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Thursday May 23rd, 2024

In pardoning Sunil Rathnayake, COVID-19 was exploited to reverse justice: Amnesty International

Former Sri Lanka Army staff sergeant R M Sunil Rathnayake (R) – Image credit: ITN

ECONOMYNEXT – In pardoning Former Sri Lanka Army Staff Sergeant Sunil Rathnayake, the COVID-19 pandemic was exploited as an “opportunity to reverse justice”, Amnesty International said yesterday, calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to revoke the pardon.

Rathnayake, who was attached to the long range reconnaissance patrol of the army, was sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court in June 2015 for his alleged involvement in the Mirusuvil massacre in 2000. The former soldier, who was the firt accused in the case, was found guilty of the murder of eight civilians including three children. He was pardoned by President Rajapaksa on March 26, days after an island-wide curfew was declared to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a 10-page analysis released yesterday, the human rights watchdog detailed how the COVID-19 pandemic was allegedly exploited as an “opportunity to reverse justice in one of the very few cases where a member of the armed forces was convicted of crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s decades-long internal conflict, reinforcing a climate of impunity and underscoring Sri Lanka’s continued failure to uphold its international obligations.”

The organisation requested the President to commute the death sentence.

The Mirusuvil case dragged on for about 13 years, and 13 out of the 14 soldiers barring Rathnayake were acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

The alleged massacre occurred in December 2000 when eight internally displaced persons (IDPs) were arrested in Mirusuvil, Jaffna, and were allegedly tortured and murdered. The victims included three teenagers and a five-year-old child.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had earlier denounced the move as “an affront to victims and yet another example of the failure of Sri Lanka to fulfil its international human rights obligations to provide meaningful accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other gross violations of human rights.” (Colombo/May1/2020)

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Sri Lanka President calls for unity, sacrificing for a better tomorrow on Vesak day

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has recalled a sermon from the Buddha about sacrificing for a better tomorrow, and called for unity to heal and rebuild the country, as Buddhists celebrate Vesak.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak as commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.

“At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” President Wickremesinghe said in his Vesak day message.

“We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day.

“Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. ”

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Vesak festival is a profoundly sacred day for Buddhists worldwide, commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, along with their brethren around the globe, celebrate Vesak with deep devotion. They spend this period engaging in religious observances and venerating the Buddha with fervent devotion.

At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day. Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. The principles of Lichchavi Raja Dharmaya will guide us in this endeavour.

Let us keep in mind that the primary aim of the Vesak festival is to foster spiritual growth and character development in a world rapidly advancing physically. I wish everyone a blessed Vesak festival.

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Sri Lanka to host foreign artistes, Sigiriya fashion show to promote tourism

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka plans to bring down international artistes, and hold water festivals to boost tourists, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu said.

“We will be hosting a few international artists in September to December,” Gajabahu told EconomyNext.

“We would also be having a fashion show in Sigiriya.”

Sri Lanka is targeting 2.3 million tourists in the year 2024 with expectations that it may go up to 2.5 million Gajabahu said.

Sri Lanka is also planning on having a water festival in coastal towns such as Trincomalee, Arugambay  and Kalpitiya in order to showcase Sri Lanka’s capacity for watersports, Gajabahu said. (Colombo/May22/2024)

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Sri Lanka opposition drops bombshell on Mannar wind power tender

ECONOMYNEXT – A tender for a 50 MegaWatt wind power plant by state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has been blocked to prevent sharply lower power purchase prices from competitive bidding being revealed to the public, opposition legislator Kabir Hashim charged in parliament.

A technical evaluation of three companies which had submitted bids had been completed according to information coming to him, Hashim told parliament Wednesday.

“The financial bids were due to be opened on May 17 based on information we are receiving,” Hashim said.

“But due to pressure from certain officials we are learning that there is an attempt to cancel the financial bid. I am asking why the bid was not opened on May 17.

“We learn that the Sustainable Energy Authority Chairman and officials have engaged in a big operation to stop this. I do not know who these people are representing.”

“This is something that is required for the country. We believe the wind power unit could be purchased at a price below 6.0 cents t under competitive tender.

“This tender has been blocked to stop this. So, blocking this is big problem.”

Hashim said he was demanding an answer.

“I do not know whether some corrupt officials are connected to some companies and acting on behalf of these companies (kade yanawader danney ne). I am asking the chairman of the Committee on Public Finance, Harsha de Silva, to summon the officials and ask them to open the bids.”

Hashim said he had urged Sri Lanka authorities in parliament itself on earlier occasions not to agree on a power purchase price for a 484MW plant by India’s Adani group which came without tender until competitive bids for the smaller Mannar plant were opened.

Related Sri Lanka to buy wind power from Adani for 8.26 US cents

The energy ministry said Adani would be paid 8.26 cents per unit for its Mannar and Pooneryn plant project for 484 MegaWatts.

India’s Adani project has come as a government-to-government project, by passing tender, officials said.

CEB’s own plant in Mannar, built before an economic crisis with Asian Development Bank funds, was estimated to have a levelized cost of only 4.2 US cents over its lifetime.

But at commercial rates of borrowing, a profitable project could be run at around 6.0 US cents, according to industry analysts.

Mannar in particular is an area with high winds.

The CEB’s old wind farm with a shorter height has experienced an actual plant factor of 44 percent last year, according to sources with knowledge of the matter. (Colombo/May22/2024)

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