MR warns of attempt to create an Arab spring in Sri Lanka

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned of attempts to create an ‘Arab Spring’ in Sri Lanka to topple the government.The Arab Spring is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations, protests, and wars which occurring in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010 which led to the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen being removed from power. On new evidence of wrongdoing in the final stages of the war in 2009, collated by international organisations and media outlets, he said that putting out such reports and videos was their job. “We must not merely look at one side. They must not merely listen to one group and the Opposition [in Sri Lanka]. So they [the Opposition] are trying to get the support of other countries to create an ‘Arab Spring’ here. That won’t happen in Sri Lanka.”Asked whether he would hold the Northern provincial elections in September, as he had told this newspaper, Rajapaksa said: “Yes, we will hold [the poll] in September. That’s why we have postponed the other [provincial] elections too. I did not want to face the criticism that I was doing it only because I had no intention of holding the Northern provincial elections.” The North would have powers which are “not more, not less” than those enjoyed by the eight other provinces. “Had it happened, I would have known [it]. It is obvious that if somebody [from the armed forces] had done that, I must take responsibility. We completely deny it. It can’t be,” he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview. On the coming U.S.-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Rajapaksa said Jaffna was provided with all infrastructure just three years after the war ended. “Who did this within three years? Anybody who has come and seen it has talked about it positively and has commended us.”Even India was “harassed” by the UNHRC over Kashmir, he said. “Sri Lanka is like a volley ball. Everyone is taking turns punching it to cover up their sins.”On the issue of a political solution for the Tamil people, he said that unless the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), an umbrella group of Tamil parties, joined the Parliamentary Select Committee, there could be no way forward. “Without TNA [on the committee], I will not be able to do anything… Earlier, all the leaders gave their solutions from the top. It has failed. The 13th Amendment has failed. Everything has failed,” he said. In an interview with India’s The Hindu newspaper, the President said denied that the Army killed LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabakaran’s 12-year-old son Balachandran. The President said he had not discussed with India its support to Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. “India must know its duty, as a neighbour…, as a friend of Sri Lanka. I can’t dictate to India.”Referring to External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid’s comments in Parliament on accountability for alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, he insisted that Sri Lanka had held people accountable for excesses. “We have filed cases… We have handed down punishments. But this can be done only as per the laws of this country…I have released 14,000 [LTTE] prisoners, who had serious charges against them like murder, after a process of rehabilitation. Had I filed cases against the 14,000 people, what would have happened? I am a Buddhist. We have tolerance and compassion. There are still some more people [of the LTTE] in prison. We are examining ways…to release them.”Sri Lanka’s relations with India were fine after the 2012 vote in Geneva. “There are many incidents to show that the relationship is good. We don’t hold… Indian fishermen who routinely fish in our waters…Thousands of fishermen are crossing and fishing…We sent so many Indian prisoners back home. Despite incidents in Tamil Nadu [where Sri Lankan pilgrims were sent back], there has not been any incident [involving] Indians in Sri Lanka. I understand that there are people who want India to have some confrontation with Sri Lanka… It is all politically motivated,” he said. Rajapaksa allayed fears that MPs of the majority community would hijack the agenda, pointing out that some individuals and parties in the government would not allow it to happen. read more

Stigma plays a big role in failure to tackle world opioid crisis

Mr Sheff said that the idea that one has to practice ‘tough love’ to help someone dealing with a drug dependence is one “that is dangerous, because the consequences can be dire, including death. We shall intervene as soon as we can” he appealed, stressing that a whole range of treatment that is now available, it wasn’t 10 or 15 years ago.Adding her personal experience to the discussion was Vicky Cornell, co-founder of the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation and wife of late rock icon Chris Cornell. Since her husband’s death in May 2017, Ms Cornell had become an expert and advocate on the whole issue of drug abuse, highlighting the importance of ending misconceptions about what is “a totally preventable and treatable disease”.And we’ll have more on this story in our Lid Is On podcast next week, where we’ll be talking to David Sheff and Vicky Cornell about their work and what the UN can do, to help with the fight against drug addiction. “Treating addiction as something criminal is contributing to this global crisis”, said Nora Volkow, Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. Ms Volkow called on the importance of acknowledging the drug problem “from the perspective of the health system”.“When we understand that people are ill, stigma goes away, and we know what to do, we treat them with compassion and we get them the best treatment we can”, added David Sheff, best-selling author and advocate, who has become an expert on the international opioid crisis, which has become a major public health emergency in the United States.According to the latest World Drug Report launched by the UN agency in 2018, the non-medical use of prescription drugs is becoming a major threat to public health and law enforcement worldwide, with opioids causing the most harm and accounting for 76 per cent of deaths associate with drug-misuse.Highlighting the importance of understanding “brain chemistry” and the role of education in prevention, Mr Sheff added that “much of the drug usage decision comes from stress”, which can result from many factors including family discord, stress at school, or violence, but also simply the day-to-day stress of growing up.Looking at vulnerable age groups, the UNODC report found that drug use is highest among young people, with research suggesting that 12- to 17-year-olds are at particular risk.“This idea that some kids have now in some communities that if they haven’t filled out their college resumes by the time they’re 12, they are going to fail in life, it’s a lot of stress on kids”, added Mr Sheff.His memoir “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction”, where he shares the heartbreaking experience of survival, relapse and recovery of his son Nic, was recently turned into a film, screened on Wednesday at UN Headquarters. read more

Young Serbian handball player in Libya If you lose we are going

Nikola Mitrović (21), handball player from Leskovac (Serbia), after playing in Al Naser from Bengazy for seven months has barely escaped and save his life, writes Serbian media.Right after he got to Libya his passport was taken from him, and the coach explained that defeat means death. He also didn’t get paid for all those months he player there.„Right after I got there I was told by my American coach that we cannot afford to lose, because they are capable of killing for defeat. Then I saw so called supporters armed with AK-47s.“The coach has managed to escape along with one more player, one month earlier before Mitrović did. During that time one American player got killed for team losing a game. Mitrović got his passport back from the coach, and that enabled him to go back to Serbia.Mitrović continues his confession, „I most certainly would have died if there wasn’t for my Syrian’s neighbours. They own a grocery store in the neighbourhood, and were giving me food. They have eventually helped me escape“MAID BEGIĆ handballlibya ← Previous Story DANISH FEMALE BEST 7: Mette Gravholt the No.1 Next Story → Golden League in April: Denmark VS France two months later… read more

High Court to hear challenge to direct provision system

first_imgTHE HIGH COURT is to hear the initial phase of a challenge to the controversial system of direct provision.A family of six is taking a case to the courts arguing that the system for housing and detaining asylum seekers is unconstitutional. The family has been staying in direct provision centres for more than four years.They argue that the system was unlawfully established, has no legal basis and continues to operate unlawfully, violating the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. They also contend that stopping asylum seekers from working or from receiving social welfare payments breaches personal, family and equality rights under the Constitution.Direct provision centres were set up in 2000 and there are currently 35 of them around the country. They are run by private contractors on State contracts.Concerns about the centres have been raised by various groups, including UN committees, groups which work with asylum seekers, and Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly. A High Court judge in Northern Ireland recently pointed to “ample” evidence of physical and mental health issues among asylum seekers staying in direct provision accommodation.Close to 5,000 people are kept in the centres while they wait for their application for asylum to be heard. Applicants are given accommodation, three meals a day, and €19.10 per week in the centres. They are neither allowed to work nor to claim state benefits while they are resident there.The average length of time spent in the centres is now around 4 years.The case will be for mention before Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh at the High Court on Tuesday, when he may proceed to a date for a full hearing, strike out the case or postpone a decision.Column: Court challenge to Direct Provision could save millions in taxpayers’ money > Read: Court won’t send family back to Direct Provision housing in Ireland due to child welfare concerns >last_img read more