Sri Lankan fishermen oppose Chinese exploitation of their maritime resources

Local Sri Lankan fishermen in the northern part of the island nation come forward to oppose the Chinese exploitation of maritime resources in their waters.

Led by several Chinese corporations and entities, Beijing has launched a campaign to gain dominance in the sea near Sri Lanka, according to Mawrata News.

Beijing appears to be eyeing the cultivation of sea cucumbers, which is one of the island nation’s primary economic activities, the report said.

Media reports indicate that Sri Lanka shipped approximately 336 tonnes of sea cucumbers to China, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2021.

“Consequently, breeding and exporting the aquatic creature like a sausage that is considered a delicacy in China and Southeast Asia is a profitable market for Chinese businesses,” the report said.

This comes as Colombo is pursuing a Cabinet-authorised plan for large-scale commercial sea projects in Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, and Kilinochchi.

After the Sri Lankan cabinet plans were made public, a Macau-based Chinese firm offered to establish a large-scale sea cucumber farming operation in the Puttalam and Jaffna districts.

According to Mawrata News, this 10-year project looks to include more than 36,000 acres of water to yield 8.6 million kilograms of sea cucumber.

Due to fear of possible marine depletion, locals are reportedly opposed to the project under discussion.

Annalingam Annarasa, the President of the Jaffna Fisheries Federation, was quoted as saying in local media that the proposed project will bring more harm than benefit to locals.
Even as Sri Lankan government continues to promote these sea projects, the fishermen believe that this would lead to lasting damage to the local marine ecology and hurt their livelihoods in the long run.

Earlier, a similar Chinese project in the Kilinochchi district faced stiff opposition last year from local fishermen who objected to the fencing of the land adjoining the sea.

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Wiggy proposes regional councils at provincial level

hamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK) Leader and Jaffna District MP C.V. Wigneswaran said yesterday (26) that he had requested Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to constitute Regional Councils for each province since every province has different issues.

Speaking to The Morning, Wigneswaran said that since the problems in the North are different to those in the South, he had therefore suggested to Gunawardena to establish regional councils in every province. “Our problems in the North are different to those of the South. I suggested that we have Regional Councils for each province,” he added.

When queried on his role if any in the newly established National Council, Wigneswaran stated that he had not consented to be a part of the National Council. However, following a meeting with Prime Minister Gunawardena, his name appeared in the list of members.

“Since Gunawardena wanted to see me with others in his office in Parliament, I went and met him. He wanted us to join the Council. I said that it would be difficult for me to attend meetings as I have to travel continuously for seven to eight hours from Jaffna, and because there is no point in me attending as the Council would deal with matters of importance to the South,” he added.

He also noted that he had suggested that Prime Minister Gunawardena visit the North to ascertain the problems there and seek solutions.

“The Prime Minister should visit us and find out about our problems and seek solutions to them,” he noted.

Wigneswaran stated that Gunawardena can also give a report of his observations in the North to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

“I suggested to the Premier to visit the North and examine the issues there. He could give a report to the President asking him to implement his proposals after having discussions with us. He agreed to discuss this suggestion with the President,” he added.

Wigneswaran noted that following the above conversations with the Prime Minister, he saw his name in the membership list of the National Council.

Commenting further on the National Council, he said: “So far, we have not been told anything in detail except to say that we should share our views on important political and economic matters that are coming up.”

Wigneswaran also said: “Let me wait until the Prime Minister informs us of the decision taken by the Government in relation to my suggestion. Our role as such would be advisory, I believe. The Government may not be obliged to accept our views.”

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Northern families forced to give up children to foster care

Due to the severity of the economic crisis and the lack of household finances, there has been an increase in the number of children being admitted by their families to children’s homes in the Northern Province.

Statistical data provided by the Child Care and Probation Department of the Northern Province has revealed that as of June 2022, some 246 children have been sent to children’s homes in the Northern Province as a result of the ongoing economic crisis, which has left parents grappling with financial instability, rendering them unable to provide for their children.

Speaking to The Morning yesterday (26), Northern Province Commissioner of Child Care and Probation Guruparan Rajendran said that the economic crisis functions as both the direct and indirect factor behind children in the North being sent to children’s homes, since their parents are no longer capable of providing for them.

He also noted that the provincial funds allocated for child care and probation had not been released from the General Treasury due to the financial challenges faced by the Government.

“There is inadequate funding to support and maintain these children and therefore, the Child Care and Probation Department has had to opt for the option of sending them to homes,” he added.

Due to the severity of the economic crisis, mothers are heading abroad to work in foreign countries. There is no security for the children, especially girl children, and therefore, there has been an increase in the numbers of children being admitted to homes, he noted.

Rajendran stated that when parents lose their jobs, they are prone to financial difficulties and are unable to maintain their children.

He noted that under the National Alternative Care Policy, children are supported and maintained if their biological families are unable to do so.

This policy was formulated based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Constitution of Sri Lanka. It states that sending children to homes should be the final option, he elaborated.

“The institutionalisation of children and sending them to homes should be the last option. But we are sending children to homes as the first option due to the lack of funds,” he explained.

He further added that an allocation from the Provincial fund would normally be provided for child care and probation through the General Treasury, but the sudden economic crisis has affected this procedure, affecting the availability of funds.

“We do not want our first resort to be sending children to a home, as it should be the final option. We use the Provincial funds to prevent the institutionalisation of children and to assist families to provide for their children,” he added.

This fund is also allocated for the reunification of children with their families, he noted.

“Since there have not been allocations provided to the Northern Province, we are facing difficulties in providing for the children. It is a tremendous challenge for us to prevent the institutionalisation of children,” he added.

According to the current statistical data provided by the Child Care and Probation Department of the Northern Province, there are 1,529 children in 37 registered child development centres, while 689 children are cared for by guardians as they are orphans.

Security Council: SL to back bids of India and Japan for permanent member status

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday said Sri Lanka government will back the bids of India and Japan for permanent member status at the UN Security Council.

President Wickremesinghe is currently in Japan to attend the state funeral of the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

During a meeting with Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Tuesday, Wickremesinghe “appreciated the support extended by Japan (to Sri Lanka) on the international stage and expressed the government’s willingness to support both Japan’s and India’s campaign to become permanent members of the UN Security Council, the President’s office said in a press release.

India has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the Security Council saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the UN body, which in its current form does not represent the geo-political realities of the 21st century.

At present, the UNSC comprises five permanent members and 10 non-permanent member countries which are elected for a two-year term by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The five permanent members are Russia, the UK, China, France and the US and these countries can veto any substantive resolution. There has been growing demand to increase the number of permanent members to reflect the contemporary global reality.

India is currently halfway through the second year of its two-year term as an elected non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

India’s tenure at the Council will end in December when the country will also preside as President of the powerful UN organ for the month.

On Saturday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, addressing the General Debate of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, emphasised that India is prepared to take up greater responsibilities.

The call for reformed multilateralism with reforms of the Security Council at its core enjoys considerable support among UN members, he said.

“It does so because of the widespread recognition that the current architecture is anachronistic and ineffective. It is also perceived as deeply unfair, denying entire continents and regions a voice in a forum that deliberates their future,” Jaishankar said.

Meanwhile, President Wickremesinghe’s office said Japan has expressed willingness to take a lead role in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring, which is vital for the island’s bid to gain a bailout facility from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF had expressed readiness to enter a staff-level agreement with Sri Lanka conditional to debt restructuring.

In mid-April, Sri Lanka declared its international debt default due to the forex crisis. The country owes USD 51 billion in foreign debt, of which USD 28 billion must be paid by 2027.

The IMF does not lend to countries whose debt is deemed unsustainable, requiring Sri Lanka to undertake an upfront comprehensive debt treatment.

Both India and Japan are major creditors of Sri Lanka, besides China and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Sri Lanka is banking on Japan to organise a debt restructuring conference on its behalf.

Wickremesinghe has also indicated that he was keen to revive halted Japanese projects in Sri Lanka, officials said.

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“As Western Countries helped Ukraine-India Should Help Tamils, Including At UN to Refer Sri Lanka to ICC” Tamil Students

“Even Though India is a Member of the UN Human Rights Council, the Self-Appointed Core-Group on Sri Lanka Kept India Out of Their Group”

“India was actively involved in Tamil issues for decades & have deep knowledge of our plight more than any other country in the world, including Sri Lanka. Indira Gandhi took Tamil Issue to UN in 1983”— Tamil Students

In an urgent press conference, Jaffna University Student union urged India’s help to Refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the current Session of the UN Human Rights Council. “India is not only a current Member of the UN Human Rights Council, it is also our powerful and important neighbor, as well as a Regional Super Power.”

The current Sri Lanka Resolution was drafted by the self appointed “Core-Group on Sri Lanka”, which consists of United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia and a lone non-western county Malawi. Even though India is a member of the Council, the “Core – Group on Sri Lanka” kept India out of their group.

“As our neighbor, we urge India to take a leadership role at UN and other international forums. If Western countries can take the lead in taking Ukraine-Russia war issue to International Criminal Court (ICC) and to International Court of Justice (ICJ), then India have all the right to take Sri Lanka issue to ICC and ICJ.”

India was actively involved in our Tamil issues for decades and have very good knowledge and understanding of our plight more than any other country in the world, including Sri Lanka.

When we face abuses, it is India that first come for our aid.

For example, after the mass killing of Tamils and rape of Tamil women in 1983, hundreds of thousands of Tamils fled in small boats to India for protection. Even now there are tens of thousands of Tamil refugees still living in India. India continues to provide to Tamil refugees-even after forty years – food, shelter, education, employment and security.

Not only India gave us protection, India under the leadership of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, took Tamil issue to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 1983 and brought our desperate situation to the attention of the world in order to get protection for Tamils.

We again need India’s help at the UN. This is directly connected to our Safety and Security.

The issue we need India’s help is to help Refer Sri Lanka to International Criminal Court for mass killings of Tamils and sexually assaulting and raping hundreds of Tamil women and girls by the Sri Lankan Security forces.

As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, India have the right and authority to take steps to pass a resolution to Refer Sri Lanka to International Criminal Court (ICC). As a Regional leader India have more understanding and credibility than any any other country, from distant places, who have no clue about our plight.

There is a draft resolution on Sri Lanka currently being circulated at the UN Human Rights Council, drafted by the self-appointed “Sri Lanka Core-Group”.

But this draft resolution did not include the recommendation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling to Refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and this recommendation was endorsed by all previous UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, nine former UN Special Rapporteurs all of whom have visited Sri Lanka and wrote reports and all the members of UN Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka.

We, Jaffna University Students Union joined Tamil political parties, Members of Parliament and Civil Society groups jointly wrote a letter to the Core group of countries about the importance of Referring Sri Lanka to ICC in the resolution. But our request have been ignored by the Self Appointed Sri Lanka Core – Group of countries, who have no knowledge or understanding of our continuing plight.

Here was our request: As a Mark of Urgency Several Segments of Tamil Community Unitedly Urge UN to Refer Sri Lanka to Int’l Criminal Court ICC.

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Event remembers 31 Tamil civilians murdered 32 years ago

A remembrance event has taken place for 31 Tamil civilians who were murdered 32 years ago in Batticaloa blamed on the military.

On the morning of September 20 1990, Sri Lankan soldiers entered the Savukkadi village and opened fire on civilians. 26 villagers, including 10 children and an infant, were burnt to death and buried in two ditches. Soldiers also shot at fishermen in the waters off the village, killing 7.

Relatives and other villagers paid floral tributes and a mass by Batticaloa bishop Rev. Nocholas Jude held in front of a memorial at Saukadi on September 20.

According to eyewitnesses, a group in military uniforms stormed the village around 8.30 am on September 20, 1990.

They shot and hacked infants, women and men and burnt their bodies, and also killed seven fishermen.

Villagers demand justice for the victims and punishment for the killers.

Sri Lanka assures China will continue excellent cooperation

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry on the sidelines of the general debate of the UNGA 77 in New York on September 23.

Wang Yi said that China and Sri Lanka established the relations of strategic partnership of cooperation, and the two countries have always shared weal and woe and treated each other with all sincerity. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations and the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact, which is of great significance to inherit the past and usher in the future.

China is willing to work with Sri Lanka to carry forward traditional friendship, consolidate strategic mutual trust, and deepen and expand practical cooperation. China has provided Sri Lanka with emergency humanitarian assistance such as medicines, rice and fuel, and will continue to provide Sri Lanka with assistance within its capacity to overcome temporary difficulties.

Sabry said that Sri Lanka-China friendship has a solid foundation. China has provided strong support to Sri Lanka’s economic and social development for a long time, especially when Sri Lanka encountered difficulties, which Sri Lanka will bear in mind. China is an important development partner of Sri Lanka, and Chinese enterprises have made positive contributions to the accelerated development of Sri Lanka. The so-called “Chinese debt trap” argument is a completely untenable rumor.

Sri Lanka welcomes and will make efforts to ensure investment safety and reasonable returns from countries including China. Sabry thanks to China for providing assistance to Sri Lankan students returning to China for study.

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GOSL asks US court to dismiss case filed by Hamilton Reserve Bank over default

The Sri Lankan government has asked a US judge to dismiss the case filed by Hamilton Reserve Bank for defaulting on bonds, the financial news agency Bloomberg reported.

The government had requested that the case in New York be dismissed over the country reaching debt default, stating that the case brought by one bank is an “apparent attempt to gain leverage over a nation in crisis and jump ahead of other foreign creditors.”

Hamilton Reserve Bank, based in the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts & Nevis, filed legal action citing the country’s default on a $1 billion sovereign bond.

The 5.875% interest International Sovereign Bonds were due for payment two months ago on July 25, 2022.

When contacted by News 1st, the Finance Ministry confirmed that arguments were presented with regard to the relevant case.

According to court documents seen by News 1st, Hamilton Reserve Bank has charged that under the terms of the Bonds, Sri Lanka owes it a total of US$257,539,331.25. This is comprised of US$250,190,000 in principal and US$7,349,331.25 in interest.

Hamilton Reserve Bank previously alleged that Sri Lanka’s default was being orchestrated by officials at the highest levels of its Government, and also charged that the Rajapaksa family was responsible.

Gnanasara thero attends Saudi National Day event

A one-time critic of the Muslim community, the Venerable Galagodathe Gnanasara thero, was seen at the Saudi National Day event in Colombo last night.

The General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), was seen seated with Muslim diplomats and having discussions with them and others at the event.

BBS official Dilanthe Withanage was also among those who attended the event held at the Shangri-la Hotel in Colombo last night (Friday).

The BBS said that the the Venerable Gnanasara thero was invited to attend the event as a special guest.

Gnanasara thero has in the past made comments which had hurt the Muslim community.

He had been accused of instigating attacks on the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

BASL slams declaration of high-security zones, vows legal actions

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has expressed deep concerns at President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s move to declare certain areas in Colombo District as high-security zones.

President Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of Defence, declared parts of Colombo District as high-security zones in a Gazette Extraordinary published on Friday (Sep. 23) under Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act, No. 32 of 1955.

As per the gazette notification, Parliament Complex, Supreme Court Complex, High Court Complex in Colombo, Magistrate Court Complex in Colombo and Attorney General’s Department, Presidential Secretariat, President’s House, Sri Lanka Navy Headquarters and Police Headquarters, Defence Ministry and Sri Lanka Army Headquarters in Akuregoda, Sri Lanka Air Force Headquarters in Slave Island and Prime Minister’s Office at Flower Road are now high-security zones.

In its statement, the BASL noted that this order appears to cover several areas in Colombo District including the areas in Colombo ordinarily used by the members of the public. It also covers several areas in Hulftsdorp in the vicinity of the court premises, it added.

The BASL accused that this order issued by the President “purports to prohibit public gatherings or processions whatsoever on a road, ground, shore, or other area situation within such high-security zones without the permission of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) or a Senior DIG.

“The objective of making an order under Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act is to better safeguard information relating to the defences of Sri Lanka and to the equipment, establishments, organizations and institutions intended to be or capable of being used for the purpose of defence. Orders under Section 2 cannot be made for any other purpose.

The BASL said it is concerned that the purported order of the President also seeks to create offences under the said order which are not found in the Principal Act.

“It is also of utmost concern that the purported order imposes stringent provisions in respect of bail by stating that a person taken into custody in connection with an offence under the said orders shall not be granted bail except by a High Court. The Official Secrets Act contains no such provisions, and in fact, Section 22 of the Act empowers a Magistrate to release a suspect on Bail. As such the purported order seeks to significantly curtail the liberty of the citizen, without any reasonable or legal basis,” the statement continued.

The association said it is deeply concerned that under the cover of the purported order under Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act that there is the imposition of draconian provisions for the detention of persons who violate such orders thus violating the freedom of expression, the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of movement all of which are important aspects of the right of the people to dissent in Sri Lanka.

Further, the BASL said it would carefully study the provisions of the said Order and take appropriate legal action to ensure that the fundamental rights of the people are secured.

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