Talks on JVP-SLFP alliance commence tomorrow

By Harinda Vidanage
The JVP and the SLFP will initiate formal discussions on the formation of an alliance at 12 noon at President's House tomorrow, party sources said.

JVP MP, Wimal Weerawansa confirmed that the JVP was preparing the guidelines for consideration by the SLFP on the formation of an alliance.

The JVP has decided to give priority to issues related to the peace process as both parties have expressed conflicting views on the subject.

The Sunday Times learns that the draft proposals on the formation of a JVP-SLFP alliance have been forwarded to JVP leader Mr. Somawansa Amarasinghe who is residing in London. He is expected to make a final decision on the principles of the alliance shortly.

JVP parliamentarian Nandana Gunathilaka told the Sunday Times that the draft proposals will mainly relate to the peace process, the economy and other vital issues necessary to govern the country efficiently.

He said that the guidelines would also encompass even issues like cultural affairs and sports.

The Sunday Times learns that President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Lakshman Kadirgamar would lead the SLFP delegation. The SLFP negotiating team was to include Mr. Maithripala Sirisena. Mr. Mangala Samaraweera and Dr. Sarath Amunugama, however, they are presently out of the country with a parliamentary group on a tour of four European countries to study the Federal framework.

Meanwhile, a special committee is preparing the draft of the SLFP proposals for consideration by the JVP. According to informed sources the proposals are based on the draft constitution the PA government presented in 2000.

"In the name of Buddha" an affront to Buddhists-Musthapha

From Neville de Silva in London
Sri Lanka has expressed its "grave concern" to the British Government at the contents of a film titled "In the name of Buddha" that has enraged Buddhists and even Sri Lankans professing other religious beliefs.

High Commissioner Faisz Musthapha has written to the British Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting, Dr Kim Howell complaining that the film not only tarnishes Buddhism and gives a jaundiced account of events in Sri Lanka, but is inimical to the on-going peace process which the UK supports.

He is now to follow it up with a formal meeting with the British minister to convey the concerns of the government and of the Buddhist community.

High Commissioner Musthapha says that credible reports received by him indicate that the film is calculated to "tarnish Buddhism and ridicule the noble message of Lord Buddha whose teachings abhor violence and preach compassion".

In this regard the High Commissioner also quotes The Sunday Times which in a comment from London, wrote: "In the name of Buddha does not merely condemn and castigate the Sri Lankan soldiers for human rights violations. The implication is that this is done by Buddhist soldiers in the name of Buddhism".

The Sunday Times went on to state, says the High Commissioner, that "the Buddhists are shown as the perpetrators of violence".

On the basis of the synopsis of the film reported on the producer's website, they have been neither fair nor balanced, complains the High Comissioner.

Mr Musthapha who returned to London last week after about three weeks in Colombo where he was consulted on the peace process, particularly with regard to human rights issues that will soon be under discussion, is also due to meet the Ambassadors of predominantly Buddhist countries such as Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to personally underscore the offensive nature of the film that unjustly condemns Buddhism.

He will also meet with the Indian High Commissioner to London to apprise him of the derogatory portrayal of the Indian Peace Keeping Force whose soldiers - particularly the Sikhs- are depicted as rapists, murderers and looters.

It is also possible that the attention of the Home Office will be drawn to the film in which one of the protagonists, called the "freedom fighters", is easily identified as the LTTE which is an organisation banned in the UK under its Anti-Terrorism Act of 2000. The same Act makes it an offence to support, be a member of, display any signs that relate to a banned organisation.


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