30 September, 2020

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Well Respected Colombo Telegraph Blockade Cannot Be Passed Off As An Attempt To Censor Scurrilous Reporting

By Mangala Samaraweera

Mangala Samaraweera MP

Ms. Navanethem Pillay, the UN high Commissioner for Human rights is currently in Sri Lanka and her visit has once more shined a spotlight on the appalling record of the Rajapaksa regime on protecting the rights of its own people.

The government and its cohorts take great pains to frame the human rights discourse as a devious instrument of the West used against developing countries such as our own. But recent incidents at Weliweriya, Deniyaya, Negombo, Katunayake, Welikada and Grandpass and the countless incidence of regime loyalists stamping on the rights of the common man have brought the human rights debate today much closer to home for us all.

Blinded by the jingoism propagated by the Rajapaksa administration, for the longest time citizens of this country were willing to look the other way on lofty matters such as human rights and international humanitarian law, mostly from sheer relief that the war had finally ended. Today, when the shock and horror of Weliweriya and Grandpass are yet to leave the national psyche, all Sri Lankans are beginning to realise that we share a common interest in protecting the inalienable rights we are all heir to, by virtue of being born a human.

Whether bombed in the North or shot in the South, every citizen of this country today requires protection from its own government. It is a common threat and in facing this threat, the citizenry of Sri Lanka is bound to pursue a common agenda – to protect ourselves from the evils of a regime on the rampage.

The danger signs are everywhere, if only we choose to see. The ruling troika of Rajapaksas have made a calculated and conscience decision to distance the country from international norms that advocate democracy, free society, civil liberties, good governance and the rule of law. Instead the regime is actively seeking out pariah states to establish and foster closer ties. Just as the Rajapaksa regime draws nepotistic, extremist, corrupt and violent elements together to form a grand alliance at home, it is actively seeking to be a part of anti democratic despotic global grouping. The recent State Visits undertaken by our President and the leaders and countries that are considered “friends” of this regime provide the clearest signs as to where Sri Lanka’s future lies. Democracy and freedom will form no part of that Rajapaksa desired future.

Even as High Commissioner Pillay arrived in Colombo for her fact finding mission, President Mahinda Rajapaksa took wing to Belarus, one of the last remaining vestiges of Soviet Era autocracy on the European continent. A nation whose President, a self- proclaimed dictator, holds sham elections, jails its political opponents and cracks down on the free media. It was the ideal place for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to denounce the United Nations Human Rights Council, an organisation set up by the governments of the world to protect the rights of all of humanity. Just prior to his visit to the last autocratic outpost of Europe, Mahinda Rajapaksa was a State guest of Uganda and Kazakhstan both ruled by dictators who believe in absolute power. In a strange parallel, both Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus subverted the constitutions of their countries to remove the two term limits on the presidency and allow them to contest an infinite number of times. Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2010, used his artificially constructed two thirds majority in Parliament to afford himself the same autocratic privilege.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s family members are following his example. The all powerful Defence Secretary visited Sudan recently and pledged military assistance to that country. This is a country whose president has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes committed against his own people. We are reminded of the personal and cordial relations this regime had with Muamar Gaddafi the dictator of Libya and the military junta of Myanmar.

There is no deeper irony than the fact that with Gaddafi’s ouster and Myanmar’s slow but steady transition from military rule to democracy Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa regime has distanced themselves from these countries. The writing, as they say, is on the wall.

Sri Lanka has a new foreign policy. It will seek out and befriend despots. It will learn lessons from these autocracies. Lessons in stifling dissent, cowing a citizenry and shattering democratic institutions. In these Rajapaksa “friendly” countries, wealth is accumulated among a small coterie of loyalists while a great majority of the people suffer in poverty, governing regimes rule without any regard for democracy or the rule of law. Dynastic succession is preferred over free elections. Mostly dynastic succession is the norm rather than free elections. Free societies and civil liberties are denigrated as ideals and norms propagated by the neo-imperialist ‘West’. Is it surprising that it is in such countries that the Rajapaksa ruling family is finding new friends?

Having officially invited High Commissioner Pillay to Sri Lanka, not once but several times in the past few years, the Rajapaksa Administration has sought to vilify and embarrass her on the one hand and portray her to be a pro-LTTE invader into Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs on the other. Extremist allies of this regime have not balked at marking out Ms. Pillay’s ethnic credentials and using dangerous racial undertones that have become so common in post-war Sri Lanka to disqualify her from studying the injustices against the Tamil people of Sri Lanka on account of her being a Tamil by ethnicity. Apart from the pettiness and rank racism in these much publicised comments by Government coalition partners, it is clear that the ruling regime does not even possess a smidgen of the hospitality Sri Lankans are world famous for, that would call upon it to refrain from insulting a visiting international diplomat, much respected rights activist and former judge of the International Criminal Court while she is on Lankan soil. And despite all of the eyewash the Government is engaged in attempting to showcase progress in terms of investigating alleged human rights abuses during the war and implementing the recommendations of the LLRC, it is clear that the Rajapaksas are a long way away from changing their spots. On the eve of Ms Pillay’s visit, the home of a senior Journalists Mandana Abeywickrema was attacked and robbed by a group of men who claimed they were on a contract. What the police have tried to portray as a common robbery, media activists view as a more sinister move to dissuade Abeywickrema’s media activism and silence her expression. Two days before Ms. Pillay’s visit, a hitherto unknown authority blocked the independent website Colombo Telegraph, making it inaccessible to most Sri Lankans across virtually every network. The Colombo Telegraph blockade cannot be passed off as an attempt to censor scurrilous reporting on the web, simply because it is a well respected, widely read, ethical publication, that provides space for eclectic viewpoints. The Colombo Telegraph engages in truly investigative journalism and in depth reportage of issues that are often overlooked in the mainstream media and honours the right of reply and other principles of ethical reporting. For its commitment to the process of truthful journalism, Colombo Telegraph has won the distinction of becoming the only Sri Lankan website on the Guardian Select list of ethical, independent websites handpicked by the Guardian UK editorial board. That the Rajapaksa brethren have chosen to censor such a publication in Sri Lanka, days before the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and three months before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, speaks volumes about its true contempt for the international community and the ideals of democracy.

At a time when there is no war, the question must be asked, what is the government so afraid of? Why is a commitment to the protection of human rights so difficult to provide, especially when there is no terrorist threat? Is it not because the Government believes it needs to keep the “Weliweriya option” open in dealing with dissent? Is it not because the Rajapaksa administration’s inherently believes that the only worthwhile governance is the kind that gives rulers the untrammelled ability to shoot, kill and intimidate citizens, silence dissidents and the free press and wrest control of every institution that might one day pose a threat to its rule?

*Mangala Samaraweera – Former Foreign Minister 

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Latest comments

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    Is it true that Mangala Samaraweera is the owner of EIGHT media outlets, be just web sites, that publish anti-govt articles ?

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      Jim Softly, Please enlighten us by giving the names of these websites owned by Mangala.

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        Eight..? WOW brilliant.
        I wish Mangala makes it double and other opposition MPS follow suite Mangala.

        time for Jim Stupidy’s ‘Monkey Tail tales’

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          blame the journalists who are not giving the truth to people. they are ready any dastard thing for a handful of coins.

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      What else we the dissidents to this newly formed dictatorship could expect from a low grade man like you who seems to have lowest IQ to work as a Raja applogist ? At least now try to concentrate yourself on the substance of the article of anyone. What matters is not just say ehei to MR and thugs, feel for the nation, you idiot.

    • 0
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      Jim Nutty is mentally retarded

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    When Mangala shouted against government & MR those days it didn’t seems to be convincing.

    But nowadays it when you look back those seems as if Mangala prophesy coming true. -:)

    Now I doubt the death of Sripathy Sooriyaarachchi, was it a really an accident or not.

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    so, even though CT has been blocked in Sri Lanka Jim Softy still has her job because CT is still widely read, no?

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    What a sad state of affairs for our country of just 22 million. When we see some countries or even some states within certain countries having 3 or 4 times our population, doing extremely well with so much socioeconomic benefits trickling down to grass root levels. A careful study will show that an excellent primary education with discipline, respect for teachers and elders, English language given prime of place are all bound to mold the character of our future generation, ready to take over and govern the country more efficiently. This lack of vision in our country’s leadership will only destroy the chances of our country to get back on its feet, to be shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the developed world. Until and unless this is realized, this spells doom for us, our country for a few more generations to come.

  • 0
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    Perci Mahhendra some how cultivated a xenophobia among the weak vulnerable Sinhala Buddhists.
    Its amazing that Mahendra has guts t believe that he is in power because of majority votes but not because of the jilmart.

    This jingoism must be defeated so Mangala & Co should do more.
    I wonder why the JVP is so silent.

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      JVP leadership is paid to keep silent by the Chinese, the lover cadres are ignorant of the fact, some split knowing the fact formed another party called FLSP even that is in dispute, we have no choice to challenge the dictator until all the people come to the road.

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    Mr. Mangala Samaraweera,

    “The government and its cohorts take great pains to frame the human rights discourse as a devious instrument of the West used against developing countries such as our own”

    There is some truth to in general statement. However, as far as applied to Sri Lanka it is NOT true. It is the dictatorship of the Regime, and the Hegemony of the Sinhala Buddhist Monks, who FALSELY claim to be the third gem of the Triple Gem that is true, supported by data.

    It should be double gem. Get rid of the Monks who keep running Amok!

    The following statement of course supports it.

    “But recent incidents at Weliweriya, Deniyaya, Negombo, Katunayake, Welikada and Grandpass and the countless incidence of regime loyalists stamping on the rights of the common man have brought the human rights debate today much closer to home for us all.”

    So, the third Gem, is “Maha” Sangaratnaya, want to keep Buddhist Hegemony. This is Sinhala Buddhist Racism. Did anybody achieve Nirvana, Nibbana, Rebirth, Hell. Heaven,etc.

    It is not about getting rid of Buddhism rather she is promoting religious equality in Sri Lanka. countries that have these kind of system have less religious conflicts..

    Sri Lanka was a Hindu and Jain peaceful Island. like Bali Indonesia. This is about freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

    Follow the Enlightened Buddhas Teachings, not Hegemony and Racism.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ2WYlfjm-E

    Further support.

    Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 1

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNOfTGSADdY

    Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 2

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcs2PSze0I

    Yang:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrGjdo40PU0

    • 0
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      Amarasiri:

      Buddhism is for Intelligent people

      Idiots cannot understand it when they are doing well in their lives. They have to fall down to the bottom then buddhism explain why those things happened to you.

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        Jim softy

        “Buddhism is for Intelligent people”

        If so what has it got to do with Sinhala/Buddhists?

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    A sober and well-structured narrative on the continuing non-governance of the Rajapakse Quartet – a dubious example of familial rule in what goes as a democracy in the 21st century. Besides, one of their beloved
    confidantes of a Minister making a donkey of himself in offering marriage to the visiting UNHRC – a visit that should engage the seriousness and time of the President, we find in the same week the President taking off to far-off Belarus and hosting the South Korean PM – all virtually at the same time. If he is trying to portray a message on the visiting UNHCR belittling her presence it cannot be one that will bring him good or earn him friends in the coming months.
    Mrs Pillay cannot but have learnt the army presence, absent during her visit to the Peninsula, has re-emerged hours after she left.
    Mangala S describes this foolish charade best “contempt for the international community and the ideals of democracy”

    How long can the real and painful fact – the dizzying effects of a tumbling economy – continue to be kept hidden from the people? Weliveriya, Grandpass and many other have played their part in diverting the focus of the nation. But soon the fumbling regime will run out of false dramas.

    Senguttuvan

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    How will the “new foreign policy” of seeking friendly relations with autocratic foreign rulers be compatible with the values of the Commonwealth – with the pending CHOGM meeting – is the question.
    What will be the attitude of Sharma,the Secy.General of the Commonweath is awaited – he must be aware.

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      Very true. What an indictment. I somehow feel Sharma the Secy General has become lame like our Ranil the Opposition Ldr, if you know what I mean. So he will go all out to make it happen, despite all the negative vibes against healthy Commonwealth democratic values. We are in for a big facade and after the show is over, we will be forced to tighten our belts and brace, expecting the worst. I pray a silent prayer for our country, to save it from disastrous effects of this regime.

  • 0
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    Mangala Innocence anyone???

    Innocence aside, Mangala Samaraweera the statesman makes me want to throw up. He is as much responsible for the predicament of Sri Lanka is in today as the Rajapakse’s. He and his bag boy Tiran Alles facilitated the money transfer to the LTTE before the Pirabakaran would ban voting in the North.
    He exemplifies the tragedy of Sri Lanka. Leeches and parasites living off their parent’s names and scrounging at any given opportunity.

    Knock off your false indignation and go back to where ever you came from, and leave us in peace!

    • 0
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      Mangala was part of the system when every thing was going well for him.

      Now, he is talking all this BS.

      what did he do when he was in the system ? did he do anything ?

      Now he is just fooling and is trying to exploit people.

      • 0
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        Jim softy

        “what did he do when he was in the system ? did he do anything ?”

        Will you be asking the same stupid questions when MR, his relatives and cronies are kicked out of power?

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    This man who found mathematics is tough [Edited out]
    [Edited out]

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.
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    All that I read on these threads are curses on this governement.On other threads against all the government’s politicians Sri Lanka has had.

    There is a drag net around the Tamils and Muslims.The singhala people think the minorites should be subservient to them.Present day situation looks like its never going to happen.
    If the Tamils are still crying for their freedom from the mayhem perpetratd on their lives by the Governments stooges then Nothing has changed in the past 52 yrs of Independence.
    So much for Sri Lanka’s decalerd great DEMOCRACY
    It is sad to note that there is no path laid to Re conciliation.Not happenenig at all.

    I guess we all have to go our own way to find our Freedom.The singhalese should find their own path and the Tamils their way.

    • 0
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      just creep back to the hole you crept out of idiot .

  • 0
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    Abhaya- running out of theories and good journalistic words.Someone called me an angel-ha.
    Too bad- showing your true colors.Relax and take a rest.Creep back- where?I am here where i want to be.Pray tell- where are you?
    I see on which side you are on.you must be striving hard not to get thrown into the lime pit from which you can’t crawl back from the big hole.
    carefull dear and Good luck.

  • 0
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    Rajapakse regime shows its colours by blocking CT. A Rajapakse is CEO of SLT, though being a public listed company is controlled by the clan. It displays the impunity of these upstarts who have hijacked the country and now displaying their uncouth behaviour.

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    The only reason Rajapakses are blocking CT is to supress free media and hide their Family dictatorship policies from public.

    At the moment over 500 Rajapakse family Cronies run Sri Lanka’s who are in control of Business cartel in Sri Lanka. They are the only ones who monopolise the business deals, projects and investments in Sri Lanka.

    These Rajapakse cronies have monopolised all the Business projects and Business deals including investments in Sri Lanka. No other businessmen or investor who have no ties to Rajapakse Family are offered any Business contracts, Investment opportunities or new Projects.

    According to the following Belarussian news web. Rajapakses are planning to invest in many projects in Belaruse which we are not been notified to us. It is similar to the 150 Million US dollars given to Uganda without any documents or signed contracts. This is how the cheap Mafia Basta…ds do their business deals. All in hiding and in secrecy.

    Please read the following web.

    http://www.tvr.by/eng/news.asp?id=9311&cid=15

    By Alesya Vysotskaya: The visit of Sri Lanka President once again proves the genuine interest of this South Asian republic in Belarus.

    It says……..A couple of months ago, a large Sri Lanka delegation worked in Minsk; then it was declared about the country’s readiness to invest in Belarusian projects.

    According to this report a large Sri Lankan Rajapakse Croni Business delegation team had gone to Belaruse A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, TO SEE THE POSSIBILITIES OF INVESTING IN BELARUS……., which we were never informed or notified by the media.

    We need to know who are these Businessmen who are funding these Business ventures in Belaruse……and CT should look into this.

    Who is providing money to invest in Busines projects in Belarus is questionable. Where these foreign exchange came from. CB Governer and Treasury secretary should answer to above question.

    Please read the following webs to see who are some of the Rajapakse Family Business Billioneer cronies who Monopolise Sri Lanka’s Business mafia and Trade cartel.

    http://www.lankaeagle.com/?p=7531

    [Edited out]

    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/01/23/the-20-billionaires-of-sri-lanka%E2%80%99s-stock-market

    http://www.sundaytimes.lk/130526/business-times/dhammika-has-near-50-stake-in-hayleys-45655.html

    http://www.lbfinance.com/bod.html

    http://www.ceylonist.me/2013/07/the-story-of-dhammika-perera.html

    Therefore either CT or some Investigative Journalist or opposition party members or a Law Firm should investigate Rajapakses and their Crony Business Mafia Cartel who monopolise Sri Lanka’s business empire and should be brought to Public attention.There should be transparency in Rajapakse Business dealings and we citizens have a right to know.

    Therefore this is an urgent request for every Patriot to investigate Rajapakse Family mega Business operation and their Goons Business Cartel Empire including Black money deposits.

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