleum (Rs. 7,854.18) and also recovering Rs. 600,000 from 20 Court circumstances.
&gt&gt Full Story

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MR orders complete inquiry

While denying reports that the Sri Lankan Navy had fired on Indian fishermen, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he instructed the Navy to carry out a detailed investigation into the incident, the Hindu reported today.

Talking over breakfast to foreign correspondents at his Temple Trees residence in Colombo this morning, he said that the Sri Lankan Navy was not involved in the incident.

Asked if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had spoken to him about the incident, he said that the Prime Minister had not. Asked if the Sri Lankan government would take action in the event of the firing being committed by its security forces, he said that despite the preliminary investigation – which established that the Navy was not involved — he had asked the Navy Commander to conduct a detailed investigation.

The Sri Lankan Navy’s chief of operations, said that the incident occurred well within the Indian waters. “The sea is very shallow in these areas and the position of all our ships’ locations are monitored by land-based and other equipment. This is in the open and anyone can check,” he told The Hindu, denying that the Sri Lankan Navy had anything to do with the incident.
>> Full Story

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Full Text of Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010

Facts and Figures: U.S. human rights situation

BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) — China’s Information Office of the State Council, or cabinet, published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010” here Sunday. Following is the full text:

Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010

The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 on April 8, 2011. As in previous years, the reports are full of distortions and accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 is prepared to urge the United States to face up to its own human rights issues.

I. On Life, Property and Personal Security

The United States reports the world’s highest incidence of violent crimes, and its people’s lives, properties and personal security are not duly protected.

Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States. No other nation on earth has a rate that is higher (10 Facts About Crime in the United States that Will Blow Your Mind, Beforitsnews.com). In 2009, an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, 15.6 million property crimes and 133,000 personal thefts were committed against U.S. residents aged 12 or older, and the violent crime rate was 17.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons, according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice on October 13, 2010 (Criminal Victimization 2009, U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov). The crime rate surged in many cities in the United States. St. Louis in Missouri reported more than 2,070 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, making it the nation’s most dangerous city (The Associated Press, November 22, 2010). Detroit residents experienced more than 15,000 violent crimes each year, which means the city has 1,600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The United States’ four big cities – Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York – reported increases in murders in 2010 from the previous year (USA Today, December 5, 2010). Twenty-five murder cases occurred in Los Angeles County in a week from March 29 to April 4, 2010; and in the first half of 2010, 373 people were killed in murders in Los Angeles County (www.lapdonline.org). As of November 11, New York City saw 464 homicide cases, up 16 percent from the 400 reported at the same time last year (The Washington Post, November 12, 2010).

>> Full Story

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More than 1000 US foreign military bases but commotion more than Sri Lanka’s internal military

“I emphasized the importance of progress in reducing the role and profile of the military in the North, and full respect for human rights” – thus said Robert Blake, an US official flying regularly to Sri Lanka bringing messages from his Government. Interesting as the statement is, it raises one simple question – in which international law book does it say that the US can have over thousands of foreign military bases while US can dictate to a sovereign nation on how to place its military inside its country? This is the question Sri Lankans like to ask and have answered. When the nations legally made to host these US foreign installations oppose US presence, what “accountability” does the US have for respecting the calls of these natives – since The “Status of Forces Agreement” has guaranteed that US cannot be held accountable for their crimes in any country that the US has bases in.

Exact US foreign military bases: Keep Guessing
It is believed that the US has over 1000 foreign military bases in over 120 nations and territories while UK and France have a further 200 in their former colonies. Inside these territories and nations the US bases and outposts are equally shocking. The number of US personnel currently stationed number over 160,000 and excludes US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and Kwajalein Atoll. All bases functions as storage facilities for weapons including nuclear arms, training, intelligence gathering, “echelon” bases monitor all email, phone and data communication traffic, extra-judiciary transport, imprisonment and torture of which Guantanamo Bay is the best example.
World War 2 gave US the excuse to strategize and establish a global network of military bases to protect its interests and those of its allies. Ironically, much of the security concerns US has today results from its own self-destructive actions and bullying approach. But, the “security factor” has been used to install bases in East Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Thus, the bases are crucial for US, NATO and EU and are perfect to overthrow governments diplomatically or militarily. The shocking military invasions numbering over 300 over the past century have been launched from these foreign bases thus the need to understand the threat posed to national security of any country entering the “enemy” list or “economic target” list.
The US has divided the world into 6 territories – 4 are located in the US and the other 2 in Stuttgart where the European Command territory stretches from Greenland to Alaska including Turkey, while the AFRICOM oversees military operations in Africa. EUCOM and AFRICOM is authorized to command US missions from Germany. Germany is the center of US military intelligence in Europe. Its not just foreign bases that the US has secured. What about the buildings, the heavy infrastructure, the storage tanks, the runways, rail lines and even pipelines that the US secures in all of these nations and territories?
To add to the confusion has been the numbers of private security contractors like Blackwater (Xe) who are based in all of the locations that the US troops are in. It is they who carry out the drone attacks and have been responsible for much of the mayhem taking place in the Middle East through their mercenary services.
Bases in Iraq and Afghanistan
The number of US bases in Iraq (505) were revealed only after US troops were preparing to leave Iraq. Officially, we are told that the US has removed troops from Iraq but does this not include the Dept of Defense staff currently in Iraq? The bases in Afghanistan is over 1500 counting all the forward operating bases, checkpoints, mega-bases, military installations and other logistical support facilities. The number of US troops stands at over 100,000 if not more. In 2002 NATO had 800 bases in Afghanistan. We may never know the exact numbers as at present but the Afghan bases are not reducing! Another question is why would US and NATO desire to have bases with sophisticated offices and gigantic airbases only along the gas and oil pipeline that is being built?
Why is it that the entirety of US bases in Afghanistan are all located along the route of the gas/oil pipeline? Why has opium production increased by a staggering 3100% (from 185tons before arrival of US in 2001 and now 5800tons in 2011) – Afghanistan accounts for 90% of opium and cannabis supplies to the world? What about the precious minerals like lithium, gold, iron, copper and cobalt that has also been discovered? Opium, morphine, cannabis, heroin, codeine, thebaine are all sought after by pharmaceutical companies.
Unknown to most of us Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush region is the home to rich soil – uranium, copper, lithium, gold and iron ore worth upto $ 3trillion. Hajigak area is said to contain 1.8tons of iron ore. Lithium is rare but needed for cell phones, portable computers, electric car batteries and so Afghanistan certainly has much to offer the mining industries!
The 9/11 attackers were not Iraqi’s nor had they links to Al Qaeda, neither did Iraq have WMDs but Iraq was attacked. US attacked Iraq to secure 115billion barrels of oil reserves! US spends $ 900billion per year on destruction when 49m Americans live in poverty and 46million depend on food stamps to survive and 4m are homeless.
Are there geological treasures in Sri Lanka in particular the North and East apart from the natural harbor?
Europe
US has 293 bases in Germany  – why is it necessary for the US and UK to have bases in Germany or Japan 65 years after World War with over 70,000 US troops currently in Germany, more than 45,000 US soldiers in Japan and close to 30,000 US troops in South Korea?
The largest overseas US base is in Ramstein Air Base where US sent 40,000 troops to Afghanistan in 2009 – soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are flown and then sent to Landstuhl the largest  US military hospital. Ramstein is used to cover 3 continents (51 nations) and has the largest US military shopping center and a 350 room hotel. There are 20 nuclear weapons at Buchel guarded by 50 US special forces troops.  Over 80% of supplies of weapons, troops and other logistical requirements are routed via Germany. In 2008, there were over 1350 military transport landings in Leipsiz including 500,000 GIs en route to or from Iraq and Afghanistan. German-owned DHL has the exclusive US Army contract for courier services in Afghanistan and Iraq. Commercial airports like Hahn and US training at Grafenwohr is also provided.
Though the reunification agreement of the early 90s gives Germany the right to cancel US bases the Stationing of Forces Agreements with the US makes it unlikely that Germany would prohibit or restrict US military bases as Turkey did following the Iraq invasion though majority of Germans opposed the Iraq invasion.
The Netherlands is another US ally and hosts 7 US bases with nuclear warheads including 2 undisclosed locations that functions are reconnaissance flights over Colombia. All US arms and materials enter US without going through Dutch customs. All pilots flying on KLM have signed contracts that declare they have to take direct orders from the US air force in case of a war.
Asia – Countering China and Pilfering Resources
Following the Korea war the US has over 100 bases and facilities in Korea. Cases of US crimes in Korea are many yet US soldiers are never accountable and are instead repatriated where military court generally declares them “not guilty” or passes the most lenient of judgments. No damages can be claimed by the victims as the guilty enjoys legal immunity.
Iran and Pakistan have also begun building an oil and natural gas pipeline traversing Afghanistan and the pipeline has completed the Iranian portion and is now at the Pakistani border. Iran, Pakistan and even Afghanistan are all looking to push US away. While the US has been doling blood and money into these nations the people hate the US and are now looking for partners in China. US is seeking to include India into its periphery.
Rising demand for closure of US bases   
Much of the outcries to close foreign military bases is due to their impact on land, water resources, communications, environment and health, cultural identity and the crimes that take place with foreign troops violating humanitarian international laws but having a carte blanche and immunity.
The military bases are located in strategic places, not only from the political and economic point of view, but they are placed near natural resources such as oil, water and biodiversity.
The US appears to care less over the rising numbers of calls for the closure of its military bases on the grounds that the facilities are undermining international peace and security as they are stations meant to prepare for war. Let us not forget that it was the US bases in Germany, Turkey, Diego Garcia, Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Gulf States that facilitated the Iraq invasion. Aerial bombings on Pakistan are launched from Diego Garcia, Ecuador base is used for covert military actions on Colombia, Iraq and Turkey bases functions as intelligence missions for Iran and Syria.
Iran is aware that it is being watched from US-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan while 8 of its neighbors are also hosting US/NATO bases. Moreover Iran is also faced with threats from US-backed nuclear powers of Israel, Pakistan and India and nuclear warheads in Turkey.
These foreign bases are causing social and environmental problems – rises in rapes by US soldiers, crimes, pollution, health hazards caused by testing conventional and non-conventional weapons are grounds for the opposition. The tragedy is that the agreements signed to enable the presence of US troops in these countries makes US soldiers unaccountable and immune from all local laws.
Nevertheless, it has not deterred residents from crying foul – activists and locals protested against expansion of US base with a new landing strip in Italy, the people of Okinawa, Japan are continuing their opposition that 30% of the island of Okinawa is being used by the US military since World War 2 and Okinawans even blocked the construction to a new base which was stopped in 2008 by a US court on ecological grounds. Residents of Okinawa have increased their opposition due to 12 MV-22 Osprey aircrafts operating in highly populated areas (Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Ginowan and Okinawa) following crashes in Morocco and Florida. The Status of Forces agreement is a hindrance to the Japanese Government taking any action though US moved 4700 marines to Guam and 3000 to Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. Okinawa is important to the US because of its vantage on China, Taiwan and North Korea. However Futenma base (in the city of Ginowan which has over  90,000 residents) is unlikely to be ever moved off Okinawa. The plight of the Okinawians is made worse because Okinawa has only 4 seats in Japan’s lower house therefore the people’s verdict is of little consequence to political decisions.
Africans strongly opposed the US Africa Command with a headquarters costing over US$ 500m with close to 2000 US troops in Djibouti.
Natives from Puerto Rico (Vieques) were expelled from their homes to make way for a US bomb testing range that used 2/3 of the island and protests resulted in US navy withdrawing in 2004.
In 1973, under the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) all citizens of Diego Garcia were rounded up, put on ships and sent to Mauritius following a US-UK deal allowing US to have an airbase in Diego Garcia. However, the Chagossian natives have won court cases in the UK to their right to return by that right has been blocked by British executive orders.
A RAND Corporation study reveals that 57% of all Germans want a complete withdrawal of US troops from Germany.
There are numerous local campaigns and movements like the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases and the No Bases Network that are continuing the fight to resist military bases overseas and making progress internationally. The closure of the Manta military base in Ecuador is one such success story.
Costs Incurred
The cost of running over 1000 military bases overseas is over $ 100billion annually and excludes costs for Iraq and Afghanistan.  
Of the 2012 Federal Budget 59% – USD553billion has gone towards military and homeland security. 2% on Agriculture, Justice and Energy, 4% on Dept of State, Urban Development & Housing, 6% on education and healthcare &15% on other. In 1990 the national debt was $ 3.2trillion today it is a whopping $ 15.7trillion and counting (a 500% increase in 22 years).The next question is how or who has benefited from $ 11.5trillion spending on war?19 hijackers who pulled off 9/11 has resulted in US spending $ 3trillion on wars and denying the American people their own freedom and liberties. Yet the irony is that since 1941 the US has NOT being attacked by any foreign power to warrant spending on the military. It then appears that much of the hate the US administrations and its media enjoy promoting amongst the masses are self-created. With the creation of nuclear missiles that should be ample security! The current reliance of pre-emptive wars has made the US financially defunct and internationally mocked by those aware of the truth.
Meanwhile, globally the world spends $ 1.7trillion annually on designing new ways to kill, 13m die every year from starvation, 925m are undernourished, 1 child dies every 5 seconds due to hunger (16,000 daily deaths and 6m deaths cer year) – the cost taken to make a missile could give lunch to a school for 5 years! Does US elect representatives to allocate 44% of taxes towards killing?
It is the Politicians and not the military that start wars often coerced to do so by the super rich whose avarices and sadisms forces Governments to leave the fighting role to the poor. People are simply pawns and they die like dogs while millions is spent on devising lies to feed the world. Then comes the patriotic speeches for the bravery of the troops who had been sacrificed.
Over 6500 US soldiers have died while close to 50,000 are badly injured. Suicide rates of soldiers have increased by 80% – 300,000 that returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered post-traumatic stress disorders.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has suggested to cut US troops in Europe and Asia by one-third which would save America $ 8.5billion in 2015 will the US close its bases?
The Violent Truth
What America needs to understand is that if it thinks the world hates America it is because American Governments are killing innocent people – none of them are “terrorists”. America is spending trillions for the past 11 years and who has benefited? American taxpayers are footing the bill, American soldiers are sacrificing their lives and body parts to enable a handful of companies to reap gigantic profits from drugs!
The US became the sole superpower in 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet Union – why would it want to go to wars without provocation and spend trillions? What kind of an acceptable excuse is it to argue that the US arms industry is employing millions and benefiting the US when all that they are doing is to make weapons that are meant to kill and create a supply for those weapons?
Invasions with military action has nothing to do with security of nations but everything to do with pilfering nations by a handful that uses politicians to order wars and invasions so that their corporations could walk in and plunder the natural resources of nations is what todays wars, terrorism and R2P is all about.
US tax payers are paying for numerous foreign invasions putting their country in debt while a handful of elite global powers are reaping the benefits and US envoys play puppet diplomatic dictators to former colonies!
We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”  
Dwight D. Eisenhower
We know more about war than we know about peace, we know more about killing than we know about living. We need to now change.

by Shenali Waduge

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Lessons from President Premadasa for Sri Lanka’s existing leadership

There are many lessons from the rule of President Premadasa that will help to avoid repetition of making the same mistakes if properly adhered to. The quality of governance has deteriorated over the years and it is unlikely to change unless the present culture of governance carried down by successive governments and politicians does not change. Let all politicians remember that all governments have ended up falling short of people’s expectations because they have removed themselves away from the people trusting in only their henchmen of advisors and no sooner governments moves away from the masses it becomes the beginning of the end.
The culture to depend on the underworld and goon squads have passed down from one government to the other resulting in unnecessary bloodshed and a spate of criminal activity that has brought the country into disrepute over the years. Until such time this trend to depend on thugs ceases to be we are unlikely to bring any semblance of good governance to Sri Lanka since the law of the country needs to apply to all equally and officials implementing laws should not have to bow their heads down to lowlife gangsters who thinks they can brandish a weapon and people have to worship them.
Sri Lanka’s mobsters
Gangster rule and good squads started with the UNP and its legacy has continued unabated. The Wikipedia has a separate of Sri Lankan mobsters starting out with Gonawala Sunil involved in a spate of activities including rape of a 14 year old girl for which he was given a presidential pardon by then President J R Jayawardena and ended up obtaining an all-island justice of peace and bodyguard to Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe then Minister of Education. Need we say more about the culture that was being slowly created. Then came Sothi Upali said to be a close ally of Sirisena C, then Minister of Housing under President Premadasa. Sri Lanka’s police had to address Sothththi Upali as “Sir”. Taking over from Soththi Upali was his arch rival Chintaka Amarasinghe who is said to have been aligned to the People’s Alliance. His brother Dhammika Amarasinghe is said to have had a hand in over 50 murders and countless bank robberies and as is always the case when their notoriety gets too linked to their patrons they end up being gunned down to conceal that links. Then comes Kalu Ajith who killed Chintaka Amarasinghe and was killed by Chintaka’s brother Dhammika. Next to enter is Kaduwela Wasantha who after a decade of terror was gunned down by another rival Karate Dhammika. We will all remember Baddegane Sanjeewa who was a police sergeant for President Kumaratunga. The other notorious underworld figures with fascinating names are Moratu Saman, Thoppi Chaminda,, Nawala Nihal, Kalu Ajit, Vambotta, Olcott, Thel Bala, Kimbulaela Guna, Dematagoda Kamal, Colum, Anamalu Imtiaz, Potta Naufer, Neluwa Priyantha, Kudu Lal and the latest to enter Julampitiye Amare.
The Good and Bad of Premadasa
If no human is perfect then no leader is perfect either. In the case of a President there are certainly good times and bad times though no leader can make the entire population happy with the decisions taken.
It is good to wonder how much of the legacy Premadasa had to deal with was of his own making. If we recall the late 1980s and early 1990s it is nothing but bloodshed and gruesome killings with a country torched from North to South. It was Ranjan Wijeratne who took on the task of eliminating the JVP which gave a sigh of relief to the people of the South though many innocent Sinhala youth perished as a result. No human rights organizations cried foul play not even the local NGO bandwagons or their mouthpieces.
It was J R Jayawardena who introduced neo-liberal economy to Sri Lanka which Premadasa continued while also carrying out his own program of bringing the villages to a reasonable level and managed to transform the UNP often described as the party of relatives into what he termed a people oriented party. He deregulated trade, financial services and privatization, he created massive zones of small industries giving employment to women in rural villages through garments, shoes, toys and revived tourism. He had started well over 15,000 small industry-based projects all over the island.
What no leader has been able to match was Premadasa’s passion for precision and his attention given to details. He work up at 4a.m. did his yoga, read the newspapers and would even call his staff and ask for updates and no one could say “later”! – he was behind every project personally monitoring and supervising them and never forgot a single project he started. During Premadasa’s presidency not a single Government office was spared unannounced visits and all offices were clean and staff always on alert not knowing when the President might walk in. After Premadasa, the Government offices have cared little to continue those good practices and most offices function in a don’t care attitude.
Where did Premadasa go wrong. Coming from humble beginnings and working his way up the political ladder it was natural that he would suffer internal complexities which were manipulated by the people he kept around him as his inner circle. However those economic advisors did not want to make real Premadasa’s vision of making the poor richer and instead the rich got richer and the poor got poorer and people started to develop hate for the man they hoped would change their future.
The lessons
A leader is brought down by his advisors and it is no different in the case of President Premadasa which reiterates the need for the present leadership to be wary of those they solicit advice from. It was the rumors the tales and lies fed into the ears of President Premadasa that turned an iconic figure into a demon distancing him from parliamentary colleagues, sane advice by surrounding him with henchmen who turned Premadasa into a dictator killing off all opposition. In a country as small as Sri Lanka once sealed as a dictator it is difficult to remove that name from people’s minds. The poster mania started with the UNP and there was never an empty wall without a picture of Premadasa, the culture of news reflecting only politicians and their daily openings is another factor that has been carried down by successive governments over the years. Street smart, Premadasa definitely was but it takes far more to lead in a world where leaders are led by greater leaders. It is for this reason that leaders need to have intellectuals who love the nation and its sovereignty advising them and certainly not intellectuals ready to hand over the nation to foreigners.
While we cannot forget the manner that President Premadasa stood up against India demanding that the IPKF pack their bags and leave forthwith was overshadowed by the manner he lavished arms to the LTTE which killed countless innocent civilians and troops. We will not forget the lives of 500 innocent policemen who had to give up their arms on instructions of the Premadasa Government and watch each comrade being shot by the LTTE. It is said that President Premadasa had even threatened India that he would abrogate the 1987 Indo-Lanka Agreement and we wonder why he did not. The public have had enough of threats made to only please the public. It is now time for action.
Premadasa’s tenure of leadership was certainly marked with highs and lows and the manner that people celebrated his death with crackers and fireworks does not project any of the good he did during his 5 years in office as President. It does convey perfectly to all future leaders that people forget the good and will judge only on the bad and this is a lesson that needs to be remembered and not ignored. Leaders who accept this fact with a don’t care attitude are in for greater shocks.
Premadasa led a country in one of the most violent phases of Sri Lanka’s history. His advisors manipulated his paranoia, his weaknesses were tapped turning him into a man hated by the masses. He compared himself with great Dutugemunu and his closest confidant became the second most powerful man in the country but a man whose connections to LTTE terrorism remains to be investigated to understand how terrorism was created in Sri Lanka and why it remains a threat to this day with his connections to the Tamil Nadu “Eelam factor”.
It is often the advisors that build up animosities amongst politicians creating political rivalries. We all remember the animosities that prevailed between Premadasa, Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake and their advisors will know how they played one against the other.
We may also like to remember President Premadasa’s plead of innocence “You can assassinate me…but don’t assassinate my character…” claiming he had nothing to do in the murder of Athulathmudali.
The view of most during Premadasa’s rule was that “you cannot rule a country by killing its people” though he chased out the Indian’s he did nothing about the Provincial Council system and judged the PCs as a means of generating a political base which is the same situation unfolding currently.
We are well aware that regime change is a top priority in the political scene prevalent in Sri Lanka. The strikes, the protests are all part of the ploys being used to test the type of change to be further manipulated. These are all testers before the real plan is set into motion and is meant to test how a government is able to handle situations. Governments do not help the situation by playing footsy with governance by setting different rules of laws to favored people and the malpractices building up over the years end up creating a mass of people unhappy with the type of governance not helped in the least by media which is often anti-government projecting situations far worse than what they are.
Devolving powers is not the answer
It is therefore upto the Government to face the situation realistically without functioning in a state of denial. No regime change operators will touch a country that has its masses behind its Government. This is why attempts are afoot to make the Government and the leadership to be projected as dictatorial and unsuited to lead. The reaction is not to make the situation worse but to take measures to address these properly.
What is evident is that advisors have managed to make Sri Lanka’s leadership think that by devolving powers the war crimes probe will be swept under the carpet. This is nothing but a carrot being dangled to get the President to agree to devolution. Agreeing to devolution is to destroy the sovereignty and unitary status of Sri Lanka and it is a quicker exit for the President from power and will leave him forgotten in history as a man who defeated terrorism but destroyed the nation – and it will be nothing he can ever be proud of. Therefore, it is good for the President to start to move closer to the people for they would never allow the country to ever fall into pieces for any peace that external forces are promising. In a country that has summers and springs we do not need further springs! 
by Shenali Waduge

Categories
General

The Truth or Lies of Benjamin Dix

by Shenali Waduge

Benjamin Dix is the chief protagonist in promoting presumed wrongs committed by the armed forces of Sri Lanka and emerges every time there an international event using documentaries and films meant to devalue Sri Lanka’s military achievement – we have become accustomed to these theatrics just as we are well aware that the lady in charge of human rights impatiently awaits an incident to take place to issue a deregulatory statement against Sri Lanka. Dix spoke in 2012 as guest speaker on “photographic journalism” at the Institute of Art and Ideas,http://iai.tv/video/the- killing-fields and based on this presentation some lies and truths are now highlighted.
“I went to Sri Lanka in 2004 as a photojournalist and managed to get up to the North of Sri Lanka which is the liberation of tamil tiger elam area in the North where I started working for the United Nations”
Benjamin Dix started as a Photographer for Berg Publishers (2002 – worked for 10months). He came to Sri Lanka from India in 2004 after the tsunami and went to Sri Lanka’s north. He joined Norwegian People’s Aid and worked as Project Manager from March 2005 to December 2006. NPA is an organization that is accused of links to Sudanese rebels. He joined the UN in January 2007 until December 2008. He is putting 22months of his knowledge to accuse Sri Lanka of war crimes.
“I was based there for 4 years as the liason officer between the Tamil tigers and the Sri Lankan Government”.
Can the Government and the UN please confirm this statement because he does not appear in any of the names associated with the negotiations held between LTTE and GOSL and moreover many questions surfaces with regard to this role.
“It’s a divided country. In the South you have the Buddhist Sinhalese who are also the Government of the country”
Perhaps Benjamin Dix is not aware that there are more Tamils living outside the North and amongst the Sinhalese.
Benjamin Dix should also look at Sri Lanka’s Government MPs and count the number of Tamil and Muslim MPs before making inaccurate statements.
“North and the East predominantly Tamil”
Benjamin Dix is also unaware that the 2 provinces are now demerged and the Tamils no longer are the majority in the East.
“It was the most impoverished district of the country”
The areas held by the LTTE were out of bounds for the GOSL and its military.
Inspite of LTTE making USD300m profits annually not a cent went towards uplifting the areas that they held within their control though that money was utilized to purchase arms and build sophisticated bunkers for the LTTE and homes for the LTTE families – this bit of information Benjamin Dix appears to leave out – which is confirmed by his statement. “Kilinochchi where the UN was based and where LTTE had its political and military headquarters and by far the most built up area”  
“It was quite a vulnerable population” – at least he has said one thing right, because that was what LTTE tapped into and why the people feared to do anything against the LTTE for fear of their lives and that of their children. LTTE imposed taxes on all goods passing LTTE controlled areas, individual households were taxed and penalties were imposed on those who evaded payment. There was an LTTE ‘customs” located at Omanthai from which LTTE collected Rs.4-5m. Benjamin Dix was well aware of this – is his concern then for the Tamil people who were being illegally taxed? Tamil farmers had to pay taxes according to produce, even Tamil Government employees had to pay tax of 8% of their income. Then the fishermen that Benjamin Dix spoke of whose livelihoods were affected because of the conflict, well they had to pay Rs.5 per kill for transporting fish from Mannar to Colombo! Ltte had a more sophisticated network to collect money from Tamil businessmen based in Colombo and from the Diaspora.
 “no electricity in the area”  
How can a Government take care of its people when LTTE was running a defacto state disallowing Government or troops to enter these areas.
Moreover, the LTTE did not want the people to have electricity or television because it would have meant the LTTE’s atrocities would have been exposed. The LTTE chose to keep the people blind to their atrocities. Moreover the LTTE had blown up the power grids. These are now being restored and Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu areas that had 0% electricity in May 2009 now have 29% and 23% respectively.
“people had no links to the country”
Sri Lanka remains the only government that never stopped sending food, medical requirements and essential goods to the areas of the northern and eastern peninsula through the past 3 decades. If people had no links it was because the LTTE attempted to keep the people by force. The Tamil politicians have been fooling the people all through. The very MPs representing the TNA once claimed that LTTE was the sole representative of the Tamil people. The people with time will realize how the politicians have fooled the people just like the LTTE.
Today, the people of the North can freely travel throughout the country – there are no bombs. The former LTTE cadres are now employed and doing all that they were denied because the LTTE turned them into killers.
Ideally, the plight of these children whose formative years were held to ransom and women who could have done far more out of their lives than be turned into killers is what people like Benjamin Dix and Channel 4 should have made a documentary on – not the lies that are being relayed just to suit the sponsors.
“from the beginning of 2007 a new President came into power, Mahinda Rajapakse a Sinhalese nationalist in the South in Colombo and he came on this wave of crushing tamil tigers and crushing terrorism”
Firstly Mahinda Rajapakse did not come into power in 2007, it was on 17 Nov 2005.
Mahinda Rajapakse was elected President of Sri Lanka and not the South only.
Benjamin Dix may have been a good friend of a terrorist organization but a terrorist organization is one that kills innocent people and after 30 years suffering and over 5 peace offerings and negotiations all of which the LTTE turned down, the decision to military take on the LTTE was when it closed the sluice gates in Mavil Aru.
The LTTE closed the sluice gates in July 2006 and only after numerous appeals did the army receive orders to open the sluice gates in August 2006.
Closure of the sluice gates meant that 9510 Muslims, 8013 Sinhalese and 4439 Tamils living in 20 villages did not have water for livelihood and domestic use.
Before the military operation the LTTE dominated an area of 15,000sq.km in the north and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.
LTTE was controlling 6792sq km & manning 11km long FDL from Kilaly to Nagarkovil via Muhamallai in the North & a 140km long FDL from Mannar to Kokkuthuduwai via Omanthai in the South.
It was in March 2007 that the land operations commenced in the Northern province
“on the border they started an almost badminton match….artillery going backwards and forwards”
Benjamin gives himself away in this statement because he confirms that the LTTE was firing artillery. 
“army would put wayside bombs called claymore”
Another fictitious statement, the majority of claymore mines used was by the LTTE
The army cleared all landmines with the assistance of foreign land mine teams.
“they got international fame when they killed the Indian President in 1990”.
Benjamin Dix needs to update his general knowledge. Rajiv Gandhi at the time of his death was the FORMER Indian Prime Minister (not the President) and he was killed in 1991 May 21 to be precisse not 1990.
“the distinction between the Tamil tigers and the Tamil civilians were blurred and it was difficult for us as the UN and for the army to distinguish between who was a rebel and who was a civilian”
The LTTE when it suited them wore military attire and posed as civilians too 
Many would recall how some LTTE mingled with civilians coming to Government controlled areas and blew themselves up killing not only military personnel attending Tamil civilians providing them food and medical aid but Tamil civilians too. (Vishwamadu – 9 Feb 2009)
“the mother became a sympathizer for the rebels by having a daughter for a rebel”
This statement is poignant and leaving aside the laws of international laws related to non-international armed conflicts and role of civilians, the people must think how a military should act when the rebels not only pose as civilians when it suits them and use their knowledge of military codes against the soldiers. Whose conduct is morally wrong?
“tiger girls in the bunkers doing their hair in the morning” – together with his description of Prabakaran showing his cadres Bollywood movies depicts that Benjamin Dix was privy to where LTTE had their bunkers, had close links with the LTTE female cadres which really goes to show where his allegiance was. LTTE was a terrorist organization. It is not the duty of humanitarian organizations to be taking sides but to take the side of the humanitarian disaster – in this light is it now the duty of these humanitarian workers to at least inform their head offices what the LTTE were doing in terms of how they recruited children and turned women to killers?
“training behind the battlefields in the jungles….training with the artillery…this is tigers putting landmines into the ground on the front lines….and the claymores where someone will hide in the bush and pull ” – didn’t Dix say earlier that the army was responsible for putting landmines!!!
His description of how the LTTE suicide boats operate is also noteworthy and shows how well he knew of the details.
“Kilinochchi the capital of the tigers. This is our UN office on the other side of the hedge… this was a civilian compound…but the tigers had moved the civilians out (unknown to us”UN”) and put one of their intelligence units in their office and that was bombed by the SL Govt”….”the tigers were using us (UN) as shields and under international law gives the Sri Lanka legitimate rights to bomb the area”
This is an absolute lie as crater investigation has revealed that it was the LTTE who was in Kilinochchi at the time that the UN was evacuating who had bombed not the UN compound but an area close to it.
Hypothetically if 10 to 15 air attacks per day as Dix mentions did not hit the UN office or injure any of its officers including Dix that shows that Sri Lanka’s air force was never involved in indiscriminate bombing
Dix also says that they knew that the LTTE would loot their generators and scaffolding, we know that 40 vehicles belonging to the Norwegian Peoples Aid “fell” into LTTE hands as well similarly LTTE would have been privy to much more.
“Casualties started to arise in early 2008….mass graves started to appear in the jungles”
Can Dix please tell us where these jungle mass graves are since he is so conversant in the jungle areas
Kilinochchi – came under GOSL control only 2nd January 2009 (by that time Dix was no longer in Sri Lanka). Kilinochchi was under LTTE control when the UN was told to move to safer locations (not evacuate). Thus when the film of supposed children begging UN officers to remain was taken, LTTE was very much present. It is left for the reader to imagine how such a film would have taken place under LTTE presence!
 “On 17th August 2008 the tigers put out a letter to the population saying we now officially going out to war”
It was after the LTTE bombed close to the UN compound in Kilinochchi that the Government asked the UN and other international agencies to RELOCATE to safer areas and not EVACUATE
“Govt stopped us from importing materials we needed to make the bunkers …like concrete..like railway tracks” – how on earth can bunkers be built with materials like railway tracks!!
Benjamin Dix’s implication that the Tamil civilians were not provided food and that supplies to hospitals were affected is negated by these facts.
* January 2008-May 2009 58,393 metric tons of essential items were sent to Killinochchi and Mullaithivu districts in addition to 33,383 metric tons supplied to co-operative outlets during 2008 up to January 2009
* Every month, five to 600,000 litres of fuel was sent to each district despite fear that it may fall into LTTE hands.
* 900 government health staff in Mullaithivu and Killinochchi alone
* More than 20 litres of water per person per day was delivered and used.
* 175,000 personnel of the SLA have undergone local & international training to effectively be mentally & physically prepared to handle hostage rescue operations alongside a military operation against terrorism.
Yet LTTE attacked even the UN convoy carrying food and thereafter the military continued the supplies by sea. The numbers were purposely inflated so that the LTTE could stock the foods and essential items sent. Therefore, Sri Lanka becomes the only nation that continued to supply food, medicine and essential items despite knowing it may fall into LTTE hands but upholding its duty towards the citizens.
“one of the saddest pictures I took…became like many of the schools because of the children been taken by the tigers to fight”
If this is one of the saddest pictures why has Benjamin Dix not got Channel 4 to do a documentary of the LTTE’s forcible recruitment of children if as he says “education is everything to these people” and knowing that the LTTE was turning them into killers and denying them education or the joy of being with their parents and siblings?
Children grabbed from their homes, while studying and forcibly turned into killers all of which Dix and his colleagues would have seen as Dix himself is aware of the training camps in the jungles and that schools are empty as was told by his friend Pillai. Young females turned into suicide bombers or ordered to carryout suicide missions did Dix and others not care about the futures of these women? So please, enough of these double standards and emotional pep talks.
UNICEF has recorded 5956 abductions carried out by the LTTE for forced recruitment between January 2002 and December 2006, with 1012 of these being children under the age of 15 years
“education became impossible” – now that has changed not only are there over 900 schools now functioning there is a student population of 260,582 with 13.967 teachers. No one is kidnapping children to make into killers and suicide cadres now!
 “my job was to work with the tigers and understand where they were going to do their fighting and where we could move 3-400,000 civilians”
– If the safety of the civilians was priority (not that of the LTTE) why did Benjamin Dix not secure their release from LTTE. The world cannot forget these civilians were being dragged from one end to the other not by the armed forces but the LTTE. Why did the LTTE not listen to these humanitarian agencies or did these agencies not insist on their release?
Yes the UN failed Sri Lanka’s 20m by siding with a terrorist movement and allowing Sri Lanka’s conflict to continue for 3 decades.
“this lady’s husband had been taken by the tigers to fight… if your fighting age is anything between 17 and 40 you are going to the front line to fight” – so do we classify these civilian fighters as “civilians” or “civilian combatants”.
“You’re our witness” – another poignant statement because Benjamin Dix alongside a host of other UN, INGO, NGO officers were working and living in Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern areas were witness to a host of crimes that the LTTE were committing all of which were not “humanitarian” and we demand to know what they did about these crimes because they should be standing trial for diminishing their role as humanitarian workers taking the side of a militant group over the Tamil civilians who were used and abused by the LTTE.
“people were barricading us in and begging us not to leave and through that 4 day period and tigers were moving their hard ware and artillery around….”
This clearly shows that the LTTE orchestrated these demonstrations because they were very much around the UN compound and amongst the UN officers
That there was no aerial bombing during the clipping of supposed demonstration outside the gates of the UN compound goes to show that on the 16th September 2008 the UN and LTTE were very much in Kilinochchi
“40,000” civililans were killed” – can Dix kindly prove this number…. It seems he is always talking in figures that somehow does not fit in with the actual total population of Tamils in Sri Lanka and that population is 2.4million of which 1million are overseas and if one spends a bit of time doing some calculations it is really impossible to believe the 400,000 or 500,000 figures that these former officers enjoy throwing into the air as if they personally counted them!
“when you remove the witness, when you don’t allow journalism the depths of war … but Sri Lanka was so much worse than Libya… its really bad”.
We are happy to do without “witnesses” who are one-sided and as for journalists we can say that numerous private tv stations including foreign were allowed to move with the troops to witness every stage of the conflict and none of them have said anything that remotely shows us that our soldiers were committing any crimes, Dix can summarize all his fictions in a book and sell like Weiss. The people of Sri Lanka will remain indebted to our forces no matter what
Dix is implying in the closing lines of his presentation that since the army did not know who was a civilian and who was LTTE, loosing thousands of civilians did not matter and that the army would not have to deal with them post-conflict – yet he forgets that 294,000 civilians were actually saved at the cost of 5000 military lives during the last stages of the war. If orders were clearly to fire at anything that moved as the US soldiers had been ordered to do in Vietnam then none in Sri Lanka’s military would have lost their lives nor would there be 11770 LTTE combatants. The GOSL has spent Rs.500million to rehabilitate and reintegrate to society – now save a handful they have either continued studied, engaged in a livelihood, taking to vocations like modeling and dressmaking, joined the security services, functioning as teachers and some are even playing for the national team in sports..…we are far more intelligent than to buy these lies.
A democratic Government has every right to protect the sovereignty of its country especially from terrorists and let’s not forget that having listened to the formulas provided by the West and its humanitarian agencies which could not stop the LTTE’s mission to kill civilians and only after 30 years of enduring terror that Sri Lanka’s military defeated the LTTE – that should be nothing Sri Lanka deserves to be punished for – especially when the very countries pushing for punishment have failed to deal with terrorism and their crimes against humanity goes unpunished or even investigated and the lady in charge of human rights cares not to waste a letterhead on them! We will not allow our soldiers to be humiliated with lies and fabrications because they remain the only military to have eliminated a terrorist movement while saving hundreds of thousands of civilians and thereafter designing an indigenous rehabilitation and reintegration program that no country can match. It may not be perfect but it still far superior to what other countries are unable to match because they are still battling terrorism.