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  • A country obsessed with racial and religious conflicts
    Sri Lanka, as a nation has been wasting time debating sensitive racial and religious issues for the past several years, without gaining anything. Only thing the country has been witnessing as a result is communities distancing themselves from each other, while portraying a false unity among them. 
    The situation seems to have come to a head with people of various communities being emotionally charged over these issues subsequent to the attacks on three Christian churches and three major tourist hotels by the Islamic terrorists on April 21, 2019, which was also the Easter Sunday.
    The terrorist attacks which caught the nation off-guard demanded united action by all communities and political parties to handle the immediate situation and to prevent future recurrence of...
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  • Burqa ban: Security, human rights and male chauvinism
    A few years ago, on a Turkish beach exclusively for women, a bikini-clad woman offered her prayers. The video clip of the woman going through the postures of the Muslim prayer went viral and created a major debate among the Muslims.  Some censured her for not adhering to the dress code for prayers, but others said what mattered was her piety and not the dress.
    Following the release of the Easter Sunday terror attack commission report, Sri Lanka is mulling whether to ban burqa – the Muslim dress that covers a female body from head to toe – and niqab, which only shows the eyes of the wearer, but the issue needs to be looked at from human rights, security and spiritual angles to come to a right decision.
    If at the one end of the spectrum is public nudity, burqa will...
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  • South African Muslim bodies seek intervention over burqa ban in Sri Lanka Foreign Minister of South Africa urged to intervene
    South African Muslim organisations have called on the country’s foreign minister to intervene in the proposed Sri Lankan ban on the burqa and closure of hundreds of Islamic schools. This followed the announcement by Sri Lanka''s minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, during the weekend that his country would ban the traditional full-face covering worn by some Muslim women because it posed a threat to national security. This was quickly followed by a statement from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, which said a decision would only be taken on the proposal after consultations and further discussion. The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) has now asked South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to intervene in the matter. UUCSA had earlier also called for such intervention when...
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  • Banning Burqas and Madrasas illegal: Fmr MP
    Former MP M.M .Zuhair said yesterday it would be unlawful to ban Burqas and Madrasas. Issuing a statement, he said some observations and recommendations of the Commission on Easter Sunday attacks are invasive of the absolute protection given to every person under Article 10 of the Sri Lanka Constitution. He said the Commission’s report though good in parts, can be seen as an attempted assault on Islam for the heinous crimes of a dozen suicide bombers. The right to the freedom stated in Article 10 is ‘assured to all religions’ under Article 9. No one, not even Presidential Commissions can invite or promote the State or any limb of the Executive or Judiciary to violate the freedom guaranteed under Article 10.This protection is guaranteed notwithstanding any national security concerns, as the law stands today. In this constitutionally...
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  • Pakistan says likely ban on Niqab in SL to serve as injury on Muslims
    The Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak today said the likely ban on Niqab in Sri Lanka will only serve as an injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. In a tweet, the Ambassador said that at today’s economically difficult time due to COVID-19 pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country at the international fora, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country. Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral (Retd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said today that in addition to banning the burqa, the cabinet proposal would also include banning the niqab which covers the face of the wearer except the eyes. The...
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  • යුරෝපයේ රටවල් 8 කින් හිස්බුල්ලාට සහාය
    මානව හිමිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින ප්‍රමුඛ නීතිඥවරයකු වන හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වැනි මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ට ගරු කරන ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිමින් යුරෝපීය රටවල් අටක මානව හිමිකම් තානාපතිවරුන් ඒකාබද්ධ නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කර තිබේ. නෙදර්ලන්තය, ජර්මනිය, එංගලන්තය ස්වීඩනය, එස්ටෝනියාව, ලිතුවේනියාව, ලක්සම්බර්ග් සහ ෆින්ලන්තය...
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  • Eight EU HR Ambassadors raise concern over Hejaaz Hizbullah
    In a statement issued today, Eight Human Rights  Ambassadors of Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden called on the Sri Lankan government to " respect human rights defenders such as Hizbullah". The statement issued by the Ambassadors of the United Kingsdom, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands said that after ten months of Detention, Hejaaz Hizbullah was being accused of speech related offences. Prominent Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department on the 14th of April 2020. He was thereafter accused in the media of various activities related to terrorism. He was thereafter produced on the 18th of February 2021 where the Attorney General informed court that the entire case against Hizbullah was to be based on purported statements made by children. Hizbullah...
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  • Circular on burial of COVID-19 victims issued
    The circular containing the guidelines with regard to the burial of COVID-19 victims has been issued, the Health Ministry said. Some key guidelines are as follows, The relatives of the deceased should inform the Director/ Head of the health care institution (Where the death has occurred) of their desire to bury the corpse without delay. The Director of the hospital/ Head of the health care institution should obtain a written request from relatives for burial. The relatives need to provide a coffin in advance. It is the duty of the director/ Head of health care institution to transport the corpse in a coffin provided by the relatives to a designated location in Colombo Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (office of JMO) / BH Welikanda where the corpse will be received by the designated officer. The vehicle transporting the...
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  • Muslims to raise concerns over Iranaithivu burial with global bodies
    A leading Muslim organisation in Sri Lanka will this week send an official letter of concern to the global Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the World Muslim Congress, seeking their intervention to urge the Sri Lankan government to allocate a decent land for the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims. The Daily Mirror learns that the Sri Lanka Islamic Centre, which is a member of the World Muslim Congress will raise serious concerns with the global bodies and will also send a letter to the World Muslim Congress office in Geneva urging for immediate intervention after the government announced that burials of the COVID-19 dead would take place on the Iranaithivu Island, in the Gulf of Mannar. Senior Muslim officials said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to allocate the Iranaithivu Isle for the burials and instead urged...
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  • Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal further remanded
    Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were further remanded till March 18 by the Fort Magistrate’s Court today. They were earlier remanded under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA and section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act.   http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Hizbullah-and-Madrasa-School-Principal-further-remanded/108-206945 Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
    Read More...
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Israeli presence in Colombo

By Latheef Farook

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Bound to aggravate communal tension?

By Latheef Farook

“Israel’s foreign policy is that the national interest of Israel is the ultimate test and that the Israelis pursue this with cold blooded calculation” - late eminent journalist Mervyn De Silva.

The Zionist Jewish entity of Israel which has been sneaking into Sri Lanka time and again only to have been expelled, found a firm foothold in Colombo now. The island’s growing ties with Israel have become cause for serious concern among many especially within the beleaguered Muslim community which fears that this may spell disaster for them.

This fear emanates from Israel’s long record of hostility towards Muslims and its crucial role in the United States led western global campaign against Muslims under the guise of fighting a so called war on terrorism. It becomes still worse because a small minority of nationalists who, openly call for the expulsion of Tamils and Muslims from the island, are now in influential positions while Muslims parliamentarian remain subdued and ineffective.

In the recent past ministers, top government and private sector officials, tourists and many others started visiting Israel while Israeli entrepreneurs began investing in many sectors indicating the flourishing relations facilitated by the globalisation and open economy.

Israel sought to establish closer ties with Sri Lanka as early as 1950s. Answering a question on foreign affairs late prime Minister Mr S.W.R.D.Banadaranike said in the parliament on 14 August 1958 that” on assuming office Israel continued to pressurise to send an Israeli diplomatic representative as agreed by the previous government. Well, I said,” Yes you may do so”. Then the question of appointing our representative to Israel arose and I have just laid by for further consideration.”

It was during Prime Minister W Dahanayake’s period a non resident ambassador was appointed to Israel in 1958, but he was recalled by Prime Minister Mrs Srimavo Bandaranaike. The Sri Lankan Ambassador to Rome looked after the Israeli affairs during the UNP government between 1965 and 1970.

During the 1970 general elections expelling the Israeli mission in Colombo was a pledge by the United Front which attracted sizable Muslims votes. Fulfilling her promise Mrs Srimavo Bandaranaike closed down the Israeli mission in Colombo despite threats of economic boycott .It was during her time in the mid 1970s the Palestine Liberation Organisation opened its representative office which was elevated to full embassy status in 1982. The island’s fiercely independent and dignified policy and the overall attitude towards Israel was such that in 1979, Sri Lankan Cricket Team refused to play its match against Israel in the 15 nation qualifying competition in the 2nd Prudential World Cricket Competition in England.

Then came the disastrous July 1983 anti Tamil riots when the government had to deal with the rising  Tamil militancy in the north .With both the United States and Britain refused to help, President Jayewardene turned to other countries. Israel which always thrives on others’ misery grabbed the opportunity, came forward to help, leading to the establishment of an Israeli Interest Section in the US Embassy in Colombo with David Matna, later reported belonging to Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, appointed as resident head.

Muslims opposed the move. Leading a delegation respected senior Muslim politician and Chairman of UNP Dr M.C.M. Kaleel met President Jayewardene to express Muslim concerns. But dismissing them President Jayewardene stated “well, I will go even to devil to get help. If the Muslims wanted they can remain in the government, otherwise they can leave”. Muslim parliamentarians were placed in an embarrassing and helpless situation and Foreign Minister A.C.S.Hameed had to defend   the move. This was one of the reasons why the frustrated Muslims, especially those in the east, turned to Sri Lanka Muslim Congress for a forum of their own to raise their voice, though it later ended up as a disaster. Under these growing ties Israeli President Chaim Herzog paid an official visit to Sri Lanka in 1986.

It was proved time and again that Israelis have no special feelings for Sri Lanka which they consider “as an undeveloped and uncivilised country with monkey like people who are not long out of the trees and should not expect much” as disclosed in the book “By Way of Deception; The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer” by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy.

Insulting Sri Lankans further   the author of this book stated in page 128 as follows;

“Next I was assigned to the high ranking officers who were looking for radar equipment. I was told to take them to manufacturer in Ashdod named Alta that could do the work. But when he saw their specifications, the Alta representative said,” They’re just going through the motions. They are not going to buy our radar”

“Why? I said.

“These specs were not written for these monkeys (referring to Sri Lankans) the man said.” They were written by a British radar manufacturer called Deca, so these guys already know what they’re going to buy. Give them a banana and send them home. You’re wasting your time.

“Okay, but how about a brochure or something to make them happy?”

The conversation was going on in Hebrew while we all sat together eating cookies and drinking coffee and tea. The Alta rep said he didn’t mind giving them a lecture to make it look as if they weren’t brushed off,” but if we are going to do that, let’s have some fun.”

With that he went into another office for a set of big transparencies of a large vacuum –cleaner system that is used to clean harbours after oil spills. He had a series of colourful schematic drawings. Everything was written in Hebrew, but he lectured in English on this “high capability radar equipment”. I found it difficult not to laugh. He laid it on so thick, claiming this radar could locate a guy swimming in the water and practically tell his shoe size, his name and address and his blood type. When he’d finished, the Sri Lankans thanked him said they were surprised at this technological advancement, but that it wouldn’t fit their ships. We knew about their ships. We built them.

This book came out with startling revelations of Sri Lanka’s secret relations with Israel and in view of their seriousness President Ranasinghe Premadasa appointed a presidential commission of inquiry into allegations. Among those who gave evidence was eminent journalist Mervyn de Silva. He stated as follows:

“He said that he was of the opinion that the opening of the Israeli Interest Section in Colombo was an unwise step in the face of formal protests and warnings by the leader of the Opposition and the ruling party’s Muslim members led by Dr M.C.M.Kaleel.   It was wrong to have assumed that Israel’s national interests coincided with Sri Lanka’s national interests, and more particularly with Sinhalese interests.  Mervyn de Silva went on to say that the elementary fact of Israel’s foreign policy is that the national interest of Israel is the ultimate test and that the Israelis pursue this with cold blooded calculation.

Finally President Ranasinghe Premadasa closed down the Israeli Interest Section in Colombo on 20 April 1990 and discontinued diplomatic relations with Israel.

Once again Secret talks between Israel and Sri Lanka began in 1996 when the then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was hospitalized in New Delhi for a kidney operation. The Israeli ambassador in New Delhi, accompanied by the then Indian Ambassador in Colombo Sivashankar Menon who was earlier the Indian ambassador in Israel before coming to Sri Lanka and later Foreign secretary in India, visited Mr. Kadirgamar in the hospital. According to reports the Israeli ambassador had visited Mr. Kadirgamar frequently in the hospital and these secret contacts led to the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in June 2000.

Thus even when there were no formal ties, there was still activity with military delegations visiting Israel and purchasing arms. These ties continue until W.M.Seneviratne from the Foreign Service was appointed as the island’s ambassador to Israel.

The often raised question is what is the guarantee that the Israelis will not use the nationalists and extremists to whip up hostility against Muslims? This is the reason why the Muslims fear the Israeli presence may harm the existing ties within the communities and further complicate the ethnic conflict. Already there were widespread speculations that Israel played a crucial role in aggravating the split between the Tamils and Muslims who lived in peace and harmony in the East.

It was under such circumstance Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona visited Israel with a formal greeting from President Mahinda Rajapakse to Israeli President Shimon Peres, drenched in Palestinian blood especially his Qana massacre of more than one hundred innocent civilians in the United Nations compound.

During his four day visit Dr. Kohona visited ‘Yad Vashem’ the holocaust memorial. However, Dr Kohona didn’t find time to visit villages such as Deir Yassin and Kafr Qassim in the outskirts of Jerusalem where Nobel Prize winning Jewish terrorist Menachem Begin massacred Palestinians men, women, children and the aged. He even ripped open a pregnant Palestinian woman’s stomach and shot at the foetus.

Then came the first high profile visit of former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, accompanied by a team which included his secretary Mahinda Bandusena who was the island’s former ambassador to Israel, in March 2008 where he, perhaps to please the Israelis and displaying his ignorance, accused Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon of training Tamil youths. He also said that the Tamil youths learnt the art of suicide bombing from some Palestinian groups, an accusation yet to be proved.

But what was conspicuously absent in Mr. Wickremanayake’s speech was the role played by Israel in training both Tamil youths and the Sri Lankan government forces.  In this regard once again I like to quote from the book By Way of Deception –The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer” page 67 and 68;

“The Israelis also trained elite forces, for both sides-( Tamil militants and the government forces) without either side knowing about the other and helped Sri Lanka cheat the World Bank and other investors out of millions of dollars to pay for all the arms they were buying from them”

In pages 129 and 130 the same book  stated;“ Yosy was also looking after a group being trained by the Israelis. But they weren’t supposed to meet my people. They were Tamils, bitter enemies of my Sinhalese group”The Tamils were training at the commando naval base. learning penetration techniques, mining landings, communications and how to sabotage ships similar to the Devora. There were about 28 men in each group, so it was decided that Yosy should take the Tamils to Haifa that night while I took the Sinhalese to Tel Aviv, thus avoiding any chance encounters.

The real problem started about two weeks into the courses, when both the Tamils and Sinhalese-unknown to each other, of course were training at Kfar Sirkin. It is a fairly large base, but even so, on one occasion the two groups passed within a few yards of each other while they were out jogging. After their basic training routine at Kfar Sirkin, the Sinhalese were taken to the naval base to be taught essentially how to deal with all the techniques the Israelis had just taught Tamils. It was pretty hectic. We had to dream up punishments or night training exercises just to keep them busy, so that both groups wouldn’t be in Tel Aviv at the same time. The actions of this one man (Amy) could have jeopardized the political situation in Israel if these groups had met.

According to local reports Prime Minister Wickremanayake had also stated that Sri Lanka and Israel share a lot of commonalities and both nations have been at the receiving end of terror attacks. It is difficult to understand how could there be commonalities between Sri Lanka, with a recorded history of more than 2500 years and a civilization based on religious traditions and an agricultural society which produced some of the finest tank building engineering skills, with sixty year old Israel established in the lands robbed by means of violence and terrorism from Palestinians.

Later a parliamentary delegation led by Leader of the House Nimal Sripala De Silva visited Israel. Since  then several ministers and top officials visited Israel. Certainly a great achievement for Israel.

No doubt Sri Lanka is a small country. However its dynamic foreign policy in all international forums, especially under late Prime Minister Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike, won the hearts of people all over the Middle East.  In fact the moment you say you are from Sri Lanka their faces   brighten with a smile showing their love and affection to this country.  Under such circumstances is there any need to jeopardize our age old harmonious relations with Muslim countries based on solid foundations for the sake of the cruel Jewish state?

In fact Zionist Jews do not have such generosity towards Sri Lanka.All what they do wherever they go is to carefully screen and pick up racist elements to unleash violence against Muslim and pit communities against each other in keeping with their policy of flourishing in violence.

The Israelis have entered our island like midnight thieves and started spreading their tentacles from the media to businesses and other establishments and   cultivating politicians as they always do.  It is matter of time that Sri Lanka   pays the price for the folly of allowing Israelis here. This is the reason why the island’s Muslim community has been deeply concerned about the growing Israeli presence in Sri Lanka.

To justify their fear they cite what happened to Muslims in India. According to New Delhi based fortnightly “Milli Gazette” of 1-15 December 2009, Hindu extremist organizations   get lot of money from Israel via Europe to kindle communal riots against Muslims. Indian Home Ministry disclosed that in 2008 alone RS 7877 crores were received by Hindu organizations which were used for subversive activities in the form of riots, bomb blasts and creating circumstances detrimental to Muslims. The report added that “investigation give credence to the belief that Hindu terrorists are poisoning the socio-political atmosphere in India and Israel is helping them through financial help”.

Now the question is what is the guarantee that the Israelis would not do the same thing in Sri Lanka.Can the island afford this risk especially in the context of an organized racist campaign  against the island’s Muslim community?

Courtesy: Ceylon Today

 

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