Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Menik Farm Zone-4 closed, Vavuniya IDPs drop to 16, 025

The authorities in charge of the northern IDPs closed the Zone-4 area of the Menik Farm relief village in Vavuniya today (9 Nov) with the resettlement of IDPs sheltered there.

Accordingly, six hundred IDPs who were sheltered at Zone-4 were resettled in Mamule today which reduces the total number of IDPs in Vavuniya to 16, 025. With the closure of Zone-4, only 4 welfare centers remain in Vavuniya, the Chief Coordinating Officer of the Competent Office for IDPs in Vavuniya said.

Including the 1158 IDPs remaining in Jaffna, the total number of IDPs remaining in the North is 17, 183, the Ministry of Resettlement said.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gota says US statement at UN HRC positive, underscores govt’s responsibility to maintain peace

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says the global community should realize the growing danger posed by terrorism and take tangible measures to deal with the threat.

Sri Lanka, he says, can share her experience with those fighting non-state actors in difficult circumstances in various parts of the world. "Anyone perpetrating terrorism should be considered as the common enemy and the world should be united to meet the challenge," he said.

Responding to a query by The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said nothing could be as accurate as what US Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer told the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva on Friday (Nov.5).

The Defence Secretary was referring to Brimmer’s speech at the first comprehensive review of the US before the UN Human Rights Council, in which she noted it was "our own people, to whom we are ultimately accountable."

The human rights review comes in the wake of whistleblower website, Wiki Leaks releasing a plethora of classified military documents relating to excesses by US forces fighting non-state actors and the US military turning a blind eye to abuses by those working under its command both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

War veteran Rajapaksa said that Brimmer was spot on. According to the Defence Secretary, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had emphasized on many occasions that his responsibility was for the people of Sri Lanka. The Defence Secretary said that the Sri Lankan government dubbed its military campaign a humanitarian operation as one of its major objectives was the rescue of the Tamil speaking people.

The outspoken official said that the position taken by the US Assistant Secretary could be applied to any other country fighting state or non-state actors, in Sri Lanka’s case a formidable internal threat backed by powerful external factors.

Commenting on an interview given by US analyst Stephen Cohen headlined ‘Lanka lauded for triumph over Tigers, asked to reconcile with Tamils,’ carried on the Oct. 17, 2009, issue of The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa pointed out that the former US State Department employee had referred to the situation in Somali waters and what could have happened if the Sea Tigers established control over Sri Lankan waters.

The Defence Secretary said that the world could learn from Sri Lanka’s experience in fighting an unconventional enemy, who would stop at nothing to achieve its military targets. "For 30 years there was a constant change of strategies. They adopted strategies to counter ours, and we had to take on counter their new plans," the Defence Secretary said, adding that the government always believed that it was responsible for the people and the entire military effort was directed at restoring civilian control over the entire country. Had there been any other objective, the war against terror wouldn’t have been successful, he said, adding that the people threw their weight behind the military campaign as they felt the action against the LTTE was justified.

Referring to the outbreak of war in the East in mid 2006, the former Gajaba officer said that the government had responded militarily only after the LTTE denied water to thousands of families by cutting off Mavilaru waters. President Mahinda Rajapaksa had no option but to meet the LTTE’s military challenge as he was responsible for the well being of the people, the Defence Secretary said.

The Defence Secretary said that throughout the offensive, including the final phase (April-May) in which the Sri Lankan Army had to rescue some 300,000 forcibly held by the LTTE, the government’s responsibility was to save those who had been held . To the credit of the Army, the rescue operation was carried out successfully, though a section of the international community remained critical of the military action, the Defence Secretary said.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Half of Colombo population in shanties – Gotabhaya

Approximately 75,000 families, which is half the population within the Colombo city limits are without houses and are living in shanty houses. They are living in unauthorized buildings and mostly occupy property belonging to the government, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa stated.

Speaking at an occasion held at the BMICH celebrating the World Town Planning Day today (08 November) he said that the government treasury cant afford to relocate all 75, 000 families, as the cost for building a single unit for a family costs some Rs. 2.5 million.

That is why we need Town Planning. In order to find out how to get the money needed to relocate in large numbers, fund the projects and make them a reality, the secretary said at the event which was organized by the Institute of Town Planners Sri Lanka.

We know that a lot of these unauthorized structures are in very valuable land in Colombo, so we need to make use of those properties, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.

“Though the war is over and there is peace and stability in the country that alone won’t bring investors to the country. We need to encourage them and show them that their investment will be profitable” he added.

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