Other News

More news for your entertainment

We should all make documentation of torture a global priority

Following state issued by International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims ( IRCT), a pioneering organisation on torture prevention and victims' reparation, on the occasion of  International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Today, on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the IRCT calls on everyone – states, the international community, and civil society – to make documentation of torture a global human rights priority. Torture is one of the gravest crimes and it is our collective obligation to investigate it, document it and expose it wherever we meet it.

Effective documentation of torture is essential for victims to have evidence of the wrongs done to them, to seek justice and gain rehabilitation, to identify victims in places of detention and to ensure that torture victims claiming asylum get the support and protection they are entitled to. Nevertheless, quality documentation practices are as rare as they are important.

To address this, the IRCT has teamed up with other prominent anti-torture NGOs and UN experts to update the global standards for documentation and investigation of torture established in the Istanbul Protocol almost two decades ago. The Istanbul Protocol guides medical, legal and other professionals on how to document and investigate torture with a specific focus on forensic medical and psychological examinations of victims.

The 2020 edition of the Protocol incorporates 20 years of lessons learned and best practices as well as advancements in law, medicine, and science. It introduces guidance to health professionals on their role in various settings and on how to implement the Protocol more effectively.

“It is inspiring to help lead this truly worldwide effort involving dozens of IRCT members and over 180 experts from 51 countries who have invested thousands of hours to make our tools to fight torture more effective,” said James Lin, IRCT’s Istanbul Protocol Programme Coordinator.

This project is led by representatives of four civil society organisations (IRCT, Physicians for Human Rights, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and REDRESS) and the four principal UN anti-torture bodies (UN Committee against Torture, UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture).

“Quality documentation has a significant positive impact on the lives of many of the victims we support. It enables them to tell their story and get recognition and justice for the wrongs done to them. With the updated Istanbul Protocol, we will work with health and legal professionals around the world to make sure that more victims can access this essential support”, said Asger Kjaerum, Director of Advocacy.

Sri Lanka: Sirisena signs four death penalties

Expressed disagreement with proposed ACSA & SOFA defence agreements with the USA

Sri Lankan President Miathripala Sirisena said before the selected Media Heads in the country, that he has signed the execution of four persons sentenced to death over drug offences & it will be carried out soon.

Meanwhile, he assured that he will follow any decision taken by the SLFP with regards to contesting for the next Presidential Elections.

While admitting the President says that there is political instability in the country & said it is a result of the 19th amendment.

“Whoever comes to power from the next Presidential Election, should take steps to abolish the 19th amendment, if he loves the country,” he suggested

However, in 2015 he was bagged about the 19th constitutional amendment and asked entire country to support it. Click here to watch the video of his speech in the Parliament.

Meanwhile, during the meeting with the media heads, carefully selected by the Media Division of the President Sirisena, he has confirmed that he is against the signing of proposed ACSA & SOFA defence agreements with the USA.

While commenting on Parliamentary Select Committee, which is “investigating” the Easter Sunday Bombings, President Sirisena identified it as a political drama of Temple Tress.

Wahhabism is not Islam

Islam encourages all faiths to intermingle and integrate among themselves. Islam teaches respect and love between all communities and religions. Islam encourages peace and advancement 

by Imtiaz Thaha

The shattering of peace

Easter Sunday seemed to be another peaceful day in Sri Lanka. Then suddenly there was pandemonium as five bombs exploded and a carefully-planned ISIS-oriented bombing resulted in nearly 300 lives being lost to the deadly bombs with scores of people injured. The ISIS had struck in Sri Lanka this time.

The killers were suicide bombers and of Sri Lankan ethnicity. In a matter of hours, the authorities identified the killers as Sri Lankan Muslims belonging to the National Thawheed Jamaat. Suddenly the Sri Lankan Muslims who were hitherto a very peaceful people were now looked upon as merciless killers. Every Muslim was now a suspect and was fearful of communal backlash and riots. A very scary time for them as the majority community looked at them with suspicion and hatred.

How did the Muslims who were a peaceful people get entangled in this mess? They were less than 10% of the population and could be victimised and targeted so very easily. The mobs were screaming for blood. The Government imposed a curfew to contain the situation. It was however a Christian Cardinal who addressed the nation on mainstream media who saved the day and brought about, at least a temporary stop to the mobs running riot. It was his flock that had paid the price. The dead were mostly Christians and foreigners.

Sadly, none of the Muslim politicians or even the President or the Prime Minister or the Cabinet Ministers were able to appease the mobs so that they wouldn’t attack and loot the Muslims. This was however successfully accomplished by the Cardinal with his clever approach.

It would take time for the people and mainly the majority race to find out that these killers were not Muslims who followed Islam, but a group known as the Wahhabis or Salafis with their peculiar brand of interpreting Islam. In this article I shall try to show that the Muslims have nothing to do with Wahhabism, that Wahhabism is not Islam. Islam is against and has always been against Wahhabism.

Islam is a tolerant religion and Wahhabism seeks to terrorise. Islam does not compel others to embrace it. Wahhabism destroys all those opposed to it. Islam seeks to live a good life and Wahhabism seeks to restrict it. Islam respects other religions while the Wahhabis seek the destruction of all ideologies other than theirs. Islam seeks beauty and culture, but the Wahhabis want to destroy all culture, art and civilisation. I can go on and on about the difference in ideologies but suffice it shall be for now.

Islam encourages all faiths to intermingle and integrate among themselves. Islam teaches respect and love between all communities and religions. Islam encourages peace and advancement. Wahhabism is just the opposite of this. The Wahhabis do not tolerate anyone belonging to another faith and treat them like enemies.

My purpose in writing this article is to be able to differentiate between Islam and Wahhabism and to deal with each as they deserve. Let’s start with the very roots and see how far this cancer has eaten into society. Wahhabism is trying to pervert Islam to bring disrepute to it. They want Islam to be hated and made into a terrorist belief so that their political agendas are met. Let’s trace their beginnings and look into their beliefs and ideology in order to understand their motives and plan.

The fanatic – The roots of present-day Wahhabism

It all began with Ibn Taymiyyah. The Wahhabis get their ideology from him. They refer to Ibn Taymiyyah as Sheikh Ul Islam. His full name was Ahmad Ibn Abdul Halim Ibn Abdul Salam Ibn Taymiyyah, he was born in 1263 in Harran, Turkey about 600 years after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sal). He died in 1328, aged 65 in Damascus, Syria. This was during the beginning of the Ottoman Empire, which reached great heights due to Islam, as it carried the banner of Islam during this time and which was officially established in 1299. Eturgul and his son Othman, the founders of the Ottoman Empire, lived during his time.

Ibn Taymiyyah was a person who liked to be different and was known for his peculiar and alien beliefs. He was disliked by the mainstream scholars of his time for trying to forge a new ideology that was opposed to the accepted views on Islam, well founded by a rich heritage of Scholars.

We are told that all the Sunni Scholars (the two main divisions in Islam were the Sunnis and Shiites) of that time signed a document that he was preaching harmful and destructive practices and requested that he be put to death. He was accused of spoiling the faith of the Muslims of the time and corrupting Islam. All the Four Schools (Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali Schools of Jurisprudence) of Thought at that time opposed him.

Although the death sentence was not carried out by the Governor of Damascus, Ibn Taymiyyah was jailed for life. He miserably failed to establish his destructive and hate ridden School of Thought and it failed in totality. It was observed that this man was a fanatic and his teachings included intolerance and violence and many were the books written by scholars from both Damascus and Egypt refuting these teachings of his. Thankfully it died a natural death during his time.

Taking advantage of the teachings of a fanatic

Muhammad Ibn al Abdul Wahhab was born In Najd in Arabia and now Saudi Arabia in the year 1703, which was about 375 years after the death of Ibn Taymiyyah. He was the one who succeeded in bringing Ibn Taymiyyah’s teachings to the fore and was highly successful in most of the Arab countries, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Although the average Wahhabi was trying to say that these teachings were Islam, the name Wahhabism stuck and is still used on those who follow these teachings much to the chagrin of the Wahhabis. There are hardly many differences between what is known as Wahhabi and Salafi. The enemies of Wahhabism used this term in a derogatory sense. So, the Wahhabis coined another name for themselves and called themselves Salafis. The British and Ibn Saud both needed Wahhabism to fulfil their political agendas. Let us shed some light on this.

The British factor

The Ottoman Empire had reached great heights, the Europeans were fighting the Ottoman Empire. The Crusades had happened, and Europe was wary of the Muslims. It was in short, a Christian and Muslim war for supremacy. The British Empire wanted to weaken and destroy the Ottoman Empire, they were always looking for ways and means to divide the Muslims so that they could achieve victory over them. It was during these times that the British made a plan to send in many spies to Turkey, the home of the Ottoman Empire. They planned a strategy to find out the weakest spot in the Ottoman Empire. They sent their spies in.

Ironically, my source is from one of the spies who made a confession by the name of Hempher. In his Confessions of a British Spy, he detailed that the British planned to gather information and use this information to destroy the Ottoman Empire. The spies found that each Muslim was equal in faith, to one of the Christian priests and that Islam was deeply lodged in their hearts and that their faith was very strong. The spies also reported, to weaken the faith of these Muslims; it would be necessary to plan out a strategy that would destroy Islam from within. With this purpose in mind the spies worked tirelessly to find a way to divide the Muslims. This spy, who I have mentioned above had the good fortune to meet with Muhammad ibn al Abdul Wahhab. In his estimation this scholar was all that they had been looking for.

Abdul Wahhab was a person with a rude disposition and did not have any respect for his peers or for the past scholars who were the Shining Stars of Islam. He looked down on Imam Abu Hanifa, (one of the Imams of the four Islamic Schools of Thought) and the other great Imams of the Islamic Schools of Thought. He was always trying to find fault with them and show that he was superior in intellect to these great religious personalities. He was greedy and was very ambitious. Hempher understood that he appeared to be the ideal tool with which he could contaminate Islam and to this end he began to work relentlessly.

Very soon he had befriended Abdul Wahhab and won his confidence. He begun to lay his trap. He even used two women named Saffiya and Asiya to have sexual relationships with Abdul Wahhab on a temporary marriage basis, which was anyway against Islam. From outside Hempher worked on him and from inside, from the bedrooms, the ladies got at him. The two ladies mentioned here according to Hempher were also funded by the espionage ring.

Slowly, they could see Abdul Wahhab walking into their trap. Because of his nature, Abdul Wahhab was attracted to fanaticism, intolerance and violence. This was the way of Ibn Taymiyyah as explained above. So, he made use of the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah to corrupt the teachings of Islam. He did this in a systematic and forceful manner and created an ideology which was to later be called by the name of ‘Wahhabism’. I would like to give the reference to the book below so that the readers may have access to the details of the British plan. The pdf is available to be downloaded free of charge HERE.

The Ibn Saud connection

During this time there was a person called Abdul-Aziz Ibn Abdur-Rahman Ibn Muhammad Al Saud. He was ambitious and was looking for a way to establish his power in Arabia. The British helped him with the most sophisticated arms at that time to win over and conquer the others and to form a Kingdom. They introduced into these regions, the Wahhabi ideology, now propounded by Abdul Wahhab, which they embraced as it also suited their purpose.

To rule in Arabia, and particularly to have the rights over Mecca and Medina, the two most holy places of Islam, it was necessary that the rulers be of the family of The Prophet (Sal) or the Hashemites (those who belong to the tribe of the Prophet known as the tribe of Banu Hashim). Ibn Saud did not fall into this category, so he had to change the ways of the thinking of the populous, so that his rule could be legitimised. Wahhabism gave them that opening.

The Prophet’s (Sal) family was not supposed to be specially respected in accordance with the Wahhabi teachings, as also the earlier Scholars and Saints too were not respected by Wahhabism. Wahhabism believed that personalities in Islam should not be looked up to and only Allah alone should be worshipped. So, this creed suited Ibn Saud to establish his Kingdom. The British got Ibn Saud and Abdul Wahhab into an alliance with each other, where the political backing would be given to Wahhabism by Ibn Saud and Wahhabism would be the official religion of Ibn Saud’s Kingdom, thereby serving both their purposes.

The New World Encyclopaedia summarises the Ibn Saud connection in the following words which gives us a greater insight into the Wahhabi conquest, expansion and rule in Arabia:

“In 1744, Ibn Abdul Wahhab sought refuge in the village of Dariyah. This district was ruled by the rebel Muhammad ibn Saud and his family, Al Saud, which was responsible for organised banditry within Najd. The family ruled Dariyah according to its own whims and the village was a place of lawlessness when Abdul Wahhab settled there. In 1747, he made a power-sharing agreement with the family; Abdul Wahhab would become Dariyah’s religious authority, while the Al Saud family would be responsible for the village’s political leadership.

“The Al Saud family also benefited from the pact, as the Wahhabi movement and its extreme religious fervor helped to legitimise their rule. The fusion of religious and political control would come to represent the modern Saudi Arabia, as well as mark the break between the Islam of the past, in which traditional Muslim scholars focused on inward contemplation as opposed to focusing on gaining global and political power.

“With this new power arrangement in place, Abdul Wahhab and his followers urged a ‘jihad,’ or ‘The Struggle’ to promote the faith, against other Muslims, and thus, the Wahhabis began a blood-soaked campaign for expansion and domination.

“Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s views were opposed to the mainstream Muslim scholars of Mecca and Medina of that time. For example, he called intermediation of Muhammad (Sal) an act of polytheism. Ibn Abdul Wahhab went so far as to declare jihad against Muslims who practised so-called acts of polytheism. By 1788, the Wahhab- Saud alliance controlled most of the Arabian Peninsula.

“In 1801, the Wahhabis began a campaign to gain control over the two holy cities of Islam. They raided Mecca and Medina and stole holy books, works of art, and other gifts the city had accumulated over the last thousand years. While they controlled the Two Holy Places, they imposed Wahhabism upon the populace, destroyed shrines and cemeteries, closed off the entrances to the holy city, to Ottoman pilgrims, barred pilgrims from performing Hajj and murdered respected citizens in both holy cities.

“Through the 1820s to the 1860s, the Wahhabis launched attacks upon the Ottoman Empire, urged on by Great Britain, which was eager to see the collapse of the Turkish Empire and the distribution of its overseas possessions.

“The Wahhabis’ power grew and shrank by turns throughout the century, until in 1901, the latest representative of the Al Saud and Wahhabi alliance decided to try and re-seize control over the two holy cities, Mecca and Medina. Ibn Saud journeyed to Riyadh, where he murdered the city’s ruler and took over control of the country. Over the next twenty-five years, he went on to unify the Arabian Peninsula through force. Wahhabism was the only official faith sanctioned in the state that would come to be formed there. To this day, no other religious establishment is allowed in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Petro dollars that helped spread Wahhabism to the world

Even though this alliance was made, and both continued successfully and captured various parts of Arabia, and destroyed culture and important shrines of Saints, Sahabas (Companions of Prophet Muhammad, Sal) and even of Prophets, Wahhabism still lacked global acceptance. History records the blood thirsty deeds of the Wahhabis during this time, with many massacres and gruesome deeds accomplished by them and the cruelty perpetrated on the innocent Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

This wasn’t sufficient to get Wahhabism on the map. Even Mecca and Medina were ransacked and thousands were killed. The Wahhabis took over the two most holy places of Islam. They thus became the custodians of Islam in the eyes of the world. But still Wahhabism as such was not spread till after the Arabs became super rich due to the discovery of oil. Once the petro dollars came in, they had all the wealth in the world to propagate this, harsh, cruel and intolerant ideology of Wahhabism to the world, under the guise of propagating true Islam.

The third world countries were especially targeted and large sums of money was spent in spreading Wahhabism to these lands. In 1970 and the period after, the Wahhabis gained a lot of ground by bribing poor countries and using influential individuals in those countries to establish their brand of Islam in the world.

Madrassas or religious schools were funded in these countries where a lot of money was pumped in to educate the children of many countries to Wahhabi doctrines and brainwash their minds into thinking that this was true Islam. Free Wahhabi doctrine books were freely distributed which then slowly became the syllabus of Islamic education in these countries.

Today terrorism and ISIS oriented attacks are a direct result of these teachings and they have nothing to do whatsoever with Islam. Many Muslims were taken in by these teachings and began to think that Islam was what Wahhabism taught. Even the world at large failed to understand that Islam was not Wahhabism, the Wahhabis relentlessly pursued their goal of corrupting and perverting Islam by making it change into the interpretation of Islam, given by Abdul Wahhab and Ibn Taymiyyah.

This is the sad story of how a most peaceful and tolerant Islam was changed to becoming known as a highly intolerant and cruel religion. Bombs begun exploding all over the world and thousands died. Suicide bombers carried out these attacks and the blame was put on the Muslims and on Islam. Islam being the peaceful religion it was, became known as terrorism and all the while it was Wahhabism that was being projected and implemented and not Islam, the Religion of Peace.

This has reached to such alarming proportions that people are fearful of being in the presence of a Muslim as they associate Muslims to be violent terrorists waiting to ignite explosives and bombs. This has caused fear which is now known and called as Islamophobia.

Glorious era of Islamic civilisation and dark doctrine of Wahhabism compared

I give below a few thoughts about the Islamic world given in an article entitled ‘The Islamic world in the middle ages’:

“Throughout the Middle Ages, the Muslim world was more advanced and more civilised than Christian Western Europe, which learned a huge amount from its neighbour.

“The ‘Islamic world’ was not a single state in the Middle Ages, but the different countries which formed it, had many things in common.

“This fact is hidden from the world today and only very few know about the great Islamic civilisation that was known as the Golden Era.

“It was created by the Arab conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries. From the 11th to the 16th centuries many thousands of Turks and Mongols migrated across the vast plains of Central Asia into the Middle East. They also adopted Islam. It stretched from India to Spain. Muslim traders travelled to places as far apart as the Sahara, South Africa, China, Scandinavia and Russia. Muslims traded high-quality goods such as silk, carpets, ivory and spices.

“Knowledge of science and medicine in the Islamic world was far more sophisticated than in Western Europe. Cordoba in Muslim Spain was a city of over half a million inhabitants with street lighting and running water. At the same time 10,000 Londoners lived in timber-framed houses and used the river as their sewer.

“Muslims were going to beauty parlours, using deodorants and drinking from glasses, at a time when English books of behaviour were still telling pageboys not to pick their noses over their food, spit on the table or throw uneaten food onto the floor.”

The extract quoted above is a short synopsis of how glorious the Islamic world was before the advent of Wahhabism. Many have been the books written on the Golden Era of Islamic civilisation and subsequent Islamic History, extolling the greatness and glory of Islam and its tolerance of other faiths. The world respected the Muslims and its culture.

This glorious period resulted in cultural monuments and architecture reaching to great heights. The romance of the Taj Mahal, the fascinating Arabian Nights, the wonder of Topkapi, and the Great Mosque Architectural Constructions in Cordoba, to mention just a few, all bear witness to this magnificent civilisation.

In contrast today, Wahhabism has cast a shadow of death, mayhem, mass murder, torture, cruelty, genocide, and terrorism over the world. Suicide bombers with no mercy in their hearts have been let loose to go on a rampage, killing the innocents. The world is being terrorised and held to ransom.

The Wahhabis vow that only they shall rule according to their ideology and the rest have to be killed or subjugated. They believe that they should kill the Christians, the Jews, all Non-Muslims like the Hindus and the Buddhists and even other Muslims who do not subscribe to their horrendous beliefs. This is not Islam, or will it ever be Islam. Islam means peace, the very opposite of this. Islam is identified with terrorism today. This is not Islam. Islam has ceased to be Islam and Wahhabism has replaced it.

Sri Lanka: Shafi files FR potion

Dr. Mohamed Shafi Siyabdeen of Kurunegala Hospital files a FR petition before SC requesting to declare his arrest and detention as illegal.

The tornado of allegations levelled against Dr. Seigu Siyabdeen Mohammed Safi, ignited after the newspaper article accused him of sterilizing 4,000 mothers without their consent.

The doctor - attached to the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital (KTH) - was arrested shortly afterwards, on May 24, over charges of amassing a large amount of wealth and assets. Soon, the authorities called the public to come forward with complaints if any, against him on sterilisation accusations.

There were instances where Muslims were attacked following the April 21 Easter Sunday terrorist onslaught, that left 258 dead and nearly 500 others injured. Mosques, houses and businesses belonging to Muslims were attacked leaving at least one dead.

Will the $5 trillion economy be possible for India by 2024 ?

India is a country with around 25 percent of the population still living below poverty line

by N.S.Venkataraman

After receiving massive mandate in recent parliament election and getting second term as Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi with his characteristic courage of conviction and confidence and with his capability to think beyond the present time , has fixed the target of 5 trillion US$ economy for India by 2024.

Year 2024 would be the period when Mr.Modi would complete his second term as India’s Prime Minister . This means that Mr. Modi has set the target for himself and the country to be achieved by the time when he would complete his second term.

Present Indian economy is estimated to be of size 2.74 trillion US$ at market exchange rate in 2018-2019. From the present stage to reach 5 trillion US$ Indian economy in 5 years, Indian economy has to grow at compound rate of 10 to 11% every year. India has never achieved economic growth at this rate in the past several decades including best performance year.

Many wonder whether this target is too steep and whether it would be possible to achieve and why Mr.Modi has set such target for himself and country by 2024. Mr.Modi has said that the target would be hard to achieve but not impossible.

This view is typical of the man who is presently in charge of guiding destiny of the vast populous country of around 130 million people , which is facing multiple, complex and inter related problems and issues.

Population growth

The recent UN report has said that India will emerge as most populous country in the world by 2050, when Indian population would touch around 1.54 billion people, out growing China which is another most populous country in the world.

One of the pre requisites to achieve such huge economic growth in India, which is not possible without social stability, is to control the population growth but there is no indication that Mr.Modi has applied his mind so far to the challenge of massive population growth. Does Mr.Modi think that more manpower would mean more muscle power , which would be a strength and not a weakness,

If so, is it optimism at extreme level or helplessness in tackling the population explosion issue?

Inefficient government machinery

There have been number of innovative and original ideas that have been thought about and introduced in 1st term of office by Mr.Modi . Such meaningful schemes include introduction of GST, construction of thousands of toilets for poor people ,promotion of non conventional energy such as solar and wind power, afforestation, rural electrification, opening of bank account for poor people, digitalisation, road construction projects, revival of sick urea fertiliser units ,clean India scheme and others.

For implementing such schemes, funds have been allotted and firm plans and actions have been chalked out. But problem is in the pace of implementation with the required level of commitment and efficiency by ministers and government machinery .While impressive gains have been made during Mr. Modi’s first term, progress is still inadequate to achieve the target that would meet the national needs.

The problems faced by Mr.Modi is that the government machinery at various levels are not moving with speed and dynamism that is expected by Mr.Modi. He is simply not able to make the government machinery to work in a way that is needed to achieve the target

Corruption continues to be the order of the day. Though corruption has been largely controlled in ministerial level directly working under Mr.Modi , there is still no wide spread fear of being punished for corrupt practices amongst the officials. Corruption have not yet been wiped out to make any significant impact in the national growth.

The corruption in state level also continues at ministerial level as well as in top, medium and lower level at unacceptably high level.

Without checking the corruption and syphoning away of the funds by the various officials and politicians in power, which results in the funds deployed for welfare , economic and industrial projects not providing the commensurate benefits,progress in India will be very limited.

It is not possible to achieve the target set by Mr.Modi for himself and countrymen , unless significant dent would be made in toning up the administration and government machinery and wiping out corruption at national and state level as well as in private sector and voluntary bodies.

India cannot be one man show

Overwhelming majority gained by Mr.Modi in recent parliament election, in spite of vituperative campaign launched by the determined opposition parties , clearly indicate high level of confidence amongst countrymen that Mr.Modi commands.

People all over India, by and large, think that Mr.Modi can achieve great ends and they believe that if Mr.Modi can not set right things , it is extremely doubtful whether anybody else can do this in foreseeable future.

Mr.Modi seems to be fighting all alone and all by himself. Most of his “think tanks and lieutenants ” do not seem to be self starters and they look upto Mr.Modi’s guidance and largely derive inspiration from him. This dependence on Mr. Modi makes the burden on him more intense.

Certainly, there is no over night solution for India’s problems.

India is a country with around 25 percent of the population still living below poverty line, agricultural  sector face distress conditions due to frequent monsoon failures and drought, research and development efforts not still being

taken up in the technology front with the dynamism and dedication that is required, politics becoming a free for all with characterless people and family groups gaining vice like grip over national politics. Challenges facing Mr.Modi are very severe.

Mr. Modi , while setting target for himself and the country men said that target is hard but possible to achieve.

Mr.Modi , perhaps, thinks that such tough target will give the country men a firm sense of purpose, direction and goal, which is necessary.

It appears that Mr. Modi thinks that such tough target will pave way for striving hard . Even if 60 to 70 percent of target would be met , India would forge ahead significantly.

This appears to be the essence of Mr.Modi’s thought process.

Sri Lanka: Kariyawasam's Duplicity - Case for Treason

Is Kariyawasam running a parallel operation as advisor?

Former Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam, who is accused of rushing through the lopsided Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) with the United States, came in for strong criticism in Parliament on Tuesday.

Speaker Jayasuriya presiding at a controversial meeting with envoys of Islamic countries.

In the course of the discussion, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya admitted that Kariyawasam was being paid by a foreign agency under USAID for serving in Parliament as an advisor to him. The reference was to Development Alternatives Incorporatd (DAI), the implementing agency for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

When the Sunday Times (Political Commentary) reported on June 6 that Kariyawasam was being paid by funds from the US Federal Government, he said in a tweet @TimesOnlineLK resorts to deplorable reporting with no prior fact-checking. Yesterday it did the same by misrepresenting my contractual employment with the Parliament of Sri Lanka and the Hon. Speaker as his Advisor on International Affairs.

Now Speaker Jayasuriya has confirmed in the hallowed chamber of Parliament that Kariyawasam was indeed being paid with US funds. Hence, what he calls “deplorable reporting” and “no prior fact checking” to use parlance Kariyawasam is familiar is nothing but terminological inexactitude or simply a down right lie. So is his claim that he is on contractual employment with the Parliament of Sri Lanka and the Hon. Speaker implying he gets paid by them. Like the Speaker, why did he not come out with the truth?

First to what transpired in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon with Speaker Jayasuriya in the chair.

“Dinesh Gunawardana: Mr Speaker, I request special permission from you to clarify these two matters. It is reported that Mr Prasad Kariyawasam has been appointed to Parliament as an international affairs adviser to the Speaker, but that he is being paid by the US Government. There is no such rank among the list of officials Parliament has given to us. How can Prasad Kariyawasam, who is being paid by a US institution, be acting as an International Affairs adviser to you? This raises serious questions regarding Parliament itself.

“Last week, you summoned foreign envoys to your official residence for a discussion. There is no issue in that. You have the right to meet foreign envoys. You summoned the IGP for this discussion. You are entitled to do that too. However, even the Chief of Intelligence was summoned to this discussion and he was discussing intelligence information. Did no one advise you not to do that? The intelligence chief of the country, who knows all the intelligence and secret information, including investigations that are ongoing, was summoned to your official residence along with the IGP.

“Speaker Jayasuriya: That is wrong. He was not summoned to my official residence, but to Parliament.

“Dinesh Gunawardena: Fine. But summoning the intelligence chief in front of foreign envoys has not been done by any other Speaker. We also need you to clarify whether Mr Prasad Kariyawasam, who is paid for by a foreign Government, is only there to advise you, or whether he also gives out other information.

“Speaker Jayasuriya: Firstly, the envoys of Muslim countries have already issued a statement regarding the situation in the country. They have expressed their dismay and regret over certain matters. As such, I convened a meeting of envoys of these Muslim countries in Parliament to brief them on the latest situation. The IGP came for this meeting, along with other senior officers. It was good that this meeting took place, as otherwise, there would likely have been a campaign against Sri Lanka. Even the EU countries issued a statement a few days ago. The meeting was to brief the envoys of the Muslim countries and ease their fears. The meeting was held with good intentions to explain the current situation and give a guarantee on security. There was no leaking of state secrets.

“As for Mr Prasad Kariyawasam, he is a former Foreign Ministry Secretary. This Parliament currently has connections with 50-60 other Parliaments throughout the world under Parliamentary Diplomacy. It is these programmes that facilitate MPs to travel to foreign countries to understand how Parliaments function there, to obtain scholarships and strengthen Parliamentary Democracy.

It is not USAID that is paying him but another institution under it. He assists me in work related to such programmes. There is no intention of giving secrets to foreign countries.

“Dinesh Gunawardena: There is no issue about paying his salary through Parliament. But it is a question that anyone in Parliament can raise: Why is a former Foreign Ministry Secretary, who is now paid by a foreign institution, working here in this capacity?

“Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa: The important point he (Dinesh Gunawardena) is making here is that Parliament is an independent institution and is supreme. We have no objection if he’s being paid by Parliament. We are saying that it is wrong for him to be working here while being paid by a foreign country. We should establish a mechanism for him to be paid by Parliament. Otherwise, it could lead to a wrong picture developing in society that we are surrendering to foreign influences,

“Speaker Jayasuriya: It is unnecessary (to pay him through Parliament). This programme is aimed at strengthening Parliamentary Democracy. Around 60-70 MPs here have already gone on foreign tours to learn about strengthening democracy using these same funds. These funds have also been used for Parliamentary Committees.

“Wimal Weerawansa: Former Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam brought severe pressure on the then Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi to sign the ACSA agreement with the US. He is being paid by USAID not to work for the Sri Lankan State. He has a friend (names a former Foreign Ministry official now with the Ministry of Finance) and it is she and Prasad Kariyawasam who are working the most to ensure that US ambitions are achieved. They are also working towards getting the SOFA agreement signed. It is serpents who are loyal to the US such as them that you are keeping here in Parliament. They have no loyalty to this country.”

One does not doubt the bona fides of Speaker Jayasuriya, a former military officer, diplomat and a much-respected politician, in his decision to obtain the services of Kariyawasam as an “Advisor on International Affairs.” However, it is a very serious error of judgement. No other Speaker in Parliament since independence has employed an International Affairs Advisor, that too using funds from a foreign country to pay for them. The extension of that principle would mean he could also have, for purposes of argument, an Advisor on Tourism, Finance or even Water Supply and Drainage and so on. Is it not beyond his brief as Speaker, whoever may hold that office?

The Cabinet of Ministers is assigned that responsibility by the Constitution. The task of summoning Colombo-based diplomats, like the standard practice in other countries, is the sole responsibility of the Foreign Minister or his Ministry Secretary. It is also the responsibility of the President or the Prime Minister, particularly during exigencies. The fact that he met diplomats in Colombo from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Countries (OIC) in Parliament has given rise to the belief that there are now three power centres in Sri Lanka. Besides the President and the Prime Minister, it is now the Speaker who has literally played the role of the Foreign Minister cum Defence Minister though he is well meant in his intentions.

The matter did not end there. An investigation by the Sunday Times revealed some disturbing trends. It was Prasad Kariyawasam, in his new role as the Speaker’s “Advisor” who invited the OIC envoys for a “briefing.” He is now duplicating the work of the Foreign Secretary. That is not all. Kariyawasam also ensured that the Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Director of Military Intelligence were present. Who empowered him to play the role of Defence Secretary is not clear? The position of “Advisor” became his passport to play his previous role with the pay of his foreign masters.

The worst came when the conference was over. The Speaker’s Media Office released photographs of the envoys and the country’s top intelligence officials seated around a table. The news release said “The ambassadors and high commissioners of Islamic countries have told Speaker Karu Jayasuriya that they would welcome a common law in Sri Lanka that would apply to all citizens irrespective of their ethnicities.”

There are three customary laws which are still in use in Sri Lanka – Kandyan law, Thesavalamai law and Muslim law.

The Kandyan law is the customary law that originates from the Kingdom of Kandy. This is applicable to Sri Lankans who are Buddhist and from the former provinces of the Kandyan Kingdom.

At present it governs aspects of marriage, adoption, transfer of property and inheritance, as codified in 1938 in the Kandyan Law Declaration and Amendment Ordinance. The Muslim law is applicable to Sri Lankans who are Muslims by virtue of birth and conversion to Islam. It is different from Islamic law and governs aspects of marriage, divorce, custody and maintenance, being included in the Act No. 13 of 1951 Marriage and Divorce (Muslim) Act, the Act No. 10 of 1931 Muslim Intestate Succession Ordinance and the Act No. 51 of 1956 Muslim Mosques and Charitable Trusts or Wakfs Act.

The Thesavalamai law is for Sri Lankan Tamil inhabitants of the Jaffna peninsula. The law was codified by the Dutch during their colonial rule in 1707. It is a collection of the Customs of the Malabar Inhabitants of the Province of Jaffna (collected by Dissawe Isaak) and given full force by the Regulation of 1806. For Thesawalamai to apply to a person it must be established that he is a Tamil inhabitant of the Northern Province. The law in its present form applies to most Tamils in northern Sri Lanka. The law is personal in nature thus it is applicable mostly for property, inheritance, and marriage.

An OIC diplomat who attended the Speaker’s meeting said, “we were summoned to be updated on the measures the government has taken to ensure peaceful co-existence of the communities as well as on security and stability in the country.” He said we never agreed to “the introduction of common law since that is not our business. That is an internal matter for Sri Lanka. We never said anything of the sort the news release claimed.”

The envoys are now seeking meetings with President Sirisena, Premier Wickremesinghe and Speaker Jayasuriya to set the record right. One of the envoys said, “We want to tell them not to look at us through western eyes. We are friends of Sri Lanka and are only seeking peace, harmony and the safety of all people.”

The diplomats included those from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Would it not have been better to ask the Foreign Ministry to have invited envoys of these countries should there be a need. This clearly shows that Kariyawasam was running a parallel operation.

The opposition also called a news conference on Thursday to voice its concerns over Speaker Jayasuriya recruiting Kariyawasam. “He was not able to give us a satisfactory answer,” said Dinesh Gunawardena. He asked why Kariyawasam was appointed and added “there are suspicions since this was privately done.” He said President J.R. Jayewaredene “had to tell a onetime Speaker M.A. Bakeer Markar to go home after he had summoned the then IGP without the President’s permission. E.L. Senanayake was made Speaker later,” he said.

Courtesy: the Sunday Times, Colombo