TamilNet

Jan 262015
 

Following the election of Maithiripala Sirisena as new Sri Lankan President, the uprooted families from a section of the 5th Division and 7th Division of Champoor situated along both the sides of Champoor main road, started to clear their lands for resettlement. Their lands, seized by Colombo under the so-called ‘Special Economic Zone’ (SEZ) were to be handed over to a Chinese-owned corporate. The occupying Sri Lanka Navy was blocking the uprooted Tamils from resettling in their lands. Despite the ‘regime change’, the Sri Lanka Navy occupying Champoor and the Sri Lankan Police have chased away the 162 families, who were clearing their plots to prepare for resettlement in the 1,430 acres of lands appropriated by Colombo under the so-called SEZ.

Champoor_resettlers_chased_away_04_108620_445

Officials from Colombo accompanied by SL military

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) politicians in Trincomalee are under pressure from the Sampanthan polity not to voice against Colombo at this juncture as the TNA is collaborating with Mr Maithiripala Sirisena’s regime on a number of issues, including the future governance of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC), the uprooted people from Champoor told TamilNet.

The campaigners of Mahinda Rajapaksa regime promised resettlement to a section of uprooted Champoor people if they were prepared to vote for Mr Rajapaksa. The uprooted people demanded that they should be allowed to enter their lands first in order to consider voting for Rajapaksa.

But, within a few hours after the elections, Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment officials accompanied by SL Navy officers and SL Police came to their temporary huts instructing the people to move away from their lands.

The EPC members of the TNA have also been requesting the people to relocate peacefully without protest, the uprooted people said. The people were told that the TNA leaders wanted to give a few more days to the new government in Colombo.

However, two weeks have passed without a proper response from the Sri Lankan authorities and the TNA politicians, a representative of the displaced people in Champoor told TamilNet on Saturday.

The uprooted Champoor people were not allowed to resettle even in the lands that are outside the boundaries of the so-called HSZ and SEZ.

The officials who came from the Board of Investment and the SL military officers were telling the people that the uprooted would only be allowed to resettle under an official resettlement scheme and not on their own.

In the meantime, 22 families that have resettled in their lands situated near Kaa’li temple at Champoor have refused to move away from their lands as their lands do not come under the High Security Zone or Special Economic Zone.

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Jan 262015
 
Investigating ‘root cause’ of injustice to Eezham Tamils

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG) in the UK and the British Tamil Forum (BTF), jointly host an annual dinner on 29th January, this time with the theme “Tamil People’s Right to Democracy and Justice in Sri Lanka.” The highlights of the dinner hosts’ requests to British government are: Justice for the war crimes and crimes against humanity (including the ‘intent of genocide’); Political solution to address the root cause to the conflict and that the UK government should put pressure on the Sri Lankan regime. What actually needed is an international investigation on the root cause of Britain forging and enforcing a single State of genocidal dimensions in the island and Washington and New Delhi following the footsteps, resulting the genocide and on-going genocide, commented Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

Even after seeing the explicit genocide and accelerated on-going genocide resulting from their decades-long single State policy on the island, if London, Washington and New Delhi continue to deny the genocide, use all their resources to uphold the Colombo-centric system and engineer Eezham Tamils to come to the same old 1945-1948 times of the transfer of power to the ‘United National Party’ regime, then this is what that needs international investigation and international justice, the activists said.

Unless what causes that adamant and competitive love for the Colombo-centric system is investigated, understood, exposed and countered, there could be no check on the on-going genocide, no political solutions and there could be not even meaningful struggles or negotiations, the activists further said.

Mentioning the British PM calling for International Independent Investigation on his return from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet in 2013, and the UK government’s support for the UN-OHCHR investigation, the dinner hosts were reminding the British government of its moral responsibility.

“Regardless of political leadership and the regime change in Sri Lanka, the accountability process should continue until justice is delivered to the victims of these genocidal crimes committed against Tamils,” the dinner invitation said.

While appreciating the dinner hosts calling for international tribunal of the model of Rwanda and Yogoslavia, and calling for internationally monitored referendum among Tamils in the island and in the diaspora on exercising the Right to Self Determination, the activists for alternative politics in the island said that the dinner attendees should take care of the calls not going empty by missing the real root cause.

PDF: Tamil people’s right to Democracy & Justice in Sri Lanka

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Jan 262015
 
SL military assaults family man after playground dispute in Jaffna
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[TamilNet, Monday, 26 January 2015 12:45 No Comment]

The occupying Sinhala soldiers at Ellaang-ku’lam camp in Uduppiddi in Vadamaraadchi brutally assaulted a 29-year-old father of three from the same village Saturday evening around 5:15 p.m. The victim, Selvaratnam Jegan, was admitted to the Valveddiththu’rai (VVT) Hospital with serious injuries. The SL military on Sunday threatened the family not to reveal the news to media and exerted pressure on the hospital administration to send the injured patient home, news sources in VVT told TamilNet. The SL military camp at Ellang-ku’lam has been a notorious place for torture.

Jehan_Selvaratnam_03_200 Selvaratnam Jehan assaulted by Sri Lanka Army soldiers at Ellangku’lam in Uduppiddi

The Tamil youth in Ellang-ku’lam had set up a football playground after purchasing the land from a private owner for 4 million rupees.

After the Tamil youth had launched their football ground, named as Newton football ground, the occupying SL military seized a section of it for the use of Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers. The two football playgrounds were operating in parallel.

On Saturday, both the Tamil youth and the SL military were playing football in the two separate sections. When, a Tamil player, Mr Selvaratnam wanted to pick up the ball that had reached the military section of the ground, the SLA soldiers got into a dispute with him and chased him away from the playground. Selvaratnam left behind his motorbike.

Later, when he went to the SLA camp with his friends to retrieve his motorbike, the Sinhala soldiers asked him to come inside the camp to get his bike and he was brutally assaulted inside the camp. After severe injuries, his friends took him to VVT hospital.

As the news reached the public, the SLA has threatened the family not to release details to media. The SLA was exerting pressure on the staff at VVT hospital to send the injured victim home in an attempt to conceal the episode.

The camp of the SL military is situated at the site where Tamil Eelam Heroes Cemetery existed earlier. The occupying Sinhala military demolished the Heroes Cemetery (Maaveerar thuyilum illam) in 2007.

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Jan 232015
 
Singapore Principles of 2013: Tamil polity taken for ride from Oslo to Singapore

Right from the Indo-Lanka agreement of 1987 to Oslo Declaration of 2002 and to hitherto unrevealed Singapore Principles of 2013 that brought the Sampanthan polity into a conceptual framework for the recent regime change in Colombo, the external forces seeking to influence the affairs of the island have taken the Eezham Tamils for a ride to confine the Tamil polity into the unitary State of genocidal Sri Lanka without securing any concrete and descriptive guarantee from the Sinhala polity. By its latest move, the ITAK has pushed the Tamils back into the past, Tamil political observers in Jaffna said citing the so-called Singapore Principles from 2013. TamilNet brings out the text of the so-called Singapore Principles for the edification of global Tamils.

All the clauses of the so-called Singapore principles are non-descriptive with regards to a principled approach in resolving the national question.

Mr M.A. Sumanthiran, the non-elected national list ITAK parliamentarian and Mr V.T. Thamilmaran, the dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Colombo were the Tamil representatives from the island while representatives of the so-called Global Tamil Forum (GTF) were representing the Diaspora Tamils at a meeting in Singapore in 2013 when Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne came with his proposal points to agree upon a conceptual framework aimed at regime change, the removal of Executive Presidency and other arrangements targeting good governance. Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne was an adviser to Sri Lanka’s past two Presidents.

“Mangala Samaraweera came as a ‘beggar’ urging Tamil support for regime change and abolition of the executive presidency. It was 2013,” said one of the participants, reflecting on the Singapore meeting.

When Tamil aspirations came for discussion, M.A. Sumanthiran wanted to avoid the mentioning of terms such as Nation and Right to Self Determination in the document.

Only the voice of a human rights defender, a Sinhalese, representing the civil society, was in favour of a formula based on the recognition of nationhood to Tamil people with their traditional homeland in the North-East.

V.T. Thamilmaran, who was once respected for his principles on Tamil sovereignty, was silent and was talking only about good governance.

Tamil aspirations went missing in the proposal. Instead, the document was drafted with the intention of being non-descript. But, a consensus was achieved on winning Tamil voters through the TNA for the regime change.

A lawyer from Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was also represented at the meeting apart from several other representatives.

The meeting was organised by South Africa and was funded by two European countries.

The directors of South African ‘In Transformation Initiative’ Roelf Meyer, Ivor Jenkins and Mohammed Bhabha organised the meeting.

Ironically, the ‘approach’ of the South African outfit, according to its website is “premised on the philosophy that any solution to differences or even conflict must be designed, must evolve, and must be developed and settled domestically; solutions cannot be prescribed from external actors.”

The ‘Singapore principles’ was giving secondary status to religions other than the Buddhism.

The 10-points agreed between the Sampanthan polity and the regime changers including the new SL Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, at Singapore in 2013 follow:

Singapore Principles

  1. In describing the nature of the State what is important is the substance; the labels are secondary.

  2. The Constitution shall be based on basic constitutional principles and values including sovereignty of the people, participatory democracy and supremacy of the Constitution which shall form an unalterable basic structure.

  3. Power sharing shall be on the basis of self-rule and shared-rule within an undivided Sri Lanka.

  4. The Executive Presidency shall be abolished and the form of government shall be Parliamentary.

  5. The pluralist character of Sri Lankan society as well as identities and aspirations of the constituent peoples of Sri Lanka shall be constitutionally recognised.

  6. There shall be a strong and enforceable Bill of Rights consistent with universally accepted norms and standards.

  7. There shall be a separation of powers and an independence of judiciary which includes a Constitutional Court.

  8. Important institutions shall be independent and accountable. Appointments to these and High Posts shall be through a transparent mechanism that provides for a national consensus, example Constitutional Council.

  9. Institutions of the State shall reflect the pluralist character of Sri Lankan society.

  10. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a secular state. The Foremost place to Buddhism and equal status to other religions shall be assured.

* * *

The controversial paragraph of the so-called Oslo Declaration of December 2002 follows:

Responding to a proposal by the leadership of the LTTE, the parties agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. The parties acknowledged that the solution has to be acceptable to all communities. [Related story with full text]

* * *

On 11 November 2011, Mr Erik Solheim was claiming that it was the UNP politician Mr Milinda Moragoda and himself, who were behind the drafting of what he termed as ‘Oslo Declaration’ in December 2002, which was signed by Mr Ranil Wickramasinge on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and by Mr Anton Balasingham on behalf of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“It was Milinda and myself who wrote that document at the […] restaurant here in Oslo and Balasingham accepted it and he took it to Prabhakaran and Prabhakaran refused. It was not public at that time, but it was clear he was furious because he was reluctant to federalism,” Solheim said during the evaluation of the Norwegian Peace Process [Video evidence].

Mr Balasingam has recorded his version of the narrative on the subject in his book, “War and Peace: Armed Struggle and Peace Efforts of Liberation Tigers”: “[I]t must be stated that there was not any specific proclamation titled ‘Oslo Declaration’. The decision to explore federalism was included in the record of decisions at the Oslo talks and signed by the chief negotiators of both delegations and the head of the Norwegian facilitating team.” (page 403)

He further explains LTTE leader’s position that Tamils were prepared to consider favourably a political framework that offers substantial regional autonomy and self-government from the part of the Sinhala side.

But, failing the delivery of regional self-rule, the position of the LTTE leadership was that the Tamils have no alternative other than evoking the external right to self-determination. In an implied sense, Balasingham explains the objection by the LTTE leader to the exact phrasing of the paragraph in the so-called Oslo Declaration.

It was after the LTTE submitting the ISGA framework, which stressed the external dimension of the right to self-determination in its preamble and after the publishing of the War and Peace book questioning the ‘Olso Declaration,’ Mr Balasingham was brought back into the negotiations as chief negotiator by the LTTE leadership in 2006 during the Norway facilitated talks between Mahinda Rajapaksa’s GoSL and the LTTE.

While there was a leadership committed to principled political foundations, the Tamil polity had internal mechanisms to address the external manoeuvrings that sought the Tamils to abandon their principles.

But, now, the Tamil polity claiming to represent the Eezham Tamils in the homeland has no such fundamental principles or mechanisms.

The Tamil polity could be course-corrected and brought back to track only through the edification of the masses.

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Jan 232015
 
Protests erupt in Jaffna against continued militarisation, unemployment

The owners of five houses and lands that have been illegally seized by the Sri Lankan military for more than two decades at Koozhaavadi, situated on Maanippaay Road at Aanaik-koaddai in Jaffna protested on Wednesday against the attempt by Colombo to transform their lands into State property with the motive of permanently sustaining a war-time military camp, which was notorious for extra-judicial interrogations, abductions and disappearances since 1996. At the same time, unemployed graduates staged a protest in front of Jaffna District Secretariat demanding jobs.

A notorious torture cell of the Sinha Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army was operating at Koozhaavadi in Jaffna.

After issuing a gazette notification to seize the private properties where the military camp is situated, the occupying SL military got the survey department officials to undertake surveying without informing the owners of the exact timing. However, the Divisional Secretariat officials were obliged to inform the families of the date of the ‘legal appropriation’ of their properties.

Following the information, Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) organised a protest together with the landowners and the grassroots activists in Jaffna.

The SL government officials who were to hand over the lands didn’t show up and the protest concluded peacefully amidst heavy deployment of Sri Lankan police and the military.

The landowners complained that the SL military was harassing them to transfer the lands without staging any protest.

Koozhaavadi_protest_21_01_2015_03_108596_445

Protest at Koozhaavadi

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) NPC Councillor Mrs Ananthy Sasitharan, General Secretary of Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) Mr Selvarasa Kajendren, Mr Krishna, the treasurer of the TNPF, Chairman of VVT Urban Council Mr Sathees, and Deputy Chairman of Valikaamam North Divisional Council Mr Shageevan Shanmugalingam were present with the owners of the land.

In the meantime, University teachers, students and non-academic staff at the University in Jaffna are preparing for protests against EPDP appointed personalities controlling Jaffna University Council, informed TNA sources told TamilNet on Wednesday. A TNA MP has recently held meetings with the University staff.

Unemployed_graduates_protest_21_01_2015_108604_445

Unemployed graduates rally in front of Jaffna District Secretariat

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Jan 212015
 
SL military in Batticaloa continues to exploit families returned from Vanni

The Sri Lankan State and its military intelligence in Batticaloa district continue to harass 1,080 families that survived the genocidal onslaught in Vanni in 2009. The families from Batticaloa returned to their native villages situated in 10 of the 14 Divisional Secretariat divisions in the district. The DS Secretaries in these divisions have also been instructed to refuse assistance to these families by the genocidal military. There is no change in the harassments on the ground despite the ‘changes’ taking place in Colombo, the families said. Even those affected by the recent floods have been neglected in the humanitarian assistance. Women-headed families continue to complain about targeted sexual harassments by the occupying Sinhala military in Batticaloa. Two of the 10 divisions where the families have resettled, Koa’ralaippattu South and Koa’ra’laip-pattu North are worst affected.

The DS secretaries have been instructed to maintain so-called lists for ‘excluding’ these families from assistance programmes by the military-run administration of Colombo in the East.

Even though the paramilitary operatives, who have been collaborating with the occupying military are gone fearing repercussions from the people of Batticaloa, the SL military apparatus and the civil servants are still following the instructions by the military intelligence operatives in the same manner as they were doing under the Rajapaksa, civil sources in the district told TamilNet.

Some of the individuals belonging to the affected families have been converted into informants through a long process of harassment, deprivation of assistance and exploitation. The genocidal SL military has labelled the process as ‘rehabilitation’ to the outside world.

The SL military intelligence unit at Ma’la-ma’ndi camp of Koa’ra’laippattu South is an example for the case, the civil sources said. The intelligence unit is using an operative, known as Maniam, to sexually exploit the Tamil women belonging to the families in Koa’ralaippattu South (Kiraan) division, the civil sources said. Ma’lama’ndi is located 75 km west of Kiraan and 98 km northwest of Batticaloa city.

Most of these 1080 families belong to ex-LTTE members, who stood with the LTTE leadership, confronting Karuna defection in 2004 and the SL military onslaught that followed (2006 -2007) in the East. Due to the threats by the SL military and its paramilitary operatives, the families displaced to Vanni after facing the war in the East.

After the 2009 genocidal onslaught in Vanni, the incarceration of civilians in Vavuniyaa that followed and the so-called SL military rehabilitation of surviving LTTE members, the families were allowed to resettle back in the Batticaloa district. They now live in all the Tamil administrative divisions of Batticaloa district, both in Ezhuvaan-karai (East) and in Paduvaan-karai (South) areas.

The 1,080 families are resettled in the following 10 DS divisions: Koa’ra’laip-pattu North (Vaakarai), Koa’ra’laip-pattu (Vaazhaich-cheanai), Ea’raavoor-pattu (Chengkaladi), Ma’nmunai North (Batticaloa), Ma’nmunaip-pattu (Aa’raip-pattai), Ma’nmunai Then-eruvil-pattu (Ka’luvaagnchik-kudi), Paddippazhai (Kokkaddich-choalai), Poaratheevup-pattu (Vellaave’li), Ma’nmuni-West (Vavu’na-theevu).

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Jan 202015
 
UNP Batticaloa branch wants anti-people elements isolated from politics

The District Organiser of the United National Party (UNP) in Batticaloa Mr Arasaretnam Sasitharan said that a resolution has been passed at the UNP Batticaloa District Executive Committee to the effect that anti-people elements and former paramilitary operatives, who were deployed under the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, should not be absorbed into the UNP or the polity associated with the UNP in the new regime in Colombo. The resolution has named four persons who should be kept away from the politics of Maithiripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickramaisnge if UNP needs to win credibility among the Tamil public in Batticaloa district, Mr Sasitharan further said.

The decision by the UNP Batticaloa Branch comes as the people of Ampaa’rai launched protests against B.H. Piyasena, who was elected on TNA ticket and crossed over to Rajapaksa’s UPFA. There were also spontaneous protests against the UPFA-associated paramilitary operatives such as Iniyabarathy in the Ampaa’rai district. More than 3,000 people rounded up the house of the paramilitary operative Iniyabarathy on 10 January at Thirukkoayil and the UPFA councillor in the Eastern Provincial Council had to escape with the help of the Sri Lankan Police.

The Batticaloa Branch UNP resolution states that former deputy minister and paramilitary operative Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, former chief minister and paramilitary operative Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, former UNP politician Seyed Ali Zahir Moulana, who joined Rajpaksa’s UPFA after resigning from the UNP and Kanapathipillai Mohan, who was formerly associated with Chandrakanthan.

Mr Mohan competes with Mr Sasitharan to claim the post of District Organiser of the UNP in Batticaloa.

Ali Zahir Mouland is currently the chair of Ea’raavor Urban Council representing the Rajapaksa’s UPFA, which has now come under the control of Sirisena-led UPFA. He was a key person in assisting the renegade LTTE commander Karuna to collaborate with Colombo’s intelligence and UNP government during the times of the Norway-brokered Ceasefire Agreement. Mr Moulana has also worked at the Sri Lankan Embassy in USA.

Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan is a UPFA councillor in the Eastern Provincial Council. He has sought ‘security’ from the new regime in Colombo.

In the meantime, paramilitary operative Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, who is yet to officially hand over his ministerial responsibilities to the newly appointed minister in Colombo, has said that he is supporting the newly elected SL president Maithiripala Sirisena.

Ranil Wickramasinghe and other UNP politicians in the South have been claiming ‘credit’ for causing dissension within the LTTE in the Eastern Province by causing Karuna defection and transforming the renegade Tiger commanders into paramilitary operatives in order to weaken the LTTE.

Mr Wickrasinghe has also claimed that it was the UNP that brought the so-called international safety net, spearheaded by the USA, which enabled Colombo to crush the armed struggle of the Eezham Tamils under Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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Jan 162015
 
Extra-government authority to supersede government in Colombo

Tamil ‘National’ Alliance Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan and genocidal Sri Lanka’s former military commander Sarath Fonseka, who led the onslaught during the war, being together in a superseding extra-government authority constituted in Colombo would mean nullifying genocide investigation and even war crime investigation, as well as endorsing the unitary Sri Lankan State of US-Indian interests, commented Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island, responding to SL president Maithiripala Sirisena, constituting a 11-member ‘National Executive Council’ that would be superseding his newly formed cabinet. The TNA earlier said that it would not participate in the SL government’s cabinet. But, now Mr Sampanthan is a member of a Colombo-centric arrangement, higher than the cabinet.

On Thursday, Colombo’s President Maithiripala Sirisena announced the formation of the ‘National Executive Council’ (NEC) to ensure the implementation of his 100-day plan.

Even though not said openly, the NEC would have more powers than the cabinet, informed sources said.

Along with the TNA, the Sinhala extremist JHU and JVP representatives are also members of the NEC.

“The JVP and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has said they will not accept portfolios and join the government, but will participate in the National Executive Council to implement the 100 day program and bring about the promised change by President Sirisena,” said news.lk, the official news portal of the Colombo government on Friday.

The members of the high-profile authority are: SL President Maithiripala Sirisena, SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Venerable Sobitha Thera, former SL President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, TNA leader R. Sampanthan, Mano Ganeshan, the president of the Democratic People’s Front. Rauf Hakim, the president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Risath Badurdeen, the president of the Sri Lanka Makkal Congress, Sarath Fonseka, the president of National Democratic Front, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the leader of the JVP and Pattali Champika Ranawake, the leader of the Jathika Hela Urumaya.

The mission of the NEC is to review the government’s 100 day working programme, amendments of the SL Constitution, malpractices and unlawful practices carried out in the presidential election and appropriation of lands, not only in the North and East but also in the entire island, and take appropriate decisions and hand over to the cabinet, said sources close to the TNA.

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Jan 162015
 
New Tamil-Muslim equation engineered for Colombo-centric agenda

Negotiations are under way for bringing in a new alliance among the political forces of Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims in the North and East that are orientated for collaboration with the Washington – New Delhi – Sinhala State agenda, reconfirming the Colombo-centric genocidal State, informed sources told TamilNet. This follows the electoral engineering in the island in which Tamils victimised in the US-designed war ending in genocide and Muslims internationally at loggerheads with the US views of imperialism were brought together to vote for a regime change that has put the USA at the helm of affairs. The follow-up ‘ground operations’ now take place in the North and East provincial councils and the first victim is likely to be the EPDP, which would be losing its opposition leadership in the NPC to Rishard Badurdeen’s All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), the sources further said.

ACMC councillor Abbas Abdul Rifkhan is expected to be appointed as the new opposition leader of the NPC, the informed sources said.

The controversial SL minister Risath Badurdeen, who is the brother of Abbas Abdul Rifkhan, has completed the negotiations with the new regime to appoint his brother as the opposition leader of the NPC. The formal submission will be done by the UPFA General Secretary to the NPC, the sources further said.

The UPFA, including the EPDP and the ACMC, is having 7 seats and the SLMC is having one seat in the Northern Provincial Council.

Of the UPFA councillors, Mr Thavanathan and Mr Thavarasa are from the EPDP, Angajan Ramandan and two Sinhalese from Vavuniyaa are from the SLFP.

Currently, EPDP’s Sinnathurai Thavarasa is holding the position of the opposition leader. Thavarasa was brought in last year after the EPDP had to suspend the party membership of the previous opposition leader, Kandasamy Kamalendran, who was arrested as a suspect in a murder case.

In the meantime, sources in the East said that negotiations were under way to bring in SLMC-led governance of the EPC with the backing of UPFA councillors.

10 TNA Councillors are in the opposition of the EPC. 7 SLMC councillors were with the 14 UPFA councillors forming the governance of the EPC under the Rajapaksa regime till the SLMC left the UPFA ahead of the SL presidential elections.

As the new SL president Maithiripala Sirisena has gained the control of the UPFA, the SLMC has sought UPFA’s backing to allow it as the main ruling party in the EPC, the sources said. TNA has also been seeking the UPFA to gain control of the EPC.

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Jan 152015
 
Pope Francis at Madu: ‘Our Lady remained always with you’

Pope Francis on Wednesday paid a pilgrimage to Madu shrine, which is the famous pilgrim centre of Tamil Catholics, where even the Sinhalese Catholics of the western coast, who were Tamils a century ago, flock in for festivals. “No Sri Lankan can forget the tragic events associated with this very place, or the sad day when the venerable statue of Mary, dating to the arrival of the earliest Christians in Sri Lanka, was taken away from her shrine. But Our Lady remained always with you. She is the mother of every home, of every wounded family, of all who are seeking to return to a peaceful existence,” the Pope said. Tamils who came in large numbers from all parts of the island appreciated his call for ‘truth’ in making peace. They also appreciated his call for harmony without forsaking the identity of the peoples, whether ethnic or religious.

Pope_Francis_Madu_TN_01_108519_445

Earlier, on Tuesday, when Pope Francis was welcomed by the newly elected Sri Lankan President in Colombo, the visiting Pope urged the SL President to seek reconciliation and truth. “The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity,” Pope Francis observed.

The Pope told a gathering of inter-religious leaders on Tuesday: “Men and women do not have to forsake their identity, whether ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony.”

Pope Francis visited Madu on Wednesday after the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz as the first saint of the island at Galle Face. Religious dignitaries from all faiths were invited to the event, which was attended by thousands of people.

Pope_Francis_Madu_TN_03_108527_445

When he visited Mannaar on Wednesday, the Pope was making frequent stops to bless the people who were standing along the one km way from Thadchana-Marutha-Madu, where he landed in helicopter, till he reached the Madu Shrine.

Around 600,000 people, both Tamils and Sinhalese, visited Madu on Wednesday, according to Sri Lankan police officers.

Most of the Sinhala Catholics, who make pilgrimage to Madu, were Tamils three or four generations ago. They come from the coastal areas of Northwestern and Western Provinces. All along the western coast, up to Colombo, there were traditional villages of Tamil Christians.

On Tuesday, kith and kin of missing people in North staged a demonstration in Vavuniyaa urging the visiting Pope to address their plight with the Sri Lankan State. They joined the visitors to Madu on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Sinhala school children were sent with some Sri Lankan flags from North Central Province.

Catholic priests talking to TamilNet said both Vatican and Colombo were very keen in maintaining the visit as a religious pilgrimage. The Mannaar Diocese was under pressure not to give any particular space for victims of the conflict seeking justice for their missing kith and kin.

Five selected disabled people were individually blessed by Pope Francis at one of the last rituals at Madu on Wednesday.

The Sri Lankan military and police were deployed in large numbers making a subtle claim that it was the Sri Lankan government, which was behind all the arrangements. The SL policemen were also marking each visitor entering the Madu Shrine with a unique number tag.

Blue uniformed security personnel from Colombo were seen everywhere. SL military intelligence personnel were also seen in blue uniforms.

Parliamentarians, chief ministers of Northern and North Central Province, government officials and people belonging to all walks of life were kept at a distance away from the stage where Pope Francis addressed the gathering.

The address was translated into Tamil and Sinhala. ‘Sri Lanka’ was cited as ‘Ilangkai’ in the Tamil the Tamil translation.

Pope_Francis_Madu_TN_11_108559_445

* * *

Our_Lady_of_Madu

Our Lady of Madu

The origin of the icon of Our Lady of Madu, go back to the times of the advent of Catholic Christianity in Mannaar.

Contrary to the impression of many, Christianity hasn’t come into Tamil heritage with the advent of the Portuguese. It had come long before, almost at the time of the birth of Christianity in West Asia. It made an impact and survived in the old Tamil society, the descendents of which are the Syrian Christians of Malabar.

Also Read: 03.04.2008 The temporal and spiritual conquest of Tamils: Mahinda’s book of dreams

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Full text of the address by Pope Francis at Madu follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are in our Mother’s house. Here she welcomes us into her home. At this shrine of Our Lady of Madu, every pilgrim can feel at home, for here Mary brings us into the presence of her Son Jesus. Here Sri Lankans, Tamil and Sinhalese alike, come as members of one family. To Mary they commend their joys and sorrows, their hopes and needs. Here, in her home, they feel safe. They know that God is very near; they feel his love; they know his tender mercy.

There are families here today which suffered greatly in the long conflict, which tore open the heart of Sri Lanka. Many people, from north and south alike, were killed in the terrible violence and bloodshed of those years. No Sri Lankan can forget the tragic events associated with this very place, or the sad day when the venerable statue of Mary, dating to the arrival of the earliest Christians in Sri Lanka, was taken away from her shrine.

But, Our Lady remained always with you. She is the mother of every home, of every wounded family, of all who are seeking to return to a peaceful existence. Today we thank her for protecting the people of Sri Lanka from so many dangers, past and present. Mary never forgot her children on this resplendent island. Just as she never left the side of her Son on the Cross, so she never left the side of her suffering Sri Lankan children.

Today we want to thank Our Lady for that presence. In the wake of so much hatred, violence and destruction, we want to thank her for continuing to bring us Jesus, who alone has the power to heal open wounds and to restore peace to broken hearts. But we also want to ask her to implore for us the grace of God’s mercy. We ask also for the grace to make reparation for our sins and for all the evil, which this land has known.

It is not easy to do this. Yet only when we come to understand, in the light of the Cross, the evil we are capable of, and have even been a part of, can we experience true remorse and true repentance. Only then can we receive the grace to approach one another in true contrition, offering and seeking true forgiveness. In this difficult effort to forgive and find peace, Mary is always here to encourage us, to guide us, to lead us. Just as she forgave her Son’s killers at the foot of his Cross, then held his lifeless body in her hands, so now she wants to guide Sri Lankans to greater reconciliation, so that the balm of God’s pardon and mercy may bring true healing to all.

Finally, we want to ask Mother Mary to accompany with her prayers the efforts of Sri Lankans from both Tamil and Sinhalese speaking communities to rebuild the unity, which was lost. Just as her statue came back to her shrine of Madu after the war, so we pray that all her Sri Lankan sons and daughters may come home to God in a renewed spirit of reconciliation and fellowship.

Dear brothers and sisters, I am happy to be with you in Mary’s house. Let us pray for one another. Above all, let us ask that this shrine may always be a house of prayer and a haven of peace. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Madu, may all people find here inspiration and strength to build a future of reconciliation, justice and peace for all the children of this beloved land.

Amen!

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Ministerial Security Division personnel and SL military intelligence personnel in blue uniform

TamilNet: 14.01.15 Pope Francis at Madu: ‘Our Lady remained always with you’

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