Apr 202014
 
Sri Lanka’s vehicle registrations in March rose 16 percent to 26,921 units over February, though the increase was mainly due to the less number of days and more holidays in February, according to a monthly analysis of vehicle registrations by research and stock brokerage firm, JB Securities Limited.

JB Securities Limited CEO Murtaza Jafferjee said, despite the increase, Sri Lanka’s vehicle registrations remained almost stagnant in March as the Year-on-Year basis growth of total vehicle registrations stood at mere 3.0 percent.

However, the analysis showed that many categories of vehicles including motor cars, three-wheelers and two-wheelers have recorded an increase in registrations during the month.

Motor car registrations were up by 208 units to 1,694 in March out of which brand new cars accounted for 552 and 1,142 pre-owned cars.

“Of the total, hybrids account for 894 units – 559 units from Toyota (Aqua and Prius) and 327 units from Honda (Fit),” the report noted.

Only 57 units of premium branded cars were registered in March, lower than in February (76) and a year ago (101).

“The only notable item to report is 4 Mercedes Benz 400s that have been registered. They could be CHOGM cars. They were initially offered at Rs.30 million, I am told the price has been dropped to Rs 25 million,” said Jafferjee.

Registration of SUVs too dropped to 333 units from 362 units in February. Among the brands registered were 53 units of Mitsubishi (30 Monteros), 103 Toyotas (63 Prado) and 47 units of Kia (41 Sorentos).

There were 146 vans registered in March, down from 150 in February and 273 units a year ago, seemingly due to extremely higher import taxes. “I reiterate that the government must reconsider the ridiculously high tariffs on vans, especially diesel that constitutes 300 percent,” he opined.

Meanwhile the three-wheeler category recorded 6,014 registrations, higher than February’s 5,264 but lower than 6,864 a year ago. Jafferjee believes this category has reached its saturation point.

“I am told that finance companies are experiencing stress in this segment, holding back credit and/or offering lower loan to value ratios,” he added.

Motorcycle registrations rose to15,965 in March against 13,717 in February.

“118 Yamaha 600cc motorbikes have been registered following 158 units in February – supposed to be bikes brought down for CHOGM,” he further said.

Meanwhile, despite the ‘finance share’ or the vehicles financed either by way of bank loan or leasing increased in motor cars, SUVs and two-wheelers from a year earlier. Jafferjee declined to associate it with the falling market rates.

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Nov 232013
 
Australian PM’s conduct at CHOGM shameful: Bishop Pat Power
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[TamilNet, Saturday, 23 November 2013 09:21 No Comment]

As Australian media on Friday reported that 79 Tamil asylum seekers were being sent back to Colombo amidst the controversial ties between the Sri Lankan Government and the Australian Government were further exposed in ‘Sri Lanka CHOGM’ last week, Canberra-based retired Bishop Pat Power, long an outspoken critic of Rome, has criticised both the Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbot and the Catholic Church on the controversial Sri Lanka policy.

It could be argued that Australia should have followed the lead of Canada and India in boycotting CHOGM because of the manifest injustices still being perpetrated in Sri Lanka. But once part of the meeting, it is shameful to see Prime Minister Tony Abbott pretending that everything in the garden is rosy, Bishop Pat Power has said noting that Mr Abbott wanted to use CHOGM as an opportunity to join with his Sri Lankan counterpart in planning joint strategies to stem the tide of refugees fleeing to Australia.

In an article published in Ballarat Courier on Friday, Bishop Power also said: “The Catholic Church is having to face up to the consequences of having turned a blind eye for 40 years or more to all kinds of abuse within its ranks. As a result, the suffering of the innocents continued far longer than it should have.”

“I hope that this shameful episode in my church’s history will have powerful lessons in relation to the politics of denial,” Bishop Pat Power said.

“There is no doubt the Tamil Tigers were at times guilty of criminal behaviour during the civil war, but to brand the whole Tamil population with that broad brush is similar to the tactic employed by the Israeli authorities in blackening the name of innocent Palestinians while practising all kinds of injustices against that minority people,” Bishop Power said.

“All my sources tell me that countless innocent citizens are still being subjected to a reign of terror, with every effort being made by the government to prevent the media reporting the atrocities.”

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Nov 232013
 
Family of Tamil activist threatened in Mannaar after ‘Sri Lanka CHOGM’

Sri Lankan Military Intelligence operatives have threatened the wife of a Tamil activist in Mannaar, while she was at her house with her 2 months old baby and a 5-year-old child on Thursday. Her husband, Jude Bashil Sosai (Sunesh) was at forefront in the demonstration held in Jaffna on 15 November demanding the attention by the visiting British PM David Cameron. The threat by alleged SL military operatives was reported on Thursday when Mr Sunesh was on his way to attend a meeting in Colombo. The president of the Citizens’ Committee of Mannaar District, Rev. Fr. E. Sebamalai, in a letter addressed to SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa on behalf of the citizens’ committee, on Friday said the Committee suspected Sri Lankan armed forces for the threat issued on Mannaar District Coordinator of National Fisheries Society Organization (NAFSO) Mr Sunesh and his family.

A few unknown persons, believed to be SL military intelligence operatives, knocked at the door of the house of Mr Sunesh on Thursday and shouted “ado Sunesh come out”. The fear-stricken wife of Mr Sunesh kept herself and the children silent inside the house. After a few minutes, one of the operatives tried to peep through by tearing the canvas over the grill, the letter by the Citizens’ Committe said.

One of the operatives then dialled to Sunesh and asked him to come out saying that they were waiting for him in front of his house.

On Friday, the Citizens’ Committee took up the matter, staging a protest, which went from St. Sebastian Church to the office of the Deputy Inspector General of the SL Police.

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The protestors then proceeded to the District Secretariat and handed over the appeal of the Citizens’ Committee to SL Government Agent Ms Stanley de Mel.

“The security excesses, CID threats and intimidations continue to be the order of the day and civil routine almost daily,” the letter by the Citizens’ Committee said adding that the civil organisations and their workers face “threats and intimidations by various types from the Intelligence side varying from warning to telephone threats, extortion and intimidation.”

PDF: Letter by Mannaar Citizens’ Committee

The Citizens’ Committee also pointed out that the SL military and its ‘security’ forces had blocked the people from attending the Human Rights Festival, which took place in Sri Kotha in Colombo. The people were waylaid at Medawachchiya and Madu Road at Kaddai Adampan and turned back.

The relatives of missing persons, while peacefully demonstrating and demanding the visiting British PM to witness their plight, were attacked by the Sri Lankan Police, the letter by Fr. E. Sebamalai stated, also noting that Catholic Priests with the civilians too were manhandled.

22_11_2013_Mannaar_03_105546_445

Rt. Reverend Rayappu Joseph, the Bishop of Mannaar Diocese, was present at the demonstration, which was also attended by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian S. Vino Nokarathalingam, Northern Provincial Council (NPC) minister of health and indigenous medicine P Sathiyalingam, NPC minister of fisheries and transport B. Deniswaran, NPC member Primus Sirayva, President of Missing Persons Association in Mannaar S. Britto, NAFSO Coordinator S. Jesudasan, Catholic priests and the members of Women Rights Group in Mannaar.

22_11_2013_Mannaar_02_105542_445

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Nov 202013
 
Reports of disappearances surface in wake of Sri Lanka CHOGM
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[TamilNet, Wednesday, 20 November 2013 09:08 No Comment]

A 35-year-old Tamil activist, who was actively involved in mobilising support to the victory of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the Provincial Council elections, has been reported missing since Friday in Ki’linochchi. Meanwhile, in Jaffna, an alert public apprehended two culprits, allegedly operated by the occupying Sri Lankan military, when the squad attempted to abduct a 21-year-old Tamil girl in broad daylight on Hospital Road in Jaffna on Monday. When the public caught the two Sinhala-speaking operatives, tens of occupying Sri Lankan soldiers and policemen protected the squad and assaulted the civilians, who had caught the abductors. The fate of another woman recently abducted by a similar squad at Punnaalaik-kadduvan in Jaffna is not known.

Eyewitnesses who were present at the junction, where the two alleged military operatives were caught in Jaffna, said they saw sharp weapons, ropes, blindfold and wires inside the blue-colour Hiace van (reg. no. 500-1173).

The SL military operatives have been blamed for abducting ex-LTTE female members who have been released after detention by the SL military.

The man reported missing in Ki’linochchi is Sivakumaran Baskaran, who is a native of Koozhaavadi village in Uruththirapuram.

He was last seen at Ki’linochchi Central Bus stand Friday morning when he was on his way to Ka’ndaava’lai.

Sivakumaran is a grassroots activist supporting the TNA, according to Tamil parliamentarian S. Sritharan from Ki’linochchi district.

Following the recent NPC elections in which the Tamil people rejected the rule by Colombo, the intelligence operatives of the SL military have been threatening the grassroots activists, who were behind the mass mobilisation. Several activists have displaced to escape the prying eyes of the SL military.

The affected people are reluctant to lodge complaints or reveal the identities of those being targeted in fear of further reprisals.

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Nov 202013
 
Indian Foreign Secretary thanks Sampanthan for Jaffna invitation to Indian PM

Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh who accompanied Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, when she met the Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians last Wednesday repeatedly thanked R Sampanthan, MA Sumanthiran and Suresh Premachandran of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for having extended an invitation to the Indian PM to visit the island appreciating the ‘usefulness’ of the invitation that had coincided with the controversial Indian delegation’s attendance to the CHOGM, informed sources within the TNA told TamilNet on Monday.

The invitation extended to the Indian PM by the Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister Mr CV Wigneswaran, was interpreted by a section of Tamil media as a move in ‘connivance’ with the diplomatic sections in New Delhi that wanted to counter the unified call from Tamil Nadu State that was demanding full Indian boycott of the Sri Lanka CHOGM.

Following the controversy, Mr Wigneswaran went on record explaining that the invitation was meant to be interpreted as a request to Indian PM to visit North on ‘any future occasion of his visit to the island’ and that there was no specific reference to the CHOGM in his invitation.

The exact content of the invitation has not been revealed to the constituting parties of the TNA or to any politicians except the Wigneswaran-trio, the TNA sources further said.

“Faced with a lack of Sri Lankan Tamil consensus, Indian diplomacy had last month prevailed on the recently elected chief minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, to write to the [Indian] Prime Minister inviting him to Jaffna coinciding with the CHOGM,” The Telegraph India reported on November 14.

“Anticipating such a Jaffna visit, the Indian high commission in Colombo was fully geared for what would have been a historic trip to the Tamil heartland by the Prime Minister,” the report said adding that “[i]nternal opinion in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) was that Manmohan Singh should fly first to Jaffna and address a huge public meeting of Tamils there.”

“Some MEA officials were of the view that it would have replicated a public meeting in Calcutta by Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev in 1955 during a visit by the Soviet leaders that showed the way for future ties with Moscow,” the Telegraph India said elaborating further: “They argued, with diminishing feedback from the political leadership, that with Jaffna Tamil sentiment solidly behind him, the Prime Minister would then have arrived at the CHOGM as a champion of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, which was how New Delhi was viewed before the Indian Peacekeeping Force was sent to the island by Rajiv Gandhi.”

However, as Tamil Nadu’s protest prevailed at least to the level of blocking Indian PM’s attendance to the CHOGM, the ‘Jaffna show’ was stolen by the visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had to issue an ultimatum giving a limited ‘time and space’ to the Sri Lankan State till the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2014, political observers in the island said.

External Links:

The Telegraph: Diplomacy salvages Lanka fiasco Sujatha meets Tamil leaders

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Nov 182013
 
Uprooted Tamils in Trincomalee demand justice for genocide

A section of uprooted Tamil families from Champoor, now staying at one of four so-called welfare centres in Trincomalee, staged a protest on Saturday carrying slogans that demanded justice for genocide and urged global attention on the continued refusal by the Colombo government in allowing them to resettle in their own lands in Moorthoor East. On Friday, a day before the protest, the occupying Sri Lankan military intelligence operatives, went on a house-to-house and camp-to-camp round instructing the Tamils not to take part in any protest during the ‘Sri Lanka CHOGM’. Subsequently, the protest was held in the premises of Ki’liveddi camp. The SL police who came to the Ki’liveddi camp on Saturday confronted the protestors and said they should not carry any placards with slogans. However, the uprooted people were firm in staging their protest with the presence of Tamil politicians.

Champoor_16_11_2013_17_105498_445 The Tamil councillors present at the protest told media that they backed the event amidst the prevailing harassments to pass a message to the global community that Eezham Tamils are languishing in East while the heads of Commonwealth meet in Colombo was giving undue recognition to a State that has committed genocide on Eezham Tamils.

The uprooted people have not even provided refugee relief allowance for the last several months, the TNA councilors told local media.

When events of global significance, such as the CHOGM meet in Colombo or the Human Rights Council Sessions in Geneva, a few uprooted people were hurriedly relocated from camps or elsewhere to some of their occupied villages, but they were not provided any meaningful assistance to resettle or resume their livelihoods, the Tamil councillors said.

During the recent Geneva session, 89 families were brought to Kooniththeevu, 139 familes to Navaratnapuram and 87 families to Choodaik-kudaa. Now, 8 months have passed, the families are still languishing as before. The people have no means to travel to their village as the road runs through Champoor, which is occupied by the SL military.

“This is a systematic structural genocide. Without justice for the Tamil genocide, there will be no permanent solution. Now, with Sri Lanka CHOGM in Colombo, the international community and even the visiting journalists to Colombo have completely forgotten the East,” a councillor of the Eastern Provincial Council said.

Seven Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians and most of the Tamil councillors in the opposition of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) from the three districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampaa’rai came together to the protest led by the opposition leader S. Thandauthapan. TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan was present there with TNA parliamentarians from East Pon. Selvarasa, P. Ariyanethiran, and S. Yogeswaran and the MPs from other districts S. Sritharan, Selvam Adaikkalanathan together with the national list MP MA Sumanthiran.

Former MPs Thuraratnasingam and K. Thurairasasingham (now a councilor in the EPC) were also present at the protest with EPC members of TNA from Trincomalee, K. Nageswaran and J. Jegatheesan and from Batticaloa G. Karunaharan, N. Indirakumar (Prasanna), R. Thurairetnam, and M. Nadarasa and M. Irajeswaran and T. Kalaiyarasan from Ampaa’rai.

Champoor uprooted Tamils are now held in four camps, Manat-cheanai, Paddith-thidal, Ki’liveddi and Kaddaipa’richchaan since 2006.

There are more than 2,500 families consisting of at least 6,500 people, who are forced to stay in camps or elsewhere with their relatives and friends, a TNA MP told TamilNet on Saturday.

The SL militarization and so-called ‘economic zone’ of occupation has rendered the people of 22 villages in Moothoor East in a worse situation than during the times of the war, the MP further said.

“The people are denied of the freedom of expression. Just a few hours before Ms Navanetham Pillay was about to visit these camps, vociferous persons in these camps were taken into custody by the military,” a TNA councillor reminded.

On Saturday, the TNA leader R. Sampanthan present at the site told the SL police that there was no need for the organizers to seek prior permission to stage peaceful gatherings of religious nature.

The special squad of the occupying Sri Lanka Police trying to block the gathering was arguing that the protestors should not hold placards publicly. The SL Police OIC MA Naufer was claiming that the uprooted people were standing in ‘state land’ while protesting.

However, the presence of TNA parliamentarians provided the space for the people to raise their slogans despite their criticism that TNA MPs only visit them on occasions of global significance apart from when they visit them seeking votes.

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Nov 182013
 
Sri Lanka’s war-crimes culpability raised in Australian Parliament

Lee Rhiannon, a Greens Party Senator from New South Wales, during a debate in the Australian parliament following her return from Sri Lanka on the eve of the Commonwealth meeting [CHOGM], said that the situation in the NorthEast under Mahinda Rajapakse regime is dire, that the Sri Lanka army’s involvement in civilian life is pervasive and Australia is turning a blind eye to credible allegations of continuing torture, rape and crimes against humanity reported by respected Rights groups and by several video documentaries from Channel-4. Rhiannon pointed out the increasingly voiced broad consensus from several countries for an international investigations into the war-crimes by the Rajapakse regime, and praised the CHOGM boycott of several Prime Ministers in spotlighting the Sri Lanka’s continuing dismal rights record and lack of accountabililty for war-crimes.

PDF: Rhiannon speech in Australian parliament

Rhiannonx100 Rhiannon described the boycott of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mauritius Prime Minister, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, and also Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, were brave acts that have exposed the inevitability of Sri Lanka having to account for the committed crimes during the war.

Rhiannon said she visited Sri Lanka as she wanted “to be the voice the Australian government has refused to be to help amplify the voice that speaks of the horrendous human rights abuses that the Sri Lankan government is involved in—the voice that is part of a growing international call for an independent investigation into the war crimes committed during the brutal civil war in which more than 40,000 Tamils were killed in just five months in 2009.

“I have campaigned on these issues for many years now, but seeing them firsthand elevated my concerns about the worrying situation so many people live in in that country, particularly the women. I traveled widely and met a range of people, particularly members of parliament, members of provincial councils, religious leaders and community leaders. I am not giving the names of all these people, because after I was detained I became more concerned about people’s safety, even though many of the people said they were happy for me to use their names, Rhiannon said.

She added a Catholic father who has documented the details of more than 2000 people disappeared after being arrested alive had told her that crimes that have been committed and those that continue to be perpetrated amount to genocide against the Tamils.

The Senator said that she is astonished that Australia continues to defend the Sri Lankan government’s line that there are no human rights and legal rights abuses taking place in Sri Lanka.

She added that the relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka is unhealthy, and added that there is perception that there might be a deal between the two governments where the Australian government does not criticize the Sri Lankan human rights record, and in return Australian officials like those in the Australian Federal Police and ASIO work out of the high commission assisting the Sri Lankan government to stop the boats.

In a recent trip to Sri Lanka, Rhiannon and New Zealand MP, Jan Logie, were detained in Sri Lanka, interrogated, and released on condition that they do not talk to journalists.

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