26 August, 2019

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“No Lessons Learnt Yet” – SG Punchihewa

By N. Paulis

“ No lessons seem to have been learnt yet,” – Human Rights activist and Attorney-at-Law  SG Punchihewa, commented at a Workshop on the Promotion of Language Rights in Sri Lanka held at the SLFI last Tuesday saying that as far as Language Rights were concerned no lessons seemed to have been learnt, as obvious from  the previous days Independence Day celebrations which ignored the basic recommendation of the LLRC on singing the National Anthem in both the official languages.

School-name-board-violating-language-rights

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) organized a workshop for Journalists on on Language Policy and the Promotion of Language Rights in Sri Lanka, held 5th February in Colombo.  Among the resource persons were Mr. S.G. Punchihewa,  Attorney-at-Law  and Human Rights activist,  Mr S Adhirathan  Lecturer,  Faculty of Education, University of Colombo, Mr Abeykoon, Administration Officer,  Official Language Commission of Sri Lanka(OLC) and Ms  T Kajitha, Project Manager  of  Journey for Healthy Life Organization Jaffna ,

Senior journalists Mr. C. Dodawatta and Mr. Thibiriyagama Bandara also presented a section on the role of the Journalist in promoting Language Rights . Mr S Sivagurunathan, veteran translator and human rights activist facilitated the subsequent discussion with participant journalists on language issues,  the current human rights situation and  challenges faced by journalists in their work to highlight issues of social relevance.

Themes at the workshop included “Tamil Language Rights in Sri Lanka” by Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, former GA of Jaffna, ” Language Rights and the Law” by Mr SG Punchihewa, and “The Role and responsibility of the Official Languages Commission” by Mr Abeykoon, of the  OLC.

The workshop was part of a project by CPA promoting language equality in 7 bilingual districts, which facilitated setting up of more than 200 regional Language Societies, the filing of a number of complaints on Language Rights violations and advocacy for the inclusion of SInhala and Tamil information in pharmaceuticals and medical and cosmetic products, among other initiatives.

 

2-Officials-at-Trinco-Water-board-demostrating-best-practices

 

Language Society members unveiling billboard with hotline

 

Bus sign board in gibberish

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    This is what he meant when he said there are no more minorities in this country….!!!

  • 0
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    The gibberish in the bus route sign appears to be deliberately done. One, not of the language, can make a mistake in a letter or two. Not this outrageous and calculated error. This is the work of a conspiratorial Sinhala bigot. The offender must be hounded out and punished under wide media coverage.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
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      Senguttuvan

      “This is the work of a conspiratorial Sinhala bigot.”

      No with due respect, this is the work of International Conspirators.

  • 0
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    Lessons of Life is in Languages. The more one knows the better one is equipped to communicate effectively. Indeed, we have learnt a lesson that Sinhala Only is defective and not in the best interest of the country. Lessons of the past are a guide to the future.

  • 0
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    In Canada where both English and French are official languages you can get services in either of the languages in all Federal Ministries and Departments. At provincial level also both languages are afforded the same status. Only in the case of local government like the Municipalities one might no find language parity completely. Most local governments offer services in both languages where there is a sizable presence of either English or French. Quebec is a special case. It is the only province with French people in the majority. Provincial government has only French only road signs. It is also a requirement that all bill boards French language should be given priority and written in large letters compared to English. Administration in both languages costs the government, but then that is the price you pay for democracy and equality. The Sinhalese fear that since Thamil is a development language having the status of a classical language, giving parity might end in the use of Sinhalese. This is a wrong perception. In fact Thamil language can enrich Sinhalese language through translation of classical works into Sinhalese.

  • 0
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    Vasu Pappa thinks that by putting sine boards in “Tamil also” could give him a certificate that he implemented the Tamil Language policy. He has become a full fledged fraud by doing so, not second to MARA who is a champion in misleading people including his own ones.99% of police entries are recorded in only Sinhala in Tamil areas.Tamils are just asked to sign entries recorded in Sinhala by Police officers in plantation and Tamil areas.Vasu has no guts to intervene in the affairs of the police officers as he became a full scale stooges of the MARA regime.

  • 0
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    In comparing Sri Lanka’s abysmal respect and compliance with Language parity laid out in the Constitution Mr. Thangavelu should have looked for an example like in Pakistan. The Canadians are far too civilised, respectful of the laws and to minorities their sublime example is held out globally as symbolic of the success of equality between races and languages. It is almost certain we will never make it to that league in our lifetime.

    Even in multi-lingual Colombo you see our Official Languages Act violated – wholesale. A few years ago I had to personally fight to change the Board at the Kollupitiya Police Station, right next to where
    the President operates, to be in all 3 languages. Naturally,
    I made a few enemies in the process. There are more street names in the Colombo city in violation of our laws than those that comply with it.

    Senguttuvan

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