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Silenced stones mark hard path to Sri Lankan reconciliation

Security forces have erected numerous monuments celebrating their 2009 victory over Tamil Tiger rebels. No such privilege has been accorded to the Tamil insurgents or civilians who died in the fight

A monument to Sri Lanka’s civil war victims. Photo: Duncan McCargo
By Duncan McCargo | Asia Times | July 26, 2017

An eerie art installation near an idyllic Sri Lankan beach symbolizes many of the contradictions of this post-war society, comprising a sculpture of a man carrying his brutalized daughter, an old suitcase full of clothes and a small ‘graveyard’ punctuated by tiny stones.

The core sculpture was inaugurated on May 18, 2016 – the seventh anniversary of the end of the decades–long civil war, which the Sri Lankan government celebrates as a day of victory over the Tamil insurgent

One year later, police obtained a court order preventing Father Elil Rajendram, the Tamil Jesuit priest behind the project (and an activist and co-spokesperson for the Tamil Civil Society Forum), from presiding over a ceremony to add some stones bearing the names of people who had died during the war.

The following day, after a legal challenge mounted by Kumaravadivel Guruparan, head of the law department at Jaffna University, the court decreed that the ceremony could only take place within the premises of the nearby church. The name-bearing stones have since remained out of public view, while Father Elil was questioned by the authorities on four separate occasions.

The police claimed that some of those memorialized might be members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist group, better known as the Tamil Tigers, although Guruparan argued that commemorating the names of deceased LTTE members was not banned under any Sri Lankan law.

In the event, the police proved unable to confirm that any of the names were actually those of LTTE members: they were simply acting on suspicion.

Sri Lanka – War grave markers – Duncan McCargo – July 2017

A cemetery of stone markers inscribed with the names of victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Photo: Duncan McCargo

Mullivaaikaal, the beach in question, lies at the heart of ‘the cage’, a narrow isthmus where the remnants of the Tamil Tigers were slaughtered by the Sri Lankan army in the bloody culmination of a long-running civil war in May 2009. Tens of thousands of people were killed in what the government still refers to as a ‘humanitarian’ operation.

Sri Lankan security forces have erected numerous monuments to celebrate their victory and to recognize their war dead, but no such privilege has been accorded to those from the LTTE, nor to the Tamil civilians who perished during the fighting.

In refusing to allow ordinary families to honor or even to remember their dead, Sri Lankan authorities claim they are responding to pressure from hardline Buddhist groups who insist that brutal terrorists are not entitled to such decencies.

The outspoken Chief Minister of the Northern Province, former Supreme Court Justice Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Vigneswaran, has been the one of the loudest elected voices for the Tamil cause in recent years.

This writer asked why he couldn’t erect a memorial to the Tamil war dead right in front of his office (there is a handy patch of waste ground right next to the gate), but he answered rather melodramatically that if he pushed too hard on this issue, even he could be taken into custody: the government has made holding meetings about memorials hard enough, let alone building them.

I later had chance to ask a senior military commander why the memorialization issue was so sensitive. While acknowledging that during many years of fighting the army had developed ‘a bit of an arrogant mindset’, he insisted that negative sentiments of people and politicians in the South were now the main obstacle to any memorial to Tamil victims or LTTE fighters, rather than military obstructionism.

Nevertheless, he personally believed such memorials should be possible in the future. Meanwhile, he noted, progress had been made – until recently, even private memorial ceremonies were banned, not just public commemorations.

The 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka remains a subject of intense controversy. But since the more compromising and pragmatic President Maithripala Sirisena assumed power in early 2015 with the support of the country’s Tamil minority, reconciliation has figured prominently in public discourse.

The incoming government established the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), chaired by the redoubtable former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Numerous worthy unity and reconciliation projects have been initiated, focusing on areas such as youth exchanges, vocational training, agricultural livelihoods and the construction of new homes for those displaced during the conflict.

Yet in the Northern Province – an overwhelmingly Tamil region where much of the fighting took place – local people remain skeptical about development-oriented, top-down reconciliation projects that are largely conceived and implemented by the bureaucracy and security forces. Among recurrent local concerns are missing persons, military land occupation and memorialization.

Critical observers, such as human rights activist Ruki Fernando, argue that until these core issues are addressed, token projects will do little to assuage Tamil frustrations with the state. He argues that rather than exercising leadership, the Colombo government has become the captive of the military and Buddhist hardliners.

During the civil war, huge numbers of people were driven out of their homes in the North and East of the country. When they tried to return after 2009, many found their land occupied by the military. In the Jaffna peninsula alone, the military currently holds more than 10,000 acres of land, around half of it used for bases.

The military points to progress in releasing occupied land, but insists that for security reasons the process has to be incremental.

In recent months, there has been a mushrooming of protest encampments by villagers seeking the return of their property from security forces. These round-the-clock vigils illustrate a remarkable opening up of political space in Sri Lanka: they would have been unthinkable during the time of hardline former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Yet while they have attracted some attention from the media and Tamil political parties, and in a few cases have won concessions from the military, most of the protests are being quietly ignored. Similar vigils have been established in other locations to demand information about those who went missing during the war.

Since 1994, the government has received more than 65,000 complaints relating to missing persons: in the absence of death certificates, their surviving relatives face serious problems over access to bank accounts, inheritance and re-marriage.

A major government initiative is needed to resolve these issues, but so far efforts to address them have been piecemeal; the president only finally approved the establishment of a long–promised Office of Missing Persons on July 20.

Land, missing persons and monuments are important examples of reconciliation-related issues. All highlight the importance of granting agency and authority to victims in a post-war order like Sri Lanka’s. Similar challenges have dogged other post-conflict societies such as that of Northern Ireland: education and development projects can only go so far, if sensitive core concerns remain unaddressed.

While the international community is now pressing for large-scale transitional justice initiatives in Sri Lanka, neither a hybrid tribunal nor a truth commission will be easy to realize. In the meantime, displaying the names of some Tamil war victims near a Northern beach might be one small place to start.

Duncan McCargo is the author of Tearing Apart the Land (2008), a study of the Southern Thai conflict

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Why The Netherlands Just Banned Non-Commercial Use Of Monsanto’s Glyphosate-Based Herbicides

By Arjun Walia | Collective Evolution | May 30, 2015

The Netherlands has just become the latest country, following Russia, Mexico, and many others, to say no to Monsanto. The sale and use of glyphosate-based herbicides (the most commonly used herbicides in the world) has just been banned for non-commercial use in the country, effective later this year. This means that people will no longer be able to spray RoundUp on their lawns and gardens and will instead have to find another (hopefully more natural) means of pest control.

This is definitely a step in the right direction.

The move comes as no surprise, considering that the number of countries around the world who are choosing to ban this product is growing at an exponential rate. Bans and restrictions are being implemented due to the fact that glyphosate (the main ingredient in RoundUp) has been directly linked to several major health issues, including: birth defects, nervous system damage, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, various forms of cancer, and kidney failure. (Sri Lanka recently cited deadly kidney disease as their reason for banning his product. You can read more about that and access the research here.) Indeed, The World Health Organization recently acknowledged the fact that glyphosate can cause cancer, and you can read more about that here.

Not only that, there are multiple environmental concerns associated with the use of this chemical.

What’s even more disturbing is the fact that studies have shown that RoundUp herbicide is over one hundred times more toxic than regulators claim. For example, a new study published in the journal Biomedical Research International shows that Roundup herbicide is 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation. You can read more about that here. The eye opening abstract reads as follows:

“Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines. Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.  Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.” (source)

Equally disturbing is the fact that RoundUp has been found in a very high percentage of air and rainfall test samples. You can read more about that here.

Significant concentrations of it have also been found in the urine of people across Europe, you can read more about that here.

One recent study published in the Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology has now proven that animals and humans who consume GMO foods – those that are loaded with glyphosate chemicals, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp – have extremely high levels of glyphosate in their urine.

It’s also noteworthy to mention that there are Wikileaks documents showing how the United States planned to “retaliate and cause pain” on countries who were refusing GMOs. You can read more about that story and view those documents here.

It’s troubling to think that so many children are within proximity of and playing on lawns that have been sprayed with this stuff. Cancer is not a mystery, it is not a stroke of bad luck, it’s time for the world to wake up and realize what research has been confirming for years.

More Information on Pesticides & Herbicides Here:

**There are also multiple articles linked within the article above that provide more information**

Scientists Link Autism To These Toxic Chemicals During Fetal Development

Another Groundbreaking Study Emerges Linking Agricultural Pesticides To Autism

Scientists Can Predict Your Pesticide Exposure Based On How Much You Eat

This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Switch To Organic Food

What Parents Need To Know About Monsanto: “By 2025 One In Two Children Will Be Autistic”

Monsanto’s Glyphosate Linked To Birth Defects

Groundbreaking Study Links Monsanto’s Glyphosate To Cancer

New Study Links Gmos To Cancer, Liver/Kidney Damage & Severe Hormonal Disruption

Multiple Toxins From GMOs Detected In Maternal And Fetal Blood

Sources Used:

http://sustainablepulse.com/2014/04/04/dutch-parliament-bans-glyphosate-herbicides-non-commercial-use/#.VWcpp1xVhBd

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka: Who’s behind anti-Muslim violence?

PressTVGlobalNews | June 24, 2013

The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has shocked the world and drawn attention to rising Islamophobia in Asia. Now Muslims in Sri Lanka are under dire threat as well.

The similarities with Myanmar are striking and foreboding. Buddhist monks are at the forefront of the rising hatred, the government is taking sides against Muslims and attacks have begun.

Full scale violence is threatening to break out to create another catastrophe for Muslims in the region. There have already been a series of attacks on mosques and Muslim places of work.

Hard line, ultra nationalist groups led by Buddhist monks such as Buddhist Strength Force (BBS) and Sinhala Echo preach the same message as those of the Buddhist Rakhine in Myanmar: “Muslims are taking over, they are building too many mosques and are trying to destroy our culture.”

On this week’s INFocus we document the rising crisis in Sri Lanka and attempt to bring the world’s attention to the issue before it’s too late.

I

II

The Sri Lankan Defense Secretary recently gave his support to the monks. “It is the monks who protect this country, religion and race” he stated.

He also cautioned the ultra nationalist groups not to promote “communal hatred.” But this communiqué was delivered in English, not in Sinhala.

On this week’s INFocus, which is a sequel for last week’s episode, we try to understand the reason behind this rising hatred and where the blame truly lies.

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Islamophobia, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

South – South trade may withstand global recession

Indian and Latin American cooperation

Claudia Fonseca Sosa | Granma | December 13, 2012

THIS year, India has shown a notable interest in increasing its economic relations with Latin American countries. Given the serious crisis in the Eurozone and the deceleration of the U.S. economy, nations south of the Rio Bravo are demonstrating greater macroeconomic stability and represent a major growing market.

For example, Brazil, the principal regional buyer of Indian products and the second-largest supplier to the country, increased imports from the Asian giant by 66.2% on the first seven months of 2012. Mexico, the second largest buyer and fourth Latin American exporter to India, raised its exports to the country by 72.1% in the first half of the year.

Other Latin American nations, essentially exporters of raw materials, also have a secure market in India at a time of financial instability. Indian business executives predict that, by 2014, bi-regional trade will be double that of 2011.

However, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that economic links with Latin America could be more developed, and thus exceed the current trade volume of $25 billion, an insufficient figure and equal to 10% of Chinese economic exchange with the region.

The Indian economy is historically based on manufactured goods and agriculture, being one of the principal world producers of sugar cane, cotton and jute. But in recent decades the country has diversified and developed into sectors such as space and aeronautics research, informatics, telecommunications, electronics, medicine, oil and natural gas.

In fact, India’s dynamic industrial development has caught the attention of companies worldwide, leading to the establishment of subsidiaries in the country, which possess a large qualified workforce.

As a member of the group of emerging economies, BRICS, together with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, India contributes half of global economic growth. In 2011, its Gross Domestic Product grew by over 8%.

In June 2012, a ministerial representation from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Community (CELAC) had a meeting in New Delhi with Indian government officials, during which both sides expressed a mutual interest in extending political relations and economic ones in particular. It was the first time that CELAC, comprising 33 countries in the region, had negotiated abroad as a bloc.

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See also:

Iran, Brazil Trade Balance Hits $2.4bln

Sri Lanka proposes barter trade with Iran

Pakistan, Iran to open a new market near border

Belarus to Get $600 Mln in Loans from China

Chinese MP: Beijing Welcomes Expansion of All-out Ties with Tehran

Diplomat: Iran-Iraq Trade Ties to Surpass $12bln

December 20, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Comments Off on South – South trade may withstand global recession

Sri Lanka’s only refinery closes due to US sanctions against Iran

Press TV – October 28, 2012

Sri Lanka has closed down its only refinery, Sapugaskanda, as the sanctions imposed against Iran’s energy sector by the US have taken a toll on the South Asian country’s crude imports.

“Since August due to strict adherence to US sanctions, our letters of credit for imports have stopped being accepted,” Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayantha said on Wednesday.

The Sapugaskanda refinery, which has a capacity of 50,000 barrels a day and is geared only to process Iranian crude, shut down its operations earlier this week due to not receiving oil supplies from Iran.

Premajayantha said this week that Sri Lanka’s cumulative loss from the US sanctions against importing Iranian crude was a staggering $1.2 billion.

At the beginning of 2012, the US and the EU approved new sanctions against Iran’s oil and financial sectors. The embargoes aim to prevent other countries from purchasing Iranian oil or transacting with the Central Bank of Iran.

The US and the EU have declared that the bans are meant to force Iran to abandon its nuclear energy program, which they claim includes a military component.

Iran has vehemently refuted the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful objectives.

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment