18th June 2000

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Sihala Urumaya will go Lincoln way

By Nilika de Silva

The newly launched Sihala Urumaya, the party which sets out to be a mouthpiece for the majority Sinhalese, has put out its policy, and states it will follow the vision of Abraham Lincoln when he fought the American Civil War.

"We will follow Abraham Lincoln who fought the American Civil war with one idea, the idea of winning," President of the Sihala Urumaya, S.L. Gunasekera said.

"He did not send food to the South, he did not send drugs," Mr. Gunasekera said, adding, "Lincoln was no chauvinist, he was a humanitarian. One must put an end to war."

The Sihala Urumaya, 58 days old today, applied for recognition as a political party on May 11 and has been called for an interview on Tuesday. "We should be registered as a political party before the end of this month," General Secretary Tilak Karunaratne said.

Among the objectives listed for the party is "To eradicate separatism and terrorism in all their forms and establish law and order and the rule of law throughout the length and breadth of the country." Another listed aim is "restoring the lost rights of the Sinhalese while guaranteeing equality before the law both in theory and in practice to all citizens of all races, castes creeds, religions and political opinions throughout the length and breadth of the country."

The UNP and PA's only objective were to stay in power. They would sell the country towards these ends, while the only law the terrorists know is Prabhakaran's orders, Mr. Gunasekera said. "We are not ready to sacrifice, to barter away or to betray the rights of the Sinhalese in order to stay in power," he said.

"Unlike other parties we don't consider minorities as pawns," he said.

"We are not hiding any trumps. We clearly state that we are there for the Sinhalese people."

Pronouncing a judgment on political rivals, the PA, the UNP, and other minor parties, Mr. Gunasekera said, "None of them has got the statesmanship to rise above petty politics."

Branches of the Sihala Urumaya have already been formed in Kandy, Galle, Kalutara, Kegalle, Avissawella, Kurunegala, while the branch in Matara is being formed. District committees are being set up and will form the electorate committees.

Small meetings have been held, in Kalpitiya, Galle, Matara, Nuwara Eliya and other parts of the country. We are going to launch the campaign in Galle on the 25th. More than 50 pocket meetings have already been held in Colombo.

Meanwhile, the ideas of the party have been spread outside the borders of Sri Lanka, with branches being requested by many groups abroad. Branches have already sprung up in UK, France, Oman and Australia.

Sihala Urumaya National Organizer Champika Ranawaka is soon to leave on a tour on which he will set up branches of the party in Italy, Germany, Canada and USA.

On June 14 the Supreme Court has granted the Sihala Urumaya leave to proceed in a fundamental rights case filed against the banning of a rally at Nugegoda due to Emergency Regulations. This rally they plan to hold on the 22nd at Vihara Maha Devi Park.

All that the LTTE leader desires is "getting the country to legalise his illegal rule of part of our country," he said. "To gain at the negotiating table what he could not gain by the use of arms" he added.

Describing the LTTE, Mr. Gunasekera said, "The most powerful gang of underworld criminals the world has seen. No other band of criminals have artillery, RPG, and multi-barrel rocket launchers."

Speaking of how Churchill mobilised the whole country under one banner, Mr. Gunasekera said, "The people were mobilised as one cohesive unit, to fight the war. The country was put on a regime of austerity."

He went on to add, "They didn't say we'll fight with him until we can bring him to the table. It was not to bring him to any furniture."

Mr. Gunasekera put down the Indian supportiveness as being "diplomatic gobbledegook". He dismissed the position India was taking saying that in their case, not having a stand is a habit. "A rather impotent habit" he said.

"They taught him to talk, they taught him to walk, they taught him to shoot, they weaned him, they even died at his hands," the President of the Sihala Urumaya said.

Expressing the party's opinion of the package, Mr. Gunasekera said, "We will oppose it whole heartedly. And it won't be sufficient for them to come to an agreement among themselves about the package, they will have to present that package to the people at a referendum. By that package they will be destroying the country's unitary status".

If it came to a referendum what would the Sihala Urumaya do, he was asked.

"We will stop everything else and work to oppose it. We'll oppose it tooth and nail, whatever the obstacles. Whatever the threats. Whatever the assaults that are levelled at us. There's no way that we can allow the package to go through. With regard to interim councils it will be the same, we can't allow these things," he said.

JVP protests price hikes

The JVP is to hold an island wide agitation on Thursday protesting the Government's price hikes and to coincide with the Postal Bill being taken up in Parliament on this day.

The protest which is the first among a series will get off ground in more than ten main towns. It will be under the banner "Common man's protest' and is expected to draw large crowds.

JVP spokesperson Wimal Weerawansa told The Sunday Times the protest will be held throughout the day to bring pressure on the Government to bring down the cost of living.

'The Government has ignored the common man and prices are increased with no concern for them. Our main aim is to agitate against the Government and also to give a voice to the people' he said.

He added that while the protest will be carried out throughout Thursday, trade unions in the Government and private sectors will carry out a picketing during the lunch hour.

The Colombo protest which will be held at Lipton's Circus is expected to draw more than 1000 people from various organisations. The JVP has called on student unions to be a part of the protest.

The party has decided to continue with a similar protest in the following months to bring pressure to the Government leading up to the elections. Thursday's protest will be held in Galle, Matara, Tangalle, Badulla, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Kegalle and Kandy.

Soldiers taken in over clash with minister's bodyguards

By our Pottuvil Corr. M. Jauffer

Twenty one Army personnel were taken into custody by the Moneragala Police on Friday in connection with an alleged attack on a Minister's bodyguards and her house on Thursday night.

According to sources Army personnel in civvies had broken into the house of Social Services Minister Sumedha Jayasena, attacked her bodyguards and driver and damaged her house. The Minister who was in the house at the time of the attack managed to escape unhurt. Eight of her bodyguards have been injured in the attack.

The incident took place on Thursday night around 11.45 pm after a brief argument between the Army personnel and the bodyguards at a petrol shed close to the Minister's house.

Ms. Jayasena told The Sunday Times that 'she managed to escape from the attackers as she hid in a room.'

Kadirana air crash

Victims plan court action

By Leon Berenger

Lawyers for some 30 claimants affected in this year's air crash at Kadirana are planning to go to courts in order to force the airline operators to pay compensation that could be between Rs. 50 to 100 million, amidst doubts over the authencity of the company's insurance documents.

The move to go to courts comes after the operators had failed show any signs of coming up with some kind of compensation despite notices issued to this effect by the counsel representing them.

"I have sent three letters of notice, one each to insurance companies (agents) in Norwich, England and in Russia and a third to the local company to which the aircraft belonged", attorney-at-law Shirley Amarasekera told The Sunday Times.

But since all three parties decided to ignore these notices we are left with little option but to seek redress through the courts, Mr. Amarasekera said. This will be done in a week or two, he added.

Top officials with the Civil Aviation Department said they were not aware on the authencity of the so-called third-party insurance documents owned by the private airline company, adding that this was not relevant, since under international aviation laws they are liable to meet the claims of the affected, insurance or not.

In keeping with future laws currently being drafted under the department's reconstruction program all private companies owning and operating aircraft within and outside the country will have to adhere to the rules and regulations of face stiff penalties, Senarath Liyanage, a legal consultant with the Civil Aviation Department said.

He said he cannot speak of the shortcomings of the past in the Department since it was now in the process of a huge reconstruction program into which the government has pumped millions of rupees

If the victims at Kadirana feel they have been ignored, then it is only justified that they go to courts, Mr. Liyanage said.

At least seven persons were killed and nearly 30 houses damaged when a Russian-built Antonov cargo plane crashed in bad weather at Kadirana.

Among those killed on the ground was a pregnant mother of six months who was crushed underneath her flattened house after the ill-fated plane crashed on her roof.

Drinking with the killer: hunt on for Dubai returnee

By Leon Berenger

Van Rooyen: killedThe police have launched a massive manhunt for a recent Gulf returnee after he is alleged to have murdered a fellow Sri Lankan and relieved the victim of nearly 1.5 million rupees in cash along with jewellery, personal belongings and even clothes.

The incident occurred early last month in Dubai, and since then the suspect who entered the country undetected by the authorities in the UAE has gone underground along with his young wife after dumping their three-year-old toddler with the grandparents.

Local detectives working on the case with the assistance of Interpol have so far gathered information that could only say that the suspect is a native of Pantalin Road in Kandana while his wife lives on the outskirts of Mirihana. The couple is suspected to be hiding somewhere in the outstations, but there are also reports that they were seen in the city recently, one investigator said.

The victim-Roger Cecil Van Rooyen of 37th Lane, Wellawatte was found dead by his girl friend almost two days after he was allegedly killed. A post mortem held in the Emirates revealed that Mr. Van Rooyen had died owing to intense pressure being exerted on the back of his neck. He had also consumed a considerable amount of alcohol on the fateful day he was attacked, leading investigators to believe that his drinks may have been spiked by the suspect so as to make him an easy target.

Interpol officials in Dubai laid their finger on the suspect after he vanished from the Emirates along with the victim's bank and credit cards. Earlier out of trust, Mr. Van Rooyen had even given the secret pin number of his credit card to the suspect. The two had at one time worked together at the Wonderland shopping mall and had struck up a close friendship before Mr. Van Rooyen moved out to the Aviation Club. The victim's body was discovered nearly a day after the suspect slipped out of the UAE, police said. Mr. Van Rooyen was due for his first vacation at the end of this month. Incidentally, the pair had left the country on the same day for the same destination as they were recruited by the same agent.

The grief-striken Van Rooyen familyMr. Van Rooyen's grief-stricken parents later made an official complaint to the Interpol Desk at Police Headquarters in Colombo. A second complaint was made to the same desk by Mr. Van Rooyen's younger brother Gene who also works in Dubai.

However the parents and relatives of the victim feel that the police could do more in their attempts to apprehend the suspect whose identity is known through photographs and travel documents handed over to the police.

A police officer from Interpol in Dubai arrived in the country sometime earlier this month where the Colombo desk was requested to arrest the suspect pending extradition to the UAE where he is bound to stand trial for first degree murder.

On many occasions we have sent teams to various addresses where the suspect is known to visit and on each visit he had given the slip to the police. But this will not go on for long, sooner or later we will have our man, Police Inspector (IP) R.K. Waidyasekera who heads the investigation team told The Sunday Times.

He said the suspect had a criminal record and was wanted by police in connection with several robberies and other criminal activities.


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